Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What is compassion anyway?

I think this sums it up quite well:

Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.

-- Frederick Buechner

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Something about beliefs

Oh, my goodness, people. This is so, so true:

The therapist does not treat patients by simply giving them another set of beliefs. He or she tries to help them see which kinds of ideas and beliefs have led to their suffering. Many patients want to get rid of their painful feelings, but they do not want to get rid of their beliefs, the viewpoints that are the very roots of their feelings.

-- Thich Nhat Hanh

I'm thinking now of having this printed out on a little card that I give to all my meditation therapy clients. Many would truly rather keep their pain than question some of their destructive beliefs about themselves and about life.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday life form blogging



Here are two quotations on the subject that I think are truly worthy of time and reflection:

Enlightenment is the "quiet acceptance of what is". I believe the truly enlightened beings are those who refuse to allow themselves to be distressed over things that simply are the way they are.

-- Wayne Dyer

Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.

-- Lao Tzu

Both are dificult: accepting what is and knowing oneself. Let us, then, normalize the perception that we're in for a long journey - and ought to be!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The value of close attention

Here's something very much in line with yesterday's post:

The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.

-- Henry Miller

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday meditative picture blogging


Valuing mystery

I'm all for being practical. However, many people who claim to value the practical above all else tend to minimize the value of wonder, the value of allowing themselves the experience of awe:

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. They to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, are as good as dead: their eyes are closed.

-- Albert Einstein

If you haven't felt a sense of awe or wonder today, give yourself that opportunity before you go to bed tonight. If you can't find that opportunity in your home or backyard, I promise you it can be found on the internet! Go to Wikimedia Commons and browse through the art work there or visit the NASA website and look at some of the Hubble telescope photographs. Train yourself. Coach yourself. The awareness of wonder will come to you in time, truly.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Paul Gaugin

Something about purpose

When you know who you are;
when your mission is clear and you
burn with the inner fire of unbreakable will;
no cold can touch your heart;
no deluge can dampen your purpose.
You know that you are alive.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy Vernal Equinox

Well, this year the first day of spring is on March 20 - today. However, here in Tulsa it is snowing!

You can read more about the equinox right here.

The ten minute rule

This is from friend of the Center, Larry Hochhaus:
When obsessing on a future event which makes us fearful, we can ask, "what can I do about it now?" We can also follow my friend Tommy's 10-minute rule. Namely, if I'm thinking about something of concern I can limit the time I'll spend on it to ten minutes. If I'm engaged in doing something in the present that requires my attention, like driving or listening to someone sharing information with me, at the same time I'm dwelling on the past or fearing the future I need to shift my focus to the here and now immediately. To keep my focus on the present, it may be helpful to redirect my attention to my five senses. That is, ask myself what am I seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching right here "just for today," "just for this moment?"
Redirecting one's attention to the five senses is very helpful indeed when our thoughts are taking us hostage.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday cat blogging!


Awakening fully

I am saddened by the assertion some people make that meditation is somehow selfish. They feel guilty about coming to class and being unproductive. I would like to shout the following from the housetops:

Whenever someone awakens fully,
it affects human consciousness
at a collective level.
It is like dropping a stone
into a dark murky pond.
Ripples of light!
Not one word need be spoken.

-- Leonard Jacobsen

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Something to think about:

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Ferris Bueller

Belated life form blogging


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

An Irish blessing

~~~Deep peace of the running wave to you
~~~Deep peace of the shining stars to you
~~~Deep peace of the flowing air to you
~~~Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mood boosters

Why would a post on mood boosters in the food department belong on a meditation site? Mainly it has to do with motivation. I've discovered that when people are in a disheartened or irritable mood, they tend to resist taking the time and effort to meditate - even when they know that doing so would actually help. And so I was pleased to come across an article entitled "5 Best Snacks to Boost Your Mood".

