Friday, January 27, 2012

Something about self-improvement

Here's something to think about:
"We do not have to improve ourselves; we just have to let go of what blocks our heart."

You know, I've observed a lot of suffering over the years when people talk to me about how very hard they try to engineer their lives, to force themselves (as it were) to fulfill an ideal image of what they believe they ought to be. I just don't see that approach working, people. Really I don't.
~~~

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wednesday life form blogging

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A wonderful Zen proverb

You know, every Twelve-Step program in existence teaches this one:

Student says
I am very discouraged
what should I do?
Master says
encourage others


~~~

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Something about truth

Ah, this one is truly a classic:
"If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?"

Now my question for you is this: Does the question above refer to geographical sort of location or is it about another kind of being "right where you are"?
~~~

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Helpful definitions

These are from Zen Living by McClain and Adamson:
1. Meditation is a conscious process wherein the meditator makes an effort to be fully aware without attaching to thoughts and feelings.
2. Mindfulness is what we practice during meditation, but can also be practiced during daily activity. It is the process of being fully aware of our external and internal environments 
~~~

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Life as it is

Another one by the very wonderful Pema Chödrön:
"The crucial point is that we can relate with our life just as it is right now. We can always connect with the openness of our minds. We can use our days to wake up rather than go back to sleep."
~~~

Friday, January 13, 2012

More on the benefits of meditation

Here's an article I'd like to recommend:

Mindfulness Meditation Is Rediscovered

Here's an excerpt:
The burgeoning field of neuroscience emits a fairly constant stream of evidence for meditation’s positive impact on immune response, cardiovascular functioning, the brain itself. Meditation can change the brain—measurably. Scientists can see a thickening of the cortex areas where memory and empathy reside. In one famous study, subjects who meditated showed less activity in an area associated with negative emotions like anger, depression, and anxiety, and more activity in the area associated with buoyancy, optimism, and confidence. They also had a stronger immune reaction to flu vaccine than did those in control groups. And all these differences show up in eight weeks.
It's a short article and it's rather inspiring -- so do click through!
~~~

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Something about death

Yes. I quite agree:
"Death is psychologically as important as birth. Shrinking away from it is something unhealthy and abnormal which robs the second half of life of its purpose."

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Monday, January 09, 2012

Monday meditative picture blogging

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A good one on mindfulness

Right here:
"Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of present experience. It isn't more complicated than that."
- Sylvia Boorstein

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Beginner's Mind

In Saturday Morning Class today, we talked about the principle of cultivating "beginner's mind". It was a rich and thought-provoking discussion because framing ourselves as "beginners" is such a great help in letting go of habitual tendency. Here is an exercise I found that can help:
1. Look around your bedroom and find one object that you have had for a long time -- something that is very familiar to you. It may be a wall hanging, book, plant, or even a piece of clothing. 
2. Sit down somewhere you can view the object you have chosen, close your eyes (if this feels comfortable), and take a few deep breaths. Set your intention to cultivate beginner's mind. 
3. Open you eyes and look at the object you have chosen. Imagine you are from Mars and have never seen anything like it before. Really look at the object without judging it. 
4. Notice the unique qualities of the object. What does it look like? What does it feel like? Where does it catch shadows or reflect light? 
5. Continue to really examine the object. Do you notice anything about it that you hadn't noticed before? 
6. When you are done looking at the object, reflect on this exercise. Did you learn anything new about the object you chose? What would it mean if we were able to approach everything in our lives with beginner's mind? Are there objects, people, or situations that you tend to react to "automatically," as if you already know what they are?
You can find the complete article containing the above exercise right here.
~~~

Friday, January 06, 2012

Something really worth remembering

Gosh. Isn't THIS the truth?
"If you take the the insults of your fellow human beings personally, you will be offended for the rest of your life."
~~~

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Giving ourselves kindness and respect

I often have people come to talk to me who are absolutely brutal with themselves in the mistaken belief that such brutality will somehow help them improve their lives. I like what Pema Chödrön has to say about that:
Learning how to be kind to ourselves, learning how to respect ourselves, is important. The reason it's important is that, fundamentally, when we look into our own hearts and begin to discover what is confused and what is brilliant, what is bitter and what is sweet, it isn't just ourselves that we're discovering. We're discovering the universe.
Remember, we are not really separate from all that is. We are deeply, utterly, wonderfully connected.
~~~

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Something about the heart

This is by that very wonderful meditation teacher, Pema Chödrön:
When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it's bottomless, that it doesn't have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space.
~~~

Monday, January 02, 2012

Monday meditative picture blogging

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Meditation headline of the day

Here you go:

Breast Cancer Survivors Benefit From Meditation

And here's part of what it says:
The university’s MBSR [Mindfulness based stress reduction] program consists of group sessions over eight to 10 weeks. During the sessions, participants practice meditation skills, discuss how their bodies respond to stress, and learn coping techniques. The researchers found that survivors who learned MBSR lowered their blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate. In addition, their moods improved, and their level of mindfulness increased after taking the class, Armer said, noting that for best results, breast cancer survivors should continue MBSR after the class ends to maintain the positive effects.
~~~

Isn't this marvelous?