Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wednesday life form blogging

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

An absence of inner conflict

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Compare the serene and simple splendor of a rose in bloom with the tensions and restlessness of your life. The rose has a gift that you lack: It is perfectly content to be itself. It has not been programmed from birth, as you have been, to be dissatisfied with itself, so it has not the slightest urge to be anything other than it is. That is why it possesses the artless grace and absence of inner conflict that among humans is only found in little children and mystics
....
If what you attempt is not to change yourselve but to observe yourself, to study every one of your reactions to people and things, without judgment or condemnation or desire to reform yourself, your observation will be nonselective, comprehensive, never fixed on rigid conclusions, always open and fresh from moment to moment. Then you will notice a marvelous thing happening within you: You will be flooded with the light of awareness, you will become transparent and transformed.

-- Anthony de Mello

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Now is now

This quote was on the Gratefulness.org website today:

It is never too late to become what you might have been.

-- George Eliot

I don't think that is true in terms of worldly ambition, mind you. If I might have been a ballet dancer at eighteen, I don't think I can take that up at fifty-eight. However, I do think this is very true in terms of character, emotional development and the cultivation of spiritual practice. Now is the only time there is, afterall!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday meditative picture blogging

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know of wonder and humility.

-- Rachel Carson

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Life and death

If I knew for certain that I should die next week, I would still be able to sit at my desk all week and study with perfect equanimity, for I know now that life and death make a meaningful whole.

--Etty Hillesum from An Interrupted Life

Saturday, April 26, 2008

About transformation

So true:

What we don't transform, we transmit.

-- Richard Rohr

I found that slogan in an article from The London Times called "The words and the beliefs that determine our lives".

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

Quigley
Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Our true nature and our home

I remember reading Liberation through Hearing in the Intermediate State (which is the correct title for The Tibetan Book of the Dead) for the first time while on retreat about 14 years ago in South Africa. And I thought this passage was truly beautiful and consoling:

Remember the clear light, the pure clear white light from which everything in the universe comes, to which everything in the universe returns; the original nature of your own mind. The natural state of the universe unmanifest.

Let go into the clear light, trust it, merge with it. It is your own true nature, it is home
.

-Tibetan Book of the Dead

Interestingly, there are many parallels in the Christian Scriptures and those of other religions as well.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Letting go

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

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

Whatever you do may seem insignificant to you, but it is most important that you do it.

- Mohandas Gandhi

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday meditative picture blogging

Photo by Cynthia Burgess
What a desolate place would be a world without a flower! It would be a face without a smile, a feast without a welcome. Are not flowers the stars of the earth, and are not our stars the flowers of the heavens?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

An open mind

Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind.

- Henry Miller

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

Being human

Every "Session 2" of the Foundations class at St. John's Center, we talk about the Four Reflections - sometimes known as the Four Great Contemplations. One of these is called "precious human birth". I typically say to the classes that I am convinced my cats are far better meditators than I am. No doubt about it. But can they reflect on their experience? Can they grow spiritually from their meditative practice? That we don't know. What we do know is that we can. That's why it's important not to waste the experience of being human. Through meditation we can learn to let go of grasping, competition, selfishness and cruelty and to cultivate compassion and lovingkindness.

Everyday, think as you wake up: Today I am fortunate to have woken up. I am alive. I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself to expand my heart out to others for the benefit of all beings.

--His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Inward freedom

Outwardly one's life may suffer every kind of limitation, from bodily paralysis to miserable surroundings, but inwardly it is free in meditation to reach out to a sphere of light, beauty, truth, love, and power.
-- Paul Brunton from Meditations for People in Crisis

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wednesday life form blogging

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Learning to bend

I've learned how to not be broken from life's unwanted things by watching a willow in the wild wind tossing and bending rather than pushing back against the storm. It's taught me that I can't always have everything go my way. Sometimes I need to bend a bit.

Joyce Rupp in The Cosmic Dance

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ignorance and our true nature

The happiness we seek, a genuine lasting peace and happiness, can be attained only through the purification of our minds. This is possible if we cut the root cause of all suffering and misery—our fundamental ignorance.

-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Ignorance of what, we might ask. Ignorance of our true nature. How we express that will depend on our belief system. We might say that our true nature is that we are created in the image and likeness of God. We might also say that our true nature is that we are fundamentally enlightened beings - although we are not fully awake to that. However we choose to express it, we do not have to identify with suffering and misery if we know who and what we truly are deep down.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday meditative picture blogging

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Inner silence

This advice is actually deeply consoling if we let it be:
When it seems humanly impossible to do more in a difficult situation, surrender yourself to the inner silence and thereafter wait for a sign of obvious guidance or for a renewal of inner strength.
~ Paul Brunton from Meditations for People in Crisis

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Self acceptance


Wild animals don’t have to accept themselves. They can simply be. As thinking animals, we must work to create some space for our wild natures, to give them room to roam. Whether keeping our awareness on the breath as we meditate, on our bodies’ rhythm as we run, on our sensations as we sink our hands in bread dough, our practice anchors us in our bodies, takes us further into our wild selves. With time such practice begins to open a space within us. Call it a wildlife preserve, a space where our wild selves can breathe while our judging, criticizing, worrying, doubting minds are kept safely on the other side of the fence. With practice we find ourselves living more and more inside this preserve, a place we come to recognize as our true home.

