Mindful Metta Mondays In Evanston


So excited, humbled, honored to announce that I’ll be teaching at this amazing place, The Heartwood Center, in Evanston.


Mindful Metta Mondays start Monday June 6th, 7-8pm at the Heartwood Center!
Four-week sessions in June, July and August. $72 for the month or $20 drop in. Registration will open in the next day or so. Each session will integrate meditation and writing to help us cultivate Metta or loving kindness for ourselves and each other.

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Take a break to make your writing better


Maybe you’re working on some content marketing, a press release, blog, white paper, or that piece which is finally thank God, your big break at The New Yorker, an essay for your favorite journal, your novel or short story. We all know the feeling. There is a deadline. It looms. The clock ticks louder and louder. Emails arrive from the boss, the client, the agent, asking when you’ll be delivering the work.

You look back at the computer. The empty white screen glares, mocking you. You wonder, with a sinking feeling in your gut and perhaps a racing of your heart,where’s that go-getter, that deadline meeting genius you told them you were?

At times like this, we tend to stay glued to the desk, keep longer hours, drink more caffeine, energy drinks, work harder to make something, anything out of our fingertips, our keyboard. We believe that if we just keep our butts glued to the chair that we can somehow force what is needed out onto the page.

And maybe, sometimes, that could be true. Maybe we can get something out. But really, how good is it? Work made this way doesn’t come from fire in the belly or a passionate heart. It gets born but feels dead. And the process is no fun. At. All.

And worse still, this kind of brain-freeze and forced march reaction can become a pattern. It’s a sort crazed, creative death-spiral. We think perhaps being an accountant might be more fun.

At this point you may need a major intervention. A real break. Some way to break up the rocks and crust of bad habitual patterns and rediscover the real beating life buried under all that frustration.

For a major re-boot, I recommend a creative retreat of some kind; one that will allow you to let go of all the stress to which you’ve become addicted against your better judgement and which will help you rekindle that flame of creativity and joy, releasing the inner creative genius which always knows how to play, experiment, dance with a devil may care, throw caution to the winds zest for being alive.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hop a plane for 16 hours to an exotic locale (though if you have the time, go ahead on and enjoy). There’s a number of things you can do other than that.

Here’s a few ideas.

Some are in the moment things you can do and others involve a greater commitment of time. Each is fundamentally based on the idea that stepping away from the task at hand is the best medicine and further, that you engage in something which occupies the mind in a manner both relaxed yet focused.

You’ll note that none of these involves technology or media of any kin,d as they tend to create more stress and increase distractibility. I mean, for goodness sake, think of how fast your Twitter feed spits out new stuff at you. All those banner notifications.

  • Go for a nice mindful walk in which you completely and luxuriously immerse yourself and your senses in connecting to your moment by moment experiences. (One of my favorite writers who I am told, goes on a walk daily, is Paul Auster. It certainly seems to work for him.)
  • Do some exercise. Maybe you’re a runner or like to do yoga or swim. It doesn’t matter so much what it is you do, but that you fully engage in what you are doing.
  • Do as author Dani Shapiro suggests and fill your ears with beautiful language by reading something truly magnificent. I also advocate reading aloud and really letting that gorgeous language soak in. Roll around in all that amazing sound. I like to read things which may be related even slightly by subject matter to what I’m working on, but sometimes letting go completely and just reading some poetry can be a powerful way to throw the switches. Get some Rumi. Hafiz. Robert Frost. Mary Oliver. Connect with your spiritual side even for a few verses.

There is a channel between voice and presence,
a way where information flows.

In disciplined silence the channel opens.
With wandering talk, it closes. 
-Rumi

For something which will offer you a more profound opportunity for change try a local retreat of some kind where you can unplug from your devices, relax, retrain your mind, and open the heart, creating space for compassion and creativity.

Check out what might be offered near where you live and work. You may find options that extend from anywhere from a few hours to a whole weekend or even a week. I recently attended an amazing retreat at Kripalu  for a weekend of writing and meditation with Dani Shapiro. I came back a changed woman.

If you’re in Chicago or thereabouts, you might want to come to one of these.

What works for you when you’re feeling stuck? Love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Write on.

Hillary

Spring Mini-Retreats


Mindfulness Meditation, Movement and Writing!
MINI-RETREAT SPRING DATES:
4/21 (6-8pm)
5/15 (12-2pm)
6/16 (6-8pm)

$30 each
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Let’s start spring with a spiritual clean out. After a long winter it’s good to cleanse not only the body but the heart and mind too. Get ready to move closer to finding your own unique gifts and the capacity to share them with the world.

Discover how you can compassionately transform your heart and mind for greater peace and happiness.
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You will learn:

  • to cultivate gentle yet sharp and clear awareness of the body and mind
  • how to apply the lessons of your newly developing awareness from formal practice to your every day life 
  • how to hold yourself with greater compassion and acceptance
  • how to work with “negative” emotions
  • how to create greater sense of flow in your life
  • how to find your own happiness right here and now

The best attitude to come to the class with is this: simply open curiosity to see what will happen. I can’t tell you what will change for you, but I can promise you that if you come, something will indeed change.
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Sound good? Sign up now!
Registration and payment required  to reserve your spot.

What to bring:

  • wear soft, comfy clothes- layers are good
  • journal or notebook
  • something to write with
  • yoga mat

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Other Details:

Where: 1839 S Halsted St (just south of 18th St.)
When: 4/21 (6-8pm), 5/15 (12-2pm), 6/16 (6-8pm)
Tuition: $30 per session

Sign up now. Shoot me a line and I’ll be glad to help you out.

WE ARE EASILY ACCESSED VIA PUBLIC TRANSIT
FREE STREET PARKING IS AVAILABLE

Saturday Meditation Happy Hour


Feeling stressed?

