Friday, April 29, 2011

A meditative practice to help your marriage

In honor of the royal wedding this morning, I'd like to suggest an article entitled "How to Use Mindfulness Meditation to Improve your Marriage" by Pamela Lipe over on the GoodTherapy.org site.

Here's an excerpt:
After you have settled into your usual pattern of breathing and being in the present, meditate on the strengths or positive characteristics that you received from your parents or other loving caregivers. I received love and kindness from both my parents. From my father, I inherited thoughtfulness and integrity while my mother passed on gentleness and nurturing.

Next, pick one of these traits as a focal point. Here I want to focus on just one of these traits, to feel that quality as my own. I selected kindness. I focused on this word and noticed what I felt in my body. My heart felt warmer and I observed less tension in my chest and shoulders. Of course, as is normal, I was plagued by examples of when I was not kind. In the tradition of mindfulness meditation, I noticed the intrusive thoughts and let them move past my awareness so I could return to reflecting on kindness emanating from my heart. Then I pictured my spouse while maintaining a focus on that positive characteristic that I received from my parents, kindness.

At this point, I invite you to ask yourself the following questions. If this characteristic were to be present in your relationships towards your spouse, what would it look like? What would you be doing? How would you treat your spouse? How would it feel?

Settle on one behavior or action. Picture yourself doing this action for your partner. See the details. Notice how it feels to give this part of yourself to your partner.
You might like to click through and read the whole article. I think it's really quite inspiring and I'm going to incorporate this exercise in my work with couples.
~~~

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mindfulness

Now, this is a truly wonderful definition:

Mindfulness means
paying attention
in a particular way;
on purpose,
in the present moment,
and nonjudgmentally.

- Jon Kabat-Zinn

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wednesday life form blogging

Even more benefits from meditation

This news has really been making the rounds just lately:
New research suggests that mindfulness meditation can help relieve pain and improve memory by regulating a brain wave known as the alpha rhythm, which “turns down the volume” on distractions.

In a small study, researchers found that those participants using meditation were better able to modulate the waves — when they were told where to direct their attention — after they finished an eight-week course, compared to a control group that did no meditation.
You can read the whole article right here.
~~~

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Letting go of externals

One of my facebook friends noted this morning that today is the birthday of Marcus Aurelius, the great emperor-philosopher of Rome during the second century BCE. Here are a few quotations that are wonderfully consistent with meditative principles:

How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.
...
If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your opinion of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.
...
The universe is transformation; our life is what our thoughts make it.
...
We are too much accustomed to attribute to a single cause that which is the product of several, and the majority of our controversies come from that.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Meditative Picture Blogging

Meditation and spring

This morning I found a little ezine article that offers thirty ways of letting spring-time opportunities help us with mindfulness practice. Here are a few that particularly appeal to me:

- have a picnic by yourself
- look at the many different shades of green that emerge from the trees
- practice yoga outdoors
- go outdoors and listen to the sounds of the birds
- don't make any plans for the day and have a retreat at home, making each action and interaction a meditation

And there are more.
~~~

Sunday, April 24, 2011

In honor of the day:

Meditation and life

Today I went looking for a really life affirming article about meditation and I found the following passages from a piece entitled, "Meditation - Yes to life":
Normally we judge and evaluate our behavior and ourselves, rather than simply watch without judgment and evaluation. Since an early age we have been taught to judge ourselves, so that now it is even easier not to judge others than ourselves.

A non-judgmental attitude means to learn to love even the imperfect and incomplete within ourselves. It means to include and embrace all that which we do not accept in ourselves in the light of awareness. A non-judgmental attitude means to say yes even to that which we say no to in ourselves. A question that we can ask ourselves in different situations is if we say no, if we judge that which arises in our consciousness, or if we simply can be aware and watch without judging and evaluating.
...
There are basically two different ways to relate to life. The first way is to say no to life and the other way is to say yes to life. The first way means to act out of our ego, from our separate I. The other way means to act from our inner being, from our authentic self, from the inner source of love and truth, from the silence and emptiness within us, from the inner capacity to surrender to life.
May today be a day of celebrating new life, refreshed life, restored life for you.
~~~

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Habits for balance

Some time ago (several years, probably) I came across a website entitled Zen Habits and I'm rediscovering it today.

