all of life is yoga, cushion to community, dharma, for real: living the lessons, meditation, mindfulness, practice, recycled + repurposed, sangha, toward wholeness

wisdom files

This is a living “library” comprised of suggested readings for Sangha and the frequently-referenced texts used in our practice, which I have also linked throughout my various writings over the years. It is certainly not intended to be comprehensive.

Rather it reflects my personal approach to this spiritual path of study and practice — informing what I teach and how I facilitate the rich conversations that support our learning and growing together as a spiritual community.


Foundational Wisdom Teachings

3 Jewels/3 Refuges: The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

The Three Jewels | Buddha 101
Taking Refuge | Plum Village
The Three Refuges (Audio) | Plum Village

4 Noble Truths: There is Suffering, There are Causes of Suffering, There is an End of Suffering, The Noble Path is the End of Suffering

The Buddha’s Four Noble Truths | Sylvia Boorstein
True Love + the 4 Noble Truths | Thich Nhat Hanh
What Are the 4 Noble Truths? | Melvin McLeod

4 Foundations of Mindfulness: Contemplation of Body, Contemplation of Feeling, Contemplation of Consciousness, Contemplation of Mental Objects

Embodied Practice: 4 Foundations of Mindfulness | 3 Jewels Yoga
~ Transformation and Healing: Sutra on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness | Thich Nhat Hanh

5 Mindfulness Trainings: Reverence for Life, True Happiness, True Love, Loving Speech + Deep Listening, Nourishment + Healing

5 Mindfulness Trainings | Plum Village
~ For A Future To Be Possible | Thich Nhat Hanh
       ~2 versions: Commentaries on the 5 Mindfulness Trainings [1993]
                            Buddhist Ethics in Everyday Life [2007]

5 Spiritual Faculties: Trust, Wisdom, Mindfulness, Concentration, Diligence
Perspectives on the 5 Spiritual Faculties | 3 Jewels Yoga

8-Fold Path: Skillful Understanding, Skillful Intent, Skillful Speech, Skillful Action, Skillful Livelihood, Skillful Effort, Skillful Mindfulness, and Skillful Concentration
I have a particular fondness for the use of the word “skillful”  here; various translations of the Buddhist Canon also describe these eight  practices of the “Middle Way” as “right” or “wise.”

~ The Eightfold Path | Buddha 101
~ The Way to End Suffering | Bhikku Bodhi
~ Discourse on the Middle Way | Plum Village
~ Beyond the Self: Teachings on the Middle Way | Thich Nhat Hanh

The Dhammapada

~ Annotated + Explained | Max Müller + Jack Maguire
Access to Insight
~ Gil Frondsal

Insights on Practice + Study

On Sangha + Spiritual Friendship

~ Creating Inclusive + Welcoming Buddhist Sanghas in the U.S. |      Mushim Patricia Ikeda
The Fertile Soil of Sangha | Thich Nhat Hanh
Gathered + Rooted | 3 Jewels Yoga
Good Spiritual Friends | 3 Jewels Yoga
The Sangha Without Thich Nhat Hanh | Matt Gesicki
The Suchness of Sangha | 3 Jewels Yoga

Works by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

Tell Me Something About Buddhism

Works by Thich Nhat Hanh

Breathe, You Are Alive!
Friends on the Path: Living Spiritual Communities
Living Buddha, Living Christ
Zen Battles: Modern Commentary on the Teachings of Master Linji
[alternate title: Nothing To Do, Nowhere To Go]

Related Eastern Wisdom Teachings

Bhagavad Gita
~ Annotated + Explained | Shri Purohit Swami + Kendra Crossen Burroughs
Stephen Mitchell

Tao Te Ching
Annotated + Explained | Derek Lin
Stephen Mitchell

Toward Wholeness Reading History

From Sangha’s immersion series on the intersections of spirituality, identity — ability, race, culture, gender, sexuality — and embodied awareness.

