Besides reading a few books over the years, I was first exposed to Buddhism twenty years ago. I was in a transition period of my life, leaving a relationship and moving to a new town. One of my main goals was to find a spiritual community. I felt this was lacking in my life and felt a strong pull to make a change. I found a place called the Spiritual Awareness Community (SAC) through a local weekly paper. I guess you could call them a new-age church. They brought in different speakers weekly, and the focus for the week could be Native American spirituality, Christianity, Abraham Hicks, New Thought, Unity or others. Periodically, Michael Stevens gave Buddhist teachings at SAC.
Yeah. Yeah, so when I was out in the boonies, excuse me, I, uh, I don’t know, I just came to me. I had to find a spiritual community and it wasn’t like, I don’t even remember anything that incited that, but it was just I just felt that I needed that. And so I was actually looking in, uh, we had this little weekly paper called the source and I was looking in there and I saw that there was this place, the spiritual awareness community, and that sounded interesting to me. So it was I started going there, actually. Um, I I first went there before I even moved to band from outside of sisters, and I started going there and I ended up just seemed like a good fit at the time. And I so I would go every week and they every week they would have a different speaker. There was no minister or anything like that. And kind of the the overall theme you could say, maybe new age. Um, but they would have like a Native American speaker and maybe there’d be a Christian speaker or there was a Muslim speaker. So a wide variety of speakers. And Michael Stephens of the Dharma Center, the natural mind Dharma Center, was usually about once a month. He would speak there, so I was introduced to him early on, and that’s the group the spiritual awareness community met in this. They called it the Old Stone Church. So it’s this big. I think it was a um, it was a Christian church. I forget exactly which. Which type of Christianity, but. So this new age places in this Christian church with Jesus on the stained glass and then turns out the Dharma Center was upstairs in this attic spaces a little tiny space. And he was running the Dharma Center out of that space. And so I was introduced to him through him, giving these talks at Spurs awareness community. And that went on. I was actually in that community for five years and I was on the board and I was president of the board for a while, so very involved with the spiritual awareness community. And then one thing about it? Well, there were two things. Well, the same thing was, I guess, two things. So the fact that there were so many speakers was great because I got introduced to a lot of things, a lot of different styles of of presenting spirituality. And that was actually a problem, too, because you just get these little bits, you know, and there you never go deep. And so after about five years, I just felt like I was I was done and I needed something more. Something where I could actually dig in and go deep. And so my my partner and I, my partner, Elise and I decided at that time that we were going to go on this quest to find the right place to to be and to do a spiritual practice. So since the Dharma Center was right upstairs, we said, Well, that’s where we’ll start. We’ll go there. And. And ended up I never left, so Lisa ended up moving on, but so I’ve actually been working with Michael for since 2000 2005, so just about 15 years now. Yeah. And. Yeah, it’s been quite a journey because the Dharma Center then moved from there and has its own space and um. Yeah, it’s been a great journey. So as besides the convenience factor. Yeah. What were some of the. And besides the fact that, you know, you put a reference was, you know, the other school traditions you didn’t feel like. If there was definite death in the way that you explore, right, still go to some of the traditional exposed to right. So what are some of the things that as you got in, Mr. Michael made you feel more committed to this practice in terms of having sort of having a lot of pointed references from the other tradition. And that’s that’s is still you that you felt like, OK, my commitment. What was what was the turning point that you felt like, you know what, I am ready to commit really takes? And what were the qualities that they gave you that confidence to commit to distribution compared to besides the fact that, yeah, what was it? Because, oh, I think the practice practiced traditional. What is it that made you sort of be hooked into Buddhism at that point? Yeah. Well, I would say the thing that hooked me was Michael originally. Yeah, because his his talks were so they seem so practical and so, you know, relatable about. Really, he every time he speaks, he’s basically saying the same thing, which is get over yourself. Right? So. But he fills that out and all sorts of ways, but it just seems so much more practical than some of the other things. Which seemed I actually recognize that that in and a lot of the other practices and actually none of them, I heard, none of them say the piece that was missing for me, which was voted Chitter, which is the heart line of compassion. So you mean you would think you would hear that, but. But it always seemed to be more self focused for some reason than. And the Buddhism really took it to a level where it’s not just about yourself, it’s about everybody. And I really connected with that. And when I when I went into the space at first, so I’m going up this staircase up to this room when I first started going and there were all these Tonka paintings on the wall because of savagery on Buddhism. And there’s all these images and some of them are wild looking. And I was actually kind of turned off by that. I was thinking that as a person, I resonated more with the Zen style and minimalist style. So I said, Well, I’ll just hang in here and see what happens because I did appreciate it, Michaels talks. And I also I really liked the chanting, too, because it was something that I found. Changed how I felt. The chanting actually was felt stabilizing and grounding to me, just the process of doing that, so between the chanting and Michael’s practical talks about. You know, just the. Ways that we get hooked, so we get we get hooked on our emotions, we get hooked on our thoughts and we swirl around and. That if you if you learn to work with that through practice, that it will change your life. And I said, OK, well, this sounds good. You know it really. I really love the fact that there was something you could do. And none of the other people that came and talk said, OK. Every day you can sit down and do something that will change your life. That was so direct. So that was a huge thing for me.
