Monday, December 31, 2007

Monday meditative picture blogging

Meditation

Ponder for a few minutes

Oh my. Isn't this wonderful?
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

Spiritually literate resolutions

"Living In The Present Moment"

These are from Spirituality and Practice. Take a look:

1. I will live in the present moment. I will not obsess about the past or worry about the future.

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.
There are seven more where these came from!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Let go of those expectations!

Yes, of course, we need a certain degree of predictability in life in order to function. For example, when we drop something, we expect it to fall and not float upward. When we stop at a red light, we expect it to turn green eventually. It's important, however, not to assume that our wellbeing depends upon our expectations being fulfilled:

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

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.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday cat blogging!

Simon
Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Not knowing

Someone named Mark McDermott has a blog that is mostly about meditation. Here's something he said recently:
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

Newness

"Apples and Sun"
Artist: Kit Hoefer

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

An echo of one's spirit

A Cheerful Temper

It was last year (or maybe the year before) that I gave myself a copy of Small Graces by Kent Nerburn for Christmas. Here's an excerpt that I just stumbled upon today:

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

Christmas expectations


I could not find a name attached to this quote but I found it on a website called Life Research Universal:

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.
I like that. Maybe we could all have the aspiration of observing Christmas day after day. When you think of it, the freshness and humility of "beginner's mind" is about letting the Child be born in us over and over. And that Child is ever Holy.

Peace be with you all, this joyous day and throughout the New Year!
Ellie

Sunday, December 23, 2007

True enjoyment


Fr. Clyde Glandon sent me this:

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.

-- Thich Nhat Hanh from Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Winter Solstice



The solstice was at 12:08 this morning Central Time.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday cat blogging!

Simon
Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Coming back to ourselves

It saddens me when I hear of people who think that meditation is demonic. A meditation student recently told me about such an encounter. I was very proud of her when she told me that she replied by saying that meditation is about bringing clarity to the mind. Exactly!

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.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

So meditation is certainly not about inaction. It is, rather, about skillful action.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday life form blogging

Meditation and depression

Here's an article I found this morning called Meditation may be effective depression-fighter:
Meditating could be a simple solution to treating depression.

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.
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.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The importance of play

What would happen if we decided to reframe what we normally consider to be work as play?

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."

Leonard Sweet in SoulTsunami

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tuesday meditative picture blogging

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

A reminder about compassion

Here's something that's so true and that we all need to remember:
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

The point of reconciliation

Clyde Glandon sent me this. I so agree:

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.

--Bede Griffiths in Return to the Center

Saturday, December 15, 2007

This is so true

Please don't ever tire of your inner work:

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday cat blogging!

Simon
Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Meditation works!

Take a look at this excerpt from an article called "Practice, Practice, Practice":
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.

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!
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.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Now this is funny!

Look what I just found:

I have heard it said that whining is anger coming out through a very small opening.

James Finley in The Contemplative Heart

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!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The situation in Tulsa

Dear participants of St. John's Center,

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!

Blessings,
Ellie

Really seeing, really observing

Common Blackbird (Turdus merula)


I love the poetry of Wallace Stevens. Here's one about paying attention:

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

I
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye
of the blackbird.

II
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three
blackbirds.

III
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of
the pantomime.

IV
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a
blackbird
Are one.

V
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the
beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

VI
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow
of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the
shadow
An indecipherable cause.

VII
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you
not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about
you?

VIII
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I
know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

IX
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one
of many circles.

X
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the
bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

XI
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced
him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For
blackbirds.

XII
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

XIII
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going
to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday meditative picture blogging

This is what it looks like in Tulsa today.
Photo by Weaver Bloomfield

More about silence

It's so hard to be silent this time of year, I know. It's really worth it, however. And because of all the frantic busyness, we need silence during this season more than ever:

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

The mind's "mighty powers"

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.

-- Charles Dickens (from Oliver Twist)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Working with children

I found this on the Meditation Society of Australia website:
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.

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.
I really agree with the instruction about never patronizing a child. Everyone is more likely to respond positively to respect than to condescension.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Meditation and addictions

Today a medical person asked me about using meditation as part of a treatment plan for people suffering from addictions. What, in fact, could a person expect from meditation instruction? I found myself answering with the following:
1. New strategies for dealing with cravings
2. Increased distress tolerance
3. Increased self-awareness and acceptance
4. New strategies for pain management
Typically, 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.

Recovery is possible. Meditation can help.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Wednesday life form blogging

Smokey and friend
(The sweetest dog you'll ever meet!)
Photo by Bill Miller

Plato and the cave

I stumbled across a reference to the Allegory of the Cave today and decided it woul be a good idea to call that to your attention. Here's a summary:
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.

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.
You can read a translation of the original right here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The importance of insight

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.

Jean Shinoda Bolen in Close to the Bone

Monday, December 03, 2007

Compassion as an "evolutionary imperative"


I just read a review of a book entitled Field Notes on the Compassionate Life: A Search for the Soul of Kindness by Marc Ian Barasch.

