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Buddhism is a contact sport. I fight with cushions.
Updated: 4 hours 9 min ago

Confessions….

June 22, 2015 - 4:35pm
  • I like a Dave Matthews Band song.
  • I have been crying more in the past 6 months in my entire lifetime and it feels amazing. Really.
  • I’ve been doing a lot of self massage with tennis balls on my upper shoulders. Can’t recommend this enough.
  • I am quite adept at keeping bamboo alive.
  • My first boyfriend’s name was Praveen and he was awesome. We played with Hot Wheels during recess. Remember the cool little car suitcase for carrying dinky cars?
  • I often have nightmares about flooding.
  • Since my older dog passed, my younger pug has now been licking me all the time. Legs. Arms. Feet. Face. This is causing me to look up the cause of this on dog behavior sites. No clue what it means and chalking it up to me being saltier than usual.
  • I sometimes wish I had a tail so that people could see how I feel. I’d be wagging it most times.
  • I used to be a morning person but now I’m a night person. I wish I was a morning person again.
  • I’ve been meditating more regularly than ever. Insert gold star emoji here.
  • I have a serious case of fabric moths eating away at my clothes.
  • I look horrible in grey.
  • I’m not sure I will ever grow up.
  • I want to know who you are.

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Random Linkage: Is it June Already?

June 17, 2015 - 4:35pm

Holy heck it’s June already!

Are you feeling it?

I hope wherever you are that the sun is shining on your pretty face and you have a nice cold drink chilling beside you. May you all be free from harm.

Let it be known that long ago I once almost killed my cousin and I by impaling us on a metal fence post by driving an ATV into a wire fence. This image above really resonates with me. I do hope nobody was harmed in the making of it and think that some videos should come with a disclaimer saying the person only merely suffered a bit of mild anxiety over motorbikes and fences since the accident.

Other than summertime memories of all the adventures that should have killed me as a child, I’ve been reading SO many self-helpey/psychology books. My current list includes:

I also did cheat and defied my earlier proclamation to read any Buddhist books with the plan to review them and devoured Susan Piver’s upcoming book Start Here Now: An Open-Hearted Guide to the Path and Practice of Meditation (Spoiler alert, it’s pretty darn good).

I want to share with you a Kickstarter that I believe so strongly in. Take an awesome dude with an awesome idea, add a pug (by far one of the most awesome breeds of dogs if I say so myself), mix in some punk rock fandom and plans to profile awesome bands and mix in a bit of healing work AND FRENCH FRIES and well… you have the makings of something that looks really cool. Kick in if you can and do please spread the word to help support this project.

Speaking of more cool projects, Miguel Chen and his crew have put together something I think you’ll like. Presenting…

 

Check out their Facebook Page and stay tuned for upcoming developments. Oh and if you haven’t watched it yet, Miguel’s video project for his yoga training is a must see. “Is Yoga Punk?”

So there you go. A few things that I wanted to share with you while I let an idea for something new with this blog percolate in my little mind. I’m in the early stages so I feel like this dude.

 

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“A Puppy’s Path to Nirvana” by Deke, The Dharma Dog

May 31, 2015 - 2:19pm

As a self-professed dog person (nothing against cats over here folks), I’m quite excited to hear about the new book A Puppy’s Path to Nirvana from Deke, The Dharma Dog. It’s a 29-lesson ebook, with Deke speaking throughout, explaining Buddha’s view of the world, his basic doctrines and practices, Buddhism’s early growth, and its development into a world religion. All of this is done in a fun and engaging way.

This sweet golden retriever will in his words –

speak to, and with, and about, many of the major figures in American Buddhism. I speak continually about my human family members, commenting on the Buddhists they visit, and who visit their home, and the arguments they make about their tradition. I critique the practices, and rituals, and expectations of American Buddhist communities, and of Buddhist scholars. Yet I am no fraidy cat. This Dharma Dog talks about sex, abuse of power, corruption, exploitation, and inflated egos. My language is straightforward, to the point, and explicit. And I know about the Internet too. I may not have had a well coordinated mouse-paw, but I sneaked into my father’s study every time I could, and took advantage of his long list of Buddhist “bookmarks” on the World Wide Web to up the ante for my Buddhist ruminations. At the end, after reading my prescriptions for Buddhist attainment that you would expect from a no-nonsense pooch, I hope you will, like me, attain nirvana.

There are enough of us human forms pontificating about Buddhism so now it’s time for a dog to give some bark and maybe a bit of bite.

