Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Here's an interesting thought:

Everything in the world has a hidden meaning ...
Men, animals, trees, stars, they are all hieroglyphics.
When you see them you do not understand them.
You think they are really men, animals, trees, stars.
It is only years later that you understand.

Somehow, this seems to go together with Krutch quotation that I posted on August 26th. Take a look and see if you think so too.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Good descriptions of mindfulness

I found a little Squidoo piece entitled "How does mindfullness help treat anxiety". Here are a couple of quotations from that:
The nature of mindfulness is to live life with awareness and participate in each moment with intention and focus.
Mindfulness is not escaping from reality, being non emotional or letting life pass you by. Instead, it is a way of learning to live life fully in each moment without preconceived notions and without judgement.
These are very succinct, wonderfully precise articulations of what we are talking about when we talk about mindfulness.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday cat blogging!

Photo by reader Doris M.

The joy of "isness"

Cynthia sent me the following quotation last night. I really like it a lot - mainly because I've loved the word "isness" for a long time now!

Instead of creating expectations of what should or should not be happening, cooperate with the form that this moment takes. Bring a 'yes' to the isness, because it's pointless to argue if it already is. A greater intelligence is available to you when you no longer reject, deny, or 'don't want' what is.

-- Eckhart Tolle

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The value of attention

This is an intriguing teaching, really:

In nature, one never really sees a thing for the first time until one has seen it for the fiftieth.

Joseph Wood Krutch in The Desert Year

What would happen if we made it a practice not to discount giving close attention to the seemingly familiar? Maybe we would learn to see in a true way what we just think we see so far.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A request

Hello, dear internet friends.

I want to ask your prayers and/or good thoughts (whatever it is that you do...) for my niece, Jane, her husband, Chris, and their newborn little boy. The baby was born last night and is now in the neonatal intensive care unit at the University of Virginia Medical School hospital. He will need heart surgery.

My brother says that it is possible that the baby can go home to build his strength up for a while before the surgery but they're not sure yet.

My deep gratitude to you all for your caring and concern.

Wednesday life form blogging


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Something about life and death

Here's an observation reminding us of the vital importance of being - living, that is - utterly in the present moment:

Why do so many of us not give ourselves permission to be alive until we are absolutely assured that we will die? ...If we are not in [this present millisecond of life and conscious experience], we are not alive; we are merely thinking our lives. Yet we have seen so many die, looking back over their shoulders at their lives, shaking their heads and muttering in bewilderment, "What was that all about?"

-- Stephen Levine

I don't know about you but I really don't want to get to the end of my life thinking, "What was that all about?" Really.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday meditative picture blogging


Cultivating balance

This is not about balance in our activities but rather about balance in how we view ourselves:

Be humble for you are made of earth.
Be noble for you are made of stars.

-- Serbian Proverb

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Something about identity

I've believed this for a very long time. It's really worth some reflection time, I would submit:

The words 'I am...' are potent words; be careful what you hitch them to.
The thing you're claiming has a way of reaching back and claiming you.

-- A. L. Kitselman

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday cat blogging!


Another definition of mindfulness

This one is by Jon Kabat-Zinn:
[Mindfulness is] the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experiences moment by moment.
That sums it up nicely, doesn't it?

Worthy of a repeat:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What IS mindfulness, anyway?

There's a little article over on the About.com website that takes a look at how mindfulness practice can help a person suffering from generalized anxiety disorder. Part of it explains what actually is happening when we're being mindful:
There are 7 elements of the mindfulness attitude that are required for someone to achieve a mindful state:

1. Non-Judging: taking the role of an impartial observer to whatever your current experience is. This means not making a positive or negative evaluation of what is happening, just simply observing it.

2. Patience: cultivating the understanding that things must develop in their own time.

3. Beginner’s Mind: having the willingness to observe the world as if it was your first time doing so. This creates an openness that is essential to being mindful.

4. Trust: having trust in yourself, your intuition, and your abilities.

5. Non-Striving: the state of not doing anything, just simply accepting that things are happing in the moment just as they are supposed to. For people from Western countries like the United States, this tends to be one of the more difficult components.

6. Acceptance: completely accepting the thoughts, feelings, sensations, and beliefs that you have, and understanding that they are simply those things only.

7. Non-Attachment: avoidance of attaching meaning to thoughts and feelings, or connecting a given thought to a feeling. Instead, let a thought or feeling come in and pass without connecting it to anything, observing them exactly as they are.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday life form blogging


Another simple way to calm down

Today I want to share another passage with you from The Little Book of Calm by Paul Wilson:


Tense people have tense jaw muscles. To relieve this tension, simply press on the roof of the mouth, behind the front teeth, with your tongue.

It works.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Meditative Picture Blogging


This is actually a multi-wavelength photo of the sun. The different colors indicate the different gas temperatures.

Monday, August 16, 2010


So sorry for the lack of posting, folks. It's been a very full day. I'll be back tomorrow!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Thomas Pollack Anshutz

The wonderful Rumi

Here's one of his poems I hadn't come across before today. How true. How very true.

You wander from room to room
Hunting for the diamond necklace
That is already around your neck!

-- Rumi

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday cat blogging!


