November’s Learning Resources
November Theme: Seeing Clearly
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.
📚Suggested Resources and Activities:
- In what ways do you become triggered by your family members or loved ones? How do you know you are feeling triggered (body sensations, emotions that arise, etc.)? How do you usually handle this experience?
- If you begin to investigate these triggers more clearly, do you find any stories that you are stuck in? Any ways in which you are not seeing reality clearly? How do you think you would feel if you did not believe these stories and you had a ‘cleaner windshield’?
- Bringing in our theme from last month, how can you practice more self-compassion when it comes to experiencing and acknowledging these triggering situations and ‘clouded windshields’ with your family members or loved ones?
- Read: Seeing Ourselves Clearly by the Dalai Lama (lionsroar.com)
- Watch: Tara Talks: Stepping Out of Our Stories, with Tara Brach (Tara Brach YouTube Channel)
- Namchak Blog: Vipassana: Mindfulness of Body and Feelings
- Lama Tsomo’s recommended book of the month: Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There by Sylvia Boorstein* From Lama Tsomo, “This is the time of year many of us begin to turn inward, making it the perfect season for personal retreat. This short and entertaining book walks readers through a three-day retreat plan while offering inspiring stories and friendly advice. A great companion for anyone embarking on a personal retreat.”
- Podcast: This Conversation Actually Explains Oneness With The Universe | Sebene Selassie (Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris Podcast)
- Guided Meditation: Round Robin: Shamata, Vipassana, and Tonglen with Lama Tsomo
✨Monthly Learning Circle Spotlight:
This month we would like to introduce you to Kendal, a fellow in our Compassion in Action program from Oregon State University. We launched the Compassion in Action Fellowship Network this year to help undergraduate students learn meditation practice, build community, and engage in meaningful social change. You can read Kendal’s full interview here.
Here’s an excerpt:
What drew you to the CiA Fellowship?
I was struggling with my mental health and my connection to others. I saw a lot of darkness in the world and it was really saddening, so I was searching for a way to cultivate love and spread that kindness through every aspect of my life. When I came across the fellowship, I knew this would meet my needs.
What’s been happening in your chapter?
My chapter has been focusing on Sangha the past few weeks and learning how to include everyone interested in joining our circles. Having a welcoming environment is my top priority when getting a group of individuals together.
What type of meditations are currently resonating with you and why?
Metta meditations are currently resonating with me because I think everyone needs a daily dose of self-love and kindness. It’s easy to forget to be gentle with yourself
when you are so focused on our outside environment.
What does a more compassionate world look like to you?
To me, a compassionate world is one that responds and answers with love, no matter the question. Making progressive changes towards a more equal, kind world should be in the interest of everyone. The world needs to gain a little bit of perspective and empathy in order to be successful.
Thank you for sharing so openheartedly, Kendal. 💕
ONE COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES
- Invite a moment of silence and give rise to Bodhicitta.
- Read Community Commitments.
- Check-Ins: How are you doing? How is your practice going? Reflecting on this month’s theme, where in your life would you like to see things more clearly?
Watch Video (15 min):
- We will be watching a video with Mingyur Rinpoche, and he will be talking about what it truly means to see clearly.
- When we know our inherent goodness, we are not being thrown around by afflictive emotions (aka poisons/kleshas/defilements such as anger, desire, ignorance, pride, jealousy), and we understand the nature of impermanence, we can come from a place of real wisdom, love, and compassion. This is truly seeing ourselves and the nature of reality clearly.
- Watch Discovering Wisdom with Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche (14:50).
Journaling and Discussion (20 min):
Take a few moments for your Circle members to individually reflect/journal about any or all of the following questions. After you 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.
- What are the afflictive emotions that tend to arise most frequently for you, and in which circumstances?
- How do you normally react when you are experiencing these afflictive emotions?
- Particularly, how do you experience these kleshas in relationship to others, especially family members or loved ones?
If you begin to investigate these kleshas more clearly, do you find any stories that you are stuck in? Any ways in which you are not seeing reality clearly? How do you think you would feel if you did not believe these stories and you had a ‘cleaner windshield’?
- If you were to investigate these poisons/kleshas and get down to the true wisdom informing the longing, anger, jealousy, etc, what might you find that you are truly looking for?
Meditation and Reflection (20 min):
- We will be working with a contemplative meditation technique that helps us explore afflictive emotions that we may be experiencing. Through the process of RAIN (Recognize/Allow/Investigate/Nurture), we are able to investigate our afflictive emotions as a way to arrive at more clear seeing. *Please note that for this meditation, it is not beneficial to work with something that has an element of trauma, but rather choose something that is a 5 or under on a scale from 1-10.
- RAIN meditation with Tara Brach (12 minutes)
- After practicing this meditation, reflect with your Circle on how that experience felt to you. (5-10 min)
Closing and Dedication of the Merit (1 min): (From Lemny)
“By all these virtuous deeds of accumulated merit, may all beings be rescued from the ocean of samsara where the tide of ageing, sickness and death is violently active. May this merit help all beings attain Buddhahood and be victorious over all the enemies of deceptive obscurations. By the goodness of what we have just done, may all beings complete the accumulation of merit and wisdom and gain the two sacred bodies.”
Most likely we have all heard the metaphor of putting on your own oxygen mask first before helping others. It’s a great metaphor, but how does that look in real life? Perhaps we can begin by getting cozy, of course, and asking ourselves some questions like, “What am I doing to take care of myself?” “How do I feel when I am taking care of myself?” “What are some signals that I need to care for myself better?”
Learn to ground yourself in the present moment by gaining full awareness of the experience of being embodied or being connected to your own body. To do this, we start by paying attention to the sensation of breathing, subtle movements in the body, and other somatic experiences as techniques to help bring awareness to our emotional landscape and ease anxiety.
Our Human Nature
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that as human beings we are part of the natural world, intricately connected to all forms of life and to the planet itself.
Taking Action in the World
Expanding from our own communities to the world at large, we consider what matters most to us, the issues that we care about, and how we define ways to help ease the suffering of others and bring happiness. We examine three essential questions: “What do I care most about?” “Who do I care most about?” and “What am I going to do about it?”