Friday, December 31, 2010

More evidence

The folks at Care 2 sent me an email this morning that contained a link to an article with the following headline:

Meditation Affects Blood Flow to the Brain

Unsurprising, really.

Here's part of what it says:

Scientists at the Almanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center at the University of California Los Angeles studied the effects of meditation on the “stress” circuits of the brain. Ten experienced meditators performed two types of meditation: a focus-based meditative technique and a breath-based practice. The meditators’ brains were scanned using MRI technology before starting, during the meditation practices, and following meditation.

Researchers found that four regions of the brain were affected during meditation and there were different patterns of blood flow to the brain between the two types of meditation states; however, both techniques improved blood flow to the brain. Some of the brain changes continued even after meditation stopped.
You know, if you've been meditating for a while you can almost feel that happening.

Give yourself a wonderful gift for the new year! Meditate regularly. Think of it this way: you will not regret consistent meditation. You may well regret not bothering to meditate.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Observations, judgments, that sort of thing...

A friend of mine just sent me the following:
A young couple moved into a new neighborhood.

The next morning, while they were eating breakfast, the young woman saw her neighbor hanging the wash outside. "That laundry is not very clean," she said. "She doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap."

Her husband looked on, but remained silent. Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments.

About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband, "Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this."

The husband said, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows."

And so it is with life. What we see when watching others depends on the window through which we look.
Of course, nobody hangs out wash anymore - at least in the United States. More's the pity.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Something about the craving to understand

Here's a Zen saying that I may well have posted before but it certainly bears repeating:
If you understand, things are just as they are;
if you do not understand, things are just as they are.
If we ponder this a while, it can be a real help. I know many people are tormented when they don't understand something. Realizing that things are just as they are can help us let go of that craving to understand.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday meditative picture blogging

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Great thought from a great musician

I accept life unconditionally. Life holds so much--so much to be happy about always. Most people ask for happiness on condition. Happiness can be felt only if you don't set conditions.

-- Artur Rubinstein

To put this in meditation language, he is recommending that we learn to accept without judgment. It makes a huge difference in our sense of well being. Truly it does.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday art blogging

Artist: André Dauthuille

And let us not neglect kindness...

~
Well! We could label this a selfish reason for being unselfish, I guess. Take a look at this headline: ~
~

Can Kindness Cut the Risk of Heart Disease?

Here's an excerpt:
We produce [the hormone] oxytocin when we bond with each other. Having quality relationships increases its levels. But another way to bond with someone is through a simple act of kindness. And this might just be good for the heart.

Exciting research has revealed that oxytocin plays a powerful role throughout the cardiovascular system.

As well as being produced in the brain, it is also produced in the heart and travels throughout our blood vessels. There, it is believed to increase nitric oxide production (not nitrous oxide, which is laughing gas!). The nitric oxide then dilates our blood vessels, reducing blood pressure.
...
Research now shows that oxytocin also has a powerful effect on free radical and inflammation levels, which are two of the central culprits in coronary artery disease. Excess inflammation, for instance, leads to a buildup of arterial plaque that can result in a heart attack.
So. Loving-kindness is good for the heart. We've known that deep down for a long time, haven't we?

It's not only good for the heart, it's good for moving toward enlightenment.

