Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Different meditation approaches

I just came across a little article entitled "Comprehensive Guide to Worldwide Meditation Techniques". While the piece is not truly comprehensive, it does give some interesting brief descriptions of varying approaches to meditative practice. Here's an example:
Contemplation Meditation Technique: These meditations utilize introspection, self-study, reflection, self-dialogue and contemplation to cut through the layers of false conditioning and false understanding that deludes the mind. These meditations have their roots in many Western Religions and are also a part of Eastern philosophies.
Today's article is Part One. Apparently, a Part Two is on the way and will be published on the same basic site.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday meditative picture blogging


Supporting one's own well being

I found a self-care list today that I believe I almost could have written myself. It's called "10 Simple Ways to Maximize Your Joy". All ten of the suggestions are valuable but I think I'll just give you the third one here as an excerpt:
3. Evaluate your “to do” list. Make a list of ten things you have to do this week. Next perform what I call a body scan. Notice how your body responds when you imagine doing each of these things on your list. Does your body feel tense? Do you feel a pit in your stomach? Focus on the task that brings up the most pain, and ask yourself why you are planning to do this thing that causes you to feel anxious or stressed. If the answer is “I have to,” then you set yourself up to be in a completely helpless position. There are no alternatives when you operate from that principle. If the answer is “I choose to do it because if I don’t it would be morally repulsive,” you come from a more powerful place and one of choice.
Tapping into choice is so very powerful. Try practicing total abstinence for a while from saying "I have to..." and just notice how that changes your experience of anticipating what you are obligated or committed to doing. There's always some choice in the picture. Waking up to the existence of that choice is a way of empowering and showing compassion to ourselves as well as others.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Aksel Waldemar Johannessen

Understanding how our minds work is important:

The world we have created is a product of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.

-- Albert Einstein

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday cat blogging!


Just give it a little thought, okay?

Take a look at this interesting headline:

Vegetarians Are Happier Than Meat-Eaters

And here's a little excerpt:
A new study in Nutrition Journal finds vegetarians have lower incidence of depression, anxiety, and other mood problems than their meat-eating neighbors.
You can access more about the study design from the actual Journal right here.

This is, by the way, a peer-reviewed journal.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday life form blogging


More about impermanence

It might well do us all some good to take a look at whatever tends to shock us or upset our equilibrium. Then it would be helpful to ask ourselves if maybe we forgot about impermanence:

[I]mpermanence is the nature of the human condition. This is a truth we know in our minds but tend to resist in our hearts. Change happens all around us, all the time, yet we long for the predictable, the consistent. We want the reassurance that comes from things remaining the same. We find ourselves shocked when people die, even though death is the most predictable part of life.

-- Jack Kornfield

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Life choices

I truly am convinced that the more we live as if we have choices, the more choices we actually do end up having. I don't think anyone can put the following pledge into practice one hundred percent but I do think we can make a substantial beginning:

I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.

-- Dawna Markova

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Summer Solstice, everyone!

Here are several offerings for your contemplation:

"Our fear of death is like our fear that summer will be short, but when we have had our swing of pleasure, our fill of fruit, and our swelter of heat, we say we have had our day."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"We need society, and we need solitude also, as we need summer and winter, day and night, exercise and rest."
-- Philip Gilbert Hamerton

"Do what we can, summer will have its flies."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time."
-- John Lubbock

"There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart."
-- Celia Thaxter

"In summer, the song sings itself."
-- William Carlos Williams
May you all enjoy today's amazing, extented light. Celebrate the earth. And pray for her - however you do so.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The problem with concepts

Concepts are useful but they are to reality the way a map is to the actual terrain itself:

Identification with your mind creates an opaque screen of concepts, labels, images, words, judgments, and definitions that blocks all true relationship. It comes between you and yourself, between you and your fellow man and woman, between you and nature, between you and God. It is this screen of thought that creates the illusion of separateness, the illusion that there is you and a totally separate other. You then forget the essential fact that, underneath the level of physical appearances and separate forms, you are one with all that is.

