Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi, Living from the Heart

April 02, 2021 00:47:38
Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi, Living from the Heart
More Happiness Less Suffering
Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi, Living from the Heart

Show Notes

Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi  (she/her/hers) is a Buddhist monastic, activist and teacher of both Buddhist and secular programs. She loves bridging the worlds of Buddhist thought, current events, and the latest research in the field of positive psychology.


Venerable Tenzin first became interested in meditation in the early 1970s and then started practicing Tibetan Buddhism in early 1991 during a year she spent studying in India and Nepal. She worked in administrative positions in several Buddhist centers in the 1990's, and also completed several long meditation retreats over a six-year period. Venerable Tenzin took monastic ordination in 2004 with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.


View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Welcome to the more happiness, less suffering podcast. I'm Casey Howe, senior meditation and Dharma teacher for insight. Speaker 1 00:00:07 And I'm Dr. Monisha Basa psychiatrist in our little podcasting studio in orange County, California. We bring wisdom from the couch and the cushion to your real life questions and struggles. So grab a cup of tea and join us. We're so glad you're here. Thank you everybody. As always for joining us, welcome to the more happiness, less suffering podcast. And today, Casey and I are very excited to welcome a guest here with us today. Uh, venerable Tenzin Chuggy uh, thank you so much for joining us. Um, and Casey, I'm going to hand it over to you to introduce vulnerable and we're so excited for today's conversation. Speaker 0 00:00:51 We really are welcome vulnerable to our show. Speaker 2 00:00:55 Well, thank you so much to both of you for inviting me. It's a great honor to be with you today. Speaker 0 00:01:01 Yeah, so I met venerable trying to do the date, Sarah, I think 2006, um, Atlanta medicine. Yeah. And she just come out of an extended, uh, summary extended retreat time. And it's so funny cause we've had several people on here. Like they're my favorite people and this is absolutely no exception. Yeah. Venerable is one of my favorite people. Um, yeah, so I think we mentioned she's a Tibetan Buddhist nun and you know, for me, this is something that, you know, um, w when I talk about vulnerable tents and Shogi somebody that comes up for me, the most special thing is that it's the first time that I felt the experiential experiential, uh, fruition of the practice of meditation and the Buddhist path that when I first met Tenzin Shogi, it was something non-verbal that, that I felt from her. Um, and in particular, this almost, um, or if you will, I think he's like a new agey term of love and compassion. It just sitting there just, just in her presence. I was like, wow, what is this? Uh, and is it a very, very special thing to see that somebody that really, really dedicates themselves to the path, uh, that can, can really, really embody the teachings. So she's been a very influential figure in my life as far as my practice goes, and we are so, so lucky to have her with us today. Speaker 2 00:02:44 Oh, Casey, thank you so much for those kind words. Of course. I think it was just all of your own love and compassion that I was mirroring back to you. That's my perspective. Very kind. And you met the pressure out of a long retreat, so there's always this energy, you know, that comes out of deep practice too. Right. But when, when somebody comes out of a deep space like that, I think there's a lot of extra juicy energy too. Right. Which sometimes fade, sometimes we can maintain it, but there is, you know, that's the point of doing that kind of deep practice. Speaker 3 00:03:25 Yeah. Yours hasn't faded, he just gets stronger and stronger. Speaker 1 00:03:32 Well, we're so honored as, as Casey said to have you with us. And, um, you, you know, I'm a psychiatrist. So I always like to, to learn about our guests early experiences and the path that took them to where they are today. So maybe you could share a little bit about, uh, where you're talking to us from, and kind of the path, your, your journey to becoming, um, a Buddhist nun. Speaker 2 00:04:00 Yeah. Thank you. Um, so I'm, I'm based at the moment at a Buddhist center outside of Santa Cruz, California called land of medicine, Buddha, and I've been touring and teaching and various centers since coming out of long meditation retreat in 2006 when I met Casey. But to backtrack, I grew up in a family where there was no real emphasis on religion. Both of my parents I think were raised Protestant, but we didn't have any religious upbringing at all. And then when I was a hippie teenager, and this is the early seventies, uh, I started doing transcendental meditation, which kind of opened the door to Eastern spiritual traditions that were just starting to be, you know, taught in the, in the United States where I grew up. And so that sort of started my spiritual path from kind of nothing to Eastern tradition. So I don't feel like I really converted to Buddhism from anything else to a sort of nothing to Buddhism in when I first started reading about Buddhism, which were some of the early translations, which in retrospect are kind of bad translations, but even through all of that in the early seventies, it just resonated so much. Speaker 2 00:05:19 And so from that point on, I felt kind of theoretically like a Buddhist, although I didn't really meet Buddhist teachers for quite a while. And it was actually only in 1991 when I traveled to India to meet with this express purpose to meet his holiness, the Dalai Lama. And then that was the real