Monday, December 31, 2007
Perhaps it would be a good idea, fantastic as it sounds, to muffle every telephone and halt all activity for an hour some day to give people a chance to ponder for a few moments on what it is all about, why they are living, and what they really want.— James Truslow Adams in the nineteenth century quoted in The Time Is Now by Daniel S. Wolk
Sunday, December 30, 2007
1. I will live in the present moment. I will not obsess about the past or worry about the future.There are seven more where these came from!
2. I will cultivate the art of making connections. I will pay attention to how my life is intimately related to all life on the planet.
3. I will be thankful for all the blessings in my life. I will spell out my days with a grammar of gratitude.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
The way things are is the way things are --- regardless of whether we accept that or not. The choice we have is over how much we suffer. And the most effective way to alleviate our own suffering is through acceptance.
The position that I take - partly as a result of living in Asia - is where you stop living according to your expectations and you become available to experience things as they are.
-- Martha Beck
Friday, December 28, 2007
Embracing "Not Knowing" has changed my experience of life. Not knowing what will happen next - easy in some cases, damn difficult in others. Not knowing how I will feel. Not knowing what another person is feeling, why they are doing something the way they are, why they are even wearing the darn shirt they have one, let alone what lies deep in their emotional well.This is about letting life unfold rather than trying to engineer the process. Once again (with feeling!) this does not mean we are to go passive or take no action about the world's wrongs. It means knowing we can be okay even when we can't change what we wish we could change. It means knowing we will have the inner resources to deal with whatever happens even when what happens is something we will not like or is something that is truly devastating.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Shortly after I awoke this morning, I read the news of Bhutto's assassination and the evils of the world were very real to me. And so it was uplifting to find this:
The sun is new again, all day.— Heraclitus quoted in Fragments: The Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus translated by Brooks Haxton
I remember studying Heraclitus when I was a young philosophy student many years ago. He is one of the pre-Socratics and I was fascinated by their thought because they were engaged in solving the problem of the basic "element" of reality - the elements, of course, being the classical ones of earth, air, fire and water.
Heraclitus believed that all things had their basis in fire - that is, that all things are in a state of flux or impermanence. He believed that all things are one (and spring from the eternal Logos) and also in the reliability of transformation. He was also known as "the weeping philosopher" because he grieved so over the state of the world. I find his thought to be very encouraging and consoling.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
I try always to look upon the world and the people I meet as echoes of my spirit. I know that if I am speaking with deceit, deceit will be echoed back to me . . . Likewise, if I find that I am constantly cheerful, full of brightness and hope, or deeply contemplative in the presence of a particular person, I know I am in the presence of a gracious spirit, and I am echoing the gift that is being given to me. It is as if the lesson of the echo contains the secret to understanding the space between us all.This is really valuable to ponder as we start saying good-bye to the old year and welcoming the new.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas day. We try to crowd into it the long-overdue deeds of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
There are things that are available to us twenty-four hours a day. It depends on us to enjoy them. The fresh air is available to us twenty-four hours a day. The question is whether we have the time and awareness to enjoy it. We cannot blame the fresh air for not being there. We have to look and see whether we take the opportunity and the time to be aware of the fresh air, and to enjoy it. One of the conditions that helps us be free to enjoy what is there is our mindfulness. If our mindfulness is not there, then nothing will be there. We will not be aware of the beautiful sunshine, the fresh air, the stars, the moon, the people, the animals, and the trees.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
So meditation is certainly not about inaction. It is, rather, about skillful action.
Meditation is not to escape from society, but to come back to ourselves and see what is going on. Once there is seeing, there must be acting. With mindfulness, we know what to do and what not to do to help.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Meditating could be a simple solution to treating depression.Of course, appropriate medical treatment is also important. I wouldn't want anyone who suffers from depression to stop taking his or her medication. But learning to meditate can help with the habitual unskillful ways depressed people typically work with the thoughts they have.
Brain scans show significant changes in brain waves after just a few weeks of meditation.
Experts say meditation helps patients get rid of anger, anxiety and just let everything go:
"You start to notice the little, itty-bitty thoughts that slowly build up," says Diane Grove, a meditation instructor. "If you let go of the thought and you come back to the sensations of the body, a lot of times you find out that things are okay."
Many who practice meditation say they're developing the mental muscle to keep negative moments from snowballing.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
The Amish call house-raisings a "frolic." It's a frolic because it's the time when an entire community gathers for neighborliness and assistance. When it comes to building houses, the Amish don't "work at it"; they "play at it."
