Kneeling Youth at AFI


What are we to make of Belgian artist George Minne’s solitary kneeling youth and how might contemplating this work illuminate something of our own condition? 
You notice the little card doesn’t help us much. 

Let’s discover together at the next Art for Introverts (AFI). Get your tickets here!

See you at the museum!

What Holds YOU Back? Request for questions


“If we become addicted to the external, our interiority will haunt us. We will become hungry with hunger no image, person, or deed can still. To be wholesome, we must remain truthful to our vulnerable complexity.” (John O’Donahue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom)

Maybe you’re feeling a little disconnected from your own self. Maybe your own complexity feels terribly overwhelming sometimes. 

It happens. No harm. No foul. 

But now that you’ve seen that about yourself…you can never un-see it. We all know how that is.

So, what’s a person to do? 

There are so many good Ways, so much wisdom to help us back to the whole self. 

And lots of ways to get side tracked or confused.  


I plan on writing a weekly blog that addresses questions and concerns that you all have in addition to my own musings and journey for cultivating ongoing wholeness and health, the fullest integration of my various aspects I can muster. 

So I really want to know, what do you feel gets in YOUR way? 

What holds you back? 

What would YOU like to change, want support in changing? 

What questions do you have about how to proceed on the path to remaining true to your own vulnerable complexity? 

What confuses or perplexes you? 

Do you try to establish good habits and then feel them fall away and wonder how to maintain them? 

Do you think that meditation is an act of DOING, just one more pesky thing to cross off your already very full to-do list? 

Do you feel a certain tyranny that your cell phone holds over you and sometimes wonder where all your time has gone? 

Have you read every self-improvement book on the shelf and still wonder why things feel kind of fucked up? 

There are no small or stupid questions. The only bad questions are the ones that go un-asked. 

Please send me your questions here in the comments or if you want a more private communication, send me an email or private message. 

Your questions will be the fuels that inspires new articles in my website and for a new weekly project on Medium

Make an amazing week folks! 

I can’t wait to see your questions and hear your thoughts. 

May you all find peace and fully become the artists of your lives you truly are.

 🙏🏽🙏🏾🙏🏼🙏🏿🙏🏻🦄❤🎈

Hillary 

Daily Practice is Never a Waste of Time


“Daily practice is never a waste of time.” (Sharon Salzberg)

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Even though we might not see the fruits of our practice right away (like, while we are actually DOING our formal practice, while our butts are on the cushion or bench or whatever), we CAN have confidence that the fruits WILL come.

Sometimes the effects might be very subtle or we might not feel it or notice it, but then something HAPPENS! (Cuz you KNOW life is ALWAYS going to give us opportunities) And then – BOOM! We suddenly notice that the way we are reacting is DIFFERENT than it was before.

This weekend at Kripalu, while I was on retreat with Sharon Salzberg and Stephen Cope, Sharon told a funny story about one of the first weeks she ever sat and did Metta practice all alone. She spent the week focusing on her self, using Metta phrases like, May I be happy, may I be safe, may I be strong, may I have ease of well-being. She said the whole week felt sort of dull and boring; nothing interesting happening at all and that she was sort of wondering if she hadn’t wasted a week because she didn’t feel anything special while she was sitting and practicing.

But then life intervened. A friend got sick and a bunch of the folks sitting had to leave the retreat center to go help them. In the rushing around of getting ready to leave the center, she dropped a big glass jar of some kind, sending shards of glass all over the place. A real mess. She noticed that her first thoughts were, God, you’re a clutz but I love you. She realized in that moment, that in the past she would have really been angry at herself and that clearly something had in fact been happening during her week of  Metta practice toward herself.

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Perhaps we are calm when we might’ve flown off the handle. We don’t holler like we would have done just last week or last year. (Like when the cats woke you up at four a.m., hollering for food even though you just got home from an intense weekend. AND, even though you did just feed them a few short hours ago… Don’t they KNOW you need some sleep for God’s sake!) In fact, this did happen to me this morning and I know I handled it totally differently than I have in the past.

In the past, I’ve experienced the rapid heartbeat of being startled awake and muttering under my breath or even actually hollering at the cats. A lot of  God damn it, why can’t they just shut up or be more like a dog and wait for the freaking food to arrive when I get up! A spray bottle of water has been involved many times. In the process, I’ve awakened my sleeping husband, who has the amazing capacity to sleep through absolutely anything! And how does he sleep like that? Why doesn’t he wake up and feed them? I got these cats FOR HIM after all. Shouldn’t he be taking care of them not me! Doesn’t anyone see the terrible injustice which I am now suffering!? ARGH!

I have stormed down the stairs fuming and slammed food into their dishes and wondered in my raging head, how  much longer will the darn beasts actually LIVE! (They are now 18 years old, heading toward 19 with no obvious sense of physical decline.) And in case you think I’m a cat hater, know this: I am not a cat hater. New to living with cats, yes. But I love them and for proof, feel free to check my Facebook or Instagram feeds for copious evidence. Pinky, who adopted me with a fierce and adoring intensity after my dog Tiger, died, has been renamed by me, AKA The Assistant. He actually has his own hashtag. He’s a happy part of my daily writing life. He tells me when it’s time for a break by jumping up and laying across my arm so I can do nothing other than pat him. Put down that pen Mom. And I listen to his furry feline wisdom.

This morning, when they woke me, I was really tired from a day of traveling back from retreat, but I could just empathize with the reality that they were hungry and needed food. They have the communication skills they do (meowing, box and paper shredding Very Loudly for a few examples) and use them well. I was able to have a feeling of tender appreciation of their plight rather than anger. The weekend of Metta practice definitely is already making a HUGE difference. Sharon, my cats thank you deeply for your teachings. 

