The Standard

doing what you love, a master teacher & tea!

I’m writing you with a relaxed smile from Gili Air, a tiny island off Bali .. where something cool just happened.

I was biking home from watching the sunset when I heard an acoustic guitar and immediately screeched on the brakes.

I hadn’t planned to stop. I just, as the great Vedic teacher Thom Knoles would say, went from feeling to action. No analysis, just instinct.

“Where are you from?” the Indonesian man playing guitar asked as I hopped off the bike. “America!” I responded. “Oh perfect, we need a singer,” he said. 

Oh my. I love to sing, but I’m terrible at it. I'm enthusiastic and off key. 

But this was just one evening, on a tiny island, and they needed an English speaker. So I said yes.

They started playing “Zombie," and I belted out the lyrics while my new Indonesian friend and another traveler played the chords. Then “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” “Wish You Were Here” and “Hey Jude.” I let my confidence in the lyrics overwhelm my insecurity about singing. I lost myself in the music.

And I realized we can have so much fun doing something we enjoy that we’re terrible at! Why should we only do what we’re good at? I’m terrible at biking but have been biking all around Gili Air, constantly falling off and getting a bit beat up but having a blast.

So this week I ask — is there something you love that you’re bad at, that maybe you can do anyway? 

We work so much. Let’s play. Try something you might enjoy but haven't done in a while, independent of your skill level.

And this week, we're bringing in a real expert to guide us in meditation. John Baker has been a student of Buddhism for 41 years and co-founded Naropa University in Boulder. He's also a senior teacher in the North American Buddhist community and the author of many numbers about Buddhism. We are SO happy to have him guide us in meditation this Tuesday, at the Penthouse of The Standard (ohhhhhh yeahhhhhh).

After the meditation, you're invited to join Dasan Tea for a (free!) tea ceremony with a new tea they created from wild green tea leaves, hand-picked from Mt. Jiri in South Korea. We'll enjoy the tea in cups handmade by Korean pottery artists, and each sip is designed to help you awaken and clear your mind.

Tuesday, in short, is going to be amazing.

click here to join us for meditation & tea

And to be clear, all this is included in the cost of a regular meditation! Just $24 for meditation by John Baker AND the tea ceremony.

click here to join us
 

Our July Social = Love, A Dinner & A Chat

Hey there,

If you’re wondering .. how to really.. live with love..

I have a cool invite for you. (So excited to share this!)

Two meditation teachers we adore, Janusz Whelin and Rachel Shapiro, just got engaged. 

As teachers they talk up love a lot.

But after work, there’s real life to deal with. Ups and downs and everything in between.

That’s when things get interesting.

And so July 20th, you’re invited to join us .. to hear Janusz and Rakhel share the funny, inspiring and insightful truth of two teachers finding their way through love.

We’ll also enjoy dinner and drinks and gather at a spectacular private home in Soho with terraces overlooking the city.

It will be an amazing evening. And this week we’re offering it all for just $50.

click here for dinner, drinks and a chat on love 

The price (which includes dinner and drinks!) will go up next week. So reserve your spot today for an extraordinary evening of great people, great conversation, delicious food and a happy talk about really living with love.

join us by clicking here

Cheers to love and enjoying an awesome summer dinner party with great new friends,

Dina

p.s. If you have extra copies of Sharon Salzberg’s Real Love book you want to donate to charity, we invite you to bring them to our social July 20th, and we’ll get them to one of our charity partners (Housing Works and the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation). You'll also have a chance to chat about the book with other folks who’ve read it!

p.p.s. This Tuesday join us for a wonderful meditation guided by Janusz (a sneak preview of our dinner together July 20th). Then join us for a free talk by author Jennifer Howd on her new book Sit, Walk, Don’t Talk: How I Survived A Silent Retreat. If you’ve thought about joining a silent retreat, wondered what it’s like or want to commiserate about your own experience, join us Tuesday for her amazing insights! Click here to be with us Tuesday. Also only this Tuesday we're moving to the stunning private home of a community member, with an incredible view of Columbus Circle (it is a wow)! Join us at 240 Central Park South for meditation by Janusz and a wonderful book talk. It's going to be a really cool evening in a beautiful spot.

