October 22, 2015

What I look like Naked.

Photo: Shambhala Meditation Center, LA

What I look like Naked. 

Growing up, I had this thing that wasn’t a therapist, or a life coach, or a mentor, exactly. It was called a “meditation instructor.”

You may not realize, but you can go to any Shambhala Center in the world and get a free meditation instructor, if you ask nicely. A meditation instructor, or MI, is like a therapist, but they’re not there to fix you. They’re like a life coach, only this journey has no goal. They’re like a mentor, only they don’t pretend to know more than you.

What they are is a friend, a spiritual friend, an objective (critical) yet personal (kind) reference point for your life.

When I was a child, my first MI was Robin Kornman. He was a big round charismatic nerdy sweet Apple-obsessed Buddhist teacher. I’d get dropped off at his house and just hang, and make trouble, and do things with him. He taught my first Shambhala Training program, a weekend urban retreat that is still available at a Shambhala Center near you, and a bunch of my buddies did the weekend, too. We meditated (or tried to) a lot and giggled a lot and didn’t understand much, but we had a good time. Which is saying something—meditation and childhood don’t easily mix.

When I was older, an Irish gent named Brian was my MI. He was tough on me. I would walk in for our meetings and he would just stare at me, making no attempt at conversation, and gently smile. I collapsed. My heart seized up with fear and nervous energy. I was too wild and young for this. It was then that I first realized that I—and you, most likely—have a good deal of nervous fear beneath our daily discursiveness.

Since then, I’ve had Dr. Reggie Ray and Frank Berliner as my MIs, and I’ve become an MI myself. It’s an incredible, and free (with no strings attached) resource, and I thought you should all know about it. You can find your local Shambhala Center by googling it.

If nothing else, if you meet with an MI and discuss your meditation practice, and your relationship with your own heart and mind and life, they will make helpful suggestions for you. And you might experience what it is like to be truly naked—exposed—to feel as if there’s no earth beneath your feet, only space.

That feeling is scary—but it is our ego that is scared. Groundlessness is hard, unless we relax into it and realize that we don’t need confirmation. And it is in that spacious present moment that we can live our lives from a place of mindfulness, humor, and love. There is no other moment in which we can fall in love or do good work than the present moment. And most of our problems arise from being caught up in our self-perpetuating habitual discursiveness, instead of resting in this present moment.

So: here’s meditation instruction. And here’s a photo of me naked. Maybe.

Yours in the Vision of an Enlightened Society,

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