LA Insights

Musings of the InsightLA teachers

LA Insights

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Musings of InsightLA teachers


What Pets Can Teach Us
What Pets Can Teach Us

It was love at first sight, when I first met Coco, a curly apricot poodle mix that melted my heart to a puddle.  I was 23 years old and had no idea the walls around my heart were soon to come crumbling down. Up to that point, my relationships with people were complicated at best or otherwise painfully traumatizing.  My heart adapted to these wounds by erecting a fortress designed to never let love in again, guarded by the insistent belief that I was undeserving of it anyway. 
 
Slowly but steadily, before I knew it, Coco snuck in past security and nestled her way into my heart, erasing any sense of separation between us.  Loving and caring for her more than 13 years transformed my heart. I could no longer deny that I was lovable because Coco truly loved me, day in and day out, never wavering.  
 
Coco was my benefactor, teaching me the language of true love and the gentle, tender tone to use when offering metta to myself and for all beings. Coco taught me the true meaning of mudita when joy flooded my heart every time she ran wild through a field or napped with ease in a blanket of sunbeams.  When her beautiful bright spirit left her body heavy in my arms she became my heavenly messenger. 
 
As you know from your own life and losses, through the joys and sorrows of impermanence only love remains. May our broken hearts heal and open to love in its many forms.

Love, Martin


The Light of Seeing Clearly
The Light of Seeing Clearly

For years, my vision couldn’t be corrected properly with glasses. Unlike most people, I’ve been waiting eagerly for the time to have cataract surgery where a new lens can be put into the eye. Usually it’s a simple, routine procedure, but with some damage to my corneas, it’s trickier. Thursday was the surgery on the left eye. It went well, but I won’t know the final outcome for a few weeks. Nervous the day before, I reflected, what does it mean to see clearly? 

Seeing clearly is being fully present within the experiencing of seeing and what is seen; it’s an active process that can only happen in the present. Seeing this process clearly is mindfulness. Witnessing what’s happening right here through all the senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, thinking, remembering, noticing what grabs our attention – this kind of seeing doesn’t depend on the eyes. It requires the humility to simply receive the moment in clear awareness. It requires the willingness to welcome each moment of sight, sound, taste, touch, thought, feeling, taking it all in, moment by moment. 

This kind of seeing is creative, intelligent, awareness discerning how everything it perceives appears and then disappears. We don’t have to try hard, our natural awareness can easily see how a sight, sound or thought happens, peaks, fades, then passes away. We are life witnessing life being born, existing, vanishing. Seeing this way doesn’t depend on glasses or corrective surgery; it relies on cultivating invisible qualities of the heart, like tenderness and patience. 

It takes generosity of spirit to receive life as it is. It calls for the inner vision we call mindfulness or loving awareness, an intuitive wisdom. As the little prince said: “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry) May the light of seeing clearly, wisely, “rightly” what’s essential - LOVE - shine through all your holidays!

Love, 

Trudy


Are We Rich?
Are We Rich?

When I was little, I wanted to know about money, and why some people were called rich. I asked my mother, “Are we rich?” My father was an academic and my mother a homemaker who sewed and ironed our clothes and froze our tuna sandwiches in bulk. After they defrosted in our lunch boxes we ate them, damp and soggy… My mother answered, “We’re rich in love and happiness.” I felt frustrated. This answer didn’t address my wanting to know where we stood with the money part. 
 
Years later, as a grown-up, I appreciate her answer. Love and happiness are indeed our truest riches. It was on my meditation cushion that I first learned to trust that there is ample love in the universe. I learned to open to and connect with my inner riches with metta, with creativity, with understanding, with the inner sources of love and happiness that are ever available to all.
 
It was through psychotherapy and continued meditation practice that I began to know and accept all parts of myself, to feel truly at home in my own life. I remember walking into my little Cambridge apartment one day and hearing an inner voice say, “Trudy, you are complete!” It was startling, and true; I felt completely at peace. I hadn’t felt such total ease in my own skin before. And now I did. It had happened gradually, but I realized it all at once.
 
