Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A New Year, A New Life.....I'm Back!

I'm back in the saddle again....I'm ready to go! I feel the New Year around the corner and I'm ready to embrace 2010, the Year of the Tiger. For some reason, when I say that, the Rocky theme song, Eye of The Tiger, starts playing in the background of my mind. I think "Tiger" best defines how I feel this year will go. When I think of a Tiger, I think of strength, precision, focus, and beauty.

I didn't feel like a tiger two weeks ago. I felt more like a mole or a bear in hibernation. I just wanted to bury myself in a hole in the ground and remain in it. It wasn't that I was depressed or sad or worried, it's just that I felt the need to let go of outside things and go inside. I needed to feel myself again. I needed to retreat.

I'm coming out of my cave now. On Dec. 9th I went to a 10-day silent meditation course in Onalaska, WA.


I had a room with hardly anything in it and I didn't speak for 10-days.





People may ask, "Well what did you do then?" I meditated...and that's it. No other activities except eating, sleeping, and bathing and responding to calls of nature. I do this at least once a year and I have a daily practice. I find it very beneficial. It's easy for me to get lost in the drama of life otherwise...to be tossed and turned by what is going on around me. A 10-day Vipassana course is not easy, it's rigorous. Many people have an idea that going to meditate for 10 days is like going to the spa....ummm...it couldn't be farther from that idea. It's serious work. It's surgery. The benefits I get from practicing meditation outweigh the benefits I've gotten from anything else in life, so I keep practicing. It's been almost 14 years. I feel clarity, peace of mind on a very deep level, balance, and understanding of the impermanent, changing nature of things.

Before I started meditation, I felt a lot of anger, worry, and self doubt. I don't feel these as much anymore and if they come to pay a visit, they don't stay long. The most amazing thing that has happened since I started meditating is that I find myself exactly where I need to be. There's no second guessing. Things fall into place very easily. I get lined up with the right people, places and things. I feel a connection to those I meet and feel the importance of those who come into my life, whether they be a reader of this blog, an author or fellow blogger on another blog, a yoga student, an ESL student, a neighbor, the postman, a stranger, whomever it may be, I feel the importance of why they are in my life. I'm not saying that things don't go wrong anymore, they do, but I don't seem to have a strong reaction like I did before. I'm able to observe the situation a bit more from a distance. I don't feel so attached.

Another thing I've felt like doing since I started meditation is share with others the things that I have learned or the peace and happiness I feel. There's a lot of negativity in the world these days. If I am not aware, I can follow people right into the hornet's nest of negativity. Realizing that I can't please everyone is a big lesson for me. Some people will not be happy with what I say or do, but if I feel o.k. with it, that's all that's important. My purpose in life, I believe, is to share, open up and extend myself to others. Also, there are times when I need to retreat, gain energy and take care of myself.


When I came back from meditation, I wasn't quite ready to come out of my shell, but Christmas was right around the corner and my family had big plans. We had planned to meet at my father's lake house in Washington. I went from the nothingness of total silence right into the craze of Christmas shopping at Northgate Shopping Center near my house in Seattle. Christmas shopping at peak season, if anything, will shake you from your shell. I was still moving slowly through the hordes of people and had to sit down often.

Christmas with my family was nice. It was nice to see everyone and spend time together. I'm not sure I really had time to get into the "Christmas Spirit". I was kind of thrown into it. When I was young, I celebrated Christmas because my family did. I don't think much has changed. The Christmas I see in America seems to be about spending time with family, buying a Christmas tree, buying presents, decorating the tree, making Christmas cookies, watching Christmas specials, listening to Christmas music, etc. Christmas is also about the birth of Christ, but that gets lost sometimes, I feel. I am not a member of any religion and I am member of ALL religions. Maybe it's good to celebrate everything. ..to celebrate life! I was happy to finally be celebrating at this peaceful lake setting with family.

I think I was more excited about the new year.... I already feel things are lining up. While I was meditating, my husband and his friend decided to start a yoga business together and they already found a building in Seattle that they are interested in. I feel that this will happen. The most amazing part of the "possible" yoga school is the atrium.


