A note from Erin:
This morning I’m thinking about maitri.
Do you know this word?
It’s one of my favorite words in any language.
It’s from Sanskrit and it is often translated as something like “unconditional friendliness” or “unconditional warm welcoming.”
I remember a powerful point from a teaching given by Pema Chodron in which she said,
“It’s like magic! Just imagine if you could bottle this stuff!
If you bring maitri to difficult states, they unwind. If you bring maitri to positive states, they expand.” Truly.
That is amazing. Isn’t it?
And it’s a skill we can grow with practice.
As Carl and I have been sitting for the past several weeks, listening inwardly and talking together about the theme that wants to emerge for our upcoming Fall Embodied Life course, maitri keeps coming to the forefront.
Growing maitri (or you could say growing kindness and compassion). And growing presence. And the power of pausing to allow us to do both of these.
I can hardly think of anything more useful.
Our lives go by so quickly, don’t they?
It’s so easy to miss it!
To spend them in a distracted, disembodied, stressful state.
For me, I need many reminders, lots of practice, frequent pauses, and generous encouragement to keep returning to maitri and to presence.
Good thing our lives, just as they are are our perfect path for practicing.
Your life, as it is.
Imperfect, messy, often not quite cooperating with how we think it should be….
We start where we are. Getting friendly with what is.
How helpful it is to recognize our bodies as a powerful gateway to presence.
How about a pause right now?
Can you sense your sit-bones?
Can you feel the movement of a breath all the way into your lower abdomen?
Could you make your neck a bit more comfortable?
I love it when even virtual reality invites me back to real reality. :)
This fall Carl and I want to return to and to share this practice we’ve been doing for years.
Growing maitri, growing embodied presence, and honoring the power of pausing.
We’ll do this through weekly movement lessons, meditation, and other Embodied Life practices.
While this will be a local class in Salt Lake City, within the year we’ll be offering an online version for those of you who aren’t local.
It is just so deeply useful!!
And it’s all about integration into your real life.
A few years ago when Russell Delman
was visiting us, we were talking about this work, and though I’ve been a meditator for more than 20 years, I felt nervous about “being a teacher.” I’ve been teaching yoga, tai chi and Feldenkrais classes for many years. And still…
I know I’m no enlightened guru.
I know full well how often I’m distracted or stressed or forget what I’ve learned and fall into a state of “Woe is me, it’s all so serious and stressful.”
Luckily that state doesn’t last so long as it used to “But hey,” I thought, “shouldn’t I be a bit more perfect to teach meditation?”
He wrote this in an email to me shortly after our conversation.
“I say- go forward, offer your gifts with humility, do not try to be more or less than you are.
To ease the suffering of others and our own inner life is our role.
People are so frightened to be alone with their thoughts/feelings/sensations/ and getting more so……
please help them to be with themselves.”
I hear the calling.
Carl and I can do that.
We can use these profound practices we’ve been blessed to study for our whole adult lives to ease the suffering of our own and other’s inner lives.
We can support others in really growing their capacity to be with themselves.
This is huge.
Essentially, we can grow our kindness/maitri and grow our embodied presence and help others who wish to make this journey too.
Without trying to be more or less than we are.
We’re all going to die sooner or later.
Who knows what will happen with our environment and our world?
Does my stress and fear help the situation?
Might growing a grounded, clear presence and vast compassion for myself, others and “the whole catastrophe” be a more helpful basis from which to live? And more enjoyable, to boot?
As Hafiz wrote,
“Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I would like to see you living in better conditions.”
May it be so.
I’ve written more about our class description below, and registration officially opens today. Last year our class filled very quickly, so if you’re interested I encourage you to sign up asap.
We absolutely love sharing this journey with others.
And whether or not you’re in our class, we thank you for joining us on this journey through reading. We’re grateful to be connected.
Wishing you maitri,
Here’s a good one from Hafiz:
Will someday split you open
Even if your life is now a cage,
For a divine seed, the crown of destiny,
Is hidden and sown on an ancient, fertile plain
You hold the title to.
Love will surely bust you wide open
Into an unfettered, blooming new galaxy
Even if your mind is now
A spoiled mule.
A life-giving radiance will come,
The Friend’s gratuity will come —
O look again within yourself,
For I know you were once the elegant host
To all the marvels in creation.
From a sacred crevice in your body
A bow rises each night
And shoots your soul into God.
Behold the Beautiful Drunk Singing One
From the lunar vantage point of love.
He is conducting the affairs
Of the whole universe
While throwing wild parties
In a tree house – on a limb
In your heart.
p.s. I’m excited to let you know that we’ve also added a few wonderful Feldenkrais workshops to our late summer and fall schedule below. Coming later this year, we’ve got: Dynamic Transitions, The Art of Walking and the Art of Sitting. Detailed descriptions coming soon. Dates are on our calendar below.
p.p.s. If you’re a woman, please consider joining me for my Creative Play weekend for women! If you’re drawn to it but a little nervous, well, that’s a good sign it’d probably be wonderful for you. :) I have some spaces left and a spectacular group of women forming. I am SUPER excited as I’m creating the plan for the weekend and I would love to share it with you! Don’t underestimate the power of learning to be playful, creative and get out of your own way. It’s the kind of learning that can touch so many parts of your life in truly profound ways….