You just can't beat a combination like that!
~~~

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

"It is, indeed, the season of regenerated feeling--the season for kindling, not merely the fire of hospitality in the hall, but the genial flame of charity in the heart."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

We. Are. Connected.

This is quite meaningful - if we will let it be so:

As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December's bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same.

-- Donald E. Westlake

It's about connectedness, isn't it?

Here's something else in that regard:


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Calming down

Beliefnet has a little article called "7 Quick Ways to Calm Down " that you might want to check out.

Here's one of the suggestions:
Years ago, I learned the "Four Square" method of breathing to reduce anxiety:

1. Breathe in slowly to a count of four.
2. Hold the breath for a count of four.
3. Exhale slowly through pursed lips to a count of four.
4. Rest for a count of four (without taking any breaths).
5. Take two normal breaths.
6. Start over again with number one
The other suggestions might be helpful to you as well. Check them out. It's good to have some strategies up our sleeve for this hectic time of the year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday meditative picture blogging

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Why meditate?

I just came across a little article entitled "Why Learn to Meditate?" on a website called "How to Meditate". Here's how it gets started:
The purpose of meditation is to make our mind calm and peaceful. If our mind is peaceful, we will be free from worries and mental discomfort, and so we will experience true happiness; but if our mind is not peaceful, we will find it very difficult to be happy, even if we are living in the very best conditions. If we train in meditation, our mind will gradually become more and more peaceful, and we will experience a purer and purer form of happiness. Eventually, we will be able to stay happy all the time, even in the most difficult circumstances.
Do click through and read the rest of it. It's very short.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday art blogging

Ironic observation for the season

I've always loved Ogden Nash. Here's something I just discovered today. Somehow, it relates to meditative practice in my mind! :-)

People can't concentrate properly on blowing other people to pieces if their minds are poisoned by thoughts suitable to the twenty-fifth of December.

-- Ogden Nash

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Advice concerning "the human problem"

I guess he wanted something that sounded really "profound" to say or maybe he wanted to come up with something no one else had thought of exactly. But this is it, actually. I do think so.

It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one's life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than "try to be a little kinder".

-- Aldous Huxley

By the way, if you've never gotten around to spending some time with Huxley's The Perennial Philosophy, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Still more on kindness

I have blogged the following quotation before, I know, because I remember that someone took issue with it. But since we're focusing on the subject of kindness this week it seemed appropriate to offer it again:

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

Here's one way of looking at it. A great many of the people that you meet or speak to in a given day are going to die before you do. Therefore, at some point in your life, something you say will turn out to be the last thing you say to that person. In most cases, we will never know when that is going to be.

Another way of looking at it is to ask if we would want our last words to someone or our last act toward someone to be words and acts of unkindness.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Kindness and regret

Very interesting that the founder of Forbes Magazine would say the following. I would imagine that he knew quite a few millionaires in his day:

I've never known any human being, high or humble, who ever regretted, when nearing life's end, having done kindly deeds. But I have known more than one millionaire who became haunted by the realization that they had led selfish lives.

--B. C. Forbes

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday meditative picture blogging

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More on kindness

First of all, I want to ask you to check the comments to the post below (from yesterday) entitled "A way of living and walking through life". Really cool, huh?

Now, we continue our series on kindness. Let's begin by remembering that, according to the meditative tradition, the universal motivation is the wish to be happy. People do what they do because they are trying to be happy. They may, at times, be truly mistaken about what will actually advance that goal, but that's what they're doing fundamentally.

I think we can all see, therefore, how taking the following on board would not only help us in our aspirations but would revolutionize the world if enough people understood it or were simply willing to test it out:

Kindness is closely linked with happiness: the kinder you are to others, the happier you will be.

-- Mary Jaksch (Zen master and psychotherapist)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday art blogging

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Artist: August Macke

A way of living and walking through life

The Dalai Lama has famously been quoted as saying, "My religion is kindness." There's much to be said for that approach.

More than anything else, kindness is a way of life. It is a way of living and walking through life. It is a way of dealing with all that is--our selves, our bodies, our dreams and goals, our neighbors, our competitors, our enemies, our air, our earth, our animals, our space, our time, and our very consciousness. Do we treat all creation with kindness? Isn't all creation holy and divine?

- Jean Maalouf

I think it would be a good idea for us to focus on kindness for the next few days here at Meditation Matters. I'll see what I can find.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

More about the present moment

This is the "one day at a time" principle. So, true; so consoling:

Anyone can carry his burden, however hard, until nightfall. Anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day. Anyone can live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely, until the sun goes down. And this is all that life really means.

-Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

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Something about feelings

Many people assert to me that they can't do something unless they "feel like it". Here's something about that:

You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings.

-- Pearl S. Buck

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Something about regret

Slowly, slowly, I'm sorting through the leftovers from the Center's latest garage sale and deciding what to keep and what to give to Goodwill. This morning I came across a little paperpack book entitled The Joy of Being Human by Eugene Kennedy. Here's a short passage that caught my attention:
