Waiting and the lessons it offers

Oh my gosh.

This is the week of waiting waiting waiting… it seems for everything. Clearly, there’s lessons to be found.

Honestly, it’s all very first world stuff too. Waiting to hear about moving and what the rent will be. Will they build the partial wall we want and install ceiling fans? Waiting for red tape to be cleared so I can register for the next semester of classes in my clinical psych program. Waiting to feel the little spinning ball of crazy energy inside me to settle down so I can work. (Note to self, clearly time for more meditation.)


And then there’s more serious waiting.

Waiting to see what’s up with the infection in my mother’s 89 year old leg and what risk there is to her and or her leg. Waiting to hear news of a wonderful writer friend who was hit by a car exactly one week ago while riding her bike, who is going into more surgery today to fix the leg which the driver seriously f#’d up when they plowed into her.  Send up your good wishes and love even though you don’t know who it is. That kind of love helps everyone. (Thank you.) She is lucky to be alive. But I think it’s not luck, but the world needs people like her, doing good, whole hearted.

And let’s go global for a minute.

Waiting for the time when everyone is going to figure out that we are truly, honestly and for real, all in this together. There’s no you and me, no this and that, no us vs them. All those labels we use to cut the world up into slices of stuff, rights, money, property, and so on, that we can fight over are complete illusions.


There’s no same. No different.

All there is …is just this. A continuum if you like. A web. Not one thing is ever created or destroyed. All the labels we put on things, people, events only confuse us into thinking things are truly discrete. That we might own something or some one or have real power over what happens to create some endless happiness parade. This is just not so.


Think about it.

What are you made of? Where were you before you were born and what did you look like? And what about that device you’re reading this on? What’s that made of? Look deeply and see. Don’t accept the usual hack answers. See deeper than that.

Our poor minds are confused by concepts based on how the brain works, one hemisphere cutting up and ordering everything (which is useful for daily navigation but, which has limitations) and the other, seeing only that vast amazing continuum of everything and feeling bliss.

What if everyone started to really live inside the truth which all great traditions teach? Could we wait with more patience for whatever AND realize that the only life we have, is only happening right now. And right now. And again, here and now.


And you know what’s crazy?

I realize I wrote this same basic thing back in second grade. I was in Mrs. Sessa’s class (Just an aside…Her son once accused me of eating the paste. He was the one eating it! Ha!) and each morning we had to write something. She would have a prompt on the board and we would write. I don’t recall the specific prompt any more but my Mom still has that paper somewhere, where I wrote and wrote for two pages, about my direct, and clear recognition of how fast time flies and how we all run the risk of wasting our whole lives if we only spend it waiting for something to happen. And worrying about what the thing that happens might possibly be like once it does get here. And worrying about things which have already happened in the past. Sigh.

white rabbit running

So, thank you Mrs. Sessa and for me and all of you. When we feel ourselves waiting, perhaps holding the breath..maybe we can use that time, to pause and recognize the ground of our being, our right here-and-nowness, our all-in-it togetherness and offer the moment a smile, a breath. And let go of waiting long enough to ask, so What does this moment most need right now? What does this person, these people, need most? As Tara Brach suggests, we might see that what is most needed is love, acceptance, forgiveness, connection.

small blue marble

Let’s try it together and see. Let me know how it goes and I’ll report back to you all too.

Make today amazing dear ones.

Carpe diem, carpe pacem,





Please share and bring/invite friends.

Our focus is on compassion, kindness and generosity as a path to greater mindfulness, happiness and capacity to rest in natural awareness. Very much influenced by the meditation teachings of Thich Naht Hanh, Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, Sylvia Boorstein and Sharon Salzberg; the embodied yogic approach of Stephen Cope and in alignment with the Dalai Lama’s statement that his religion is kindness, we offer these community meditations, teachings and sharing as spiritual friends freely. This gathering is totally non-sectarian and open to all people of all faiths, traditions etc.
We’re also aware that we live, many of us, fragmented and disconnected from family, friends and each other, Our hope is that this group can be a help, a support allowing us to maintain and develop a string circle of supportive friends interested in living kindly, authentically and with generous, compassionate presence. We welcome you to join us.
We’ll do a little meditation practice together and talk about where we struggle in our practice. Lose our tempers, feel cranky and so forth. This is a total no-judgement zone where we are all safe to just be who we are, as we are. Our goal is to help each other stay the course of practice in the face of what Jon Kabat-Zinn calls the “full catastrophe” of living.

Feel free to bring your own meditation bench, cushion, yoga mat, etc. We’re looking at using Google Hangout (or something like that) for this in the future, so you can join us where ever in the world you are! Stay tuned for more about that!
DATE: Saturday, Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24
TIME: 10-11am
WHERE: 816 W 19th St No. 2 Please knock upon arrival.

RSVP requested.

Please refrain from wearing colognes or perfumes. Silence all cell phones and devices.

Please share with friends.

Make today and every day wonderful.
May all find peace.

Four Ways to Practice for Peace


1. Make time for practice. We all want things to be fabulous right now. And who can blame us?! But that can make us a wee bit impatient. Or we want things to be great now, which causes us to push away all that is perceived to be or feels unpleasant.

Think of meditation time as the time you take your medicine. I’m guessing here, but you probably wouldn’t think of going to the doctor, getting a prescription and then not taking it, or following through with the prescribed actions, like going to physical therapy. You’d still be sick and who could be blamed for that? Not the doctor.

