Tag Archive: peace

Love, P.S.





I had the privilege of hearing Maya Angelou speak in 1993 at Bill Clinton’s Presidential Inauguration.  She is Love and Strength, incarnate.  RIP and enjoy your angel dance, dear One.


Regaining Balance


This winter has held some deep calls for my family, to balance.  The Universe decided that this winter was the divine time to offer up a stone home on 8 acres, that I’ve been working on manifesting for us.  Intending for us a grounded home in nature, delivered more than I could have imagined (she winks, nods, tips proverbial hat thankfully to the Universe for that ‘more than’ delivery).  Recognizing opportunity and then seizing it were subsequent steps that felt in no way, easy.  Honestly, as much as manifesting and having all that we want in the world is ‘supposed’ to feel effortless?  I find that it often feels like work! 

Every step along the way may offer stress, it will beget more choices, we will feel resistance from ourselves in the form of fear and old stories that love to bend our ears.  Working through all of these, discerning which to dismiss and if any should be heeded–this is where our intuition comes into play.  As we choose, it becomes imperative to listen to our deep knowing—to our sage inner voice behind the fear-mongering ones that scream at us during stressful times.

Do you recall one of those fitness inventions that is a balancing ball with a platform ledge around the outside?  It looks like a rendition of the planet Saturn.  You place your feet on the platform ‘ring’ and work to stay balanced, as the ball wobbles and moves.  As you choose to lean in one direction or move an arm in another, you face the constant need to balance yourself on this contraption, engaging loads of muscles in the process.

Listening to our intuition is one way for us to regain balance when we feel wobbly in life.  As we move through life and change and growth, making decisions that aren’t always comfortable, we’ll find ourselves feeling wobbly, ungrounded and generally out of balance at times – trying to figure out which muscle to shift next.  We find that doing the things that have worked in the past, grounding through exercise, salt baths, journaling and meditating – these may no longer offer the same balancing benefits that they once did.  Listening to that intuitive voice that is telling you to go out and socialize, or to go tell a neighbor how you really feel, or to try some different foods – these options may be your new path to regaining balance.  Having the courage to make new, potentially balancing choices are key to living that elusive, fulfilled life.  Bravely listening to those inner and often higher sounding calls, to paint, stop, move, love – these are crevices where fulfilled lives gestate. 

Pausing to listen to our intuition is a great way to regain a sense of balance.  Remember that our intuition speaks to us in different voices.  Just as we grow, change and evolve, our intuitive voices grow with us.  They morph in support of who we are becoming and what we are choosing.  So if yours sound stern and grandmotherly when you are feeling nudged to meditate, be open to a quiet male voice who may guide you in new ways to play or work less.  Listening to our ever – changing voice of intuition is one way for us to regain our footing and step into more fulfillment as we negotiate the balancing ball that is our life.  Staying open to growth will help you to feel less rooted in old ways and more ready to grounding in new ways as the winds of winter change blow through your worlds.  I wish you all the best!

Appreciation vs. Expectation

In talking with a colleague recently about people and holidays, she offered such a great, one-line piece of advice:  approach everyone with appreciation vs. expectation.

This statement has proved profound and profoundly simple for me throughout this holiday season.  I challenge you all to try this as you gather and bump into so many people, their energies and their expectations.  Try out the process of loosening and removing your expectations of people and gatherings and instead step into an appreciative frame of mind.  Appreciate the time shared, the nourishment that others offer, the beauty of the person and personality that you are graced with in each moment.  If you are feeling stretched to find something to appreciate—appreciate your lungs for breathing in fresh air, your heart for pumping blood and health through your body to allow you to be present.  Dig for appreciation on as many levels as you may find it and try it on, while leaving expectations outside.

Think through the expectation process.  We decide that people or a situation should serve us, in some way.  Whether it be a promise of fun or that the people we commune with ought to treat us in a certain way.  Having expectations is one way to disempower ourselves.  When we lay expectations on people and situations – we are attempting to dictate an outcome or control a situation.  We are giving someone else’s choices in how they behave or respond to us, power.  We take the power to create our own happiness or appreciation away from ourselves in these moments of expectation and put it in the hands of another.

When we encounter friends and family that we haven’t seen for awhile, we aren’t always sure what we’ll find.  I’ve learn to be amused with how much I’ve changed, as I look into these people that mirror me, back to myself when we gather after time apart.  Appreciating my growth over expecting of them to meet some need in me…well it works. I challenge you to empower yourselves by moving into appreciation and out of expectation.