Beware if you find that you are blaming other persons for your own difficulties in life. This may be the chief sign by which to diagnose an imminent case of personal regret. The individual who continually justifies his or her own lack of initiative by accusing everyone of duplicity or bad faith in not giving the recognition he or she deserves is almost certainly going to end up bitter and regretful. This is not to say that injustice does not exist; it is to point to a pattern of passivity which puts the burden for our success or achievement on others rather than on ourselves.
Personally, I think this tends to happen because we've been socialized (at least in the U.S.) to believe that, if anything bad happens, someone has to be to blame. It's utterly demoralizing always to blame oneself and so people tend to look for someone else to blame. What would happen if we simply let go of the concept of blame as such altogether? Perhaps establishing blame is helpful from a legal point of view but it rarely supports our ability to heal and get on with our lives.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Wednesday life form blogging

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Change

One of the fundamental principles of meditative practice is acknowledging the reality of impermanence. It's intriguing, really, how we welcome change at times and are averse to it at others. Here's an interesting and somewhat wryly humorous way of looking at that:

There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse; as I have found in travelling in a stage-coach, that it is often a comfort to shift one's position and be bruised in a new place.

-- Washington Irving

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Both tender and profound

How lovely. How true:

Keep a good heart. That's the most important thing in life. It's not how much money you make or what you can acquire. The art of it is to keep a good heart.

-- Joni Mitchell

Monday, December 06, 2010

Monday meditative picture blogging

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I particularly value and appreciate images of gates, doors and windows (they are so symbolic of openness and movement) and so I was delighted when Cynthia sent me the above photo this morning.

Appreciating a blessing

The assertion that not appreciating a blessing is a tragedy strikes me as very true indeed:

In our current state of human development it remains unclear whether we will correct one of life's greatest tragedies, namely, the inability to appreciate a blessing until it is lost.

--Shmuley Boteach

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Sunday art blogging

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Artist: August Macke

Taking stock

How interesting. The Good Housekeeping website has a little feature called 52 ways to beat stress. Here's one of them:
Study Yourself: Ask yourself the following questions, preferably on a daily basis, to develop objectivity on how stress is affecting your life: How did I sleep? What is my mood? How did I respond when something unexpected happened? How does my body feel? Did I have any time to myself? Taking stock in this way can help you see your relationship with stress more clearly, which helps you develop a stress-reduction plan that fits your unique needs.
This is a mindfulness practice, isn't it? Consistent meditation will help us in both asking and answering these questions.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Keeping ourselves present

I get a lot of mileage each day from the "Care 2" site. Today a little article entitled 8 Morning Activities to Keep You Present All Day was offered. Needless to say, I approve of the first activity suggested:

1. Meditate in the morning, even if it’s only for five minutes. As soon as you get out of bed, sit in a comfortable position (away from your bed, to avoid the temptation of going back to sleep). Rather than mentally rushing through the daily to-do list or remorse over your poor quality of sleep, allow your mind to soak in the subtle noises that can only come from the start of a brand new day. Do you hear birds chirping, other family members cooking breakfast? Focus on your in breath and out breath, one lungful of air at a time. Do this every morning, and your days will feel sharper, clearer and more full of life.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

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Assumptions

Here's a little quotation I found. There's a lot to this, you know:

Beware of assumptions! Whatever you assume to be possible -- or impossible will have a tendency to become real for you.

-- Source unknown

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Listening

Compassion makes this possible. Yes, skill is involved as well, but compassion is the foundation:

When I have been listened to and when I have been heard, I am able to re-perceive my world in a new way and to go on. It is astonishing how elements that seem insoluble become soluble when someone listens, how confusions that seem irremediable turn into relatively clear flowing streams when one is heard. I have deeply appreciated the times that I have experienced this sensitive, empathic, concentrated listening.

-- Carl Rogers

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Things that matter

Recently I found myself catching up with an old friend who acknowledged suffering from what is often referred to as "workaholism". I would love for that person to ponder the following:

Of all the things that matter, that really and truly matter, working more efficiently and getting more done, is not one of them.

-- Mike Dooley

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday meditative picture blogging

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How it works

I often remind students that experiencing the benefits of meditation works by the saturation method. We do not suddenly learn a principle and then consistently apply it. Applying the principle takes practice and being reminded of that principle over and over. Here's something that speaks to this reality:

There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic.

- Anaïs Nin

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Website of interest

For those of you who are church people and for those of you are are interested in meditation in a variety of faith traditions, I want to tell you about the website of The World Community for Christian Meditation that I just found this morning.

This group was inspired by the teachings of the Benedictine monk, John Main, who died in 1982. I was fortunate enough to come across some tapes of his teachings some years ago -- to my very real benefit.

Here's a little quotation from the site:
It has become more and more evident in recent years that meditation, as a way of tolerance and compassion, builds a bridge of the spirit between peoples of different faiths, between rich and poor, and between all those suffering conflict or division. The great social and psychological distresses of modern society call for a deep contemplative response. John Main believed that each human being, whatever their lifestyle, is called to this contemplative depth.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

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Now

It's possible that I have blogged this before. Neverthess, it is certainly worth repeating:

How simple it is to see
that all the worry in the world
cannot control the future.
How simple it is to see
that we can only be happy now.
And that there will never be a time
when it is not now.

-- Gerald Jampolsky, MD