turning point when I met his holiness, the Dalai Lama, I think I just never met anybody who felt like that, like this incredible wisdom and compassion and power and kindness, and just all these qualities kind of like Casey was describing me, although it's not true, but with the, I really felt that so strongly. And then that was a big turning point for me. And I stayed in that was, that was where his holiness lives in exile and Northern India in Dharamshala. So I stayed there for about a year and a half between there and Katmandu in Nepal and monasteries studying. Speaker 2 00:06:19 And that was really when I kind of committed to the path of Buddhism, specifically the Tibetan Buddhist lineage, and then came back and worked and, and helped run different Buddhist centers for a number of years. And then in 2000 in the early two thousands thousand entered a series of long retreats that lasted six years. And I decided to ordain as a monastic kind of partway through that time, I started retreat as a lay person, as a non monastic, and then decided to ordain as a monastic, which happened, um, with his holiness, the Dalai Lama in 2004. And then when I came out of those retreats in 2006, I've been teaching since then for many years, traveling the world kind of touring to different Buddhist centers to teach. I also am very committed to teaching in prisons and then tell, COVID kind of shut that down. I've been teaching in prisons for about 15 years also, and that's something that I'm really passionate about is working with people experiencing incarceration. Yeah. So that's kind of the journey so far and who knows what's next, Speaker 0 00:07:34 Like quite an amazing journey. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that with us. Yeah. So, you know, it was touching upon in, in my, in my view, you having this amazing embodiment of, of compassion and kindness. And, you know, one thing I reflect on that was really influential for me, leaving at the centers with, with Venable is just her interactions with people. And, um, this, this kindness that just seemed extremely universal. It didn't matter. It didn't really have there wasn't a reason for it. And it's felt like it was, it was shining on all equally. And, and I know venerable in your teachings, kindness, compassion, um, those are very prominent in your teachings as well. Do you want to talk a little bit about the ways that you, you teach compassion? Speaker 2 00:08:34 Yeah, sure. Thank you for that question. And, you know, it's interesting because when I think about why I was drawn specifically to the Tibetan lineage of Buddhism after kind of reading and exploring different lineages of Buddhism, it was really about the very explicit emphasis I on kindness and compassion practice, of course that's found in all Buddhist practice, but it seems a heightened emphasis in the Tibetan tradition. And so that was what really attracted me. I think my whole life, I felt like I wanted to be a nicer person. I wanted to be bigger and more compassionate, but I hadn't actually been introduced to like a training or techniques. It was just kind of like, Oh, you know, have these qualities be nice to people be kind, be compassionate. And I was like, well, how, you know, I feel really selfish and self-absorbed and kind of snarky and all of that. Speaker 2 00:09:33 So how do I transform my mind into a mind of more loving kindness and compassion? And that for me was the great gift of the Tibetan tradition was so many, you know, kind of this toolbox of all of these techniques and things to do to actually kind of accomplish that transformation. So that, that was a big epiphany for me when I went to India and started studying in the Tibetan tradition with various teachers, including his holiness, the Dalai Lama, and one of the things I've been focusing on a lot recently in my teaching. So I taught compassion practice within the context of Buddhist training. And then a few years ago, I did a teacher training in, uh, compassion cultivation training, which is a secular training based on Buddhist contemplative techniques that was developed actually at Stanford university at his holiness, the Dalai Lama's request following a visit and a conference he did there. Speaker 2 00:10:37 He said, Oh, it'd be so great to take these wonderful techniques of compassion training out of the context of religion. Cause he said, not everybody's interested in religion, but lots of people are interested in compassion. So let's make a training that, you know, works for everyone that's taken outside of the context and some of the religious language. So that's been one of the things that I've been focusing on the last couple of years and actually loving, you know, the impact on people. Who've never maybe had any contemplative practice at all, never meditated and people have such powerful experiences. So this is a realm I'm really interested in. There's, there's two trainings that his holiness, the Dalai Lama specifically requested in terms of these secular trainings using traditional contemplative techniques. The other one is called cultivating emotional balance in case he's done that training with me a number of years ago. Speaker 2 00:11:39 So this is kind of an area of like these rich, beautiful techniques, as long as they're just sort of hidden within the context of religion. Not so many people will be interested, you know, they won't be so awful. So love this, this, you know, movement, which I think is happening in a lot of different areas, the mind in life conferences of, you know, bringing these contemplative techniques to a wider audience, to a broader audience. So that's one of the things I'm super interested in, but I think it started with that sort of epiphany. Now 30 years ago, when I started studying of like, wow, there's a way you can actually train your compassionate. It's