In bodhichitta training, we learn to use whatever pain or fear we experience to open our hearts to other people’s distress.  In this way, our personal misery doesn’t close us down; it becomes a stepping stone toward a bigger perspective.

Pema Chödrön, in No Time To Lose, A Timely Guide to ‘The Way of the Bodhisattva


The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. Gustave Flaubert


Welcome to my experiment in awakening.  I hope to turn these blogs into a book about this adventure this year.   I have studied and practiced Buddhism, the Course in Miracles and other traditions for the past 30 years, but have only recently entered into a new experience with mindfulness and the power of practicing non-attachment.  I would love company on the journey and know many of you have the same destination to live in loving-kindness, awake to our true selves.

Since blogs post as most recent first, you may want to go to my first entry in December 2010 (in the archives) which describes the genesis and purpose of this experiment.  Any constructive feedback on any of my blogs is most appreciated.  My practice and my writing  are both works-in-progress.

I have included the following, copied from a blog I wrote, in response to one of my siblings claiming I was “complaining” in these blogs.  My siblings are wonderful people, but I felt I needed to further describe what I am trying to accomplish and communicate, so I wrote this:

Much or spiritual life is self-acceptance, maybe all of it.  Indeed, in accepting the songs of life, we can create for ourselves a much deeper and greater identity in which our heart holds all within a space of boundless compassion.Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart

My intention isn’t to write this only for my own benefit–though certainly it has helped me– but to also help others who may identify with what I say–those who are ashamed of their “flaws” and afraid they will be rejected if they “complain.”

Hundreds of books are written by seeming wise and non-neurotic folks describing  the benefits of non-attachment, mindfulness and loving kindness, but the ones that helped me the most are those who were not ashamed to show their “baggage.”   I am grateful to the Pema Chodron’s and Jack Kornfield’s of the world who are advanced Buddhist practitioners, but revealed their broken hearts and childhood traumas.  Pema Chodron describes her confusion and despair about relationships before and during her practice.  Kornfield discusses the pain caused by his violent and harsh father, and how that informed his Buddhist practice. Tara Brach tells of her own and others’ lack of self-acceptance in her book Radical Acceptance. Their revelations gave me great hope that my own traumas could be transformed into  compassion  and even wisdom.

We all enter the spiritual path as ego-based beings, and as such we have ego-based hopes and fears. Practice is virtually never what we expect. We feel like we’ve got it all wrong, thinking, “The more I meditate, the worse I become.” My teacher, Gendun Rinpoche, always responded to this by saying, “When you see your own shortcomings, it’s the dawn of qualities. If you only see your qualities, there’s a problem.”

-Lama Tsony, “Facing Fear” from the magazine, Trycicle

Some people may think it is self-indulgent and self-centered to write blogs like this.  Oh well…. Others say I am “brave” to reveal my dark side, the character defects, the struggles.

I say it is terrible and sad that we must be “brave” to share about our vulnerabilities, our imperfections.   I say one of the reasons people heal in groups like AA is because they are finally “safe” enough to admit they hurt, that they have hurt others, that they are confused, that they feel lost and out of control, that the demon of craving and attachment has turned them into what Buddhists call, “hungry ghosts.”  Yet, the miracle is that when they face and admit those “shameful” things, they are finally on the way to being free of them.

So let the complaining continue!  My healing began 30 years ago when I first understood how much the story of alcoholism and violence affected my relationships with others and myself.   Equally important fo me was to discover  how many, many thousands of others were escaping the same battlefield.  I was not alone.  You are the audience I am writing for.  You, who hide behind masks of perfection.  You who thought you could find a way to make everything okay.  You who thought it was all your fault–or all their fault. You who lose your temper too easily, who are jealous and envious, judgmental and fearful.  My people!  You are my people!  And I think Buddha would say the same…

Okay, now I’m going to complain some more.  You have been warned….

Both my parents were alcoholics.  They did not like it when the kids complained because our unhappiness fueled their guilt which in turn increased their drinking.  There were rules my siblings and I understood all too well, one was:   “kids are not allowed to complain, only we can complain–we are the suffering adults.”  My brother and sister rarely, if ever, complained.  I did.  There was hell to pay, yet I never wised up:

I couldn’t seem to  acquiesce in the face of the frozen silent or not-so silent rages from a mother who had not gotten her way about something.

I showed I was upset when I found my father holding back my mother’s  knife-weilding hand.

I think I was unhappy about being  thrown  down the stairs because I had been crying too much.

I guess I showed alarm when I awoke in the middle of the night to hear  smashing plates on the kitchen floor.

I was not to complain about any of that.

Kids in alcoholic families are supposed to take care of everyone else, do the bidding of others because they were more important, or in greater pain, or more ill  than anyone else.  There is a Supreme Rule in such families:  Do whatever it takes to keep the alcoholic “happy” because if the addict is unhappy, everybody pays.    In fact, spend your life trying to make everyone happy and never asks yourself “what might I want?”  It seemed to me that by not obeying those rules, though believe me I tried, I was seen as the complainer, the problem, the reason mother had a migraine and father was passed out in the basement.

