June’s Learning Resources
There is no going it alone. We live our lives with others, part of interconnected communities, known as “Sangha” in Tibetan Buddhist practice. We explore the ways we can cultivate awareness within ourselves and grow as we engage with those around us, ultimately living happier and more meaningful lives and contributing to the same for others.
📚Suggested Resources and Activities:
- To Discuss: How can I cultivate deeper loving relationships to myself and others? How does connection with myself impact my interactions with others? How can I pay attention and listen more deeply to myself and others? What supports me in staying in contact with my internal experience during a pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral interaction with another? How can I embrace relationships as a way to help identify and graciously receive feedback about my unconscious patterns? What are some actions I can take to help improve my current relationships?
- To Read: How to Strengthen Loving Relationships with Mindfulness (mindful.org)
- To Watch: Mindful Minute: 3 Simple Ways to Strengthen Your Relationships
- To Listen: A Pressure Cooker for Insight | Bart van Melik (Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris Podcast)
- Namchak Blog: The Four Boundless Qualities
- Lama Tsomo’s recommended book of the month: Awakening Together by Larry Yang. From Lama Tsomo: It’s a wise and heartful book, starting with his own journey toward belonging. Belonging – it’s what we all yearn for, and have so little opportunity to learn how to practice. This book helps immensely.
✨Monthly Learning Circle Spotlight:
This month we would like to feature our Joyful Presence Learning Circle! One of their members, Carol Pool, has this to share about her experience:
“Our Joyful Presence Learning Circle started just over a year ago when the pandemic hit. I am the only original member of the group. We were started by Alley and Rachel at Namchak. We all just had an interest in the dharma and meditation. We have added new members over time that were of like mind, and we all seem to have many things in common even though we are spread across the country.I can’t speak for everyone, but the benefits I experience are coming together once a week and sharing different things about the teachings and meditating together. We are a good support for each other, and I think we all feel that very much. We support each other in our dharma practice and also in our daily lives. Right now, we are taking one of the Lojong maxims and really exploring it each week. I can’t speak for others, but I have found in Joyful Presence Learning Circle the sangha that was always missing in my life.For 30 years I have read books on Buddhism and tried to practice meditation, but I was missing that component of the sangha. We think of the three jewels as a firm stool we rest on. If you are missing one of the legs of the stool, it isn’t very stable. The addition of the sangha both in the Learning Circle and in the greater Namchak community, gives us that firm foundation to rest upon. We all come from different places and perspectives but we support and have great love and compassion for the others in the Learning Circle and feel our lives are enriched by their presence in our lives.”
ONE COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES:
Warm-Up Journaling and Sharing:
- Pick your three most important relationships currently.
- Note the qualities that you like about these relationships.
- Note the qualities that you don’t like about these relationships.
Take a few minutes to journal about these responses, and then share with your Learning Circle.
Clearing the Lens Framing:
Choose someone from your Circle to read the following framing.
- This is an activity that was developed by Aaron Stern and the Academy for the Love of Learning.
- Its purpose is to help us come into full contact with ourselves on an embodied level, while we are in contact with another. In the spirit of “thriving relationships,” if what we deeply long for is to connect with and be truly seen by those in our lives, we must first embody the fullness of our experience.
- Then we can truly see another from a clear, open, and loving place. If we do not do this, then we are constantly projecting our ideas, beliefs, fears, insecurities, and fantasies onto the other person, which prevents us from seeing them as they truly are.
- As we prepare for this Clearing the Lens activity, we invite you to bring to mind one of the people from your three most important relationships. Imagine that person sitting in front of you.
- We are going to drop into this practice and be with this person at the same time.
Clearing the Lens Practice:
- Choose one or two people from your Circle to guide/read through this activity. Make sure you read slowly and allow pauses between each question.
- Start with reading this question aloud: Where am I? Am I in contact with myself? Am I in contact with this other person? Can I feel that contact?
- Read the rest of this script, starting with Step 1.
Reflection and Journaling:
Take a few moments for your Circle members to individually reflect/journal about any of the following questions. After you all finish journaling, you are welcome to move into smaller break-out rooms with your Circle (about 10-15 minutes) and then rejoin to have a full group discussion.
- How was this activity for you?
- What did you notice about how you were able to stay in contact with your own experience while being in contact with another?
- What types of projections do you have in your closest relationships? Maybe even with the person whom you imaged sitting in front of you?
- How do these projections impact your relationships or this particular relationship?
- Write down a commitment you would like to make towards improving this important relationship in your life.
As our awareness of our interconnectedness expands, so too does our sense of belonging in the world. This month, through exercises focused on our individual and shared stories, we explore how we can open our hearts to experience an expansive sense of love and true connection. We’ll look at the four “immeasurable” qualities of Compassion, Loving-kindness, Sympathetic Joy, and Equanimity.
Modern life brings unprecedented stressors, from personal challenges to global ones like climate change. Shamata helps us expand our mental awareness of the causes of stress, allowing us to cultivate a greater sense of calm in our lives and find the joy that is always available.
Practicing Inclusion + Nonviolent Communication
Examining race and identity, empathetic connection with others, what is life really like for others. Drawing from How to Be An Anti-Racist, we’ll take a closer look at the practice of Loving Kindness. Treating people of all backgrounds and identities with fairness and respect is an ongoing journey for most of us, including our team at Namchak. We share our experience with the practice of non-violent communications, which teaches us how to listen deeply to our own needs as well as those of others, helping us connect to our innate compassion.
Our personal practice isn’t just for ourselves, but for the benefit of others too. We dive into the meaning of work, consider our gifts, and examine work as an environment to practice being in community and contributing to the greater good.