Thursday, December 20, 2012

Done by choice

Here's a concluding remark by Laura Silva Quesada to a little article she wrote about meditation:
Meditation is done by choice, and is vital for overall well-being. It improves the quality of your health, relationships, job performance, creativity, and problem solving ability. It also allows for you to make better choices and decisions. With meditation you can make the most of your life, and enjoy it, and those you share it with to the fullest.
I really like the emphasis on choice. Choosing to meditate actually puts us more in touch with all our choices and is profoundly empowering.
~~~

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dedication

This is dedicated to all who died in Newtown, Connecticut and all who mourn.



This may come across as a little sentimental to some and, frankly, I don't like the background music ---- and, yet, I think this woman has some good stuff to offer.
~~~

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Well, it's about impermanence, isn't it?

Silence in December

It's so hard to be silent this time of year, I know. It's really worth it, however. And because of all the frantic busyness, we need silence during this season more than ever:
Silence will help you avoid engaging in the games of competition and illusion that regularly seduce us in the outside world. Silence also helps you avoid distraction. It helps focus the busy mind---the mind that always has to be doing something, thinking something, the mind that always has to be otherwise engaged lest it become introspective and allow the soul's voice to override its own. The silence I am describing is a silence that you use to contain the grace you receive when you enter the Castle of your soul. This quality of silence allows you to engage in discernment. You carry this silence within you, even when you are with others. It allows you to hold your center amid the chaos of your life; it keeps you clear so that you do not do or say things you will regret or make decisions out of fear.
 -- Carolyn Myss
~~~

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Echoes of the spirit

A few years ago I gave myself a copy of Small Graces by Kent Nerburn for Christmas. Here's an excerpt that I stumbled upon not too long ago:
I try always to look upon the world and the people I meet as echoes of my spirit. I know that if I am speaking with deceit, deceit will be echoed back to me . . . Likewise, if I find that I am constantly cheerful, full of brightness and hope, or deeply contemplative in the presence of a particular person, I know I am in the presence of a gracious spirit, and I am echoing the gift that is being given to me. It is as if the lesson of the echo contains the secret to understanding the space between us all. 
This is really valuable to ponder as we are starting to come to the close of the old year and soon will be welcoming the new.
~~~

Monday, November 12, 2012

Being together

Found on Facebook. Words to live by. REALLY.

Friday, November 02, 2012

A classic saying

One that's very, very true!  I found it right here on Etsy.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The way to live

Oh, I really like this. You can get one at Etsy right here.
~~~

Sunday, October 28, 2012

How to let go of misery

This is so, so true.
Here is a formula for misery: resist a fact. Lament something that has occurred, dwelling on how it could have been otherwise. 
If you were to altogether let go of resistance this moment, never to start it up again, by that single gesture, you’d liberate yourself from an enormous burden of suffering. Whatever time remains would feel conspicuously different from all that has preceded.  
Allowing reality to be itself means you no longer blame life for your inner condition—or credit it, if things are going well. The potential exists to be at peace no matter what.
Confronted with reality, there are two options. You can acknowledge the fact of it, without resistance, or you can argue with it. When you oppose reality in any way, you’re taking on a terrible weight, which you then carry. It becomes a part of you. The burden wears you out.
It's from a book entitled The Freedom of Being at Ease with What Is by Jan Fazier.
~~~

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Skillful means

This is similar to the observation that you can't pave the whole world with leather but you can wear sandals on your feet!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Friday, October 12, 2012

Encouragement

This distills matters beautifully, don't you think?