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

Advent Sunday


Yesterday my copy of Contemplative Outreach News came in the mail. In it was an article by Thomas Keating with this stunning paragraph:
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.
Later he says this:
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.
Most people are so busy doing this time of year. So let's all try to keep Advent for the next few weeks by remembering to meditate regularly - whatever our religious affiliation or belief system may be. Because if we don't actively elect to take time out for silence and reflection, the craziness of the dominant culture during this season will overtake us. Advent is about letting go and waiting and watching. The meditative teachings help us to do just that.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

What happens if we shut down?

Oh my, this is so true:

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

More on the benefits of meditation

Today I found an article that is just a list, really, of the benefits of meditation. Here's a sample:

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
* depression
* hyperactivity
* attention deficit disorder
* post traumatic stress disorder
There 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.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thursday life form blogging

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Life observations

My friend, Jim Mulcahy sent me the following. In a way it's not really about meditation but in another way it is. Because, if you'll remember, meditation is "knowing what's happening, while it's happening, no matter what it is." And the piece below tells us about just that:

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

Harmony

I love how the meditative tradition dissolves either/or thinking!

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.

- D.T. Suzuki

Just for fun

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Creativity and meditation

You know, I have actually had people tell me that they think meditation could be an obstacle to creativity because they think creativity requires a person to be angry or depressed or anguished. Today I found a meditation blog that speaks to the way meditation enhances creativity. First the writer tells this Zen story:
“What are you doing?” Dongshan asked.
“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.
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" !

Then the blog owner says the following:
Here are 3 states of mind that we can cultivate through meditation. Each one fosters creativity:

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.
So there are more benefits to meditation than just lowering the blood pressure or reducing stress. But those who meditate regularly already know this.

Never give up!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Playing the hand we're dealt

Clyde Glandon sent me this marvelous quote:

When I don’t have any red, I use blue.

-- Pablo Picasso

There's a lot here. It's worth pondering for a long time.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The importance of listening

Here's a paragraph from an article called "Beating stress" that I found on The Meditation Society of Australia website:
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

Just do it

I found a blog posting a few minutes ago that's by someone in a 12-Step group. She writes the following about Step 11:
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 doesn't have to be perfect. I just have to take the action and do it.
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.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday cat blogging!

Photo by Jeannie Dibble

Easy is right

Cynthia sent me this. I really love it:

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

Sounds Zen doesn't it? The Zen folks just love paradoxes!

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


Lifting our soul

As you give thanks today, do this too:

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.

-- Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wednesday life form blogging

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

An idea - a good one

Found this today. I like it.

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

Good observation

This is really something to ponder:

How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.

-- Marcus Aurelius

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday meditative picture blogging

This is making the rounds on the internet. Amazing, huh?

Time for gratitude

Today I found an article entitled "Don't Like Meditation? Try Gratitude Training".

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?

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?
This is about truly appreciating what we have without having to lose it first. Try it. (And meditate, too!)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Share your joy!

How's this for a new word:

I think we need a new word — "comjoyment" — as a companion to "compassion" to remind us that our greatest gift to the world may be in sharing what gives us the greatest joy.

— Sam Keen in Learning to Fly

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Meditation and social responsibility

How do we make business people into decent people? Teach them to meditate. Take a look:
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.
...
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.
The above paragraphs were from blog posting entitled "INSEAD study shows benefits of meditation in business".

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saturday cat blogging

Photo by Jeannie Dibble


Sorry about the lack of cats yesterday. I was in a conference all day and just ran out of time!

Smiling

Some meditation traditions teach the half-smile as one part of meditative discipline. There's something to that. It helps you relax all over and feel more receptive.

Today, I found a whole little article about smiling and I want to share two excerpts that really caught my attention:

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!

And make your own day. Making it a point to smile frequently and genuinely really does help you do just that.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I am often dismayed by the number of people who think meditation is a selfish enterprise - that it is clearly better to engage in the kind of outward action that produces obvious accomplishments that benefit others. Well, first of all, who says you can only do one or the other? But, more importantly, why believe that meditation doesn't affect the way you treat others?

To meet everything and everyone through stillness instead of mental noise is the greatest gift you can offer to the universe.

-- Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks

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.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Opinions

One great cause of suffering is our attachment to our opinions. So often we not only want the right to have our opinions, we insist that they be validated by others. From the meditative point of view there is nothing wrong with having an opinion but the attachment to that opinion is sure to disturb the mind because nobody has the power to make the whole world agree with him or her:

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.

- Chuang Tzu

So, once more, impermanence is our friend!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wednesday life form blogging

Bandit
Photo by Jeannie Dibble

Lines to ponder

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

An observation about suffering

It is so common for people to do everything in their power to avoid pain. And, sadly, it's so unskillful to do so. Here's something Thomas Merton said about that:
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

Monday meditative picture blogging

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

The hell of narcissism

Today I happened upon something Thomas Merton said that I'd never before come across:
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

Veterans Day, 2007

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

HERE RESTS IN
HONORED GLORY
AN AMERICAN
SOLDIER
KNOWN BUT TO GOD

Unconditional war can no longer lead to unconditional victory. It can no longer serve to settle disputes. It can no longer be of concern to great powers alone. For a nuclear disaster, spread by winds and waters and fear, could well engulf the great and the small, the rich and the poor, the committed and the uncommitted alike. Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.

