I will be teaching basic mindfulness meditation every Tuesday night in May at The Spectrum in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. And guess what, it's free. Come learn / hang / talk / meditate. xo
Since the last workshop was such a success, ISA restaurant has decided to host another! Sound of Mind combines traditional mindfulness meditation practice with experimentation in active listening. We will learn the basics of mindfulness practice, and then apply those tools to listening to music and the ambient sounds of the restaurant space. After the free workshop, you can choose to stay for a DELICIOUS 3-course vegetarian meal for a reasonable $30 (tax, tip & drinks not included). The kitchen is happy to accomodate your specific dietary needs.
Why did I decide to do a workshop in a restaurant? The second floor space at ISA is a magical place. I had performed stand-up comedy there awhile ago, and contacted the management about doing some sort of meditation event. They were more than happy to try it out. More people showed up than we could have expected, and everyone had great feedback about this experimentation in mindfulness of sound. The dinner was a great way to extend the conversation off of the meditation cushion.
I really hope to see some of you at next week's Sound of Mind workshop at ISA. please RSVP if you'd like to come, to RSVP@ISA.GG and let them know. Because of the size and nature of the space, we'd like to have an idea of how many people are coming so we can make sure the experience is tailored to this particular group.
STARS OVER PARAMUS is back in the lounge at Dixon Place! Join me & three awesome performers for a hilarious show. Did I mention it's free? Though we won't stop you from dropping some cash into a vase at the end. Come hang! With guests Casey Jane Ellison, Max Bernstein, and Emily Lowinger. Feb 23rd, 7:30 pm, at Dixon Place.
Really stoked to team up with the folks at ISA in Brooklyn to do an intro to mindfulness event in their upstairs loft. We're calling it Sound of Mind. [click here for more info] We'll talk about what mindfulness meditation is, and then actually do it! There will be some discussion, some practice, and some experimentation. This portion of the evening is FREE, but we do ask that you RSVP in advance.
If you'd like to hang out for a communal dinner after the meditation, the folks at ISA have prepared a special $30/plate meal. Please e-mail RSVP@ISA.GG if you'd like to attend since space is limited!
I approached the kind folks at ISA after doing comedy there. The loft upstairs is beautiful, and I thought it would be a really great place to meditate. Often after meditation classes at the Interdependence Project, people will head out to dinner together to continue to conversation more casually. At ISA we can just head right downstairs!
I've started blogging on a weekly basis for the Interdependence Project blog. My first blog (in awhile!) is about why I decided to begin teaching mindfulness meditation. It's called Make Yourself a Light, and I wrote it to address some questions that were coming up in the community about who is qualified to teach. Click here to read Make Yourself a Light: Letting the Dharma Shine Through You.
I'm also going to be writing a monthly piece for the new wellness blog EYLA.COM, which I am pretty stoked about. My first piece is about the overlap betwen Buddhist practice and doing stand-up comedy. Seemingly incongruous practices, I see many points of connection! Click here to read Mindfulness Behind the Mic.
And I will continue teaching Intro Mindfulness Meditation at The Spectrum on Tuesday nights at 8:30. You can drop in any time you like. 59 Montrose Ave in Brooklyn.
I am thrilled to continue teaching intro-level mindfulness meditation at The Spectrum in Brooklyn. Join us Tuesday nights in January for discussion and practice.
The Thanksgiving Edition of my monthly weirdness at Dixon Place on the Lower East Side of Manhattan is upon us! Joe Mauricio won't be in attendance but I've rounded up some special guests for this month's show. John Early & Poncho Peligroso will be joining me on stage in an attempt to draw down the moon of gratitude for this very American holiday. JOIN US.
SATURDAY NOV 17th
7 pm, in the Lounge
at Dixon Place
161A Chrystie Street
Y'all, I am so stoked to be performing a little comedy at this awesome show on Wednesday. And guess what? IT'S FREEEEEE.