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Something about Inner peace


Here is definitely the headline for the day (from the Washington Post, by the way):

Eckhart Tolle, meditation and the meaning and benefits of inner peace

 Please note this excerpt:
Humanity, says Tolle, is faced with a choice of finding new ways to live together or continuing the cycle of violence and conflict.  “If the structures of the human mind remain unchanged, we will always end up re-creating the same world, the same evils, the same dysfunction.”  
It's a short article. I do recommend clicking through!
~~~

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ten minutes to change your life (really)


I think I've posted this before but, if I have, it's been quite a long time. What I want to share with you is a practice the Dalai Lama recommends. It's quite beautiful:
1. Spend 5 minutes at the beginning of each day remembering we all want the same things (to be happy and be loved) and we are all connected to one another.

2. Spend 5 minutes - breathing in - cherishing yourself and, breathing out - cherishing others. If you think about people you have difficulty cherishing, extend your cherishing to them anyway.

3. During the day extend that attitude to everyone you meet. Practice cherishing the simplest person (clerks, attendants, etc.) as well as the "important" people in your life; cherish the people you love and the people you dislike.

4. Continue this practice no matter what happens or what anyone does to you.

These thoughts are very simple, inspiring and helpful. The practice of cherishing can be taken very deep if done wordlessly, allowing yourself to feel the love and appreciation that already exists in your heart.
I happened to find a handout with this exercise on it as I was cleaning house a while ago. I'm really glad I did.
~~~

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mindfulness, memory and reveiw

I found this exercise on "Meditation Station". This form of meditation makes a lot of sense. It is similar to Rob Nairn's instruction on "backtracking" that he talks about in Diamond Mind. I've also read about similar techniques offered by psychologists as a means of cultivating better memory. Let's all give this a try and see if it doesn't help us cultivate more ordinary mindfulness throughout our day! 

Every night, before falling asleep, review the events of the day. Start with the first thing you remember and then continue as if you were watching a movie starring you. Try to remember everything. For instance, you may remember the alarm going off and you turning it off, pulling down the blanket and swinging your legs over the side of the bed to get out of bed. You may have then walked into the bathroom and washed up prior to getting dressed. Try to remember every detail as precisely as possible. Don't simply rehash how you usually go through your life's routine but rather note each nuance. An example would be if you dropped the bar of soap when you were washing up or heard alarming news over the radio while brushing your teeth. Try to recall how you reacted physically, mentally, and emotionally to every event of the day. 

When you first try this technique, you may be amazed at how little you can recall. It may become obvious that you can easily recall highly emotional times like when you had an argument with a co-worker but you may not be able to remember anything about how you got to work. Similarly, if you had an accident in your car on the way to work, the events of that incident may be all you can remember. Anything that happened at work would be a blur. 


The more you do this "review of the day", the more you will start paying attention to your life as it takes place and the more you will be able to remember about the events that transpired. We all have a tendency to not pay anything but the most minimal attention to the here and now and instead spend our time rehashing the past and fantasizing about the future. This meditation technique can return our awareness of the present, which is the only time reality takes place, as well as bring an excitement and enthusiasm to our life. Think about a baby who is so amazed and fascinated with the newness of everything that occurs in every moment. We should be experiencing at least that exquisite a response to our moment-to-moment existence because each moment is absolutely unique and intriguing and since we are adults, we can ponder the remarkable way we are reacting to each event we experience physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. 

When we can pay attention to our life with a baby's intensity, we will also find that when we do our daily life review, our mind will replay it in a minute detail and completeness as if we had put our inner VCR on fast forward. In just a few minutes, we will be able to see every event that took place in the previous sixteen hours. This will occur because at this stage of our consciousness's evolution, our mind will be a tool we can use as reliably and more easily than any computer. 

~~~

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Dissolving fear

Did you ever think that gratitude could help dissolve fear? See what the wonderful website Gratefulness.org has to say about that:
Peace, rightly understood, is inseparable from gratefulness. When we are grateful, we peacefully accept what is. As long as we are merely thankful, we give thanks for what we perceive to be beneficial, but there always remains the lurking fear that something harmful may come our way instead. To be grateful is more. It is our courageous trust that life itself – kind or harsh, happy or sad -- is good, if only we receive it as gift.

The moment we trust in this truth, we are at peace. A person at peace will serve as an agent of peace in the world.

Activism for peace is necessary. Yet no matter how sincere and how admirable, it will have no effect unless our own heart is at peace, because gratefulness has made us fearless.

Since fear is at the root of all that is wrong with our world, we start healing the world by overcoming fear through gratefulness.
I am in a daily state of gratefulness about meditation. The fact that I am a meditator, that I have had the wonderful good fortune to have received meditation instruction, fills me with gratitude. No matter what else is going on in our lives, no matter what challenges beset us, we can be grateful for our meditative practice.
~~~

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

This says it all, dear people. Really.