We have to make time for our practice. It’s just that simple. Often we claim we don’t have time. But think of the time lost to panic, disordered thinking, feeling, mind-wandering etc. Hmmm. Studies indicate that on average we humans spend 49% of our time in mind wandering, which is associated with general malaise, unhappiness, depression, anxiety etc. Not to appealing huh? (Personally, I vote for happiness, flourishing and kindness.)

The thing is, if you make the time and in the beginning that might feel challenging but…schedule it, put it in your planner or phone or whatever you use to keep track of what’s what and when it’s time to practice, like Nike says, “JUST DO IT.” With time, you’ll notice there are moments of peace, of opening, of space between the 10,000 thoughts and emotions in the stream of life. And it will feel good to experience those. Some will be just fleeting moments but with practice, that feeling of greater calm, peace, inner stability, focus will become longer and more stable and life will become a bit more fabulous, one moment, one breath at a time.

Schedule that time. Start with what you can manage. Can you do 15 minutes..30? Is morning your time; lunch, evening – or some combination of those? I like to bookend y day with a little practice. Just about always, I practice in the morning, 30-45 minutes because that sets up my whole day and makes it go better; more mindfully, more generously – more awake to what is actually happening instead of being in the trance of imaginings. Whatever your amount of time is, just sit and be kind, curious, loving and determined. Drop those expectations. Just sit, breathe. Invite the border collie of the mind to come, sit, stay. Repeat. Repeat. Oh, yes – and SMILE, even just a little.


2. The Body Scan. The scan is great for checking in with the body to feel where our emotions are dwelling moment by moment. Many times we can feel an emotion arising in the body before we notice it in the mind. If we can bring awareness to that, sense that and relax the body…well, that’s a game changer because now we’ve just slowed everything way down and can see/feel the emotions and mental states, we can wake up to them sometimes, before we do or say something not so fabulous, harmful to ourselves or others. Yey to that!

The scan is also a great way to ease into sleep if the mind is running here and there, everywhere. Scanning with intention to relax, usually, I’m asleep before I get half way done. Keep in mind, that scanning for awareness as a mindfulness practice is one thing and scanning to relax and drop away to sleep is another. Mindfulness is about awakening to what is, right here and now.


3. Saying “Yes.” Suffering arises when the heart and mind resists what is. Saying “yes,” as a practice instead of saying, “no,” is about opening to what is unfolding for us, as it is and just letting it be. Not running away, suppressing but leaning into whatever it is with a sense of, “okay, this is going on now. That’s cool. Yes,” and just being with that. And of course, any time something feels like it’s really too much, you can always come back to the body, to the breath as a home base, a safe anchor and you can always seek extra support as you need it: the counsel of a good friend, a therapist. Saying yes, doesn’t mean we allow shitty things to just happen to us; mis-treatement of any kind and so forth is not cool, but we can say yes, to the feelings around that, which we usually reject; guilt, shame…


4. Three Gratitudes. Our poor lizard brains always want to highlight the negative in our experience. (sigh) But we can re-train the lizard to chill out and see the good in our lives. The more we do that, the happier we are. We can actually savor the good stuff, even the little moments.

So, try this for a week (at least.) Take ten minutes at the end of each day, and write down three things that went well in the last 24 hours. These can be things which happened to you or others, people you know or don’t know. Nothing is too big or too small. (Like breathing. The fact that we awoke and got to breathe all day is pretty damn amazing when you get right down to it. Even when that breathing is challenging for one reason or another…here we are after all, still alive.)

a) what went well?

b) what contributed to that happening?

c) how can I get more of that good stuff?

People who do this daily are happier. Check it out for yourselves.


La Villita Community Garden 2014









Feed your body and your spirit for 10% off


Kristoffer’s Cafe and Bakery in Pilsen, is teaming up with Calm Chicago: mind & body center to help feed your body and your spirit.

Enjoy 10% off at Kristoffer’s when you take a soothing stress-reducing mind/body class at Calm Chicago. When you order delicious drinks and food at Kristoffer’s, you’ll also get 10% off a class at Calm Chicago. 

Next class at Calm Chicago starts Thursday, March 7. Visit calmchicago.org for details and to register today. Please present your receipt to get the deal! Expires March 7. — at Calm Chicago: Tai Chi, Qigong & Meditation.

NEW! 8-week Intro to Qigong and Tai Chi

Are you feeling a little mid-winter blah?

Wondering just how many more days of mind numbing cold one simply must endure?

Well, just for you, I’m opening a new qigong/tai chi Intro class here at Calm Chicago!

Calm Chicago Logo Barb Herman


WHEN: EVERY THURSDAY EVENING IN MARCH AND APRIL 6-7 pm (The first class meets March 7)


HOW MUCH: $80 (cash, check or cc)

SIGN ME UP! Pre-registration is required. Class size limited, so reserve your spot now!

Come learn what thousands around the world know. Tai chi and qigong is good medicine for body, mind and heart! You will learn 2 postures a week from the 18-form qigong (shi ba shi) and some Yang tai chi basics. Just enough to help you warm up and de-stress and get ready for spring. So come on in and leave all that stress at the door, build up your immune system with these smooth and flowing mind/body exercise. No prior experience needed at all. Just bring yourself in your ordinary clothes and get ready to smile. Ladies if you wear heels to work, just bring a pair of sneakers or any other soft-soled shoe to wear.

Outdoors and breathing deep!
Tai Chi is more fun in a group! But don’t worry we’ll meet indoors!


Retreat Schedule Sept 29-30 in Little Village