Showing posts with label Dalai Lama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dalai Lama. Show all posts

Friday, October 1, 2010

We All Want Only One Thing in Life: Happiness

People who inspire me tend to illustrate how similar we all are, rather than how different.  They reveal what is most special inside each one of us, instead of insisting that they are more special than the rest.  They are leaders who unite, rather than divide.  Teachers who speak with integrity, as opposed to ego.  Spiritual guides with grace, and without grandiosity  Friends, relatives, and neighbors who do selfless, substantial, soul-strengthening things when no one is looking, all day long, just because . . .

His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai, for example, will often tell audiences that we are all the same.  We fundamentally want only one thing in life: To be happy.  In the video below, taken last year when he was in Boston, the Dalai Lama explains that our best chance for being happy is by, first, being present.  He offers that by continually distracting and overstimulating our senses (with TV, music, etc.), we run the risk of being dependent on these experiences and sad when we do not have them.  This leaves us feeling "lonely" and "uncomfortable," he says.    

So, today, I'd like to turn it over to you, readers . . . What makes you happy to the fully present core of your being?  Let's enumerate all the ways, large and small, triumphant and trivial, in which we feel grounded, joyful, creative, supported, and calm.  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Quote: Material Things vs. Spiritual Development

"Toward material things, which necessarily have a limit, it is best to be satisfied with what you have, but with regard to the limitless development of spiritual qualities, you should never be satisfied with a mere portion, but continually seek higher development."

-His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009: Year in Review

A few of the year's highlights in this little yogified corner of the blogosphere . . .

It started with a radio appearance at the end of 2008 when I went on Mariellen Burns's show in Boston to chat about setting life goals and healthy intentions in 2009. It was great; I brought Mariellen an amaryllis plant; she joked about killing it on contact. We fielded questions from listeners and weighed in on everything from losing weight to finding a recession-friendly fitness program to starting a yoga practice and more. Then, some guy called in and went bat sh*t crazy on everyone. I'm not kidding. Click here to listen to the show.

Days after I enraged listeners, err, listener (singular), with my highly controversial statements regarding extremist ideas such as drinking plenty of water, we rang in 2009. I shared a post about making and keeping resolutions; President Barack Obama took office, and, soon thereafter, I took to the icy streets of Boston to begin training for my first marathon (Boston). Following my first 9-mile run through the infamous Newton hills, including the one they call "Heartbreak," I went home and cried. I'm not sure if it was the icicles that formed in my hairline as temperatures dipped into the single digits or the realization that Heartbreak "hill" is actually a series of four punishing, sloping inclines that stretch on for eternity, but I was rattled.

Always the entertainer, Om Bro provided comic relief with a wellness inquiry of his own (from a post in late January):

Om Bro: How do 3 a.m. shots of whiskey fit into your 09 health and wellness plans for me?

Me: Hmmm. By whiskey, do u mean “wheat grass?”

Om Bro: Sure, you can call it that.

Then, in February, I gave Cupid a piece of my mind.

In March, marathon training kicked into high gear, as did my fundraising for Fit Girls, the charity for which I ran. I co-hosted a party along with Lululemon to raise money for the running, reading, and community service programs that Fit Girls provides young girls, and I taught a Yoga for Runners workshop at A Little Yoga, one of many new studios that opened in Boston in 2009. Thankfully, I survived a 21-mile training run, the longest run of my life at the time, in the month of March. Check out the video footage of me- dazed and exhausted- icing my knees with frozen edamame. Resourceful , eh?

March also featured a helpful post called "Different Styles of Yoga Decoded;" it remains one of the blog's most highly trafficked articles and prompted lots of great comments from readers.

In April, I ran the Boston Marathon. The whole thing. I wish I had a triumphant photo to share with you here, but honestly, I look like a half-tranquilized horse on the verge of vomiting in just about every one. You may recall my om gal-pal Christina declaring, "There are no hero shots [in the Boston Marathon]." For the record: She's right.

In May, I revealed "Zen and the Art of Swimsuit Season," went on the radio again (this time on The Frankie Boyer Show), raved about a fun yoga flick called Enlighten Up! by another om gal-pal, Kate Churchill, and . . . [insert drum roll, please] . . . spent a day in the presence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Here's the recap; photos and videos included.

Things heated up around here during the summer months. In June, I did my best Flashdance impression for a photo shoot for, fielded a great question from a reader in Chicago about being a yogi and drinking alcohol, and got a little goofy in a video with one of my best yogi gal pals, fellow teacher Chanel Luck.

We also bid good-bye to Michael Jackson in June. May he rest in peace . . .

