Winter 2017 Newsletter

28 Nov 2016 11:14 PM | Tim Burnett (Administrator)

Winter 2017 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

A week after the election we had a "supermoon" - the moon as close as it's been to the earth since 1948 and an opportunity that will not be repeated until 2038. I read this was coming and several friends pointed it out with excitement. And I could feel the anticipation of seeing something special and maybe getting a great photo with my telephoto lens. A little excitement and a little desire arose in my heart.

But, not too unusually for the Northwest, it was rainy and cloudy - at least when I looked. So when my one glance didn’t reveal the full moon clear and unobscured, all I could really register was the disappointment of not seeing what I'd wanted.

For so many of us since the election, we've been thinking and feeling in all kinds of ways about the unexpected results.

The full disclosure here is I'm on the liberal side of the equation, but I hope these reflections are useful for my friends on the conservative side. And the minute I write that I'm aware of how limited and narrow is it to think that there are just two kinds of people in our country.  I remind myself that people have all kinds of reasons for choosing to vote for one candidate or the other, or choosing not to vote at all.

Another full disclosure: for week after the election I found it really hard to keep up my daily practice. I skipped several days figuring I'd be sitting with others in mindfulness classes or at the Zen center. Which is true enough but it doesn't serve the same essential purpose as sitting quietly at home in the morning does for me.

The next morning after the "failed" supermoon viewing, however, I was up early and went out to my backyard mediation hut to practice.

I'd felt literally a bit ill in the body - queazy, low energy. And I'd felt a bit sick at heart. It's been hard to really show up for life. There have been challenging conversations in classes and at home, trying to make sense of what's happening and trying to be helpful as others do the same. Sometimes trying a little too hard to reassure others. Other times feeling shut down and not wanting to engage. Wanting to hope that everything is okay sometimes. Other times batting down the wisps of despair that everything is very much NOT okay (and again this paralyzing belief in there only being two possibilities).

And then that morning on the way to my practice hut, I noticed the supermoon. There is was, hanging just above the horizon to the northwest, on it's way down for the day. I saw it through the trees and in the clouds. I could just make out some of the details of the lunar surface, the rest a glowing white orb.

And I stopped so I could really saw the supermoon just as it was showing itself at just this particular moment. Not what I had wanted in my mind, true. And incredibly beautiful and just as it is, also true.

I've heard people (mostly those within my liberal-leaning circles) talking like the election signals the beginning of dark days. We'll have to be strong. We need to mobilize. So much to do. Anger and frustration needs to be channeled and used. I've heard doubts about peacefulness too: we don't want to chill out too much, we need that hard edge to be strong, to be motivated, to show up.

But of course the America of Monday the 7th was, more or less, the same America that voted the way it did on Tuesday the 8th. Either the dark days have been with us for a long time or it's not quite right to say the days are suddenly dark.

The days are dark and light. The moon is clear sometimes, obscured by clouds other times. It's still the moon. This is still our beautiful, diverse, strong country. Part of the liberal ethos is to be a little suspicious of "loving our country" - that could be code for a certain kind of narrow minded, potentially violent, nationalism.  And I guess it can be.

But maybe it's time for all of us, no matter what our particular kaleidoscope of views is, to learn how to really love our country. What is our country after all but the lands and peoples that live in it? Are living in it right now.

It's time to learn the effective and clear way to love everyone. That's what I hope our mindfulness and compassion practices will support us in doing. I think we need a much bigger vision than "enduring dark times."

Will sitting on the cushion and bringing our attention back to our breathing with kindness solve any of the big issues people are worrying about? Not exactly, not directly. But it can help us find a stronger ground to stand on to do our work of love. If there's anger, we can find ways to include that reality with honesty and with kindness. If there's fear - the same, but spilling our anger and fear out into the world only adds to our troubles.

My secret hope from the surprise (or even shock) of this national election we will all be moved to find our own particular way to express and contribute to our hopes for the future. Whether that's renewing our attention to the quiet helping we're already doing at work or at home, or whether it expresses as overt activism.  And I hope that somehow the insights of our practice will help us not fall into the usual binary traps. Us or them. Good or bad. In reality, it’s a mix. It's an unbelievably rich mix, and none of us can know the whole story.

So I can understand if you voted for Mr. Trump. I really can. I want to know your reasons and I want to be in dialog and I hope even as you support the changes you hope for in making that choice we'll all join together to resist the anti-love expressions of misogyny and racism that also emerged in his campaign.

It's time to be strong and loving. And this isn't new. It's always been true. Maybe this month we all received a big wake up to that ongoing reality regardless of how we voted or didn't vote.

Wishing us all a deep awareness of gratitude,


New offerings

Mindful Self-Compassion 5-Day Intensive (Tacoma) - May 7-12 at Dumas Bay. Most of the 8-week course material in 5 days in a beautiful setting. Easy access from Seattle, Tacoma and for fly-in participants. Tim is thrilled to be working Michelle Becker to offer this training. Michelle is an MSC teacher trainer and national leader in this field.

Mindful Relationships (Seattle) - try out the a one evening workshop and consider the 5-session class for couples. Designed by MNW staff teacher Richard Johnsonand his wife Teresa Johnson.

Taking the Path of Mindfulness (Bellingham) - A gentle, but thorough, introduction to mindfulness practice. 

Information on these and the classes and retreat below can be found on our site:
Mindfulness Northwest Events

Introductory Events

For the Bellingham Community: New Year's Resolutions: a mindfulness event at Village Books on Saturday, January 7th.

For Seattle-area Health Care Professionals: Meeting Mindfulness - an Introductory Retreat on Sunday, January 8th. Sponsored by Washington Physician's Health Program

Upcoming Classes

Seattle Classes

Bellingham Classes

Coming soon: additional courses for Bellingham-area physicians.

Upcoming Retreats

A Day of Mindfulness in Seattle - March 4

Winter Retreat Day (Semiahmoo) - March 12

Spring Weekend Retreat (Samish) - April 7-9

Meeting Mindfulness with the Whole-U (Seattle) - April 22

Mindful Self-Compassion Intensive (Tacoma) - May 7-12

Suggested Resources

Mindfulness Northwest Staff News

Jackie Wolfe will be leaving Mindfulness Northwest as our COO beginning December 1st to return to her own Human Resources consulting and training business where she’s spent most her career.  She will be doing executive level and leadership coaching, training and facilitating workshops and organizational development work.  We are excited for her in this new journey and look forward to supporting her as she grows in this role.

Jackie has accomplished much with us in the last 18 months. We are an improved organization because of her leadership, knowledge, dedication. I feel a great deal of gratitude both for what she has done and the support she has given to me through this phase in of our organization’s growth.  She will be missed, but we are happy for her and are not saying goodbye completely as she'll still be connected with the Mindfulness Northwest family in multiple ways.

Jackie will retain her work email of for the time being if you'd like to send her a note to wish her well. Thank you, Jackie and best of luck!

We're happy to announce that Ed Wayt has been promoted from Administrative Assistant to Office Manager. This promotion better reflects the steadily higher levels of responsibilities that Ed has taken on, and the quality of work that have made the day-to-day workings of our Bellingham office run so much more smoothly. Along with the promotion, Ed will be working longer hours which will help us be much more responsive to your requests. If you have a question or need support with a class registration or other matters he's available to speak with you live most weekday mornings (especially Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays from 9am to noon) using our office number 360-830-6439 or email And if you see Ed helping at registration at our retreats and special events, do say hello.

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