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
If we all carry a little of the burden, it will be lightened. If we share in the suffering of the world, then some will not have to endure so heavy an affliction. It evens out.— Dorothy Day quoted in Dorothy Day: Selected Writings edited by Robert Ellsberg
Sunday, December 16, 2007
We have to try to discover the inner aspects of Truth and unite them in ourselves. I have to be a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Jain, a Parsee, a Sikh, a Muslim, and a Jew, as well as a Christian, if I am to know the Truth and to find the point of reconciliation in all religion.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
For many years I was reflexively turned off by the notion of sitting silently for more than a minute or two, at most. I told myself--persuasively, it seems--that I was incapable of meditation. My mind, I was convinced, was too busy, and my patience too thin. Meditation might be good for others, I magnanimously conceded. But for me it was too, well... passive.It's really amazing that the writer was able to develop a practice during a crisis. That's really not the best time to learn. Better to develop a practice when things are more or less normal and then meditation is there for you when your life becomes really difficult.
Then, a dozen years or so ago, I found myself in one of those deep and painful situations with which life has a way of confronting us at precisely the wrong (right!) time and, with the help of a couple of good friends and advisers, I decided to give meditation a try. The instructions were simple: just breathe, I was told, and keep bringing the attention gently back to the breath, no matter what thoughts and feelings may come up.
Miraculously, it worked. In the course of time, I found not only immense solace in the great silences of mediation, but also a fine way to train the mind. It became my practice, every day, to sit--at first for ten or fifteen minutes, then fifteen or twenty, then thirty or forty-five. And breathe. No more, no less. And watch the breath as it enters and leaves the body. That simple--and that hard!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Across the pond, the word for whining is "whinging". It means "to complain or protest, especially in an annoying or persistent manner." The avoidance of whining or whinging comes under the meditative principle known as restraint. I like to use the slogan, "not necessary." Even if I feel like complaining, it truly is not necessary!
I have heard it said that whining is anger coming out through a very small opening.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I'm hoping that some of you will check here for news. As I write the Center has no power. Not only that, it is impossible to get in the building because the locks are electronically operated. So there will be no class tonight or tomorrow.
My appointment book is, I'm sorry to say, in my office as is all the information we have regarding phone numbers and other means of contacting Center participants. Also, Cynthia cannot get to her computer to update our website.
I do apologize for this but, of course, it is beyond my control.
I hope you all are well. Keep meditating!
I love the poetry of Wallace Stevens. Here's one about paying attention:
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye
of the blackbird.
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of
A man and a woman
A man and a woman and a
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
Traced in the
An indecipherable cause.
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
of many circles.
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Silence will help you avoid engaging in the games of competition and illusion that regularly seduce us in the outside world. Silence also helps you avoid distraction. It helps focus the busy mind---the mind that always has to be doing something, thinking something, the mind that always has to be otherwise engaged lest it become introspective and allow the soul's voice to override its own. The silence I am describing is a silence that you use to contain the grace you receive when you enter the Castle of your soul. This quality of silence allows you to engage in discernment. You carry this silence within you, even when you are with others. It allows you to hold your center amid the chaos of your life; it keeps you clear so that you do not do or say things you will regret or make decisions out of fear.
-- Carolyn Myss
Sunday, December 09, 2007
There is a drowsy state, between sleeping and waking, when you dream more in five minutes with your eyes half open, and yourself half conscious of everything that is passing around you, than you would in five nights with your eyes fast closed, and your senses wrapt in perfect unconsciousness. At such time, a mortal knows just enough of what his mind is doing, to form some glimmering conception of its mighty powers, its bounding from earth and spurning time and space, when freed from the restraint of its corporeal associate.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
When teaching children, we must never forget that we are all children in the spiritual life. There is no age, just souls traveling together. You would know to never patronize a child, they are just as likely to be far more advanced than yourself spiritually and almost certainly have more receptivity. Undoubtedly childhood is the most precious time of all for us spiritually, for it is the natural time of openness, spontaneity and joy, in short, a time when the soul is still naturally present.I really agree with the instruction about never patronizing a child. Everyone is more likely to respond positively to respect than to condescension.
