Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

What a beautiful morning! Clear sky. Sunshine. Quiet streets because everyone has left the city for the long May 1 weekend. A whole day in front of me to stitch. And, then… an unexpected gift!

The very creative Dee Wilcox, whom I recently met through Twitter, has awarded me a Kreativ Blogger award! I feel tremendously honored. And to keep the creative energy circulating, here are eight of my own favorite creative bloggers: kreative_award

I hope you enjoy exploring these blogs as much as I do.

Have an inspiring Saturday!

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I’ve been traveling and was unable to keep up with writing while on the road. Kudos to those of you who are better at it than I am!

This blog and my website are not visible in China, by the way.

To start back into the rhythm of writing… well, of typing at least, for now, I’ll share with you some words that inspired me this morning.

From the May 2009 issue of Shambhala Sun, reprinted from Joyful Wisdom: Embracing Change and Finding Freedom by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche:

At any given moment, you can choose to follow the chain of thoughts, emotions, and sensations that reinforce a perception of yourself as vulnerable and limited — or you can remember that you true nature is pure, unconditioned, and incapable of being harmed. You can remain in the sleep of ignorance or remember that you are and always have been awake. Either way, you’re still expressing the unlimited nature of your true being. Ignorance, vulnerability, fear, anger, and desire are expressions of the infinite potential of your buddhanature. There’s nothing inherently wrong or right with making such choices. The fruit of Buddhist practice is simply the recognition that these and other mental afflictions are nothing more or less than choices available to us because our real nature is infinite in scope.

We choose ignorance because we can. We choose awareness because we can. Samsara and nirvana are simply different points of view based on the choices we make in how to examine and understand our experience. There’s nothing magical about nirvana and nothing bad or wrong about samsara. If you’re determined to think of yourself as limited, fearful, vulnerable, or scarred by past experience, know only that you have chosen to do so. The opportunity to experience yourself differently is always available.

Tomorrow, I’m screening Creating Buddhas at UC Irvine. In the coming days, look for posts on questions I’m often asked at screenings.

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Our screening of Creating Buddhas at the Pacific Asia Museum in January accompanied an exhibition of thankas by master artist Pema Namdol Thaye.  I was struck by two things Pema said during his opening talk, and they’ve stayed with me over these past weeks.

He described how he approaches painting a deity.

First, he talked about the importance of understanding something of the deity you’re creating, having a sense of his nature, his essence. In effect, having a relationship with this deity. On the basis of this relationship, before beginning a project, Pema asks the deity for permission to present it on canvas. Of course, deities are compassionate, he noted. They never say no!

The second comment that struck me seems relevant to much more than artistic creation:  Pema shared that when he paints, the primary painting is done in his mind. (He actually said in his “brain.”) That’s the first painting, the original. Then he simply creates a duplicate on the canvas. That’s the secondary painting, a copy.  Or perhaps better stated, the painting on canvas is a natural outgrowth of the original image in his mind.

Pema said that the painting is complete in his mind before he starts to mix paints or touch brush to canvas. This reminds me of the relationship of intention to manifestation — of anything in our lives. What we paint in our minds materializes in our lives, naturally. Pema provided me a good metaphor to keep in mind in approaching all activity. And a good thought to take with me to Christine Kane‘s Unstoppable Power of Intention retreat next week.

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▸ noun:  generosity evidenced by a willingness to give freely
▸ noun:  the property of copious abundance
▸ noun:  something given generously

▸ adjective:  producing in abundance (“The bountiful earth”)
▸ adjective:  given or giving freely (“Bountiful compliments”)
▸ adjective:  ample abundant

As Forrest Gump said, Life is like a box of chocolates...

As Forrest Gump said, "Life is like a box of chocolates..."

December is word-of-the-year month on Christine Kane’s blog. Guest bloggers are writing about their experiences with their word for 2008. I thought I’d take the occasion to introduce my word for 2009: BOUNTY.

You can read about the word-of-the-year here.

It’s a kind of cleaner, deeper, intention-oriented twist on New Year’s resolutions. Setting an intention for who we want to BE during the year rather than assigning ourselves a to-do list.

This word came to mind a few months ago while I was setting my intention for Christine’s e-seminar. It felt right then and it feels right now, as the word to accompany me through the coming year. Already it’s helped me to emerge from the constricted place I’d somehow fallen into. Over the last few months, my horizons have expanded. A sense of possibility and strength has opened up in me.

Partly, I just like the sound of this word, BOUNTY, and the fact that it’s not a commonly used word. First, the adjective, “bountiful,” came to me. But I find the noun more powerful as an intention. It serves as a beacon, a guiding light, rather than any kind of admonition or a quality that I’m supposed to develop or adhere to.

“Abundance,” a more common word, doesn’t feel as rich and full to me.

For me, BOUNTY takes abundance in every direction — to having, enjoying, receiving, producing, providing…

There’s the bounty the world provides me and the bounty I offer to others. And there’s simply the bountiful nature of life and being.

Taking this word as my companion for 2009, I intend to expand my appreciation for the riches my life presents every day AND to expand my capacity to give abundantly, with no sense of scarcity or risk of running out. Recognizing the bounty of my life inspires gratitude for everything that has been “given” to me so generously. Making choices from a place of bounty rather than scarcity may bring a new freedom.

