The Bliss of Sangha

Posted in Buddhism, Dharma Punx, Meditation, New York with tags , , , on May 1, 2013 by Kimberly

After way, way too long from any kind of community center (except for the Intro to Meditation class on Sunday, which was fine), I made my way to the Dharma Punx class last night, which is in one of the few unrenovated buildings on Bowery. It’s weird there. All this shiny glass on one of the most notorious avenues in the city. It’s heartbreaking, the repaving of our collective history.

Anyway, I’m glad I got there early, because the 40-50 cushions filled up fast and people were jammed between others, pressed against the wall. It was beautiful, all these different people jammed in to get a little dharma in their lives. Josh Korda did not disappoint.

The whole thing had a very “real” New York vibe. Sound of trucks outside, led by a guy covered in tats, who speaks frankly. After leading us through a guided meditation (so much easier than by myself–the half hour went by in a snap), he gave his teaching on Buddhism and sex. About how there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with sex, so long as there’s no misconduct allowed. However, he made it clear that the room is a safe space.

Overall, I really liked it–for the first time, it felt like my kind of people. I didn’t stick around after (it’s a long walk back to the train), but I can see myself doing so in the future. Out of the three places I’ve visited, I felt most comfortable at this one, even without speaking to anyone.

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Falling Off and Getting Back On

Posted in Buddhism, Dharma Punx, New York with tags , , on April 23, 2013 by Kimberly

Transitioning from full-time office work to full-time freelance hasn’t been easy. The past week or so has just meant working two jobs since the new clients just want it done and don’t care about anything else. Last week I work up at 4:30, worked until 7:30 when I had to get dressed and then again when I got home, until 12. I took a dinner break, but that was about it. Emails have gone unanswered, plans were moved around and eventually cancelled.The idea of having ten minutes to sit on the cushion, much less go to a class, has been hilarious. Yesterday, I did start my volunteering with the elderly, helping them take care of their pets. I’ve been being moral, but the intention just hasn’t been there and I can feel it. I’m tense, it’s difficult for me to find compassion, though I’ve been careful to be patient. It is imperative that I go tonight. No excuses. Even making sure I get there early so I can get a seat. When I take a break later, I’m even going to do a “warm up” meditation so I’m not (as) fidgety.

I want this to work; I need this.

Mindfulness and Time Management

Posted in Buddhism on April 13, 2013 by Kimberly

It’s been a busy week, for me, and I’m slightly overwhelmed by the fact that it’s going to continue in the same vein for the next few days so mindfulness is especially important right now. Every time I’ve realized I’m being scattered, I remind myself that I’m doing X and that that’s all I need to be concentrating on. It’s so simple, but it’s helping me a lot and actually making me more efficient than “multi-tasking” ever could. Especially needed right now, but I’ve been fortunate lately in that whatever Buddhist tract I’ve been picking up lately has been exactly what I need to hear (read).

No Buddha, No Blog, No Dharma or Sangha For Me (for the past few days)

Posted in Buddhism, New York, Uncategorized with tags , , on April 12, 2013 by Kimberly

I have been very remiss ’round these parts. Between the move/unpacking, looking for new work, testing for new work — I’m getting back into freelance transcription, which is a gig I like a lot but each company wants to test, which is completely understandable, but eats my time. The past couple of nights I’ve been drifting off in my chair.

Right when I need it most, I’ve pushed Buddhism away–very temporarily, but still. I’ve been so keyed up, my husband asked when the last time my ass was in a cushion. I realized it’d been days. I could barely sit for five minutes!

It doesn’t help that there’s rumors of the meditation center being part of an offshoot of Buddhism that’s considered a cult.  That kinda threw me and I’m planning on going somewhere else on Tuesday.

Reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book on mindfulness and that’s what I’m going to concentrate on for now. I feel like even a few days is too long to be away and I need to remind myself of tenets again. I can feel that I haven’t been mindful, so scattered the last few days. I just need to be present. The rest will come.

Prostrations, or, Buddhist Burpees

Posted in Buddhism, New Kadampa, New York with tags , , , on April 7, 2013 by Kimberly

Apologies for the lack of posting. Between preparing for the move today, going to class and the Leonard Cohen concert (at Radio City, which I’d never been to before and was amazing), I didn’t get to sit down long enough to log on.

Went to the Intro to Prostrations class yesterday and it was intense in a different way that the meditation on impermanence was. I was up late packing Friday night and so tired. A little apprehensive because I’m not usually into form over content, but I really want to participate in next weekend’s precepts so I put down the boxes for a few minutes and made my way to Chelsea. Figured that I probably wouldn’t look any more or less silly than anyone else.

Kadam explained that prostration wasn’t worshiping as much as paying serious respect to. That it shouldn’t be empty gestures, but to hold a sincere wish for help in whatever is causing the most delusions (in my case, anger). He showed us how to do it and then we took a break before the Heart Jewel prayers.

Got my fancy tea and felt much more awake, although I wasn’t ready for the workout it was. I wound up being the only one doing just half protestations because I have poor upper body strength and it was more important to me to have my heart/mind in the right place. Oh, well.

 

Tripping Myself Out

Posted in Buddhism, New York with tags , on April 5, 2013 by Kimberly

In order to reduce the stress of my morning commute, I tend to leave a couple of minutes earlier than I have to and take a middle subway car so that I maybe have space enough to read (and if the train is going slow enough, to take my hand off the pole long enough to underline important bits). Today was not one of those days, but that’s not unusual for living in the most densely populated city in the country.

Instead of letting myself be bored on the long commute, because this human life is precious and no time should be wasted, I try my best to think about dharma. Doesn’t always work, but even if it’s for a little bit, that’s all right. If I don’t at least try, then I’m prone to get annoyed and it’s that much harder for me to pull back and have a peaceful mind for the rest of the day.

Today I passed the time on my way in thinking about perception and how nothing is actually real the way we think about it normally. That it’s all in our mind. No matter how much I’ve been thinking/reading about this (which isn’t very long), I get tripped out. How can things be  just constructs of our perception?  Does this mean that if enough of us concentrated on it, we could end war and poverty? Could we actually realize liberation for all? As the brilliant Robert Anton Wilson once remarked, “Reality is thermoplastic, not thermosetting.” For the first time, I think I understand it. Kinda.

Tonight’s Class On Ignorance v. Wisdom-based Fear

Posted in Buddhism, Meditation, New Kadampa with tags , , , on April 5, 2013 by Kimberly

It’s been a week since I’ve been able to get to a class, so I’m grateful that I could get my ass into a seat tonight.

Gorgeous day today, sunny but just chilly enough that I could walk the 2.5 miles without getting sweaty. Time left over to get my fancy tea. Picked up Transform Your Life and Mahamudra Tantra at the bookshop and got my preferred seat in class (as far back and near the shoes as possible–patience is important, but that has to be balanced with train times). All conditions were right for a good class. 

Kadam, as always, did not disappoint. The title of the class was “Transforming Fear” and he has this way that makes it all seem so easy, so obvious. To illustrate wisdom versus ignorance-based fear, he used the example of having a fear of getting hit by a cab/bike messenger. Ignorance-based fear is letting that make ourselves tense or even not want to cross the street but wisdom-based is instead walking more skillfully. That fear is just ignorance, which is a delusion. This class was part of the cycle that’s focused on refuge and renunciation. The way he talks about the latter (that it’s only deciding to give up suffering), how can I not want it?

Caught the train I wanted to home and scarfed down a fake tuna sandwich that was still good despite sitting in my fridge for a few days.

Yeah, it was a good day.