"Brian:It's not quite the same thing as you suggested, but I've been writing poems in response to the old masters. Some of what I've written back to them is a bit irreverent, and some I just riff on the word pictures in their poems.…"
"Counter Culture Coffee, on Masonic, kitty-korner to Jammin' on Haight. They also make a good egg and cheese on bagel sandwich, if you're not vegan.
I was in SF for a conference and was able to visit with a friend for night, so I was…"
"I posted the Lew Welch Poem below incidentally because he talks about Ryoanji.The point was to give an example of structure. He starts out by giving us a description of the scene or context of the poem without much sentiment then he drifts off…"
"I am not unpleased with myself - sorry if you perceive a reason I should be but I yam what I am. It is only a difference in perspective - major portions of the world disagree with both of us. Life goes on. Metta.
Everyone experiences occasional anxiety and some of us might be fraught with it. Tricycle readers especially are most likely no strangers to hearing or reading about mindfulness-based meditation practices that can soothe the feelings of anxiety. But as anyone who has experienced an anxiety attack will know, what’s almost as unpleasant as having one is hearing someone say “just breathe, relax” in the midst of it.
Although awareness can lessen the experience of anxiety while it is happening, learning to identify and focusing your attention on physical sensations that are involved in the slide toward the end of our mental or emotional rope is critical to avoid suddenly ending up there.
The body always gives warnings as to what is about to happen mentally and emotionally, and as you get to know your body’s sensations, you’ll begin to recognize which are signals of upcoming distress. These sensations can be anywhere and range in severity—you might feel, for instance, your shoulder lift, your gut tightening, your jaw tensing, or the holding of your breath. By getting to know how your body exhibits signs of tension, you can be pre-emptive by moving your awareness into the area of sensation and relaxing it before it has to make much more noise, becoming a raging thought or emotion that’s impossible to ignore.
To that end, here is a mindfulness of body practice for noticing previously unfelt physical warnings that can lead to a state of anxiety. If you do it on a regular basis, it can also help to soothe your nervous system in general.
TheDirect Experience Practice:
Take your meditation cushion or a folded stiff blanket(s) and lie down with it directly under your hips. If this causes any discomfort in your lower back, don’t lift the hips so high; use one less blanket or a thinner cushion. Your shoulders and head will be on the floor. Bring your arms down by your sides, palms facing the sky.
Allow yourself to melt into the blanket or cushion, bending your knees and letting your legs relax and knees drop towards each other. Draw your attention kindly to sensations in your body. Watch them as if they were curiosities that you’d like to become more familiar with. If you notice an unwinding of tension, pay attention to any places that started out as tight; most likely these are the areas of your body that will tense before the onset of anxiety and give you warnings about what is to come. Stay with your mind awake and body relaxed for 10 minutes or more. When you’re ready to come off the support, lift your hips, push the cushion to the side and roll down to your back. As you lie flat for a moment, notice changes in how your body and your breath feels—discern as much as you can about how the posture altered your body, breath, and mood so that you know the benefits it might hold for you and why you might wish to repeat it.
When you stand up, continue noticing whatever you can that has changed from when you began the practice: do your feet feel like they have more weight or do you feel them on the ground more? Is your breath more relaxed? How is your mood now?
You can go through this mindfulness of body practice daily, for longer than 10 minutes if you’d like, and even before bed. Like any conditioning, eventually it will alter your system, changing what has become a normal state of high alert to one of being more at ease, as well as allow you to become much more familiar with the territory of your body. Knowing the body can be key to working with the mind, and with intention and kind attention, the body can become one of our greatest allies in alleviating our own suffering.
Jill Satterfield is the founder of Vajra Yoga + Meditation, which integrates Buddhist meditation and philosophy into the practice of (hatha) yoga.
If you think the impending all-at-once release of House of Cards Season Three might be a Netflix conspiracy to scuttle your daily meditation practice, or if the promise of expert feedback will allow you to try sitting for the first time, or if you could just use a little extra help from your spiritual friends, then Tricycle has the thing for you:
That's right—all of March we'll be raising a ruckus about that quietest of human endeavors. Commit to sit with us for the entire month! We'll help you make the most of it with guided meditations, instructive articles, meditation-themed e-books, and much more.
You won't regret it. Or, maybe you will. But you'll do so mindfully. In all seriousness, we consider our readership to be a community and this is the month when that community comes together, takes a few minutes out of each day, and meditates.
All month we'll be sharing articles and videos, including:
GuidedMeditations Every Monday we'll post a new meditation led by Buddhist teacher Venerable Pannavati on the blog. These videos are perfect for beginners trying to ease themselves into meditation or experienced practitioners curious about a new approach. Also, Ven. Pannavati will be answering any questions you have about your practice. So ask away!
E-books Check out Tricycle Teachings: Meditation, Vols. 1 and 2. They include articles from some of your favorite Buddhist teachers, like Sharon Salzberg, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Jack Kornfield, and Judith Simmer-Brown. If you're looking for some more structure, download Commit to Sit for a month-long program.
Blog Posts Throughout the month, the Tricycle blog will feature new and old Buddhist voices offering instruction and commentary on the ancient art of sitting still.
Daily Dharma Tricycle will be picking out a different meditation-oriented nugget of wisdom every day. Your inbox might end up full. Yes, full of serenity.
Online Retreats We'll be highlighting the best meditation teachings from our online retreats.
Tricycle Course Ready to commit to a full two months of meditation bliss? Vipassana teacher Sharon Salzberg's eight-week online course "The Boundless Heart" begins Monday, March 2, with special rates for subscribers.
We're excited and know you are too. But if you need one last boost of meditative wonder, check out this preview of the first installment of Ven. Pannavati's guided meditations. Her calming presence says what words cannot. Anyway, the only words left to say are these: See you in March.