A Place of Refuge in Ojai

Practicing meditation together as a sangha, or community, is a transformative experience that can help you deepen your practice and nourish happiness and joy in your daily life. The sangha can be a place of refuge for all who attend.

My intention as a dharma teacher is to provide a place of refuge and to teach mindfulness, meditation, and the Buddhadharma in Ojai. A fellow teacher, Gael Belden, and I have been offering a monthly Morning of Mindfulness and a weekly sitting at the Being Peace Zendo for several years now. We have a supportive and stable community. Our home-based practice center has served us very well but now is the time to allow it to grow in a new direction.

Prior to offering regular practice in Ojai, I founded and led the Olive Branch Sangha in Fresno from 2002-2005. In early 2012, I was selected to teach by the Plum Village community and given the Lamp of Wisdom by Thich Nhat Hanh. With this gift comes a responsibility to offer meditation and mindfulness to others. Ojai has many skilled teachers and wonderful places to explore the dharma such as The Ojai Foundation, Meditation Mount, Krotona Institute, The Well, to name a few. We are truly blessed in our little Nest. And I’d like to sweeten it more by creating a public space for our mindfulness meditation practice.

The purpose of this post is to set an intention and seek support. I’m looking for a person, a group of people, or an organization that has the capacity to support building the mindfulness community in Ojai. Specifically, I am looking for a location that can be used exclusively by myself and other local teachers (Gael) and facilitators OR a location that can be used weekly or twice-weekly for meditation and teaching.

If you have a location that would be suitable for a regular meditation practice that can be open to the public then I am very interested in speaking with you further. Ideally the location would have a space for silent sitting, a space for teaching and workshops, and outdoor space nearby for walking meditation. It could also be an unconventional location such as a storefront, an office, or a small house.

Keeping an open mind to the possibilities.

Working with our Relationships

Earlier this week I shared in our sangha newsletter a series of questions presented by Thich Nhat Hanh in Hong Kong this past May. He simply read off about 20 questions at the beginning of the Public Talk and invited the listeners to allow them to penetrate into their heart. They weren’t easy questions necessary. Please allow me to share a few of them with you now.

  • Are you in love?
  • Are you still in love?
  • Do you want to reconnect with the person you used to love?
  • Do you have the time for each other or are you both to busy?
  • Do you know how to handle the suffering within yourself?
  • Do you understand your own suffering and the roots of that suffering?
  • Are you able to understand the suffering in the other person?
  • Do you have the time to listen to him or her and help him or her to suffer less?
  • Do you know the Buddhist way of restoring communication and bringing about reconciliation?
  • Are you capable of creating a feeling of joy and happiness for yourself?
  • Are you capable of helping the other person to create a feeling of joy and happiness?

This doesn’t only need to pertain to our intimate relationships, but can also apply to other important relationships in our lives such as parents, children, friends, etc.

Suffering was the First Noble Truth taught by the Buddha. There is suffering. Suffering isn’t something to be afraid of, to avoid, or to suppress. The question is do we know how to take care of our suffering. More importantly, do we know the goodness of suffering? The goodness of suffering is knowing that we can use our practice to transform the suffering into peace, joy, and happiness. It’s like the compost for the garden. We need to know how to take the garbage and use the compost to grow a beautiful flower or a vegetable garden. Continue reading “Working with our Relationships”

Gen X Dharma Teachers Gathering

next gen buddha

Updated on June 17, 2013

The location was the hidden valley of Deer Park Monastery near San Diego, California. This 500-acre sanctuary provided the space for about 60 dharma teachers to meet for five days in early June. The weather was perfect, the sharing intimate, the facilitation exceptional, and the practice grounded. The dharma teachers came from Theravada, Ekayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana, and Triratna streams bringing a richness of experience to our gathering and conversation. Though the gathering was located at Deer Park Monastery, this gathering was organized and facilitated by a team of five dharma teachers from each of these lineages. Much gratitude to the monastics of Deer Park for opening up their home for our practice.

As active dharma teachers in a tradition of Buddhadharma offering refuge in the Three Jewels, we gathered as a continuation of a similar retreat at the Garrison Institute in 2011. We came together to share our experience, and support each other, as young dharma teachers (born between 1960-1980) teaching western Buddhism. The intent was to connect teachers for whom Dharma teaching is a (or the) significant life activity, whether through teaching retreats, guiding a Buddhist temple, or other format. Being together demonstrated that we are truly a community of teachers and not independent nor separate because of our tradition. We  need not teach in isolation and can support one another in our practice and teachings. Continue reading “Gen X Dharma Teachers Gathering”

Support Local Businesses, No Chains in Ojai

no_chainsBack in mid-2006 I created a wiki to document a community effort to restrict formula businesses (aka-chains) in Ojai, California. We were ultimately successful on November 27, 2007 with the passage of Ordinance #798. A few years later I shut down the wiki because it was requiring too much effort on my part to maintain and I felt like we had enough years with the ordinance regulating formula businesses. Now with a potential revision to the ordinance before the City Council again, I’m finding myself wanting to review the background. The purpose of this post is to simply document the work we did along with a timeline. It will be cross-posted on the Ojai Post.

This type of ordinance has been passed in many cities and towns (must read!) and been upheld in court. See the June 2003 California Appeals Court decision upholding Coronado’s formula business ordinance. Ojai community members began working on an ordinance in December 2006. The final document was called Formula Retail and Restaurant Establishments and it was submitted to the City of Ojai on April 9, 2007 and signatures have been collected from approximately 700 Ojai voters; enough to be placed on the ballot.