3 Jewels Yoga Sangha
Body As Nature Series

Buddhist Peace Fellowship
Gender Dysphoria and The Dharma
White Privilege + the Mindfulness Movement

Everyday Feminism
9 Ways We Can Make Social Justice Movements Less Elitist + More Accessible
I’m Not a Person with a Disability. I’m a Disabled Person.

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel
I Can Breathe: A Meditation Surviving Acts of Hatred
The Way of Tenderness

Relevant Magazine
4 Misconceptions About Mental Illness + Faith
How Church Can Lead Racial Reconciliation
Why Are Sunday Mornings Still So Segregated

The Body Is Not An Apology
Did You Do Any of These 6 Activities Today? Then You Have Class Privilege
Lucky To Be Alive: The Everyday Ways We Tell People with Disabilities They Should Not Be Here
Nobody Bothers To Ask: The Challenges of Being Sexual in disabled/trans/genderqueer/etc..Body

angel Kyodo williams
Radical Dharma
Social Justice + Buddhism

 Tim Wise
Fighting the Normalization of Inequality 

Larry Yang
Directing The Mind Towards Practices in Diversity
Remembering What It Means To Be Gay
Toward A Multicultural Buddhist Practice

all of life is yoga, practice, sangha

beyond asana

If you’re finding 3 Jewels Yoga for the first time or visiting after an absence, you may be wondering where the “yoga” classes can be found.

For 10 years, I’ve been cultivating my teaching practice on the foundations of Movement, Mindfulness + Meditation. Of these three, the movement has transformed the most — expanding from asana-on-the-mat to meaningful movement in our daily life to the dynamic force of gathering as community to generate the energy of mindfulness and embody compassion, skillful understanding and authentic connection.

Over the course of two years, I gradually scaled back my schedule from a full roster of weekly asana (yoga) classes down to seasonal workshops and programs. This was essential not only to discern what I felt most compelled and committed to teaching, but also to honor my long-held desire to homeschool my son. With time and space reclaimed, it became clear to me at the end of 2015 that I had to respond to a deep call to focus on and lift up what first drew me into this practice: its potential to unify, reconcile and restore us to wholeness!

Sri Aurobindo’s adage “all of life is yoga has been a centering mantra for my learning and teaching endeavors. As with so many of life’s lessons, we journey through and cycle back to explore, transform, release, refine, and renew our understanding and practice of each of the 8 limbs of yoga. It is how we live fully into the depth and breadth of our human being-ness. We grow and let go, making space for new possibilities.

While I am not eliminating movement-based programs entirely, I have let go of asana as the primary focus of my teaching. In its stead, I have expanded my capacity to hold space for what has heart and meaning at this juncture in my life. Here’s how you can connect with us and learn, grow, and live into beloved community!

3 Jewels Yoga Sangha

Private Lessons for individuals or groups
All ProgramsWorkshops can be designed for private study.

Practice By The Season
Special Events

all of life is yoga, cradle your heart, meditation, mindfulness, practice, recycled + repurposed, toward wholeness

words to live by | mushim patricia ikeda

Great Vow for Mindful Activists

Aware of suffering and injustice,
[tara scott], am working to create
a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world.
I promise, for the benefit of all,
to practice self-care, mindfulness, healing, and joy.
I vow to not burn out.

Burnout and self-sacrifice, the paradigm of the lone hero who takes nothing for herself and gives everything to others, injure all of us who are trying to bring the dharma into everyday lay life through communities of transformative well-being, where the exchange of self for other is re-envisioned as the care of self in service to the community. The longer we live, the healthier we are; the happier we feel, the more we can gain the experience and wisdom needed to contribute toward a collective reimagining of relationships, education, work, and play.

~Mushim Patricia Ikeda
I Vow Not To Burn Out via Lion’s Roar
related gem: spirituality, social justice + healing spaces

all of life is yoga, cushion to community, meditation, mindfulness, sangha, toward wholeness

spirituality, social justice + healing spaces

 bookends to my summer:
two radical events steeped in activism, equity + healing.
drawn into these moments by either
an endorsement or invitation from dear friends —

i arrived without expectation,
holding the intention to be present + open-hearted.
i departed: aligned, affirmed + inspired.
fully nourished, energized + equipped to continue the good work.

