Thursday, March 31, 2011

Reacting or responding?

I just found a very brief little article entitled Meditation Can Offer Health & Spiritual Benefits. What I liked about it was this simple paragraph:
“I used to be very reactionary,” said Amy Garrett. “A problem would come up and I would just react. Now, I am able to respond, as opposed to reacting.” Garrett credits her newfound ‘peace of mind’ to the practice of meditation.
We can really be taken hostage by our reactivity, can't we? Wouldn't it be nice to be free from that?
~~~

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday life form blogging

Loving the "now"

I just posted the following over on Facebook. It's too good not to offer it here as well!
The universe is, instant by instant, recreated anew. There is in truth no past, only a memory of the past. Blink your eyes, and the world you see next did not exist when you closed them. Therefore, the only appropriate state of the mind is surprise. The only appropriate state of the heart is joy. The sky you see now, you have never seen before. The perfect moment is now. Be glad of it.
- Terry Pratchett

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Letting go of blame

The following passage is very profound but also very difficult. Most of us just love to blame. The trouble is that it doesn't work. Do let's let the great teacher quoted here teach us:
When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and arguments. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding.
-- Thich Nhat Hahn

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Something about being happy

Somehow, today, I stumbled upon a wikiHow article entitled "How to be Happy". Here's part of it that really caught my attention:
Find happiness in the job you have NOW. Many people expect the right job or the right career to dramatically change their level of happiness, but happiness research makes it clear that your level of optimism and the quality of your relationships eclipse the satisfaction you gain from your job. If you have a positive outlook, you will make the best of any job, and if you have good relationships with people, you won't depend on your job to give your life a greater sense of meaning. You'll find it in your interactions with the people you care about. Now that doesn't mean you shouldn't aspire towards a job that will make you happier; it means you should understand that the capacity of your job to make you happy is quite small in comparison to your outlook on life and your relationships with people.
Personally, I think this is huge. I've known so very many people, actually, who think that finding just the right job will be the ultimate answer to whatever lack of fulfillment they are experiencing.

And here's another one I'll throw in free of charge! :-)
Smile. Science suggests that when you smile, whether you feel happy or not, your mood will be elevated. So smile all the time! In addition having enough money to pay the bills allows you to focus your energies on more productive aspects of your life, such a the pursuit of happiness as opposed to keeping the 'wolves from the door'.
It's not a bad little article, actually. You might like to click through and read the rest of it.
~~~

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The value of simplicity

Some of you know that I once taught algebra as my means of paying the rent and so you can see why the following appeals to me:

I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day; how singular an affair he thinks he must omit. When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all incumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run.

- Henry David Thoreau

Meditation, especially insight meditation, truly does help us with this simplification process.
~~~

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

Philosphy and meditation

I would say that the following is true about meditation, as well, and on an experiential level - not only an intellecual one:

Philosophy is concerned with that which is, in contrast with that which seems to be. Its aim is to reveal the reality which underlies appearance.

-- John Grier Hibben

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday life form blogging

Photo by Center participant Scott H.

I really like this!

I'm not sure who the "they" is suppose to be but maybe you're supposed to decide that for yourself:

If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.

-- Muhammad Ali

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Anna Boch

For ladies of a "certain age"! :-)

.
Well, what do you know? Look at this:

Meditation helps reduce hot flashes

It's a very short article. Do just click through for the details.

Hmmm. Maybe that's why I had a relatively easy menopause experience. I thought it was probably just good genes. Ha! Maybe part of it is that I'm a meditator.

(Wonders never cease!!!)
~~~

Saturday, March 19, 2011

How we see the world

My goodness. If this doesn't motivate us to be faithful to our inner work, I don't know what will:

Better keep yourself clean and bright. You are the window through which you must see the world.

-- George Bernard Shaw

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

It's true, actually

This:

A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.

-- Steve Martin

:-)