Right here:‎
"See it clearly without judgement and let it go. Come back to the present moment. From now on until the moment of your death, you could do this." 
 -- Pema Chödrön 

Yes, in a way it sounds difficult. In another way, it sounds (is) so doable. So let us take heart!
~~~

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Impermanence and harmony

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

I really do like the following by the great meditation teacher, Pema Chödrön:
"Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don't struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality." 
How very true.
 ~~~

Friday, August 17, 2012

Important Announcement

This is for all Tulsa participants in the life of St. John's Center.

There will be NO Saturday morning class tomorrow. Instead all participants are urged to attend the talk given by Carter Phipps (brother-in-law of Center participant Tommi Cox-Phipps) at Fellowship Lutheran Church held at 9:30 a.m. (Fellowship Lutheran is on Sheridan between 61st and 71st beside the Valero gas station. The parking lot is in the back.)

This talk is sponsored by the Center and Carter particularly wanted to spend time with us. He is in town for a book signing at Barnes and Noble and also will be interviewed by Rich Fisher on Studio Tulsa.

Here's a bit about him:

Carter Phipps is an author, journalist, and leading voice in the emerging field of Evolutionary Spirituality. For the past decade, as executive editor of EnlightenNext magazine, he has been at the forefront of contemporary spiritual, philosophical, and cultural discourse, and his writings have played a key role in making important new thinking accessible to a wider audience. 

You can read more right here.

(Click to enlarge)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Meditation Picture Blogging

This is the Atlantic on the west coast of Ireland at Donegal. I have actually swum in the sea myself very close to where this picture was taken.
(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)
~~~

Be like the sea

I found this in an article from the Hindustan Times:
"The power to have courage to face life’s difficulties comes from positive thinking and doing good things. Meditation can boost this power. You have to be like the sea which accepts all the rivers without resistance. You ought to be dynamic and should be able to mould your attitude as demanded by any situation. That helps you stand upright in the toughest of times. Closely followed is the power to cooperate; you have to see others as your own kin." 
I really like that image of being like the sea. Wonderfully helpful.
~~~

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Meditation for its own sake

I have so very much respect for this approach:
"Meditation is the only intentional, systematic human activity which at the bottom is about not trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else, but simply to realize where you already are.
"Perhaps its value lies precisely in this. Maybe we all need to do one thing in our lives simply for its own sake."
-- Jon Kabat-Zinn
~~~

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Our pernicious attachment to feeling good

Here is an excerpt from Finding Meaning In the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up by James Hollis:
"The central paradox of our current feel-good culture is that we grow progressively more and more uncertain and less and less persuaded that our lives really mean something. Feeling good is a poor measure of a life, but living meaningfully is a good one..."
~~~

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday art blogging

This is by Jan Safranek and you can find it over on Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Recognizing gifts

I already posted the following over on facebook but I think it belongs here as well. Two powerful meditative principles, after all, are that we need to see our enemies as precious teachers and also that we practice gratitude to everyone.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Meditation headline of the day

Here you go:

Scientific evidence supports mindfulness practices

Here's a little snippet from the article:
A new report by Dr. William Marchand of the George E. Wahlen veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, reveals “mindfulness practices” including Zen meditation have shown benefits for patients with certain physical and mental health problems. 
Mindfulness is described as "the practice of learning to focus attention on moment-by-moment experience with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance." Dr. Marchand reviewed published studies that examined the health benefits of these practices.
Most of us who are aware of meditation at all have heard of this research before. But the more we reinforce what we already know, the more likely we are to be consistent in our practice.
~~~

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Worthy of reflection

I guess the problem is that some people enjoy the feeling of self-righteousness more than peace of mind. Very sad.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Being where we are

Here's something I posted on facebook back in March.

This strikes me as quite an important consideration:

"How much of your life do you spend looking forward to being somewhere else?" 

 -- Matthew Flickstein 

Have you ever thought how wonderfully satisfying life could be if we fully embraced being exactly where we actually ARE at any given moment?
~~~