18th annual
allied media conference
wayne state university | june 19, 2016

It was truly an honor to have been a part of the Allied Media Conference‘s healing justice practice space where I led a session on cultivating embodied self-compassion. To my surprise, the beautiful souls who joined me filled the room with breath, loving awareness, and the good energy they carried from Ann Arbor, Detroit, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Montreal, Seattle, Boston, NYC, Maryland and Mississippi!

Afterward, I had the pleasure of connecting with Nse Umoh Esema, Program Director of MIT CoLab, and Sofia Campos, a student affiliate of the center. Our conversation became part of an interview they selected to be featured among CoLab Radio’s profiles on how “workshop facilitators from the 2016 Allied Media Conference use collaborative processes grounded in media, art and technology to address the roots of problems and advance holistic solutions towards a more just and creative world.”

what i experienced + witnessed

freedom of movement, creativity, + being
joy of human expression in body, voice + spirit
abundant power of  multi-generational, multicultural, multi-gendered collaborative energy


learn: allied media
meditatethe practice of arriving
read: how to awaken self-compassion through meditation


buddhist peace fellowship’s dharma + direct action workshop
zen temple of ann arbor | sept 3 + 4, 2016

I spent a week slowly emerging from the dharma bubble created by the cumulative energy of holding and being immersed in a healing-centered space with compassionate, justice-minded folk committed to integrating spirituality with social awareness. There’s still much content to process and unpack! But I’m excited to share this glimpse into our weekend of laughter (or “blessed foolishness,” as my friend so-aptly sanctified it), truth-telling, idea-sharing, and fellowship over thoughtfully-prepared meals and simulated exercises in direct action.

amplified and affirmed

I experienced the buzz and boom that arises from living in alignment with my deepest values and connecting with others who are doing the same! Below are two contemplations that I’ve sat with over time, unpacked with my circle of good spiritual friends and, with diligence and discernment, have integrated into embodied practices. It was gratifying to not only voice them in this larger forum of peers, but to also hear them amplified and affirmed throughout the weekend of training.

  • My discomfort with and desire to dismantle hierarchies of learning where one person is positioned to bear and transmit knowledge — often deferring to age, experience, education. I’ve always approached teaching as the facilitation of a process or experience rather than the imparting of instruction and information. That one-way funnel creates a sense of bloodletting that leaves me feeling drained. So I encourage a collaborative dynamic wherein practitioners learn to trust and be accountable for building their capacity to integrate new information in ways that develop skillful action and wisdom.Whether in friendships, spiritual communities, professional environments, or social activist circles, how can give room for the range of understanding — newly-formed queries and untested ideas, emerging insights, and seasoned wisdom — from elders and youth alike? By embodying “the posture of the listener” and learning alongside one another as tutors.
  • In discerning how to skillfully inhabit the role of a sangha builder and facilitator, I resonated deeply with the teachings of Master Linji (chronicled in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Nothing To Do, Nowhere To Go) who offered a more equitable view of teacher and student in the form of guest and host. Challenging traditional notions of occupying an elevated status as guru or “master,” Linji radically accepted and encouraged the fluidity between roles — where guest becomes teacher and teacher the guest. Just as Linji considered himself to be a good spiritual friend, we can expand our idea and practice of being an “ally” to one who embodies the deep care and commitment to support the liberation and well-being of others.

a few shining examples

Ideas and practices offered by the facilitators (marked BPF) and a fellow participant.