The snacks, incidentally, are:
sunflower seeds
dark chocolate
There's a brief page on each one of the snacks explaining how it works. Very valuable information, I should say.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Apple meditation

Artist: Paul Cézanne

Today Cynthia called my attention to an article on eating an apple as a meditative support. It's called "Are You Really Savoring Your Apple? An Apple Meditation" by Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung. Here's a little excerpt:
The first thing is to give your undivided attention to eating the apple. When you eat the apple, just concentrate on eating the apple. Don't think of anything else. And most important, be still. Don't eat the apple while you are driving. Don't eat it while you are walking. Don't eat it while you are reading. Just be still. Being focused and slowing down will allow you to truly savor all the qualities the apple offers: its sweetness, aroma, freshness, juiciness, and crispness.
There's quite a bit more to the article so I do suggest that you click through and learn more about this wonderful exercise.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Paul Serusier

Thoughts on happiness

Everyone really, deep down, wants to be happy. But many people truly don't know how. Here's a bit help in understanding how to go about it:

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 truly 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 that nothing is lacking,
the whole world belongs to you!

-- Lao Tzu

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Something about the ego

Here's an image that is both descriptive and evocative:

The ego, as a collection of our past experiences, is continually offering miserable lines of thought. It’s as if there were a stream with little fish swimming by, and when we hook one of them there is a judgment. The ego is constantly judging everybody and everything. It has its constant little chit chat about things that can happen in the future, things about the past, too, and these are the little fish that swim by. And what we learn to do — this is why it takes work — is to not reach out and grab a fish.

- Hugh Prather

That, of course, is why meditative practice is so very important. In meditation we learn the real how of not grabbing a fish.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday cat blogging!


How we RELATE to experiences

Today, I found a truly excellent question and answer page about meditation entitled "Cultivating a Quiet Mind". Here's just one very small excerpt that impressed me.
Any kind of experience is possible during meditation. But meditation is not oriented toward having particular kinds of experiences. Rather, meditation is concerned with how we relate to all our experiences, not about inducing specific sorts of experiences. In essence, meditating teaches awareness of whatever happens and allowing our experiences to come and go without judgment. In this sense, meditation is profoundly ordinary. There is nothing extraordinary or exotic about it.
I do encourage you to click through and read all of it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Something about decisions

This is some wise advice, I think:

Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.

-- Author Unknown

I would add the following: never answer an email or return a phone call when experiencing distress. Wait. Give yourself time to breathe, to let your mind settle, to still your soul.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

As you sow, so shall you reap.

I wouldn't assert that this is 100% the case but it is true often enough:

Whether it's praise, love, criticism, money, time, power, punishment, space, sorrow, laughter, need, pain, or pleasure... the more of it that you give, the more of it you will receive.

-- Mike Dooley

Monday, March 08, 2010

Monday meditative picture blogging

Photograph by Luis Leclere

A wonderful Rumi poem on impermanence

Here it is:

Travelers, it is late.
Life's sun is going to set.
During these brief days that you have strength,
be quick and spare no effort of your wings.

-- Jalal ad-Din Rumi

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Leon Wyczółkowski

More about alleviating our suffering

I saved this quotation a long time ago. I may have used it before but, if so, it certainly bears repeating:

Mindfulness meditation trains us to be less reactive to whatever it is in life that causes us suffering. It gives us an ability to experience our own pain without identifying fully with it, and therefore to be more free from it. Because of that experience during meditation, we begin to fear life's pain less, to contract around it less. We become more easygoing with ourselves. We still suffer, but with much less of the dramatic flair that only adds to our suffering and makes it overwhelming.

-- From Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Oh, that mind poison of greed!

It is so easy in our consumption oriented culture to believe that we will be happier if we just have more money or more stuff. So ponder the following if you find yourself caught up in that outlook:

For many people, the acquisition of wealth does not end their troubles, it only changes them.
It is not the person who has too little, but the person who craves more, who is poor.
What difference does it make how much you have? What you do not have amounts to much more.

-- Seneca

I found the above quotations in an article entitled "What the Old Romans Can Teach You About Living a Kick-Ass Life" that you can read right here.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Friday cat blogging!


Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Changing your life

This morning I want to steer you toward an article entitled "7 Little Habits That Can Change Your Life, and How to Form Them". Here are a couple of the habits that are mentioned:
Kindness. Yes, kindness is a habit. And it can be cultivated. Focus on it every day for a month and you’ll see profound changes in your life. You’ll feel better about yourself as a person. You’ll see people react to you differently and treat you better, over the long run.
Daily routine. It’s so simple, but creating a daily routine for yourself can make a big difference in your life. The best routines, I’ve found, come at the start and end of the day — both your workday and your day in general. That means, develop a routine for when you awake, for when you first start working, for when you finish your workday, and for the end of your evening.

How will that change your life? It will help you get a great start to your day, and finish your day by preparing for the next day. It’ll help you firmly root the productive habits you want to firm in your everyday life. It’ll help you focus on what’s important, not just what comes up.
The article is on a website called Zen Habits that is fun to explore!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Something about resentment

I am repeatedly amazed at the number of people who act as if something very precious were being taken away when I suggest that they would benefit by letting go of resentment. The following was written by a friend of mine and I'm adapting it for general readership with his permission:

No resentment will go away by resenting more. We have all experienced hurts, some physical hurts, some based on actions of others who disappointed us profoundly, trust in a relationship was broken, or we failed to succeed as we'd hoped in a work situation. Perhaps someone hurt our children or someone we loved; maybe we were lied to, stolen from or betrayed. Whatever the hurt, we hurt ourselves if we hang onto or maintain the memory of the negative event. Resentments can lead us to both continued suffering and to engaging destructive behavior ouselves. Therefore, justifiable anger is a luxury we simply cannot afford. The path out is to achieve forgiveness. When we can say, not that the person who harmed us was right to do so, but that we are prepared to forgive, our anger will subside. We will benefit by moving out of our negative emotional state. We will benefit by removing a reason for ongoing pain and suffering in our own lives.

-- Larry Hochhaus

I particularly like that first sentence. I've talked to people who really believe that they have to keep on resenting as if this would somehow get it out of their system. It doesn't work, folks. Please trust me on this one!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Wednesday life form blogging


About our feelings during meditation

New participants here at the Center frequently believe that when they meditate, they ought to feel all lovely and serene. I recently found a web page that speaks to this. Here's a little excerpt:
How did we get the idea that meditation is about being calm and free of thinking? When we allow ourselves to return to our meditation regularly, no matter how difficult the experience, we cannot deny that we see positive changes in our lives, even if during our meditations we feel frustrated or confused. What this seems to suggest is that gaining positive results from meditation does not depend on the meditation experience being pleasant. Perhaps the very gesture of observing exactly how we feel, or even what we think, is the root of the benefits we gain from meditation.
It's by a yoga teacher named Shy Sayar and you can read the entire piece right here.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Monday meditative picture blogging

"Dreaming of the Tiger"
(double click to enlarge - worth it!)

A 45 Second Meditation

So many people claim in all seriousness that they don't have time to meditate. (Another time we'll discuss why that is bogus but, for now, let's go along with it.) Everyone, however can find 45 seconds. Here's how:
Try this: breath through your mouth, and notice how your chest expands; then breath through your nose and you'll notice how your abdomen goes out more. You see, breathing through the nose causes the diaphram to pull the air to the bottom of your lungs. This delivers a good dose of oxygen into your bloodstream, and into your brain. It also tends to relax you.

This is why meditators breath through their noses. It's healthier, and it is the basis of this forty-five-second meditation. ...[T]ake three slow, deep breaths through your nose, paying attention to your breathing.
Make it a ritual. For example, each time you get into your car, quietly do your three deep breaths. Having a regular "trigger" like this to remind you will keep you from procrastinating so often that you eventually forget to meditate altogether (isn't this typical when we don't make a habit out of the things we want to do?).

Don't worry if some say this isn't "real" meditation. We walk before we run, and not everything has to be difficult to be of value.
This is by Steve Gillman and you can find the original article right here.