Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

Sandy's cat
Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Nothing much

This is from the Spirituality and Practice website and I really, really like it!
Thank God for days filled with nothing much at all. Nothing much is more than enough.

— Steven Z. Leder in The Extraordinary Nature of Ordinary Things

To Practice This Thought: Set aside an hour or two to do nothing much.
This is my favorite way to spend my day off - doing nothing much at all! Cats are really good at this, by the way. We can learn so much from observing them and simply hanging out with them.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

That which truly is

Just spend some time thinking about this verse:

Do not be betrayed
by philosophies and enlightenments–
all there is to be
was yours before you began.

-- Stephen Levine

It's from a longer poem called "This awkward speck of dust".

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Inner reality

What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen.

-- Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Awareness training

Here's part of a little article by Janie Gunn called "Learn to live in the moment":
[Meditation] is simply a way to train the mind to be still. Time magazine reported that many medical institutions now include meditation as a tool to help prepare patients for surgery. It is proven to calm their minds, lower blood pressure and anxiety as well as speeding recovery.

There are many ways to develop a meditation practice. You can take the above breathing practice and once you establish a smooth breathing rhythm allow your hands to rest on your knees and continue to encourage your mind to follow your breath as it enters and leaves your body. Start with a few minutes a day and build upon that. It has a definite calming effect and enhances the mind’s ability to stay in the moment. Practice daily at about the same time in a quiet area of your home. This trains the body and mind to become still.

When you develop moment to moment awareness your capacity for experiencing your life fully expands. You will listen better. Your work will improve as you focus completely on your tasks at hand. Your relationships will also benefit when you are fully present.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Help your brain: meditate!

Here's an excerpt from an article called "Find a new pitch if you want to stay sharp" from the London Times:
An increasing number of studies are revealing that as well as providing a much-needed breather in our busy lives, stress-busting techniques such as yoga, meditation and breathing exercises may also help to rejuvenate the brain. A study this year at the Boston University School of Medicine found that yoga increased the amount of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain, low levels of which are linked to depression.

Research also indicates that meditation may improve memory, especially in older people. A 2005 study at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found that regular meditators had thicker prefrontal cortexes than nonmeditators did. This brain area is linked with short-term memory. The researchers suggested that “meditation may offset age-related cortical thinning”.
These are benefits worth meditating for!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Letting go of the ego

All religions speak about death during this life on earth. Death must come before rebirth. But what must die? False confidence in one’s own knowledge, self-love and egoism. Our egoism must be broken. We must realize that we are very complicated machines, and so this process of breaking is bound to be a long and difficult task.

--Gurdjieff

This task is made possible, I believe, through meditation because it is only through mindfulness that we are able to see through the illusions the ego loves to promote.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Arguing with what is

Here's a marvelous excerpt from Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life by Byron Katie with Stephen Mitchell:

The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with what is. When the mind is perfectly clear, what is is what we want.

If you want reality to be different than it is, you might as well try to teach a cat to bark. You can try and try, and in the end the cat will look up at you and say, "Meow." Wanting reality to be different than it is is hopeless. You can spend the rest of your life trying to teach a cat to bark.

And yet, if you pay attention, you'll notice that you think thoughts like this dozens of times a day. "People should be kinder." "Children should be well-behaved." "My neighbors should take better care of their lawn." "The line at the grocery store should move faster." "My husband (or wife) should agree with me." "I should be thinner (or prettier or more successful)." These thoughts are ways of wanting reality to be different than it is. If you think that this sounds depressing, you're right. All the stress that we feel is caused by arguing with what is.

Monday, February 18, 2008

About happiness

People who postpone happiness are like children who try chasing rainbows in an effort to find the pot of gold at the rainbow's end. It is always receding and the faster they run, the more it eludes them.