I tiptoed down the stairs, picked Pinky up and cuddled him and quietly opened the can of food and plopped some into their dish and actually enjoyed the funny sounds they make while eating. It’s like a super yummy sound (think Young Frankenstein) with lots of lip smacking and purring. How wonderful to do something which created so much kitty happiness so easily. Then I crawled back into bed for a little extra R&R. Shortly after, I had two furry cuddle buddies. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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Though our formal practice might have felt kind of boring, or uninteresting, under the surface we were changing and it just took having an opportunity (something life will ALWAYS give us) to see that change become manifest.

So have courage yogis! Have some faith.

Look closely at your thoughts, the things you say and things you do.

I bet if you look with a close attention, you will notice that you’re changing slowly, bit by bit.

Your daily practice is NEVER a waste of time.

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May all be happy. May all be peaceful.

Two Step Walking Meditation


Metta in this Moment
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Though we tend to tumble headfirst into the next moment out of sheer force of habit, we can train ourselves to pause in the midst of our busy days. We can ground ourselves in the midst of stressful situations by bringing awareness down to our feet, feeling the earth supporting us. Grounding ourselves this way, we’re more able to handle whatever difficulties arise with more grace and increased empathy and compassion for ourselves and others.

Mindfulness Practice with the Feet
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Bring your awareness to your feet. Feel them in your shoes. See if you can feel each toe on its own without wiggling them. It’s okay if you can’t. We’re not seeking any special experience. We just want to see what’s going on right here and now.

Now – Feel the shoes gently holding your feet. Next allow yourself to feel that the sole purpose of the earth, it’s only job, is to hold you up. Rest in that awareness.

2012_0506_images_10a_berry_conversation_wendell_portrait(The great Wendell Berry)

Simple Walking Meditation

Walking requires a constant shifting of our weight from foot to foot, an act we rarely pay much attention to. As we shift the weight, it’s as if we fill one leg and empty the other, of weight, of energy, however you like to think of it. This occurs as we place first one foot down in front of us to step forward and then the next. Let’s slow this process down for a few steps to attend mindfully to the many sensations of walking.

  1. As you step forward, place your foot down ever so softly, feeling that initial contact with the ground or floor. Slowly begin to shift your weight into your forward foot, feeling it supporting you as you fill the leg up.
  2. Be aware at the same time, of your rear foot and leg. Feel how the rear leg gets emptier and emptier; the foot releasing contact with the ground.

Repeat for a few steps, up to ten.

Walking is actually a wondrous act. Let’s enjoy it together. Let’s be grateful for our capacity to walk. Let’s take a moment of gratitude for our feet and legs.

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Pausing is Possible Anytime

You can practice this simple walking meditation any time. It’s a very good practice before any stressful events like meetings, difficult conversations etc. Try pausing next time you’re heading somewhere. The simple act remembering that you can pause and doing it, even for a moment or a few steps, is incredibly powerful.

Loving kindness 


  

Simple Guided Meditation 


I’ve noticed in the past few years, that many times when speaking with people who are new to meditation, that they have a lot of ideas about how one must practice that are not quite accurate. The sad thing is, that these ideas then serve as barriers to them giving meditation a fair try.

  
In fact the practice of meditation is fundamentally quite simple. John Kabat- Zinn says that really all we are trying to do is to pay attention, right here and now, in a particular way, that is nonjudgmentally.

Formal meditation practice just means that we’re doing this practice of paying attention to our moment to moment experience, bringing our awareness to what’s going on right here and now, on purpose. We are intentionally bringing our mind into the moment instead of all the places that usually goes. ( Worrying about the pat and future…sometimes quite endlessly.)

  This activity does not necessarily require any special posture or extraordinary flexibility. Our goal is to be alert so that we can wake up to reality. I think this is where some of the misunderstandings about posture come from. Simply we want our body to be in a position which is going to promote our awakening. This means if we were slumped over, the signal that we’re sending to the brain is that it’s time to nap not wake up.

  You can meditate sitting or standing. You can also meditate when walking or doing other activities but I’ll address that another time. For now let’s focus on sitting meditation.

You can meditate sitting on a special cushion, a meditation bench, or whatever chair you happen to have at home.

I hope that you will try this short guided meditation that will help you get into a comfortable, upright and alert posture that will best support your meditation practice for today.

Please know that there is no right or wrong way to do this. By which I mean to say, that of course your mind is going to wander. That is the nature of mind. The mind is like a puppy it wants to run around and investigate everything. We would never holler at a little puppy for doing what comes naturally. When the puppy of the mind wanders off, your only job is to do your best to notice, recognize, acknowledge and gently return to the breath. No matter how many times you need to do this, each time meeting your mind wandering with tenderness and compassion.

 Basic guided 15 minute meditation  

Free First Saturday Meditation


Join me for a free community meditation this Saturday. If it’s nice we’ll practice outside in the lovely garden.

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Open to all regardless of experience. Perfect for you folks out there who have thought about meditation but wonder what it is, if you can even do it (hint: YOU CAN!) All you need is your body, heart and mind and the determination to come with an sense of open curiosity. Also for experienced practitioners. Guided vipassana or insight mediation, which uses the breathe as a guide into our present moment experience.

I recommend bringing a notebook or your favorite journal with you. We do a little writing after we sit to check in with ourselves, noticing small changes, bringing awareness into consciousness.

We have some meditation benches and cushions but if you have your own, please bring it with you.

May all find and know peace.

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