Hello and Happy Summer, Soma Dharmites!
Welcome to the long-lit days of summertime - and all that comes with them.
Welcome to what has become our Sangha and what lies ahead as we continue to practice together, training in the skill of "welcoming" all that arises and passes away ...internally and externally.
Our little Wednesday night clubhouse has settled into prime real estate in my heart. I totally look forward to seeing each of you every week and the familial tone is resonant. I'd say we've got a dozen or so of us who find this a fairly regular thing now, and another dozen or so who know how to find us when a Wednesday night allows or feels right to stop back by. Seems like almost every week we have a new visitor or two as well and I want to recognize how warm and welcoming this group is to the newcomer. That's really important, and although it may be kind of tough to truly meet and greet each individual that makes their way up those stairs and down the hall to find us, I know we hold a spirit of welcoming and inclusiveness for ALL.
Emily (our host and cornerstone of this operation) has a real knack for meeting new people with a nice balance of welcoming without stepping on their space to just feel it out for themselves. A lot of how she communicates with people as they walk in is with her smile and demeanor. Then she just says a couple of things verbally to welcome people and let them know they're in the right place (if in fact, they were looking for us) and answer any questions. But most of all, it's the energy of compassion and camaraderie for all those who come seeking that radiates a sense of unity and belonging. This is an act of generosity for those courageous and curious (or desperate?) enough to come in, perhaps feeling vulnerable, and work it out with some other folks who are seeking peace within themselves too. As Anne Lamott says, "My mind is like a bad neighborhood, I try not to go there alone".
So, as much as I want to have my lovely wife right in close with us each week (and is occasionally), the dynamic we set up from the beginning has the intention of generosity, hospitality, and safety. One, if not my only mission statement from the beginning was to hold space where ALL can feel welcome and just be themselves, especially those who may have had their share of experience into the contrary. So again, from the fullness of my heart, thank you for contributing to this vibe! - And, as always, if you feel there is some way I/we can improve on this, please don't hesitate to bring it up.
Next... Oh My God THANK YOU!! For showing up to our Pizza Party at Little Joes to celebrate a couple of major milestones for me. 5 years of continuous sobriety and 50 years of breathing in and out on this planet! I had such a wonderful time with you all. There were a couple of moments when I was able to just sit back and look down the table, seeing everyone talking, laughing and eating together where I just felt overcome by love, happiness, and good fortune. I'm so glad I made it all the way here and I know I couldn't have done it without you!
Last month we wrapped up our Brahmaviharas Series, then enjoyed a guest teacher, Jason Murphy-Pedulla. He gave a fantastic set of meditation instructions and fielded some fairly hefty topics from our group - right on - make him work for it! Jason had a great time with us and I'm really glad we were able to have him up from LA to teach for us before his departure back to Asia. We sent him off with the card Emily created and many of us signed for him... and a stack of Soma Dharma stickers to slap on the other side of the planet too, of course!
If you want more info on his teaching, please ask.
What's your feeling about having guest teachers? Please let me know if you enjoy that, how often we should try to have them, or if you have a certain local teacher in mind you'd like to join us for an evening. I can always try to contact and offer them time here.
Let's see... what's next? The next couple weeks of July we may just have a bit of a grab bag. If there's a particular question or something you'd like to go back to, this would be an ideal time to come explore it with us. Otherwise, I have plenty to work out with you as I'm finishing up a series of talks for a training assignment I'm on. After my return from a long weekend of training in late July, I'd like to start up another series of classes.
One idea for this is something I'm inspired by and would love to get into facilitating the teachings on called the "Anapanasati Sutta". In brief, this is an ancient 16-part meditation method, developed and used regularly by the Buddha and disciples that encompasses the four foundations of mindfulness and is said to lead to profound tranquility. As usual, I'll have a book or two to reference and make it a group effort in the investigation - Who's in?
Still to come this Summer: our kayaking tour offered by Chris of Half Moon Bay Kayak Co. Please sign up for this if you haven't already. This is a completely free event open to anyone and will take place sometime in August, so stay tuned for exact date and time - likely a Saturday evening.
Speaking of water, Soma Dharma has its head just above it thanks to your generosity. Rent is paid and we continue to do so. We were also able to take care of our guest and had ourselves a little party.
Practicing generosity is as much a part of our spiritual path as kindness and meditation, so please give from the heart when you do. This group is not a non-profit organization, but it is certainly a no-profit one. Just as we dedicate the conscious merit in this group out to all suffering beings, we collectively dedicate Dana in ways that are wholesome and supportive to the path to freedom as well. In talking about giving to your sangha, a friend of mine once said, "It like buying groceries for your own cupboard" we get to enjoy it and share with our guests, right?
In the future, I'd love to work toward some fundraising for charity or for those connected to our sangha in particular need as well. If anyone has a suggestion or desire to head up something like that, I'd be happy to use any platform we might hold to support it collectively.
OK. Think that's about it for now.
Be sure to check in on the website and social media pages once in a while for more updates (and whatever other goofy things I throw up there). I've added a page onto the website where I'm threatening to put up some recordings - meditations, talks, maybe some stuff from the sits (no one recorded without permission of course!) or from guest teachers and other things we get into that might be useful - so stay tuned!
Keep sitting and keep smiling!
May we all do what needs to be done to connect to our own true goodness and to create a positive change on this planet.
Peace and love,
Jeff and Em.