See every soul as your brother or sister, a spiritual companion that we each will learn lessons from, love and laugh with. Many great masters have taught that the best cohort is a child of heart and mind. Remember that Jesus spoke a truth that all philosophies agree with when he said that we must become as children to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Take your responsibility as parent or guardian or spiritual elder, very, very seriously for it is a sacred, sacred trust that a child naturally offers you. On many levels, that trust must be extremely deeply respected. The worst crime that we can commit is a spiritual crime against a child.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Thursday, December 06, 2007
1. New strategies for dealing with cravingsTypically, people in the throes of addiction have a compulsion to change the way they feel. Meditation helps us realize that all feelings are impermanent by their nature. The cultivation of compassion is also fundamental to the meditative process and that includes compassion for oneself. Such compassion makes it less likely that we will beat up on ourselves and then try to feel better by indulging in an addictive substance or behavior.
2. Increased distress tolerance
3. Increased self-awareness and acceptance
4. New strategies for pain management
Recovery is possible. Meditation can help.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
In the beginning of the Allegory of the Cave, Plato represents man’s condition as being “chained in a cave,” with only a fire behind him. He perceives the world by watching the shadows on the wall. He sits in darkness with the false light of the fire and does not realize that this existence is wrong or lacking. It merely is his existence — he knows no other nor offers any complaint.You can read a translation of the original right here.
Plato next imagines in the Allegory of the Cave what would occur if the chained man were suddenly released from his bondage and let out into the world. Plato describes how some people would immediately be frightened and want to return to the cave and the familiar dark existence. Others would look at the sun and finally see the world as it truly is.
They would know their previous existence was farce, a shadow of truth, and they would come to understand that their lives had been one of deception. A few would embrace the sun, and the true life and have a far better understanding of “truth.” They would also want to return to the cave to free the others in bondage, and would be puzzled by people still in the cave who would not believe the now “enlightened” truth bearer. Many would refuse to acknowledge any truth beyond their current existence in the cave.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Insights from myth, dreams, and intuitions, from glimpses of an invisible reality, and from perennial human wisdom provide us with hints and guesses about the meaning of life and what we are here for. Prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action are the means through which we grow and find meaning.
Monday, December 03, 2007
The review ends this way:
Compassion is not an easy practice since the ego and its enticements resist unlocking the heart. Barasch cites a poll that shows most people in the world favor this spiritual virtue as the one that can solve many of our global problems. He concludes: "A society based on universal compassion is not just our only hope; it is an evolutionary imperative." This highly readable book is an impressive achievement.I do think we are in serious trouble as a species if we don't develop universal compassion. There are too many of us and our weapons of destruction are too powerful for us to be content with a society based on hostility and competition.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Be effortlessly aware of the Ground of Being from which all things arise at each nanosecond of time and which might be described as ever-present Awareness keeping silent watch. It is non-judgmental, simple, penetrating all reality; the backdrop, background, and source of everything, and the eternal Now beneath the apparent movement of time.
Ever-present Awareness does not do anything. It just is and sustains all that exists, letting all things follow their innate nature and fulfill their created purpose.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
What's encouraging about meditation is that even if we shut down, we can no longer shut down in ignorance. We see very clearly that we're closing off. That in itself begins to illuminate the darkness of ignorance.
-- Pema Chödrön
Friday, November 30, 2007
Effects on the body:
• Reduction of pain, even with chronic problems such as cancer, heart problems or AIDS
• Improved vision (eyesight)
• Improved hearing
• Strengthening of the immune system
Effects on the mind:
• Improvement of memory powers and intelligence
• Increased concentration and attention (awareness)
Effects on psychological aspects:
• An increased feeling of identity and stronger self reliance
• Stronger sense of self through positive experiences about oneself
• Increased empathy, leading to increased openness in dealing with other people
• Increased contentment and appreciation of people and good things in life
• Improved creativity through increased intuition and inspiration
• Reduction of fear
• Reductions from addictions and other bad habits
• Improvements in dealing with
* depressionThere are more benefits listed if you want to click through. These actually make it well worth it to take those few minutes a day for regular meditation.
* attention deficit disorder
* post traumatic stress disorder
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I've learned.... That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.
I've learned.... That when you're in love, it shows.
I've learned.... That just one person saying to me, 'You've made my day!' makes my day.
I've learned.... That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.
I've learned.... That being kind is more important than being right.
I've learned.... That you should never say no to a gift from a child.
I've learned.... That I can always pray for someone when I don't have the strength to help him in some other way.
I've learned.... That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.
I've learned.... That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.
I've learned.... That simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.
I've learned.... That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.
I've learned.... That we should be glad God doesn't give us everything we ask for.
I've learned.... That money doesn't buy class.
I've learned.... That it's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.
I've learned... That under everyone's hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.
I've learned.... That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.