Of course, there’s there’s a song that Michael teaches, so there’s a place I go and I actually go there three times a week so that in and of itself is touching in and it’s a consistency that’s very important. Um, human thing is the right that everybody struggles. And often it’s it’s really helpful to have people that have the same perspective on how to approach things. And there are a lot of people in my life who are not part of the Sangha, and there’s certain things that I wouldn’t talk with them about because they wouldn’t get what I’m saying and it wouldn’t make any sense. So it’s it’s really helpful to have people that are doing the same practice and understand. And it just gives you a real. Sense of security in a way. You know, security. Um, there’s a joy, you know, we can all laugh together, sometimes we all cry together and that’s, you know, it’s profound really, to have that with such a strong, um, shared experience. You know that we’re just completely committed to not everybody that comes. But a lot of the people. Yeah.
The way Michael says a slap, the way you can tell the fruit of your practice is by what’s showing up in your life and particularly how your relationships are going. And that was became very obvious that it was helpful because I would in a kind of my standard way, particularly with people that were closest, which is funny how that works. But um, if if I was upset, I would blame the other person. Surely it’s their fault because I’m perfect, right? So I found that through the practice, I was able to see it a different way and see that it was. two people coming together and bringing their own perspectives that just weren’t matching up and and to try to understand where the other person was coming from and also understand where I was coming from. And I can always shift myself. Well, I try to anyway, but it doesn’t ever seem to work to try to make somebody else change. So, um. So that’s been probably the biggest the obvious fruit of the practices is that. That I don’t get upset at someone so much, and if I do, I can sit with it and work through it. And I also see that my. View of the world is what is coming back at me. And so if I can calm that down and be more loving and more kind. It’s just. That’s how my life is now. It doesn’t always work, but but, uh, it’s a wonderful thing. Yeah, it’s a um, I feel incredibly blessed by the Dharma and by Michael and by the the Sangha, the people that that share the the path with me. Wow.
I haven’t explored a lot of other teachers in Buddhism, really. Um. It’s funny because I would say, you know, when I first came there and saw the tankers, I was a little put off by them, as I had said. And I think that through sticking with it, I realized that actually it is what I mean. You know that it is the the style and kind of the way it. Michael, we’ll talk about the bank sangalang or this or that, and I think it does, you know, it shook me out of kind of my way of doing things and I and and I think it was good that way because if, let’s say I had gone the Zen route, I think it would have been just reinforcing some of my bad habits, whereas this being kind of out of my my natural way, actually, I think it was helpful. So it kind of shook me up and got me to look at things differently. And I and I say it still does that. It’s such a rich tradition, and I’m sure, you know, all the other forms of Buddhism are as well, but. I have this always amazed like, wow, this is it’s kind of cool. It’s there’s just wild stuff, which some of the wild imagery in the wild stories I used to just pooh pooh. You know, this is what’s this? This is just some kind of. You know, like 20 year old stuff that doesn’t relate to anything, and then I, you know, after actually quite a long time, I realize that, well, it’s actually. Maybe more metaphorical or maybe things just don’t work the way I think they do. And there’s some magic to it. And maybe that’s not the right word, but from my kind of ordinary. When I used to view things and even a scientific standpoint, I have, I have the schooling, I went and got a degree in zoology college. And so, you know, a lot of the mystical stories and things, I would just pooh pooh this kind of fable, and maybe that’s true, but maybe it’s not, you know, I’m not so sure anymore, and I I like just being in the unknown, which I really did not like before. So I think there’s something about the the particular practice, you know, the tradition that I’m in, that that has gotten me to that place, which is actually. It’s a great place to be. I find, because it leaves open all possibilities. So you’re not the scientific world. At least some of my friends are coming from that. They seem to be always limiting because you can only you can only study what you can test, what you can see and. You know, I don’t know, there’s a lot of things that happen that are pretty magical. I just even though I still believe in science and I think it’s it’s very helpful. And I go to the doctor and all that stuff. I like the like the kind of magic of it all.