  • Block Harm. Build Solutions. Be Present to What Arises. (BPF) — The three elements around which the Buddhist Peace Fellowship centers its approach to integrating spirituality and social justice.
  • Communicate Access Needs (BPF) — Naming the accommodations, considerations or support we need to best access the learning.
  • Cultivate Sympathetic Joy for Marginalized Communities (BPF)– Neither spiritual nor activist groups are immune to the sting of white privilege, guilt, shame, defensiveness, confusion, fragility and misperception. The complex process of healing and reconciliation is different for the marginalized and the for privileged (especially, when there is a mixed level of capacity, experience, understanding and resilience). Engaging in justice work together all too often re-exposes marginalized folks to the very same toxic thoughts and behaviors that are rooted in systems of oppression. This triggers deep hurts that can hinder or derail the collective endeavor toward impactful change. So it is critical to provide refuge–time and separate safe space–to center, care for, and protect the mental/emotional/spiritual/psychological needs and well-being of people of color, disabled persons, LGBTQ people, and others.

To that end, the facilitators established caucuses based on racial identity. (True story: this elicited a moment of cognitive dissonance for me and later sparked a conversation with my dear friend and training companion on earned trust, which merits its own post.) In this process, white practitioners were asked to recognize that part of “doing their own work” as allies/good spiritual friends is to block harm. They were also invited to draw on the spiritual faculty of mindfulness and turn their gaze inward, looking deeply into any arising discomfort/fear/resistance and transforming it into sympathetic joy for our safety and well-being.

  • Develop + Refine Skillful Listening — Deep Listening and Skillful Speech are core principles and foundational practices for Buddhists. So it was hardly surprising that, when asked to pick a dharma superpower to use in direct action exercise, several of us chose the power of listening. During the discussion that followed the exercise, we were able to unpack the challenges and limitations of our capacity to listen in heightened emotional circumstances and reminded, in particular, of the many biases that further hinder it. A fellow practitioner offered the insight of the four levels of listening, which she later sent to me:

1. Listening from the cocoon where everything sounds like the people from Charlie Brown talking.
2. Listening for whether people are for or against you.
3. Listening empathically.
4. Listening people into their own wisdom.

  • Vow Not To Burn Out (BPF)  — Referencing Mushim Patricia Ikeda’s Great Vow for Mindful Activists, the facilitators spoke to the real and unmerciful impact of justice work on our well-being: secondary trauma, burn out, compassion fatigue, phyiscal harm and ill health. To sustain our engagement, we again call on the Buddhist wisdom of looking deeply with equanimity into how we balance our aspirations with our available resources to take/sustain action. We then assess our present-moment capacity within the frame of the “long view”– imagining how now-based actions reach into the future to touch generation after generation, as indigenous elders teach. Alongside of such honest evaluation, we honor and tend to our well-being with healthy practices that restore, energize and ground us!

As we embrace and live out the call to serve and create a more just world, may we cradle in our hearts this beautiful question lifted up in the training: “In this moment, what best serves life?”


learn: buddhist peace fellowship

all of life is yoga, dharma, for real: living the lessons, meditation, mindfulness, practice, sangha

gathered + rooted: a new season of sangha

The 2016 Fall session of  the 3 Jewels Yoga Sangha will open on Sunday, October 9 with a deep focus on my oft-referenced endearment (and zen-trendy hashtag), The Suchness of Sangha.

In the Buddhist vernacular “suchness” is the translation of the Pali world Tathātā and seeks to describe the essence of our perceived reality — and all the conditions that make our experience of reality possible — in the moment. It points to impermanence and interdependence. Reminding us that all the elements (people, places, objects, etc.) and our perceptions and responses to said elements in any given moment create a quality of “thusness” or “thatness” which cannot be replicated. Because these very things at this very point in time uniquely converge to form a fleeting experience. It is the vibe, the stuff, all matter seen and unseen, that is gathered and drawn together and felt so deeply. It becomes a knowing, a rooted cellular memory…a dream, an inspiration, the aspiration we seek to nourish.

So we’ll sit in these queries, turn them over, and test them in our daily living:

  • What is sangha?
  • How is it formed, nurtured and sustained?
  • What do we seek in our connection(s) within spiritual community?
  • What do we contribute?
  • How are we transformed?
  • And any number of questions that will emerge from our collective effort to learn and practice cultivating mindfulness together as good spiritual friends.


