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Lions Roar : November 2014
in recent years, i find this blessing comes to mind naturally in times of stress as i go about my life. Recently, i decided to track its activity through a particularly stressful day: i arrive at the airport well in time for my early morning flight to orange County, where an old friend has taken quite ill. i notice the flight is delayed. i feel myself starting to cry. May I meet this moment fully. May I meet it as a friend. i realize that i am feeling sad because i love my friend, and am sad to be losing her. i think about how long we’ve been friends. the pleasure of that thought settles my mind. then, i hear the announcement that the flight has now been cancelled. i ask about the next available flight and am waved in the direction of a long line, where i’m told i need to wait for the next available agent. “if i wait in that line, it will be too late for the next flight. i already have a boarding pass,” i say. “you need to be in that line,” i’m told again. i feel mad. i think, “i’ll write that letter on behalf of all pas- sengers who should be treated more respectfully!” May I meet this moment fully. May I meet it as a friend. i realize that everyone needs to wait and that i feel particu- larly sensitive because i’m sad. a helpful person standing in line says, “if we phone the airline while we stand here, we can prob- ably get faster service.” i decide to do that. i dial. the phone rings and rings. i am feeling irritable. May I meet this moment fully. May I meet it as a friend. i am told, electronically, that my call is very important to the equanimity through the ever-changing challenges of life. Wise mindfulness is the continual, non-coercive awareness of chang- ing experiences, which is, in itself, the practice of peace. in classes where i ask that people disclose, by a show of hands, which hindrance energy is their most prominent one, there are always five groups that identify themselves. Sometimes the people in each group meet together to share their experi- ences of what works best as responses to these uncomfortable tendencies. Participants report that they find the groups help- ful. more than specific remedies, the discovery that other people are willing to share stories of their experiences, especially when a lack of consciousness has created serious difficulties in their lives, is reassuring, and normalizing, and inspiring. it is helpful to identify hindrance energies not as character flaw but as default positions of the mind under stress. this allows the mind to relax. “i have a mind that, under stress, thinks first of sensual soothing” is kinder than “i am a lustful person.” “When i am startled, angry thoughts arise in my mind” is kinder than “i am an angry person.” “at the slightest hint of ambiguity in a situ- ation, dire possibilities fill my mind,” is kinder, and less embar- rassing, than admitting “i am a chronic fretter.” What helps is remembering, “this confusion is a temporary attack which will pass soon. it will pass faster if i’m kind to myself (because, after all, i am in pain) and if i don’t solidify this experience into a fixed view.” Reframing unpleasant energies (and all the hindrances are unpleasant) as transient, opportunis- tic phenomena doesn’t preclude them from arising or immedi- ately neutralize them. But it does make them workable. ♦ airline and that an agent will be with me soon. that message repeats many times. i hear my mind again composing indignant letters to Customer Service. May I meet this moment fully. May I meet it as a friend. my mind calms down and i realize that i am disappointed with myself because my friend is sick and i am indulging myself in indignation. “Really, Sylvia! What are you thinking?” May I meet this moment fully. May I meet it as friend. the line progresses slowly. i repeat my phrases slowly, pay- ing attention to what i am saying. i look around at the other travelers and wonder where they are going. in my mind, i begin blessing them. May you meet this moment fully. May you meet it as a friend. it is my turn at the ticket counter just at the point that my phone call is answered and so i hang up. i realize i’ve calmed down. the agent is courteous. i learn that all the flights until mid-afternoon have been cancelled because of the thunder- storms. i rebook for the next day. the airport bus for my trip home arrives just as i emerge from the terminal in time to board it. i’m grateful, and a little bewildered from the morning of hurrying up and waiting and ultimately going back home. But i’m all right. Just a little tired. May I meet this moment fully. May I meet it as a friend. i travel without difficulty the next day to be with my friend. ♦ — SylVIa boorSteIn SHAMBHALA SUN NoveMBer 2014 47