Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Meditative Picture Blogging

The key to life

Oustanding (IMHO):

When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.

-- John Lennon

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday art blogging

Artist: François Barraud

Self-acceptance

I want to call your attention to the transcription of a short interview with Christopher Germer. Here's part of what he said:
Perhaps the easiest way [to deal with difficult emotions] is simply to label the emotion—fear, anger, sorrow. When we label an emotion, especially with” tender attention” rather than “worried attention,” the emotion seems to lose its sting. Brain imaging studies have also shown how labeling reduces the fear response of the amygdala, the part of the brain that signals danger.
...
[Another] strategy is to use language to soothe and comfort yourself when you’re feeling really bad. You could try the following phrases, which Kristin Neff calls the “self-compassion mantra.” ... When you’re in the midst of emotional pain, try saying to yourself:

This is a moment of suffering
Suffering is a part of life
May I be kind to myself
May I accept myself as I am
Here at the Center we frequently work with the basic principle of accepting our feelings without judgment rather than getting attached to the idea of feeling better right away. Often we will feel better as a result but that needs to be a side-effect --- not the main objective.
~~~

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Words of a thinly disguised Zen master :-)

See what I mean?

Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known.

~ Garrison Keillor

You may need to read it a couple of times!
~~~

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

The Now

This is very well expressed:
It's being here now that's important. There's no past and there's no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can't relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don't know if there is one.
-- George Harrison

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Flow

I think this is truly beautiful:

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

-- Laozi

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Meditative Picture Blogging

Photo by Xuan (Center participant)

Astute observation

Something to ponder:
We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
-- Anaïs Nin

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Something about acceptance

Well! This is certainly well put:

So the universe is not quite as you thought it was. You'd better rearrange your beliefs, then. Because you certainly can't rearrange the universe.

Isaac Asimov

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

The problem with perfectionism

It has been my observation that perfectionism is the character trait at the root of more suffering than any other. And, yet, people who are afflicted with this attribute cling to it passionately and defend it with ferocity. Here's something that says a little bit about this:

Perfectionism doesn't believe in practice shots. It doesn't believe in improvement. Perfectionism has never heard that anything worth doing is worth doing badly--and that if we allow ourselves to do something badly we might in time become quite good at it. Perfectionism measures our beginner's work against the finished work of masters. Perfectionism thrives on comparison and competition. It doesn't know how to say, "Good try," or "Job well done." The critic does not believe in creative glee--or any glee at all, for that matter. No, perfectionism is a serious matter.

-- Julia Cameron

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A reason for singing

I suppose we don't know this for sure but I like it anyway:
The whales do not sing because they have an answer, they sing because they have a song.
-- Gregory Colbert

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday life form blogging

Something about kindness

I found an article this morning entitled "Minute Meditation: A Prayer For Kindness" over on a website called Elev8. (Isn't that clever?)

The website as a whole is addressed to practicing Christians but there's a lot of good material there completely suitable for an interfaith audience. Here's an example:

[Kindness] is as broad and old as humanity. The Greek playwright Sophocles alluded to the naturalness of kindness when he said, “Kindness gives birth to kindness.” The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius understood the personal as well as the social benefits of kindness. “Ask thyself daily,” he wrote, “to how many ill-minded persons thou hast shown a kind disposition.” Goethe viewed kindness as the “golden chain by which society is bound together.” The fact that the word kindness is derived from the Old English gecynde, meaning natural, is a good indication that kindness is a very natural virtue. Shakespeare’s immortal and oft-quoted phrase, “the milk of human kindness” (Macbeth, act 1, scene 5), also attests to the naturalness of kindness, especially with regard to its manner of nourishment.

In the contemporary world, we commonly hear reference to “random acts of kindness.” The expression was coined, presumably, to counteract “random acts of violence.” Nonetheless, acts of kindness are not fully themselves if they are random and impersonal. They should be well-placed and personal. “How truly is a kind heart a fountain of gladness,” wrote Washington Irving, “making everything in its vicinity to freshen into smiles.” No other virtue is better identified with the heart. Kindness and kindheartedness are synonymous, as are kind and kindhearted.

Small acts of watchful kindness are seldom performed in vain. And they have a marvelous proclivity for engendering successive acts of kindness. Moreover, kindness is versatile in its manner of expression. The kind look, gesture, or word can be as beneficial as the kind deed.
As you may remember, the metta or loving-kindness meditation is simply based on the principle that first we wish ourselves happiness and well-being and then we extend that same wish to others.

You know, it gives me a little lift just reading about it.
~~~

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happiness article

I thought I'd share the following:

20 Easy Ways to Be Happier

Not all of it is immediately about meditation but there are mindfulness implications in all of the suggestions.
~~~

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Enough

This is something to consider whenever we find ourselves grasping or craving or coveting:

Nothing is enough for the person to whom enough is too little.