You can find out more about Deke’s adventures on his Facebook page and be sure to check out the ebook or recommend it to a friend. As the video suggests, it would be ideal reading for those dog days of summer when there’s nothing better to do that sit with your furry little Buddha and read in the shade.

Unless they are lazy weirdos like my dog… Some dogs may take longer to become enlightened.

It’s like he’s playing a tiny bass guitar in his sleep.

A video posted by Tanya McGinnity (@youwillknowmebythetrailofpugs) on May 28, 2015 at 9:30am PDT

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Resting…. Resting… 1-2-3

May 25, 2015 - 8:00am

I had a mindblowingly glorious weekend friends. My dear, beloved teacher, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche gave teachings in my adopted home of Montreal this past Friday and Saturday. We were all thrilled to have him back on the East Coast!

It was the first time I as able to see him IRL so I was filled with all the emotions. Excitement. Fear. Joy. Panic. Peace. Awe. Goofiness. Dread. Regret. Did I say joy? It was all in there. It’s funny how the mind can get caught up in all of the story lines. Expectations. Fears. And then – poof – the letting go happens and we realize we’re out of the present moment. Only to return. Again. Forget and remember.

Illustration by Noah Harmon

The weekend’s program was on the topic of “Resting the Mind at Ease” which is quite delightful and appropriate given how little at ease my mind has been in the past bit.

Side note: I may start referring to this time as my “grey period.” Just has Picasso had a phase of including blue in all of his works, I was coloring my world with the color tints of “Inescapable Grey,” “Powdery Ennui,” and “Depressed Oystershell.” I think there were many splashes of “Fearful Flax” and a bit of “Anxious Auburn” tossed in there as contrasting colors in life’s big paint swatch. (Thanks Gemma Correll for the artsy inspiration!)

I’ve always been blown away by Rinpoche’s teachings – be they from my encounters with them through the Nalandabodhi curriculum, his books, mp3’s or videos. Much of my engagement had been via these channels so to be in the same room, hearing his voice and being surrounded by other members of my sangha was truly a wonderful experience.

Without fail, there were laughs and references to pop culture (Space Invaders, Spiderman and The Transporter were all name dropped during the weekend). I often think maybe this is what attracted me to Rinpoche’s style in the first place. His appreciation of the quirkiness of our Western pop culture filled with the movies, music and TV shows that he loves to indulge in, and on the other hand – the ancient wisdom tradition that he’s studied and practiced for so long. There is that balance and that specific approach that really resonates with me.

Side note number two: I had no idea that Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche loved Spiderman comics.

But I digress…

You know that feeling when you come across the very teachings, a book, a passage or that conversation that you needed right in that moment in the headspace you’re in? Well this weekend was all of that. Resting the Mind at Ease. YES PLEASE!

In his talk, Rinpoche likened meditation to a “trip to the mind spa” where we should go to relax and it really struck a chord with me.  My meditation sessions often are:

  • A tickle fight with my mind.
  • A prize fight with thoughts where some reign victorious and others lay outside of the ring, battered and beaten.
  • A “Twilight Zone” episode where the same repeating thought comes back… and back again.. then gone.. THEN IT’S BACK! Don’t turn around. IT’S STILL THERE!
  • Sleepy time.
  • A TIME TO EXPLORE ALL CAPS PAIN!
  • A period of deep introspection and analytical pursuit. Toss in the Heart Sutra while you’re at it!

What is this relaxation you speak of? It’s been some time since I’ve viewed meditation this way. Granted it’s also been some time that I’ve felt fully relaxed off the cushion as well.

Often I think back to a Shambhala weekend I attended where we were asked why we are still practicing? What is our motivation? What brings us to the cushion? Powerful questions and I remember quite vividly that my motivation first came from a desire to work to rid myself from suffering. The suffering had weakened over time, only to return with a vengeance and now is starting to release its hold on me – or is it my hold on it?

Seeing how when my mind is at ease, it’s easier to help others be at ease and free from suffering brings it all back home. This is why I practice.

Time to do the work – both on and off the cushion. After my grey period, I feel even more purposeful and motivated to be of benefit, live with intention and shoot out some webs of compassion. Pew Pew Pew.

 

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A break from book reviewing

May 11, 2015 - 3:22pm

I’m reading more than ever, but not the kind of books I’ve been traditionally spending time with. For a while I was spending time reading and commenting on the latest Buddhist reads circling around the publishing world. It was enjoyable and I was able to satisfy my love of reading this way.

Then some realizations started to hit me.