APOCALYPSE WOW 2: WAY BEYOND THUNDERDOME
A NIGHT OF COMEDY AND MUSIC
CASEY JANE ELLISON
B0DYH1GH (MAX STEELE AND DANIEL PORTLAND)
DJ JEALOUS ORGASM (JOE HEFFERNAN)
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 3
Doors at 8:30/Show at 9
UPSTAIRS AT ISA
348 WYTHE AVENUE
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK 11211
STARS OVER PARAMUS! with Joe Mauricio and Caroline Contillo
Whether you're livin' on a prayer or livin' off the Jersey Turnpike, the comedy stylings of native New Jersians Joe Mauricio and Caroline Contillo are gonna be right up your alley. Jokes, stories and songs from the other side of the Hudson will have you pumping your fists on Saturday, September 22nd in the lounge at Dixon Place.
Though he now lives in Baltimore (the Jersey of the South), actor and writer Joe Mauricio has never shed his Bayonne roots. He's as Jersey as it comes, with a bravado that would make Snooki quiver. He's a veteran of thousands of shows and is the founder of Lifework Personal Performance coaching.
Caroline Contillo is a comedian and performance artist who loves the Jersey Shore in as earnest a fashion as is humanly possibly. Though she has lived in Brooklyn for almost a decade, she will always be 'from Jersey.'
Two poems of mine went up at Rhizome.org today. The first is composed of many tweets about how much poetry sucks. The second is about the potential of writing a poem about using Meryl Streep's laugh as a ringtone. Please to Enjoy.
It was an incredible joy and honor to get to work as Associate Director at an amazing Buddhist Arts & Activism center on Bowery for the past eight months. The impermanence that is contained within all things came to fruition and I've found myself, once again, released from employment.
It's sort of like clockwork, at this point. Last summer I was fresh off a production design job at a Hot New iPad app. I spent a month living off my dwindling savings then high-tailed it down to the Jersey Shore where I lived with my Aunt and watched her kids in exchange for food, shelter, and endless parties. Then I moved back up to the city to start work at a Hot New eBook Company, from which I was let go three months later.
This summer I'm trying to break the cycle. I'm trying not to jump right back into a full time job just because I'm scared of being broke or because I feel like being 'gainfully employed' proves that I'm not a fuck-up. I'm going to try to be brave and take my own work seriously, like the jobs I've thrown myself into in the past. This summer I'm going to throw myself into myself and see what happens. I have a suspsicion that the ground will rise up to meet me.
I'm not sure which projects will end up happening. I have new ideas every 5 minutes. Will I write advice eBooks based on my tweets? Will I make herbal tea bags with tweet-based yogi tea tags? Will I try to start submitting pieces to all my favorite blogs? Will I start a comedy blog with my gf? Will we lead improvised ghost tours in Brooklyn? Will I start a Greenpoint meditation group? Will all of these things happen? Will they be failures? Do I care? Who is the "I" that cares, and why?
In Buddhism, we say that happiness and sorrow are both the product of a full heart. It is our mind's tendency to break things into binaries and then elevate one while denigrating the other that makes us think sorrow is to be avoided while happiness sought after (and oftentimes hoarded, consumed). Sadness is not lack. Sadness is the reverberation of that tender part of your heart's mind at the recognition of suffering. My heart is full and I am ready to jump.
I think I am happiest when I am cooking soup, moreso if I'm cooking with others, to share with others. This is a recipe I've worked on for years and love cooking with friends. It's simple, inexpensive, vegan, and derangedly flavorful. You can tinker with some of the ingredients (beets, kale, parsnip) to suit your taste but the core red lentils with coconut milk and curry seasoning is what holds it all together. you will note by my use of quantities that i do not consider cooking to be an exact science and instead rely heavily on intuition and taste tests as I go along. The soup is never the same twice. But it is usually delicious and always really hearty & sustaining.
some vegan boullion or veg stock
can or two of coconut milk
olive or coconut oil
a bag of red lentils
a large yellow onion
a few cloves of garlic
A small piece of ginger
two large carrots
a few potatoes
a bunch of beets WITH GREENS. (golden beets are great for this soup if you can find them, but i do enjoy to dark taste of red beets and they add color to the soup)
a bunch of dinosaur kale
a bunch of cilantro
curry powder OR combine cumin, coriander, turmeric, black pepper, cayenne pepper. sometimes i use garam masala.