Monday, July 02, 2012

Some truly excellent advice

It's very counter cultural, of course:
"Do not encumber your mind with useless thoughts. What good does it do to brood on the past or anticipate the future? Remain in the simplicity of the present moment."
-- Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
~~~

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Some mindfulness encouragement

Here's a re-post from a few years ago that I thought would bear repeating:


If you're constantly thinking about what you'd rather be doing—getting off work, driving a different car, or eating dessert, your mind is starving for mindfulness. So what? Well, if you're reading an instant message and talking on your cell phone while thinking about things you need to get at the store, you're not doing any of these things fully—and essentially, you're missing out on your own life.

The antidote? Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a quality you can cultivate in any situation—whether you're walking down the street or washing the dishes... In mindfulness meditation you stop the restlessness of your mind by focusing your undivided attention on whatever you're experiencing in the here and now. The simplest version involves simply focusing on your breath. By enhancing your awareness in this way, you calm your mind, experience life more fully, and bring new clarity of thought to any situation that comes your way.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Friday, June 22, 2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Keeping calm

I do very much love all the spin-offs from the famous World War II "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster. Here's one that's great for us meditators!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Every breath

Someone posted this on facebook and I think it's very beautiful.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Meditation and accomplishment

I have found this to be very true:
"Some people think that meditation takes time away from physical accomplishment. Taken to extremes, of course, that's true. Most people, however, find that meditation creates more time than it takes." 
- Peter McWilliams
~~~

Monday, June 04, 2012

Bringing mindfulness into just this moment

This is an excellent little video.

My only comment is that I would recommend lowering but not completely closing your eyes. There are many reasons for this approach rather than complete eye closure, the main ones being that closing the eyes makes it more likely that we'll go to sleep or slip into a trance.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Something we tend to forget

And it's so, so true:
"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." 
-- Siddhārtha Gautama (the Buddha)
~~~

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Meditation itself

I may well have posted this before here since it's a quotation with which I've long been familiar. Nevertheless, if I have, it's been a long time!

The following is quite wonderful and the first time I read it, I recognized the point made instantly (undoubtedly because of my experience as a musician):
“We could say that meditation doesn't have a reason or doesn't have a purpose. In this respect it's unlike almost all other things we do except perhaps making music and dancing. 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 
~~~

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A patch of blue

Here's a visualization that will help us work skillfully with thoughts during meditation. It's found in Beginning Mindfulness by Andrew Weiss:
One meditation teacher invites us to envision the true nature of our mind as a clear blue sky. Thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions are clouds that come and go across the blue sky. Some clouds are white wisps, others dark gray thunderheads. Sometimes the clouds are few; sometimes they reach from horizon to horizon. Yet, however many clouds may obscure the blue sky, the blue sky is always there. Just as a small patch of blue often appears during a hurricane, the blue-sky true nature of our mind/heart can reveal itself through the clouds of thinking, feeling, and perceiving, no matter how dense they become.
Envisioning our thoughts and feelings this way can help us let go of the impulse to try to control our mind. Control is not necessary because the blue sky is just there. We don't have to engineer it in any way.
~~~

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ha!

Posted today by a facebook friend:

Monday, May 07, 2012

Being generous toward each day

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook today and now I share it with you. It moves me very, very much and is, of course, wonderfully in keeping with meditative principles.

There is no going back
by Wendell Berry

No, no, there is no going back.
less and less you are
that possibility you were.
more and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.
you have become a sort of grave
containing much that was
and is no more in time, beloved
then, now, and always.
and so you have become a sort of tree
standing over a grave.
now more than ever you can be
generous toward each day
that comes, young, to disappear
forever, and yet remain
unaging in the mind.
every day you have less reason
not to give yourself away.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Experience

Ah, yes. This is very, very true. And Archibald MacLeish was a poet and playwright I've long admired. He was also one of our truly great Librarians of Congress.


Friday, May 04, 2012

Yes, let's


The whole of life

Oh, this is so, so true and something that is very important for us to understand:
"Meditation is not something that you practise for an hour or ten minutes and the rest of the day do your mischief. Meditation is the whole of life and that is the beauty of meditation, it is not something set aside, it covers and enters into all our activities and to all our thoughts and feelings. So it is not something that you practise or give attention to once a day or three times a day or ten times a day and the rest of the day live a life that is shoddy, neurotic, mischievous, violent." 
 -- Krishnamurti 
~~~

