Friday, April 30, 2010
Comparisons, of course, are dependent on the faculty of judgment. In meditative practice, we learn how to accept without judgment. This is a critical skill that will help us hugely in avoiding the comparison trap.
Resist the temptation to compare yourself to others in a negative fashion. . . . If you are in the midst of making such comparisons--stop! It is human nature to do some comparing, and when we are in a good spot and feeling pretty good about ourselves, it can even be positive, as it may inspire us to emulate someone else. But when we are wrestling with self-acceptance, comparing ourselves to others is one of the worst things we can do. It is tantamount to scolding a child who falls off his or her bike for lacking the skills of a professional bicyclist. We wouldn't think of doing that, but when we compare ourselves to others, with us on the bottom and virtually everyone else above us and better than us, we are hurting ourselves just as heartlessly.
-- Gary Egeberg
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Listening is such an art. Listening may be more difficult than talking. So often when I'm listening I am missing part of what's being said because I'm focused on what I'm going to say when it's my turn to speak. Being focused on what is being said rather than my response to it is difficult, but part of being supportive. Perhaps the person sharing a problem with me doesn't want advice. Possibly they just want to talk and reach their own conclusions on what to do about it. Nevertheless, listening is how I show respect. I must be very careful about giving advice, even when it is asked for. Better than giving advice, I might simply share what I think the person's options might be but letting them make the final choice.I do agree with this even though sometimes I inadvertently violate this principle myself. That's okay. It's just that when we catch ourselves doing too much of the talking or when someone points that out to us, we need to reflect on how we lost mindfulness in that situation and make a sincere effort to tune in rather than to broadcast so much.
Meditation will help with this enterprise. When we meditate, we make the intentional decision to settle, to keep silence and to listen, if you will, to our own thoughts. It's the best practice ever for learning to listen to others.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
If it is not truthful and not helpful, don't say it.
If it is truthful and not helpful, don't say it.
If it is not truthful and helpful, don't say it.
If it is truthful and helpful, wait for the right time.
- The Buddha
Monday, April 26, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
This really describes April in Oklahoma! :-)
Praise the spells and bless the charms,
I found April in my arms.
April golden, April cloudy,
Gracious, cruel, tender, rowdy;
April soft in flowered languor,
April cold with sudden anger,
Ever changing, ever true –
I love April, I love you.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Please consider adopting a black cat, dear people. Animal welfare organizations tell us that a disproportionate number of them have to be euthanized because people are superstitious and don't want them. That's just too sad for words.
Oh, and, yes, I do have one myself. He is my precious Leroy who has been featured right here on Fridays many times!
Here's a video that's produced in something of a silly, humorous way. However, the advice is good and these suggestions have been well documented to work.
Just because you aren't in a situation, by the way, in which you can do all of these doesn't mean you can't do one or two of them. For example, you can fall back on a mantra you have chosen to use when you're agitated in just about any situation. No one needs to know. I have two that work: "serenity" and "accept without judgment" . The trick is remembering to use them. But don't give up if you forget once in a while. Aim for "progress - not perfection" (as the 12 Step folks say).
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Here's the form I typically use:
May I be happy.Then you repeat that using the pronouns he, she or they as appropriate.
May I be well.
May everything be well in my life.
I happened to find another form (this one by Jeff Brantley) that I've mentioned before on this blog (but not for several years now):
May I be happy.It's a little more specific than the first one and can really be helpful in times of anxiety or confusion.
May I be healed and healthy.
May I be filled with peace and ease.
May I be safe.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
All my experience of the world teaches me that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the safe side and the just side of a question is the generous side and the merciful side.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
This is from a short New York Times article entitled "Outer Beauty and Inner Peace":
One of the practices taught on retreats is mindful walking meditation, with the intention to feel stillness in movement and the movement in stillness. Outside in the morning when it’s cool, you can see deer, wild turkeys and many other birds. You can spend 40 minutes moving 50 feet, yet you feel as if you’re traveling into rich surroundings that invite exploration. And that feeling endures as you move inside to the meditation hall and gaze out through the huge windows that overlook the land. In that hall, the feeling of what is “inside” can merge with what is “outside.”The writer is referring to a retreat center called "Spirit Rock Meditation Center".
I would say that the sense of "inside" merging with "outside" can happen in any meditation hall and that walking meditation certainly helps facilitate that awareness.
Friday, April 16, 2010
I think it would be rich material for reflection to ponder the distinction between security and serenity.
The more I focused on lack and on what I couldn’t have, the more depressed I became. The more depressed I became, the more I focused on lack. My soul whispered that what I really yearned for was not financial security but financial serenity. I was still—quiet enough to listen. At that moment I acknowledged the deep longing in my heart. What I hungered for was an inner peace that the world could not take away. I asked for help and committed to following wheresoever Spirit would lead me. For the first time in my life I discarded my five-year goals and became a seeker, a pilgrim, a sojourner.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Every day I get an email from Etsy that lists a variety of offerings that usually are associated with a specific theme. That's how I discovered the shop of a jewlery maker who lists the above necklace for sale.
