Bearing Witness – Street Retreat

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Last summer a friend asked me for help. Will was raising money for a unique experience called a “Street Retreat”, which entailed spending 3 days and nights on the streets of London with no possessions other than clothes. I was struck by how intense it sounded (and also curious as to why one would embark on such an adventure). I was happy to donate $20, and afterwards he pointed me to the Zen Peacemakers, a group which facilitated retreats like this around the world.

A few days later I was walking home from dinner when a homeless man suddenly jumped in front of me and shouted “Spare some change?!” My immediate reaction was disgust and annoyance. The man reeked of alcohol and was directly blocking my path; I swiftly side-stepped him to continue on my way. As a resident of San Francisco, this kind of experience was unfortunately all too common. But as I neared home I remembered my friend Will; I wondered how he would have responded to this man.

That next morning, I had a profound meditation experience. Continue reading Bearing Witness – Street Retreat

Keeping the flame alive – Adventures in the Netherlands

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Home is where the heart is

Last winter in Plum Village a friend told me my name can be translated as “Fire-starter.”

At the time I had just begun my role as a Coordinator for the International Wake Up Movement. I was working alongside Buddhist monks and nuns to support young adults in practicing mindfulness and creating communities where they live. Wake Up had been growing steadily over the past few years, and many conditions came together to allow me the opportunity to dedicate my efforts to the cause.

I had been searching for a way to apply my business consulting background to support mindfulness practice, and this was it. It was a dream job – my answer to “what would you pay to do?” I saw many opportunities to contribute, to support people, to get things rolling.

But fire, when uncontrolled, can be extremely destructive. Continue reading Keeping the flame alive – Adventures in the Netherlands