Well, there’s there’s a couple of times where I’ve had kind of unusual experiences, and it’s funny because Michael Lewis calls them jobs, which is just like, well, he’ll say like a fart or something. So and I can recognize us now the thinking they were special, but really, it’s just calming the mind and it just changes house. You know, I see things um, and I’m not, you know, I don’t spend enough time, I think really being. You know, just sitting and being with that to have a lot of those experiences. But it shows me that what I see is not all of this going on. There’s other stuff going on that I don’t see. And again, you know, that kind of comes back to the magic. Um, and. A lot of it has. It just seems like a lot of kind of the ordinary way of being. But, you know, before Buddhism is still, you know, is that the mind is just chattering all the time. Right? And so you’re not really aware of what’s going on. So if you can actually calm that down, it really does. Change your experience.
Yeah, there’s little the student, the student teacher is mean it kind of makes me laugh because I think the. There’s so much that we project on a teacher, and it’s a boy, it’s it’s it’s challenging and I would say with. And that’s a good thing, you know, right, it challenges us or me. Um, and I think the. When I just think of my, you know, my experience of being with Michael as a teacher, um, at first it was kind of, you know, intellectual. It’s like, Well, I like what he’s saying, you know, this makes sense. This is good. And then, you know, after I had been at it for a while, he would annoy me, which I think, you know, Michael even say this, you know, if I don’t, his teacher or one of his teachers said, You know, if you don’t , if I don’t get annoyed with equal zeal, that and let’s see if you don’t love me if I don’t remember exactly this moment, basically, you get as annoyed as you are attracted to, you know or appreciate the the teacher, then then it’s not working, right? So. So there have been points in where we have gotten really annoyed with Michael, but the interesting thing is that, you know, I say I got to leave, I can’t take it. You know, as I ran around and I don’t, I’m not going to give a specific example. This is just, you know, I was annoyed with something you said or, you know, how can you do this or that? And looking back on it, it’s it’s just it’s funny because of pointing out, you know, it was really pointed out where I was stuck. Um, but it also points out to me that it’s nothing arises independently. You know, it’s all polarizing. So the. You know, maybe he was doing annoying things and maybe he shifted to me, so he he wanted to do things differently. I can never know because I I have my perspective on things. But having a commitment to a teacher is really a great career rising, I would say, because whatever is coming up, there will be times you get supported, there will be times you get annoyed and there’s something that gets you to stick with it because you just know that, yeah, this is this is really valuable to have this relationship and I’m not going to throw it out and I’m going to work with it. And. Yeah, it’s amazing. I mean, I think that if you. If you want to, you know, be a better person or, you know, be more skillful, be more loving, more kind . You just commit to it. And I think the teacher will show up. I think the teacher will show up and the teacher shows up, not just as a formal teacher, the teacher shows up everywhere and. You just have to be open to it. Yeah. Yes.