Meditation help us cultivate the observer consciousness to know it and the equanimity to make peace with it.
~~~

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cultivating a disciplined practice

You know, a lot of people have an aversion to the word "discipline" and that's a real pity because its root mean "to teach". I was moved and inspired by the quotation below. It describes discipline as an unsurpassed treasure, really:

Discipline is like moonlight to cool the wild mind that is burning with anger, attachment, ignorance, jealousy and so forth. One becomes calm, concentrated, and magnificent, towering over ordinary beings like Mount Meru rising above the world. Others will be drawn to one's strength and will find great inspiration and confidence in it. It pacifies our own being, and it brings peace into the way other people and sentient beings relate to us. Thus wise practitioners protect their discipline as they would their eyes.

-- The 14th Dalai Lama

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Meditative Picture Blogging

More about kindness

I am both moved and impressed by the comprehensiveness of this:

More than anything else, kindness is a way of life. It is a way of living and walking through life. It is a way of dealing with all that is--our selves, our bodies, our dreams and goals, our neighbors, our competitors, our enemies, our air, our earth, our animals, our space, our time, and our very consciousness. Do we treat all creation with kindness? Isn't all creation holy and divine?

-- Jean Maalouf

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Nikolay Ge

Something about thoughts

It is very easy, actually, to become infatuated with our thoughts. Here's some perspective on that:

There is nothing worth thinking but it has been thought before; we must only try to think it again.

-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

Rules for life

I just came across a blog entitled "Five Rules for Life" but don't think the blog only offers five rules! Many people write in and offer their own "rules" and it's very interesting to observe the various values systems expressed in each set of recommendations for living.

Here are some I like (from different people, by the way):
Learn to recognize your thoughts. Your mind is always going. The problem is, you have become so detached from it you don't realize what it is doing. Become conscious of your thoughts, and you will discover that they may not be very appealing. Your mind tends to run wild with negativity, constantly playing out confrontational scenarios that cause stress you don't even know about. But, if you spend time "watching" your thoughts, you can recognize what is happening.
...
Listen to music. It doesn't matter what kind of music you listen to - put on your favorite CD and get lost in the world of someone else's thoughts. Music has personally saved my life and been a voice for me when I couldn't find my own. It has been an outlet and a release. Never underestimate the power words and melodies can have on you.
...
Have respect. Not just for your elders or authority but for everything. Animals, the oceans, plant life, our planet, insects, your neighbors. Everything. We all affect one another each and everyday. You aren't the only one here. To expect respect, you have to give it. Freely and abundantly.
...
Get a dog. A dog loves you unconditionally. A dog thinks you are the greatest, coolest, smartest, most successful person in the world. Get a dog and work hard to live up to its expectations.
...
Don’t make decisions when you’re angry. You can destroy everything you’ve been working for if you act when you’re angry. Breathe, smile and wait - if you do, you’ll realize that you aren`t so angry about what happened...or it may just fix itself.
...
Never stop learning. Life is a learning adventure. We should try to capture every learning opportunity and not shut off new ideas, experiences, and adventures. We can learn from books, articles, people, classes, and experiences. When we recognize how great the adventure of life can be, every moment can be spent learning something new about the world.
You might like to go overthere and explore what various people think will help us lead "the good life". You might also like to create a list of your own "five rules".
~~~

Thursday, March 10, 2011

That good ol' impermanence

I really like this:

Bottom line is, even if you see them coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So, what are we, helpless? Puppets? Nah. The big moments are gonna come, you can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that count. That's when you find out who you are.

-- Whistler, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Wednesday life form blogging

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Newness

What if we thought about many traditional teachings in terms of what they point to rather than as immutable dogmas? It's possible that we've rejected a teaching because at some point it was presented to us as a big "have to" and all along we've been missing a deeper more powerful meaning:
The great metaphors from all spiritual traditions - grace, liberation, being born again, awakening from illusion - testify that it is possible to transcend the conditioning of my past and do a new thing.
- Sam Keen

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Inner silence

This is the "Word for the Day" over at Gratefulness.org. It's a good one:

When it seems humanly impossible to do more in a difficult situation, surrender yourself to the inner silence and thereafter wait for a sign of obvious guidance or for a renewal of inner strength.

-- Paul Brunton from Meditations for People in Crisis

Monday, March 07, 2011

Monday Meditative Picture Blogging

Thoughts

Here's something someone here at the Center brought me a while back:

Our best friends and our worst enemies are our thoughts. A thought can do us more good than a doctor or a banker or a faithful friend. It can also do us more harm than a brick.

-- Frank Crane

Now here's the difficulty: most people do not believe they have any choice regarding their thoughts; they believe they have to be thinking whatever thoughts happen to be in their minds at a given moment. I agree that, without training, it is very difficult to exercise such choices. But that's what meditation is for. Consistently bringing the mind back to the meditative support after it wanders or becomes distracted demonstrates to us that we do not have to be taken hostage by what we are inclined to think. Yes, it takes effort. And it is profoundly liberating when we make that effort.
~~~

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Sunday humor blogging

Something about perception

I first read this many, many years ago. I see more and more how true it is:
What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what sort of person you are.
-- C.S. Lewis


Thursday, March 03, 2011

Simple; beautiful

Quiet and unnoticed
The flower of your whole life
Has opened its perfect petals.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Optimism for the meditator

Tonight in ongoing class, we talked about the relationship between optimism and meditative practice including what's valuable about optimism and also how it can be misused. The topic has a lot more complexity to it than I have often assumed. Here's something I think is helpful (although there is a lot more to the subject than this):

The world we live in is a world of mingled good and evil. Whether it is chiefly good or chiefly bad depends on how we take it. To look at the world in such a way as to emphasize the evil is the art of pessimism. To look at it in such a way as to bring out the good, and throw the evil into the background, is the art of optimism. The facts are the same in either case. It is simply a question of perspective and emphasis.

-- William Dewitt Hyde