Musings of the InsightLA teachers
This year is coming to an end. We celebrate having made it through 2017, thanks to our practice of mindfulness, the loving awareness that helps smooth out the lumps and bumps of life. We celebrate a 'blank slate' of fresh possibilities and new ways to be. We celebrate being alive!
Resting here on the couch, I quietly marvel -- new waves of breath keep rolling in. As one breath dissolves into space and vanishes, a new one arises. The waves of breaths we'll call 2018, are about to be born. The ancients compared us and our world to evanescent foam floating on the water -- empty, unsubstantial, with no enduring essence.
What really matters in this fleeting world? What is most important? When we're clear about what matters most to us, then we extend our care to the world. When we do, money and generosity can carry our deepest intentions, our life energy, our love, compassion, and service. It is a path, a way to offer what we have to what we love the most.
I'm happy to tell you it's not too late for your InsightLA end-of-the-year donation to be matched. A generous donor and loving member of our community, has agreed to match any contribution made by the end of January 2018 - AND the annual total of all monthly giving for those who sign up for our monthly giving program by the end of 2018. Each dollar you are able to contribute and each dollar you are able to pledge through our monthly giving program will be matched equally up to $50, 000.
You will be part of our work all year long with underserved communities throughout Los Angeles, and our commitment to offer support to those on the front lines of suffering. We all need a helping hand and support, especially caregivers, and a meditation practice facilitated by our highly trained teachers will make a difference.
Any amount you can find in your heart to give will be joyfully appreciated and will go toward making our community and our world a more loving and peaceful place to live.
From all of us at InsightLA, we wish much love in the new year. We look forward to seeing you soon. You always have a place to practice. Come sit with us!
Trudy, our hard-working office team, dedicated board of directors, and our teachers - all of us committed to you and your flourishing. Happy New Year!
Click below to make a tax-deductible donation or pledge now.
Ram Dass, speaking from his wheelchair, said: "It's easier to go around the world to help cure blindness and build hospitals than to need someone to pick me up and put me to bed." Even when we're able-bodied, we know what he means. It's easier for me to help you than to ask you to help me -- whether it's to pick up something heavy I'm not allowed to lift yet, or drop something off at my house because driving is still off limits, or -- to ask you to support InsightLA.
Asking feels as though we are making ourselves vulnerable, and we are! We open ourselves to possible rejection or refusal. Yet, as the poet Rilke said, "Ultimately it's upon our vulnerability that we depend." We're vulnerable to each other, we're raised by other mammals. Our safety riding through a green light depends utterly on other people stopping at a red light. The truth is that we are all interconnected.
We can choose to shut down our vulnerability and never ask for what we need, or we can open to the reality that we depend on mutual caring and let the heart respond. Our openness and responsiveness as human beings leads us to one another. This vulnerability we feel is actually a gateway to experiencing interdependence.
When we understand this, both asking and giving build trust. We know that we can be here for one another, and we are. Just as we trust that sunlit days will lengthen after every winter solstice, there comes the trust that we can practice receiving as well as giving. As we open to receiving, we generously allow others the chance to give. In this way, we experience our interdependence, our interbeing, and love - a quiet joy that enriches our lives and makes the Dharma, the teachings of mindfulness and compassion, flourish.
This year marks InsightLA’s 15th Anniversary and we have much to celebrate. Thanks to your loyal support, InsightLA has taught thousands of people skills that bring compassion and joy to the forefront of life. Over the past year, amidst the divisivenenss in our world, InsightLA has been a refuge. You’ve helped create spaces across the city that sustain us Angelenos, places to steady the heart and learn powerful practices of loving awareness, insight, and wisdom.
I meet remarkable people all over who tell me how much the teachings from InsightLA have changed their lives. In line at the movies, Jerry tells me how grateful he is for the mindfulness training that gives him a foundation of well-being for his intense and stressful work in business and entertainment. Pushing my shopping cart at the Co-op, Marisol stops to thank me for the lovingkindess meditations and sense of community that helped ease her pain after the loss of her husband.
Carol is a woman experiencing homelessness. When someone steals her things and threatens her, she arrives at her mindful writing group at StepUp in Santa Monica scared and desperate. After she reads her story to the group, two kind men in the mindful writing group offer to find her a safer place to sleep -- under “their” bridge.
Carol is part of our programs “Insight in Action”. We need your assistance to continue bringing healing mindfulness skills to professional caregivers who serve the most vulnerable – those who critically ill and dying, our veterans, the clients of organizations including: The Downtown Women’s Shelter, Safe Place for Youth, and GreenDot Public Schools. We can’t do this beautiful work without you. We need the support that comes from your goodness and caring for humanity so we can send teachers to underserved folks as well.
I’m so proud of the community we have created together. Our many classes, trainings, and free meditation groups, our well trained teachers and renowned visiting speakers, the financial aid we offer are all here for you, for the wellbeing of LA and the wider world -- changing lives with each breath!
Please give generously. Not only will your generosity make you feel happy, you’re making sure we can keep serving those who need us and reach out to many more. Consider giving $50, $100, $500 or more. Your gift now means our survival into the future.
Over and over again, heart-warming stories show me the difference InsightLA can make in all our lives.
We rely on your gifts to be able to continue the life-changing work we do. Together, we can make the world a more compassionate place for our children and all beings
With deepest gratitude,
Click HERE to donate.
During this month our friend, and board member, Bill Resnick, has generously offered to match all donations. Please give today and double your contribution.
To find out more about Insight in Action, please click HERE to watch a video.
When I was 26, I fell in love with Buddhist psychology and meditation teachings. I needed a “safe and reliable refuge”. At first, I looked up in awe at my Asian teachers. I was perplexed by life and searching for answers outside of myself. I hoped to enlighten myself through connection with who they were and the compassion they exuded. Over the years of practice, they always pointed us back to enlightened qualities of our own hearts as the real source of inspiration and wonder. Our teachers saw us as young Buddhas, learning how to cultivate, strengthen and trust our own innate sanity, goodness, and understanding.
Teachers point the way and help us envision the possibility of awakening. We begin to trust that awakening can happen in this very life – in fact, in any moment when we’re not preoccupied with wanting our situation to be different, better, luckier... This impatience with the way things are and how it is for us generates stressful thoughts that make us unhappy and block the flow of clarity. Mindfulness allows us to see when our attention is ‘going there’ and choose a more positive and liberating focus for our energy and consciousness.
As we enter the last month of a challenging year for our country, I feel infinite gratitude for the trust of my teachers, for Ram Dass’s teachings of loving awareness and the opportunity to teach at his annual winter retreat with hundreds of people who long to embody them. I’m grateful for the kindness of everyone who helped my injured back to travel here for the week. Our teachers’ sense of spiritual adventure and their trust in our indwelling wisdom spark confidence that this journey is possible for each one of us. May we all continue to practice and learn together. And may we trust our teachers, trusting us on our path!