You can find this cloud-sun jewelry piece right here. I think it has a wonderful message in keeping with meditative principles and is a good prompt for reflection.
It's fun to explore this artist's entire shop. She has 129 items listed and they're all very delightful.
Etsy (if you don't already know this) is an online site for listing either handmade products or vintage items for sale. It's a bit more specialized than Ebay. There are really incredibly intriguing finds there!
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
"When we look deeply into the heart of a flower, we see clouds, sunshine, minerals, time, the earth, and everything else in the cosmos in it. Without clouds there could be no rain, and without rain there would be no flower."
"People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us."
I so agree with both of these. Go out and buy a couple of stems of fresh flowers. Or just pick a dandelion from your yard and put it in a tiny vase. Use it as a meditative support. Relish its existence.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
I don't think perseverence necessarily needs to be particularly harsh or austere. But it does need to be continous. And perhaps Goethe is saying that harshness and austerity are, somehow, analogous to strength and that we don't need to be privileged at all to access those very powerful tools.
There are but two roads that lead to an important goal and to the doing of great things: strength and perseverance. Strength is the lot of but a few privileged people; but austere perseverance, harsh and continuous, may be employed by the least of us and rarely fails of its purpose, for its silent power grows irresistibly greater with time.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Friday, April 09, 2010
We need to keep on keeping on - no matter what. And Ram Dass has certainly paid his dues in that department so he definitely has the right to speak.
It is important to expect nothing,
To take every experience,
Including the negative ones,
As merely steps on the path,
And to proceed.
-- Ram Dass
Thursday, April 08, 2010
5. They allow themselves to be happy. As much as we all think we want it, many of us are convinced, deep down, that it's wrong to be happy (or too happy). Whether the belief comes from religion, culture, or the family you were raised in, it usually leaves you feeling guilty if you're having fun.I so get it! My own mother used to say to me very sternly, "I don't want you to be happy; I want you to be useful." She also was fond of quoting Mark Twain who said one time, "Happiness is for pigs."*
(Ha! Don't worry, folks. I've paid my dues in the therapy department!)
I'm really very serious here. If you find yourself uncomfortable with the idea of happiness, it might be a good plan to do some inner detective work and find out what that resistence is all about. It's also probably a good plan to get some help with the process of that detective work - especially if the discomfort persists. And remember: it's an act of true compassion to learn how to be happy and then to let it show. Being happy helps us to help other people to be happy. (On some level, it's catching!) And think about it: do you really like to be around unhappy people?
UPDATE: Here's something I just found:
I definitely agree.
Happiness is a thing to be practiced, like the violin.
-- John Lubbock
* (That saying has also been attributed to both Einstein and Aristotle.)
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
There is no free tuition in the school of experience.Ain't that the truth???
Now, here's the deal. If we're going to benefit from those lessons presented to us through experience, we need some context, some basic principles, for interpreting what's actually going on in a way that's consistent with reality. You already know I'm going to remind you that the meditative tradition gives us that context and those principles.
So keep meditating. And keep paying attention to the transmissions of the authentic teachers out there.
Monday, April 05, 2010
Sunday, April 04, 2010
Saturday, April 03, 2010
What a wonderful instruction for living. Truly a promotion of happiness, I would assert!
Live purely. Be quiet.
Do your work with mastery.
Like the moon, come out
from behind the clouds!
-- The Buddha
Friday, April 02, 2010
Thursday, April 01, 2010
This morning I found a short article that addresses this and also offers some remedies.
Here's one very sensible excerpt:
When you are down and feel low have you noticed how much time you spend revisiting the past, replaying the story of what happened and saying to yourself "if only I had"...or thinking "what if...."? Your emotions are powerful and the way you think, what you think and how you think can enhance or destroy your sense of inner peace and calm.And here is one of the suggested exercises:
Learning to release attachment from your story, your pain or sadness takes practice, courage, confidence and skill. As a human, you are programmed to care and worry, so naturally, if a friend is upset, or your partner falls ill, your natural tendency is to empathise with their pain and to feel sad for them. The trick, or test, is to be able to empathise with someone else's sorrow and pain yet, somehow not to get stressed out and totally worried; otherwise it becomes harder for you to offer support, encouragement and compassionate advice.
Sit on the floor or on a chair with a lighted candle in front of you. Gaze at the flame through half-closed eyes, then close your eyes and visualise the warm glow from the candle behind your eyelids. Stay focused on this image. If you lose the image, gently open your eyes and gaze at the flame, then close your eyes and repeat. Continue with this practice for 5 - 10 minutes.When I was studying at the Tibetan Center in Cape Town we did candle meditation in one of the classes. Each person (and it was a large class!) had his or her own personal candle. Needless to say, this was very powerful done in a large group like that. But it's also truly effective when done all on one's own.
Here's the link for the article: "Three Types of Meditation For Instant Stress Relief From Emotional Pain ". The author is Ntathu Allen. You might like to click through on her name and see all the other articles she's written. Looks like there's a wealth there!