Breath by breath, moment by moment, with loving awareness, we create a home for the heart and this home is our refuge. We build community and the community supports us. We reveal our minds and hearts and our minds & hearts strengthen us. We open to life and life opens to us. We open to love and love opens to us

Love, Trudy


This Giving Tuesday Help Grow Our Insight In Action Program

 

This GIVING TUESDAY, we invite you to help us grow our Insight In Action Program. Put your COMPASSION into ACTION by giving the gift of mindfulness this year

DONATE TODAY and a generous InsightLA donor will match all donations up to $25K.

One of the core principals of InsightLA is compassion, and by its very definition, compassion is not just an emotion it is accompanied by a strong desire to take action and help those who are suffering.
 
By offering mindfulness practices to people affected by homelessness, poverty, illness, as well as caregivers and first responders, we have learned that meditation can provide profound healing and refuge to those directly affected. 
 
INSIGHT IN ACTION is comprised of three main components: 

  • We provide financial assistance for fee-based programs based on need.
  • We also offer financial support for fee-based meditation programs solely to People of Color
  • Our community outreach program partners with 18 non-profit organizations in the Greater LA area bringing meditation and mindfulness training to vulnerable populations, individuals and organizations working on the front lines. 

In 2019, through our INSIGHT IN ACTION program, we aim to: 

  • Offer training and retreats to hospice workers, nurses, and carers support our first responders, 
  • Teach self-compassion and pain management to those suffering from illness
  • And to offer mindful writing classes to youths in detention, veterans, and homeless individuals
  • We also wish to partner with at least five new organizations serving vulnerable populations. Insight in action offers free programming, and we need your help 

Your support makes a huge difference. Please help us by visiting our website and donating. You can support people from diverse communities, backgrounds, and experiences. 
Let’s make sure that nobody is left out.

Thank you!

InsightLA


Giving Thanks in Time of Fire
Giving Thanks in Time of Fire

This poem, Thanks, from W. S. Merwin, reminds me of the 

last lines of Leonard Cohen’s song, Hallelujah: 

 

“And even though it all goes wrong

I stand before the Lord of Song

With nothing on my tongue but hallelujah”

 

Listen with the night falling we are saying thank you

we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings

we are running out of the glass rooms

with our mouths full of food to look at the sky

and say thank you

we are standing by the water thanking it

standing by the windows looking out in our directions

 

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging

after funerals we are saying thank you

after the news of the dead

whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

 

over telephones we are saying thank you

in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators

remembering wars and the police at the door

in the faces of all who will never change

we go on saying thank you thank you

 

with the animals dying around us

taking our feelings we are saying thank you

with the forests falling faster than the minutes

of our lives we are saying thank you

with the cities growing over us

we are saying thank you faster and faster

thank you we are saying and waving

dark though it is

 

Love, Trudy


Two Peaks - One Mountain
Two Peaks - One Mountain

35 years ago, Adelaide Harrison, a kind white-haired lady from South Africa visiting her son Gavin in New England, confided to me in a hushed voice when he left the room, “He only does what he wants to do!” She was shocked at her son’s commitment to listening to his body and trusting his intuition about what he was called to do. I tried to reassure her: he’s not being selfish, he’s following in the footsteps of the Buddha, who taught that the best way to care for others is to be sure we’re taking wise care of our own life energy, too. 
 
Gavin was diagnosed with HIV when it was a death sentence, before the medicines came that generously prolong life. Thanks to his fierce commitment to sustaining the health of his body, he was graced with enough additional years to fulfill his spiritual longing and live a truly enlightened life of meditation, beauty, service and joy. From his work with children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic in South Africa and with gay men living with HIV in the early days, to his poetic teaching, Gavin used his passion and talent to guide and love others. 
 
In his spiritual community in Mt. Shasta, Gavin changed his name to express the profound transformation he went through there. Gavin became their cherished companion Saucha, meaning purity of heart. Three weeks ago, our beloved friend Gavin/Saucha died suddenly of a heart attack. His teacher, Devaji, is leading a meditation retreat in Saucha’s honor, attended by me and the friends who became his family in the last few years. Saucha is very present here. It’s as though I’m looking through his eyes at the twin peaks Shasta and Shastina on the towering volcanic mountain he loved. 
 
Two peaks, one Mt. Shasta: a majestic symbol of the two-fold practice erupting from the depths of molten love at the center of our being. Just as it is one mountain, it is one life, one love we share – we only appear to be divided in two, as self and other. How fortunate we are to have practices to reveal this all-embracing love in both its oneness and twoness! Though we meet, care for each other, go apart, care for ourselves, and meet again in the whirlwind of life, in reality, there’s no separation -- just the twirling dance of falling in love with our self, with each other, and the whole topsy-turvy world. Like Saucha, may every one of us live with the joy and radiance of infinite love!

 

Love, Trudy


Welcome to InsightLA East Hollywood!
Welcome to InsightLA East Hollywood!

Beginning this Monday, we’re excited to welcome you to practice with many generous friends and dedicated teachers at our new center, InsightLA East Hollywood. 

Until now, we’ve been retrofitting diversity and equity into the existing infrastructure of our growing teachers’ group, office team and community at InsightLA. The birth of our new center celebrates the further steps in our practice of collective and societal flourishing. We’re making big efforts to explore implicit bias in many forms, such as institutionalized racism, heterosexism, ableism, ageism, etc. This work is not separate from the teachings of awakening. This is a relational expression of our awakening hearts! Becoming more lovingly aware in the daily challenges of our lives is an integral part of supporting each other on our path. 

To have our own center on the East side is a long-time dream come true. We’ll be posting the following welcome statement right on the front door. This is a fresh new place for us and we’re committed to making sure our center is a place where everyone can feel at home. 

Welcome to InsightLA. 

We’re glad you are here.   

We offer practices of inner peace, compassion, mindfulness and love. We are open to all. Come in and join us!

 Here is our commitment: In this world, with its great beauty and many difficulties, we will train our hearts in peace and kindness and courageously take a stand against all forms of greed, hatred, delusion, and cruelty. We acknowledge the implicit and overt violence that has been done to individuals based on race, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, gender identity, religion, body size, ability, race and class. We recognize the violence that has been done to our planet and to the first nations peoples who stewarded this land before us. 

We pledge to undo the forces of ill-will and isolation in ourselves and in our world. We will offer to all who come practices of mindfulness, compassion and wisdom. And inwardly and in our actions, we pledge to hold all beings in a circle of mutual respect, love, and unity. 

May our resolve and our practice together benefit all.

Radical inclusivity and social justice was the hallmark of the Buddha’s teaching, too. Thousands of years ago, from the Dalit (untouchable) caste to widows, courtesans, convicts -- all those divided from society, discriminated, disinherited – if you wanted a new life of practicing mindfulness together, you were welcome to join. The Buddha referred to everyone in his community as “sons and daughters of noble family”. I hope that by working together, we, too, can be leaders in bringing mindfulness and compassion practices to serve an ever-widening swath of the communities where we live -- in Los Angeles and beyond. 

Love,

Trudy


We Stand Together With Tree of Life Synagogue

 

All of us at InsightLA want to share our deep sadness for the tragic events that occurred at the Tree of Life Synagogue and the shooting Friday at a yoga studio in Tallahassee.

Places of worship, sharing, community, or just somewhere that we can simply sit quietly - are sacred spaces. These spaces, and all spaces, are infinitely worthy of safety for all. 

The Buddhist teachings that InsightLA is founded on are strongly rooted in the principles of non-violence and non-harming. It is these principles that we wish to communicate with every act, thought and will of compassion. 

At InsightLA we know that when someone shares in practice with us, they are meeting us in a place beyond words, through connection of the heart. When something tragic befalls a member of our community, it ripples throughout us all. We send metta to the community of the Tree of Life Synagogue and to the people of Pittsburgh. Know that InsightLA is here for you.

We resonate with the larger community of Jewish people around the world, and with all beings who have suffered unbearable loss. May we all find a safe and reliable refuge in our places of practice and prayer. 