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday life form blogging

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An observation worth pondering:

There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.

- Jack London from The Call of the Wild

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hmmm...

I think maybe attitude really matters sometimes, folks!

(Thanks to Paul R. for sending this one on!)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday meditative picture blogging

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Two by Confucius

Definitely beneficial to ponder:
Silence is the true friend that never betrays.
...
If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday art blogging

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Artist: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Image from Wikimedia Commons

Another approach to sound meditation

The following is from an article entitled "Mindfulness Meditation: Calming Your Thoughts and Emotions" by Jyotish Novak:
You will greatly reduce your level of mental restlessness simply by becoming more centered in the here and now. One of the most effective ways to do this is through increasingly sensitive listening. First listen to your outer environment. Try to see how many different sounds you can hear. Start with those that are loudest — sounds in your house or the sounds of traffic. Then try to listen for more subtle sounds such as distant bird songs or wind in the trees. Then become aware of very soft sounds — the sound of your breath or even your heartbeat.
The rest of the article talks about sensitive listening to thoughts and feelings. Recommended!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

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New meditation research

Please go on over to Huffington Post and read the following article:

New meditation research: puttying the 'Om' in chromosome

Here are some snippets:
The Shambhala Mountain Center sits nestled among the remote lakes and pastures of Colorado's Rocky Mountains, where for four decades it has offered instruction and retreat to serious students of meditation and yoga. Starting in February 2007, it became a scientific laboratory as well. The center began hosting the Shamatha Project, one of the most rigorous scientific examinations of meditation's effects ever undertaken.
...
For example: Those who intensely practiced meditation got better at visual perception, and as a result their attention improved.
...
Tonya Jacobs, a scientist at UC Davis's Center for Mind and Brain, has just reported (on-line in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology) that meditators show improved psychological well-being, and that these improvements lead to biochemical changes associated with resistance to aging at the cellular level. Specifically, an analysis of meditators' white blood cells showed a 30 percent increase in an enzyme called telomerase, a chemical essential to the long-term health of the body's chromosomes and cells.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of giving a couple of workshops for the Alzheimer's Association here in Tulsa. We explored how meditation can help with stress over the holiday season that is experienced by almost everybody but especially the caregivers of dementia patients. Participants were able to feel positive effects just after the few exercises we did in the workshops.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Something else about choice

This is a follow up, really, on yesterday's topic:

It is our choices that show what we truly are far more than our abilities.

-- Professor Dumbledore, from 'Harry Potter'

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday meditative picture blogging

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The only choice that really matters

Here it is:

We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us, and make us kinder. We always have the choice.

-- the Dalai Lama

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday art blogging

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Artist: Galina Garkavenko

Hmmm...

I'm going to think about this for a bit:

"The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook."

-- William James

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The cause of unhappiness

This sums up the matter incredibly succinctly:

If you look carefully you will see that there is one thing and only one thing that causes unhappiness. The name of that thing is Attachment. What is an attachment? An emotional state of clinging caused by the belief that without some particular thing or some person you cannot be happy.... Here is a mistake that most people make in their relationships with others. They try to build a steady nesting place in the ever-moving stream of life.

-- Anthony de Mello

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

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Artist: Bruno Liljefors

Another benefit of silence! :-)

Take a look:

I personally think we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.

-- Jane Wagner

Something to ponder, I think. Anyway, it gave me a chuckle this morning!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday life form blogging

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A capacity for appreciation

The more we practice meditation, the more we are wonderfully capable of this kind of awareness:

The Orange

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange--
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave--
They got quarters and I had a half.

And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It's new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I'm glad I exist.

-- Wendy Cope

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Life's tiny delights

We usually imagine, don't we, that worthwhile instructions for leading a mindful and happy life will come from the world's great poets or philosophers or spiritual teachers. Here's one from an ad:

Most of us miss out on life's big prizes. The Pulitzer. The Nobel. Oscars. Tonys. Emmys. But we're all eligible for life's small pleasures. A pat on the back. A kiss behind the ear. A four-pound bass. A full moon. An empty parking space. A cracking fire. A great meal. A glorious sunset. Hot soup. Cold beer. Don't fret about copping life's grand awards. Enjoy its tiny delights. There are plenty for all of us.

-- United Technologies Corporation Ad

I'm sorry to say that I don't know what the ad as a whole was like - whether it was in a magazine or on television. But the message is a good one and we would all do well to heed it.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Mistakes

Probably the most heartbreaking challenge I have as a meditation teacher is that of needing to reassure people that it's okay not to be perfect. I say "heartbreaking" because of the number of people who have been conditioned to believe that they must scold themselves, punish themselves, if they ever make a mistake. It's a belief that gives rise to great unhappiness and suffering. Truly.

So here's a statement worth thinking about and remembering:

Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.

-- Mohandas Gandhi

Friday, November 05, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

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Question

The Nazarene Church down on the corner has come up with another good one:
When is the last time you did something for the first time?
Think about it a bit.
~~~

