Dzogchen Ponlop signs books and enjoys a laugh with Friday night’s audience.
The North American Tour for the launch of Dzogchen Ponlop’s new book, “Emotional Rescue: How to Work with Your Emotions to Transform Hurt and Confusion into Energy that Empowers You,” rolled to a close May 20-23, at Nalanda West in Seattle. About 300 people attended the warmly received Friday night program and book signing, with tickets donated to the public by Compassionate Action Network. More than 170 people participated in the weekend workshop.
Nalanda West General Manager Damayonti Sengupta welcomed the eager crowd on Friday and introduced Tyler Dewar, Dean of Nalandabodhi, who led the group in a short guided contemplation. Dewar then introduced Daniel Kranzler, founder and head of the Kirlin Family Foundation that donated the tickets for Friday evening through Compassionate Action Network (CAN), an offshoot of the Kirlin Family Foundation. CAN presented the Seeds of Compassion program in 2008, which brought together His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other compassionate leaders for a landmark conference in Seattle.
Kranzler cited a recent trip to India during which he met with the Dalai Lama and learned that His Holiness initiated a program to bring together researchers studying the brain and emotions. He added that though extensive research has been shedding a great deal of new light on how our emotions work, he often thinks, ‘Okay, but what do we do about them?’ He said Dzogchen Ponlop’s book, “Emotional Rescue: How to Work with Your Emotions to Transform Hurt and Confusion into Energy that Empowers You,” answers that very question. He then introduced the widely celebrated Buddhist teacher and author. With his trademark warmth and wit, Dzochen Ponlop Rinpoche opened the evening talk by introducing his 3-Step Emotional Rescue Plan. He then gave a teaching on Step 1 of the Emotional Rescue (ER) Plan.
Mindful Gap – emotional awareness
“What would life be like without emotions? Kind of boring?” Rinpoche asked the audience. “Emotions are like the fizz of our life … Nobody wants to drink a flat soda.” Gesturing to a Power Point slide that showed a big glass of fizzy cola Rinpoche joked, “No brand name here.”
The Emotional Rescue Plan, Rinpoche explained, begins with Step 1, Mindful Gap. To practice Mindful Gap, when an emotion comes up, first FEEL: Let yourself feel the emotion; then HOLD: Don’t suppress or try to block the emotion, simply stop for a moment without reacting; and finally LOOK: Look directly at the energy of the emotion. Said Dzogchen Ponlop, “Mindful Gap — when you Feel, Hold, and Look – can show you an exit from even your most painful emotions, when you need a quick way out.”
After Friday’s talk, there was a brief Q&A / interview of Dzogchen Ponlop by Brad Lichtenstein, ND, BCB of Bastyr University and founder of thebreathspace.com. Dzogchen Ponlop signed books in the hall while a reception, with food donated by Compassionate Action Network, began downstairs.
Emotional Rescue weekend workshop
Dzogchen Ponlop teaching Step 2 of the ER Plan.
SATURDAY Tyler Dewar opened Saturday’s workshop and invited participants to rest their mind naturally by focusing on the breath.
Dzogchen Ponlop’s Saturday morning talk covered Step 2 of the ER Plan, Clear Seeing, which is about getting a sense of the larger landscape of your emotions. The questions to ask yourself include: What is your dominant emotion? When does it usually come up? Where are you when it comes up? among others.
After lunch, Dewar played pieces of recorded music with different qualities. As participants listened, they were asked to follow the Mindful Gap practice: Feel, Hold, and Look — staying with the feeling and observing — getting curious — about what happened internally rather than letting thoughts take over. Afterward, individuals shared their experiences: Some liked the music selections while others didn’t, but each had an interesting observation about what the music evoked. They noticed the way they typically think about a piece of music and how many labels and thoughts come up in response to it — 0bservations they may not have otherwise made without the practice.
A brief snack break followed the afternoon session, with KIND bars donated by Kind, Co. and handed out to program participants, who enjoyed them throughout the weekend.
The day concluded in a Q&A session with Dzogchen Ponlop about practicing Emotional Rescue Steps 1 and 2: Mindful Gap and Clear Seeing.
Step 3: Letting Go
SUNDAY Tyler Dewar again welcomed program participants, opening the workshop with quiet reflection. Rinpoche’s talk covered Step 3 of the ER Plan — Letting Go. There is not much to do with this step, Dzogchen Ponlop said. “Let it come, and let it go. You have to let it come to let it go.”
Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche is a widely celebrated Buddhist teacher known for his warmth and wit. A lover of music, art and urban culture, Rinpoche is a poet, photographer, accomplished calligrapher and visual artist, as well as a prolific author. Rinpoche is founder and president of Nalandabodhi, an international network of Buddhist centers.