Dedicating the Merit of our Practice

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(Read the original on elephant journal)

The other day, I stood alone in the temple in front of an altar full of a stunningly beautiful and potent mandala of crystals, Tibetan singing bowls, and Buddhas.

As I breathed with my palms together in prayer in front of my heart and wished that the journey my family and I are about to embark upon be safe, peaceful, and joyous, for one brief second my mind was clear and radiant.

I realized that this wish for myself and the two beings closest to me (my husband and daughter) was simultaneously a wish for all beings without exception. The pure and simple aspiration, “May the journey of all beings be safe, peaceful, healthy, and happy” welled up from that indescribable source that lies within each of us and is ever surrounding us all.

Dedicating the merit is fundamental to all meditation. It is absolutely essential and not to be overlooked. Here is an example of a dedication of merit you can recite at the end of your practice:

May the earth be wholesome everywhere
The world blessed with prosperity
May the poor and destitute find wealth
And the stooping animals be freed

May every being ailing with illness
Find relief at once from suffering
May all the sickness that afflict the living
Be instantly and permanently healed

May those who go in dread, have no more fear,
May captives be unchained and set free,
And may the weak now become strong,
May living beings help each other in kindness.

May travelers upon the road,
Find happiness no matter where they go,
And may they gain, without hardship,
The goals on which their hearts are set.

From the songs of birds and the sighing of trees,
From the shafts of light and from the sky itself,
May living beings, each and every one,
Perceive the constant sound of Dharma.

~ Shantideva

November 2016 Offerings

Happy Autumn!

I’m excited to announce some yoga activities coming up soon:

1) Day of the Dead Yoga Classes

Inaugural group yoga sessions on my patio in Pasajcap (halfway between San Marcos La Laguna and Tzununa)

Monday, OCT 31 @4:30pm

Tuesday, NOV 1 @ 8:30am

Wednesday, NOV 2 @ 8:30am & 4:30pm

*RSVP to yogafreedom@gmail or 4970-4727

2) The Art of Healthy Living: Yoga, Cooking & Permaculture Weekend

November 11-13 @La K’zona, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala    Get more info here!

3) Thanksgiving Yoga Retreat

November 23-27, 2016 @EarthLodge / near Antigua      See details!
I hope to see and practice with you soon!
Namaste,
Michelle

Winds of Change

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Point Arena Lighthouse  Mendocino County  California USA

It’s 8 Iq today. Iq is the Mayan sign of wind.

There is a gentle breeze or none right now in the living room. I am still, settled, in Sacramento. The sacrament. The sacred mundane. Waking up in a quiet house full of relatives asleep. Soon enough the coffee will be brewing, the people chattering, retiree household bustle. Waking up in a familiar, cozy place.

Tomorrow, we’ll be waking up on a train. Tonight, we take the night train north, northwest. The Oregon Trail. To a bend in the river and a port by the sea. Then a jet engine propels us yet further, all the way to Canada. The Columbia with a U, of the British variety. To the mountains. Belly rumbling to the sound of the now-brewing coffee, in anticipation.

Saying farewell to my parents, my partner and embarking on a mami-hija adventure for the next couple of weeks of catching up with beloved old friends in the Pacific Northwest until our return home to the nest by the lake in the south.

We are blowing in the wind, going with the flow, making plans and showing up, early or late or changing the plans or dropping the plans. Breathing the breath of life. Remembering gratitude, gratitude, love, kindness, compassion, gratitude again.

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Kite surfer, California Coast

It’s Okay to Feel.

{Originally published on Elephant Journal.}

There is a common myth about meditation that it means always being calm and collected, never being upset, sad or freaked out.

It’s simply not true.

While meditation and mindfulness practices can help us become more tranquil, centered and patient, they do not eliminate difficult emotions.

On the contrary, it can seem to exacerbate them, especially as we begin or deepen our practice, because there is nothing to do but sit (or stand, or walk) there and be with those emotions, allowing them to rise up and pass away in due time.

As I was reading a book a few months back called Planting Seeds (which is a guide for anyone interested in introducing children to mindfulness and meditation) by Thich Nhat Hanh and members of his sangha, I came across this little gem which jumped off the page and deep into my heart immediately:

“Breathing in, I’m bored. Breathing out, it’s okay to be bored.”

It was in the context of a chapter on teaching children how to observe and accept their feelings, whatever feelings they are experiencing in that moment: joy, sadness, boredom, anger, confusion, frustration, contentment.

I saw right away that this simple technique could also help adults.

Could also help me.

And so, I’ve started using it every day in my classroom, which this year miraculously consists of just three homeschooled fifth grade students. In our morning meeting at the start of each “school” day, we ring the Tibetan bowl and take turns sharing our feelings, if we want.

Most days, the kids will say something like, “Breathing in, I feel happy, excited, happy and excited. Breathing out, it’s okay to feel super happy and excited.” They then elaborate on what specifically is making them feel so blissful and excited. One of them often says, “I’m happy because today’s today,” which never fails to melt my heart.

Sometimes, though, they (and I) admit, “Breathing in, I feel tired, sad, worried, confused and grateful. Breathing out, it’s okay to feel tired, sad, worried, confused and grateful.” And often, we elaborate on why. In this way, we get to know each other better and realize that we all share similar emotions and challenges.

This technique is wonderful because it reminds us that whatever is coming up for us is okay. It doesn’t need to be changed, repressed, pursued or pushed away. It just is what it is. And it’s always changing.

I hope you’ll give it a try. If you’re a teacher, try it with kids or teens, and let me know how it goes. May it be of benefit!