I 've learned.... That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.
I've learned.... That love, not time, heals all wounds.
I've learned.... That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.
I've learned.... That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.
I've learned.... That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.
I've learned.... That life is tough, but I'm tougher.
I've learned.... That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.
I've learned.... That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.
I've learned.... That I wish I could have told my Mom that I love her one more time before she passed away.
I've learned.... That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.
I've learned.... That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.
I've learned.... That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, that you're hooked for life.
I've learned.... That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.
I've learned.... That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.
-- Mostly from Live and Learn and Pass It On
I think this one is really important: "to ignore the facts does not change the facts." But this one has probably changed my life the most: "being kind is more important than being right." It took me a long time to learn it and I still forget occasionally. Nevertheless, I now see why it's true and I'm very glad I do.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
We say, ‘In calmness there should be activity; in activity there should be calmness.’ Actually, they are the same thing; to say ‘calmness’ or to say ‘activity’ is just to express different interpretations of one fact. There is harmony in our activity, and where there is harmony there is calmness.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
“What are you doing?” Dongshan asked.It reminds me of the teaching that we should meditate as if our hair were on fire. It reminds me how one of the Desert Fathers said that if we wished we could become "all flame" !
“I’m mending clothes.”
“How do you do that?“
“One stitch is like the next,” said Shenshan.
“What, after twenty years of practice – that’s all you can say?” said Dongshan.
Shenshan put down his needle and turned to his companion. “Well then tell me. How do you sew?”
“As though the entire earth were spewing flames,” said Dongshan.
Then the blog owner says the following:
Here are 3 states of mind that we can cultivate through meditation. Each one fosters creativity:So there are more benefits to meditation than just lowering the blood pressure or reducing stress. But those who meditate regularly already know this.
1. Letting go of the ‘me, mine, myself’ mind-tape
In order to do something ‘as if the whole earth were spewing flames’, we need to dive completely into the action and forget ourselves in the process.
2. Being kind to ourselves
A kindly attitude allows us to experiment with failure without our grumpy inner editor ripping us to shreds.
3. Stilling the mind
A mind cluttered with thoughts lacks the spaciousness needed for creativity. It helps to be still for a few minutes before starting a creative endeavor. The easiest way to still the mind is to pay tender regard to the breath, or to listen to sounds. When we start the creative process from this point of stillness, ideas flow naturally and freely.
Never give up!
Monday, November 26, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
People who meditate have been shown to quickly achieve health benefits such as slower heart rates, lower blood pressure, reduced oxygen consumption and lower lactic acid levels. Some have used meditation to help with everything from headaches and respiratory problems to cancer and coping with death. It is seen as a crucial tool in treating many mental illnesses such as depression or schizophrenia while it has also been shown to actually boost functionality of the immune system. Beyond the science, however, one common health benefit in dealing with stress is perhaps the most important, and that is meditation’s ability to help the practitioner to shut up and listen.I really like the last sentence! That's what we all need: to shut up and listen.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Meditation. Why do I find it so hard? Typically I do fine if I light a candle and stare at the flame. It is very soothing. But any other way and I feel very sleepy. So it's something I commit to continue working on. Even if it's a matter of setting a time for 5 minutes and then stopping, it's what I've got to do. Any time I actually have meditated, I've gotten so much from the experience. There are times when I've been brought to tears and couldn't even say why. Probably because I was so centered, so connected to God. So, before I go to sleep tonight, I will meditate for at least 5 minutes.It's almost impossible for perfectionist to develop the discipline of regular, consistent meditation. The perfect is truly the enemy of the good in this case. If you think you have to be perfect in order to do it at all, you probably won't do it.
It doesn't have to be perfect. I just have to take the action and do it.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Sounds Zen doesn't it? The Zen folks just love paradoxes!
Easy is right.
Begin right and you are easy.
Continue easy, and you are right.
The right way to go easy is to forget the right way
and forget that
the going is easy.
-- Chuang Tzu
But it's true that beginning meditators tend to try to make it hard and then they get very frustrated and give up. So "easy is right" is a good slogan to go by, really.
Chuang Tzu, by the way, is the teacher who once dreamed he was a butterfly. And then he speculatated that he didn't really know whether he was a man dreaming he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was a man.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Dive deeply into the miracle of life and let the tips of your wings be burnt by the flame, let your feet be lacerated by the thorns, let your heart be stirred by human emotion, and let your soul be lifted beyond the earth.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Here is my wish for you and every other child, woman, and man on the face of the earth: Spend one week saying only kind, caring things to yourself. Say thank you at least ten times an hour, direct five toward yourself and five to the world at large. Compliment yourself (and others) each time an effort is made. Notice all the wonderful qualities and characteristics about yourself and those around you. One week. You will never go back. And your whole life will be a glorious meditation.
