March Learning Resources
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.
📚Suggested Resources and Activities:
- Check out our eCourse: Shamata:Tibetan Style, or, better yet, attend the upcoming Shamata retreat with Khen Rinpoche April 2-4! Registration is now live.
- To Read: Practice the RAIN Meditation with Tara Brach (mindful.org)
- To Watch: TEDxSunsetPark – Diana Winston – The Practice of Mindfulness [TEDx Talks YouTube Channel (17 min)]
- Namchak Blogs: Three Ways Meditation Can Help You Manage Stress or 10 Journal Prompts for Introspection & Self-Awareness
- Lama Tsomo’s recommended book of the month: My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem. From Lama Tsomo: ” My Grandmother’s Hands helps us to uncover levels of stress far underneath our conscious minds, even directly in our bodies, that affect our outlook, words, and actions. We can have more awareness of them if we stop our running around, turn our lenses inward, and watch our minds without judging the display that comes up. This can be very healing, and a perfect balance to therapy. It doesn’t replace therapy, but it allows us some things that therapy won’t do very well, such as bringing heightened, non-judgmental awareness—a universal point of view, beyond emotion-laden opinion. Really, the two together are most productive of healing, learning, and growth.”
- Podcast: Sebene Selassie – Bring Mindfulness into Every Part of Our Lives (Untangle: The Podcast from Meditation Studio)
- To Discuss: How does stress show up in your mind and your body? What situations tend to bring you the most stress in your life and how do you normally cope with or manage your stress? If you were to hold your stress lightly and peel back the layers of the story, what nuggets of wisdom might you find?
✨Monthly Learning Circle Spotlight: This month we would like to feature Giving Shelter Learning Circle, based out of the San Francisco Bay area. This circle will be celebrating their year anniversary on March 14! The members of this Circle have been finding refuge in the Three Jewels while exploring creative ways to share leadership and invite inspiration into their Circle. For example, at the end of each Circle, they have a “Special Closer,” or someone who leads the group in an activity such as live music and song, a short inspirational or humorous video, a puppet show, a poetry reading, or spoken word. They also have a “Metta Leader” who leads the group in sending Loving Kindness to a group, person, or persons who are chosen the prior week. Thank you for sharing some of your great ideas with our community, and Happy Anniversary! 🎉
One Community Video Watched: “The Science of Character” VIA Institute
- Learn about your unique character strength profile and where there strengths come from, a small background on positive psychology, and the impact on our well-being from knowing and nurturing character strengths in ourselves and others.
- What stood out about your character strength profile?
- What is your core/gut reaction to these strengths?
- Do they feel: essential, effortless (natural) and energizing to use? How so? If not, what strengths feel most essential to who you are?
- What strengths do you lean into during times of stress?
Meditation Practiced: Chad led us through a mental subtraction meditation where we imagined what our lives would be like if we were not able to use our top strength. Much to our relief, he then reminded us that our top strength is still there, and it was a great exercise in truly feeling how important that strength is in our lives! Lama Tsomo then closed us out with a short Shamata practice.
Another Exercise: Character Strengths 360. We did not have a chance to do this together, but this would be a great one to try with your Learning Circle members! Instead of identifying your own character strengths, you can identify the strengths of others in your circle!
The Gift of Community
Having spent the dark winter months reflecting on our personal practice and spending the holiday with friends and family, embrace on the new year with an appreciation for both self-compassion and compassion for others, focusing on our interconnectedness and what it means to live in community.
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.
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.