By Katherine Jamieson
Editor’s Note: Katherine Jamieson will be leading a 3-session contemplative writing course, Contemplative Writing: Uncovering the Writer Within beginning June 6th. Find out more and register today.
I talk to a lot of people who want to be writers, but are struggling. Something is in the way. They think: What should I write about? Am I good enough to even be doing this? Who would want to read my work? They sit down to create and 10,000 distractions rise up: text messages, appointments, pressing errands. Soon they are doing something else, something urgent, which is actually a relief. Anything is easier than writing.
The act of writing is very simple: just put one word after another. But this simplicity is also anxiety-provoking. There is no hiding behind an instrument, tools or fancy technology. All you have is a pen or pencil, maybe a computer. Writing is a very exposed art. You are sharing your thoughts on the page, laying your mind bare for all to see. You are offering your view on what it means to be alive. What could be more amazing, or more terrifying?
by Anita Anandan
Editor’s Note: If you’re inspired by Anita’s story, please check out Compassion-Based Resilience Training (CBRT) / Teacher Training and become a certified CBRT Teacher. Find out more and register — the training begins May 25th!
In December 2021, I had a chance to teach Nalanda Institute’s Compassion-Based Resilience Training (CBRT), in a local prison. CBRT is an 8-week curriculum covering mindfulness, insight, compassion, mentor imagery along with breath and posture practices, complimented by Western scientific validation of these ancient practices.
Out of safety concerns during the pandemic, the prison arranged for me to communicate with the men remotely. The men gathered in a common space, and a video conference was used for the almost 80 men and I to communicate with each other. From time to time announcements reverberated through the space. Some of the men spoke Spanish, which I did not, and did not speak English, the language I used. But unwilling to let that deter them from fully participating, they brought a friend who interpreted between us.
by Nalanda Institute
On February 18, 2022 Nalanda Institute was honored to host an online Community Gathering with one of our favorite faculty, Sharon Salzberg, in dialogue with Nalanda Institute’s founder and academic director, Dr. Joe Loizzo.
It was a remarkable evening filled with mindfulness and loving-kindness meditations guided by Sharon Salzberg. Sharon also shared recollections and lessons from her life-long practice and teachings of loving-kindness.
(Video and audio documentation in English, Spanish and Portuguese may be found below)
by Geri Loizzo
Editor’s Note: For those who couldn’t attend the retreat with Sharon Salzberg, Nalanda Institute is pleased to announce that she’ll be speaking at our forthcoming Community Gathering on February 18th. This online event is freely offered. We hope you’ll join us….find out more here.
Find out more about the Contemplative Psychotherapy Program
I was quietly blow away at recent weekend retreat in the Contemplative Psychotherapy Program with core faculty Sharon Salzberg. Reflecting on exactly how the weekend hit home for me, I found myself thinking about the author Kurt Vonnegut. In describing the art of writing, Vonnegut often talked about the powerful impact of a well-placed short sentence. To me, Sharon is the Kurt Vonnegut of Mindfulness and Loving Kindness. In one short phrase, she can bend the mind and heart toward a whole new understanding.
In his Stages of the Altruist’s Path, the 5th century Nalanda master, Asanga, taught that gratitude emerges from acknowledging the kindness and the care we’ve been shown by all of life—the kindness of our parents in giving us life, of our human ancestors in tending and caring for the earth and creating our culture and way of life; and the kindness of nature that’s generative and sustains life. This practice requires accepting all of the difficulties and the harm we see and have experienced in a knowing but not passive way; yet sincerely remembering and connecting with all of the good. This is especially relevant as some prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States. Although it’s a holiday many recognize as an opportunity to express gratitude, it is also a national day of mourning for Native Americans. We must name and honor the entirety of this history. It is what’s necessary for gratitude to emerge.
by Joe Loizzo, MD, PhD
It’s no secret that our work lives are becoming ever-more complex, fast-paced and stressful in our global, digital age. We need only look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the workplace to see how rapidly and radically the conditions of living and working in today’s fluid environment can change. At the same time, the pandemic has also laid bare pressing social and environmental needs—for true racial, gender and financial equity, and for a more sustainable economy—that demand fundamental changes in the way we think, live and lead.
by Dan Donohue
Editor’s Note: Dan Donohue is Nalanda Institute’s recently-appointed Executive Director. In this post he shares a bit of his personal journey in the context of the Institute’s renewed mission and vision statements.
I hope these words find you well as we say goodbye to another summer and welcome the fall. I’ve always felt this time of year to be auspicious — given all those years of school starts — so it’s a fitting time to share with you Nalanda Institute’s renewed mission and vision; the fruit of a collective effort by many of our staff, faculty, board and community members.
Our mission is to support people from all walks of life to cultivate an open mind, warm heart and altruistic way of being by infusing timeless contemplative science and practice into contemporary life.
by Vanessa Kelly
Completing Nalanda Institute’s Contemplative Psychotherapy Program transformed my life in many expected and beautiful ways. It deepened my understanding of Buddhist psychology and philosophy, supported and solidified my mediation practice, and immersed me in a diverse, inclusive community of inspiring friends and colleagues.
It also transformed me in unexpected and equally beautiful ways. My personal relationship both to self and others flourished with the infusion of compassionate inquiry and understanding. I began a meditation teaching training path (and now am honored to occasionally offer the Nalanda Institute and Tibet House’s Lunchtime Meditation!). It set me on a path of Buddhist centric service and study, as well as routinely attending silent retreats.
by Joe Loizzo
With summer here, we invite you to make more space and time to practice unwinding, whether in your favorite natural refuge—seaside or mountainside, lake or forest—on the cushion in your meditation space or in your choice reading chair or coffee nook in whatever spare minutes or hours you can clear in your day. Turn off your devices, wishing all life well, and reconnect with your own body and mind.
As you reconnect with yourself, tuning in to the natural rhythms of your body and mind, feel how precious such reflective moments are in your life. Especially invite and savor any memories that evoke a felt sense of being fully whole and alive—in harmony with yourself, nature, and the extended family of all life.
by Nina Herzog
As a Buddhist, technically, I’m not supposed to be angry. So how exactly does that go? Anger eats us up inside, it’s a poison. As The Most Awesome Ruth King once told me on retreat, “Anger is not the deepest truth that wants to be told.” That pretty much stopped me in my angry tracks. It also forced me to go deeper. What’s this deeper truth?
As an ode to Pride month, I’d like to offer this reflection: While I identify as gay-as-a-technicolor-synchronized-swimming-competition, over the years I’ve come to understand that the queerest thing about my body is its size, not its gender or sexual expressions. These last few years, I’ve finally gotten in touch with how unjust the world is for fat people. This has taken me a long time. It’s permeated every part of my life, every phase of my development, every year of my 55-year old existence, shaped the way I see everyone I meet, every environment I enter, every community I consider joining. It’s certainly the first thing people see about me. Because I’m NYC-based, my “standard” queerness isn’t as central anymore. As an immigrant, coming out to my parents at 27, in 1993, just six months before my mother died, it was a bit of a horror, but that horror ended, for the most part. The horror that is being fat in this world continues.