Ta-Nehishi Coates’s ‘Between the World and Me‘ – this book enthralled me so much I’ve started it for the second time to better understand what I’ve just read. His mastery of the English language, his use of metaphor and his often keen awareness of experiences are heavy and powerful. His
mention of missing part of an experience because “of my eyes… Because my eyes were blindfolded by fear.” is one of my favorite passages.
This inflammatory article on mindfulness got under my skin in so many ways. I consider it my job to create and hold a safe space for people to explore their present experience with as much or as little intensity as they feel comfortable exploring. As teachers, I don’t think we can do our job if we are afraid of someone having an intense experience. I also think it is our job to know when and how to refer people to additional resources for handling and processing trauma, especially as it arises with mindfulness. We spend huge swaths of our days, everyday being disconnected from our bodies and our experiences. It is only natural that as we start to pay attention we experience unpleasant sensations just as much as pleasant ones. I once read that starting a meditation practice feels like being claustrophobic and being stuck in an elevator. The beauty of this is that we are in control of how long we expose ourselves to that intensity. We do it in little, safe drops of time. We process. We work with a teacher, therapist, or both. And then that day when we do actual get stuck in a real elevator, we don’t have a meltdown because we’ve learned how to sit in discomfort.
Sharon Salzberg has been offering a February meditation challenge, “The Real Happiness Challenge” in conjunction with her new book. I’ve been participating in her daily meditations for this month. The verdict? I’ll be buying her book and exploring more. Sharon
and her co-meditation-gurus from the Insight Meditation Society I truly find to be the most inspiring meditation teachers out there. Worth checking it out!
Also, enjoy this cute animation from Sharon about compassion: