Jack Kornfield leads a Guided Meditation for the Monday Night seating group. He introduces Spirit Rock’s programs like loving kindness & family programs.
Good evening and welcome to this Monday night sitting group. It’s a pleasure to welcome you here if we’ve not met before. My name is Jack Kornfield and this sitting group is now in its 31st year. It’s easy for me to keep track of because it started just before my daughter was born. If you’ve not come to Spirit Rock before, particularly like to welcome you. Spirit Rock and the teachings of the Dharma which is a Sanskrit word that means the truth or the path or the way of awakening that’s universal for every being. The gates to the Dharma, the doors to inner well-being and liberation, invite everyone, every race and class and creed and ability, and sexual orientation. Basically, it says all beings are welcome, so you count in that and it’s a pleasure to invite you here.
And Spirit Rock has grown in this beautiful valley here over the past quarter of a century or so through a whole community of people who are committed to the twin principles of compassion and wakefulness or inner freedom of heart. We have all kinds of programs and classes and retreats and so forth to foster and support people in their inner life and in their expression of this out into the world. So, we also have parenting as a spiritual practice and informed citizenship as a spiritual practice and retreats and classes for healthcare workers and teachers and people in all kinds of professions and artists and so forth. Monday night serves in some way as an introduction to Spirit Rock and that way I love to welcome people who are new. How many are here for the first time, just to know? Great. Thank you for coming. How many are new to meditation for the first time? Virgins in Merin. It’s possible. Wow. I love it. Thank you. Thank you for coming. You’ll see what happens.
So, it serves both people who come new or are beginning to use these beautiful practices of mindfulness and loving awareness and compassion and so forth in their lives. And it also serves a community of people who come more regularly on Mondays for myself and other teachers who teach here just as a way to be reminded of what really matters. To sit quietly and let the heart and mind become a bit more peaceful. To open the spirit of compassion and loving kindness more deeply and let it inform us as we move through the days and through the weeks ahead. Whatever brings you, it’s really a pleasure to be together.
What we do on Monday night is really very simple. We sit together for half an hour tonight. It’ll be 30-35 minutes in silence with a little bit of instruction for those who are new or as a kind of reminder. Then take a break, 10-15 minutes to stretch, relax and that’s usually followed by some talk or teachings as it will be tonight. Sometimes dialogue or questions and answers. We also have a couple of very simple rituals that we’ll do this evening since we’re getting into the holiday season and there seem to be rituals of some form all around us which includes a baby blessing in the middle after we set and other such things.
So, let us begin with a period of meditation. Please, let yourself sit in a way that is comfortable and at ease. If you’re in a chair, feet flat on the floor, sitting upright with some sense of dignity and also graciousness, both alert and relaxed. If you’re on the floor, find a posture that’s comfortable and stable where you can sit easily and rest on the earth. You don’t have to sit in a weird posture, you’re weird enough as you are without adding to it by your meditative practices. And when you’re ready, allow your eyes to close gently and simply come into the present. Notice your body seated here halfway between heaven and earth in this human form. If there’s any obvious tightness or tension you can easily release, do so. Let the eyes and face be soft. Loosen the jaw. If you like, you can roll your head in a circle to release your neck and let it find a simple upright. Let the shoulders relax and the arms and hands rest easily. Feel the weight of your body, the heaviness, gravity, and the contact of buttocks, legs, feet on the chair and floor and feel how the earth completely supports you. How you can let go and rest just where you are. Let the belly be soft and the breath natural. And let the heart be soft as well to receive whatever arises with a spirit of kindness compassion. And now with this embodied attention, begin to notice the play of your experience. The sounds and feelings, the thoughts and sensations bring a kind of tension, mindfulness to the reality of your experience in the present just now.
And after just a minute or so, you notice how easily the attention is drawn elsewhere to plans and remembering and thinking about. So, to deepen the sense of presence underneath all the waves of thoughts and sensations and sounds, let yourself become aware of the wave of the breath underneath all the rest. Feel how the breath breathes itself. You might feel it in the nostrils as coolness or swirling tingling in the back of the throat or rise and fall of chest or belly. And if it’s hard to feel the breath, you can put your hand on your belly and feel the rise and fall in the palm of your hand. And as you feel the breath, let your attention rest with each in and out, a rise and fall, calming the mind and body, centering yourself just here.
And again, after just a minute or two, you notice how after a few breaths, or at some point, the attention is pulled away by a strong wave of planning or remembering or itching or tingling or sadness. When one of the background waves pulls the attention strongly, then let go of awareness of the breath and instead receive the new experience as if with a bow you can name it gently: sadness or excitement or tingling or tension or whatever it happens to be and feel that wave of energy as it moves through the body and mind and then when it’s past, relax again into feeling the next few breaths. Rest in the reality of the present just here under your own tree of enlightenment. Feel the breath as the body breathes the air of the earth interdependent with all things, calming steadying and then with a loving awareness, notice the big waves that pull your attention away, naming them gently. Remember to keep the heart soft so that all that arises is met with a tenderness and compassion.