Well, actually, I think it’d be good to go back to when she moved up here because at first it was really it was hard, it was really hard for me. I was really challenged by her being here and I know it was really hard for her. It was hard to get her to move up here. She loves her and loved her dependance. And what? I had no idea how hard it would be because I had all these expectations that bring my mom up here and help her out and get to know her better and talk to her more. And she’s a very private person and it didn’t work out that way at all. You know, she didn’t want any help. She didn’t want to talk about her feelings, even like when she was upset. one time she just closed her door right in my face because she couldn’t. She couldn’t deal with it, and I didn’t understand that at the time. And through. It’s true, my practice in being. Being with my mom, I was able to see that that I had all these things in my head about how this was supposed to go. And it was never going to fit into that. And. There is so much suffering, I think, created by both my mom and I of what how we wanted it to go and not having the tools to. To work through it together. Or to figure out how to change it. And it was it was funny because, you know, this went on in various degrees and its shift over time, but I had this friend asked me recently, she said, Well, I noticed with your mom that you were you were having. It was hard for you. It was really hard for you. And then at one point it just shifted. And you know what? What happened was that the Buddhist stuff or what? And what happened was this shifting my mind? And I was able to self-reflect through all the practice I had done at that point and see that. There were a lot of things I didn’t like about. How our relationship, my relationship with my mom and I was challenged by them. So I just ask myself, Well, would you want her not to live with you? Because really, that’s a choice. You know, it was a choice. And would you want her to move into a home? Would you want her to move out on her own? Would you want to try to send her off to your brother? And when I actually was able to ask myself those questions, I said, no, I want her here and I want to work through this. And it really did shifted and I think it was, you know, through all the practice and through all the teachings that allowed me to see that I was just holding in a certain way and making it really hard on myself. So that was a huge shift. And I’m glad that happened before she passed away. And then at the point where so we, you know, we did reasonably well after that. Well, and then at the point where she was passing away so much of Buddhism, it’s about empowering impermanence and change and even death. And the Tibetan Book of the Dead and all that. And that made it just so much easier to be present for her just to be there and not be saying, Oh, this is horrible, or don’t go or any other things that I could have been saying is this this is a part of life. And I’m just going to be there and love my mom and I, you know, I can just add and feel my heart opening up. And it was really profound. To be. Be here with her. At that at that time. Yeah. Um. I would say being one of the one of the issues that I struggle with and clearly my mom struggled with was letting people help or even asking for help. And. When when mom was. Getting near the end she was needing helped to take a shower to get, you know, get up and get around, that was new for her. And it was clearly going to be too much for me. And and I was able to say, OK, I’m going to let help come. You know, I’m just going to say yes and say yes when people offer help. And again, I really think the practice helped me be able to say that, you know, be able to say yes to people wanting to help because. If I feel like my my perspective, we’re all in this together and the like, you know, giving help the other person receives being a receiver isn’t as important as being the helper. Right? And so through the practice, I think it helped me realize that and through my mom being challenged physically, I just realized I couldn’t do it so. Being able to say yes to the health and there were wonderful people that came into our lives and the hospice people were incredible and very sweet and, you know, friends being bringing food and. And Michael came here to be with us and mom a couple of times and it just.
Well, it’s funny, of course, you know, part of my personality, so I’ve got my perfectionist kind of obsessive, I suppose. So again, well, this is something Michael says is that we do our practice from our personality fixation when we start. Right. So so I’m all in. I’m going to do this thing, right? So, um, the funny thing is that even when you’re doing it from your personality fixation and you’re doing, you know, whatever obsessive thing that you’re doing around your practice, trying to get over your obsessiveness and you’re being obsessive about it, there is a, you know , pretty funny. But. Just through doing the practice, things start to change. So you start to notice that life is different and it’s better, um, and then maybe one day you kind of do. Kind of a half assed job on your practice or you don’t do it or do you know, five minutes instead of an hour? And you feel off all day, you’re OK, this does make a difference. And this, you know, over time doing it, and it just. A lot of people talk about this in our songs. They’ll say, you know, I have these questions and they’re all about life for the Dharma. And they they say, then I do my practice. And then just answered. And I, you know, it’s it’s amazing how often that’s happened for me where just through the practice and I think there’s something about the physical aspect of it too that I know I’ve had people ask me, they say, Well, you know, this is. We’re not supposed to be attached to anything, right, so should we even go to the gym or should we even take care of our body? Should we even worry about it? And, well, we’ve got a body, so yeah, we should take care of it. I think that’s important and I think, you know, the practices use the energetics of the body to help us shift our. Our way of approaching things, you know, shifts our energetic so prostration is really make a difference, I can tell. You know, it just makes me feel different. So that would be the most physical thing, and it is quite physical. It really is. So, um, but yeah, it’s just it’s like the deeper you get in, the harder it is to get out there. You know, there’s a saying that says, don’t don’t start, don’t start the practice unless you intend to finish. And there’s another version of that. It’s it’s just like eating a porcupine. So don’t start the practice unless you tend to finish because those spikes are going, you know, if you’re trying to eat a porcupine. But it does. I mean, it just hooks you in. And when you when you, for whatever reason, it could be an emergency, you have to go take care of or something if you don’t do your normal practice and just go, Wow, yeah. This is different. Yeah, it’s it’s life changing in.
