New at Tricycle: A Graceful Ending
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March 28, 2016
A Graceful Ending
As the end of March approaches, so concludes Meditation Month. We hope that Spring’s video series, Beginning Again, has added a few more tools to your meditation toolkit and that you’ve been encouraged by the people around the world who have sat alongside you.

To celebrate this month of meditation—whether it was your first or your fiftieth—we’re excited to share the guidance and music of “rock star nun” Ani Choying Drolma. We sat down with Ani-la to discuss music, dharma, and the importance of developing the motivation to practice. People have strong analytical abilities, she told us, and if we use them to examine why we want to practice the dharma, we will build a powerful conviction to do so. Over time, this becomes a force we can use in the service of right action, as Ani-la has with her humanitarian efforts in Nepali after last year’s earthquake.

In the wake of tragedy, in the midst of rubble and loss, our hearts attune to our own mortality. The habitual stance we take toward death and sorrow—downcast eyes, the averted look—becomes impossible to maintain. From this place of cultural avoidance, the Death Café movement was born. In “Our Little Tragedy” writer and philosophy professor Clancy Martin introduces us to Death Cafés: informal gatherings of people who have recently lost someone they held dear. These meetings provide a place where people can be open, honest, and upfront about their experiences of death, eschewing the cultural taboos around the topic of dying.

In the same vein, Douglas Penick’s “In the End” examines the third of the four sights, the four encounters described in the legend of the Buddha that motivated him to practice: an old man, a sick man, a corpse, and an ascetic. Accompanying Penick’s poetic piece are the stunning, black-and-white portraits by Walter Schels of people before and directly after death.

Death, suffering, and loss may be some of the few universals of life: hence the Buddha’s first noble truth. Along with suffering, however, comes the potential to reroute the heart. We hope that by continuing to meditate—by learning to sit with the uncertainty impermanence can bring—that you discover a way to inhabit your time on earth with grace.
March Meditation Month
In celebration of Meditation Month’s conclusion, Tricycle is thrilled to share an interview with and the devotional songs of “rock star nun” Ani Choying Drolma. Ani Choying is a Tibetan Buddhist nun and musician who performs worldwide, bringing sacred Buddhist chants to an international audience. We were lucky enough to speak with during her recent visit to New York City, where she offered her wisdom on willpower, motivation, and the importance of plain and simple kindness.
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Dealing with Distraction
The first rule of meditation practice is: develop a regular meditation practice. Matthew Immergut, co-instructor with meditation teacher Culadasa, explicates this and another important (some might say the most important) component of meditation—distraction, and how to deal with it.
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In the End
The “four sights” are what traditional Buddhist biographies describe as having compelled the Buddha to lead a spiritual life. After coming across an old man, a sick man, a corpse, and an ascetic, he was unable to return to the opulent and sheltered life he’d known. Novelist Douglas Penick documents his encounters with the third sight, death, alongside the stunning photography of Walter Schels that features people before and directly after their death.
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Groan and Bear It

The groan. You know the one. It’s the one that arises when it’s time to do the laundry, the dishes, a tedious homework assignment, or a task at work. It’s also the groan that might pop up when it’s time to get down on the cushion for meditation practice. As a gym teacher, Tricycle contributor Alex Tzelnic knows the groan well. In “Groan and Bear It,” he takes on the varieties of groaning experience, among other matters.
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Our Little Tragedy
Nobody wants to talk about death. Except, that is, when they do. More than 2,500 Death Cafes—groups of people who meet up to talk freely about death and dying—have been held in more than 36 countries around the world. Philosopher and writer Clancy Martin discusses the Death Café movement and his relationship with his own death. As he says in the piece, “Ask the dying: are you afraid of death? Ask the grieving: how are you dealing with the death? Ask the suicidal person: why did you try. Then listen. Try a conversation. It’s not easy.”
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Last Train Home
Directed by LIXIN FAN
Over the last half-century, China has ascended to the position of economic royalty on the world stage. The country now has over 260 million migrant workers. Each spring, over 130 million people return home to their villages for the New Year’s holiday, the largest human migration in the world. Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Lixin Fan follows one couple who have trekked this journey for two decades, leaving behind their two infant children—now teens—for brutal factory jobs. This emotionally taut and starkly beautiful film shows the human cost of a country’s economic power.
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