Philip Simmons was dying of Lou Gehrig's disease when he wrote this.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

Quigley
Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Meditating with children


Take the hand of your child and invite her to go out and sit with you on the grass. The two of you may want to contemplate the green grass, the little flowers that grow among the grasses, and the sky. Breathing and smiling together-that is peace education. If we know how to appreciate these beautiful things, we will not have to search for anything else. Peace is available in every moment, in every breath, in every step.

-- Thich Nhat Hanh from Peace Is Every Step

Autism awareness

Maureen Adams sent me the following information:

The band, Five for Fighting, is generously donating $0.40 to Autism Speaks for each time the video is viewed. The funding goes toward research studies to help find a cure. When you have a moment, please visit the link below to watch the video and pass it along to your friends and family. It is a great & sad video. They are aiming for 10,000 hits, but hopefully we can help them to surpass this goal.

What kind of world do you want?

Note from Ellie: It's actually a lovely video and the music is great. Please go watch.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Relaxation Tips

I found these on a site called Chill Out Rooms:
* Guided meditation - There are several CDs on the market that actually guide you verbally and with sound effects and music through a brief relaxation session. These can be great for the home or lunch break, just be sure to set an alarm in case you fall asleep!

* Deep breaths - An oldie but a goody. For about a solid 30 seconds breath slowly and deeply. Inhale through your nose and exhale out of your mouth. This will restore your nerves when frazzled and help you separate from a situation before you lose it.

* Hot bath - Take the phone off the hook and give yourself 30 minutes of “you” time. Essential oils, soft music, dim lights…and sleeping kids really enhance this experience. I personally enjoy this one with some hot tea.

* Exercise - Exercising releases endorphins which in layman’s terms just make you feel good. While the endorphins bring you emotional calmness and stimulation, you’ll get the added benefit of doing something great for your overall health. Don’t make the common misconception of thinking that you can only exercise in a gym. Take a short walk around the block, do push ups in your living room, or, yes, dust of that old treadmill and see if it still works! After a great workout take that hot bath as recommended above.

* Reading - Reading is a great escape from the entire world. You can leave all the deadlines, obligations and the stresses behind when engrossed in a great book. Just don’t burn dinner or forget to clock back in!
These are basic and pretty obvious, aren't they? But they're nevertheless easy to forget. Let's keep reminding ourselves!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Wednesday life form blogging

Photo by Jeannie Dibble

Meditate for energy

CNN has an article today on their website entitled "10 fresh ways to boost your energy now". One of the ways is "Meditate for a minute". Here are the instructions:

Time-crunched? Great news: You can reap the benefits of meditation - a hike in alertness and attention - in three-minute minibreaks. "They're like little tune-ups," [Dr. Judith] Orloff says.

She recommends an a.m. session before you start your day and a noon meditation before that typical 3 o'clock crash hits. Find a quiet place (even if it's the bathroom) and mentally focus on an image that brings you pleasure: the ocean, a flower, the sun, your cat; continue to keep the image in your mind's eye as you breathe deeply (roughly 10 seconds for each inhale and exhale). With a little practice, Orloff says, you'll become more skilled at maintaining focus and can add more short meditations to your day, whenever you need revitalizing.

I've long been an advocate of taking refuge in the bathroom for a quick meditation break. Nobody can object if you excuse yourself to go to the bathroom!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Forbearance to stay the course

"Waters of Life"
Artist: Marc Chagall

Meditation practice is a powerful way of getting deeply in touch with your life at its most essential level. As you become more in touch with your life at this level, you naturally become more attentive, awake, and attuned to your thoughts, emotions, and inner currents.

Meditation practice is a spiritual process that unfolds with your life. It requires no doctrine or belief system, and it can be adapted to many purposes and systems of thought. In its broadest sense, meditation practice is an approach to life that promotes self-awareness, self-kindness, and self-forgiveness and brings us the clarity to see what we need to do in our lives and the forbearance to stay the course.

-- Norman Fischer

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Obsessing about the past

It's been a while since I checked in with the blog "Meditation Photography" created by Suresh Gundappa.

Today I'm glad I did. Here's something he wrote:
Just take a honest look at yourself. How many times in a day do you think about your past and things which went wrong, injustice done to you by life, bad luck you suffered, relationships which didn’t work out, etc. etc.

Your mind is constantly occupied with the same resentment and misery you have been carrying for ages. You have gone over it thousand times but you still think about it all the time. What can you do about it? Actually nothing, other than thinking about it. Your growth towards happiness is chained by resentment and regrets. You are carrying large boulder of past.

You got to stop this.
No kidding!

Meditation teaches you how. Regular meditation gives you the skill to let go without those thoughts taking you hostage again and again.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Peace

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.

-Thich Nhat Hanh from Being Peace

Friday, April 04, 2008

Cultivating contentment

Fame or integrity: which is more important?
Money or happiness: which is more valuable?
Success or failure: which is more destructive?

If you look to others for fulfillment,
you will never be fulfilled.
If your happiness depends on money,
you will never be happy with yourself.

Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.

-Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

I found this quote right here.

Friday cat blogging!

Simon
Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Wednesday life form blogging

Photo by Jeannie Dibble

Now this is funny!

And good advice as well:

Egos clash. That's the nature of egos. Treat these outbursts as sneezing fits.

Hugh Prather in Spiritual Notes to Myself

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Artist: Yom Tov

My goodness. This is quite a practice:
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.