Hence the pushed button…BIG, pushed button…

I know I should be done,  free of childhood traumas and roles by now.  I know that it is unwise to keep the old stories running and not live in the present moment.   And that is why I turn to Buddhism which tells me– as I hope I am sharing  with you in all of these blogs–that loving-kindness and compassion are the fruits of mindful self-awareness, that I don’t have to be ashamed of,  or destroy or ignore my “unskillful” ways.  In fact, I cannot make progress if I disown my “bad” side.

I  write these blogs because I see a lot of people who are ashamed of their “dark” side, but the only problem is their lack of compassion for all the fear that generated the “ugly” stuff.

I write because don’t think I am the only one–even at my advanced age–who is still seeking wisdom, struggling to learn how to practice mindfulness, open-heartedness,  non-attachment.

I write about my demons in these blogs because I know if I face, name , investigate and learn to love even them, they will transform–and  so will yours.

I write imperfectly and may find later that I disagree with myself…but then, I’m still in Peoria and enlightenment is more than a bus ride away…

So, let’s everybody complain about how we can still get too attached, too greedy and selfish,  even mean sometimes—and let’s complain that it is hard to admit it; that we would rather hide behind our addictions to people, places and things than admit we are scared and controlled by our stories.  We are not so different.  We need not be perfect.

As we take the one seat and develop a meditative attention, the heart presents itself naturally for healing.  The grief we have carried for so long from pains and dashed expectations and hopes arises.  We grieve for our past traumas and present fears, for all the feelings we never dared experience consciously.

Somehow, in feeling our own pain and sorrow, our own ocean of tears, we come to know that ours is a shared pain and that the mystery and beauty and pain of life cannot be separated.  This universal pain, too , is part of our connection with one another, and in the face of it we cannot withhold our love any longer.

–Jack Kornfield,  A Path With Heart

Thank you for visiting my blog!

55 thoughts on “About

  1. ah sorry about that. I didn’t think my comment from April went through to your blog. I just saw your reply lol. Thanks!

  2. Hi Anda 🙂

    This is Jennifer who used to blog on freedomfromashes or fearasacompass. We had started our blog at the same time 🙂 I go by Tathina now and I no longer blog as you probably know, but I recently came out with a new website and I wanted to share it with you. It’s been a little while. Here is the link: http://tathina.weebly.com/ Thanks. Namaste.

    In Love,

  3. Hi Anda 🙂 It’s OrangeAnkh. As you probably know I don’t blog at fearasacompass anymore. Love your latest posts. They definitely resonate. I was looking for a contact box for you just to stop in and say hello. Namaste. 🙂

      1. Cu drag, Anda! 🙂 Copacul te asteapta cu ganduri bune si cu cate un exercitiu de recunostinta pentru fiecare zi! Daca iti plac gandurile Copacului, spune-le si altoram,s a se bucure si ei de ele! share if you like! 🙂

            1. How interesting! I never knew it was a common name in Romania. My parents were Latvian and that is the origin of my name. Lovely to hear from a follower in Romania!!

  4. Just discovered your writings – love them. Please continue to do so. And best to becoming realized.

    George Durakovich

      1. I also follow Pema and Hanh AND John Loori.

        Have you heard of John Loori?


        >________________________________ > From: Walks with Yogi >To: gdurakovich@yahoo.com >Sent: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 7:41 AM >Subject: [New comment] About > > > > WordPress.com >anda commented: “Thank you for reading my blogs, George! And thank you for your support in my journey.” >

          1. The reason I asked about Loori is, on the outside chance you didn’t know, he has a lot of lectures available on CD or DVD.   Most are for sale at his size mro.org but some show up for FREE at wzen.org as podcasts.   These pop from time to time but then are removed.   I am attaching one I downloaded, again, FREE which you may/may not like.  I you like it, I have a few more I can send you.

            FYI:  The lecture is playable on your computer but I use the free ‘itunes’ program to copy them to a CD then play them on my disk player.


            >________________________________ > From: Walks with Yogi >To: gdurakovich@yahoo.com >Sent: Sunday, May 5, 2013 7:34 PM >Subject: [New comment] About > > > > WordPress.com >anda commented: “Yes, George, I have read some of John Loori’s writing. Don’t recall what anymore, so I’ll have to check him out again.” >

            1. Thanks, George! There sure is a ton of stuff out there. I follow Tricycle magazine online and the feature all sorts of wonderful teachers. Sometimes I have to step back or I can overwhelm myself with reading/watching all of these.

