Saturday, May 31, 2008

Now here's a thought to ponder:

An exit is an entrance to somewhere else.
Unfortunately, we don't know who said it.
But I found it here.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Working effectively with disappointment

I often find myself recommending to students and clients that they normalize disappointment. The prevailing culture tells us that there's something wrong with disappointment - that it's an aberration. Disappointment, however, happens to 100% of the population. Absolutely everyboday experiences it.

Over on the "Spirituality and Practice" website there's a short article about it. There's also an e-course you can sign up for that will help you work skillfully with disappointment. Here's one suggestion:
Ask yourself, what am I disappointed about? Name your disappointments, and then let them go. Do not keep replaying them over and over in your mind. If necessary, forgive someone who has hurt or disappointed you. Also, forgive yourself for being disappointed. Remember, disappointment is a natural response to difficulty. The key is to not let it rule your life.
It's also helpful to use each occasion of disappointment to experience compassion for everyone else in the world who's feeling disappointed at that very minute.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wednesday life form blogging

Photo by Hank Weaver
Stay, little cheerful Robin! stay,
And at my easement sing,
Though it should prove a farewell lay
And this our parting spring.
. . . .
Then, little Bird, this boon confer,
Come, and my requiem sing,
Nor fail to be the harbinger
Of everlasting spring.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Returning to the present moment

Today I stumbled upon a site called The Positivity Blog that looks really, really interesting. I browsed for a bit in the archives and came across a posting entitled "8 Ways to Return to the Present Moment". Here are the first two:
1. Focus on what’s right in front of you.

Or around you. Or on you. Use your senses. Just look at what’s right in front of you right now. Listen to the sounds around you. Feel the fabric of your clothes and focus on how they feel. For the last three days the dark winter seems to have left us here in Sweden. It’s been clear skies and sunshine all the time. So I have been using the unexpected light and warmth of the sunshine on my skin to reconnect with the moment.

2. Focus on your breathing.

Take a couple of dozen belly breaths and just focus your mind on your inhaling and exhaling. This will align you with the present moment once again. You can learn more about belly breathing
in this article.
I do recommend that you explore the site if you have the time. Lots of good stuff there.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day, 2008

If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.

If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.

If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.

If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.

If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.

-- Lao Tzu (570-490 B.C.)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Roseanne on meditation

I was very surprised to find this. Good for her:

Finding a calm place inside myself through meditation kind of helped me to get over a lot of mental illness ... it's just been a really great thing in my life.

-- Roseanne Barr, Larry King Live, Mar. 2, 2006

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Normally I think of walking meditation as being something we do quite slowly and in a fairly small place. But here's an approach that combines mindfulness with walking for exercise. The following excerpt is from an article by Barbara Williamson:
Basic guidelines for walking meditation:

* Walk in an area that you are familiar and comfortable with.
* Your goal is to walk for a 20 minute time period (or more if you wish). In the beginning, if that is too long for you, then you may want to begin with a 5 minute period and gradually work your way up to a 20 minute time period.
* Start walking with a relaxed posture.
* Focus on the sensations in your feet as they lift off the ground and touch the ground.
* Relax your arms.
* As you walk, keep your focus about 3 to 6 feet in front of you.

In conclusion, mindful walking is a practice that is easy to implement into your daily exercise regiment. Not only will you be helping your body out, but you will be taking your exercise program up a notch by improving your mind and spirit.
Anything can be done as a meditation if we are conscious of staying utterly in the moment while we're doing it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The key to appreciation

I really love the way Pema Chödrön expresses fundamental meditative principles. She's so down to earth and aware of what we're all truly like on the inside!

Loving-kindness for oneself is the golden key to appreciating other people, even the ones that drive you crazy.

Pema Chödrön

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wednesday life form blogging

Photo by Jeannie Dibble

A wonderful observation

When we fall on the ground it hurts us, but we also need to rely on the ground to get back up.