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Something profound about tea

Tea is often associated with meditation and so I offer you the following that I just discovered:
When the news reporter said "Shopkeepers are opening their doors bringing out blankets and cups of tea" I just smiled. It's like yes. That's Britain for you. Tea solves everything. You're a bit cold? Tea. Your boyfriend has just left you? Tea. You've just been told you've got cancer? Tea. Coordinated terrorist attack on the transport network bringing the city to a grinding halt? Tea dammit! And if it's really serious, they may bring out the coffee. The Americans have their alert raised to red, we break out the coffee. That's for situations more serious than this of course. Like another England penalty shoot-out. 
 -- Jslayeruk, as posted on Metaquotes Livejournal, in response to the July 2005 London subway bombings 
~~~

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sacred Pause

I want to call your attention to an article entitled "Meditation In Action: Learning To Take A Sacred Pause" by Ronald Alexander. Here's an excerpt:
Meditation in Action is at its core learning to take a mindful or sacred pause and self regulate the "fight or flight" aspect of your nervous system, which can effect positive changes in the neuronal pathways to the amygdala, the walnut-sized area in the center of the brain responsible for regulating emotions. When the amygdala is relaxed, the parasympathetic nervous system engages to counteract the anxiety response. Instead, it activates what we call the relaxation or healing response, when the heart rate lowers, breathing deepens and slows, and the body stops releasing cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream; these stress hormones provide us with quick energy in times of danger but have damaging effects on the body in the long term if they're too prevalent. In mindfulness you learn to slow down and to take your body's pulse.
It's not a long article and so I recommend that you click through. A very helpful strategy for dealing with stress is also offered.
~~~

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday meditative picture blogging

~~~

A wonderful thing to say - to think

This:

"Even when I meet a stranger 
Each time I have the same feeling: 
'He is another member of my human family.' "

-- The Dalai Lama


Really. Imagine being willing and then able to look at everyone in this way on a regular basis.
~~~

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My apologies

Sorry I haven't posted for a while, dear people. I've been down with a very unpleasant cold and cough.

Be back soon!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A simple practice

Try simply using the mantra,

"Rest the mind,"

as a support for meditation. Very effective.
~~~

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Creations of the mind....

Oh, my. This is very powerful. It's worthy of being pondered for a long time:

See demons as demons: that is the danger.
Know that they are powerless: that is the way.
Understand them for what they are: that is deliverance.
Recognize them as your father and mother: that is their end.
Realize that they are creations of the mind: they become its glory.
When these truths are known, all is liberation.

~~~

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Happy Easter!


Let the resurrection joy lift us from loneliness and weakness and despair to strength and beauty and happiness.