not like you're just born mother Teresa, you're hopeless. You can actually think about it to, to train it. So that's been, you know, when Casey said that he notices that emphasis in my teaching, but I think it was because of my own experiences, that being the real kind of gateway for me in terms of my own practice. Speaker 1 00:12:40 Mm that's wonderful. Yeah. Actually, would you be able to share a little bit more about the cultivating compassion training? Um, I'm personally fascinated by this because, you know, I work a lot with physicians from a mental health standpoint and, um, kind of this idea that, you know, actually we don't necessarily get a lot of training or education in actually how to be more compassionate, how to bring compassion into our work as physicians, even such skills as you know, how to listen, how to be empathic. And I think there was almost sort of this thought that you either are kind of just that way if you go into medicine. Um, but really I do agree with you that it's something that you can learn and practice and cultivate. And I think it's especially important with sort of the extent of burnout that we're seeing amongst healthcare professionals, you know, how we can really find tools to actually continue to fuel the compassion that might have, you know, originally brought us to this field. Speaker 2 00:13:50 That's right. That's right. And yeah. And that's such a great question. And one of the things I love about this contemplative approach, it says we have this already as a quality, of course we have compassion, we have loving kindness. It's usually more accessible or restricted to our loved ones or to people that we find, you know, somehow invoking that feeling of compassion, like people going through great suffering, but not to all beings or even all human beings at all. And so the idea is to kind of prime, the compassion that we have, we usually start with a compassion for a loved one and get kind of a felt sense, somatically of what that feels like. And then in stages kind of widen that compassion to other objects. You know, one of the, one of the, the techniques, the very traditional technique in Tibet, Buddhism, I priming object is oneself and this and this and the teaching say, Oh, well, you know, of course you'd have more loving kindness and compassion for yourself than you do for anyone else. Speaker 2 00:15:04 And we go, ah, it's complicated. And even the founder of the Stanford compassion, cultivation training, guess she typed in Jimbo who is a Tibetan monk. He's an ex monk now, but you know, it kind of founded the training said, yeah, I just did it the way I was taught to do it. You start with yourself. And then he said, I noticed with people, you know, in the pilot group in California, this was a huge obstacle. So he said, I realized they needed to flip the order. He said, it's easier for us sometimes with the loved one to generate that compassion and loving kindness than it is for ourselves. And then after the loved one, then when we work on ourselves, because it's important also not to skip over that. I think that's something we have a tendency where like, no, no, I'm good. I'm just going to skip over it and go to others. Speaker 2 00:15:54 And then the kind of pivot point in terms of extending our compassion is looking at common humanity. And one of the ways we do that is looking at, you know, our basic human feelings in needs, underlying behavior that we may, you know, have differences with people in our beliefs and our behaviors, but we're all the same in terms of that common humanity, that same common human feelings, the same common needs. So that's kind of the point where we've been start to extend our compassion out to the more challenging objects first, the neutral people, and then the more challenging people, but very, very, very slowly. And one of the things I've found that I have to emphasize over and over again in doing this training is, you know, sometimes people begin and they're very ambitious other, or they'll go straight to the most difficult object and go, how could I possibly have compassion? Speaker 2 00:16:56 For example, what came up a lot in California is the former president. Like how could I possibly have compassion? I'm like, okay, pump the brakes. Let's slow down. Let's go one at a time. You know, people are picking the most challenging object. And then of course they're feeling an obstacle. So in the training, it's very, very, very gradual. But then we find our, you know, our, our feelings towards people shift our, our approach towards people shift. The more we tune into the fact that no matter what the person's behavior, no matter what their belief system, it's not condoning harmful behavior, but it's saying this is a human being doing this. I can have compassion for the human being, but really oppose their behavior. But that's tricky. It's hard when somebody's behavior is that you see as harmful to still hold compassion for that person. But for me, and this kind of relates to another one of my passions, which is social justice activism for me, that's what makes our app actions or activism in the world sustainable, you know, and even in healthcare settings, that's what makes our service to others. Speaker 2 00:18:12 You know, sustainable is the compassion that keeps our heart open. That keeps us fed. That keeps us resourced. Feeling compassion is an incredible resource for us that helps protect us from burnout. You know, you mentioned empathy, empathy can lead to compassion. Empathy can also lead to empathic distress. And I think when a lot of people are feeling what they call compassion, burnout, what they're actually feeling is Impathics distress so distress in the face of suffering, but the more we can kind of build our muscles of compassion, then that becomes the default mode. When we feel that in pathic