new year 2021

How to heal. How to hold the immense suffering.

IMCW New Year Retreat 2020 – 2021 Q&A Session, December 30, 2020

“If we think we’re a self holding the world’s suffering, it will be too much.” Tara Brach

Tara goes on to explain that we can open ourselves to be the heart of the universe holding the suffering, that it’s not a separate self holding it.

We can create the openness that has room for the pain.

One of the most powerful practices for this is Tonglen, a Tibetan Buddhist practice for creating an openness that has room for the pain.

Breathing in and letting ourselves be touched by the realness of the pain, our own pain and others.

Breathing out and letting that pain be held by the spaciousness and vastness of this world.

We continue this rhythm, breathing through it. We take care not to hold the pain. If you’re taking in the pain, letting it out and letting it be held by the love in this universe.

And, more and more we might find that our heart space has room for it all.


another learning from Tara from this session:

What to do when overwhelmed and you can’t access your practice, your center or the care of your community. Something to practice everyday…to build resource for challenging times.

Think of someone who has your back, who you really trust. You can feel their love and care. Someone who brings comfort. Actually see their eyes and sense they’re right there with you.

Sense them looking at you with love.

Sense what you most would want to hear from them, what would most comfort you.

Hear the words.

Notice what happens in your body, mind and spirit.

This can be a beautiful bridge to our own awake awareness, when it is difficult to get there.

When we were very young, we really needed that someone else. Sometimes, we still do.

Season of Light 2020 – 2021

…like human fish, we are asked to experience meaning in the life that moves through the gill that is our heart. Ultimately, we are small living things awakened in the stream, not gods who carve out rivers. We cannot eliminate hunger, but we can feed each other. We cannot eliminate loneliness, but we can hold each other. We cannot eliminate pain, but we can live a life of compassion. — Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Sit quietly and simply let your heart breathe without focus.

Noticing obvious areas of tension, and allowing for some release of tension.

Breathe deeply, and accept the jewel and grit of this moment.

(adapted from Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening)

For singers, flutists, and all other sound makers:

Breathe in and allow sound to flow from your voice, your flute or other instrument. The flowing vibrations provide the water that flows into your heart and nourishes you with fresh oxygen to energize and inspire your healing and growth.

Allow the sounds of your flute to embrace you, to warm your heart. If there is some pain or sorrow in your heart, let the ribbon of sound hold that block of pain or sorrow.

You can be like a drop of water in the heart of a river of mindfulness, compassion and music.