-- Cheri Huber
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Mind you, I'd like people to do both but you could do a lot worse than practicing gratitude. Here's what a study on the process found:
The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. Additionally, the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, was more likely to help others, exercised more regularly and made more progress toward personal goals. According to the findings, people who feel grateful are also more likely to feel loved.And if you need help getting started, these questions are suggested:
What am I truly grateful for in my life?This is about truly appreciating what we have without having to lose it first. Try it. (And meditate, too!)
Aim for five answers, and if you have trouble at first, ask yourself alternative probing questions such as:
What relationships do I have that others don’t?
What do I take for granted?
What freedoms, unique abilities, and options do I have that others don’t?
What advantages have I been given in life?
Which allies and supporters have helped me to get to where I am?
Monday, November 19, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Recent research lead by INSEAD concluded that while a standard executive education approach failed to increase the likelihood of managers making socially responsible business decisions, meditation based coaching programs showed a significant impact on the probability to act in a socially responsible way.The above paragraphs were from blog posting entitled "INSEAD study shows benefits of meditation in business".
Overall this does suggest that meditation has a number of implications and applications in organisations beyond the simple ’stress reduction’ approaches that many people associated it with.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Today, I found a whole little article about smiling and I want to share two excerpts that really caught my attention:
And make your own day. Making it a point to smile frequently and genuinely really does help you do just that.
Smiling Journal - For two weeks, record the moments that brought out your wonderful smile. If you are ever feel down, flip through this book to be reminded of things that make you smile. Experience those moments and notice your state shift to a positive one. You cannot be both angry and smiling at the same time. I learned in physiological psychology that if the physical action conflicts with that of your feeling, the feeling inside will shift to match that of your outer sensation. One way to shift your emotion is to change your physiology.
Smile at Homeless People and Street Hagglers - I live in a part of downtown Seattle with lots of street hagglers and homeless people. People often ask me whether I get ‘harassed’ often. The answer is: sometimes. But they really are very nice, just like the rest of us. They too need attention and acknowledgment. So, give them a gift worth more than money. Next time someone asks you for money, don’t try to ignore them. Turn to them, smile warmly and tell them how you feel. If you don’t feel like giving money, just tell them “Sorry, I don’t have change now. Have a beautiful day!” Similarly, if something is trying to sell you something or ‘hitting-on’ you, simply turn to them, smile and say “No thank you.” I’ve found that it takes more energy to ignore and pretend to be very serious, than it is to smile. So smile! Make someone’s day!
Friday, November 16, 2007
I know that I am more likely to be kind and open to others because I meditate. Or another way of putting it is that I am less likely to be unkind and reactive because I meditate. Mind you, I am certainly not perfect in this department. But meditation really helps and I would be foolish beyond description to give it up.
To meet everything and everyone through stillness instead of mental noise is the greatest gift you can offer to the universe.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
So, once more, impermanence is our friend!
We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depended on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Light breaks where no sun shines;
Where no sea runs, the waters of the heart
Push in their tides;
And, broken ghosts with glow-worms in their heads,
The things of light
File through the flesh where no flesh decks the bones...
-- Dylan Thomas
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt.We actually cannot avoid suffering by trying to control our circumstances or other people. We can, however, very quickly alleviate our suffering by letting go of our attachment to things being other than they are. In that case, the opposite of what Merton observes takes place. Fewer and fewer things end up bothering us. It's really quite remarkable how this works!
Monday, November 12, 2007
To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell.But our culture conditions us to consider only (or, at least, primarily) the effect of other people and things on ourselves. Heck, it's no wonder so many people are so unhappy so much of the time!
Sunday, November 11, 2007
KNOWN BUT TO GOD
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Researchers have found that meditation lowers levels of stress hormones. In fact, by decreasing the level of one such hormone – epinephrine — meditation has been shown to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood and therefore help arteries to remain clear. Reduction of stress hormones also supports the healthy functioning of the immune system.More and more the research is demonstrating that meditation really does us a world of good. So what's stopping you from doing it? :-)
This reduction in stress hormones may be explained by the relaxed state that comes about through meditation. Electroencephalograph (EEG) studies of the brain in those who are meditating show that meditation boosts the intensity of alpha waves – associated with quiet, receptive states — to levels not seen even during sleep. This relaxed state combats anxiety, and this is confirmed by research which has found lowered levels of lactic acid in the blood. (High levels of lactic acid are associated with anxiety.) Another effect of meditation is that breathing slows, so the body uses less oxygen.
