Villava to Uterga

Last night, I went to the Shambala Center in NYC, a Buddhist school with meditation instruction and mindfulness talks open to the public. Robert Chender, a senior meditation teacher of this lineage, lead the evening, centering his lesson around the “stories we tell ourselves” in order to deal with difficult emotion. He explained that one of the aims of meditation is to quiet the voice in the logical part of our brain that either placate or encourages the amygdala–the fear center of our brain. Instead, we’re meant to simply feel what we’re feeling and then let it go.

“Imagine how incredible our lives could be if we stopped believing our own story.” This struck me more than anything else throughout the night. As a writer, my story is my identity–honing and shaping it is my livelihood, my mission. But on the other hand, he’s right–even the story I now use to guide my writing has often acted as a barrier to living my life. When I first thought about going on the Camino, my brain told me that I wasn’t athletic enough to do it. Many people outside my brain said this to me as well. My brain–and my neighbors–also told me that it’s dangerous for a woman to travel alone.

These stories all come from somewhere, but they skew or shroud important facts. They build false bias, encourage unnecessary fear, and can even develop into disgust for yourself or someone else.  No, I wasn’t athletic, but I could train. Yes, it can be dangerous, but I could take precautions. Both Caminos for me became about listening to my natural emotions as they arise without judgment, instead of the long-winded, overly structured story that I’ve written for myself inside my mind. In the regular world, we get too busy to even realize this is happening. On the Camino, it’s impossible not to hear and see our BS stories for what they are–BS.

Continue reading

A Fabulous Book for the First Day of Fall

Today I would like to tip my hat to Lodro Rinzler, the author of several books on how to be a modern Buddhist, or rather, how to live compassionately nowadays based on the teachings of the Buddha. I specify this because he’s wonderful at explaining that you don’t need to buy into everything about Buddhism to learn from its philosophy. It is so accessible that I recently passed the first book I bought on to a non-Buddhist friend. I love when any spiritual teacher achieves this, no matter what religion. We all have the same ideas after all.

walk like a buddhawalks into a bar

I picked up his second book today after recently reading The Buddha Walks into a Bar…a Guide to Life for a New Generation.  My new one is called Walk Like a Buddha: Even If Your Boss Sucks, Your Ex is Torturing You and You’re Hungover Again.  Other than being fabulous with titles, I love the way he writes. He hits the nail on the head with how I’ve felt about Buddhism since I stumbled upon it in highschool.  It is a welcoming, non-judgmental religion that was started by a guy in his 20s and 30s who was equally feeling odd about his spirituality in the world. That totally makes sense. Thanks, Siddhartha. I feel angsty too! Because of this connection, Lodro Rinzler lovingly refers to Siddhartha in his books as Sid.  Not out of disrespect, but to remind us that people who lived twenty-six hundred years ago were people too.

Anywho, I am taking on this second book as a study to guide me in my own writing. One thing that stuck out to me in the introduction is the phrase he uses “I’m a mess and I’m also okay.” Yes! Thank you! Something so simple takes the pressure off that weird dark 20-something cloud (and I’m sure it happens in other ages as well, as much as we love to be self-deprecating 20-somethings). There is a lot of pressure to decide if you are in a good place or a bad place at this given moment. But I do believe it’s possible, and perfectly normal to be grateful, in a comfortable lifestyle, and trying your damndest in your career while still feeling anxiety. Or your life could be a hot mess right now, but you’re feeling rather peaceful and under control. I often find when I’m in one mood, the opposing voice try to remind me of why I should feel otherwise.

The other thing Rinzler brings up is Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s quote, “Live your life as an experiment.” I love it. Suddenly the thirty temp jobs, mish-mash liberal arts education, and wandering lifestyle we lead feels a little bit more justified. My experiment today is tagging an author I look up to in my post. I will continue to share some of his messages throughout my wedding and life ramblings.

If you happen to see this, thanks for the fabulous books, Lodro Rinzler! And your notes about reaching out after reading your material is just the coolest. Way to stay humble as a very talented writer.

Also, unrelated! Fall equinox is tonight! Break out the mulled wine!

Throw back to Fall of 2011.  LEAVES!

Throw back to Fall of 2011. LEAVES!