-- Epicurus

It is a common misconception, by the way, that Epicurus preached self-indulgence. He did not. He actually believed that the greatest and most reliable pleasure comes from moderation.
~~~~

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Reframing disappointment

Here's something I just found and I really do think it is true:

For everything you have missed, you have gained something else.

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thursday Foundations class cancelled

Oh, I really didn't want to do this but I'm now convinced it's the path of wisdom.

I know the main streets are cleared but the neighborhood streets are not for the most part and there will undoubtedly be a lot of black ice even on the main streets tonight. I don't want anyone taking any unnecessary risks or getting hurt.

We're just going to need to call off this entire series of Foundations classes because there's no way, at this point, to make up all that we've missed by the time the course is scheduled to be over.

If you are a participant and have already paid the entire fee, please register with Cynthia (663-4747) for the next scheduled course. If that will not work for you, however, we will happily refund your money.

Once again: stay warm, stay safe, stay home! :-)
~~~

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Possible Thursday cancellations

We are not going to make a decision about the Thursday evening Foundations class until tomorrow (Thursday) morning. Cynthia and I will assess the situation and post our decision at some point before 12:00 noon in the morning.

Needless to say, we would much rather not cancel class unless it seems truly necessary.

Do check here again by noon on the 10th.

Thanks for your patience!
~~~

Wednesday life form blogging

~

Class cancellation

The Wednesday morning ongoing meditation class for February 9 is cancelled due to more (that's right, more!) snow.

Keep meditating, dear people.

And do send compassion and loving-kindness out to all beings (don't forget the animals) for whom the bitter cold we're experiencing along with the snow gives rise to suffering.

Peace be with you all.
~~~
UPDATE: Oh, I forgot to specify earlier: the Center is completely closed today so I'm unable to see people for individual appointments either.

Stay warm, stay safe, stay home!
~~~

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Ah, those lessons

Most of you know how much I admire this teacher:

Maybe the only enemy is that we don't like reality the way it is now and therefore wish it would go away fast. But what we find as practitioners is that nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.

-- Pema Chödrön

And the quotation above points to what, as far as I'm concerned, is the greatest encouragement and consolation of the meditative tradition. I refer, of course, to the teaching that it's all material, that nothing is ever wasted. Nothing, nothing, nothing is ever wasted.
~~~

Monday, February 07, 2011

Monday Meditative Picture Blogging

Book Club cancellation

With my very great regret (once more), we need to cancel the Book Club meeting tonight. I know the main streets are cleared but the street I live on is worse than ever. It has never been plowed and drivers created deep ruts in the snow yesterday which have now frozen over again making navigation to my house very difficult. Also there is no place to park. It is treacherous trying to get into my driveway and there is no on street parking at all.

SO, we'll try again on March 14 (the second Monday in March).

My sincere apologies.

Oh, and, by the way: if anyone tries to make it to the Center, be sure to park in front of the building where the parking lot has been cleared. The back upper parking lot (where most of us usually park) has not been plowed at all.
~~~

Friday, February 04, 2011

Saturday class cancelled

Hello, Center participants.

With regret, I think it is wise to cancel class for Saturday morning, February 5.

I will miss you all!

Let's all stay warm and safe, okay?

Blessings to everybody.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Still snowed in

I'm sorry to say that the Center is still closed as of today (Thursday, Feb. 3). Tonight's Foundation Class is cancelled and I will be unable to see people for individual appointments as well.

I do recommed that we all meditate on the principle of impermance!

Take care, everybody, keep warm, be careful out there, and I'll see you soon.
~~~
PS: Here's a quotation for you to give you some material for reflection:

Life is. I am. Anything might happen. And I believe I may invest my life with meaning. The uncertainty is a blessing in disguise. If I were absolutely certain about all things, I would spend my life in anxious misery, fearful of losing my way. But since everything and anything are always possible, the miraculous is always nearby and wonders shall never, ever cease.

-- Robert Fulghum

That really a good point about certainty, isn't it?
~~~

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Center closed due to weather

Hello participants of St. John's Center here in Tulsa:

Well, as will not surprise you, we are closed today and tonight due to the blizzard. No Tuesday night class and no individual appointments during the day today.

Stay tuned for our decision about tomorrow morning.

Be careful out there, okay?

Blessings to you all.
~~~
UPDATE: Well, we have a record-breaking accumulation of snow here in Tulsa so far and, from what I can observe (as of 3:00 pm), it's still snowing. SO. The Center will be closed tomorrow (Wednesday, Feb. 2) as well. That includes class and individual appointments.

Once more, everyone do be careful and stay safe.
~~~

Mindfulness meditation promotes happiness; positive thinking, not so much

This is excellent, I think:

Even one minute

This morning I came across a simple, ordinary little article entitled "30 Benefits of Meditation". It's nothing to write home about, really. Except that two sentences stood out to me as being both simply and effectively expressed:
Meditation can be simply sitting in a quiet room, concentrating on your breath slowly in and out, for no longer than a minute. Yes, even one minute can bring great benefits to your life.
This is true. Do trust me on this one!

I would only add that you not judge yourself regarding distractions.

You can go a long way on this approach all by itself.
~~~