April’s Learning Resources
Learn to ground yourself in the present moment by gaining full awareness of the experience of 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.
LEARNING RESOURCES & ACTIVITIES ✨
- Discuss: Which situations tend to create the most anxiety in your life? How do you know when you are experiencing anxiety? How does it show up in your mind and body? How do you normally work with anxiety when it arises? How can you work with anxiety “on the path” as a gateway to more freedom, relaxation, and fundamental joy? How can you find your own wisdom amid the chaos of everyday life?
- Read: How to Work With Anxiety: 3 Techniques For Lasting Change by Chris Pacheco (lionsroar.com)
- Watch: Transforming Your Relationship with Anxiety, with Tara Brach (Tara Brach Youtube channel)
- Namchak Blog: Meditation for Anxiety and Difficult Emotions
- Lama Tsomo’s book recommendation: Anchored: How to Befriend Your Nervous System Using Polyvagal Theory by Deb Dana* From Lama Tsomo: “Dana is the psychologist who has worked most closely with Stephen Porges, the inventor of the now-popular theory concerning the vagus nerve that runs from our brains, through our major organs. It’s the one involving fight-or-flight, as well as other states. We can actually learn to regulate our nervous systems to respond in a healthy way, rather than just knee-jerk reactions. This can obviously help us in our everyday lives, but I’ve personally found it to help me in my meditation sessions. Who doesn’t have their days when their mind is jumping all over the place, or dull and out-of-it … or BOTH in one sitting?! I sure do! So I can recommend her work from my own experience. Her approach is very accessible and friendly, and she gives us practices we can benefit from long after we’ve read the book.” · Podcast: How to Break Your Anxiety Habit | Judson Brewer (Ten Percent Happier Podcast with Dan Harris, tenpercent.com)
- Podcast: The Upside of Apocalypse | Lama Rod Owens (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 ☸️
Body Scan Guided Meditation: This guided audio track is a great way to sink into a longer meditation session. Don’t worry if you aren’t even sure how to meditate, simply get comfortable in a seated position on the floor or in a chair, and follow Lama Tsomo’s instructions. This is also perfect track for relaxing your mind and body to help you rest, recover, or get grounded before another meditation.
Learning Circle Spotlight ☸️
This month, we hear from Erin Hogan, one of our Compassion in Action fellows. Erin is currently working toward her Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Boston University School of Music.
The month of September always feels like a time of intense transition. New routines begin, summer fades into fall, many of us prepare ourselves for the colder and darker months ahead. Having spent nearly all my life in an academic environment, the transitions that come with the month of September awaken a rush of different emotions often causing discomfort within. After starting my journey with Namchak as a Compassion in Action Fellow, I notice how this September feels different. I do still notice a sense of urgency as I embark on my final year of graduate school. At the same time, I feel more at peace in letting these emotions move through me without clinging to or dwelling on outcomes.
Because of my regular meditation and self-care practices, I feel not only better equipped to deal with the uncertainties of transitions a new school year brings, but better able to deal with the natural uncertainties, anxieties, and ebb/flow of life. My present moment awareness has expanded; I can more easily identify my priorities, and access my intuition more clearly.
As a music student, I even feel that my practice expands my creativity and helps me realize how I can use my passion to bring more light into the world. This path of liberation also helps me to fully inhabit my journey, freeing myself to free others on their paths. I feel a heightened sense of generosity and compassion toward all beings and hope that with continued learning and practice, I can inspire others to do the same. For these reasons, I am excited to begin leading the Boston Chapter of Namchak’s Compassion in Action Network with the help of the amazing community at Boston University.
Our meetings will take place mid-day on select weekdays inside the Robinson Room of Marsh Chapel at Boston University. I am so grateful to the BU Zen Community that has been generous in helping me reserve space for CiA to meet as we gain official campus organization status! Here’s to a wonder-filled academic year!
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: How do you handle anxiety when it comes up for you? Do you have any strategies?
🌎 Watch Video of Jetsunma's Dharma Talk on Easing Anxiety (1 hr 15 min)
- Jetsünma spent nine years in a monastic university program studying all of the major subjects of Buddhism and then followed her studies by spending nine years in closed retreat. It was for this reason that Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche offered her the honored title of Jetsünma. She is the director of the study and practice centers of Turquoise Leaf Nunnery and Kusum Khandro Ling in Nepal. It is Rinpoche’s hope that she will prove to be uniquely qualified to be entrusted with upholding this dharma lineage in the future. Jetsunma has been living in the USA for the last few years, where she previously spent two years studying psychology and western philosophy at Harvard University, and currently divides her time between living in Montana and New York.
- This video includes Jetsunma’s dharma talk in addition to questions from the community.
- Depending on how much time you have at the end of your Circle, you can choose to discuss the content shared in the talk, pose any questions to your Learning Circle, or even stretch this topic out between 2-3 Learning Circles.
🙏 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.”
Practicing Inclusion + Nonviolent Communication
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 nonviolent communication, 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 our own benefit but for 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.
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.
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?”