November’s Learning Resources
November Theme: Seeing Clearly
Easing our suffering by experiencing true reality.
LEARNING RESOURCES & ACTIVITIES ✨
- Discuss: Are there times when you become triggered or activated in interactions with friends and/or family? How does it feel? Where does it show up in your body? How do you usually handle it? Do you have tools that help you cope with the stress that can accompany these interactions? If you begin to investigate these triggers more clearly, do you find any stories in which you are stuck? How do you think you would feel if you rejected these stories and you had a “cleaner windshield”?
- Read: How 3 Buddhist Teachers Work with Difficult Emotions (lionsroar.com)
- Watch: Kristin Neff: The Three Components of Self-Compassion (Greater Good Science Center YouTube channel)
- Namchak Blog: The Four Foundations of Mindfulness: Your Vipassana Guide
- This month’s book recommendation: Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole by Susan Cain.* Accepting reality is easy when it’s pleasurable and brings us happiness, but how do we sit with reality when it’s painful? As we all know, every single human being will experience grief, loss, and pain. Our culture often tells us to avoid pain at all costs. Masking pain only compounds and delays our suffering. This book is a gentle friend who sits with us and reminds us that it is human and necessary to grieve.
- Podcast: Six Buddhist Strategies for Getting Along Better with Everyone | Sister True Dedication (Ten Percent Happier Podcast with Dan Harris, tenpercent.com)
* Namchak Foundation and Lama Tsomo do not receive any monetary or other benefit from the purchase of this book.
MEDITATION INSPIRATION ☸️
Shamata with Visual Support: Try an eight-minute guided meditation from Lama Tsomo that’s suitable for beginners and long-time practitioners alike. In this Shamata practice, you’ll use a visual as a method of support to help calm and train the mind.
Learning Circle Spotlight ☸️
This month, we hear from Bev Jacoby who is a member of the Giving Shelter Learning Circle in San Jose, California.
The Giving Shelter Learning Circle began just before the world shut down for a pandemic! We began to meet online and have continued to meet this way to this day.
We began with four participants, grew to six and then the numbers fluctuate as people have life circumstances that cause changes. We met weekly for two years, and as of right now have three members. After a break, we have decided to meet once per month.
We begin with our host setting our intentions and then we all share in a check-in. After that, we have one person share an Inspirational Reading of their choice which usually leads to discussions. We then have time for our meditation,and someone takes on the role of timer.
After our meditations and our closing dedication, we decide on our roles for our next circle. We end with one of us doing what we call “Special Close.” This has included videos, music, readings, and even a puppet show!
We truly enjoy our time together and we are still small, but mighty! If anyone is looking for a circle to join, we are always welcoming everyone!
Thank you for sharing, Bev! 💗
One Community Activities
💫 Opening, Community Commitments, Check-Ins (15-20 min)
- Invite a moment of silence and give rise to Bodhicitta.
- Read Community Commitments.
- Check-in question: What does seeing clearly mean to you?
🎥 Watch Video of Justin's Talk on Seeing Clearly (30-40 min)
- Justin Kirkwood has been studying and practicing Buddhism for over twenty years and has been working as a Tibetan translator and interpreter for more than ten. He lived in India for eight years, studying and practicing with many great teachers and spent three of those years as a monk, studying Buddhist philosophy in a Tibetan monastic seminary. He now works at the Namchak Foundation as a translator of texts, as Namchak Khen Rinpoche’s interpreter, and as a meditation teacher.
- This video (1:36:59) includes Justin’s talk on seeing clearly in addition to questions from the community and a bonus Q&A session after the gathering was finished.
- The full video is one hour and thirty-seven minutes. We recommend that you watch this video over the course of two or three Learning Circles, so that you still have time to meditate together and discuss the concepts from Justin’s talk. Decide with your Learning Circle how many Circles you would like to use to watch the video. Then divide up the time accordingly.
🗣️ Discussion (15 min)
- After watching 30-40 minutes of the video, discuss with your Learning Circle anything that stood out to you from the teaching. What are some questions, curiosities, insights or reflections you have about the teachings?
💜 Meditation and Reflection (15 minutes)
- You can practice this Three-Minute Shamata and Intro to Insight Meditation with your Learning Circle. For a longer session, we recommend that someone set their timer for 5-10 minutes after the guided meditation is done (depending on how much time you have left) and to continue with the instructions Lama Tsomo has given during the guided practice.
- After the session is finished, reflect with your Learning Circle members on how that meditation was for you. What happened? How do you feel afterwards? Do you have any insights, curiosities or questions about the practice?
🙏 Dedicate the merit (1 min)
may suffering be transformed into peace.
May the hearts of all beings be open,
and their wisdom radiate from within.
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?
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.