  5. It is good to see a naked soul unafraid to express it as it is with her, and unafraid of writing essays as posts (i.e., not sound-bytes). Buddhism, for as long as I can remember, has been accused of cynicism and negativity. It is understood that way only because they don’t look deeply at it. Looking briefly at Christianity as a complete outsider, making an icon of a man tortured to death could seem barbaric. About siblings: the thing that stands out most for me is being told, “You take things too seriously.” (That was in response to an essay I wrote about a person under my charge in the military who killed himself.) I have not told him this, but that brother also takes things VERY seriously, including his opinion of me. He just takes seriously different things. As someone presently only beginning to return to mindfulness training and practice after many years away (and only a couple of years back then), I cherish writings like yours. There are so many, so I have to be selective about which ones to read. Yours share the wisdom found among great teachers, and put it together in a way that brings peace just to read it. I am blessed to be a follower of this blog. Thank you.

    1. Arion,

      Your reply to my blog moved me deeply. I am encouraged and inspired by you to continue writing walkswithyogi. I write most of these as essays (thank you for realizing that!) and hope to publish some of them in the future.

      Where are you from? Your last name sound Indian. Thank you again for your kind words!

      1. I’m American. The name came from Sanskrit meaning, basically, “student.” Arion is a Greek name … either for a mythical horse or a poet. I hitch my name-star to the poet.

        Write On!

  6. I found you through a kind comment you left on my blog. So far I’ve only read your About page and one post, but they were enough for me to start following you, especially when I read this:
    “You who thought you could find a way to make everything okay. You who thought it was all your fault–or all their fault. You who lose your temper too easily, who are jealous and envious, judgmental and fearful.”
    I pointed at myself and looked behind me, and then realized you were talking to me. Yup.

  7. Hi Anda! As you know, I have been reading your blog and I think highly of it. I find the ideals behind this blog inspiring and uplifting and worthy of an award that symbolizes these ideals. I have nominated you for the Liebster blog award given to blogs with less than 200 followers who deserve a little more recognition (although I have no idea how many followers you really have!).

    There are a few simple rules that go along with the award: they are as follows as passed down to me.

    1.Give a shout out to the blogger who nominated you by linking back to their blog.
    2. Nominate 5 other blogs that have less than 200 followers.
    3. Spread the good blog karma.
    Lastly, don’t forget to add the Liebster blog award image to your post.

    – Angela

    here is your nomination: http://ayearoflivingwisely.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/day-255-abundance/

    1. Angela, You are always so generous in your sharing ways for all of us to be heard. I thank you so much for reading and now nominating my blog. Now I will see if I can do the same for your very deserving blog!

  8. I finally had a moment to sit and read, I am amazed, mostly in awe. We are so close yet so far. What first had my attention is that we shared a similar interest in books ~ A Path With Heart, Jack Kornfield, and all of Pema Chodron. Your interest in (inaction or act of) ‘Mindfulness’. is something I have yet to achieve but attempt daily.

    Earlier this week I mentioned a book to you that I was waiting for in the mail, it never came so I purchased a used copy at Haslam’s. I hope to share it with you since you said, ” it didn’t sound familiar” Illusions~ The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah ~ Richard Bach. I will leave it for you when I am finished reading it.

    I have always been ashamed of my flaws, still am at 44 yrs old. I hate to complain, G-d forbid, I’d be moved from the #1 spot to the #2 spot in the ‘people pleasing’ category ~! In and out of AA since the year 1997 (3 months after my mother died and my children were ages 6 and 3).

    Your words are more than an inspiration. I am happy I asked you one evening, “have you published anything?” I look forward to reading and learning more from you. Thank you.

  9. namstey, /this is Amit from India, got to know about you and your blog after subscribing to globaloneTV.
    It is nice to pen your own life story and grow personally as well.I wish you all the best in your sadhana for enlightenment.
    i do blog and have http://yogadvait.wordpress.com as one blog and iamiternal.blogspot.com as the second one.
    You can also find me on face book as Amit Ashok Talekar, if u wish to be friends with me.
    love peace joy blessings…

  10. HIi,
    Have just spent the past few hours reading through your experiment from the begining. Thank you for writing this ….a great serendipitous find which has such resonance with facets of my own living with mindfulness.
    Best wishes to you from the southern tip of Africa.

  11. So happy to have stumbled across your site through a comment you posted at tricycle.com. Happy to have found you – please take a look at my blog too if you are so inclined!

    Namaste. 🙂

  12. Very inspirational and powerful blog you have! Definitely resonates and funny that we started our blogs around the same time. Thanks again for the add. Look forward to seeing more of your writings. : ) Namaste.

  13. I love that we are on similar paths. It’s great to know that you are not alone in what you are striving to achieve in life and in writing. Mind you, you have a lot more experience with the practice than I do so it will be interesting to see where our journeys meet and diverge.
    Good luck with it all!

  14. I subscribed. Thanks for your interesting, informative and lively blog. I find myself learning a lot as you share your path of Walks with Yogi.

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