Meditation has been found to be particularly helpful for the heart. Meditators have been found to have improved blood circulation, as well as a lowered heart rate, which places less demands on the heart.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation... Tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.
- Jean Arp
Thursday, November 08, 2007
I once heard a world-renowned psychiatrist pose a question to a room full of mental health experts. He asked, "What is the 'seat belt' of mental health? Seat belts save lives, they are a simple thing people can do to protect themselves from physical harm, but what is the comparable tool to protect us from the mental hazards of life? What is the seat belt to protect against the risks for unhappiness, depression, anxiety, pain, and suffering?"True, true, true. Is it too much trouble to meditate? Well, is it too much trouble to fasten your seat belt? Think about it!
We all know that the road of life is bumpy with unexpected drop-offs, accidents, and only the occasional smooth-sailing highway. I believe that meditation -- a practice for increasing awareness -- is truly a seat belt of mental health, a protection for us on the hazardous road of life. Meditation doesn't mean sitting and reciting a mantra , although one could practice that way. Meditation is a mental exercise that heightens your awareness to experience.
The above excerpt is from an article by Susan Smalley who has written several articles for The Huffington Post.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Living and loving the present moment is the key to a spiritual life. Without trust, hope and love, we will not be able to endure the hardship of life.
Trust, hope and love will surely lead us to happiness, peace and consolation going beyond the ups and downs of human relationships.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
I believe there is an important distinction to be made between religion and spirituality. Religion I take to be concerned with belief in the claims to salvation of one faith tradition or another--an aspect of which is acceptance of some form of meta-physical or philosophical reality, including perhaps an idea of heaven or hell. Connected with this are religious teachings or dogma, ritual, prayers and so on. Spirituality I take to be concerned with those qualities of the human spirit--such as love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony, which bring happiness to both self and others.
Monday, November 05, 2007
· Think of your good feelings and your bad feelings as the players holding the white and black pieces in a chess game. Struggling against your bad feelings means joining a meaningless and futile contest with yourself.I really recommend that you click through and read the whole article. It's good.
· Imagine your situation as a tug-of-war in which you are pulling harder and harder against an opponent who is dragging you toward a pit. Instead you have to drop the rope.
· Sit and picture thoughts passing through your mind in the form of words on signs held by people in a parade you are watching from a reviewing stand. Eventually you may find that you can't keep your thoughts on that kind of helpful distance. Back up and try to recall what you were thinking when the shift occurred. Then try again.
· Imagine that you are connected to a device that infallibly detects anxiety. Would this help you avoid or control the anxiety, or would the effort simply create more discomfort?
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Here's an excerpt from a little All Saints Meditation:
In the Northern Hemisphere, November it is a time of waning light, a time for more indoor activities of reading and reflection. It is a time of celebration for a bountiful harvest, or a time of quiet and joyful anticipation of a better year to come.To me the best thing about the saints is their companionship. We are not alone. They are always their to cheer us on and provide enouragement and inspiration.
Reflecting on the lives of saints shows us the path through life, though it may be materially difficult at times, has a built in reward in that forever in our meditation we can commune with Peace and Joy.
Remember that by their lives the saints have shown that joy is an inner quality that bubbles up to fill in the spaces of each empty-seeming moment with peace and joy, fueling the fires of caring and loving devotion in activities in the world.
Finish your meditation with a deep breath in and out; stretch and go on with peace and joy, renewed and rejuvenated as with the lives of saints before and of today.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
May we be united in heart.
May we be united in speech.
May we be united in mind.
May we perform our duties
As did the wise of old.
May we be united in our prayer.
May we be united in our goal.
May we be united in our resolve.
May we be united in our understanding.
May we be united in our offering.
May we be united in our feelings.
May we be united in our hearts.
May we be united in our thoughts.
May there be perfect unity amongst us.
From the Rig Veda
Friday, November 02, 2007
Seek the truth; come whence it may, cost what it will.I found myself thinking about those words today and appreciating them. Easy answers are cheap and often very destructive. Don't let yourself be seduced by them!
