A Note From George (May 2018)

 

May Gray

What I consider Spring-like weather, by any reasonable estimation, is late this year. Living in Los Angeles, below sixty degrees post-February I experience as I imagine the Antarctic. The Happy Light on my desk blinds for hours combating May Gray and the resulting California Seasonal Affect Disturbance (CSAD). I remember something about lions and lambs from Second Grade, but I am unsure what if anything that has to do with temperature. Anyway, that has to do with March, it is %(&#^+@ May already!! Where is my heat?! Why does the universe think I live here in L.A.? [Hint: I am freely willing to concede Leap Day to an overcast sky.] 

Or better yet – what happened to my equanimity with the cold? Bummer…more practice…duh.

 
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Equanimity Meditation Techniques

My favorite equanimity technique is Noting Intensity Changes. In each moment, note if the intensity of whatever sensation awareness is drawn to is the same as the moment before, increasing in intensity from the moment before, or decreasing from the moment before. Using simple labels: Increasing, Decreasing, Same or Gone (some sensations just drop off, so that possibility needs to be represented). No attention to the content of thinking, just noting intensity of activation.

My second favorite equanimity technique is to Noting Equanimity or the Lack Thereof. This technique has increasing levels of difficulty. In the simplest form, in each moment, note whether the body/mind is craving, aversive and/or spacey or is the body/mind in equanimity. I like to use the labels: Wanting for craving, Not Wanting for aversion, Thinking for spaciness, and Peace for equanimity. To increase the difficulty, add a first note for sensory clarity, using the flexible See, Hear, Feel technique (First Foundation/Pasture). Then, continue with noting for sensory clarity, and then a second note for the quality of the sensing experience as Pleasant, Unpleasant or Neutral (Second Foundation/Pasture) before noting for Equanimity (Third Foundation/Pasture).

Both techniques are recorded, give the office a call at 213-378-0489 or shoot us an email at admin@mettagroup.org and we can send them to you.

The Meaningful Life Weekly Drop-In Class

Join us for Mettagroup’s new weekly drop-in class version of The Meaningful Life on Saturdays at 4pm. Because the space is limited you will need to claim your spot ahead of time. You can sign up to get an email reminder each week when registration opens, or you can always email us at admin@mettagroup.org or call us at 213-378-0489 to register. (The cutoff is Friday at 3pm the day before each class.)  The class has a dual focus, classical enlightenment for householders and attachment repair, both through mediation practice using a Metta/Vipassana framework. The class revolves around the interests of the students who attend each class, so the content will be rangy in topic depending on who comes each week. 

The Meaningful Life drop-in class is also intended as a Sangha-building enterprise. Finding people with whom you can discuss your meditation practice is key to your practice developing. Finding people with whom you can discuss your attachment strategies is key to moving toward secure functioning. This is a safe, refereed environment. Please join us!

To deepen the Sangha-building aspects, after our summer retreat in mid-July, Mettagroup will add Make-a-Meal to the schedule following the Saturday sit. The idea here is that we collectively cook a plant-based meal, and then eat it. Then, clean up! One of the central qualities of secure functioning is the ability to collaborate. Make-a-Meal is designed to develop strong collaborative skills if you do not already have them. And if you already do, please come and show the rest of us how to do it!! Quoting the Los Angeles Times, “Are you feeling lonely, disconnected or alienated? It could be making you sick, and, ironically, you're not alone….” Social isolation is terribly painful. Connecting with similarly minded people over good food is awesome. Learn to cook, learn to clean. Just saying. More about that closer to the date.

The Value of Retreat

Mediation teacher extraordinaire, Dave Smith, stayed with me for a couple of days while in Los Angeles from Colorado. We are going to do our first Metta/Vipassana workshop next spring at 1440 Multiverse outside Santa Cruz, where we will discuss the Dharma late into the night (or maybe 9:30pm, whichever comes first!). Dave mentioned that there are big benefits to sitting for seven to ten-day meditation retreats over just trying to maintain a daily householder practice. (You might look at Altered States by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davies.)

Mettagroup is totally with that thinking, which is why we offer ten-day retreats. Consider joining us this summer – a few days of intense practice in the California wilderness (read: in the middle of nowhere, really?) will really deepen and accelerate your practice. Plus, Seven Circles Retreat Center has a shamrock shaped pool. We have added a daily period of talking after dinner to support the development of Sangha. Our retreats are intentionally small. The food is plant-based. There are still some spaces available, and some scholarship funds available. Please join us.

Poetry at MoMA

I leave you sharing my reading from "The Lower Manhattan Dormitory Effect" at The Club 57 Show at MoMA in early March this year. A group show, the subject was artists active in downtown New York scene between 1978 and 1983. This period is increasing being academized as the harbinger for our current cultural debate, like Paris in the '20s for the mid-Twentieth Century. 

My friend, the Confabulist, Jimmy McCourt, dubbed my writing syntax, “Lyric Prose Poetry.” I have always liked that. Enjoy!
 

 
 

Ahh, thank god (there is no god), at last…a few days of hot.

I hope to see you somewhere along the path.

Love to you,
George