It has an indoor Eichler-style atrium. I've never seen an older building in Seattle with this feature. It's perfect for a yoga school. I feel like my husband and are I both working towards our goals and dreams simultaneously and they both support the same goal of sharing peace, happiness and joy with others. The creation of his yoga school will be a collaborative effort of friends who are painters, gardeners, designers, construction workers. I think it will be so interesting to see this process of so many people coming together to leave a part of themselves for others to enjoy. It's like one big art project. Stay tuned for more information as this project progresses. Happy New Year everyone!!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Planting the Seed of Happiness-An Afternoon with Sonam Rinpoche

Twenty three people from eight different countries (Korea, China, Malaysia, Tibet, Russia, Israel and India) gathered in my living room this morning for a talk on Happiness and Compassion by Sonam Rinpoche. "Rinpoche" in Tibetan means "Precious One". There are many Rinpoches who are recognized and appointed by the Dalai Lama. They are usually appointed very young and are believed to be great masters who are reincarnated. I spent the afternoon with my husband and Sonam Rinpoche last weekend, too. What inspired me most was not the Tibetan tradition or exactly what this Rinpoche had to say, it was more his joyfulness. He reminded me of the laughing Buddha in my garden. He has the innocence of a young child and the wisdom of an old man.



The part that was wonderful about today was that I shared the time with people from many different countries and backgrounds who came together with a universal hope for compassion and happiness. Compassion and happiness are qualities that are not owned by any religion. They are basic human needs, like food, water, shelter, etc. The Dalai Lama once said,

"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive."

Sonam Rinpoche talked about planting the seed of happiness and helping suffering beings.

Here is a short video of that talk:


video

I believe that when we surround ourselves with good people and we are also good, this multiplies and spreads in the world. Set all religions aside and what is your intention. Is it to convert people or is it to share good qualities with everyone, regardless of their race, background and religion. Sonam Rinpoche is my Facebook friend. We live in a high-tech world and some may argue that people like Rinpoches should not be on Facebook, but I'm happy he is there. On Facebook under "What is your religion?" the Rinpoche wrote "kindness". Where it says, "What is your political view?" he wrote "selflessness". This made me smile.

People like the Rinpoche give me inspiration to do good things in the world and to make use of this life I have. I am happy for all the people I have met in the blogosphere. Some have given me praise and others have given me criticism. It doesn't matter to me really. My intention is to share, to open, to move towards universal positive qualities like love, peace, happiness and compassion. This is my true hope.

Friday, December 4, 2009

NOVEMBER WAS GOOD TO ME

November was good to me. I started a new collaborative blog called Writers Rising which now has seven authors and 4 open invitations. I also received two blog awards. I am honored and I will pass these awards along as I know there are hundreds of other blogs out there who are worthy of these. The Best Blog award was given to me by Alone in Holyland. I'd like to give this award back to her, but she already received it. Be sure to check her blog out, she's great!
This is what she had to say about my blog, Lessons from the Monk I Married.

We're almost on countdown to Christmas so I think it is time to share with friends presents and awards...


Award goes to:

Her blog is an inspiration for me and her posts, well, sometimes they make me cry, sometimes they make me laugh and sometimes they make me feel better. Thank you Katherine, this is the least I can do in return for the light you shed on my humble path.

I also want to thank Artisan of the Human Spirit for awarding me another blog award in November:

http://scholastic-scribe.blogspot.com/

I'd like to brighten the holiday season by giving two awards to some of my favorite blogs. For the Superior Scribbler Award, please check the website as there is a list you can add your blog to there.

Since some of my favorite blogs have already received these awards, I'm stretching out here. Here are my top five picks:

1. Chronicles of Sharnia-I love Sharni. She is an Australian gal who lives in a one-horse town with her child and cowboy husband. She used to be a cosmopolitan woman and can't entirely give that side up, hence her wonderful blog which keeps her connected. She is funny, witty, honest, and real. Check her out.

2. Ruby Ramblings-This woman is always dishing out comments on noteable books, blogs, articles, etc. , but she is a wonderful blogger herself. Much of her blog talks about her time in Asia and she is a great observer of all that is around her. If you are looking for a great book or good place to visit, she has all of this on her blog.

3. Lifeworks- More of a website, but I like this woman's view on life. You can read about how she gave everything up to live a simple life in Mexico. Very interesting stories, ideas, and thoughts on how to live a simple and fulfilling life on the planet and have the courage to do it.

4. 24 and so much more- A fellow writer of mine on Woman's World Magazine. She really is exactly what her blog title says. She is a seeker and is searching for answers to life. I like that. She also has helpful information on a variety of subjects on her blog.

5. Bliss Chick-I just started following this blog and I love her attitude and her posts. They are positive and uplifting and I appreciate that.

Thanks for writing such amazing blogs. I hope to read more. Any suggestions of more great blogs to follow???? I'm always looking! By the way, I follow so many great blogs, it was really hard to choose 5. I have many more I LOVE.

Please be sure to post both awards to your site! Peace to you all and happy holidays,
Katherine Jenkins