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Modern scientific studies have proved that meditation, if practiced regularly, is beneficial in many ways. You will be able to cope with stress in a better way. Your anxiety levels will go down. Your high blood pressure will come under control. Meditation helps you deal with life’s problems. Since meditation helps you to focus better on the present moment, it works well to relieve you of the suffering you experience due to your past traumas and memories or the fears about the uncertain future.Of course, in order to reap these benefits, we've actually got to do it. Please don't consider meditation to be a luxury that can be skipped when you're busy. During busy times is when we need meditation the most!
Proven benefits of meditation include increase in the blood flow and slowing down of the heart rate and respiratory rate, increase in the levels of tolerance among patients suffering from various illnesses, increase in the level of serotonin, which influences mood and behavior. Meditation strengthens the immune system, because of which the body is better equipped to deal with infections and allergies. It works wonders for depressed people, as it raises the levels of serotonin. People can free themselves from the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, if they practice meditation regularly. Studies have shown that even those who are prone to panic attacks experience considerable relief, as meditation lowers the levels of blood lactate. Meditation is even known to alleviate physical pain.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tonight, beloved, the veil between the worlds is very thin. This is the night to remember our blessed dead, to realize that their lives have "changed, not ended" and that they remain a part of our awareness and experience if we welcome them and give them hospitality in our hearts.
Whatever our belief system, we can perform a ritual of thanksgiving for their contribution to who and what we are. And, if this is in keeping with our convictions, we can do prayers and meditations for their benefit as they continue to grow and develop in the next life.
So let us remember, let us give thanks, and let us celebrate!
I agree. Let's all look for opportunities today to practice these acts of caring.
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, and honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Can you imagine having an internal recorder that could actually replay what you say when no one else is listening? What if you could replay the conversations you have had with yourself over the last several hours? What kinds of phrases would you hear?It's important not to scold ourselves for that negative voice if it's there. Scolding is just one more message of negativity! Instead, speak to yourself with compassion. Just say, "Of course, I've been using a negative tone with myself. I learned to do that many years ago when I didn't have as much insight and awareness as I do now. But now it's not necessary." Then change to an affirming tone and message. Be consistent with this and your self-esteem will show marked improvement.
The fact is, most of the time we have little conscious awareness of our own internal dialogue, and yet this self-talk has a huge impact on how you feel about yourself. With a little practice, you can tune into this information and use it to bolster your self-image.
If your self talk is highly negative, it is virtually guaranteed that your self-esteem will be weak. In fact, it has been my experience that people cannot have a profound sense of their own significance until they develop self-talk that promotes their value as a person.
Once you've become more aware of your self-talk, you'll be able to moderate your inner conversation. You'll be able to take a kinder tone and recognize your intrinsic value.
Monday, October 29, 2007
The brain waves of meditators show why they're healthier. Neuroscientists have found that meditators shift their brain activity to different areas of the cortex—brain waves in the stress-prone right frontal cortex move to the calmer left frontal cortex. In other words, they were calmer and happier than before.
Who doesn't want to be calmer and happier? Hey, don't give up on your meditation!
Sunday, October 28, 2007
And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.
from Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey"
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you may have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life. What is it you would let go of today?
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Peripheral neuropathy, the most common form of neuropathy, usually affects the legs and feet. The sensory nerves are affected by atrophy and loss of the longer peripheral nerve axons. Symptoms begin in the toes and move up. Typically, the disease affects both legs.Once more, I offer these medical findings as material for motivation. Anything that gets us meditating - and keeps us meditating - is worth knowing about!
Patients with diabetic neuropathy may experience a wide range of pain and discomfort, from a mild annoyance that lasts only seconds or minutes to extreme pain that lasts for hours or days. Sometimes, mild analgesics can help relieve the pain-but not always. That's when your patient can benefit from nonpharmacologic techniques, such as guided imagery, meditation, and progressive relaxation therapy.
Whatever the technique, many patients who use meditation achieve a level of relaxation and pain relief similar to that achieved with drugs.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
If we can reach the understanding of what we actually are, there is no better remedy for eliminating all suffering. This is the heart of all spiritual practices.
-Kalu Rinpoche, Luminous Mind
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The continual activity of grasping onto an ego identity is essentially narcissistic, for it keeps us occupied with propping up an image of ourselves. Even Freud recognized the narcissism inherent in the ego when he wrote, "The development of the ego consists in a departure from primal narcissism and results in a vigorous attempt to recover it." So if we truly want to move beyond narcissistic self-involvement, we must work on overcoming our identification with whatever we imagine ourselves to be - any image of ourselves as something solid, separate, or defined. The less involved we are with images of who we are, the more we will be able to recognize our deep bond with all sentient beings, as different expressions of the mystery that also pervades our inmost nature.Our true, deep nature is so much richer, so much more free than our ego can ever be! But if our objective is constantly that of propping up the ego, we will never access that inmost part of our reality.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Imagine an executive who moves his telephone to the far side of his office. It takes an extra five seconds to answer every call. Must be an unproductive fellow, right?Yes, indeed. I perpetually am confronted with people who think that meditation means "zoning out". Far from it. It means connecting utterly with this very moment in a state of relaxed alertness.
