Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Lot of Time on my Hands

So, before the next month starts and I go fully into Vegan Mofo mode in which I will only post on topics related to vegan food and interests, I wanted to take some time to address this other thing that's been building up in my life.

I've had a lot of time on my hands. I've been social, i've been active but I've also been a homebody a lot of the time. I've been researching. Recently several things that I have been interested in or at least aware of have been coming together in my head. Those things being yoga, philosophy, Buddhism, anxiety, inspiration, self reflection, self responsibility, relationships and building a sense of community.

In the next few posts I'll try to talk about those topics and share some links and maybe even start some dialogs. We'll see.

I bought this book years ago, before college, during a Borders trip with my friend Chelsea. On a superficial level I have been drawn to Buddhism since I was in middle school. I had Save Tibet stickers, incense and Buddha sculptures without really attaching any meaning to them. I identified as a Christian for the most part growing up but never felt the connection that the pastors or other followers would talk about. As a child I remember being scared by the Judgement Day sermon. I was convinced the world was going to end. As a teenager I was somewhat forced to go to a non-denominational church with my father. I never felt anything. I decided to abandon spirituality.

Fast forward to a little less than a year ago. Life was changing for me. It all felt monumental. And to be honest I went through some pretty dramatic changes in how I view the world and relationships and what kind of life I wanted for myself. At some point I had a "duh" moment where I realized that I was in control of my life and the situations I put myself in, and that perhaps I should be a little more selfish in the decisions I make.

Here's the irony. In realizing that I needed to be more responsible and take care of myself and my future, in suddenly taking a more "selfish" view of the world, I felt an urge to connect, to build a community, to give back, to be selfless.

Enter Buddhism. Not necessarily chanting to Buddha or shaving my head or taking a vow of silence..but enter openness to learning about Buddhism.

After the Flagstaff Yoga Festival this summer I started pondering the term non-attachment. How I feel about non-attachment I will discuss in future posts but suffice it to say this line of thought lead me down a path of wanting to know a bit more about the philosophy behind yoga and how in many ways it mirrors or intertwines with the philosophy of Buddhism.

So I've been reading this book in earnest for the last few weeks. When I say "in earnest" I mean slowly reading. Rereading. Writing quotes down. Bookmarking pages. Actually digesting instead of just reading. Very Buddhist of me already don't you think!

It's not quite what I expected to be honest. It's incredibly easy to read and accessible. It's inspiring me to want to find ways to "cultivate compassion" in my everyday life. I'll tell you all about it once I'm done, but for now let me share some links!

For those of you who are not familiar with the TED talks, I highly highly recommend you check them out. While browsing the different options lately I came across this video by Joan Halifax called Compassion and the True Meaning of Empathy.

Joan Halifax: Compassion and the true meaning of empathy | Video on TED.com

After watching this video I became interested in learning more about her Being with the Dying series and this lead me to Upaya Institute in New Mexico. It's a Zen center that hold all kinds of retreats and hosts scientists and spiritualists alike.

THIS lead me to the Audio Dharma Podcasts which I promptly downloaded and started listening to. The first podcast I chose was one by Philippe Goldin, who is a neuroscientist, clinical psychologist and Buddhist who is using neuroimaging in tandem with meditation techniques. The series is called Zen Brain: Trauma, Stress, Loss, and Happiness. But there are a ton of other series that I have yet to delve into all of them with different topics and different visiting speakers.

So I've started thinking, if I'm seriously interested in this stuff, in meditation and the philosophy and all that, well perhaps I need a teacher. The Upaya Institiute looks amazing and they do offer jobs in return for housing and teachings but at the moment perhaps that's not feasible.

I can across this monastery in upstate New York called Karma Triyana Dharmachakra that also has some interesting looking retreats.

Something about disconnecting from my phone, facebook, even my blog, living in a vegetarian community for a while and being in a place where I'm constantly learning again is really appealing to me lately. I plan to explore some closer DC options soon.

In upcoming blogs look forward to reading about: Animals Sanctuaries you can visit and volunteer at, my theory of the Community Relationship, new recipes and restaurant reviews, and a complete review of the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.

Hold me to it blog readers!

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