Heart of Freedom Mindfulness Meditation Instruction
Awakening Through Understanding

Awakening Through Understanding

January 11, 2021

As we begin this new year I invite you to join us to discover and/or renew our commitment to the path of awakening. It begins with a step the Buddha called right understanding. To start with, it asks a question of our hearts. What do we really value, what do we really care about in this life? Our lives are quite short. Our childhood goes by very quickly, then adolescence and adult life go by. We can be complacent and let our lives disappear in a dream, or we can become aware. In the beginning of practice we must ask what is most important to us. What do we care about most? What brings us to Dharma practice.  We can explore, discover and remember our answers to these questions together.

 

"At the time of death, people who have tried to live consciously ask only one or two questions about their life: Did I learn to live wisely? Did I love well? We can begin by asking them now" Jack Kornfield

 

"Right understanding is the understanding of things as they are, and it is the four noble truths that explain things as they really are"  Joseph Goldstein

 

There will be time for silent and guided meditation, group sharing,  and a Dharma talk.  

Loving and Wise Intention

Loving and Wise Intention

December 24, 2020

This podcast explores skilful intention through a guided meditation practice and a Dharma talk.  Right or skilful intention is about coming home to ourselves and aligning actions with the deepest part of the human heart that is loving, wise and compassionate.  It can be helpful to reflect as the year comes to an end on the values that guide our intentions and to cultivate the resolve to live by them. Right intention is organic; it thrives when cultivated and wilts when neglected.

 "Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & mind."
 Anguttara VI.63  

 

Freedom and Forgiveness

Freedom and Forgiveness

November 14, 2020

The name of this podcast is Heart of Freedom.  It comes from the understanding that the heart of our practice is the direct experience of freedom and the realization of our true nature as love. The Buddha said: "Just as in the great ocean there is but one taste — the taste of salt — so in the Dharma there is but one taste — the taste of freedom"  as translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi.  Another way of understanding this comes from Matt Flickstein: "you are already free, don't believe anything to the contrary". 

Maintaining resentment towards others or towards ourselves is one of the greatest impediments to working with our minds on the deepest level and realizing freedom. Resentment acts as a barrier that prevents us from seeing things as they really are. 

This podcast includes silent and guided meditation, a Dharma talk, and a blessing circle. Please listen as we support each other in practices that invite relinquishing resentment and attachments to the past.  Lily Tomlin referred to this as "giving up all hope for a better past"

Beginners Mind

Beginners Mind

November 14, 2020
This talk explores approaching life with a beginner's mind.  It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when engaging in life activities just as a beginner would. With the practice of mindfulness we are invited to enter the mystery of life and discover what's true from direct experience.  This podcast includes silent and guided meditation, a Dharma talk, and discussion. 
 

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few" Shunryu Suzuki,

“Everybody knows that some things are simply impossible until somebody who doesn’t know that makes them possible.” — Albert Einstein

 

Mindfulness With Difficult Emotions

Mindfulness With Difficult Emotions

November 14, 2020

In this Dharma talk I explore ways we can work mindfully with difficult emotional states. This very difficult time in the world can be a catalyst for evoking what are sometimes referred to afflictive emotional states.  Often the experience of fear, doubt, shame and anger are very seductive. They come laced with the endearing and sticky label “my”. The mind is identified with it as “my fear”. “my doubt” "my anger".  This can feed into the cycle of negative self judgement for having the feeling, as if we choose to feel it.  We unconsciously identify with the emotion. These strong afflictive emotional states have a common characteristic, they lie.  With mindfulness, when we look deeply, we can discover: we never have experienced a single emotion or thought that has ever stayed.  All are impairment  Neither the worst feelings, nor the best stick around indefinitely  When we tune into impermanence in which these feelings unfold, we break the identification with seeming solidity of the “suffering” as well as the “sufferer”. This practice is about establishing a familiarity and comfort with the “discomfort” associated with heavy emotional states.  We don't have to make them go away, they go away by themselves. In this practice we will learn how to deepen and strengthen our capacity to do this. This frees us to respond to life from love, compassion and wisdom