One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.

The peace and welfare of this and coming generations of Americans will be secure only as we cling to the watchword of true patriotism: "Our country -- when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right."

The point of nonviolence is to build a floor, a strong new floor, beneath which we can no longer sink. A platform which stands a few feet above napalm, torture, exploitation, poison gas, A and H bombs, the works. Give man a decent place to stand.

Until we have the courage to recognize cruelty for what it is--whether its victim is human or animal--we cannot expect things to be much better in this world... We cannot have peace among men whose hearts delight in killing any living creature. By every act that glorifies or even tolerates such moronic delight in killing we set back the progress of humanity.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

More on the benefits of meditation

Here's an excerpt from an article called "A 20 Minute Vacation: The Amazing Health Benefits of Meditation":
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.

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.
More and more the research is demonstrating that meditation really does us a world of good. So what's stopping you from doing it? :-)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday cat blogging!

Simon
Photo by Cynthia Burgess

The "legend" of silence

Let's not let this happen to us!

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

The "seat belt" of mental health

Oh my. I really love this metaphor. Take a look:

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?"

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.
True, true, true. Is it too much trouble to meditate? Well, is it too much trouble to fasten your seat belt? Think about it!

The above excerpt is from an article by Susan Smalley who has written several articles for The Huffington Post.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Loving the present moment

The author was a Vietnamese Roman Catholic archbishop who spent 13 years in a Communist re-education camp, nine years of which were in solitary confinement:

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.

-- Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Wisdom from the Dalai Lama

This is insightful, I think:

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.

-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Monday, November 05, 2007

Working skillfully with anxiety

I found a really marvelous little article called "Meditation for anxiety" by a Harvard Medical School doctor. Here are some tips for letting go rather than fighting or trying to supress unwanted thoughts and feelings:
· 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.

· 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?
I really recommend that you click through and read the whole article. It's good.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A celebration of companionship

Today is the All Saints Sunday - the first Sunday after November 1 on which we honor all the saints and commemorate our Blessed Dead.

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.

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.
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.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Saturday prayer blogging

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

Friday cat blogging!

Sandy's cat
Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Truth

Engraved over the door to the library of Virginia Theological Seminary are these words:
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

Do you want a better life?

I found a little blog posting this morning called "Meditation for Better Life" . Here's part of what it says:
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.
...
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.
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!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

All Hallow's Eve


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!
~~~
May all beings be happy.

Wednesday life form blogging

Rusty, RIP
Photo by Sally Lloyd

The importance of compassion and loving kindness

I stopped by a coffee shop this morning and picked up a little advertizing sheet that I often read called "Coffee News". In it there was this "quotable quote":

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.

-- Leo Buscaglia

I agree. Let's all look for opportunities today to practice these acts of caring.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Meditation and self-esteem

Meditation gives us the tools to observe with accuracy what is going on in our minds. Being able to do that is essential if we want to change our self-talk. Why would we want to do that? Well, Dr. Neil Clark Warren explains in a little article entitled "Building Your Self Esteem From Scratch":
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?

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.
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.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday meditative picture blogging

From a card sent to me by Br. Jim Phillips

Be calmer and happier!

I just found a little bitty article called "The Benefits of Meditation" about some brain scan research done on meditators. Here's the conclusion:
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

Disturbed by joy

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

The flow of life

Wisdom shows me I'm Nothing,
Love shows me I'm Everything,
and between the two my life flows.

-- Nisargadatta

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday cat blogging!

Rumba Girl
Photo by Paul Rogers

Entertaining old pain

Pain needs to be processed, of course. And healthy grieving is necessary as a way to recover from profound loss. But to rehearse the painful events over and over so that it goes on for years - to wallow in the pain - is unhealthy and unskillful. It keeps us from ever moving forward:

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?

--Mary Manin Morrissey

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Peripheral neuropathy and meditation

Here we have another benefit of meditation:
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.

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.
Once more, I offer these medical findings as material for motivation. Anything that gets us meditating - and keeps us meditating - is worth knowing about!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The remedy that works

Recognizing our own true nature (and, of course, that of others) is so important:

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 tyranny of the idealized self

It's a repeat. But worth repeating! It's from John Welwood's really marvelous book, Toward a Psychology of Awakening:

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

Monday meditative picture blogging

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Learning to pause

Now here's an idea! It's from an article entitled "Relaxation at work":
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?

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."
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.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Some pretty good advice

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

It's really okay to let go

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.

-- Jalaja Bonheim

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday cat blogging!

Leroy

A quiet revolution

This morning I came across an interesting little article called "Meditation is a Quiet Revolution".

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.
...
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.
So don't give up. Keep on meditating and revolutionize your life!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Silence Must Be Heard

by Enigma:

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...
Silence must be heard.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wednesday life form blogging

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Lovingkindness prayer

I found this in the DharmaCrafts catalog:
May all beings be peaceful.
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.
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 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.
It's amazing how wishing those things for ourselves helps us wish them for others!