brief teachings

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    Dear Abbey Dharma Winter 2011 Paid Member

    Dear Abbey Dharma, I am a 30-year-old man with Asperger syndrome. I am an adopted Buddhist, but I find it difficult to be both autistic and Buddhist. Buddhists are not supposed to judge people as much, for example, but I find I get scared of certain kinds of people: they overwhelm my senses, and I become annoyed by people who seem to complain about everything, make liberal use of expletives, and are very loud and obnoxious. I also find I carry a lot of stress in this world, sometimes born of the fact that I don’t seem to fit in. Even if I am not at all in line to be Dalai Lama or a monk, how is it possible to be a Buddhist and autistic? Sincerely, Overwhelmed Dear Overwhelmed, More »
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    The Gift of Waiting Paid Member

    When we are forced to wait, say in a traffic jam, our instinct is to do something to distract ourselves from the discomfort of waiting. We turn on the radio, call or text someone on the phone, or just sit and fume. Practicing mindfulness while waiting helps people find many small moments in the day when they can bring the thread of awareness up from where is lies hiding in the complex fabric of their lives. Waiting, a common event that usually produces negative emotions, can be transformed into a gift, the gift of free time to practice. The mind benefits doubly: first, by abandoning negative mindstates, and second, by gaining the beneficial effects of even a few extra minutes of practice woven into the day. More »
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    Be Still Paid Member

    If you wish to cultivate absolute stillness and clarity of mind, right here and now, sit down and imagine yourself on a peaceful shore or by a tranquil lake. If the mind is a snow globe whirling with thoughts, images, memories, and inchoate feelings, then the winds of internal energy and self-seeking—analyzing, evaluating, pushing and pulling, based on likes and dislikes—are what keep it stirred up and the snowstorm in motion, obscuring the inner landscape. Let the snow globe of your heart and mind settle by relaxing, breathing deeply a few times, and releasing all the tension, preoccupations, and concerns you’ve been carrying—at least for the moment. Let the gentle tide of breath carry it all away like the ocean’s waves, like a waterfall washing your heart, mind, and spirit clean, pure, and bright. More »
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    Dear Abbey Dharma Fall 2011 Paid Member

    Dear Abbey Dharma, I’ve been traveling the mindfulness meditation path for two years and have been progressively adding to my formal and informal practice, but it feels as if I’ve hit particularly rough terrain on the path. As I’ve become more aware of my own mindfulness, it seems that I’ve also become more aware of how I mindlessly hurt myself and others. I do experience greater calm, peace, self-acceptance, and happiness, but I’m also becoming more cautious and passive in social situations for fear of reacting to someone out of old mindless, ego-centered habits that result in deep suffering. Is this version of rough terrain on the mindfulness path to be expected, or is this unique to my path? Sincerely, Two Years In Dear Two Years In, More »
  • Tricycle Community 3 comments

    As Spacious as Nature Paid Member

    Since people might feel a bit lonely coming out into nature by themselves, they tend to go out in groups. But often they just transplant their own little world out into the big world, and they still feel separation: “I’m with these people, not with those.” We should not be like a snail that carries its house on its back and shrinks back into it when another creature comes along. It is better not to put people into categories based on your social distance from them, whether or not you know them. It is also good to feel intimate with creatures around you—the birds, butterflies, and so on. Just as smoke from a chimney disperses into the air, we should disperse our sense of “group” or “family” and truly participate in the life around us. More »
  • Tricycle Community 7 comments

    The Time is Now Paid Member

    All the “spills” we create—not just with our hands but in the ocean of personal relationships as well—begin in our own mind. Distracted by the many things we have to do in a brief time, our attention wanders away from taking care of the activity in front of it, becoming concerned instead for finishing the task as quickly as it can so it can move on to another item on its list of priorities. Giving in to distraction, we give up caring about the activity we are doing. And in a subtle but real way, when we do that we also give up caring about our self, about the value of the effort we are making with our life. More »