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Why stillness is important

This is a very good reminder for some of us fidgety, hyperactive types:

Wisdom comes with the ability to be still. Just look and just listen. No more is needed. Being still, looking, and listening activates the non-conceptual intelligence within you. Let stillness direct your words and actions.

-- Eckhart Tolle

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Wednesday life form blogging

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Stories and compassion

What is the "glue" that keeps us from coming apart, from disintegrating? Here's one thought about that - a good one:

Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion.

-- Barry Lopez

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

No matter what...

Never give up
No matter what is going on
Never give up
Develop the heart
Too much energy in your country is spent
developing the mind instead of the heart
Develop the heart,
Be compassionate
Not just to your friends but to everyone,
be compassionate
Work for peace in your heart and in the world
Work for peace, and I say again
Never give up
No matter what is happening
No matter what is going on around you
Never give up.

-- Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

Monday, November 01, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

~

Halloween serves an important inner function if we let it:

Psychologically, I think Halloween performs two important functions. First, Halloween allows us to collectively process our eventual death and mortality. The graveyards, corpses, blood, skeletons, and coffins of Halloween allow us, on a yearly basis, to confront our physicality and work through our largely repressed fear of death. In this, Halloween serves an important existential function. Second, Halloween allows us to work through our fears of the uncanny, the things that go bump in the night. This is the second major theme of Halloween, which manifests itself in Halloween’s evening and monster motifs, the bats, owls, ghosts and goblins. The world is a scary place at times, a strange and mysterious place, and we tend to fill its dark corners with “monsters.” Halloween, particularly for children, allows us to roam a night filled with ghosts and ghouls to find only friends and neighbors (and candy!). Again, vague fears are collectively confronted and processed.

Thus, two of the great themes of Halloween—death and the uncanny—are healthy confrontations with our collective anxieties concerning our frailness and mortality. In this, I believe Halloween is empowering to children, giving them a sense of control in a spooky and scary world.