-- Ken Keyes

Friday, February 15, 2008

Break in blogging

Hello, friends. I'll be away for the next couple of days. Blogging will resume on Sunday evening!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The sea of silence within us

How do we meditate silently? Just by not talking, just by not using outer words, we are not doing silent meditation. Silent meditation is totally different. When we start meditating in silence, right from the beginning we feel the bottom of a sea within us and without. The life of activity movement and restlessness is on the surface, but deep below, underneath our human life, there is poise and silence. So, either we shall imagine this sea of silence within us or we shall feel that we are nothing but a sea of poise itself.

- Sri Chinmoy

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Shut up and listen!

Here's a paragraph from the Meditation Society of Australia site:
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 do like this! We talk too much, don't we? Learning that it's okay to be quiet is one of the huge benefits of meditative practice.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Listening and speaking

Simply put, there is nothing, nothing in the world, that can take the place of one person intentionally listening or speaking to another. The act of conscious attending to another person — when one once discovers the taste of it and its significance — can become the center of gravity of the work of love. It is very difficult. Almost nothing in our world supports it or even knows about it.

— Jacob Needleman in A Little Book on Love

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Benefits of meditation

The London Times has a little article online about meditation. Here's an excerpt:
Studies suggest that regular meditation for 15 minutes or more a day decreases blood pressure, lowers the heart rate and increases blood flow to the extremities. Recent research also indicates that with long-term practice, meditation may combat cognitive decline and stimulate the growth of brain tissue. It has also been linked to stronger immune responses when fighting infection.

The key to successful and calming meditation is a good breathing technique. Breath-counting is a common technique for those new to meditation and is an ideal routine for beginners.
For breath counting, I recommend assigning a number to each outbreath from one to four and then starting over.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Cultivating the ability to appreciate others

Here's a meditation that perhaps more properly would be called a reflection:
Survival depends on the efforts of other people. Relax your mind, body, and emotions and contemplate on all the ways you are dependent on others.

For example, if no one grew grain and no one brought it to market and no one manufactured it into bread, how would we eat? If no one dug up metal from the earth and no one turned it into steel and no one formed it into parts, how would we have a car to drive? And if no one cleared land and no one paved over it, how would we have a road to drive on? And so on and so on.

With this meditation, one becomes warm toward others where previously coldness, uncaring, or even looking down upon others existed. The meditative tradition holds that compassion and humility are the two most important components of spritiual growth. This meditation generates both.
I found this on the Meditation Station website.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

O pure deep love


O LOVE, O pure deep love, be here, be now
Be all; worlds dissolved into your stainless endless radiance,
Frail living leaves burn with you brighter than cold stars:
Make me your servant, your breath, your core.

- Rumi

Monday, February 04, 2008

Monday meditative picture blogging

Mandala

A "basic minute" of meditation

Here's an excerpt from an article on meditation from the London Times:
Martin, 47, a monk-like American who lives in Devon, is teaching me to do a “basic minute” of meditation, the unit of his new teaching method. The aim is to practise the basic minute several times a day until you can dip in to a region of peacefulness and refresh your mind and soul whenever you like. I’m not sure that a busy railway station concourse is the right place to learn, but Martin insists that you can learn anywhere, no matter how noisy. I’m also not absolutely convinced that a minute is long enough to get the full benefit of meditation.

Martin explains that doing a minute’s meditation many times over has a cumulative effect. He describes doing one basic minute as making a single pinprick in a great dark sheet of consciousness, on the other side of which is a bright light. Each pinprick that you make lets through more light. Martin turns a nice metaphor; another of his comes from oil prospecting. He says a minute’s meditation allows you to drill down into a reservoir of peace.

I like the metaphors. I also like the idea of dipping into a region of peacefulness anytime you want.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Seeing the mountain


It would do us all good to ponder this deeply for a long time:

The description is not the described; I can describe the mountain, but the description is not the mountain, and if you are caught up in the description, as most people are, then you will never see the mountain.

-- Krishnamurti

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Can we really change the world?

I have just come across a book entitled Seven Words That Can Change the World: A New Understanding of Sacredness by Joseph Simonetta. Here are the seven words:
"Be healthy. Be kind. Respect the environment."
What would happen if all our decisions were based on these three principles? The world really would be changed - and almost overnight, too.

Friday, February 01, 2008