Thursday, June 30, 2011

Our responsibility

One of my private clients told me not long ago that during Oprah Winfrey's long run of her television program, she had the following sign on her dressing table where she could see it before going on the air:
You are responsible for the energy you bring to those around you.
I really like that. Notice what it does not say. It does not say that we are responsible for how other people feel. We can't take that on, really, (although others may try to manipulate us into believing we can or should). We do, however, have some real choice about what we contribute to the atmosphere around us.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

True freedom

I find myself surprised by how many people think that meditative practice is either a waste of time or a form of escapism or both. Here's the real deal:

“Mindfulness is not an evasion or an escape. It means being here, present, and totally alive. It is true freedom—and without this freedom, there is no happiness.”

-- Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Meditative Picture Blogging

Meditation and special challenges

This is a hopeful and inspiring article, I think:

Special-needs students use meditation to control behavior

Here's how it gets started:
Brandon Heinz, an eighth grader in the Bristol Township School District, told occupational therapist Charles E. Gallagher that he had been asked to sit still "millions of times."

The problem is that it's not always easy.

For Brandon, 14, and his classmates - students with autism, attention-deficit disorders, or other special needs - controlling signs of anxiety is often a struggle.

So Gallagher made a suggestion: Breathe.

"In through your nose, and out through your mouth," he instructed. Then, he said, let out a big sigh.

Gallagher went on to teach the students meditation techniques to help them cope when frustration threatens to overwhelm.

Do click on through to read the rest. It's a short piece.

And you know something? We don't have to be diagnosed with "special needs" to benefit from these principles and techniques!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday art blogging

Artist: E. Phillips Fox

The heart of effective living

All the great teachers from all the wisdom traditions teach this, really:

Present-moment living, getting in touch with your now, is at the heart of effective living. When you think about it, there really is no other moment you can live. Now is all there is, and the future is just another present moment to live when it arrives.

-- Wayne Dyer

No, this doesn't mean not to plan. We need to live in the moment - not necessarily for the moment. (There's a difference.) We can, however, be thoroughly in the moment while we're making sensible plans for the future - letting the planning be an act of responsibility and not an obsession.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

Inner peace

Well, this is certainly succinct:

Inner peace is letting go of impatience.

-- Sogyal Rinpoche

You know, I come across people who actually seem to boast of impatience or, at the very least, vigorously justify it. Now that I think about it, they weren't very peaceful sorts at all....

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Recongizing beauty

Here's something a Center participant sent to me. Very true, I would say:

There's so much beauty around you--and not just where one conventionally would look for beauty. In a flower, of course it's there supremely, but even in places you would not be looking for it.

-- Eckhart Tolle

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday life form blogging

Real equanimity, real peace

It's amazing, really, how ferociously people will often defend the "right" to have enemies, to believe that is is somehow right to see others as enemies. Here's another way:

If there is love, there is hope to have real families, real brotherhood, real equanimity, real peace. If the love within your mind is lost, if you continue to see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education you have, no matter how much material progress is made, only suffering and confusion will ensue.

-- The Dalai Lama

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday Meditative Picture Blogging

Sad and often true


People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.

-- Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Arthur Bowen Davies

Valuing the darkness

Oh, I really, really like this:

“Enlightenment is not imagining figures of light but making the darkness conscious.”

- Carl Jung

Odd that I had not come across it before but I haven't. It's so wonderful that I would have thought it would be picked up more often in a variety of books and websites on the spiritual life.

Well, I've found it now and it will continue, I'm sure, to be a powerful springboard for reflection.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


This beautifully expresses timeless meditative principles:

When we see ourselves in a situation which must be endured and gone through, it is best to meet it with firmness, and accommodate everything to it in the best way practicable. This lessens the evil, while fretting and fuming only increase your own torments.

-- Thomas Jefferson

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

A willingness to be still

I would say that there is a difference between a receptive sort of stillness and the "couch potato" kind:

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

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Over-concern with "getting it right"

The following is from an article about meditation entitled "Meditation Is Not What You Think" by Ed and Deb Shapiro.
Meditation invites us to stop, just stop, breathe and be. Just as with a musician playing or an artist painting, when we stop trying to make it happen something occurs, like the radiant sun that suddenly emerges in a cloudy sky. But because we try so hard, we identify more with the technique instead of allowing the meditation to reveal itself.
Many people get frustrated with meditation because they're striving for some sort of idealized technique that will produce a certain feeling. I like the encourage simply to stop, to breathe and to be.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday Meditative Picture Blogging


Truly, I tell you, this is the only way to begin and then to maintain a meditative practice:
What saves a person is to take a step. Then another step.

By the way, if you've never read The Little Prince, I highly recommend it. Even though it looks like a book for children, it really is for grown-ups.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Władysław Skoczylas

Something about perception

Good old Heisenberg:

What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.

Werner Heisenberg

Yup. As I often find myself saying in the Foundations class, "Notice the non-objectivity of perception."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The effect we have on others

Quite some time ago, someone I respect very much mentioned how important it is that people take at least some responsibility for how they come across. I've never forgotten it. Below is a passage from the Daily Om website that talks about just that:
Most people rarely give thought to the effect they have had or will have on others. When we take a few moments to contemplate how our individual modes of being affect the people we spend time with each day, we come one step closer to seeing ourselves through the eyes of others. By asking ourselves whether those we encounter walk away feeling appreciated, respected, and liked, we can heighten our awareness of the effect we ultimately have. Something as simple as a smile given freely can temporarily brighten a person’s entire world... And small gestures of kindness can even prove to those embittered by the world that goodness still exists.
The complete article is right here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

Authentic silence

Here is one of the sayings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers from early Christian monasticism. What I really like about this one is that it reveals the futility of trying to make interior progress by slavishly following rules or by interpreting instructions too literally. The intention of the heart matters much more than overt ways of evaluating how we are advancing:

A person may seem to be silent, but if his heart is condemning others, he is babbling ceaselessly. But there may be another who talks from morning till night and yet he is truly silent, that is, he says nothing that is not profitable.

-- Abba Pimen

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Wednesday life form blogging

The truly valuable gift

This story has been around for a while in various versions. Stories on this overall theme go all the way back to the Desert Fathers and Mothers of early Christian monasticism and no doubt exist in other wisdom traditions as well.

Here's the version I found today and it really spoke to me:

A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman."I've been thinking," he said, "I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.

-- Author Unknown

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Urgent and vital

Well! I certainly agree with this:

Sometimes the most urgent and vital thing you can possibly do is take a complete rest.

- Ashleigh Brilliant

Meditation, of course, is the most effective way of resting the mind. My own teacher used to say that frequently: "Rest the mind; rest the mind." If we are straining in any way when we meditated, we truly aren't doing it correctly.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

More about the "now"

This is well spoken:

Truth has no special time of its own. Its hour is now - always.

~ Albert Schweitzer

Schweitzer has long been one of my personal heroes. If you don't know much about him, I really recommend that you read up on this life and work.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Blogging interruption

I'll be back soon, folks. I just have a lot going on right now and am a bit tired out. I'll be back Friday at the latest.

Blessings to all!

Wednesday life form blogging

Gorgeous chameleon

I'm sorry to say that I lost track of where I found this photo.