From the BlogMeet Ron


Dear friends,
I remember my first weekend meditation retreat in December of 1980. I had been meditating by then about six months, with the usual monkey mind and sleepiness. So I thought I needed to ramp things up.
The retreat started on a Friday evening and ended the following Sunday afternoon, and followed a very strict schedule of sitting and walking for 14 hours a day and only one meal by 11 am.
Only for me, the retreat ended right after the evening talk on Saturday. 
I booked. I bolted. My mind was screaming “let me out of here.”
Put it this way, in retrospect, there were huge parts of my experience that it took me a long time to welcome. I had conveniently compartmentalized members of my emotional life, and when they met each other in the seemingly endless periods of silent sitting and walking, it was just too much. 
They didn’t seem to get along very well. I was fighting with myself nearly the whole time.
And when I think about this practice, this simple mindfulness, it feels more like what Mark Coleman calls “bearing witness.” 
Bearing witness through ourselves, to this precious, unrepeatable life, to our friends and family, and to the beauty and tragedy of this world we live in.
I have found these moments this just happen for me sometimes — I feel intimate with my own vulnerability, and with my blue Hydro Flask, or the dishes, my wife and kids, or the bills that just pile up.
It’s just plain vulnerable to be human, to be in a body, intimate with others, as the Buddha said, companions in sickness, old age and death. 
To meet that vulnerability fully, not half-assed, that’s tenderness.
A fruitful reflection while actually meditating can be to drop into your present moment experience and ask is my heart tender right now? 
Sometimes we are just touched by how tender life is at the oddest moments. 
Like waiting in line at the bank, or at the dentist’s office, or an awkward potluck where you don’t know anyone. 
A Tongan gentleman drove by our house the other day and asked me if I wanted some of the trees trimmed on the property.
My reaction took me a little by surprise: I took his hand in mine; I looked him in the eyes and said something like:
“Bruddah, I know you are an honest and hardworking man, doing your best to feed you family. It’s just that I don’t own this house, we are renting, and the landlady would say no, so I am very sorry my friend. God bless you.” 
In that moment we both were looking into each other’s eyes, and we both kind of teared up.
My challenge is to do something like this when telemarketers with strong Indian accents insist they are calling from Windows and they insist I have a virus they can remove for me.
I just finished reading a book by the popular British born Buddhist monk Ajahn Brahm entitled Kindfulness. The essence of this touching book can be summarized by this excerpt:
When we add kindness to mindfulness we get “Kindfulness.” Kindfulness is the cause of relaxation. It brings ease to the body, to the mind, and to the world. Kindfulness allows healing to happen. So don’t just be mindful, be kindful!
Many of us may think this is too simple-minded or moralistic. Over the years I realized I was trying to be a better version of myself through striving and fighting like crazy in meditation. 
That was about as tender as putting my mind in a meat grinder.
It just drove me little nuts in the end.
Ajahn Brahm reminds us:
Put a lot of attention in the space between you and whatever you are aware of. And make sure there are wholesome qualities in that space: kindness, gentleness, peace and patience.
Aloha,Tom, Katina, and the kids

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