Do you sometimes wonder how you got here, when driving, taking the El, or walking from one room to another because you realize you have no idea where you’ve been?

Do you want to feel more inner happiness and peace?

Do you want to feel better able to deal with life’s many difficulties and challenges?

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If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not alone. Most of us spend between 50-95% of our days lost in mind-wandering. Meditation can help.

Jack Kornfield advises us that each aspect of our meditation will open in its own time, like a flower.

Join us to discover what he means. In this gentle class, you will learn to simple and profound methods for living a life of greater presence and happiness.

You’ll also:

  • increase focus and concentration
  • adapt better to change
  • learn to deal with difficult emotions
  • increase compassion for your self and others
  • see the bigger picture
  • and much more

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WHEN: Saturdays 9-10am
WHERE: 1839 S Halsted
TUITION: $80/month or Drop in tuition $25/class
REGISTER HERE!

And please, bring friends!

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Thanks. May all find peace, Hillary

 

Free 1st Saturday Community Meditation


Are you feeling stressed, trying to balance life, family, work?

Do you feel like sometimes you’re just skimming life or missing out on something critical?

Do you sometimes feel like you’ve lost something you once had and can’t quite put your finger on it?

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Meditation can help you regain your compassionate, patient, adaptable center.

You will learn how to:

  • handle stress with greater ease
  • discover the true source of your unhappiness or suffering
  • understand how the causes of suffering operate
  • find the way out of suffering
  • cultivate step by step practices that support peaceful and happy life
  • be more present for your daily life
  • deal with difficult emotions
  • to recognize harmful and beneficial habits
  • let go of harmful habits
  • cultivate healthy habits
  • and much more

We offer free community meditation every first Saturday of the month.

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Donations gratefully accepted.

WHERE: 1839 S Halsted

WHEN: 1st Saturday of each month 9-9:45 am

OTHER: Please refrain from wearing perfumes and colognes. Wear soft comfy clothing. Layers are good.

 

Spring Transformation Course


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Spring into Happiness: An Introduction* (Sign up here with a click)

Mindfulness Meditation, Movement and Writing!

Spring 2016 DATES:
Sundays 9-10:30

Let’s start spring with a spiritual clean out. After a long winter it’s good to cleanse not only the body but the heart and mind too. Get ready to move closer to finding your own unique gifts and the capacity to share them with the world.

Bring your open heart and discover how you can compassionately transform a month of mindfulness can bring you.

1.5 hour classes are mini-retreats featuring guided meditation, mindful movement and writing.

You will learn:

  • to cultivate gentle yet sharp and clear awareness of the body and mind
  • how to apply the lessons of your newly developing awareness from formal practice to your every day life  
  • how to hold yourself with greater compassion and acceptance
  • how to work with “negative” emotions
  • how to create greater sense of flow in your life
  • how to find your own happiness right here and now

The best attitude to come to the class with is this: simply open curiosity to see what will happen. I can’t tell you what will change for you, but I can promise you that if you commit to the course, something will indeed change.

Sound good? Sign up now!
Tuition is just $160 

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Registration and payment required  to reserve your spot.

 What to bring:

  • wear soft, comfy clothes- layers are good

  • journal or notebook

  • something to write with

  • yoga mat

Other Details:

Where: 1839 S Halsted St (just south of 18th St.)

When: 9-10:30am Sundays starting March 6

Got any questions? Shoot me a line and I’ll be glad to help you out.

Registering for the class indicates your commitment to the entire program which supports your own development as well as the group as a whole. Refunds are available before the course commences.

We are easily accessed via public transit or have free street parking is available.

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Crowd Funding Part Two


Dear ones, I’m doing a little more crowd funding, a few dollars at a time, to attend that retreat on meditation and writing with Dani Shapiro (author of amongst other things, “Still Writing”)
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Thanks to you all amazing people, we raised the $ for the retreat tuition but now find the air fare gift of Freq flyer miles won’t work. So, now trying to raise about $250 for the RT airfare from Chi to Albany, New York. It’s just so close, I can feel it!
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Donations of all sorts are welcome, none too small. If there’s any chance you might be able to help that would be awesome. And if you know of some lovely soul, who also might be interested, please consider sharing if you feel so inspired.
Remember, as a thank you for all who join, I’ll be offering a meditation and writing retreat and online materials this spring, after I have time to process what I learn from Dani. If you have not read any of her stuff, I encourage you to check it out.
I can take donations any number of ways. PayPal is easy and if you say the money is a gift, they don’t charge any fees. (The email is: calmchicago@gmail.com) I can also take cash, check, Square, Venmo. What ever is easy for you!
Many thanks for considering helping me make this happen. This is very much the direction all my Calm Chicago work is heading. And I have to say finally, that two things in particular have solidified my resolve just in the last 48 hours.IMG_0278
1. My dear friend andteacher, Swami Sankarananda advised me to go and do whatever it is I am going to do with my absolute best effort and always aiming for the highest good, the most benefit for all beings. I believe that means for me to keep writing, meditating and helping others by teaching those two things in concert with each other.
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2. The death of David Bowie, who was such a instrumental force throughout my life, from the time I was about 7 throughout high school, on into college and even now. (More on this later.) If you didn’t know, he once was on the brink of becoming a Buddhist monk but when he asked his teacher, Trungpa Rinpoche, describing his feelings of being torn between being a monk and being an artist musician, he was advised to stay an artist because that is how he could be the most benefit.
That these two messages came to me within hours of each other is not lost on me.
I say it here. No more fucking around. Pardon the curse word for emphasis. I have lived going back and forth, beset by indecision. No more.
I hope that you may be able to join me on this journey. May our words and meditations be of benefit to all beings.
Wishing you peace and happiness in 2016.
Namaste, Hillary
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