Sunday, November 30, 2008

Learning to turn clear


When all thoughts
Are exhausted
I slip into the woods
And gather
A pile of shepherd's purse.

Like the little stream
Making its way
Through the mossy crevices
I, too, quietly
Turn clear and transparent.

-- Ryokan, translated by John Stevens

The Japanese poet Ryokan was a hermit and a contemplative who lived from 1758-1831. You can read about him in the article entitled "Zen Poetics of Ryokan".

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Candle meditation

Many years ago my mother taught me how to do candle meditation in my imagination. Mind you, she didn't call it meditation; she called it self-hypnosis. But it was certainly a powerful meditative practice. I first did it when I was a little girl and it helped me relax.

These instructions are from The Meditation Society of Australia website:
Imagine the candle as an entrance way to the vast spiritual dimensions permeating everything, imagine it as the doorway to the inner universe. You might see this candle flame standing at the threshold between the physical and spiritual universes.

As you fix your gaze upon it, feel that you are looking at the candle with your heart and that you are travelling through it with infinite peace.

Follow the flow of energy with your breath.

Breathe in the infinite peace of the spiritual universe. Feel your heart opening and expanding as that peace flows into your being like a golden light.

On your outward breath feel that your worries and anxieties which give birth to all your mental, emotional and physical tensions, are being gathered up and released.

You might imagine this is as a flow of light. You are breathing in a golden white light that is illumining your being with peace, and the darkness that is your tension in all its flavours, you are letting go.
Try this at first using a literal candle. Then try simply visualizing the candle. Both are valuable practices.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

Photo by Rhonda Steiner

This is one of the kitties that lives at St. Crispin's Conference Center in Oklahoma.

Explaining meditation to children

I really like this a lot. I found it on The Meditation Society of Australia site:
We meditate to find and listen to our heart.

Our heart is the real home of us. When we can listen to our heart, we automatically feel love and joy, but also we will know what we can be.

Do you ever get sad? Do you sometimes worry too much over silly things? Do you get angry and lose your temper? What would you say, if I was to tell you that meditation will help you become the happiest person in the world? Would you be willing to try it for the next 10 days for at least 5 minutes?

It isn't a trick. In 10 days you will see the change in yourself.

You will see that the happiest people in the world are people that know and understand their hearts, and the most confused and sad people are those that don't.

If you are not sure, take the time to look around and see for yourself. People that know their heart will be more loving and happy. Sad, angry people are lost, because they have lost their heart.
This strikes me as an excellent description of the value of meditation for grown-ups too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday life form blogging

A marvelous way to live

I've come across these lines several times just lately and I think it's quite wonderful. (But then I've been a Walt Whitman fan for decades now):

Love the earth and sun and animals,
Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labor to others...
And your very flesh shall be a great poem.

-- Walt Whitman

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Understanding life

You know, I really like this a lot:
When I was 5 years old, my mom always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy.” They told me I didn’t understand the assignment and I told them they didn’t understand life.
I found it here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday meditative picture blogging

More on mindfulness

Here's another way to cultivate ongoing mindfulness. It's quite wonderful, I think!

One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, "What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew i would never see it again?"

-- Rachel Carson

Sunday, November 23, 2008


It's so easy to get preoccupied and not bother to greet people in a gracious and positive way - just due to distraction. Have you ever thought of mindfulness and smiling being intimately connected? Here's a lovely expression of that connection:

What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but, scattered along life's pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.

-- Joseph Addison

Saturday, November 22, 2008

About endings

What a wonderful attitude:

I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.

-- Gilda Radner

And so very true.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

About forgiveness

Somewhere I read that forgiveness is "giving up all hope of a better past". That's been my favorite definition for some time now. Today I came across something else that's similar:

To forgive is not to condone wrongs but to refuse to let the past dictate the future.

-- Huston Smith

I found it on the blog, Spiritually Directed.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The way we see things

Now here's a really good reason for being diligent in doing inner work:

We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.