Sane advice from a great master

Here you go:

Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.

-- Leonardo Da Vinci

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Something truly good and valuable

Oh, my goodness. This teaching will carry you a long, long way for a long, long time:

“If it is going to rain, let it.”

-- anonymous

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wednesday life form blogging


The Human Route

A while back I ordered a meditation mat and cushion from the DharmaCrafts people. A little card was included with the following printed on it. There was no author cited:

The Human Route

Coming empty-handed, going empty handed - that is human.
When you are born, where do you come from?
When you die, where do you go?
Life is like a floating cloud which appears.
Death is like a floating cloud which disappears.
The floating cloud itself originally does not exist.
Life and death, coming and going, are also like this.
But there is one thing which always remains clear.
It is pure and clear, not depending on life and death.

What, then, is the one pure and clear thing?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

About friendship and no regrets

In the Tibetan wisdom system typically known as "The Seven Points of Mind Training" there is a slogan that says, "Don't expect plaudits". I thought of that when I happened upon the following quotation today:

Learn how to carry a friendship greatly, whether or not it is returned. Why should one regret if the receiver is not equally generous? It never troubles the sun that some of his rays fall wide and vain into ungrateful space, and only a small part on the reflecting planet. Let your greatness educate the crude and cold companion. If he is unequal, he will presently pass away; but thou art enlarged by thy own shining.

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, August 09, 2010

Monday meditative picture blogging


If we let it, this can be the most consoling meditative teaching of all:

That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. It is the ordinary state of affairs. Everything is in process. Everything—every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and the inanimate—is always changing, moment to moment.

-- Pema Chodron

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Kaneev Mikhail Alexandrovich

Something about letting go of results

Here's another bit of meditative advice from dear friend-of-the-Center Larry Hochhaus:
Plan, but don't plan the outcome.

It is all right to make plans, but it is not okay to insist on a particular outcome. Sometimes I may do things expecting particular results, but in focusing on the goal instead of the things I should do to reach that goal I may create a set up for disappointment. I can take action, but I cannot rigidly determine the results. When my mind is not set upon the end state, I can be sanguine about failures by saying I did my best (returning the focus to my behavior). With emphasis on what I'm doing instead of emphasis on where I'm going, I will be able to handle the times when things didn't work out.
I think it's important to remember that our culture tends to imprint a default sort of black and white thinking on us even when this attitude is not really part of our personal outlook or philosophy. Many people over the years who have come to talk to me have objected to the idea of letting go of an outcome believing that such an approach will turn them passive and that they then won't bother to make responsible plans. We need to remember that reality is not that kind of an either-or proposition. Larry's little reflection here is very helpful in that regard, I think.

"Abandon all hope of fruition" is a slogan in the Tibetan system of training the mind and heart. My own primary meditation teacher used to emphasize that slogan with me repeatedly! (Ha! I needed it.) And the teaching rescues me these day repeatedly, too. I'm very grateful for it.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

The value of a quiet mind

Only in quiet waters things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.

-- HANS MARGOLIUS, quoted in A Toolbox for Humanity

And how do we quiet the mind?

Well, first by recognizing what the typical noise in the mind is all about: judgment, grasping, attachment to outcome.

And the only way I know to help ourselves is through meditation - the real thing. (Not just zoning out but giving reality the kind of relaxed attention that brings us to alertness and further awareness.)

Friday, August 06, 2010

Friday cat blogging!


Meditation and small children

The Wildmind site has an article up called "Preschoolers practice meditation". Here are some song lyrics published there:

My mind is a clear, blue sky. My mind is a clear, blue sky.

And I breathe in, and I breathe out.

And my mind is a clear, blue sky.

My mind is a clear, blue sky. And the feelings come, and the feelings go.

And my mind is a clear, blue sky. My mind is a clear, blue sky.

And I like this:
Take a breath. Pay attention as the air goes in…and out. There, you’ve just had a moment of mindfulness.
There are some interesting comments in the article about impulse control and hyperactivity. Recommended.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Something about wisdom

This strikes me as worthy of considerable reflection time:

Wisdom is the perception of the unimportance of the things we call great, and of the importance of the things we call small.


Suppose we asked the following: What in my life have I considered to be great that turned out to be unimportant? What have considered to be small that turned out to be quite important indeed? How can I cultivate the sort of perception that will take this history into account?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Two on perseverance

Here's something I didn't know the man said:

It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.

~Albert Einstein

And here's another observation I think is valuable:

I may not be there yet, but I'm closer than I was yesterday.

~Author Unknown

Sunday, August 01, 2010

"Fake it till you make it!"

Some years ago, I bought a little stocking-stuffer sized book called The Little Book of Calm by the meditation teacher Paul Wilson. He's the same person who wrote Instant Calm (which I also have). Here's a passage I happened upon this morning:
Play a Calm Role

Pretend you are calm: adopt the characteristics of a calm person. Pertend that others see you as a calm person, and in not time you'll be a calm person.
This approach is hugely helpful to me because I am not by nature particularly calm. My mother once said that I got through my childhood and youth entirely on nervous energy. I supposed some people might not think I'm calm these days either but, trust me, I'm much more calm than I used to be and strategies like the one quoted above have helped a lot.