-- Eckhart Tolle

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday cat blogging!


Something about meditation

I discovered Joseph Campbell when I was quite young and I count myself very fortunate indeed to have done so. Here's something he said about the importance of meditation that I like very much:
You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don't know what was in the newspaper that morning, you don't know who your friends are, you don't know what you owe anybody, you don't know what anybody owes you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Treasuring the ordinary

Quite a number of years ago, a person who was very influential in my monastic formation told me that I needed to learn to be ordinary. I didn't really understand that then but I have a great appreciation for it these days:

Enlightenment is just another word for feeling comfortable with being a completely ordinary person.

-Veronique Vienne

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wednesday life form blogging


Be teachable

If we don't make ourselves receptive to help, how will we learn? And what this says is that it's never too late. I believe that.

It is a mistake for anyone to think he has lived too long in his old, unsatisfactory ways to make the great change. If you switch on the light in a dark room, it makes no difference how long it was dark because the light will still shine. Be teachable. That is the whole secret.

-- Vernon Howard

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The five senses and mindfulness

Today I found an interesting website entitled Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives. While browsing around on the site I came across a little article called 5 Rules for Life by Lori Deschene. Here's an excerpt:
See as much as you can of what’s right in front of you.

People often live life caught in two mental strongholds: regret for the past, and worry for the future. In looking back on the years I’ve lived so far, I know I’ve spent more time engaging in those activities than truly being present.

Whenever I catch myself, I check in with my five senses and experience what’s in front of me as fully as I possibly can.

I notice the details. Hear the sounds. And seep into the moment. I know I won’t do this all the time, but it adds up to create more time truly living in the now.
Checking in with what we're experiencing with and through our senses is an excellent way of bringing the mind back to the present moment. Try it sometime!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday meditative picture blogging


Right now

I know that the following seems very obvious. Nevertheless, many people feel completely defeated because they're not able to start from someplace other than where they are. Make peace with this one, people, and you will have set the stage for amazing progress:

The journey
you wish to take
can only begin
from where you are
right now
this very minute.

-- Ron Atchison

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Louis Comfort Tiffany

A Kindness Revolution

I get emails every day from the folks at the Care 2 site. Several of the communications lately have called my attention to a series of very short articles by Michelle Schoffro Cook who decided to work on creating a "kindness revolution".

You can see of list of the little articles she's offered so far right here.

Here's what inspired her:
“At age 33 Cami Walker, the author of 29 Gifts, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and the life she knew changed forever. When she was going through some of her most difficult symptoms, she received an uncommon prescription from a friend, an African medicine woman named Mbali Creazzo: Give away 29 gifts in 29 days. Cami was amazed by what unfolded during her month-long journey.”
So Michelle decided to do this too and to invite her readers to participate. Here's something she says about that:
So, here’s the plan: I want to start a Kindness Revolution. I’m tired of all the lying, backstabbing, gossiping, and other parasitic characteristics I’ve seen in many people lately. But, instead of getting even with all those who hurt us, why not join the Kindness Revolution? Why not raise the bar? Reach for the highest common denominator instead of dropping to the lowest? I think kindness is the answer to the world’s ills. And, I’m hoping you’ll agree.
You don’t even have to spend a penny. You can give prayers, smiles, hugs, kind words, a shoulder to cry on, or donate some of your things to people who might need them. There are so many ways we can give of ourselves to transform the world.
I've never forgotten what I read about the Dalai Lama many years ago. Here's what he said:
"My religion is kindness."
May that be true for each of us as well.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Valuing the "little" picture

This is a very empowering way of thinking, actually:

If we just worry about the big picture, we are powerless. So my secret is to start right away doing whatever little work I can do. I try to give joy to one person in the morning, and remove the suffering of one person in the afternoon. If you and your friends do not despise the small work, a million people will remove a lot of suffering.