connection with someone and then that's deeply resourcing for us. Speaker 0 00:19:01 Wonderful. Um, one question I have is, um, what do you find are some obstacles to compassion? And it's like, um, compassion being one part of the practice, let's say part of a, of a total quote, unquote practice that people would have. And there's a lot of different factors when we're trying to, to, to add skill from this to maybe be concentrations. There's so many different factors that go into like creating this skill. What are some of the obstacles that you find, um, in regards to this cultivation of compassion? Speaker 2 00:19:39 That's such a great question. There's a, uh, therapist and researcher called Paul Gilbert. Who's done a lot of research on what he calls fears of compassion, which in my Buddhist language, I kind of translated obstacles to compassion and he's divided it into three different, three different kind of perspectives. He says, what are some of the obstacles we have as extending compassion to others? What are the obstacles we have towards self compassion? And then what are the obstacles that we have even to receiving compassion from others, right? And that's something that we don't talk about much at all. And so he's done studies and found that they're very typical things that arises these fears or obstacles to compassion. One of the things in terms of extending compassion is kind of what I just mentioned. We think if we extend compassionate, someone, we're giving them a path, right. Speaker 2 00:20:40 We're saying what they do is okay, or we're not, you know, we're not standing up for what we think is right. You know, one of the other obstacles to extending compassion is there's people who don't deserve compassion. And that's where really tuning into this common humanity. And what, in Buddhism we say, you know, one of the things I found so interesting in Buddhism is the dichotomy that appears in a lot of other religious traditions of good and evil in Greece. When we talk about ignorance and wisdom. So when we say people acting in a way that's destructive, it's out of ignorance or a misunderstanding of the nature of reality, we don't really have the idea in Buddhism that there are people who are evil. They're just people who are confused and don't understand the real causes of happiness. So that's the difference there. And then there's obstacles to self-compassion one major, one being we think we need to be hard on ourselves in order to improve. Speaker 2 00:21:44 And that's been shown by research, not to be true at all. If we treat ourselves in a way that's encouraging and, you know, w with kindness, the way that we would a good friend that actually, you know, is much better for us in terms of meeting our goals and, you know, staying with certain things. If we have heart, a harsh inner critic, we tend to get discouraged just like you would, if somebody was criticizing you all the time, it's true for that inner critic as well. So some of these are the things that show up in terms of the obstacles, especially in terms of extended compassion, which is why I say working with it really, really slowly and really focusing on that, that training in seeing the common humanity. Cause that's really, that's really kind of the key to that extending compassion to others. Speaker 1 00:22:37 Yeah. That's wonderful. I mean, I, I really appreciate a couple of the points that you brought up in particular, which is, I agree. I don't think we think a lot about sort of the challenges of receiving compassion. Um, and you know, of course, in, in mental health, that's one that comes up quite a bit. I would love for you to expand on that a little bit more if you could. Speaker 2 00:23:00 Yeah. And Paul Gilbert is a clinician and he has a, he has a modality called compassion focused therapy and what he does kind of borrowing from traditional Tibetans Buddhist methods. And we do this in the, in the compassion training, the compassion cultivation training that I teach as well is imagining a compassionate image. So you're receiving compassion as a way of kind of priming our compassion. You're receiving compassion from a compassionate image, but this can be really, really challenging. I was working once with a friend with a group of young people, many of whom had experienced a lot of trauma and it just made them feel really bad. Like this idea, you know, the prompt was like, think of a compassionate image, think of someone, or, you know, it can be an idea here in, in Buddhism, we have these ideas of like thinking of our teacher or thinking of a representation of compassion and pre these young people. Speaker 2 00:24:06 It just made them feel kind of angry, knew bad because they felt they actually received the kind of compassion where you're asking them to visualize. So we had to kind of work through that and, and really worked through them, being able to come up with an image, but when they could, it was so healing. Right. Because even if it was coming up with an idea, you know, for them, I said, okay, think of like Jesus or St. Francis or Mary, or, you know, some, some spiritual idea or a teacher or somebody like that. It may not be that you feel that you've experienced that personally from the people that were supposed to be taking care of you, you know, they didn't, but that's not all of the beings in your life. And so, you know, that that was an obstacle. And then there's also the obstacles. Speaker 2 00:24:58 Sometimes it's hard for us to receive compassion, even in meditation, from a visualized image because we feel we don't deserve it. And then all of our inner harsh inner critic gets triggered, but it just working with that, you know, and, and sometimes it's not an image, so much of a personified image. One of the things that <inaudible> offers is something like a big shady tree that's offering you comfort. Like maybe even start with that, like start, you know, imagine lying under a tree that's kind of offering you shade and a beautiful place to be. And just working very slowly with some of the obstacles that come up, because that's one of the ones that I think, especially if people come from some kind of trauma background or, you know, just the trauma of a dysfunctional family or just a hard life that can be, that can be hard. Cause it can't easily draw from memory of receiving that kind of compassion and unconditional love from, from the people who are supposed to be taking care of them. Speaker 0 00:26:05 Yeah. Beautiful. Um, you had mentioned earlier, uh, working in the prisons. Yes. And, um, I, I wonder if you could just share a story or two, you know, I've heard some, some stories of, of those amazing beings, just amazing practitioners. Uh, and I don't know if he'd just, if, uh, kind of puts you on the spot here to, uh, do you have any, a story or two to talk, talk about that experience of, of working with that population? Speaker 2 00:26:41 Yeah. That's one of my favorite things as Casey knows, well, talking about my students experiencing incarceration and kind of what happens with them. So I have this wonderful in fact, right before COVID and I haven't been able to go in to see my students in prison for a year. You know, there's no visitors, no tears can go in. And so, but right before that, I finished the whole Stanford compassion training with a group that I've been working with with Buddhist training. And then I said to them at a certain point, it was a small group. And I said, you know, I'd love to take you through this curriculum. It's a secular compassion training. You guys. I mean, many of them identified as Buddhist or at least they had been studying Buddhism and they were very, you know, very up for it. And I had actually been invited to talk about, uh, at a conference, a compassion conference, talking about doing compassion training with students, experiencing incarceration. Speaker 2 00:27:43 So I asked them all at the end of the training to write down as I can tell my stories, but I would love for you to tell your stories. So I'll, I'll share a few that they shared with me. And, and one man said that there was a, a man in his, he lived in a huge dorm. Like the prisons in California are so overcrowded. They, they convert these gyms into these massive doors, like a hundreds of bunk beds in them. So there was a man in his, like the section of his dorm, w you know, lots of people who are incarcerated have mental health issues. We can figure out if it was something on the autism spectrum, or maybe really severe trauma that this person just wouldn't interact with people at all. Wouldn't make eye contact, you know, barely verbal. And so my students decided, you know, that was going to be his object. Speaker 2 00:28:37 He's compassionate. And so this guy, you know, couldn't have a job in prison. So I didn't have extra money in my student, worked in the dining room. So he'd bring leftovers to give to this guy. And he said he would just snatch the leftovers, like a hungry dog or something out of his hand, and like scurry into a corner. Like, not even say, thank you. I mean, just really. And it was just slowly, slowly, he don't that trust. And then one day he said, okay, what can we do together? How can I interact? He's not, you know, he doesn't want to talk. He doesn't even want to look at me. And then he goes, Oh, we can play cards together. Cause anyone have to look at me. And so he, he approached the guy and said, do you want to play cards? And the guy kind of looked at his feet and then nodded his head. Speaker 2 00:29:21 Yes. So they started playing cards and then this whole friendship, and like one of the amazing things was it protected this man who of course, was completely bullied and had people stealing his stuff and all of that. But then because of my student befriending him, because my student had a lot of, you know, street credit in prison, and then nobody was gonna mess with this new friend I had cards with, but it would just go sweet. Like he saw it as his challenge. Cause he's like, I don't like the guy either. He's kind of weird, but this is my edge, you know, to really reach out. He's like, he's a human being. And it was the common humanity that made him really decide to reach out to this person who people didn't even see the humanity in. You know, I was deeply wounded by whatever was going on. Speaker 2 00:30:12 So I love that one. And then one, one of my students in his, in the thing that he wrote for me to present and he said, and he w he's in prison for gang related violence. And so he said now, you know, and he was talking about his anger issues. And he said, you know, I used to get really angry and I just pop off and like do something. And he goes, now when I get angry, he goes, I feel like there's three strong men holding me back. And the three strong men are mindfulness, compassion and wisdom. And I was just like, Oh, I love that. I know in his life, for sure. There's many times that literally he's had three strong men holding him back. But now that these inner qualities that he'd developed of mindfulness, compassion and wisdom. And when I hear stuff like that, I'm like, you know, cause this is not fun going into prison. Speaker 2 00:31:09 It's far, you drive far, it's hot, it's barren. You have to go through all these Gates with the keys and the alarms, you know, it's not, Oh man, why am I doing this? But that's why it's so amazing. People who haven't had any access to any of these transformative techniques. I, I kind of feel like I've had all the access in the world. Like I have had the most amazing teachers, the most amazing opportunities. These guys can't get in their car and drive to the Buddhist center where I teach. So it's up to me to, you know, kind of pay it forward, all the opportunities that I have to bring it into them because they don't have that chance at all. And yeah, I've, I, you know, I, I miss them so much and you know, I could go on and on with stories, but those are a couple just due to their passion training that I just found so meaningful when I heard the story. Speaker 1 00:32:09 Wonderful. I love that. I think what I love about the second story is that you realize it's not that the anger necessarily goes away. The anger might still be present. It's just that you have new tools to, to, to cope or manage or navigate the anger. Speaker 2 00:32:26 Yeah. And you know, one of the things also, especially with that population, because a lot of them have, you know, they're always in anger management class and all of that. And many of them in, for violent crimes, like for, for that population, working with them to see how their anger so often is a secondary emotion to actually put them from some vulnerability, like fear or hurt feelings. Right. So, so often anger is an emotion that is really kind of protecting us from the feeling a feeling vulnerable, but we don't want to feel, even though it's hard to say, feel angry. It's a lot harder to feel vulnerability, especially when you're in a situation like that. So for years I've had, I've had times there was one guy and this is when I first started teaching in, in prison about 15 years ago. And he would come in and he had like tattoos all over his face and he'd kind of sit in the corner, scowling at me and nobody would sit anywhere near him. Speaker 2 00:33:33 So I kind of like try and tease him and mess with him and get him to like loosen up. And I remember one week I was just teaching them how to deal with their emotions without reactivity and just feel the emotion and get the message that the emotion had for them. Cause I said, all of our emotions have a message. They're trying to tell us something. So I said, anchor yourself with your breasts, sit there, feel what the, you know, feel your feeling. Just be brave enough to stay with it without just immediately kind of popping off. And so he came in the next time and I was checking in with them about the practice. And he said, and he raised his hand and he never said anything. And I'm like, yeah, what happened? And he goes, well, I did that thing you said. And I realized, you know, I've always been mad. Speaker 2 00:34:20 I mean, yeah. We come in with black eyes and a broken nose from time to time and he goes, Oh, it's been really mad. But I realized I did that thing you said. And I realized it's because I'm scared. I'm really scared. And everybody in the room just turned around and looked like literally with their jaws dropped. I think he completely transformed from that. Like just the awareness of what was underlying it. And after that session, I got a letter from one of the other guys and he goes, I've been in prison with this guy for 15 years. I never, in a million years would have thought that that would have happened, you know, giving people ways to just stay present with what's happening. Because we so often I was listening to a teaching the other day. We have, we have a teaching in Buddhism about what we sometimes call the three poisons of ignorance attachment. And their version is often how we frame them. And I was teaching as listening to a Buddhist teacher the other day, Roshi Joan Halifax from Ukiah and center. And she talked about how we demand, defend and distract. And that's so much what we're doing with our experience, you know, demanding more of what's pleasant, defending against what's unpleasant and just distracting from our experience. It's so that's what practice is really about is overcoming those tendencies to constantly be demanding, defending and distracting. I just love that framing of what we call the three poisons in Buddhism. Speaker 0 00:36:02 Hmm. You know, on just kind of a, a separate note of that. So, cause you've mentioned access, you know, that, that, uh, those individuals in prison and they don't have the access and, uh, debt just reminded me. I try to contemplate every day, just how lucky we are if we have access, you know, and not only external access to like, even if you live in a place, you might have external access to books and to podcasts and teachings that are just beneficial in some way that you have access and to be, to have gratitude for that. So it's a perfect example of you pointing to that. Like not everyone has access and if you have access external access, if you also have internal access. In other words, if your body and mind are, are healthy enough to absorb that, that's huge. That's something to be grateful for on a daily basis. Speaker 0 00:37:05 And I need to remind myself like, okay, I have this opportunity. Like I have this, I have access. And I have a body of mine. That's healthy enough in this moment, which is, I don't know how much longer that's gonna last that, that, you know, to take advantage of that, like this is rare. It's so incredibly rare that we have access and, and the body and mind that's, um, that's capable. And that, that could change, you know, working, you know, around mental health. And of course being affiliated with Dr. Vasa and within myself, I've been in places in my life where my, my body mind were not healthy enough to practice. Right. I was overwhelmed. <inaudible> with, helped me through about of anxiety that was really bad. And I could not do those practices that I was used to doing. And I was so grateful. I remember like praying, like, like, Oh my gosh, if, if this anxiety gets better, I'm in a practice like never before, you know, like, cause I have that opportunity. So yeah, this thinky for that reminder of like access is precious. It really is, Speaker 2 00:38:20 You know, we have, I mean, it's human beings. We