-Kathleen McDonald, How to Meditate

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

An effective path to joy

Back when I was in the music business, we had a saying that kept performances from going stale when we had played the same work many, many times. It went like this: "No matter how many times you've performed Nutcracker [or whatever], there's someone out there in the audience hearing it for the very first time."

It was many years after I heard the saying that I realized there was also someone out there hearing it for the very last time.

Then today I found this:

Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first time or last time. Then your time on Earth will be filled with joy.

— Betty Smith in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A powerful way to live. Truly.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The true source of happiness

When we realize in our own experience that happiness comes not from reaching out but from letting go, not from seeking pleasurable experience but from opening in the moment to what is true, this transformation of understanding then frees the energy of compassion within us. Our minds are no longer bound up in pushing away pain or holding on to pleasure. Compassion becomes the natural response of an open heart.

-- Joseph Goldstein

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sit like a mountain

You will gradually learn to sit like a mountain. Though thoughts will arise, they are merely clouds passing by the mountain. The mountain need not be perturbed by clouds. The clouds pass on, and the mountain continues to sit – observing all, grasping at nothing.

- Steve Hagen

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Let's let go of blame

We habitually erect a barrier called blame that keeps us from communicating genuinely with others, and we fortify it with our concepts of who's right and who's wrong. We do that with the people who are closest to us and we do it with political systems, with all kinds of things that we don't like about our associates or our society. It is a very common, ancient, well-perfected device for trying to feel better. Blame others. Blaming is a way to protect your heart, trying to protect what is soft and open and tender in yourself. Rather than own that pain, we scramble to find some comfortable ground. Compassionate action starts with seeing yourself when you start to make yourself right and when you start to make yourself wrong. At that point you could just contemplate the fact that there is a larger alternative to either of those, a more tender, shaky kind of place where you could live.

--Pema Chödrön

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What to do with uncomfortable feelings

One of the most powerful and helpful meditative slogans I've come across is this one: "Liberate yourself by examining and investigating." Byron Katie looks at it this way:
An uncomfortable feeling is not an enemy. It’s a gift that says, “Get honest; inquire.” We reach out for alcohol or television or credit cards, so we can focus out there and not have to look at the feeling. And that’s as it should be because in our innocence we haven’t known how. So now what we can do is reach out for a paper and a pencil, write our thoughts down, and investigate them.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wednesday life form blogging

Photo by Hank Weaver

Looking deeply

Looking deeply at any one thing, we see the whole cosmos. The one is made of the many. To take care of ourselves, we take care of those around us.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Ah, yes. And the many is also made of the one.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Spiritual gifts?

I've told you before about the Nazarene Church on the corner at the end of my street. There's a marquee out front that often has some really good statements posted. Here's what's up this week:
Criticism and fault finding are not spiritual gifts.

I so agree.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday meditative picture blogging

Photo by Hank Weaver

Curing boredom

Hmm. I didn't know "they" said this in Zen:

In Zen they say: If something is boring for two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, try it for eight, sixteen, thirty-two, and so on. Eventually one discovers that it's not boring at all but very interesting.

John Cage

It's not surprising, however, that John Cage would say something like that. If you don't know about him, do click through and have a read!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What is mindfulness?

Wonderfully, simply, elegantly articulated:

Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn't more complicated that that. It is opening to or recieving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.

-- Sylvia Boorstein

Friday, May 09, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

Sleeping Storefront Cat
Photo by Cynthia Burgess


Oh, yes. This is very wise:

The biggest problem in the world could have been solved when it was small.

- Lao Tzu

Thursday, May 08, 2008

What is important to you?

Today, I found the following story by an unknown author:

A Native American and his friend were in downtown New York City, walking near Times Square in Manhattan. It was during the noon lunch hour and the streets were filled with people. Cars were honking their horns, taxicabs were squealing around corners, sirens were wailing, and the sounds of the city were almost deafening. Suddenly, the Native American said, "I hear a cricket."

His friend said, "What? You must be crazy. You couldn't possibly hear a cricket in all of this noise!"