Friday, March 30, 2012

What holds us back

This is quite straightforward isn't it? We would do well to heed the following advice:
“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 Buddha
~~~

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The sense of sound as a support for meditation

I want to call your attention to a blog post entitled "Using the Senses to Relax the Mind". Here's an excerpt that rather wonderfully describes a meditative process that I introduce in Session 5 of the Foundations course:
For example, you can use the sounds around you as a focus during your meditation session. Simply allow your mind to settle for a few moments. Then tune into the sounds in your environment. The key is not to engage with the sounds, but to just place your attention lightly upon them. When thoughts and emotions arise, simple return your attention to the sounds you hear. 
Right this moment, wind is rustling through the trees outside my window with brief interludes of silence. Often, we don’t hear the sounds around us because our mind is all churned up with thoughts and emotions or we are overly concentrated on a project. Consciously using the senses returns us to the present moment and helps us to relax our mind and let go of our worries.
The writer quoted above is Sandra Pawula.

I encourage everyone to try this if you haven't already. It's actually the method of meditation I personally use most frequently.
~~~

Monday, March 26, 2012

Awareness

So very beautiful:
"When you touch one thing with deep awareness, you touch everything."
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

The explanation is quite simple, isn't it? Deep awareness reveals to us that all things are connected. If we don't realize this, we weren't ever truly aware in the first place.
~~~

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday cat blogging!

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
~~~

Something about enlightenment

Well, this is certainly something to think about:
"Do not think you will necessarily be aware of your own enlightenment."
-- Dogen (13th century Japanese thinker)
~~~

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday life form blogging

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
~~~

Physical experiences in meditation

I just found a page with a question addressed to Deepak Chopra.

Here's part of the question and part of the answer:

Q - During most meditations my right eye starts to water quite heavily. I cannot tell why this is happening. 
A - During your meditations, if you notice your eye watering, simply observe that fact and return to the object or focus of your meditation without trying to figure out why it’s happening and without trying to stop it. Treat it as you would any other thoughts or sensations that arise during meditation – when you become aware that your awareness has drifted to your eye (or anything else), gently return your attention to the meditation object, whether that is your breath, a mantra, or a something else.
If you feel inclined, outside of your meditation practice, to explore what message your watering eye is sending you (if any), you could try journaling on that question. Ask your inner wisdom, “What is the message my eye is wanting to share?” and let yourself write freely, without censoring yourself. Given the common association of tears with sadness and release, it’s possible that you may be releasing some past grief or emotional upset, but without knowing your full story and health history, it’s not possible to say for sure. Just know that meditation is a valuable tool for releasing what no longer serves you.
This is the sort of reflection question process we do here at St. John's Center. It can truly be very illuminating.
~~~

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Attachments and illusion


I have much respect for the teachings of Anthony de Mello. Here's something I found this morning in a little book on my shelves entitled The Way to Love: The Last Meditations of Anthony de Mello:
"You see persons and things not as they are but as you are.  If you wish to see them as they are you must attend to your attachments and the fears that your attachments generate.  Because when you look at life it is these attachments and fears that will decide what you will notice and what you block out.  Whatever you notice then commands your attention. And since your looking has been selective you have an illusory version of the things and people around you.  the more you live with this distorted version the more you become convinced that it is the only true picture of the world because your attachments and fears continue to process incoming date in a way that will reinforce your picture."
There's a lot to think about here. A lot.
~~~

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wednesday life form blogging

~~~

Recommended article

Right here:

Evidence builds that meditation strengthens the brain, UCLA researchers say

Good to know, folks. This is really good to know!
~~~

Purpose

I think it would be all to the good if we were to remember this:
"The purpose of all the major religious traditions is not to construct big temples on the outside, but to create temples of goodness and compassion inside, in our hearts."
-- the 14th Dalai Lama
~~~

Friday, March 09, 2012

Moving within

By the very wonderful 13th Century Persian poet:
Keep walking, though there's no place to get to.
Don't try to see through the distances.
That's not for human beings. Move within,
but don't move the way fear makes you move.
-- Rumi
~~~

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Wednesday life form blogging

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
~~~

The great value of encouragement

Have you ever had somebody throw a wet blanket on something you were enthusiastic about? I'll bet you felt discouraged as a result. Here's an observation about the importance of encouragement:
One of the most beautiful gifts in the world is the gift of encouragement. When someone encourages you, that person helps you over a threshold you might otherwise never have crossed on your own.
— John O'Donohue in Eternal Echoes
Whenever I get frazzled because I have a lot on my plate, Cynthia (the Center's administrative assistant) will usually say, "Go, Super-nun!" It makes me a laugh and it helps me to feel encouraged at the same time.

Encouragement is a form of loving-kindness (one of "the Four Divine Abodes in the meditative tradition). It involves the sincere wish for others to be happy and to have deep well being. Look for opportunities to encourage others - and yourself as well.
~~~