"It’s very helpful to realize that the emotions we have, the negativity and positiveity are exactly what we need to be fully human, fully aware, and fully alive"    

Pema Chodrin:

True Refuge

True Refuge

October 11, 2020

During these difficult times for many of us it can be helpful to remember that practicing Dharma is discovering for ourselves where we can find true refuge.  There are so many places that we are drawn to seek it like power, money, fame or social position, relationships, family, children, sexuality, food, drugs or alcohol.  We may know intellectually that these things are all unstable and impermanent places that do not lead to freedom, but we need the non-cognitive experience of meditation practice in order to find true refuge.. You are invited to join our gathering of lovely wise beings as we explore together what taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha actually mean in our practice and life.   

 

 “The biggest illusion about a path of refuge is that we are on our way somewhere else, on our way to becoming a different kind of person. But ultimately, our refuge is not outside ourselves, not somewhere in the future - it is always and already here.” Tara Brach  

 

Self Compassion During Pandemic

Self Compassion During Pandemic

October 11, 2020
During this time of pandemic, there may be many needs that we have that are not being met. How we relate to our unmet needs determines the degree to which we suffer or find peace and freedom. As we are able to be mindful, kind and feel our common humanity during difficult times it becomes possible for our hearts to soften toward ourselves and others. This form of love can be a powerful healing force in our lives and in the world. 
 
 "Compassion arises when we experience suffering, and to experience suffering directly we need to be in touch with vulnerability in our body, where the suffering registers. Then the natural response is tenderness. Self-compassion then allows us to feel compassionate toward others: If we have not been with our own vulnerability, we cannot resonate with another person’s vulnerability" Tara Brach  
 
This podcast includes guided and silent meditation, a Dharma talk, and a blessing circle 
Right Intention

Right Intention

October 11, 2020

This podcast explores right intention through meditation practice, a Dharma talk and group sharing. Right intention is about coming home to ourselves and aligning actions with the deepest part of the human heart that is loving, wise and compassionate.  It can be helpful with the support of spiritual friends to clarify the values that guide our intentions and to cultivate the resolve to live by them. Right intention is organic; it thrives when cultivated and wilts when neglected. Come give and receive support for this very important part of our practice. 

"Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & mind."
 Anguttara VI.63

Working Mindfully With Grief

Working Mindfully With Grief

October 11, 2020
If attachment is a 'natural' part of being human,  then grief is a 'natural' emotion that is experienced when one is parted from what is dear. "The pain of grief is just as much a part of life as the joy of love; it is, perhaps, the price we pay for love, the cost of commitment" (Kalish, 1985, p182).  If grief is accepted it can become a tool for the development of great insight and lead to freedom. If on the other hand it is dealt with unskillfully it can initiate a whole chain of chronic dysfunction, confusion, depression, avoidance behaviours and general unhappiness. It seems that the more one can remain 'open' and mindfully experience the pain of grief, the greater possibility of effectively processing and overcoming its effects. We will explore how we can apply the four foundations of mindfulness to skillfully working with grief.
Being A Good Friend To Yourself

Being A Good Friend To Yourself

October 11, 2020

 

This meditation and Dharma talk focus on friendship that's not based on any terms or conditions. This means being your own friend when you don't meet your own expectations about how you should look, feel, act or think. This practice is about learning to choose to be present in a loving, compassionate, openhearted way as often as possible for ourselves and others.

 

"The first step is developing an unconditional friendship with yourself. Unconditional friendship means staying open when you want to shut down, when it is just too painful, too embarrassing, too unpleasant what you see in yourself'

Pema Chödron

 

"Believing that something is wrong with us is a deep and tenacious suffering. This suffering emerges in crippling self-judgments and conflicts in our relationships, in addictions and perfectionism, in loneliness and overwork-all the forces that keep our lives constricted and unfulfilled. Radical Acceptance does not mean self-indulgence or passivity. Instead it empowers genuine change: healing fear and shame and helping to build loving, authentic relationships. When we stop being at war with ourselves, we are free to live fully every precious moment of our lives" Tara Brach

This podcast includes meditation practices that cultivate mindfulness, kindness and a sense of our shared humanity.

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