Some thoughts about love + a new 10-minute meditation. Also: I miss you!

February 3, 2020   |   Leave a reply

Audio-only version is here.
Meditation practice begins at 13:45

Dear Open Heart Project,

Welcome new members of the Open Heart Project! If this is our first time sitting together, I am grateful for the opportunity to practice meditation together. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to mention in the blog post comments.

If are not a new member: I have missed you! For many months–even years–some of you have received meditation videos from me every single week. Beginning last month, the frequency changed to once a month.

This was a hard decision to make. I have loved sharing meditation practice with you and going beyond the instruction itself to point out how meditation supports you to live your best life. But after 7 years of sending free weekly videos, I realized I had to make a change. Life is short and we each have to make choices about where we can do the most good. I want to write more books, teach more deeply, and create a new and unknown phase of my creative and spiritual life. You will still hear from me every month, though! Look for a new video on the first Monday of the month.

I want you to come along with me in this new phase, most of which will come to life in the Open Heart Project sangha. (Sangha is sanskrit for community.) In addition to weekly (and daily) meditation practices, there are online retreats, weekly live gatherings with a guest teacher, free classes, and access to my meditation archive which now has more than ONE THOUSAND videos. (WHAT? How did that even happen.) It is also a way for you to support me and the Open Heart Project, if you have gained benefit from it. In all cases, I would be grateful to see you there. Think about joining! If you have any questions, email us.

This Month’s Video

Onto our video which is about the most important topic of all: love. Okay. I know the world is crazy right now and there are other vastly important topics: Truth. Justice. Rescuing each other. Rescuing planet earth. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Have you ever thought about why we keep hurting each other and our world? Our capacity and willingness to love has something to do with it.  When we hold back, guard our turf, fear each other, we shut down. When we shut down, we shut each other out. When we shut each other out, we create sides. Us. Them. When we divide our world, we become prone to poverty mentality, aggression, and numbness. We also become incapable of love, as love is predicated on not holding back, giving up ground, and trusting each other.

When our actions are rooted in love, the probability they will move the needle in a positive direction is vastly increased. Don’t take my word for that. Don’t take my word for any damn thing while you’re at it. Instead, investigate these notions within yourself and in your world. When your actions are rooted in pure self-interest, anger, or fear, what is the result? When they are rooted in connection, clarity, and courage, what is the result? This is not some cute Buddhist way of asking leading questions. Seriously. Pay attention to your experience, not mine. Find the answers. A lot depends on it.

Some of you know that my most recent book, The Four Noble Truths of Love, is about how Buddhism can support us to go beyond our fears to love more deeply. With Valentine’s Day approaching, we are about to face a deluge of candy hearts and confusing advertisements about what love looks like. I thought it might be useful to examine these truths, what it all has to do with meditation practice, and how you can reconnect with your indestructible capacity to love. Please have a listen and let me/us know in comments what you think!! What I think is material only insomuch as it causes you to think. Don’t forget: I am not the teacher. Your own intelligence is.

Other Things Going on in the Open Heart Project

Over at the OHP sangha, we have embarked on a fascinating exploration of a practice known as Lojong or slogan practice, which is a core practice within various traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. There are 59 “slogans” which range from the obvious (First, train in the preliminaries) to the inspirational (Thank everyone) to the fascinatingly inscrutable (Three objects, three poisons, three seeds of virtue). They have a seemingly magical capacity to turn the mind from poverty-stricken to abundantly compassionate. Over one thousand years of lojong practice will confirm this. That said! Don’t take my word for it! Explore them yourself and see.

And if you are a member of the sangha now, remember that today (Feb 3) at 3p ET, the great teacher, practitioner, and friend Michael Carroll will give a one hour talk on how to bring slogan practice to life. If you can’t join live, no worries. Sangha members will get a link to the recording.

On February 15, we are hosting the first of four online “Creative Raves” in 2020. From 11a ET – 5p ET we will gather together as a community of creatives and makers–whether your art is writing, photography, crafting, music, gardening, or solving complex math problems–and spend the whole day invested in our work, within community. We will meditate together, work side-by-side in silence, turn off unnecessary devices, and then give ourselves the time and space to create. I can’t wait, personally. Free for sangha members. Future raves: May 6, September 12,  and December 12.

I am thrilled to announce that on March 2, we are launching a 9-month examination of core Buddhist teachings, hosted by Michael Carroll. (You guys, he’s amazing, one of my most valued teachers and friends). From March-November, Buddhism in Modern Life will meet once a month for 90 minutes to explore profound teachings and how they relate to ordinary life. The full curriculum is here. You can take the whole program for $299 or, you guessed it, for free if you are a sangha member!

There’s lots more planned for 2020: enneagram programs, online mini-retreat weekends, and so on. This is shaping up to be a very intense year, I don’t have to tell you that. At such times, we need community, friendship, and inspiration to stay strong. The sangha offerings are my effort to do what I can to help.

Other Things Going on in My Life

This leap from weekly to monthly meditations has been a big deal for me. It signaled a new phase and new phases require letting go of things you love to make space for what is next.

Since I left the my own spiritual home, the Shambhala organization, due to clergy sexual misconduct and an overarching non-inclusive atmosphere, I feel both stronger and more daunted as a teacher. I am no less Buddhist and no less committed to my own practice as both a student and a teacher. I have had to separate it all from a particular institution. The impact, in addition to heartbreaking and enraging, has actually been liberating. Rather than looking to others to provide me with a teaching direction, I have looked deep within and asked: what do I know? What can I offer without doubt or hesitation because I know it is true from my own experience? These are always the questions a teacher should ask and now that any buffer zone is gone, I have taken them on to the best of my ability. Doing so has left me inspired to teach more from the heart, write more, and set my fears down to be of greater benefit. Thus, a new phase has begun.

In other news, I find myself in a very strange and interesting family situation. Without going into all the details, a somewhat distant relative has had a stroke and his recovery is uncertain. He lived alone with a beautiful German Shepherd named Rocky. For a variety of reasons, Rocky has ended up in my office (which is a studio just next door to the apartment we live in). He is understandably freaked out and his back legs are handicapped. He needs a supportive harness to walk. He is the sweetest dog ever. But suddenly I find that my world is upside down. I have been sleeping in my office to keep him company and also to take him out as needed. I haven’t been sleeping in my own bed. I have been eating takeout. My small office, usually quite neat, is strewn with dog paraphernalia, not to mention an 80-pound dog. It is very interesting to suddenly find yourself responsible for another creature’s well-being without knowing what the future holds. Come to think of it, that is always the case. We are responsible for each other’s well being. We don’t know what the future holds. What a great chance to practice that truth while also feeling worried, tired, resentful, loving, and, well, HUMAN. Please pray for Rocky’s health and happiness!


Upcoming Live Events

Okay, there you have it. Look for the March newsletter and new guided meditation on the 2nd.

Love you and you and you. Susan

PS Speaking of Valentine’s Day: If you’re looking for a way to celebrate love for real, check out the free 22-page PDF below.


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