One post that caught my attention is called "5 Essential Zen Habits for Balanced Living" and here's a simple list of the habits:
1. Awareness and mindfulness
2. Appreciation of your body
3. Creativity
4. Patience
5. Simplicity
Each habit is elaborated upon in the original article and so I do recommend that you click through and take a look.
~~~

Friday, April 22, 2011

In honor of Good Friday:


Do listen. Whatever your belief system, this is a wonderfully meditative chant.
~~~

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hmmm. There's some wisdom here:

Very simple. To the point.

Here's a Pema Chödrön quotation I found today that really sums things up very nicely:

We work on ourselves in order to help others, but also we help others in order to work on ourselves.

So, it's never one or the other.
~~~

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Something encouraging

You know, what's seen cannot be unseen; what's known cannot be not known. That's really the principle behind this wonderful insight:

What's encouraging about meditation is that even if we shut down, we can no longer shut down in ignorance. We see very clearly that we're closing off. That in itself begins to illuminate the darkness of ignorance.

-- Pema Chödrön

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Meditative Picture Blogging

It's the journey, folks:

When we make music we don't do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best. Also, when we are dancing, we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.

-- Alan Watts

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Lucílio de Albuquerque

The four reliances

This is very helpful stuff for all meditators:

First, rely on the spirit and meaning of the teachings, not on the words;

Second, rely on the teachings, not on the personality of the teacher;

Third, rely on real wisdom, not superficial interpretation;

And fourth, rely on the essence of your pure Wisdom Mind, not on judgmental perceptions.

-- Traditional teaching

Found it here.
~~~

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Simple. Deeply true.

Just spend some time with this. Let it really sink in:

Health, contentment and trust

Are your greatest possessions,

And freedom your greatest joy.

Look within.

Be still.

-- The historic Buddha

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

The inner concert

This is a wonderful metaphor, actually - this notion of getting quiet for the concert:
We are sick with fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas. Meditation is therefore the art of suspending verbal and symbolic thinking for a time, somewhat as a courteous audience will stop talking when a concert is about to begin.
-- Alan Watts

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Interesting headline

The following caught my attention this morning:


You may not think this has an immediate relationship with the meditative process but I would assert that it does. Having compassion for ourselves and others is the big point, of course. Also, recognizing impermanence as a core meditative principle is definitely part of not letting our childhood take us hostage.

It's a short article and so I recommend that you click through and have a look.
~~~

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Love

Something to ponder. Something to embrace. Something to sustain us and inspire us and dedicate our lives to:
In this world
Hate never yet dispelled hate.
Only love dispels hate.
This is the law,
Ancient and inexhaustible.
-- the historic Buddha

Sunday, April 10, 2011

More about the present moment

Definitely worth pondering:
We can smile, breathe, walk, and eat our meals in a way that allows us to be in touch with the abundance of happiness that is available. We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive.

Also, I would say that we are very good at sacrificing ten years for a diploma but we are very reluctant to meditate consistently for ten years even though we know that doing so will support us in great happiness.

Odd, when you think about it.
~~~

Friday, April 08, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

This is powerfully true:

Happiness, not in another place but this place...not for another hour, but this hour.
-- Walt Whitman
You know, if you're in need about perspective in life, you could certainly do worse than to spend a lot of time with Walt Whitman - I mean immerse yourself in his poetry and essays. His observer consciousness was unsurpassed, I would say.
~~~

Thursday, April 07, 2011

You know, I think there's something to this:

"Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known."
-- A.A. Milne

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Well! I certainly agree with this:

You don't have to be some sort of freak to meditate.
-- John Lennon

Monday, April 04, 2011

Monday Meditative Picture Blogging

Why meditate?

Well, this pretty much sums things up, doesn't it?

Meditation brings wisdom; lack of mediation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.

-- The historic Buddha

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Life

You know, there's actually something to this:
Life is like a blanket too short. You pull it up and your toes rebel, you yank it down and shivers meander about your shoulder; but cheerful folks manage to draw their knees up and pass a very comfortable night.

To extend the illustration here, meditation helps us cultivate flexible knees!
~~~

Friday, April 01, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

Are you a "people pleaser"?

Then give this some thought:
Trying to change ourselves in order to please others - so that we can feel temporarily whole for having won their approval - is like cutting a flower into pieces so that it will fit into a vase.
- Guy Finley
That's a very evocative image isn't it? The damnable thing is that we usually don't actually please people at all with this approach. Learning to be authentically ourselves - and then approaching the challenges of our lives with reasonable skillfulness - is truly the way to go.
~~~