I could easily have chosen “clarity” as my word for 2009, because a lack of clarity has characterized my last few years. I’ve faced and am still facing big unanswered questions like “where will I live (and even on which continent)?”, “what will I do (with my life)?” “where is my relationship going?” It seems like every aspect of my life has been called into question and there’s no stable base anywhere on which to prop the other pieces. I’m yearning for clarity.

Still, as I sit with all this uncertainty and indecision, it seems that underlying the whole mess has been a tendency toward black-and-white thinking — this or that, here or there, time running out, time wasted, wrong choices made, doors closed…

I’ve had trouble making decisions. I’ve felt stuck, tentative, like I couldn’t move until some choice was made. There was only one right way and my job was to find or identify it. But I didn’t feel capable.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that I’d created a false problem. Who said I had to choose a or b, to do this or that, to live here or there, to get what I want or feel miserable? BOUNTY helps me to break out of these illusory walls. I have so many riches, so much joy, plenty of possibility. And no matter what choices I make, that abundance remains. I can’t screw it up. I don’t have to be afraid. If one person won’t accept my kindness, there are millions of others to give it to. If one decision leads to trouble, I’ll make another.

In 2008, I began to expand again, to allow, to open up to the possibility of things looking completely different from how I’d planned. And it’s bought me to the place of intending BOUNTY in every sphere for 2009. In the space of abundance, in the space of all that IS rather than the space of either/or, “clarity” as I’ve imagined it may become irrelevant. We’ll see… I look forward to the great bounty of 2009 with my arms and eyes wide open.

Have a bountiful day!

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Christine Kane has done it again! Inspired and impressed me. Made me laugh and given me a practical tool for life.

For those who don’t know Christine, she’s a great songwriter too! Her blog offers inspiration and tools for living a more present, sane, creative, and rewarding life. Today’s post is titled What spam can teach you about inner peace. From the title, I thought it would be funny, interesting, practical. I was not prepared for the clever and insightful lesson it offered. (I should have known better!)

Comparing our thoughts to spam mail, Christine gives a simple tool for presence and for not getting carried away by our monkey minds. It’s the classic returning-to-the-breath or becoming-aware-of-the-body, but with a modern and fun twist that may make it easier to remember and apply. I’ll let you read it directly from Christine, since she’s such a master of words, but I’ll quote her ending here (sorry for the spoiler!):

No matter what the thought, it’s just that: a thought. You can believe it. Or not.

Should you bombard your mind spam with affirmations? Should you try to smile and pretend your mind doesn’t do this kind of thing? Should you try to clean up all of your thoughts so that they don’t happen ever again?

Well, you can work on that stuff, sure. But the mind will keep churning it out. And my advice is this:

When mind spam happens, do exactly what you do when email spam happens.

See it as the spam it is. Roll your eyes. Click “delete.”

Beautiful! I’ll just add my own little caution to those of you who haven’t played at exercises like this before. The point is not to growl angrily at the profusion of spam (thoughts) before clicking delete. They’re as much a part of the mind as spam’s a part of cyberspace. Just click delete… with a roll of your eyes, perhaps, and a smile on your face if you can muster it.

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Dear Kristin Blancke has sent me another amazing link, one which she received from a mutual friend of ours who has also lived many years at the foot of the Himalayas.

Please watch this amazing video.

Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain anatomist, had the extraordinary fortune to study her own stroke AS IT WAS HAPPENING. She recounts the experience with enormous passion, fascination, and insight — both scientific insight and human/spiritual insight. An extraordinary tale of direct experience, her story reveals the vastly different ways the two hemispheres of our brains experience, process, interpret, and relate to the world, and also invites us to reflect on which hemisphere we choose to favor. Very moving!

I was also pleased to discover the TED.com site on which the video is featured. It’s full of fascinating speakers speaking on many relevant topics. I think I’ll be spending considerable time exploring it.

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Franco, Viaggi in AsiaKristin, Viaggi in AsiaMy dear friends, Kristin Blancke and Franco Pizzi (who organize tours of India, Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan for Italian, French, and Belgian travelers through their company Viaggi in Asia), have a new blog (in Italian). They’re off to a good start with two fascinating posts:

Brains Can Change

The first speaks of the intriguing field of neuroplasticity. It turns out that brain development does not end with childhood! (This assertion is actually an essential underpinning for Buddhist practice — that through our efforts we can change our own minds. Exciting new research demonstrates that those mind changes actually show up in our brains.) Scientists at the University of Wisconsin have used sophisticated brain scanning equipment (fMRI and EEG) to examine the effects on brain activity of meditation practice and the cultivation of emotional states, such as compassion. Here’s a link to a one-hour Dan Rather report on brain plasticity covering the University of Wisconsin research and others, and including an interview with the Dalai Lama. Two books have been written by participants in the experiment. The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret & Science of Happiness by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche is excellent and life-affirming — a joy to read! I have not yet read Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill by Matthieu Ricard but I’m looking forward to doing so soon.

Dolls 4 Tibet

Dolls 4 Tibet

With their second post, Franco and Kristin introduce us to Mona, a German textile artist living in Dharamsala. Motivated by her search for healthy and interesting toys for her own daughter, Mona applied her creative talents to designing endearing cloth dolls. Each doll is dressed in the traditional costume of a Tibetan region and is identified with a name and a story. They’re made of natural fibers and are produced by a small team of Tibetan women working under Mona’s direction. Take a look at the photos and videos here. (If you follow the links to YouTube, click on “watch in high-quality” for smooth viewing. The videos are in English after the first introduction.)

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