Fall Schedule

October 9, 16, 23

    • 10/16 ~ Monthly Mindfulness Immersion
      A half-day retreat including our regular #wholyhappyhour practice, food + fellowship, and an Orientation to Foundational Practices — walking meditation, sitting meditation, and the criteria for skillful communication.

November 6, 13, 20

    • 11/13 ~ Special Workshop | Inviting Mindfulness: The Heart at Rest
      Following our regular #wholyhappyhour practice, this restorative workshop will introduce an embodied meditation in mindfulness to awaken self-compassion and skillful understanding of the relationship between body, breath, mind and environment.

December 4, 11, 18

    • 12/11 ~ Monthly Mindfulness Immersion
      A half-day retreat including our regular #wholyhappyhour practice, food + fellowship, and an Orientation to Foundational Practices — walking meditation, sitting meditation, and the criteria skillful communication.
cradle your heart, meditation, mindfulness, practice

embodied meditation: the practice of arriving


The Practice of Arriving

I’ve experienced the deep bone-weary tension of walking into a studio or temple after a full day of “doing” and feeling like I have to wrestle a boa constrictor before I can relax into my practice.

It took time for me to recognize the insidious pressures and misconceptions that arise with contemplative practices like meditation and yoga; especially, when we encounter hardcore folk — teachers and students alike — who translate noble silence and the noble postures into perfect control and transcendence of bodily realities (neglecting to acknowledge or offer accommodations for ability, injuries, illnesses). So grows the ill-formed notion that the moment our butts touch the cushion or we stretch into our first pose, we will instantly be filled with peace and relief…Oh! and be infused with the superpower of levitation.

As a teacher, I’ve witnessed the struggle in practitioners who then expressed frustration at not being able to get things “right.” After observing the cues of many students who would walk in early, immediately drop from exhaustion on their mats, close their eyes, and beg for restorative poses, I shifted my approach and started each class with deep relaxation. For my sake and theirs, it was essential to honor the fact that our brains and bodies need ample time to spin down and transition from one activity to the next. Reclaiming the space to transition  from the rhythm of striving to the rhythm of relaxing and finding refuge enabled us to bring our biological, emotional, psychological, and energetic layers into alignment. We gave ourselves time to catch up in body, mind and heart in the present moment.

I drew upon the Four Foundations of Mindfulness (the core of my personal practice) and began guiding practitioners through an embodied self-awareness sequence that supported our capacity to cross the threshold of any room and allow ourselves to fully arrive. Breath by breath, inch by inch, we learned to first unravel the tensions in body, heart, and mind in order to relax completely. Once we felt relaxed, we could awaken and inhabit our bodies with full awareness.

Listening deeply, seeing clearly, responding skillfully
to whatever showed up.
Greeting and acknowledging our sensations, thoughts, emotions and perceptions with compassion.

Taking refuge in the rhythm of our breath, we could gently align body, heart, and mind and then joyfully abide in this state when we transitioned from the privilege of an intuition-led practice back into the world around us (whether a casual gathering with friends, a family celebration, or an office meeting).

Arriving is the first of four guided meditations in my series, Embodied Self-Compassion: The Four Energies of Mindfulness

I shared this practice during the healing session I taught at the Allied Media Conference in June and, afterward, had the honor of being interviewed about it for MIT’s CoLab Radio: How to Awaken Self-Compassion Through Meditation.

A 3 Jewels Yoga + Ari Chillman Production.
Recorded June 2016 at Sherwood Forest Live.

all of life is yoga, meditation, mindfulness, practice, sangha

special event | mindfulness immersion


This special event provides an opportunity for newcomers to learn about the foundations of our practices and for continuing practitioners to receive a refresher. There will be a chance to share insights, challenges, basic techniques and tips, and to ask questions. Enjoy the full experience or participate in either our regular Sunday morning session or the afternoon’s orientation and refresher.


Open to those of all faiths + philosophies + religious traditions who wish to cultivate compassion + skillful understanding.