Conversation with a Meditation Teacher: Dr. Home Nguyen of MindKind Institute

The Path community was fortunate to experience a beautiful meditation led by Home Nguyen on Tuesday, February 21st. Sonali Nigam, a community member of The Path and graduate of our teacher training program, asked him a few questions about his life and work afterward. 

Dr. Home is the founder of the MindKind Institute and has over 20 years of experience in personal leadership, mind-body practices, career development, executive coaching, and facilitating organizational effectiveness. His mission is to develop mindful, influential, and compassionate leaders, and to help them master their power so they can make a real difference in the world.

The Path: Can you tell us about how you began on your path towards mindfulness?

In my 20s, I was going through a difficult period in my life – traveling, working too hard, experiencing insomnia and a very painful ulcer. I worked as an Artistic Director for a theater company and one evening a young actress came to me. She said, “We need to talk now, “and I tried to brush her off. But she was very insistent. She said to me, “You are very charismatic and you get people to do what you want, but I don’t feel loved when I work with you.” At the time I didn’t understand, but this conversation stayed with me. Soon afterward I checked myself into a Vipassana retreat for 10 days. That was the beginning of my meditation practice as an adult.

The Path: So that was a turning point in your life that led you to meditation…

There is one more event I would like to share. I was thirteen years old, and I was on a boat lost in the middle of the ocean – a refugee from Vietnam. We were lost at sea for 19 days. One day there was a huge wave coming towards me, and I was certain it was going to kill us. I thought that all 91 people on that boat would die.  I saw death up close and had to face it. In that moment I let go, I decided to accept death. In that moment I felt a very deep peace that I had not experienced before. From there the boat drifted into southern Thailand where I lived in a refugee camp for a year. For a thirteen-year-old boy that was a very profound experience. But at that time my brain was not developed enough to understand the significance of that moment.

The Path: What has your personal meditation journey been so far? Any challenges, any unexpected outcomes?

I have been exploring and practicing meditation for over twenty years now. After all these years, I still face difficulties. There are days I am distracted by the phone, Facebook, the news. Often, I still wake up in the morning not wanting to mediate. The difference for me is that when I find myself stressed or avoiding meditation I respond differently that I did before. In the past I used to judge myself, I was harsh. I would tell myself, “What’s the matter with you, what's wrong with you, you are weak, you have failed, you are not doing this right”. But now the judgement is still there but I can recover much faster. I tell myself that this period of struggling will pass. I will forgive myself. I will start again.
 
The practice of mindfulness is about letting go of what was and starting again in the present moment. In taking that approach of starting again, I use a beginner’s mind. I let go of achievement, I let go of measurement. I show up and do my meditation as I am in this moment. Even if it was for one breath, that is good enough to start again.

The Path: What advice would you give to those who are at the beginning of their path towards mindfulness?
 

My advice for a new practitioner is to allow yourself to start over again. The second tip is to find a good teacher. Think about learning to swim, when you are beginner you need a good coach. Once you learn how to swim you can surf, you can dive and do so many other things. But at the beginning, you need a good teacher to help you learn the foundations, and helping you to be safe and sane as you starting the exploration.

The Path: Can you speak about the work that you are currently doing in the field of mindfulness?
 

I recently finished my PhD at Columbia University, and my doctoral research was on mindfulness and how it relates to leadership, in particular how leaders can create environments that help their organizations become mindful. I have been teaching students at the Columbia Business School and Law School on how to develop mindful leadership practices for about 6 years now.  My research and practice is to understand how we can incorporate mindfulness into everyday life and how we can influence others in a positive and healthy ways.