Yeah, I would say just relax, it’s a fence on your personality, because some people probably need to not relax, but a lot of people I’ve talked to they they just get all wrapped up and overwhelmed by how much there is, how much there is to learn how many different styles there are. There’s a lot of different books, and some of them that were written a long time ago specifically for monks are pretty off-putting to the Western mind. Talking about the hell realms and different Helme realms and that was pretty off-putting to me at first, and I would say, just don’t worry about it. You know, there’s. Another saying is the Buddha taught 84,000 different ways, and I think you have to take that as as not everybody learns the same. Um, people approach it in different ways and just just to be. Do what you can and start. I would recommend starting with a little bit. You can do. That’s consistent. So rather than. Being obsessive like myself, I would say, um, you know, if you can, if you can just practice for five minutes a day, then that’s great. You know, you can start there. And even if you’ve got this giant new drove practice you want to do. There are ways to. There are ways to make it a little bit shorter or faster, so it’s not overwhelming. And I think it’s important to know that’s OK, it’s OK to do that. Yeah. And at least I mean, there may be traditions that say that’s not OK, but I find one that says that is OK because, you know, we’re we’re individuals and we’re we’re coming to this practice with different life experiences. And sometimes, um, you know, it can just be put off by one thing and and you’re missing out on an incredible teaching. And there’s so many different ways to get into it. I would also say it was really helpful to have the saga to have other people who. Who have experience, and they can help out not to say you can’t do it on your own, but it is helpful to have a group to be with. You know, it’s this whole that goes against various.
I was with SAC for five years and was on the Board of Directors for most of that time. Like many organizations, there were benefits and plenty of challenges. By the end of my time at SAC, I was looking for more consistency and depth. The different weekly speaker format was great for exposure to different takes on spirituality but left me feeling stuck in the shallows. My partner, Lisa, and I decided to go on a quest to find a spiritual-home and decided to start at the Natural Mind Dharma Center with Michael Stevens (which happened to be upstairs in the same building as SAC). I had really resonated with Michael’s teachings at SAC, so it seemed like a good place to start, and, as it turned out, I never left. Lisa did not stay with the Dharma Center but is committed to her own practice. She and I grow on our different paths through conversation and shared life experience.
I must admit that when I first walked in the Dharma Center, I was a bit surprised by the Deity images on the wall. Michael’s teachings seemed so practical and straightforward and these images seemed foreign and a bit off-putting. I wasn’t sure if I believed in God, at least not in the traditional Christian sense, and this place seemed to have gods all over the walls. Was I supposed to pray to all these images? I guess I had a more austere Zen-like image of Buddhism in my mind. “Oh well, I like Michael and can hang around for a while and see what happens.”
One of the main draws of the Dharma for me, besides the practical messages about calming the mind and changing one’s unhelpful habits, was the daily practices to be done at home. Other spiritual organizations I attended gave weekly presentations, often on Sunday, some one-time workshops and not much else. Finally, here was an opportunity to dive into the deep end.
Which sangha do you normally attend. Please describe how the role of the sangha has supported/inspired your practice.
I attend the Natural Mind Dharma Center in Bend, Oregon. I have been attending this center for almost fifteen years and have known the teacher, Michael, for twenty. There is something quite beautiful and inspirational when a whole room chants a mantra together in unison. At times each of us gets challenged and it is helpful to share your experience with someone who is on the same path. There is something that hooked me into the Dharma when I started to practice with devotion. Even when I get annoyed with someone at the center, sticking with it and working it out seems like the only choice. Giving up on the Dharma is not an option, as the Dharma has been too valuable in improving my life. And it seems from the feedback I receive that my practice has changed me for the better over time.
I also have a lapis lazuli mala for Medicine Buddha and a bone mala for wrathful practice.
How has the path manifest in your daily experience?
My life is now filled with joy and appreciation and is much less stressful than it used to be, and I owe much of this to the Dharma. I have tools that calm my mind, bring out the positive and help me take the focus off myself and my perceived problems. In the past, I would often blame someone else or a situation if I was having a hard time. I now see how my point of view flavors everything I see and do. I am projecting my habits of mind on everything. One of my stickier habits has been to want someone else to be different. By easing up on this desire, I have learned to laugh at myself and to flow with the beauty of situations and of people just the way they are. I am certainly not perfect at this but continue to improve.
When I was younger, I was a perfectionist. I believed there is one perfect way to do any given task, and I needed to try and achieve that perfect way. Through the Buddhist teachings and reflecting on my way of being in the world, I have been able to relax much more and just let people be who they are, not trying to fix everybody or every situation. As Michael says, “The person trying to fix the problem is the problem.” I like to bring to mind the line from the Medicine Buddha practice of our lineage, “All phenomena are perfect from the beginning.” This calms my mind and helps ease my desire to ‘fix’ things.