I wish you and yours peace, health and love this holiday season!  I’ll love to hear how this appreciation shift may work for you!  Please offer comments on how it serves you throughout this season.

Interview with Susan Wagner

Seven years ago, after doing much, solo meditation, I went looking for a more formalized group that would fit my schedule.  With no particularly sect or style in mind, I found my way to a Tibetan Buddhist group, in Media, PA.  The group was led by Susan Wagner and I was immediately struck by her calm, welcoming demeanor.  She has a glorious combination of big sister/teacher/sage energy to her.  I learned much within this group and from Susan; I went on to take vows a few months later at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra in Woodstock, NY.  It was a special time in my life and much peace and guidance came from the Buddhist teachings of the group and Susan’s leadership.

Q.  It was such a pleasure to be welcomed into a Tibetan Buddhist sangha, by you, 7 years ago. What drew you to lead the Media Shambala Meditation Group?

A.  My friends and I started the Media group so that the local community would have a place to sit together and study the dharma.  I was active in the Philadelphia Shambhala Center but it was difficult for me to commute there on a regular basis.  I had been active in meditation centers for a long time, and so it seemed like a very ordinary thing to do.  It helps me with my practice and study.  I always learn when I need to teach something.  Having this little group has helped me with my understanding.

Q.  I know your meditation practice began years ago.  Will you please share with us, what started you on this path?

A.  It was really the First Noble Truth.  I started practicing meditation when I was 16 years old in 1970.  That’s when I was initiated into the tradition of Transcendental Meditation.  My teenage years were a time of upheaval.  I remember doing my homework with the Vietnam War in the background on the news every night.  I had friends who were drafted and had to go.  I remember going to a funeral home one evening for the visitation of a friend who had died in the war.  His mother reached into his casket and lifted him up so that she could hold her son one last time, all the while crying and sobbing.  Two men, her brother and the funeral director, had to separate her from him.   I went to church every Sunday, I was raised Episcopalian.  And yet I felt that I needed to do more.  I wanted to find something to help me make sense out of my life.  I practiced TM every day for 5 years, and began studying Buddhism when I got to college.  I connected with Chogyam Trungpa, a Tibetan meditation master, though his first two books, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, and Meditation in Action.  When I read his books, I felt that I had come home.  I went to see him for the first time in 1976 at Karme Choling.  That was the first time I did intensive mindfulness meditation practice.  It was difficult, but his teachings were so strong, and I kept practicing.  I started a meditation group with some friends in Lexington Kentucky where I was living at the time.  We started a practice center there too.  Several of us lived in a house together and practiced together.  We supported each other’s practice.  We practiced two hours every day and 8 hours two Sundays a month.  There is a Shambhala Center there now.

QYou and your husband have raised two beautiful, young adults.  How have Tibetan teachings and meditation, influenced your parenting?

 A.  These teachings and the practice of meditation have helped me so much with being a parent… and being a parent in turn has helped me on my spiritual path!  It’s hard to know what to say here because there is so much.  Parenting is the perfect paramita practice.  Parents all need generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, a practice to calm their mind, and higher knowledge. My dharma practice helped me with things like letting go of worry (especially when they were teenagers!) and forgiving myself when I didn’t get everything right.  It wasn’t easy raising Buddhist kids in American culture, and I’m sure we made a lot of mistakes.  Sometimes we got together with our friends for help.  We taught our children about the life of the Buddha, the life of Milarepa, and the Jataka Tales–traditional stories of the past lives of the Buddha.  We taught them things like the 10 virtuous actions.  The most important teachings were about kindness and compassion.

Q.  Would you please share one of your favorite aspects, of the Kagyu lineage?

A.  The Kagyu Lineage is the practice lineage, and regular meditation practice is very important.  There is an uncompromising quality to this.  At the same time, there is softness, a tender-hearted quality that comes from devotion to the teacher and an appreciation for sangha, the community.

Q.  One of my deepest friendships has arisen directly, from the MSMG.  I’m forever grateful for this. We both attended on the same Introduction night, seven years ago.  What words of wisdom can you share with those just beginning to meditate?

A.  Keep it up.  Some days you might have a pleasant experience, maybe you feel some peace and serenity.  Other days you might have difficulty; your mind is churning with unpleasant thoughts and negative emotions.  Both experiences are “good meditation.”  Learn how to make friends with whatever happens.

Susan teaches meditation and does contemplative counseling.  She lives with her husband in SE PA and can be contacted at awakenedheart@Verizon.net.