put the red lentils in the vegetable stock or water with a few vegan boullion cubes, i'd say abt 12 cups of liquid is good. soak them while you prep the onions and garlic.
in a pan, sautee the onion in oil on low. add salt first, then the seasonings depending on your taste. i usually do a ton (2 tablespoons) of cumin, a little less turmeric, then a few shakes of black pepper and cayenne. throw some curry powder or garam masala on too. You want to coat the onions while they're simmering. The salt, a tablespoon or so, will help the onions absorb the flavors. Keep turning them until they start to brown. When they're close to done, thrown in the 2 minced garlic cloves and simmer them for a few minutes. Then you can dump it all into the pot.
At this point you can also throw in the diced carrots, potatoes, ginger, parsnip and beets (dice up the stems and throw them in too but dont throw in the greens until the end!) Throw in the can of coconut milk and turn the heat up.
Cook it all together for abt 25 minutes. Then throw in the beet greens and the kale. Cook that for another ten minutes. At the last possible minute, throw in the chopped cilantro, so that it's fresh and flavorful in the soup. Turn the heat off. At this point I usually use an immersion blender to blend some of the bigger chunks, but I don't blend it completely.
This is great served with some whole grain bread. And remarkably inexpensive for how hearty it seems.
I recommend cooking it with some of your favorite people. Make earnest eye contact while you take your first sips, and literally feel the nutrients entering your bloodstream.
What if all your heart ever did was break? What if it broke open so wide the whole world fell in?
When I studied Art History as an undergrad, I took a class on aesthetic theory and contemporary art criticism called “Looking Between the Lines.” On the first day of class, we made a list of words that we'd frequently heard in reviews of art shows. Our professor wrote them on the chalk board, and then instructed us that we were never to use any of these words in anything we wrote or said in that class. How could I write an essay about a painting I'd seen without using the word “juxtapose?” This project forced me to actually investigate my relationship to the painting instead of relying on words that had essentially lost their meaning and become crutches through too frequent use.
I was thinking about attempting to write about my experience with the Occupy Wall Street movement, but wanted to make sure I didn't fall into this same trap. Could I write about these past few months without relying on soundbites I'd picked up along the way? Could I express my thoughts on the entire thing without having to rely on the oft-used terms “process,” “inequality,” “nonviolence” or “justice?” To do so I might explore my personal relationship to the occupation.
Taking My Seat
Walking Meditation from Foley Square to Liberty Plaza GA Dec 3, 2011 (photo by Michael Coniaris)
When Occupy Wall Street started back in September, I was employed at an e-Book publisher doing design work. My co-workers snickered at the futility of protesting and openly mocked what was starting to take place at Liberty Plaza. As someone who'd been politically active at a young age but had eventually burned out on the previous model of protesting, I also wondered about the futility of a protest. But I also wondered something else. “I hope this movement becomes like something of a radical zombie movie,” I said to my best friend. “I hope slowly, more and more people descend on that park. I hope it grows slowly and eventually reaches a critical mass.”
And isn't that what happened? I was let go from my e-Book job, as I'd been let go from so many jobs since the economic collapse. But within a few weeks I began working at IDP, which had at that point been where I practiced meditation and took Buddhist studies classes for almost two years. I was brought on board for full time work at IDP right around the same time as the one-month anniversary of the occupation of Liberty Plaza. It was exciting to me to be able to work for an organization that I felt had given me so much already. When I found IDP two years prior, it had felt like a homecoming. And now, being able to sustain myself financially by helping our group thrive felt like refuge from an increasingly hostile economic situation. As Occupy Wall Street gained footing, I found myself thinking that absolutely everyone should be able to experience what I was experiencing. Everyone should be able to sustain themselves and their families financially doing something they love. People should not be punished for seeking to thrive, punished through predatory lending practices, through having their homes forcefully taken from them, punished by the ever-encroaching fantasy of infinite growth at the expense of the lower and now the middle classes.