Mindfulness is being in the present moment in an open and friendly way. It's both mind-training and heart-training.You can start right where you are.
As many of you know, I volunteer 10 hours a week in prison, teaching meditation and mindfulness; bearing witness to deep suffering and powerful insight; widening my circle of compassion and understanding.
We play many roles in our lives. These roles and identities affect us in deep ways. Some nourish and fulfill, others drain and frustrate, and some feel neutral. It's helpful to understand the wide variety of roles we play and their impact on our physical, mental, and emotional life.
I share my photographs on Flickr, which was my first encounter with social media. I joined back when it was old school: Not flashy, just plain ole’ photography and rich friendships. A place to learn, share, and be inspired. Even though the format has changed, I still enjoy my Flickr community.
We often look externally for evidence that we’re lovable, okay, and worthy; that we belong. Another path is to look inward. Instead of distracting, busying, or analyzing, we sit down with ourselves and practice kindness.
Yesterday, I had 4 meaningful pastoral visits at Oshkosh Correctional. During these visits, I listen, ask questions, mirror back goodness (the many ways each prisoner’s practice inspires me), and encourage new areas of growth.
Today, I stood with my FREE HUGS sign outside the neighborhood polling place. I was there between 11:30 and 2 in the cold drizzle. Hands numb, heart warm. At first, I was nervous; at the end, I didn’t want to leave.
In my Gmail inbox, I’m given three automated, short responses from which to choose. For example, “Thanks, I’ll check it out!” “Awesome, thanks!” “Got it!” These same automated responses appear in Skype chat, as well as social media. None of the automated messages sound anything like me. They’re brief, generic, and bland.
Connection is a basic human need. We require love, belonging, acceptance, and support, if only from a few people. But to fully heal, we must cultivate love within ourselves. Self-compassion is true medicine. It works from the inside out.
Yesterday, I had intense, meaningful pastoral visits in Oshkosh prison. I listen deeply to the inmates, asking questions when needed, but mostly I bear witness. Then I bring our conversation back to meditation—mindfulness tools with which they can practice. Though we’re not friends, I care about these guys in important, real, and heartfelt ways. I see them. I know and understand them.
It’s been a gray, rainy, dark autumn in Appleton. The past few weeks, I allowed external weather to overly impact my internal weather. I’ve felt crabby and frustrated, even angry. I’ve felt constricted inside: my throat tight from wanting to control the uncontrollable, my heart closed to joy and wonder. I saw clearly how this doesn’t feel good.