Isa Gucciardi

Reflections on Endurance and Trust at the Summer Solstice

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

As the Shelter in Place order continues to stretch into the foreseeable future here in the Bay Area, the days are stretching longer and longer into the night as we approach the summer solstice. June 21 is the longest day of the year and its night is the shortest night. The solstices and equinoxes are important moments in the Sacred Stream‘s calendar. This is a time where we come together at our quarterly drum circles to honor our relationship to the sun and its relationship to events on the earth. The marking of these moments of the year is a time-honored tradition in many cultures. Bonfires have been lit across the world for millennia in summer solstice celebrations. Native Americans celebrated with fire as well, and the Sioux people have the special initiations of the Sun Dance during this time. One aspect of the Sun Dance initiation involves helping initiates focus on the development of endurance and trust.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we cannot come together in person as we have for every summer solstice since 1995. However, we can still reflect about this moment in time together. Endurance and trust are two qualities that are helpful to reflect upon as we enter into our 16th week of Sheltering in Place here in California during a time of increasing social unrest. This is a time where our capacity to weather difficult and unforeseen circumstances is being challenged as the protests to demand racial justice uniquely highlight the complexities of our situation.

Conscious Parenting while Sheltering in Place

By Joanna Adler, PsyD, CHT

The demands of parenthood have perhaps never been so daunting as they are now during this Shelter in Place. Parents now need to be their children’s teacher, coach, friend, and parent, without assistance or break, while also doing their own jobs, caring for their house, etc. Parenting is already the toughest job there is, but add in the uncertainty and overwhelm of COVID-19, and uninterrupted childcare duties for months with no end in sight, and we have an incredibly tall order.

As a Depth Hypnosis Practitioner and clinical psychologist, I have had the opportunity to counsel many parents over the last months, and as you all probably know, parents are struggling!! The effect of being thrown together 24 hours a day is wearing on even the most skilled of parents.

Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.: Reading Thangkas: Avaloketishavara and the Images of Compassion

Thankgas are paintings on fabric that often depict meditational deities or subjects. Popular throughout the Himalayas for centuries, they have provided a teaching and practice tool to help students deepen their understanding of a particular deity or subject. There are many images of Avaloketishavara or Chenrezig as they are known in Tibetan.

In this talk with the San Francisco Dharma Collective, Isa Gucciardi explores these images of compassion and the wisdom of the deities depicted therein.

Shamanic Journey Introduction with Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

In these challenging times, a strong connection to inner guidance is more important than ever. The Shamanic Journey is a method of accessing inner wisdom through a meditative state. The Shamanic Journey has provided a path for shamanic practitioners to establish relationships with the unseen powers of nature for millennia. We can adapt this method of going inward to gain insight about our current situation.

Listen: The Doorway Between the Worlds: Medium and Oracle Traditions in Shamanic and Buddhist Traditions

Shamanism is a form of spiritual practice based in earth-wisdom traditions whose practices rely heavily on the practitioner’s capacity to form oracle relationships with the unseen powers of nature. The Mahayana Buddhist tradition also contains oracle systems that have guided the course of the tradition and have even helped with the establishment of new schools of thought. In this talk presented by East West Bookshop, Isa describes the experience of the altered state of awareness that is common to both Shamanic and Buddhist oracle traditions.

Liberation through Song: The Activism of Miriam Makeba

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Miriam Makeba is perhaps one of Africa’s most famous musicians. I became aware of her when I was about eight years old. I was growing up near Honolulu as Waikiki was becoming a destination. In the evenings, as the sun was setting, all the hotel bars along the beach had musical shows, many of them right on the beach. Invariably, the person who was supposed to be watching me started having cocktails at about 5 o’clock at one of these bars. This meant I was free to cruise the different hotels along the beach, watching the shows.

Most of the hotels featured hula dancers and Hawaiian music, but one hotel had a band that also played African and Caribbean music. They almost always played Harry Belafonte and Miram Makeba’s recorded music before the live show. I loved the songs they sang together, and I always made a beeline to the beach in front of that bar to hear them in the evenings.

As I got older, I learned more about how Harry Belafonte and Miriam Makeba worked for social justice. I learned that Miriam was famous for her resistance to the social system of apartheid in South Africa. It was through her music that I learned about apartheid, which segregated whites and blacks and kept blacks in poorer, often substandard living conditions. I was appalled to learn about apartheid, and as I followed Miriam’s life, I struggled to understand how it persisted the way it did.

Video: Isa Gucciardi: Tsongkhapa: A Buddha in the Land of Snows

We are lucky to be living in a time where we have so many erudite scholars to help guide the course of Buddhist thought. Principal among them are His Holiness, the Dalai Lama and his main English language interpreter and translator, Dr. Thupten Jinpa. Jinpa has recently written a book about perhaps one of the greatest scholars in Tibetan Buddhism, Je Tsongkhapa. Tsongkhapa lived in the late 1300s and inspired a renaissance in Tibetan Buddhist thought, founded the Great Prayer Festival and established the Gaden Shartse monastery.

In this talk with the San Francisco Dharma Collective, Isa Gucciardi explores Jinpa’s new book, Tsongkhapa: A Buddha in the Land of Snows, which so skillfully brings Tsongkhapa to life. The book offers a unique lens on Tsonkhapa’s relationship to Manjushri, the Buddha of wisdom, which is the focus of this talk and meditation.

Reflections on the Spring Equinox

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

On the day of each equinox and solstice, I make a point of spending some time alone in the early morning hours at the Sacred Stream Center in Berkeley, CA. The center was the home of a Lutheran church for almost one hundred years. It has beautiful stained glass windows and large open wood-paneled spaces carefully crafted by Finnish carpenters in the early 1900s. The sun always rises through the arched stained glass behind the main altar, illuminating the room in a spray of rainbow light.

This morning on the spring equinox of 2020, I am here to check on the center to make sure the repair on the roof is keeping out the rain. We are almost a week into the Shelter in Place Order due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is always quiet in the sanctuary in the early morning, but this morning it is especially still. The usual sound of starting cars and people heading off to work is absent. There is no laughing or singing from the neighborhood children who often pass by as they walk to the school down at the other end of the street.

Resisting Fear: Courage and Determination in Hard Times

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

These are difficult times for many people. Many of us have been increasingly distressed about the political situation, the destruction of the natural environment, the deterioration of social networks, and increasing financial insecurity. Now we have an invisible threat to our health in the form of the coronavirus that is spreading rapidly around the world.

Given all of the conflicting information about the virus, we are trying to discern what is real and what is not. It is difficult to make decisions about daily activities because the presence of the coronavirus and its effects are so unpredictable. It is in times like these that a spiritual practice is especially helpful because it provides a compass that is not dependent on external opinions or other people’s fears and hopes.

How the Shamanic Journey Illuminates the Inner World

In this talk from Embodied Philosophy’s Virtual Empowerment conference, Isa Gucciardi describes the role of the shamanic journey in traditional contexts and how it can be adapted into the modern therapeutic setting to transform inner experience.

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