Friday, March 02, 2012

Our effect on the world

It's all too easy to get discouraged and to believe that there's nothing we can do that will make any difference. Not so, not so. It's just important to remember that we may not get to see what effect we have had or continue to have in immediately discernable ways.
“Remember, we are all affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we're so deeply interconnected with one another. Working on our own consciousness is the most important thing that we are doing at any moment, and being love is the supreme creative act.”
~~~

A bit of a nuisance

My friend, MadPriest, posted the following:
"Blogger is messing us about again. Recent changes to the comment facility has resulted in the disappearance of the ability to subscribe to a comment thread if you have your comment settings set to pop up window. However, it is still there if you set your comments to "embedded beneath post."

"I strongly suggest that we all change our settings to embedded. Otherwise there will be no conversations on our blogs anymore and a drastic reduction in visits.

"Thanks to Grandmère Mimi for sussing this one out for us."
So, I'm off to change all those settings right now.
~~~

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday life form blogging

~~~

Contemplating impermanence

Yesterday, I began reading Mind at Ease by Traleg Kyabgon and it promises to be excellent. I've read other works by this same teacher to my very great benefit and I certainly recommend him very highly.

Here's just a little snippet that makes a lot of sense to me:
"It is only by contemplating impermanence that we become reflective enough to recognize which things are worth pursuing and which are not. We also learn to see exactly what our confusions arise from, because our experiences of dissatisfaction and frustration initially come from a failure to reflect upon anything."
Well, that sums things up in a direct fashion, don't you think?
~~~

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The least you need to know

I did a search on this blog site earlier today to find posts having anything to do with walking meditation and came upon this one from way back in 2005. I decided to repost it today because there's some really good information here:


I finally replaced my copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism by Gary Gach. It's really quite excellent. My original copy was borrowed some years ago and never made its way home and I've definitely missed it. As it happens I was wandering around in Barnes and Noble yesterday and so I picked up a copy. This morning I looked through the chapter on meditation and decided to share with you some points at the very end labeled, "The Least You Need to Know":
* Meditation's like that center referred to when people speak of being centered. A grounding. Integral to wisdom and conscious conduct, it's a key to continual practice.

* Posture matters. The body isn't something to be escaped.

* Breath is a natural interface between body and mind, always available to us to work with. Conscious or mindful breathing means being aware of your breathing. Nothing else.

* You're not trying to control your breath, or your mind. Just be aware. Stopping and just being aware can calm your breath - and your mind.

*Quieting the mind doesn't mean turning into a stone statue. Trying to banish thoughts and control your mind only creates more thoughts and restless mind. Simple awareness can clear mental clutter and sharpen your mind.

* More than mere stretching, walking meditation is a powerful practice.

* Take a friendly attitude toward your mind. Everyone encounters difficulties. Learn from others' wisdom about common hurdles in meditation.
I'm always so glad when I find examples in the published works that emphasize the fact that we're not trying to exert control over our minds when we're meditating. One of the most challenging aspects of teaching meditation is that people often simply don't believe me on this issue. I'm amazed at the number of people who come to class convinced that they are only meditating if they force their minds into a certain rigidity. That, of course, is not meditation at all but its opposite because it is a form of grasping and judgmentalism toward the mind. Remember: rest the mind, rest the mind. Meditation is meant to settle the mind and help us relax.
~~~

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mindfulness

This is truly a great definition. Take a look:
"Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn't more complicated that that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it."
~~~

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pain

Here's something I found among some of my notes for class:
"We must transform our pain or else we will transmit it."
-- Richard Rohr

Oh, how true that is. Really.
~~~