Zen Blog

This blog collects various internet feeds aimed towards information, experience and technique exchange in support of our shared spiritual journey.....

”Namaste - may the light in me, honor the light in you…”

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A 6-Minute Practice to Softly Focus Our Awareness

Often we use the sensation of the breath as an anchor in meditation. However, focusing on the sounds around you can also be a comforting way to ground yourself. Try this guided practice to gently focus awareness when in need of a moment of calm.

1. Let’s start by bringing our primary attention to the sounds in the room, wherever you are. Right now I’m hearing a clock somewhere. A window is open where I am, so I’m also hearing some birds. 

2. Notice any thoughts that arise. While I’m listening to the sounds in the room, I’m not blocking the thoughts and emotions that come up.

I think of this kind of like driving a car: My primary attention is on the road in front of me, but I’m still aware of what’s happening in my peripheral vision, what’s happening in my rearview mirror, and if I have kids in the back seat of the car, what’s happening there.

Our primary attention is on sound, but we don’t block the thoughts and emotions that show up, we just don’t get caught up in them.

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4 Lessons on Anti-Racism from Brené Brown and Ibram X. Kendi

We are collectively facing a moment where people are hearing the call from Black communities and rising to action. We need to work for change on every level—supporting individual change, social change, and policy change—in order to fully acknowledge and end racism.

This rich conversation between professor Ibram X. Kendi, the New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist (as well as the upcoming Antiracist Baby) and the Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, together with research professor, author, and podcast host Brené Brown offers us clear and heart-opening lessons to integrate into our anti-racist toolbox. Read a few highlights here, and be sure to listen to their full interview. 

1. Our identity is changing from moment to moment

Nobody, regardless of race, says Kendi, is simply racist or anti-racist in a static way. “What we say and do about race in each moment determines what, not who, we are.” It isn’t helpful to fall into essentialist categories around race, says Kendi, even as a Black person, because we have the ability to change that as we raise our own awareness—and our ability to admit it when we’ve made mistakes: “Essentially, to be anti-racist is to admit when we’re being racist.

“What we say and do about race in each moment determines what, not who, we are.” It isn’t helpful to fall into essentialist categories around race, says Kendi.

2. The opposite of racist isn’t non-racist, but anti-racist

“Once you understand what a racist idea and a racist policy is,” says Dr. Kendi, “you begin to realize there’s a fundamental contrast to that, and that contrast is not some sort of neutrality.” 

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5 Mindful Books About Equality and Racial Justice

1) Every Body Yoga

Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, Love Your Body

Jessamyn Stanley • Workman

Most people feel awkward during their first yoga class. For Jessamyn Stanley, being the largest woman in the studio only compounded this. Fast-forward a few years, and Stanley is an Instagram sensation for chronicling how a “big, black, and beautiful African Queen” can be as yogic as the idealized (and grossly misleading) representation portrayed in women’s magazines. With Every Body Yoga, Stanley, now a certified teacher, takes that a step further.

This book—a solid mixture of pose and sequencing instruction, introduction to the history and philosophy of the practice, and beginner’s tips to help you feel slightly less awkward when you start out—also tells Stanley’s story of how falling in love with yoga helped her fall in love with herself. Not only is this an inspiration for anyone who has ever felt different or has struggled with self-image, it’s an absolute testament to what yoga, at its core, is really all about.

2) Mindful of Race

Transforming Racism from the Inside Out

Ruth King • Sounds True

Long-overdue discussions around race in America are finally having a moment—one that needs to last a very long time.

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Maybe it’s The Barrel: Mindful Policing Gets Real

Listen to the full conversation:

As protests continue across the United States, video footage of police officers acting in reprehensible ways has gone viral, resulting in widespread criticism of the police and a call for defunding.

Richard Goerling is a certified mindfulness trainer and former police lieutenant, who specializes in teaching resilience and performance skills to first responders. In this interview, he explores the biases that exist in policing—and explains how mindfulness can foster a more compassionate police force. 

The Two Types of Change Policing Needs

“One of the greatest failures of police leadership is the failure to lead a culture—or maybe, more specifically—the failure to lead an ethos that is grounded in humanity, rather than grounded in tactics or grounded in equipment, or grounded in the good old boy network,” Goerling says.

Here are two types of changes he says the policing culture needs to see:

1. Systemic Change

“No matter how the institution of policing evolves, it is still a system. And systems, by their nature, are imperfect. And systems that are imperfect by their nature can and will cause harm on some level,” Goerling says.

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