A means of aligning and steadying yourselves for the year to come.

As many of you know, the recently was my graduation from the 2-year Meditation and Mindfulness Teacher Training Certificate Program (MMTCP) led by Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. This is a meaningful occasion for all of us because the teachings I received are an important aspect of what I continue to share with you.

At the end of 2020, over 1000 graduates from more than 50 countries around the world received a red cord in the mail from Jack and Tara. I brought cords to our first 2021 mindfulness class at Haleakala Studio and I want to share this ritual with you (outlined below) as a means of aligning and steadying yourselves for the year to come.

Get yourself a piece of string – we used a red piece of yarn about a foot long. Take this string/cord or yarn with you onto your cushion, your sofa or your chair – wherever you engage in your befriending/belonging, self-care/mindfulness practice.

Now settle in and think about you. Think about the year ahead and think about your community. Take some time with this – a few breaths (or more!) – coming home to your body, coming home to your heart. Feel your way into this. You might drop a question into the vastness within you – like dropping a pebble into a pond.

Be patient. Allow whatever wants to be heard – be heard.

When you are ready, you are tying three knots. You may want to space these three knots evenly on your string, cluster them together, or allow them to form randomly.

The first knot you tie is setting your intention for your practice of mindfulness and compassion. Allow this intention to formulate in any way that feels authentic for you. Some of you may be envisioning a seated practice, others may see yourselves paying attention to self-care, to being kind and to being wholly present in your relations with others. You may be envisioning your intention as part of an overall awareness of well-being in your daily life.

The second knot you tie is setting your intention for the year ahead. In what ways do you want to connect with others? With yourself?

The third knot you tie is acknowledging the on-going support you receive from loved ones and your community, from those who support your well-being and support you in relation to your higher self (like me!).

Once you have created this ‘blessing cord’, place it carefully where you will be reminded throughout the year ahead of your wholesome intention to self and others.

You may take this opportunity to reflect on the difference between a ‘resolution’ and an ‘intention’. Notice how the former implies a fixed idea whereas the latter indicates an inner realization..

The root for intention is ‘tenir’ – the French verb – ‘to hold’.

I invite you to envision this ‘holding’ of your intention in the same way you envision holding a small child, a puppy or a kitten. This living being you carry within you (your intention) requires your care, attention and love.

Holding your intention in this sense is not attaching yourself to a decision. You are holding your intention as if you are caring for a creature that lives within you – a small creature, newly formed – that seeks to grow.

Your puppy will pee on the floor. Train it. Don’t kill it.

Training your puppy (working with your intention) is a practice that renews itself each and every day. Be good to your puppy!

When your intention gets sick you need to care for it.

Sometimes your intention needs to play. Sometimes it needs to be fed.

Being skillful in how you care for your inner life is an on-going engagement to be enjoyed. Have fun with this and be creative.

Play with your puppy! Be kind and be skillful.

Bring the sensual into your spiritual practice. Use your six senses!

In my practice (Shingon Buddhism or Vajrayana Buddhism in Japan) the body is considered your primary vehicle for enlightenment. The surest way to bring joy and connection into your life on a daily basis is through your body.

Find what works for you. I use botanical oils. Though I am not part of the business model associated with botanicals, I find the bioenergetics of the oils to be tremendously supportive.

No doubt you are already familiar with eucalyptus, rosemary, thyme, cinnamon and clove. Cardamon. Nutmeg. Anise.

Bring your senses into your practice. You practice with your whole being – not simply your mind. Mindfulness is embodied. Choose an herb or spice and bring it with you. I put cinnamon in my coffee and often bring my cup with me onto my cushion. My coffee gets cold, but I heat it up again when I am done.

Use incense if that works for you. Or take a pinch of cinnamon powder (nutmeg or cardamon as also grounding) and place this in the palm of one hand. If you have essential oils – use them!

Rub your palms together gently with care and inhale the scent. On Mt. Koya (Shingon Monastery in Japan) we take a pinch on entering the worship hall as a means of purification.

Nature is very much a part of Shingon ascetic practice. In addition to spices for purification purposes, leaves from specific trees are incorporated into ritual practice along with mantra (sound), mudra (touch) and mandala (sight).

Though my practice (you can read about the practice of well-being in Nature’s Narrative: Well-Being in Body, Speech & Mind) my embodied understanding and experience of the fundamental interconnectedness between my individual nature and the collective nature of the planet (not to mention the cosmos!) grew and expanded..

The image you see above is the Sanskrit letter ‘A’ (pronounced ‘ah’) and is used as a visual support for Shingon meditation.

‘Ah’ is the sound of your breath. Each breath – each ‘ah’ – is one more step enabling the unfolding of your existence as a living being on this planet.

Why not enjoy it? Think about your alignment with what is good and what is skilful (play with your puppy!) and you will feel both good and skilful from the inside – no matter what is happening on the outside.

Come back to the sound of your breath in order to steady your mindfulness practice. Once you stabilise your focus and attention, you can begin to play with deepening levels of awareness.

I look forward to working with you. You are needed dear ones!

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap