The similarities between writing & traveling 

This week, I embarked on two big adventures. First, I launched this blog, making the leap both to commit to writing, and to share that writing. Second, I arrived in India, where I will be participating in an experiential course on health and development with the Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CRHP) in a small area in Maharashtra called Jamkhed. Surprisingly, my mind started meshing these two very different events together (which, in retrospect, is not so surprising given the brain’s tendency to look for meaningful patterns). As I sit to write with a view of bustling Mumbai, I can’t help but wonder about the similarities between writing and traveling.

Beginning with nothing. Both writing and traveling to unfamiliar destinations begin with nothing. There can be maps, guidelines, outlines, and ideas that contribute, but the preparation is very different from the active process of doing, which begins with a blank page or the first time your eyes and brain absorb a place you’ve never seen.  Despite preparation, writing and traveling seem to take on lives of their own that culminate in something very different than what (if anything) was initially envisioned. …Keep Reading!

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An evening with Pema Chödrön and k.d. lang

On June 20, 2015, I had the good fortune of attending an event at UCLA’s Royce Hall with Pema Chödrön and k.d. lang. The event, a benefit for Tools for Peace and the Pema Chodron Foundation, was designed as a Q & A with Chödrön and lang on life’s “big questions,” followed by a musical performance by lang. The moderator was Tami Simon, the founder and publisher of Sounds True.

Pema Chödrön, a Buddhist nun and prolific author, is widely regarded for the down-to-earth manner in which she presents complex Buddhist teachings. While founded in her own monastic traditions, her teachings are uniquely accessible and wrestle with questions about how to live well as a human being in a complicated and often painful world – questions whose relevance extends beyond the boundaries of specific spiritual orientations. As a result, Chödrön’s work has reached a vast and varied audience, both within the Western Buddhist community and without. While I am still only scratching the surface in my understanding of these teachings, what has always stood out to me is the wise, clear, and convincing tone through which she conveys two radical messages: You already have everything you’re searching for; and, the more neurosis, the more wisdom. (To read more on these ideas, check out this wonderful Brain Pickings post.) Fundamentally, hers is a message of compassion: learning to befriend the parts of ourselves we find most challenging, thereby uncovering the material that enables us to open to others’ difficult experiences with love and kindness.

k.d. lang, a Grammy-award-winning singer, initially seemed a surprising partner for this event. …Keep Reading!

The Art of Being

This being a human is a messy business. We’re born into lives we didn’t choose, with bodies and brains programmed by thousands of years of evolution to act in ways we may never fully understand, into a world that is constantly in flux. This gorgeous mind of ours has the astounding capacity to time travel – a phenomenon that is both a blessing and a curse as it gives us a portal to visit our pasts and imagine our futures by the same means that it can cause us to get stuck there. The terrain of our inner experiences can be as frightening as it is enlivening, our emotions as immeasurably deep with joy as pain, while our outer experiences rarely provide any ground more stable.

And yet, amidst this uncertainty – amidst the awkward, clumsy, difficult task of navigating a world, brain, and body without a compass – we laugh. We share; we connect. …Keep Reading!