July delivered more insightful questions and feedback from readers, including how to handle grief through yoga. This post was picked up by the Boston Globe's website,, and featured on its homepage. I was very grateful, still am.

August went like this: I turned 30 and met Deepak Chopra on the same day. It was a life moment. Enough said.

September marked the 3rd annual Global Mala event, celebrated on the U.N.'s International Day of Peace. My BFF requested some fitness advice on how to edge out her family in their own version of the Biggest Loser, and I cried every time I tuned into the actual show, along with the rest of the country. (What, you didn't sob at each weigh-in? Seriously? Have you no soul!).

I've neglected to mention it, but I started keeping secrets in October, such as the one about some new VIP private yoga clients on Boston's sports scene. Shhhhhh. I also explained why yoga is safe for sore knees, who are some of yoga's most influential pioneers, and what the heck yamas and niyamas are.

With November came a cameo appearance from Om Bro . . . and a spike in web traffic from's female-skewed audience. Coincidence? Hmmm.

Yoga for Athletes from from Rebecca Pacheco on Vimeo.

We closed the year in December with healthy snacks for weight loss, a killer gift giving guide for yogi types, and correspondence from my recent trip to Kripalu. Thank you, everyone, for reading, commenting, asking questions, becoming a Fan on Facebook, following on Twitter, passing along your favorite posts to friends, attending my workshops and classes in Boston this year, and so much more. You are among my biggest blessings in 2009. Now, let's raise a glass of kombucha, and set our sights on 2010!

If you have any requests for content you'd like to see in the new decade, things you liked in 2009 or didn't like, please comment. Om shanti!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Day With The Dalai Lama

Following the Dalai Lama's visit to Boston this weekend, the media's coverage of the event, a two-part lecture held at Gillette Stadium, was largely relegated to posts regarding the above photo, wherein His Holiness donned a New England Patriots hat during the afternoon session. I can't say that I blame them; it was pretty fantastic. The hat, of course, was a gift from Patriots team owner Robert Kraft, who happened to be sitting with his wife Myra, just a few feet away from me, so I snapped a shot of him too.

Nevertheless, there's much more to be said about the Dalai Lama's visit to Boston beyond the fact that he rocked a Pats hat. Yet before enumerating the day's highlights, it probably makes sense to quickly recap who this man is. (Perhaps to provide some additional background information, making the first association in people's minds, upon hearing his name, something other than, say, an infamous Caddyshack clip, which several pals emailed me last week). Sigh.

The Dalai Lama describes himself as a "simple Buddhist monk," but he is also Tibet's head of state and spiritual leader in exile. He has been in exile since 1959 (the Chinese invaded Tibet in 1949). On Saturday, he spoke of visiting a soup kitchen recently, describing it as an experience that he enjoyed. He relayed feelings of comfort and familiarity with the people in the shelter because, to hear him tell it, he too has been homeless, in a way, for the past 50 years. While he now lives in India, the Dalai Lama's home unquestionably remains Tibet, a country still under Chinese rule. Throughout his lifetime (he is now 73 years old), the Dalai Lama has steadfastly dedicated himself to cultivating peace around the world.

In fact, the Dalai Lama joined the monastic tradition at the age of 6. A Buddhist Doogie Howser of sorts, you ask?

Not exactly. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was more than a precocious 6-year-old; he is recognized as being the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso, who was the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama before him and so on down the line. Each Dalai Lama is viewed as a manifestation of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion and the patron saint of Tibet. Let me break this down further: He's as close to a living manifestation of Buddha as you can get.

A college professor of mine met His Holiness once and shared the experience with our Buddhism in India, Nepal, & Tibet class. I can still vividly remember how her face changed and brightened as she recalled the encounter. Perhaps it was then that I became enthralled with the idea that I might share space with the Dalai Lama too one day.

Of course, it would have to be relatively soon, I thought. This man, the 14th, already looked pretty old, particularly relative to myself, a 20-year-old college student. If I missed my opportunity in his lifetime, I'd have to wait until the next Dalai Lama was discovered- a toddler no doubt, like his predecessors- and it would be decades before he acquired the knowledge and life experience of this Dalai Lama.

On Saturday, May 2, 2009, I took my seat on the turf of Gillette Stadium, for the first of two lectures by the Dalai Lama. I would be in the presence of this pivotal figure in history and an inspiring person in my life for several hours. The morning session covered the Four Noble Truths, followed by a break, during which the 15,000 attendees browsed the new shopping and entertainment complex of Patriot Place and enjoyed a Tibetan market; featuring clothing, jewelry, and other artifacts; as well as educational exhibits such as a replica of a traditional Tibetan home, the opportunity to have your name written in Tibetan, and the ability to dress in traditional Tibetan garb for a unique photo opportunity.