have what Rick Hanson calls, this negativity bias. So for us to bring, to mind the things that aren't working. So that's part of our practice too, is just, you know, Tibetan, Buddhism. We have a practice that we're urged to do every day in the morning, meditating on what we call our precious human rebirth. And that's exactly what Casey's talking about. Like all of the conditions that we have to be able to practice really well. And what's the flip side is the awareness of, we have no idea how much longer it's going to last week should make the best of that opportunity while we have it. You know? So, so many things have been available during this time of COVID online, but I'm just so reminded of how many people don't have internet access. Don't have a computer. Speaker 2 00:39:13 None of my students who are incarcerated, I've been teaching on zoom constantly for the last year, but none of them have access to be able to get my teachings and left with, you know, letters that I have to physically print out on my computer and put his stamp on an envelope, which almost never happens to me more, but that's the only access that they have. So when we do have, you know, the technology, the interest, the mental health to engage, wow, that's a lot, like all of those factors, it's really a lot coming together and not to take it for granted. Speaker 0 00:39:51 So before we wrap up, I just want to say, thank you so so much. Um, and we want you back back again. There's so much more we could talk about it's so, so great. Um, I really, yeah, for sure. And we really want to give people the opportunity to connect with you. What types of, what platforms are you on right now? And what's the best way for people to connect with you? And we know you have a, a new podcast, which I'm really, really stoked to see that if you want to let people know how to contact you in the name of the podcast. Speaker 2 00:40:29 Yeah. So, um, a student just very recently did a brand spanking new, shiny, beautiful new website for me, where you can find it. I have a monthly radio show here on a public radio station in Santa Cruz where I live. We just launched a new podcast on that site. There's also my upcoming teachings, also a contact form for people to get in touch with me also ways I have a, a page called student ball, but ways to volunteer and take actions, you know, different petitions are listed on there and different, different causes that I'm involved in. And so the whole thing is on unlocking true So unlocking true happiness, all one word, no So people will be able to find all of the links that the podcast is called unlocking to happiness. And it's also on Apple podcasts. If people want us to subscribe to the podcast through Apple podcasts. So all of that's on unlocking true That's wonderful. Thank you. And like we mentioned meditation, Speaker 0 00:41:49 Be so kind to you leading us in maybe a short compassion practice. Speaker 2 00:41:55 Yeah. And you know, since, since we've been talking about common humanity, maybe we can end with just how we do that. Pivot that I mentioned between the pivot to extending our compassion to others. And there's a beautiful meditation that I lead and the compassion training that we usually call just like me. So we can do a short version of that and I'll invite people to just, yeah, to just sit in a posture for a moment for the people listening and just feel into your body, feel into whatever sensations you might be experiencing in your body right now, as a result of this time that we've had together. And then the tuning to the sensations of the breath in the body for a moment. Speaker 2 00:42:58 And then you might bring to mind someone in your life that you find just mildly challenging, not the most difficult person in your life, but somebody maybe that you just find irritating or annoying, maybe a three or four on a scale of one to 10 might be a coworker, might be somebody in your family, an acquaintance. I'm just taking a moment to think again, if someone, you just find very mildly annoying or irritating, I'm thinking of what their behavior is that you find objectionable, it might be verbal, might be physical, just lighting a picture of that person and their behavior arise in your mind, feeling whatever feelings that in folks in your body. Speaker 2 00:44:05 And then imagine since that person is a human being, just like you, they feel joy. You feel sadness just like you they've experienced, hurt and disappointment. Just like you. They've been discouraged at times, been disappointed in their hopes and dreams, just like you, big, crazy love and connection and kindness. Just like you, they have goals and dreams and aspirations for their life. Just like you noticing for a moment. If you remind yourself as the common humanity that person has feelings means experiences just like you. There's no difference at all. And notice how that feels in your heart. When you remind yourself of that common humanity, and then let's dedicate all the positive energy from our time together today, that when we feel a sense of othering of another person, a sense of separation, maybe divisiveness judgment that we might tap in to that feeling of common humanity that will connect us and soften us an openness to the humanity of the other. And just taking a moment to let that be experienced in the body. And then we can bring that contemplation to a close. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you both for having me. It was really great to talk to you and I feel like we just got warmed up. So yeah, we're going to need a second, Speaker 1 00:47:20 Third and fourth time to have you come back. And uh, yeah, I know, at least for me Speaker 2 00:47:25 Personally, there were so many more things that I wanted to ask and hopefully we'll have the opportunity to do that in the future. Thank you so much.