Sitting Meditation + Group Reflection Rooted in the Zen tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh.

Who We Are, Why + How We Practice: 3 jewels yoga sangha


#WHOLYHAPPYHOUR | 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Welcome | Centering + Introductions
Call to Mindfulness | Sharing Intentions/Aspirations
Guided Meditation + Silent Practice
Dharma Discussion

#IMMERSION | 1:00 – 3:00 PM
Food + Fellowship
Orientation to Foundational Practices — walking meditation, sitting meditation, and the criteria for skillful communication.

Some cushions/chairs are available. But if you have your own “sit upons” (cushions/benches/blankets), please bring them!

In the Buddhist tradition, contributions are made as a practice of generosity and are joyfully accepted to help sustain the community. Practitioners are welcome to give as they are able — whether donating money, time, or other skillful resources.

Via Facebook – Select “Going”
Via Email –

Heartdance is located at 1860 E. Michigan Avenue and has a parking lot around the corner on Leslie Street — look for the RED posts. Street parking is also available on Leslie.

all of life is yoga

lil bodhicitta

We’ve been homeschooling for over a year now. But I’ve only recently gotten a chance to share a few glimpses into our experience as we weave together the threads of parenting, spirituality, and child-led learning!

Honest/Heart of a #lilbodhicitta on! #ZenMom #MellowedOutMonday #HomeschoolersBeLike

dhamma for mama*

My little guy has become a more eager reader in recent weeks and, as he prepared his own lunch, pointed to his juice pouch and asked if it read “Heart Kids.” When I explained that it was honest, he surprised me by stating, oh-so-matter-of-factly, that it was basically another way of saying heart. And so my heart sighed, as I marvelled at his ability to see into and then extrapolate the meaning of one word toward another that we adults (it is hoped) come to learn are bound up in each other. It takes heart to be honest; and, when we commit to practicing being honest, we are living intentionally from the heart.

We’ve not discussed the definition of either word as part of a formal lesson on reading or spelling. So this moment was a wonderful reflection of the priority we place on modeling our values! We…

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I close each meditation with a practice I’ve crafted over the years — with hands to the heart in gassho and a prayer of reflection:

“To honor and acknowledge ourselves and our commitment to self-understanding and well-being.

To honor and acknowledge the practice itself as it reminds us to listen deeply, see clearly and respond skillfully to what arises as it arises.

And, to honor and acknowledge one another for collectively generating the energy of mindfulness, compassion and understanding.”

Today, nowhere near the cushion, I call on this same affirmation to re-center me after a momentary family crisis. Even when others do not share my practice or draw upon similar skills in the face of madness, I honor how being a compassionate witness to their actions can help bring me back to mine.

dhamma for mama*

Exploded and firefighters are two words you don’t want to hear from an unfamiliar caller, informing you that your mother needs you to come over to the house immediately.

Already in the car, heading in the opposite direction, with my husband thankfully behind the wheel. My first response was not to panic but to pause and assess. In reflection, I recognize: This is my brain on mindfulness.

And let me say right now that mindfulness is not a quick fix tool that I acquired after some 6-8 week stress reduction workshop. It is the result of 10-plus years as a dharma practitioner with feet grounded firmly on the Zen path and a lifetime of exploring contemplative spiritual and wellness practices that have helped recalibrate my fiery temperament “to be more able more often” to generate skillful responses.

I’ll be straight up: it doesn’t “work” all the time…

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all of life is yoga, cradle your heart, dharma, for real: living the lessons, mindfulness, recycled + repurposed

mindfulness in a crisis

meditation, mindfulness, practice, sangha

sangha harvest party


our outdoor practice season has come to a close,
and it could not have been a more beautiful fall day!
the abundance was overflowing: a feast of homemade goodies and raided-refrigerator treats, plenty of laughter, a reflection on how each of us is connected and all the overlapping threads we share, and crafting the harvest of herbs from a friend’s garden into bundles of sage, rose petals, mint and lavender that can be dried into smudging sticks.
excited for all that our new season of practice will bring.