Time Line (2006-present) : Continue reading “Support Local Businesses, No Chains in Ojai”

Healing with Joy

heather-perry-underwater-swim (33)This year I’ve been moving slowly through the Satipatthana Sutta. It’s bringing me much joy and enthusiasm for the practice. This Sutta is one of the foundational teachings from the Buddha. Like most teachings, the Sutta wasn’t written down for hundreds of years after the Buddha lived, but it was passed down orally from generation to generation. Beyond the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, I believe this to be one of the primary teachings because it provides specific instructions for meditation. In fact, the sutta uses the term ekayana, which means “one path” in Pali. This has also been translated as “a most wonderful way to help living beings.”

Thich Nhat Hanh translates this Sutta as the Four “Establishments” of Mindfulness. Others have used Four “Foundations” of Mindfulness. Either way, it teaches us how to meditate. At the very base of the practice. Meditation is to look deeply and see the essence of things. We can begin right now. No need to wait. No need to become a monastic. Yes, the teachings were given to monastics but we can all apply this teaching and discover freedom. Mindfulness means to have awareness. Through our practice of meditation, we can establish mindfulness in ourselves. Mindfulness is always mindfulness of something, and so the Sutta provides guidance in four areas. Specifically, the body, the feelings, the mind, and the objects of mind.  Continue reading “Healing with Joy”

The Body and Sickness

The body is quite a wonder. Observing it from perfect health to sickness and then beginnings of health again has been a deep practice in mindfulness.

Hello body, I know you are there and I smile in amazement.

I first felt the emergence of sickness over two weeks ago. Some grumpiness in my emotions and a little tickle in my throat. It didn’t seem like much the first couple days but I knew something was happening in my body. It’s good to be attuned to my body.

The sickness came slowly and then in the second week it got worse and I spent three days in bed. What can you do aside from observe the body and take care of it wholeheartedly. When in that state of sickness, it definitely dominates everything. Thinking. Feeling. Touch.

Yesterday I managed to stay up all day and putter about the house. Feeling the body get better and also sensing its weakness. Its limits. Today is much the same in that I am up and about but feel the shortness of breath and the limits of the body as it continues to heal.

I miss my routine and my normal energy level (my coffee!!) but can’t push to fast or hard to get there. Soon I will be able to return to my daily run and my daily sitting meditation. For now, I honor my body and its need to rest.

My meditation on sickness of the body is best observed within the sickness. All we encounter is an opportunity for practice.

Finally, I am very grateful to Leslie who has cared for me these past days. Thank you.

Today’s Happiness

The day is coming to a close and I feel happy. What brought me happiness today?

  • the beautiful sunshine
  • arriving at work super early
  • dinner organized by Leslie (yummy food from Farmer & the Cook)
  • completing two OCLC WMS tasks that have been waiting for weeks
  • completing a sangha directory request from the UK that’s been waiting for months (and it wasn’t even that difficult)
  • new David Sylvian bootlegs (2003 & 2007)
  • shipment of Tonx coffee arrived – they are Sandia de Puno from Peru
  • making new connections on LinkedIn

I’m just going to stop there so I can also be happy for my bed in a few minutes.

Peace.

Mindfulness and Social Media: Shifting Perspectives

One of the results from the past few weeks of mindfulness practice, first a few days at Deer Park and now a few days at the Wisdom 2.0 conference, has been a looking deeply at my social media presence. I love the technology and am relatively active on several networks. I heavily use Twitter and app.net. A moderate user of Google+ and Facebook. And a very light user of LinkedIn.

In all cases, I have practiced being mindful about the content I share and have the hope of cultivating positive relationships. It has served me well over the past 6-7 years of regular sharing. I have taught full semester courses and workshops on social media and it has therefore contribute directly to my livelihood. I have found new friends and I also believe has served as a platform to share the practice of mindfulness and meditation. This is all good and I love playing with the technology.

Continue reading “Mindfulness and Social Media: Shifting Perspectives”

All This Relates to Everything

This is what Ev of Twitter fame said during his interview with Soren Gordhamer from the stage of Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco – all this relates to everything. Brilliance in five words. Wisdom 2.0 is a tech conference, but it’s not. It’s business conference, but it’s not. It’s a wisdom gathering, a dharma talk, a practice, and a community.

Ev was talking about mindfully building a company from the ground up without really talking much about his new company called Obvious. He talked about meditation practice, about building culture, and about using Holacracy within the new company. This is something to explore and learn more about.

The day began with Ev and got increasingly better. I’m sitting at the end of the day with a cup of coffee and an espresso feeling inspired and motivated; trying to digest all that I heard.

Receiving the dharma rain throughout the day from the likes of Padmasree Warrior (CTO for Cisco), Gopi Kallayil (Google), Jack Kornfield, Tony Schwartz (Energy Project), Pam Weiss (Appropriate Response), Jane Fulton Suri (IDEO), Bradley Horowitz (Google), Peter Deng (Facebook), Melissa Daimler (Twitter), Jon Kabat-Zinn, and a fantastic interview with Jeff Weiner (CEO of LinkedIn).

A few highlights that I’m left with to ponder include integrating mindful planning into my work day, discovering my True Job, and managing compassion. My thoughts go to how this can manifest at Santa Barbara City College in my capacity as the director for the Luria Library and soon-to-be Academic Senate President.

All this relates to everything indeed. My work as a dharma teacher, a parent, a partner, a mentor, a librarian, a colleague. Cultivating wisdom and compassion is my practice. I’m feeling the energy to focus on how I can share about being a mindful leader here on misc.joy even more. Please encourage and support me on this endeavor.