Not according to Jonathan Foust, who teaches meditation at the World Bank and other Washington, D.C., venues.
Foust encourages his pupils to pause during the rush of daily life, to return to the calm place they find in meditation. With a renewed focus, they can actually be more productive -- better at prioritizing work and managing distractions.
When the executive rises from his chair to get the phone, he steals a sliver of time to clear his mind.
"When you slow down, what is most important will come to the surface," said Foust, warning that this takes time to master. "These practices are like swimming upstream because you're encountering not only your own conditioning, but the culture. This culture does not want to slow down."
Millions of Americans are swimming alongside Foust's students, seeking a respite from the breakneck pace of modern life. Meditation groups have sprung up in law offices, insurance companies and other workplaces, without the stereotypical trappings of incense and crystals.
Employers find that meditation classes not only boost productivity, they save money by reducing employees' stress levels.
In Pittsburgh, health insurer Highmark Inc. offers a group relaxation class and provides Intranet access to an audio routine called "de-stress at your desk."
"Stress can have a long-term impact on the health of your employees, productivity and the bottom line," said Lisa Scholar, Highmark's manager of employee preventive health.
At the Cleveland Clinic's Center for Integrative Medicine, every staff meeting begins with a group meditation.
"It's a lot different than the transcendental meditation that we hippies grew up with," said Tanya Edwards, the center's director. The goal is "to try to put yourself in a quasi-meditative state all the time."
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Greet everyone you meet with a warm smile.No matter how busy you are, don't rush enounters with co-workers, family and friends.Speak softly. Listen attentively.Act as if every conversation you have is the most important thing on your mind today.Look your children and your partner in the eyes when they talk to you.Stroke the cat, caress the dog.Lavish love on every living being you meet.See how different you feel at the end of the day.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Paradoxically, we achieve true wholeness only by embracing our fragility and sometimes, our brokenness. Wholeness is a natural radiance of Love, and Love demands that we allow the destruction of our old self for the sake of the new.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Here are a couple of excerpts:
Meditation as a “quiet revolution” is an oxymoron, of course. Meditation is generally a private, quiet practice for the individual. Its acceptance has changed dramatically over the last several years, although it is still not universally accepted. As with most revolutions, often an underground is established before, during, and after the outward manifestations of the revolution. In the North American culture (which is the culture I know), more and more individuals are speaking and writing about their meditation practice.So don't give up. Keep on meditating and revolutionize your life!
No matter where, individuals must make a choice to meditate and practice it regularly in order to benefit fully. Full benefits come with regular practice over a period of time. Meditating only when stressed may certainly be beneficial in the immediate situation, but the long-term benefits include well-being, health, a stronger immune system, longevity, clarity of thought, balance. Regardless of the chosen method, the benefits of regular meditation, over time, are as varied as the individuals who meditate. It is quite common for long-time meditators to acknowledge they benefit physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Look into the other's eyes, many frustrations.
Read between the lines, no words just vibrations.
Don't ignore hidden desires.
Pay attention, you're playing with fire.
Silence must be heard.
Noise should be observed.
The time has come to learn, that silence...
Silence must be heard,
or diamonds will burn.
Friendly cards will turn.
Cause silence, has the right to be heard.
People talk too much, for what they have to say.
Words without a meaning, they are fading away.
Silence must be heard.
Noise should be observed.
The time has come to learn, that silence...
Silence must be heard,
or diamonds will burn.
Friendly cards will turn.
Cause silence, has the right to be heard.
Silence must be heard.
Silence must be heard.
Noise should be observed.
Silence must be heard.
Silence must be heard.
Noise should be observed.
Silence must be heard.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
May all beings be peaceful.These are wonderful things to wish for anyone. Try it for individuals and substitute the person's name for "all beings". But, of course, the traditional teaching is always to start with yourself:
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings awaken to the light of their true nature.
May all beings be free.
May I be peaceful.May I be happy.May I be safe.May I awaken to the light of my true nature.May I be free.