  • Am I reading books that fulfill me?
  • What is my intention or purpose in reading/reviewing so many books? Is this a goal-oriented behavior at play?

So I’m now letting go. A digital pile has started of books that I won’t be reviewing. I’m fine with this –  despite what my “Type A, gotta do it, gotta get to it, you are a failure for not keeping up” self says. The book hoarder in me is also feeling a bit lost.

I’m becoming more mindful of what books I’ve decided to focus my attention on. The result is that I’ve been having a zillion Oprah ‘Ah ha’ moments after reading a passage in a book that I needed to read in that very moment. I’ve been finishing a book and realizing that I’ve highlighted every single line! I’ve wept over my Kindle. I’ve felt my heart open. I’ve photographed pieces of paragraphs that resonated and used them as screensavers. I’m a much more passionate reader given this new perspective.

A few weeks ago, I was talking with my therapist about my tendency to not want to step into the spotlight, but to prefer the stories of others and share their experiences.

“Hey look at the bravery of this guy! He’s admitting he’s fucked up and getting help. I love this!”

“Oh wow. Check out the compassion that they displayed in this YouTube clip.”

“Wanna check out a link to a great blog by a girl who is living her life through reviewing the books of other people because she is in so much pain, depressed as shit and is so scared to bare her own life and story out of fear of rejection, trolling, failure and an overall wish to not be seen?”

I’m rediscovering quite a bit these days and for those of you who initially followed this blog because it came from someone who was trying to dip a toe in being more authentic, more present, more honest… well… I’m back.

For the book reviews, I’m sure there are loads of great sites to check out. Here are a few suggestions.

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Swift Journey Bob

April 25, 2015 - 9:44am

For 14 years I had this beautiful guy by my side. My right side mainly. He slept on my right side. He sat on my right side.

He passed away on Monday after declining health due to old age. I am saddened to the core. My house is empty. His sounds are no longer present. Memories arise from seeing his socks, his leash, tufts of his fur. Choked by the sadness of missing him. Comforted in knowing he had a full and beautiful life. It’s a big roller coaster of emotion.

Seeing the nature of impermanence when you lose your best friend to old age and sickness. Touching in on the suffering that I feel. That we all feel. Exploring the nature of feeling sad, scared, lost, hurt, attached, overwhelmed, groundless.

This is the path. It’s not easy, but it’s the path.

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Random Linkage: Where’d You Go?

April 4, 2015 - 11:56am

It’s been a while friends. You’re used to my spotty updates by now. That’s why we’re friends

Where’d I go? Well I’ve been facing demons, fighting devils, tickling pugs, chasing rainbows, delivering some self compassion and pretty much re-emerging from the winter (with the realization that I’ve been hibernating for a few years). Some seriously profound things going on in this little human being and I’m hoping you’re feeling the same. Maybe it’s a collective lifting from some wacko planetary influences or some kind of sea change that we’re all having wash over us, but I’m feeling a lot less of the blues and a lot more of the vibrancy of life. Yeah. Like I said. Profound things! So here’s some stuff that’s been cycling around on the internet that I wanted to share with you.

“And so I raise my glass of water: here’s to letting go. I shall try to no longer ask for joy, but to allow my myself to have it. This is about unlearning years and years of a bad inner monologue, a shitty script. This isn’t an issue of self control, this is a matter of self acceptance. I have tasted true freedom recently thanks to those who support me, and I want more.”

  •  Speaking of self-compassion… I just read this book recently and it is so very good. Get it for your self or other selves that you know who could use a little bit of kindness.

  • My teacher, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche is coming to teach in Montreal soon and I’m beyond happy. Like deliriously happy. It will be the first time I’ll be in the same room as him and not seeing him projected via images on a screen or a voice on a podcast or mp3 teaching. Anyone else have this kind of experience in after a long time of not encountering your teacher (or other significant person in your life) and then BOOM – they’re instantly a few feet away from you? Talking. Being. Maybe it’ll be like the time I saw Gene Simmons give a talk and I kept saying “Uhhhh….The 9 year old me would not believe that this is happening! Uhhh. I am going to throw up!” Or maybe it will be an ordinary experience. Like seeing a childhood pen pal and totally connecting over tea. Or maybe a blend of both experiences? Or a whole new one? Maybe I’ll strap a GoPro camera on my head to give a running commentary of it all. Or maybe I’ll just go with it.
  • “The Dharma of Harm Reduction” from the mighty Buddhist Peace Fellowship is an important read.
  • Ever read a blog post that summarizes how you feel? This is that post (minus the yachting!)

 

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