"Live close to the heart and not at odds with it" Thomas Moore
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Pause: The Pathology of Productivity vs. the Power of Presence

Over Thanksgiving, I had the great fortune to spend 10 days at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin. I was privileged to be assistant–teaching on a retreat which meant that, unlike the retreatants, I had access to reading and writing and the Interwebs and also had meetings and tasks. But I still had the space and time to practice for many hours a day and rediscover (once again) the power of presence
It has taken me some time to send this out, my first newsletter. Many times over the past few months I tried to write something, anything, just so I could be productive. And then I heard the phrase the pathology of productivity, from coach Chela Davison. And I recognized in it the anxious fuel for so much in my life. I asked myself, How often do I access the deep wisdom of simply being? Or is there mostly a low buzz of resistance to this very moment? A grasping connected to worrying, changing, solving, fixing, planning, getting, achieving, attaining…? 
The mind that races is a mind that demands certainty and security; if I plan it all out, everything will finally be okay. Besides being impossible, that demand makes it difficult to rest in the beauty and mystery of what simply is. This moment. Presence.
The first peoples of the San Geronimo Valley, where Spirit Rock is located, lived in peaceful communities interdependent with the rest of the natural world around them (the Miwok people are their descendants). They fished, hunted, gathered roots and herbs, collected acorns and mushrooms and in communication with other tribes took care to conserve the wellness of all beings. They “worked” 3—4 hours per day and spent the majority of their time in creativity, prayer, play, ceremony, and storytelling. Their conflicts were solved through council and consensus, sometimes taking hours and days of discussion and understanding. They did not believe themselves to be separate from each other or anything around, above, or below them.
Whenever I pause and allow myself to reconnect deeply to my heart-mind-body, I can also remember the truth of interconnection.
But this requires an intentional, sustained pause. Something we all seem less and less capable to allow. 
Being at Spirit Rock, amidst the eucalyptus in the woods and the hawks in the sky (and away from the demands of constant communication and activity) gave easier access to this presence, but even in the busy city, all we need to do is slow down, stop, and look up or down between the cracks of the skyline or in the sidewalks and meet the wonder that awaits us. Mother Nature is here too. Internally and externally.
Yes, mother nature.
A wise male friend recently corrected me for pitting the masculine against the feminine, reminding me that it’s patriarchy that’s the problem. He’s right; as bell hooks says: patriarchy has no gender. But one of the ways patriarchy operates is by suppressing the feminine/yin energy of presence and deep listening — dismissing it as passive, useless, un–productive.  
Presence is overrun by activity and overdoing. At this time of year, when everything in our natural world is asleep or dead except us, we insist on privileging action over rest. Movement is privileged over stillness — unless we are sitting at our computers all day, rapidly moving our eyes and fingers, and perpetually propelling data into the void.
Pausing into presence, sensing, feeling, knowing what Audre Lorde identifies as "the erotic," we come into contact with our power and creativity (stay tuned for January’s newsletter: The Erotic as Power: The Problem of Patriarchy and Feeling the Feminine). 
Meditation is marketed these days as a cure for stress and anxiety and other ailments. So we can do more. It can be that. And it can be more.
The power of spiritual practice is a radical liberation into our creative power.
The first step. No step. Pause.

Just This

I intended this space in the newsletter as a place to share what’s going on for me: what I’m reading, thinking about, listening to, watching.

"Just this" is a reference to the Buddha’s instructions to Bāhiya on liberation; that when we see (hear, taste, smell, sense, know) things truly, without distortion, just as they are, just this is the end of suffering.
Well, what’s going on for me these days is the despair and rage I feel about the recent grand jury verdicts and also the energy and power I sense in myself and others in response — the many incredible expressions and actions taking place across this city and country.

The teachings of the Buddha are about liberation. Liberation includes undoing oppression internally and undoing oppression externally (and undoing oppression both internally & externally). 
My spiritual practice is not about pretending to be peaceful, calm and well when what is going on around me is not peaceful, calm and well.

Liberation is a vision and practice of joy. 

Joy that is an expression of the true heart. What just is. The undivided heart does not separate anger and despair from happiness and hope. 

Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge the other night with thousands of righteous beings, my voice raised in chant — joy. As the police helicopter lights shined down on us and we raised our hands in a simultaneous–silent "don't shoot" — joy. As tears fall — joy. As laughter rings — joy.
Right now, for me, joy is my ability:
* to create space and time for connecting to presence and power
* to live in the midst of rage and fear with my soul intact
* to imagine kinder, more spacious ways of being
I am  taking time, space and care with myself and others. Doing less, connecting more, choosing better, letting go of what does not feel absolutely vital and essential right now.

May all beings be free. May joy prevail.

Practice Possibility

Pause. Right now. Or right now.

Or, ok, later. But pause. Really!

Let go of the mad rushing of heart-mind-body. Let go of the racing emotions-thoughts.

Pause. And listen. Can you sense what is there? Can you let go (again and again) of any doing, of getting to, of gaining?

Listen to the body. Listen to the heart.

Presence is there.  She’s waiting for you. 


“Each of you is perfect the way you are ... and you can use a little improvement.”
Shunryu Suzuki

I can’t fix you. Because there’s nothing wrong with you.

But I can help you uncover and develop power and possibilities that are covered over in your life.

I am trained as a meditation teacher and an Integral Coach® and aim to help each client grow into being wise awake — to make space, discover potential, and bring more ease and joy into their life.

I coach people from every walk of life and I am especially skilled at coaching changemakers: people whose passion and commitment to change can often lead to overwhelm and burn out causing them to lose connection with their own art, power, and soul. My passion is bringing to them this type of coaching — creative, integrated, and transformative.


Learn more about my process HERE
Copyright © 2014 Sebene Selassie, All rights reserved.

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