March’s 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.
- Check out our eCourse: Shamata:Tibetan Style
- 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 pearls of wisdom might you find?
- Read: The Middle Way of Stress by Judy Lief (lionsroar.com)
- Watch: The Prison of Your Mind | Sean Stephenson (TEDx Talks YouTube channel)
- Namchak Blog: Three Ways Meditation Can Help You Manage Stress
- Podcast: Resmaa Menakem – ‘Notice the Rage; Notice the Silence’ (On Being with Krista Tippett, onbeing.org)
- Lama Tsomo’s book recommendation: High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out by Amanda Ripley.* From Lama Tsomo: “This seems incredibly timely, not only for America, which is so deeply divided, but for the world, which has so deeply divided over the war in Ukraine. Each side sees the other as evil and crazy, who must be stopped at any cost. We’re no longer able to see each other as fellow human beings.
Ripley points out that “healthy conflict” is very much something we all need to work with in personal and political relationships. But she says that “high conflict” is a different phenomenon. At that point good people fall into thinking and behaving as they would never ordinarily do. The rules all change because the “others” are seen as evil or crazy. Everything has become black and white, and there are no shades of grey.
How do we find our way back from the brink (or beyond) of high conflict? She gives us specific examples, explaining why they have worked. Though Ripley isn’t Buddhist, I see this book as a guide showing us how we can practice “applied Buddhism”, or Engaged Bodhicitta.
This is a moment for such a book. This is a book for this moment.”
* Namchak Foundation and Lama Tsomo do not receive any monetary or other benefit from the purchase of High Conflict.
Shamata With Visual Support In this short eight-minute session with Lama Tsomo, you’ll focus your gaze softly on an object of support. Find a photograph or object that brings you a sense of awareness and peace. For Buddhists, you may want to use an image of the Buddha or a Buddha statue. Consider a picture from nature like a mountain or river. The object itself is not necessarily important — what’s important are the feelings evoked when you look at it.
ONE COMMUNITY AGENDA
Opening, Community Commitments, Check-Ins:
- Invite a moment of silence and give rise to Bodhicitta.
- Read Community Commitments.
- Share one tool that you use to manage stressful moments.
🎦 Watch the first eight minutes of this video: 3 ways to find hope in hopeless times (ted.com).
📝 Journaling (5 min)
- After watching this video, is there anything that resonates with you?
- What were your greatest takeaways from this video?
- Did you have any insights, questions or curiosities around what was shared?
- What does “tying your camel first” look like to you?
- What are some ways you can invest in joy?
💬 Discussion in Breakout Rooms (10-15 min)
- Start by sharing what you noticed in the journaling exercise
- What are things that you and the person/people you are with have in common?
- Where are you different?
👥 Group Share (5-10 min)
Come back as a large group and share takeaways from partner discussions.
🧘🏽♂️ Meditation: Loving Kindness
Dedicate the merit (1 min)
By the power of this compassionate practice,
may suffering be transformed into peace.
May the hearts of all beings be open,
and their wisdom radiate from within.
February Theme: Finding Belonging
Belonging is more than just a warm feeling of connection; it’s a fundamental part of being human. Research has established we crave interaction the same way we crave food, but pandemic isolation has drained many of us to the point of sadness and anxiety. In this session, we’ll learn how to experience a deep sense of belonging whatever our external environment. Through small group discussion, journaling and meditation, we’ll explore the roots of belonging, and how being our essential selves fosters awareness and meaning.
The Gift of Community
Having spent the dark winter months reflecting on our personal practice, we now embrace 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.
Embracing the contemplative dark months of winter as a time of reflection and renewal, looking back on the year past and beginning to plan for the new year. Looking at the past and future as a way to inform present personal, community and action in the world.
Whether you are spending time alone, with family, friends, or communities of origin this holiday season, this time can bring up an array of emotions. Our experiences can range from the comfort of familiarity and tradition to the discomfort of feeling triggered and reverting to old roles and behaviors. We can reframe the stories we believe about ourselves and others by exploring the impermanent nature of reality and believing in our inherent goodness. This holiday season, we invite you to try something new: to build upon the foundations of mindfulness, and embrace the freedom that comes with clear seeing.