If you are one of the 29 million people in the United States touched by Alzheimer’s you will want to read this book, Ten Thousand Joys & Ten Thousand Sorrows: A Couple’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s by Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle. It is a beautifully written memoir with practical guidance for family members and friends of those afflicted with this condition.
I shifted into mindfulness practice: Walking and breathing mindfully, aware of each step, each breath. Just before the door, I repeated a simple metta, or loving-kindess prayer. That was how I steadied myself in preparation for the inevitable–the latest crisis waiting for me on the other side of the door.
There are many lessons available here. Cultivating the six perfections (patience, generosity, discipline, diligence, contemplation, and wisdom), being wholehearted in everything you do, using hardships as the means for spiritual growth and equanimity.
If you want to be entertained by your own downfall, better to do it knowingly than get all choked up the inevitable. I can feel the slipping; it’s like having quicksand under me. Sometimes if I don’t say something right away, it’s like a wild bird. it’s gone. it’s delicate, this business of memory and words.
This blog entry is dedicated to my friend Ed as he moves along on his journey with Alzheimer’s.
- Right Speech
- Right Action
- Right Livelihood
- Right Effort
- Right Mindfulness
- Right Concentration
- Right View
- Right Resolve
“Right” could be substituted by “skillful” or “wise” and these terms carries less judgment. It’s not right in the sense of right or wrong, but right in the sense of what works.
From 25-27 February 2011, I will be giving a weekend workshop at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. I am honored to be among the teaching faculty of this august and important organization, dedicated to making the dharma available. In their own words:
The Barre Center for Buddhist Studies is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to exploring Buddhist thought and practice as a living tradition, faithful to its origins, yet adaptable to the current world. The center provides a bridge between study and practice, between scholarly understanding and meditative insight. It encourages engagement with the tradition in a spirit of genuine inquiry. Located on 90 acres of wooded land in rural, central Massachusetts, just a half mile from the Insight Meditation Society, BCBS provides a peaceful and contemplative setting for the study and investigation of the Buddha’s teachings. The secluded campus consists of a 240 year-old farmhouse, a dharma hall, and three cottages which taken together provide space for a 5,000 volume library, classroom, meditation hall, student housing, dining, and offices. The study center offers a variety of courses, workshops, retreats, and self-study programs to further research, study, and practice. Our programming is rooted in the classical Buddhist tradition of the earliest teachings and practices, but calls for dialogue with other schools of Buddhism and with other academic fields. All courses support both silent meditation practice and conscious investigation of the teachings. Contact Information: 149 Lockwood Road · Barre, Massachusetts 01005 • ?(978) 355-2347 office • (978) 355-2798 fax firstname.lastname@example.org
The Buddhist scholar Stephen Batchelor noted that “the Buddha had a great sensitivity to the power of metaphor.” In my workshop, I will follow in the footsteps of the Buddha himself by teaching mindfulness through metaphors. My workshop is entitled: Metaphors, Meaning, and Change: Finding Our Way to Mindfulness.
Metaphors are often thought of as colorful augmenting features of language. However, a large body of scholarship shows that ordinary “literal” language is infused with metaphors. It is impossible to think, feel, or act without the use of metaphors. In fact, the evolution of the human mind may have depended on the use of metaphors. The words we use are not “dead” and the concepts they point to can contribute to stress, mental suffering, psychopathology, and unhappiness. To be aware of the metaphors we use and develop the skill to generate new metaphors can be part of our creativity and growth. This workshop integrates the use of metaphors with mindfulness practice and Dharma understanding to create a new model for mental health, transcending suffering, and the change process.
The fee for this workshop, including meals and accommodations is set at a reasonable $198 and carries 12 CE credits for some mental health professionals. You may register here.
I invite you to come to this special place, a place that feels like my spiritual home, to spend a weekend contemplating and practicing the dharma through metaphors for mindfulness. I’ll be drawing on the wisdom in my book, Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness and the more recent, The Everything Buddhism Book.
With blessings and gratitude,