-- Anaïs Nin

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday life form blogging

One freedom

I well remember when I first read The Little Prince. It was an amazing experience. Here's something its author said:

I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.

~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Sunday, November 16, 2008

For all band music lovers!

I've been meaning to post about this for a long time and I keep forgetting. My good friend, Doug Brown, is the host of a wonderful new radio show called Wind and Rhythm. It is broadcast every Sunday evening at 7:00 (Central time) on Tulsa classical radio KWTU at 88.7 on your dial. Or you can listen on their webite right here. Please tune in. I promise you won't be sorry!

Love and forgiveness

While listening to Speaking of Faith on NPR today, I heard an annoucement about a website called "The Campaign for Love and Forgiveness". I really want to recommend this site. It is not written from the exclusive view point of any specific belief system but draws from the teachings on forgiveness from them all.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A wonderful attitude toward adversity

This woman really said some amazing things:

I seldom think of my limitations, and they never make me sad. Perhaps there is just a touch of yearning at times; but it is vague, like a breeze among flowers.

-- Helen Keller

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Hmmm. Had you ever heard of "World Kindness Day"? I hadn't until I happened to notice something about it on the MSN homepage this morning. It's November 13. (I don't know why!)

Here's something about kindness for us to remember:

Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.

~Og Mandino

This would actually be a very interesting project to take on. Let me know if you're going to try it. I am!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday life form blogging

The perils of idealization

In the ongoing classes this week we talked about working skillfully with disappointment. Here's something that is pertinent, I think:

Never idealize others. They will never live up to your expectations.

-- Leo Buscaglia

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day, 2008

"Veterans Day"

I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, "Mother, what was war?"

~Eve Merriam

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The power of connections

This is really deeply moving. And if we all said this and meant it, our world would be a very different place:

Let the good in me connect with the good in others, until all the world is transformed through the compelling power of love.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov in The Gentle Weapon

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Interconnectedness again

This, of course, is the classic awareness of the mystics. But it is discernable through ordinary meditation as well:

Reality cannot be found except in One single source, because of the interconnection of all things with one another.

-- Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

The joy of letting go

I'm sure I've posted this before but it's been a long time. The following is undoubtedly the best quotation I know regarding impermanence and non-attachment:

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity's sunrise.

-- William Blake

Thursday, November 06, 2008

So where are YOU going? :-)

You know, somehow this one really seems appropriate today!

You got to be careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there.

-- Yogi Berra

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wednesday life form blogging

Handling post-election feelings with meditation principles

All right, here is the reality: Many people are celebrating today and many people are grieving. The meditative approach to whatever you are feeling is first of all to remember that all things are impermanent and that includes both delight and dismay. Next, if you are grieving, the meditative approach is to give what's known as "sympathetic joy" to those who are celebrating. Sympathetic joy is the state of being truly happy for someone else's success (rather than envious or resentful.) If, on the other hand, you are celebrating, the meditative approach is to give compassion and lovingkindness to those who are grieving - that is, sincerely to wish that their suffering is alleviated and that they be well and happy.

And, I offer you the following for your reflection:

But the greatest menace to our civilization today is the conflict between giant organized systems of self-righteousness -- each system only too delighted to find that the other is wicked -- each only too glad that the sins give it the pretext for still deeper hatred and animosity.

-- Herbert Butterfield

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I got to the polls before the doors opened. Then I came back to the Center and meditated. I specifically did "lovingkindness" practice. I prayed for my own happiness and wellbeing and then for that of everyone in the nation. Then I deliberately recited the prayer for ALL the candidates --- even (heck, especially) for the ones I don't support.

Today is an important day to apply the meditative principles - either to helps us calm down if we're on pins and needles until the returns come in or to cultivate compassion and lovingkindness toward those with whom we disagree.

No matter what the outcome, meditation will support your happiness, your well being and your equilibrium. Be sure to do it!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A really, really, really good question

Take a look:

Whoever said anybody has a right to give up?

--Marian Wright Edelman

What we really need to give up is our attachment to instant results.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Another way to help others

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

-- Marianne Williamson