-- Richard Beck

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

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The Voice in the Stillness

This morning I came upon a page that looks at meditative techniques specifically in a Christian context. Here's some advice from that site:
Relax in a tranquil environment: Choose your spot, and savor the setting. It doesn't matter whether it's a waterfall or another natural setting, a park, watching a sunset, taking in a work of great art in a museum, quieting your soul in a church, or any other kind tranquil environment. Take time to savor peaceful sights, sounds, smells.

Body scan: I feel.... my head feels...my chest feels... etc. Move throughout your body, simply noting your physical sensations

Progressive relaxation: (progressively tensing then relaxing muscle groups, etc.)

Focus on the breath: Feel the breath going in and coming out of out the nostrils. Or on the rise and fall of the abdomen or chest in conjunction with your breathing. (If it's extremely quiet, you may be able to focus on your pulse.)

Environment scan: I hear this, I see this, I smell this, I feel this, etc.

Focus on a fixed object or sound: Concentrate on something outside of you: for instance, a flower, painting, candle, crucifix, icon, or the sound of water, wind, or traffic.
It's pretty basic stuff and is suitable, really, for everyone.
~~~

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A reminder

We all know this, really. Yet it seems so easy to forget:

Softly and kindly remind yourself, I cannot own anything. It is a valuable thought to keep in mind as you struggle to improve your financial picture, worry about investments, and plan how to acquire more and more. It is a universal principle which you are part of. You must release everything when you truly awaken. Are you letting your life go by in frustration and worry over not having enough? If so, relax and remember that you only get what you have for a short period of time. When you awaken you will see the folly of being attached to anything.

-- Wayne Dyer

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday meditative picture blogging

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Even more about impermanence

It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.

-- J.R.R. Tolkien

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday art blogging

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Artist: Hermann Lange

More about the present moment

Oh my, do I ever agree with this:

Most people treat the present moment as if it were an obstacle that they need to overcome. Since the present moment is Life itself, it is an insane way to live.

-- Eckhart Tolle

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Something about being good at living

This sums up a lot:

We can smile, breathe, walk, and eat our meals in a way that allows us to be in touch with the abundance of happiness that is available. We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive.

-- Thich Nhat Hanh

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Understanding

There's a lot to be said for this:

I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them.

-- Spinoza

As far as I'm concerned, nothing helps with insight into human behavior quite like the meditative process and principles.

(Thanks, Larry and Gerald, for calling my attention to this quotation.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How to avoid discouragement

"When the wind is right and the cloud is gone, you can see down this road as far as Darjeeling," I told her. "But it is a long and difficult road, full of perils, and if a traveler on foot were to look at the length of it, his spirit would be overcome and he would sit down and refuse to go any further. You must not look to the end of the road, Portia. Look only to the step in front of you. That you can do. Just one step. And you will not make the journey alone."

Deanna Raybourn (from Dark Road to Darjeeling)

It's about staying in the moment, isn't it? It's also about remembering the reality of impermanence.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday art blogging

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Artist: Hubert Vos

More about reality

It seemed to me we could do with another saying by this ancient philosopher:

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them -- that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

-- Lao Tzu

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What we already know

Here's something to ponder:

At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are, and you know what you want.

- Lao Tzu

The trick is, of course, to learn how to access the true center of one's being. And that's where meditation comes in. (You knew I was going to say that!)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

A valuable observation

Well, this gave me quite a chuckle:

Life is hard, but it's harder if you're stupid.

-- Michael Crichton

I think it's important to remember that we're not utterly helpless about this matter. It is true, of course, that some of our native intelligence is determined by our genetic make up. However, there is also that kind of "stupidity" that is another word for the mind poison of "ignorance" or "delusion". We can certainly train ourselves to become less stupid in this respect by diligently reminding ourselves to notice, to be aware. Yes, life is difficult. It can be a little less difficult if we are careful to pay attention.
~~~

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The mind

This is a very famous quotation - undoubtedly because it is so very true:

"The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.."

John Milton (from Paradise Lost)

It would be skillful, I think, to call this to mind the next time we find ourselves believing that our misery or our happiness is dependent on something or someone outside ourselves.
~~~