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It is said that the lotus flower
will not grow in pure water
can only bloom
when fed by the mud of decay.
our collective trauma,
be the very means for our awakening.
Each day, let us awaken
to transform ourselves,
and our world
with wisdom and compassion.
–Roshi Joan Halifax
Dear Friends, howdy.
I have a big toe issue.
It’s a long, boring, and somewhat embarrassing story.
Let me back up.
Truthfully, I have two big toe issues.
One comes out of a 40 year-ago drunken and stoned cross-country skiing adventure, unfortunately the events did not unfold as adventurous.
The other toe? She comes out of 70+ years of walking around on this planet.
The newer of the two issues, the apparent unbroken toe, today seems to be the most damaged.
During lockdown, my “healthy” big toe started aching
And flaring up
Only to repeat the cycle again.
The weight of my top sheet was too much.
I did my best to ignore it, clearly an inherited Futuronsky response to physical pain.
Well, a response to any pain.
Finally, after months of attempting to snub the pain, I went to a doctor.
Did you know that the number of broken toes during COVID lockdown doubled and quadrupled, according to some doctors?
I found it hard to believe that I injured my toe while being home.
He pointed to the x-ray—clearly there was a broken bone in my foot.
Eventually I went to another doctor.
X-rays, MRI—all good steps, all coming out of denial.
Coming out of denial.
That is my point, in this over-personalized ramble:
My point is this—I really worked hard at pushing away the pain.
Pushing away pain, not a helpful paradigm!
Check out what Roshi Joan is saying here—she is literally telling us that, like the lotus, we need our suffering.
We need NOT to ignore it.
We need to go to it, to dive into it,
To befriend it—
The angst, the heartbreak, the brokenness.
To become who we really are.
We must practice witnessing our own suffering to be able to be there for one another’s.
All I really want,
Truly and deeply—
Is to do my best
To make a difference.
The only chance I have of living into that intention, one nanosecond at a time, one day at a time, is to feel my pain.
Be it my apparently second broken toe,
My loneliness, my fear of aging.
All of it.
If 2020 taught us anything, isn’t it this?
What does Roshi Joan mean by her final two words,
How do we awaken ourselves
With wisdom and compassion?
We relax into.
In response to the question, how do we live with wisdom and compassion, here is Frank Ostaseski, the lovely Buddhist teacher, leading a meditation on compassion practice. Can you offer this practice, not only to others, but most importantly, to yourself? I invite you to spend these few minutes with Frank.
Here is an invitation to spend just a few breaths with this stunning waterfall I witnessed yesterday. As I returned to watch it during the day, it felt like a compassionate gift to my heart.
And now, from my heart to your heart, this perfect song. Can you offer this One Love, not just to everyone around you, but to all aspects of yourself? Here it is:
Dear Friends, a reminder about the YMARC Conference coming up—please pass it along!
Yoga, Meditation and Addiction Recovery Conference
An On-Line Program through Kripalu Center
Please join us! YMARC is a 5-day online conference dedicated to education, inspiration, and celebration of addiction recovery.
During this 5-day Online event, presenters Rolf Gates, Aruni Futuronsky, Kate Johnson, Dr. Melody Moore, Nikki Myers, and Tommy Rosen will guide participants in finding connection, balance, and tools for deepening resilience in support of addiction recovery.
YMARC welcomes everyone — all recovery, all addictions, family members, and those who work in the field of addiction recovery.
For your listening,
For your patience,
For your connection,
For your hearts—
I am forever grateful.