One of my greatest teachers was my mom. She lived with my partner and I for eleven years and just passed away recently. After many years of trying too hard to make things better for her according to my ideal of better, I started to work at letting things be. It was funny how much friction was caused by my trying to have things go a certain way. It annoyed my mom and was very stressful for my partner and me. I attribute the change in myself to the Buddhist teachings I received and the practice I have done over the years.
Another lesson from Mom was letting people help me out. I tried to do everything myself regarding helping my mom and for the most part I was able to pull it off. Towards the end of my mom’s life, her capacity to do things for herself changed dramatically and I realized that I needed help. When Hospice showed up, I decided that I was going to start saying ‘yes’ when people asked if I needed help. What a profound change for me. I could tell that when people were helping, they were getting a lot out of it too. How long I had pushed away help not allowing the space for others to experience the joy of giving.
"All phenomena are perfect from the beginning.” This calms my mind and helps ease my desire to ‘fix’ things.
If you explore other lineages within buddhism, how did you come to decide on which lineage was right for you?
Except for reading books written by teachers in other lineages, I have stayed with Vajrayana Buddhism in the Nyingma lineage. I didn’t actively decide on this lineage, I just took advantage of an opportunity that was close at hand. My primary teacher is Michael Stevens from the Natural Mind Dharma Center in Bend, Oregon. I feel very grateful to have a Dharma center in my hometown. Michael is currently supported in his practice by Lama Rinchen who has centers in Nepal, St. Louis and Santa Fe. Lama Rinchen comes to Bend to do teachings on a regular basis often once per year. Michael’s root teacher was Khenchen Palden who passed away in 2010. Both Lama Rinchen and Khenchen Palden were born in Tibet and studied with Dudjom Rinpoche. Michael has the biggest influence on my practice as I resonate with his teachings (which I hear two times a week), and I meet with him regarding my duties as treasurer and email manager of the Dharma Center and as a friend. I appreciate the fact that he is not only trained as a Buddhist teacher but also trained as a Methodist minister. Since Christianity is such a large part of our culture, Michael’s knowledge helps him understand our hang-ups and bring teachings in a way that are relatable to the American mind. At first, I was put off by the deity images of Vajrayana Buddhism. Now I realize that the imagery and the chanting of Tibetan Buddhism work well for me. The practice of visualization and chanting of mantras gives my busy mind something positive to do.
What are some of your practices/rituals that you do to support your spiritual development (meditation/prayers and etc)
The Düdjom Tersar Ngöndro has been my main practice over the years. This practice consists of chanting mantras and generating visualizations and then dissolving them and resting in silent meditation. The Ngöndro practice is an anchor for me and I do it every morning. There have been times where felt I was getting sick or just felt off and by the time I finished my morning practice, I was feeling good again. I appreciate the ancient technology of the mala which I use to keep track of my mantras. It is simple, beautiful and doesn’t lose count. You feel your progress as you make your way around the mala. I suppose there might be some apps for your phone now that will do a nice job of keeping track, but I am sticking with the mala. Ritual items are not emphasized at our center, so I have not used them much. I have a prayer wheel that I use periodically while chanting the Chenrezig mantra. I also have a lapis lazuli mala for Medicine Buddha and a bone mala for wrathful practice. Currently I am doing lama, yidam and dakini practices in addition to the Ngöndro practice. Besides my morning practice, I take time in the evenings to practice before I go to bed.
What is your primarily profession?
At this point, the Dharma infuses everything I do. I volunteer as treasurer and email manager for the Dharma Center and co-lead a Saturday morning Ngöndro practice there. My primary profession was in the bicycle industry and for a long time riding my bicycle was like a spiritual practice to me. It gave me a sense of space and of connection to the moment and to things around me. Cycling still feeds me in this way. I am semi-retired now and besides volunteering, I help take care of rental properties my partner and I own.
Do you think your personality or background influence the lineage/practices that resonate with you?
I have always been a visual person and the fact that imagery and visualization are a big part of the Nyingma lineage of Vajrayana Buddhism works well for me and keeps me inspired. I also love the fact that most of the senses are engaged through incense, imagery, the touch of the mala, and the sound of the mantra. I tend to be in my head too much and having all the “bang shang-a-lang” (as Michael would say) of the Nyingma lineage gets me out of my head and into the moment.