Other Episodes

Episode 30

October 07, 2021 00:42:08
Episode Cover

Kacie Hill ~ Wellness Today

Kacie is the founder of Flora Fauna Wellness. She graduated with honors from Emperor's College in Santa Monica, CA.  She has a Master's in Chinese Medicine and is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist.  In addition to acupuncture and herbs, Kacie uses eastern modalities like cupping, gua sha, Chinese nutrition, and meditation to help you feel amazing.  She also uses supplements and nutraceuticals to help you get better faster.     ...


Episode 18

February 15, 2021 00:23:02
Episode Cover

Sustainable Caring

Some of our most challenging and most meaningful moments often arise while caring for others. Whether you are a physician, nurse, mental health professional, teacher, parent, or supporting an aging family member, caring for others becomes an opportunity to develop resilience and make meaning out of our most human, vulnerable interactions. But how do we find the beauty that often lays hidden amidst the stress of caring? Join Dr. Monisha Vasa and Cayce Howe as we discuss ways to create "Sustainability Caring". ...


Episode 14

November 15, 2020 00:42:45
Episode Cover

Sonic Healing

Lynda Arnold (AKA @divasonic) is a phenomenal sound healer and musician who has played on some of the largest global stages including SXSW, Burning Man and UNICEF events. Join us for a lively and honest discussion about how we all heal differently, and how sound can be a force for transformation, empowerment and connection. ...