We send wishes for healing, and our hearts meet in the place beyond words. Here is a video of President Obama singing “Amazing Grace” at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, after the tragic shooting there. 

Please remember to vote with your heart on Tuesday!


Building a Society of Love
Building a Society of Love

We hear every day how InsightLA changes people’s lives, bringing inner well-being, calmness, and wisdom. It is so important to keep love alive in these difficult times. We know how valuable this continues to be for all who join us. 

Thanks to friends and supporters, we’ve been able to send our well-trained meditation teachers across our city, teaching mindfulness-based skills supporting people doing challenging compassion-based work. We call this innovative program Insight in Action

We currently partner with 18 non-profits across Los Angeles -- serving the vulnerable kids who are experiencing homelessness at Safe Place for Youth, offering training for professional caregivers from area hospitals working with critically ill and dying children and adults. Helping people who are experiencing the unimaginable stress of displacement and homelessness -- whether migrants, refugees, or people down on their luck, helping veterans, firefighters, police officers. 

Here are their words:

“I was able to reduce my medication for my pain. I can handle pain attacks much better and don’t panic so easily the way I used to.”

“My husband’s behavior changed in such amazing ways that I decided to take a class myself.”

“In some meditations I have a feeling of peace and utter serenity I used to feel on heroin. This is what I looked for all my life. Now I’m doing it on the natch and I ain’t spending no money!”

Our goal is to double the number of meditation and mindfulness classes we offer through Insight in Action in the next 12 months. We discover that whenever we put our practice into action by lending a hand to others, it helps us, too. This is the magic of generosity! 

Your support makes a huge difference, keeping our programs open for all to quiet their minds, steady their hearts, and build a society of love. Please help us –visit https://insightla.org/Giving/Donate or simply respond to this email. We welcome a conversation with you.

Thank you again for your generous support over the past year. We’re glad you’re part of our InsightLA community.

 

May you be happy.

May you be peaceful.

May you live with ease.

 

Love, 

Trudy

P.S. There are still some seats available for our annual benefit tomorrow. Hope you can join us! 


InsightLA East Side Opening
InsightLA East Side Opening

A couple weeks ago, our InsightLA teachers and office team gathered once again for further training about racism and equity; we’re learning more about our organization and ourselves. As we brainstormed ways we can better serve our diverse community in Los Angeles and beyond, the whole room felt bathed in loving awareness. It’s a demanding and worthwhile effort. We’ve got skin in the game.

Our new East Hollywood center, formerly Against the Stream on Melrose, opens its doors on Monday November 12th and will include different voices. You’ll meet a few new teachers (some you may know from ATS) and our dedicated regulars. We’ll have offerings in Spanish as well as English, and there will be affinity groups for People of Color (POC), Queer and Transgender people, as well as immigrants, to sit together and build community. As we design the schedule, our priority is providing many opportunities for our neighbors and friends on the East side to enter a safe and accommodating space that is welcoming to all. In this spirit, all offerings (except for Saturday workshops) will be 100% donation-based and mostly drop-in through the end of the year.

We invite your suggestions as the teachings at InsightLA East Hollywood take shape. When we’ve had a chance to practice together for a little while, there will be a town hall to listen to everyone’s input. Here is some of what our team has planned so far:


Buddha’s Path Community Sits - Sunday morning, Tuesday & Thursday evening
Trauma-Informed Mindfulness Community Sit - Monday evening 
Mindfulness Community Sit - Wednesday evening 
Guided Meditations - Monday - Friday / 7:15am, 12:15 & 6:15pm / Saturday - 11am 
Affinity groups
Saturday Afternoon workshops
Silent Sitting periods - Monday - Friday / 10am & 3pm 


After hearing from all of you, we’ll build on what’s here. I’m overjoyed that we have an on-going place to practice on the east side where all are respected for our heart’s willingness to be present. Let’s have a joyful celebration and ceremony to bless our new center after the holidays, in the new year. I can’t wait!

Love,
Trudy


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