-- Sister Chan Khong (Vietnamese Nun and Peace Activist)

Friday, June 11, 2010

RIP dear Tom

This sweet boy named Tom went to his reward on Tuesday and we send sincere condolences to long-time Center participant Tommi Cox-Phipps, one of Tom's humans. Tommi was with Tom when he died. Tom was well known for his "silent meow" when he was particularly happy.

Here's another picture:

Do say special prayers or send good thoughts to the Cox-Phipps family in their grief and to the fine Tom kitty himself as he waits at the Rainbow Bridge for his loved ones.

Hey, Tom, do look up my precious Henry as well as Ethel and Edgar. I'm sure they will he happy to show you around the place!

PS: Oh, I almost forgot. The pictures above are by our own Cynthia Burgess! You can see more of Cynthia's outstanding work at Imageplay Photography.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The most important choice ever

This is the one, folks. Honestly. Please trust me on this one:

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

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Wednesday life form blogging

Looking for and enjoying beauty is another way to nourish the soul. The universe is in the habit of making beauty. There are flowers and songs, snowflakes and smiles, acts of great courage, laughter between friends, a job well done, the smell of fresh-baked bread. Beauty is everywhere, ready to nourish the soul. It must only be seen to begin helping us.

I do love that understanding that "the universe is in the habit of making beauty." It is. As Matthew Fox says, we just need to see it.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Power and potential

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

-- Leo Buscaglia

Monday, June 07, 2010

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Three Ls

This is good advice for us all.
You can buy the necklace right here.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Friday cat blogging!


Pause meditation

Here's the choice or decision that will really make a difference:

What is the best use of each day of our lives? In one very short day, each of us could become more sane, more compassionate, more tender, more in touch with the dream-like quality of reality. Or we could bury all these qualities more deeply and get more in touch with solid mind, retreating more into our own cocoon.
One of the most effective means for working with that moment when we see the gathering storm of our habitual tendencies is the practice of pausing, or creating a gap. We can stop and take three conscious breaths, and the world has a chance to open up to us in that gap. We can allow space into our state of mind.

-- Pema Chödrön

This is an astonishingly effective practice. You stop and you know that you've stopped. Then you take the three conscious - that is, deliberate - breaths. You can do this at any time, and in any place. Try it especially when you're experiencing some sort of distress. Then notice what happens within you.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Color meditation

This is really very interesting indeed. Here's an excerpt from a little article I found on color meditation:
Pay attention to your breathing. Take a deep breath and release it slowly. Take another deep breath, release. Again, deep breath...release.

Now begin to focus on the color red. Let red fill your mind. Picture bright ripe red tomatoes...a male cardinal...a red rose.

Breathe in the color red. Let it fill your body. Feel the strength the red energies are bringing to your body. Exhale. Breathe in red again, filling you with courage. Let your breath out.

Take another deep breath. Let it out. Now, breathe in the color orange. Think of a large, juicy orange...flames dancing in a fire...the sunset.

Fill your mind with orange. As you continue to breathe in the orange energies, feel your confidence build with the power of orange.
There's more. Recommended!

I would imagine that doing this sort of meditation regularly would help us be more mindful and appreciative of colors we notice all around us in the material world.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Wednesday life form blogging

Ring-tailed Lemur

Meditation and pain management

Needless to say, given my hand surgery yesterday, I have pain management on my mind. (Although, don't worry. It's really not all that bad!)

I found a little article written by a woman who tells of a particularly bad night of intense physical pain. She then observes the following:
Then, suddenly, my experience completely changed when I heard a quiet inner voice saying: “You don’t have to get through till morning; you only have to get through the present moment”. It was like a house of cards collapsing, revealing the space that had been present all along, if only I could have recognised it. My experience immediately changed from an agonised, contracted state to one that was soft and rich – despite the physical pain. At that moment of relaxing into the present moment, just as it was, I intuitively knew I had tasted something true.
Learning to stay in the moment reduces suffering more than anything one can imagine. Trust me on this one! It's true and it works.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

A little challenge

No posting today, dear people. I had hand surgery this morning and that makes driving the old computer a wee bit difficult!

I'll be back tomorrow, I sincerely hope.

Blessings to all.