On Thursday, Mark and I travel to a small island in the West Indies. We stay for five weeks in a little cottage by the ocean. Our time is “unplugged”: no Internet, news, TV, email, or screens. We get to the market via bikes, no car. It’s an unconventional life that nourishes our spirits.
When I volunteer in prison, it includes both group and individual sessions. The pastorals are rich, meaningful, and sometimes difficult. The stories I hear—real stories from real people—are heartbreaking. I try to be a mirror for the inmates. I let them know where they’ve grown and changed and how their meditation practice inspires me.
I first heard the "Chant of Good Will" at a meditation retreat. Each night, a hundred of us chanted the loving-kindness phrases. The simplicity and repetition of these words allowed me to quickly take them into my heart. The practice came home with me. I sing the chant while driving, doing household chores, or setting up chairs for meditation class. And if I'm feeling frustrated or judgmental, I chant. It brings me back to love and intention.
This afternoon, I had a routine conversation with a potential client. I prepared my notes and readied to call, knowing I'd done this many times before. Still, I felt fear and doubt. My relationship with fear and doubt is long-term and sometimes unpredictable. I took a few deep breaths and made the call, recognizing fear but not letting it control my listening or speaking, nor my ability to stay present. The call went well: kindred spirits talking and details decided. A new opportunity to practice and teach mindfulness.