Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart Archives

when people you love hurt

I have never known what to do when people I love hurt. Whether it’s physical, mental, or spiritual, all I know how to do is hug, soothe, and cook. I prescribe what works for me: flowers, tea, chocolate. Cookies. Time […]


names and milestones

Years have names, although we usually don’t think of them that way. And this will be the year of my beloved’s ill health. Something there is in us that feels helpless when the people we love are hurting. And double pneumonia […]


the pain we bring to others

There are days we will hurt people. Days when our thoughtless actions will crack through the protective shells we all wear to get us through our lives. There are times when some thoughtless action — with no ill intent behind […]


chicken soup, roast beef and ginger scones

No, I didn’t make ginger scones to go w/ the roast beef. That would just be…odd. Obviously, none of the three go…together. That’s not the point, is it? I made the chicken soup yesterday. Since we didn’t have baking powder, […]

some periods you just breathe through…

At times like this, I don’t know what I’d do w/out tonglen. When I’m grieving for a loved one’s unhappiness, or breathing through my own, I remember: all over the world there is suffering. I know – how hokey is that? […]

to everything, there is a season

  My DIL is packing for the trip early tomorow morning that will put her, my son, and my beloved grandson on a plane back ‘home’ to Blacksburg. The idyllic days I’ve spent tickling, hugging, feeding, holding, and inhaling my […]

sitting with suffering

“Instead of asking ourselves, “How can I find security and happiness?” we could ask ourselves, “Can I touch the center of my pain? Can I sit with suffering, both yours and mine, without trying to make it go away? Can […]

heartsick reprised

I use this image alot in my blog. I wish I knew who first created it — they deserve my undying admiration & gratitude. Because to me, this is beginner’s heart. It’s what I think of these days, especially, as […]

time and healing

I was reminded today healing happens, but it takes time. More than a week ago, I cut my finger pretty badly. I think the verb I used was ‘clove,’ since I whacked it w/ my brand-new cleaver. As you can […]

daylilies, stomach aches, and tonglen

Today, I’m breathing for those of you with stomach aches. Somehow, that helps. Really. Tonglen is, perhaps, the best manifestation of compassion I know. Stomach hurts? Offer it up for all those folks who have REALLY bad problems w/ their […]

writing, beginner’s heart

Writing is my practice. It took me a long time to recognise this, and even longer to accept it. It didn’t fit my (preconceived!) notions of what ‘practice’ looks like. But over the years, I’ve come to realise that writing […]

30 Days of Love: take a deep breath

Today’s 30 Days of Love prompt is about the sacred pause. The breath, in other words. Breathing in <> breathing out. Buddhist & yogi Teo Drake reminds us that mindfulness needn’t be limited to sitting and following the breath. Just […]

letting go, tonglen, and what we can’t fix ~

My cat is dying. And my dog is crazy. Really. I wish I were kidding. My cat is nowhere near as old as other cats — only 13. I have friends whose cats lived to 19, even 20. Mine is […]

wonder, and loving strangers (even mean ones??) ~

My grandson — one month old, today! — cries when I hold him. A LOT of the time. It’s embarrassing. Not to mention depressing. I do NOT have this grandmother thing down. Tonight my son & DIL are out to […]

poetry (again), practice, and beginner’s heart ~

If you know me at all, you know I’m not quite rational about poetry. Of course, poetry isn’t a rational subject. And writers of it tend to not be, either. How could we be? It’s all about stories and metaphor […]

message in a bottle: imagining a reader ~

Last month I wrote a poem for a funeral reading. The deceased wasn’t a friend — he was my sister’s dear friend’s brother. So writing the poem took some time, as I’ve noted elsewhere. Of course, all poems — most writing […]

tragedy, great sorrow, and the breath ~

I have nothing to say after a tragedy of this magnitude. My heart hurts — I have to catch my breath, thinking of sending a child or children off to school, and never seeing them again… My mind races: what […]

(active) sitting ~

I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this blog — more than once — that I’m a lousy traditional meditator. I suspect a lot of working American Buddhists are. It’s hard to find time to sit on a zafu and meditate. Dinner, work, […]

questioning death and impermanence ~

My students are struggling with death. This has been a week where two have lost childhood friends — close friends — within 48 hours. Their grief, disbelief, and questions fill the classroom. Why? they ask me. It isn’t fair. I’m […]

stringing a harp… or, can anger be righteous?

Anger is my mind poison. In Buddhism, there are three — greed, anger, & delusion. Once you hear of them, you pretty much know which is yours. Although often I have to work against a kind of negative cocktail effect […]

Previous Posts

beginnings, and the inevitability of change
This has been the time of beginnings, which often appear -- at least at first -- as endings. Like the dandelion tuft above, which looks like the end of the ...

posted 4:48:10pm Nov. 30, 2015 | read full post »

of outsiders, refugees, and the sound of hearts, breaking
Perhaps it's because I lived so many years in places where I was the 'outsider.' Perhaps it's because 10 of those years were spent in Muslim countries. Perhaps ...

posted 6:01:54pm Nov. 20, 2015 | read full post »

connection, and the web, reprised
Buddhists believe firmly in connection. We don't always see eye-to-eye on other tenets -- reincarnation, the divinity of leadership, vegetarianism. There are ...

posted 3:38:54pm Nov. 18, 2015 | read full post »

happiness is...
It's true. You can DECIDE to be happy. I promise. And it doesn't reaallly take a whole lot of effort, despite what cranky people may think... There's a ...

posted 1:20:52pm Nov. 12, 2015 | read full post »

After any death, there is (at least in all the cultures I'm familiar with) a ceremony. In our case, Mom's funeral. It was definitely a family affair: my ...

posted 1:53:20pm Nov. 10, 2015 | read full post »


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