This breath or this moment’s experience received with a spacious and kind attention.
Steady and relaxed this breath, calming quieting or this experience sad excited whatever it is, name gently as if to bow to it. Rest in loving awareness. Notice the play of this moment and this moment and this.
If you wish you can add some extra loving kindness and compassion for this body seated here for all the feelings and thoughts that arise, for all the experiences met with great kindness and compassion this too.
You looked really good. Whatever happened in there was your own business, but you looked great. So, in a few minutes, we’ll take a break, but we have a few things to do beforehand. First, some announcements. The winter 16 newsletter’s available out in the foyer. During the break there, in case the delicious Bovine Bakery chocolate chip cookies were not enough for you, the elves have put out tables of Christmas cookies or holiday cookies or Kwanzaa cookies, whatever you want to call them, back there for you to enjoy during the break and there’s always tea in the foyer. In addition to the two restrooms that are here, there’s a couple of restrooms outside in the fancy flushed trailer there for those of you who need them. Two volunteers Ella and Summer need a ride back to Bolinas. Is there anyone who can offer a ride back to Bolinas to going into West Marin.? Yes, in the far back. So, meet them at the end of the talk in the far back along on the right side of the door there where you are and look for Ella and Summer and they’ll look for you.
And then the last thing before we take a break is that Annabel, the mom, and Darren, the dad, have brought baby Ammara here for a baby blessing. So, I invite you to come up please. Oh, hi Ammara! And Ammara is a totally wonderful name. It means the awakened one. Let me see, let me take a look here. Yeah, you look pretty awake to me. And so, doing a baby blessing is partly a welcoming to you, Ammara, into this community of love, friends and practitioners and so forth and partly a support for you both, Annabel and Darren, as stewards and parents and caretakers of the new Buddha who’s arrived. And baby blessings are really a reminder Hi! Yes! Look at that! Baby blessings are a reminder that you got basically a live in Zen master who is going to teach you the perfect training of patience, compassion, steadiness, love, how to deal with conflict and frustration easily, exactly, how to overcome sleepiness and difficulty. You know, you couldn’t find anything better in the great Zen temples of Kyoto, they’ve come right to you in the form of Annabel. And your job as parents of course is to see as you do that she–Oh, you want something? Sure. What do you want? You want to watch?
Darren: All of it.
Of course. Look at that. You can try that. And if you drop it it’s okay. Oh, you want that too. Yeah of course. That’s how we are. Yeah. Your job is just to tend and see the beauty in this being that you do obviously and more than anything, not forget that child of the spirit. We’re in this holiday season that celebrates the child of the spirit and here she is in your very home. In the Buddhist tradition, the words of the Buddha, “Of loving kindness are like a mother or father who holds their beloved only child, so can we learn loving kindness for the ones that we care about and through them for all beings.”
Are you giving it back? Wow! Generosity too. Look at that.
Darren: She just wanted to know what time it was.
Okay, yeah, it’s Buddha time. So, I want to give you a little blessing cord and I’ll tie three knots in it first. Remember who you really are. That your own Buddha nature,”– Yeah, you can have it again. Sure. Oh, now you want–how about the glasses. That interests, no? The clock. Yeah you’ve got it.
May you remember to step outside of time and remember your own Buddha nature and to see the Buddha in every being and have them see the Buddha in you. May you follow the path of truth and liberation so that you find your own expression of awakening and offer it to the world. [00:39:05] May you feel yourself held by the community of not just your loving parents and their friends but by the community of humanity and all beings, that you can serve them, that you can help all of us awaken together. May you be blessed. Let me tie this on your wrist. Is that okay? Let’s see.
And this is one thread from the robe of a monk or a nun that we put on you, so you remember your past life in the monastery, that’s right, where you were. But then we need to do a sacred mantra for you and we need everybody’s help. So, turn Ammara around so everybody can enjoy her. And then we have to sing a Dharma song to her so that she has some wisdom offered with your blessings as you do. And it goes like this: Row row row row your boat gently down the stream merrily merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream. Row row your boat gently down the stream merrily merrily merrily merrily row row row your boat gently down the stream merrily merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream. Life is but a dream.
So, Ammara, remember that the only thing that really matters is love. You know that. You you know, you give it, you offer it, you giggle, you laugh and you receive it from Darren and Annabel and you are a blessed child. Yes, you are. You’re the Buddha come to visit us. May you be joyful and happy and bring blessings to everything that you touch. So, everybody send your blessings this way. Thank you. Thank you for bringing her. What a gorgeous beautiful child. And thank you for all your blessings.
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