A Note From George (August 2018)


“It is going to be a scorcher…,” is something I said in a childlike imitation of corn farmer wisdom growing up in Chicago during the dog days of summer. This was back in the cruel, barely re-imaginable, pre-air-conditioning days. More precisely, my father put one of those new-fangled window units into his (and my mother’s) bedroom, the children got their second-hand fans, albeit large window fans with low, medium and high, and reversible in/out air flow. Still, ouchy-wouchy!!


My mother would pack up the kids and head north to the summer cottage we shared as an extended family in Door County, Wisconsin. My mother had two sisters, Nancy, the youngest, and Marion, the oldest. Nancy got June, Marion got July, and we got August. August in Ellison Bay. We kept a ski boat docked in a small harbor for fishing boats. The local white fish increasingly fished out by nets with smaller and smaller holes, closer and closer to shore, leaving more empty berths for pleasure boats. We had a dingy and a pier on the rock beach below the cottage, at the bottom of a dangerously steep wooden stair case down the forty-foot limestone cliff. I remember it raining a lot in August, but my mother didn’t want to cause a ruckus.

Here in Los Angeles, high 80s and low 90s feels just right to me. Low humidity required.

Speaking of just right, Mettagroup’s first Plant-Based Make-A-Meal was a great pleasure. Broccolini with garlic and pasta, and an arugula and butter lettuce salad with purple radishes and green olives. Our small group too full for dessert of strawberry slices with honey (I know, honey is not vegan). If you do not know how to cook or would like to hone your cooking chops, the meal prep is the perfect place to develop mad skills. The veggies are from a local CSA, Farm Fresh to You. What could be better? (Nothing.)

The Meaningful Life Summer Retreat unfolded over ten days at the Seven Circle Retreat Center in Badger, California. The addition at this retreat of the Ideal Parent Figure protocol in the evenings worked really well, so we are adding it to our regular retreat schedule.


The Meaningful Life Intensives

Our intensives will be starting again at the end of September. We are now offering three levels!

The Meaningful Life - Level One: Students focus on developing an integrated Metta-Vipassana practice, with psychoeducation of Attachment Theory. We use a secular Buddhist approach to teach meditation, keeping intact the linkages developed over millennia while at the same time not requiring specific religious belief of any kind. 

We do, however, believe the long-term goal of meditation practice is classical enlightenment. For many people, stabilizing their householder’s life is a prerequisite for deep practice. Using the attachment mind states as a vehicle for practice helps to quickly build the social support necessary in the short-run that supports sustained practice in the long run. Understanding the effects of our early conditioning on our current life path deepens our understanding of the nature of our karma, and the path to release it. This course is suitable for any level of practitioner. Sign up here.

The Meaningful Life - Level Two: Students gain deeper understanding of the dynamics of their own attachment strategies and shift their relationships from an insecure stance to a secure ground. Relationship dynamics will be explored through an attachment lens, as well as, the skill set of secure functioning.

Meditation-based emotional regulation is emphasized, with instructions specific to individual attachment presentations within the Metta-Vipassana practice context. A period of The Ideal Parent Figure protocol, a guided-meditation designed to repair early attachment disturbance, developed by Daniel P. Brown, Phd at Harvard, will be part of the class. Each student will work with a mediation mentor one-on-one. This course requires completion of any previous Meditation Interventions for Addiction Process or Meaningful Life intensives. Sign up here.

The Meaningful Life - Level Three: Offered for the first time, students will focus on doing the deep work of uprooting early attachment conditioning. An Adult Attachment Interview will be given to each student, and each student will receive twice-a-month, individual (one-on-one) Ideal Parent Figure protocol sessions as part of the course. The class will meet once a month for support working thorough your attachment conditioning, for continuing education on developing healthy relationships, and will include collaboration practice with a Plant-Based Make-A-Meal. Completion of The Meaningful Life Level Two is a prerequisite to join Level Three. Sign up here.

The Meaningful Life - Two Month Intensive: If you are in the Santa Cruz area, we're offering a condensed (in time, not content!) version of The Meaningful Life – Level One. We will meet at Insight Santa Cruz for four Saturday daylongs (September 15th and 29th, October 13th and 27th). The format will be an hour of meditation, followed by an hour of instruction and dyad work, in three cycles each day. Lunch in the middle there somewhere. This is the same curriculum we offer in our six-month intensives condensed into four daylongs to save the travel wear-and-tear on the teacher (me). It will be fun and transformative. Sign up here.

Welcome to Morning Meditation

In Morning Meditation, on the insight side, we are going through the first four Stages of the Progress of Insight as we are wont to do every summer. And, on the heart side, we will begin Mudita (Sympathetic Joy) practice next week. I like to transmute the traditional phrase: May good fortune fill all the days of all your lives, to: I hope you’re lucky. Luck standing in as a rubric for good karma. May good karma fill all the days of all your lives. My mind often tracks back to the old Zen story of the farmer and the horse:

A Farmer had a horse he used to plow his fields. One morning he woke and went outside to find that the corral where his horse had been, was empty. His neighbors came by and said, “You have the worst luck out of any of us.” The Farmer replied, “Good luck, bad luck, who knows?”

The next morning, the Farmer woke and went outside to find that the horse had return with three other wild horses. His neighbors came by and said, “You have the best luck out of any of us.” The Farmer said, “Good luck, bad luck, who knows?”

The next morning, the Farmer’s Eldest Son went to the corral to attempt to break one of the wild horses. The horse threw him, and he broke his leg. The Farmers neighbors came by and said, “You have the worst luck out of any of us.” The Farmer said, “Good luck, bad luck, who knows?”

The next morning a Warlord came through the village conscripting all the eldest sons except for the Farmer’s Eldest because his leg was broken. His neighbors came by and said, “You have the best luck out of any of us.” The Farmer said, “Good luck, bad luck, who knows.”

I say, “May good fortune fill all the days of all of your lives.” May good karma fill all the days of all your lives. Or, for short, I hope you are lucky. I hope you are lucky. Or you might say to yourself as you walk around the planet, “I’m lucky. I’m lucky.” A portable Mudita practice for the dog days of August.  

Love to you,