View profile

Letters from Zeynep: The Dinner Table

Dear friends, Writing to you today from the end of a summer that probably was the shortest of my life

Letters from Zeynep

September 2 · Issue #27 · View online
Weekly letters that nurture you to find everyday wellness.

Dear friends,
Writing to you today from the end of a summer that probably was the shortest of my life. I wrote down the date yesterday (September 1st) and I could not believe my eyes that we are now in the 9th month of the year.
This summer was particularly short for me because in addition to COVID, we moved. In fact, as I write these lines, I am sitting in the garden of our temporary house in the South of France.
Moving is a long and grueling process that exhausts you and leaves you unsettled over the course of months. Especially if you move like us, knowing that this is a temporary move, and you are indeed moving again soon. 😄
The Buddha is known to say to Mara (the representation of the “his shadow side”, in other words, all his difficult emotions and experiences) “I see you, Mara. Come let’s have tea.” This is often shared as a beautiful lesson of compassionately welcoming all that is difficult, listening to the teachings and growth inside the difficulties.
In Turkish culture, tea is offered in tiny tea cups 10 times a day and therefore doesn’t last very long. The image that personally helps me in compassionately welcoming and staying with difficult emotions is one of inviting them to dinner. In Turkey, a sofra does not take less than 3 hours. It feels slow, expanded and crowded with a lot of people, meze, courses, desserts and drinks. In other words, if you go to dinner, you are there to stay. 😄 So, I have been inviting my difficult emotions and experiences over to dinner. Below is a short piece I wrote more than a month ago on what that experience might look like for me on any given day. 😊
A new intro to mindfulness course is starting soon, if you are interested. And as always, I am sharing with you a list of small gifts that touched my heart.
With much love,

The Dinner Table
The table is crowded.
Across from me is a young woman, excited, bubbly, talkative. She’s smiling in a shy way, eager to share, aware it’s best not to share too much. She seems to understand she has many things others don’t: a healthy body, a mind-heart in recovery, a stable, nourishing, elevating relationship, many friends and family who adore her wholeheartedly, a stable income, fun and creativity at work, as well as purpose and meaning. Most importantly, she has the privilege of choice. And she seems to understand that, too. As she talks about leaving the city, living in the country with a remote job close to family, wanting to have children, wanting to have more space, she’s embracing her fears and questions, welcoming the challenge of a big life change and the possible turbulence, loneliness, uncertainty that will come with it. She seems resourced. The difficult emotions she’s experiencing don’t seem to take away from her excited presence. 
The woman to my right is the most quiet one. She doesn’t say much – or anything at all - other than sharing at one point that she’s Turkish, and that a Turkish woman was brutally raped and murdered by a man a few days ago. She feels mostly frozen, like a well of despair and grief wanted to erupt from her chest but turned into ice just before it could escape her body. I don’t really know what Turkish people look like these days, except for a few images or memories here and there. She is beautiful even in her frozenness. I wonder if she would melt a little in the presence of other Turkish people who share her pain. I wonder when she will be able to be in that presence.
To my left is a love story. It looks like another young woman but we can all tell that the woman has retreated and the love story has taken over. She seems controlled by the love she feels for this man, by how of much of it she wants to give and she can’t. “He’s not present,” she says, over and over again. “Don’t you need to be present in order to love? Isn’t this the one and only prerequisite?” She shares that this love story is 12 years old, which is funny because as she speaks, she herself seems to be at that age. “Who wasn’t present for her before?” I ask myself. The image of an emotionally unavailable mother appears. The image of a violent father ensues. We let the images come and go, with a heaviness in our chests.
Down along to my right, next to the frozen Turkish lady, is someone who appears to be more gender neutral. In this lack of gender performance is a deeper and purer sense of common humanity. They speak about their loneliness for the most part. A loneliness that doesn’t seem to connect to a break up or loss, to living alone or feeling lonely in a crowd, to belonging or not to certain groups. “Just loneliness,” they say. “It is just loneliness.” This puzzles us since we are not used to emotions non-attached to story lines. “When did it start? How does it happen? When does it arise?” we ask. Continue reading >>
Upcoming Mindfulness Courses & Classes
7 Week Introduction To Mindfulness
Last days to register to my Introduction to Mindfulness course, starting September 14th! This course is structured and the group size is small, ideal for beginners to mindfulness. It will be taught as live sessions over Zoom and class recordings will be available for up to 1 week. You can pay what you can afford to pay. Find all information and register here.
Mini Home Retreat
If you already do have a mindfulness meditation practice and you would like to join a 3 hour mini home retreat this Saturday, Sep 5th 10am - 1pm CET on Zoom, let me know and I will share more details with you!
Community Class on Generosity
Tomorrow Sep 2nd at 7:30pm CET, we will be on Zoom exploring Generosity. We will look at what generosity is, how it is innately born into us, what might block generosity from naturally arising and how it might be a deliberate practice. We will finish with a meditation and an optional sharing of everyone’s thoughts and feelings. RSVP here to get the Zoom details.
Book Club
This Saturday Sep 5th at 3-5pm CET on Zoom, we will continue reading from the Book of Joy! This book is full of heart warming stories from two world leaders who practice loving awareness of their experiences in the midst of much chaos and violence. In our book club meetings, we give each other the loving gift of reading out loud to each other, pause often, meditate for a few minutes between chapters, reflect and share what is arising in us with others and listen deeply. RSVP here to get the Zoom details.
Small Gifts 🎁
  • An amazing 10 minute explanation of what mindfulness meditation does to your brain by Judson Brewer, a professor at MIT and a long time meditation practitioner / teacher.
  • Poem “For Love In A Time of Conflict” by John O'Donohue, which I must have read 10 times in the past few months. My favorite line: “May you hear again an echo of your first music.
  • This quote by Rachel Naomi Remen: “The reality is that healing happens between people. The wound in me evokes the healer in you, and the wound in you evokes the healer in me, and then as two healers, we collaborate.”
  • This quote by Shunryu Suzuki: “Enjoy your problems.”
  • 13 handy tips for using Google Docs.
Thank You ❤️
Thank you for reading! As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with your comments or questions, share how you are doing, or share what has been lifting your spirits.
If you did reach out to me before, know that I haven’t forgotten about your comments or questions, and I will come back to you.
With love and care,
Did you enjoy this issue?
If you don't want these updates anymore, please unsubscribe here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Powered by Revue
Paris, France