Mindfulness Matters

Watch His Holiness the Karmapa, one of the most important figures in Tibetan Buddhism, talk about his life and philosophy. 


img-hp-main---giffords-target_163552333790.jpgCongresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat from Arizona, was shot in the head a point blank range this past Saturday injuring 14 other people, with six dead. The suspect is 22-year-old Jared Loughner who apparently planned out this killing ahead of time. 

If you listened to Tom Ashbrook’s On Point this morning, the conversation turned towards the rhetoric of violence and First Amendment rights for free speech. 
An article in the Daily Beast catalogues violent rhetoric that has been used towards Representative Giffords. Sarah Palin placed Giffords in her “crosshairs.” An article in the Huffington Post reports on Palin’s denial that the “crosshairs” had anything to do with guns. 
Her opponent in the congressional race whom she narrowly defeated, Jerry Kelly, according to this article, said, “ “Get on target for victory,” “Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully a automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.”

Obviously, it is impossible to attribute cause and effect. This disturbed young man could have been acting alone out of his personal situations and circumstances. He could also have been influenced by political rhetoric provided by Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and others. For example, Sarah Palin says, “Don’t retreat, reload.”

George Eliot in Middlemarch cautioned perhaps prophetically, “All of us, grave or light,
get our thoughts entangled in metaphors, and act fatally on the strength of

We can see metaphors of violence and warfare in contemporary political speech. Most of us, thankfully, don’t act out these metaphors. 

Whatever the case, we can see that political speech focuses more on attacking the person, e.g., Obama, rather than ideas, e.g., healthcare. 

Whatever is happening, mindfulness is certainly absent. So we can think about the words we use and consider the consequences of the words we use. We identify with our words; they shape the way we see the world, what we pay attention to and what we ignore. 


It’s Stress Reduction Sunday. Read my weekly post in the Connecticut Watchdog. Here is my CT Watchdog posts from last week:

OK. Now it’s 2 January and it’s time to get to work (or play) with the ordinary, day-to-day, pedestrian aspects of life. I’m reminded of what Jack Kornfield said, “After the ecstasy, the laundry.”

Let’s not allow our mindfulness practice to go the way of New Year’s Resolutions. Years ago, when I belonged to a gym, there would be a spike in attendance after the New Year, and a gradual drop over time so that by February or March it was back to baseline.

Winter_snow.jpgThe snow has been falling gently here in Northern Vermont for the past day or so and the beauty just sort of punches you between the eyes. The naked branches of stick season offer themselves to the gentle flakes of snow, and the snow creates colonies that reach to the sky.

It’s easy to be mindful with such beauty. The air has been still and the temperatures, mild. it’s easy to smile when the world shines like this. 
Tonight the snow yielded to the twilight allowing the sun to shine horizontal and numinous. 
This snow is also slippery and invites us to be mindful on the roads. Winter also invites us to be prepared and to respect our relationship with nature. When we’re prepared and open, the world offers itself as a playground.
Every day the weather in my Vermont home teaches impermanence. And when I can kiss the changes as they go by, I get knocked over by joy. When I can release expectations and celebrate the snow when it arrives, embrace the rain when it arrives, and the grey when it lingers, it’s hard to get out of the way of joy. 
Wherever you are and whatever the weather is doing, joy is just waiting for your invitation, waiting for you to grant it permission to show up. Beauty is here to stay .. get used to it!