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