As you can imagine, it's one thing to study the Four Noble Truths (the essential tenets of Buddhism) on your own or even in a college-level course; it's quite another to have them illuminated by the Dalai Lama, in person. Just in case you're wondering or your knowledge of Buddhist texts is rusty, here they are:

1.) Dukkha: Suffering exists.

2). Samudaya: The root cause of suffering is "thirst" or as His Holiness often referenced "grasping."

3.) Nirodha: Suffering can cease; liberation from suffering exists.

4.) Magga: The Path, often referred to as the Middle Path, is the way to cease suffering.

Put simply by the Dalai Lama, "90% of all negativeness is mental." In other words: Know that suffering and impermanence exist. Understand that your attachment or thirst for things to remain constant is misaligned with the essential state (i.e. truth) of the universe. Observe that you can liberate yourself from this cycle of dissatisfaction by choosing a different, truer, more moderate path . . .

Then, it got very windy in the stadium, and the world's most famous monk became cold.
So, he implored us, in his charming, direct, albeit broken English, "If you have hat, I think you put on now," which reminded me a lot of my Portuguese grandmother, as she would be inclined to say the same thing, in similarly broken English, with equal and genuine concern. He wasn't referencing the aforementioned, amply-covered Patriots hat, and this remark surely wouldn't make the papers the following day, but it made everyone in the audience smile or chuckle that morning. We felt, in some small way, that the Dalai Lama, viewed as the living incarnation of the bodhisattva of compassion, was looking out for us.

That is the magic of seeing this man in person. The compassion is palpable. No gesture is too small or tossed away. No laugh is conjured up for show. He does not seek to impress. He exudes peace and love but makes no demonstration of either. His language is simple and direct. He is simultaneously of this Earth- vulnerable to cold and wind, sun and heat (we had all four that day, as if to further illustrate the impermanent nature of all things)- and other-worldly. There is no perceivable filter between who he is and what he does. If he is cold, he pauses to drape his robes more snugly around his body. If the sun glared in his eyes, he readjusted the Patriots hat or rifled through his few material possessions to find tinted eyeglasses; he did this slowly, as if he we were not there watching. He states matters simply without oversimplifying or being sanctimonious. When asked, "What's the one, single thing that we can all do to promote peace, he exclaimed, "I don't know! Things are too complex; there's no single thing."

What a relief! What liberation! There is no easy fix, no magic bullet, no virtuous antidote. We're all in this together, and everything that we do affects everything else. When asked how he might advise young people today, he did advocate for greater self-inquiry and reflection, instead of constantly distracting ourselves through sensory stimulators, such as TV, cell phones, music, etc. Take a peek; he even pantomimes iPod ear buds.

He was also quite frank about what makes him different, particularly in the afternoon session, with its focus on The Path to Peace and Happiness. "My calm mind makes me different," he remarked plainly. He copped that he does not have any healing powers, else he would have avoided the gal bladder surgery he underwent last year. At this, he laughs. He's thoroughly entertained by this fact. In this regard, he is no different from us, a human being just like all the other 6 billion human beings with which he shares the planet, equally incapable of cheating sickness or suffering as the rest.

In fact, this is just how he summed up the afternoon's memorable public talk, "Everyone has [the] desire to have [a] happy life. [We are the] same . . . 100%. Same."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama

In recent weeks, the eyes of the world have turned toward His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and the increasingly strained conflict between his country of Tibet and its neighbor and occupier, China. The forthcoming Olympics this summer, in Beijing, present a complex situation, with the Chinese intent upon showing the world the depth and breadth of their potential and power as a leader of the 21st century and the Tibetans committed to their ongoing struggle for national independence and religious freedom and campaign for global support.

The yoga community has long demonstrated a collective reverence for the Dalai Lama (who is widely regarded as an incarnation of Buddha) and justifiably so; however, it's important to have a thorough understanding of our own sympathies, beliefs, and ideals. We should make certain that they are our own and that they are informed. The Buddha, himself, once implored his students not to follow blindly even the noblest of paths, by saying, "Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything because it is spoken and rumored by many . . . But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it, and live up to it."

If you have an interest in learning more about the Dalai Lama, here are three of my favorite insightful and informative resources (listed in chronological order).*

The Dalai Lama, A Policy of Kindness: An Anthology of Writings By and About the Dalai Lama

Kundun (1997), a film directed by Martin Scorsese

A Monk's Struggle (TIME, March 31, 2008)

*There are plenty more out there, and I encourage you to share your own recommendations for resources on the topic of the Dalai Lama or any other topics that you find relevant to the themes addressed on this site.