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breaking the doom scroll

7 days ago I changed my morning routine: previously I would doom scroll with my morning coffee, but for the last week I’ve been writing my morning pages instead. I had the…

plans for post-vaccination recovery

I am getting my second pfizer dose later this afternoon, and I am not looking forward to the side effects – fingers crossed that it wouldn’t be worse than some fever and…

the emptiness of information overload

Sometimes I think about times in my younger days, when I could spend hours reading a book or listening to music on my walkman (remember these things?). Now I can barely get…

a bit of silence within the noise

The other day while just sitting around in my living room, I had this sudden awareness of my newly developed capacity to feel subtler emotions – instead of just high and low…

puppet

The older I grow, the more I come to realise I am actually like a puppet: I am at the mercy of my psyche and hormones. I am subject to their swings,…

on learning to pace

A while ago I had a minor surgery for my infected cyst so I could not exercise the whole time, so I was raring to get back to it again. I never…

finding freedom in prison

Someone recommended a book, “A Buddhist on Death Row” on reddit – I was immediately drawn to the title, but something in me was hugely skeptical. I am personally uncomfortable when religion…

go toward them

The better he became at meditation, the more it helped him face trauma he’d experienced and learn and explore. Sometimes terrible memories and fears—of execution, of guards—arose, but he used meditation to push them aside—to try to transcend the pain he’d carried with him his whole life. But now Pema challenged him to go back to the worst memories and fears again—to intentionally meditate on them. She said not to push them away, not to try to transcend them, not to run from them, but to go toward them.

he finally understood the power of meditation

When he told Lisa about the night of the execution, Jarvis said he finally understood the power of meditation. There wasn’t much in his life he could control, but he recalled Melody once saying, “Jarvis, you can control your mind.” He hadn’t fully understood what that meant, but now he did. He could control his mind. He understood what Rinpoche had given him: a lifeline. He held on, and it got him through the ache and fear caused by Harris’s death. But even meditation itself produced wildly varying results. Sometimes he arose from the lotus position feeling a kind of serenity he’d never known. Other times he emerged feeling fragile and tender. Still other times he became lost in dark caves and emerged feeling depleted, feverish, and scared.

state-sponsored retreat

Lisa had once likened his cell in San Quentin to a monk’s cell in a state-sponsored retreat. She was joking, but he reflected on it again now. “It’s true,” he said. “It’s been a place to contemplate and study, to sit with all these new ideas and turn them around in my head and practice integrating them into my life. I never would have done any of that. I wouldn’t have looked at my past, that scary shit—I’d still be running from it.”