"No, I'm sure of it," the Native American said, "I heard a cricket."

"That's crazy," said the friend.

The Native American listened carefully for a moment, and then walked across the street to a big cement planter where some shrubs were growing. He looked into the bushes, beneath the branches, and sure enough, he located a small cricket. His friend was utterly amazed.

"That's incredible," said his friend. "You must have super-human ears!"

"No," said the Native American. "My ears are no different from yours. It all depends on what you're listening for."

"But that can't be!" said the friend. "I could never hear a cricket in this noise."

"Yes, it's true," came the reply. "It depends on what is really important to you. Here, let me show you."

He reached into his pocket, pulled out a few coins, and discreetly dropped them on the sidewalk. And then, with the noise of the crowded street still blaring in their ears, they noticed every head within twenty feet turn and look to see if the money that tinkled on the pavement was theirs.

"See what I mean?" asked the Native American. "It all depends on what's important to you."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Wednesday life form blogging

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Enjoy life more

Overcoming attachment does not mean becoming cold and indifferent. On the contrary, it means learning to have relaxed control over our mind through understanding the real causes of happiness and fulfillment, and this enables us to enjoy life more and suffer less.

-Kathleen McDonald from How to Meditate

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The origins of meditation?

Well here's an interesting speculation from a little essay I found right here.
Mediation is considered one of the oldest forms of mental and spiritual practices all over. Although nobody can truly say what the exact history of meditation is, there are some speculations about this ancient practice.

Most scholars and documents say that the history of meditation can be traced some 5,000 years ago when the effects of the practice was discovered by ancient men by staring into the flames of a flickering fire. From then on, several meditation techniques were developed and began to spread across its continent of origin, Asia.
Of course, you can replicate that today by using a lit candle. I don't, however, recommend staring as such because that is likely to put you in a trance. Rather, gaze in a relaxed way at the flame, letting your eyes go soft in the sockets and blinking normally. If you get distracted just accept that without judgment and gently bring your relaxed attention back to the flame. Once you get the hang of this you can do it in your imagination by simply visualizing a lit candle.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Monday meditative picture blogging

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Little things

Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things.

--Frank A. Clark

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Something to think about

Oh my:

So much has been given to me; I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied.

-- Helen Keller

Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday cat (and dog) blogging!

So come on, people! Why can't we all just get along?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Addressing the fear of failure

There's a blog I like to read called A Dress a Day that's mainly about sewing and old patterns and such. Even though I haven't done any sewing for years, I love to read it - largely because Erin, the person who created the blog, writes so very well. (Check out her series, The Secret Lives of Dresses to see what I mean. Here's a sample.)

Well, a good portion of today's post really belongs on a meditation blog because she addresses the fear many sewers have of cutting into expensive fabric because they think they'll "screw it up." Here's something Erin says about failure:
So I *hate* it when someone tells me they don't want to try something because they might screw it up. So what? Unless what you're trying to do involves tightrope walking 5000 feet up, you probably won't DIE. And short of death, almost everything is fixable. Don't ask me for advice if that's not what you want to hear, because I'm the person who is going to tell you to take the new job, to ask the guy (or girl) out already, to move to the new city, to wear orange. I'll tell you to stop focusing on what you might lose, and start thinking about what you might LEARN.

Sometimes when people say they're afraid of failure, what they really mean is that they are afraid of humiliation. Which is completely understandable. But, speaking as someone who has felt humiliated more times than she'd like to remember, humiliation passes. (It passes like a kidney stone passes, but that's another story.) Not to mention that humiliation passes differently for each person: you remember it for months; the witnesses remember it for seconds (they have their own humiliations to obsess over, and don't have time for yours). You wake up the next morning, same as always. You head back into work, you run into that guy again ("Uh, hi!"), you get a new haircut to fix the one that wasn't such a good idea, after all. But at least you tried, and now you know something you didn't know before.
This is very wise, I think. Try clicking through and reading the rest of the post. It's excellent.