Kristie Dahlia Home
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We Are Beloved

The Fire is Love

Apr 19, 2024

Beloved friends,

The Lovingkindness course underway has been a revelatory experience for me and many of the participants. It has been years now since I've set expectations for practice in my teaching; I simply try to make the practice so inviting that folks are drawn to it naturally. This is bearing fruit. Someone said, "With this practice, I am feeling a ton of power and continuing to feel that somatic effect of the lovingkindness in my being, and it’s making me want to practice each day – I have to send some love to that lovely person I saw briefly at the grocery checkout!" and someone else said, "Oh my God, I literally might not need therapy ever again if I just do this everyday!!" We are fire, friends, and all the fire is love.

I want to share the best of this work with you: I've added a luscious half hour lovingkindness-based meditation to the Teachings available to stream for free on my site. I would truly adore hearing about your experience if you give it a try. My next course will continue in the vein of love and will be open to new folks. I look forward to sharing details soon!

Blossom has also been afoot across our community in the ways that folks are willing to show up. Years ago I began to suggest when folks expressed disappointment with their follow-though that a surprising step toward success can be to lower to bar: to make the first step easier. In doing this we find that what from one angle looks like lowering the bar can look from another like raising it. A handful of people have joined my Thursday morning Meditation Gathering for a couple of years straight now. Today was a banner day: none of them were at home for practice when we began, but all of them were present. Kirsten was, as usual, joining us while walking around the lake near her home in Minneapolis; she took the photograph above during that walk. Wendy, on her way home from dropping her child at school, joined initially from the car before settled in on the couch at home. Ash joined us while riding a bus from Virginia to North Carolina! Her bus made an unexpected rest stop partway in. There was a field facing the parking lot, so she slipped off her shoes and spent a lot of the session standing in the field watching birds.

From one angle, all these situations could be a conflict with being "fully present" for the session. Through that perspective, joining from wherever-possible looks like lowering the bar. To me, joining from walking, driving, and the meadow beside the bus is in fact evidence of a high level of determination and commitment. The opportunity to weave practice into life is a claiming of our whole lived everyday as worthy ground for practice. When we let whatever we can do be enough, we find we are capable of so much.


Expanding Our Pleasure
Schadenfreude – feeling joy at someone else's misfortune – is a German word that is commonly used in English. How wonderful might it be if we also adopted vorfreude, (VORE froy duh) the anticipation of joy, as a word and a conscious practice? Simply having a word can help us lean into something we already know: that food on my kitchen table that I'm going to feed to friends this weekend; seeing it invites me to feel into the vorfreude of my hom filled with friends around a game board. Thanks to Leah for help with pronunciation.

Rewilding the Internet
I'm pretty likely to read any article that begins by quoting Ursula Le Guin's, "The word for world is forest," but I am not to other people probably the most likely of readers for an article about the need for diversity in the structure of the internet. Tech folk will absolutely want to read this and in my opinion, all of us should given the vital importance of the internet in our world.  Maria Farrell and Robin Berjon's article in NOĒMA is eminently readable and speaks for all of us, noting that “excessive concentration of power is a threat … it’s not just about prices or output but it’s about freedom, liberty and opportunity." and “Ecologists have reoriented their field as a ‘crisis discipline,’ a field of study that’s not just about learning things but about saving them. We technologists need to do the same.” Gorgeous and vital. Thanks to Oliver.

Don't Bite the Hook
A biological lens on how we respond to conflict can be profoundly useful. For a while I've been saying something like this: We are social creatures and our nervous systems tend to co-regulate through mirror neurons: our nature is to match tone. When someone is distressed, our instinct is to rise to meet that. It’s easy to see why we are wired this way: in a shared emergency would be protective for the group. In everyday situations, however, it can be counterproductive. Knowing this, we can choose a different path. It can be a loving thing to decline to echo distress, to hold a curious, loving presence, to implicitly invite a distressed person to down-regulate with you. You don’t have to match distressful states to validate them, or support the person experiencing them; you also don't have to fight that! There is great freedom in knowing this. Cup of Jo had a great little piece which suggests a simple four-work reminer of this bit of emotional intelligence: Don't bite the hook.

This Spring
by James A. Pearson

How can I love this spring
when it's pulling me
through my life faster
than any time before it?
When five separate dooms
are promised this decade
and here I am, just trying
to watch a bumblebee cling
to its first purple flower.
I cannot save this world.
But look how it's trying,
once again, to save me.

Thanks to Rachel.

All our Flourishing is Mutual
In the Reading Circle we've fallen into a sweet groove, and Braiding Sweetgrass continues to nourish and inspire. If you're curious, it's not too late to join! This book is a collection of essays and you will not be confused or awkward if you join at any point in the reading. We've got half the book to go. This week we read about the honorable harvest, and a study in which one of Robin's grad students proved that human wildcrafting was an essential relationship for the wellbeing of sweetgrass, that where it was flourising was where it was being harvested and that it was suffering from overgrowth where it was not.

"We are all the product of our worldviews – even scientists who claim pure objectivity. Their predictions for sweetgrass were consistent with their Western science worldview, which sets human beings outside of 'nature' and judges their interactions with other species as largely negative. They had been schooled that the best way to protect a dwindling species was to leave it alone and keep people away. But the grassy meadows tell us that for sweetgrass, human beings are part of the system, a vital part."

Wise and Gentle Musing
One of my heart's sweetest friends is someone I've spent only about 3 hours with in person! Ashley Gremel and I lived in the SF Bay Area together for years but never met there. Our ships crossed paths in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico, and we shared a single, lovely dinner there. The next morning I showed Ash and Scott to my favorite vendors at the weekly seafront market, and then they sailed on, continuing the journey from San Francisco to their then-intended, now-established home in Richmond, Virginia. Ash's friendship has been a cornerstone of my sea-to-land transition. When I reached out to see if she'd prefer to be named or anonymous in the anecdote about this week's Meditation Gathering she mentioned she'd be writing about those events in her own newsletter today, too! Perhaps you'd like to read that. I'm looking forward to it. I enjoy her wise and gentle musings about life.

The Soundtrack of a Personal Retreat
Last week I had my first person out to Blue Sky for a personal retreat. She arrived on Wednesday afternoon and left Saturday morning. In between we shared many massages, yoga, both home cooking and the best restaurant over in Port Townsend, and carried on the long, meandering conversation about her living that we've had afoot off and over of the last... oh my, perhaps 15 years now. She said at the end that she was moving in, so I'm thinking it went pretty well! Along the way we loved this playlist, riffing off of KR3TURE's "Watch it Grow".

If you're interested in discussing a journey to the Olympic Peninsula for a solo or small-group retreat with a friend or a few, drop me a line. Yes, I'll be offering group retreats soon, too, and I'll have more info on retreats on my site in time. We're about 2 hours from SeaTac, and the guest space is a lovely one-bedroom in-law apartment which sleeps 4 quite easily.