Saturday, December 31, 2011

Stopping: a radical act of love

Jon Kabat-Zinn is one of the great meditation teachers writing and speaking today:

Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

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Interconnectedness

This may not, at first glance, seem to be about meditation but one of the most central meditative principles is the interconnectedness of all things:‎
"The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff." 

I've always loved what Carl Sagan said here - ever since I heard it on Cosmos so many years ago. "Star stuff." Truly wonderful words!
~~~

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A simple mindfulness exercise

Here's something to help us stabilize our experience whenever we're experiencing tension or distraction.

1. Stop whatever you're currently involved in.
2. Take three intentional breaths
3. Now name five things you can see in your immediate environment.
4. Name five things you can hear in your immediate environment.
5. Finally, name five things you can feel right now. (The clothes against your skin, the pressure of your body against the seat of the chair, etc...)
6. Take another three intentional breaths.
7. Return to whatever was claiming your attention before the exercise.

~~~

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rejoicing in the ordinary

Many people who come to talk to me are simply flabbergasted by the idea that they need to make friends with themselves. This notion is a recurring theme within the writings of  Pema Chödrön and that's one of the reasons I have such respect for her teaching:
‎"The key is to be here, fully connected with the moment, paying attention to the details of ordinary life. By taking care of ordinary things-our pots and pans, our clothing, our teeth - we rejoice in them. When we scrub a vegetable or brush our hair, we are expressing appreciation: friendship toward ourselves and toward the living quality that is found in everything."
~~~

Monday, December 26, 2011

Monday meditative picture blogging

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More about the present moment

This puts matters into perspective - especially for those people who complain that we really have to think about the past and the future:
“One has to live in the present. Whatever is past is gone beyond recall; whatever is future remains beyond one’s reach, until it becomes present. Remembering the past and giving thought to the future are important, but only to the extent that they help one deal with the present.”
~~~

Sunday, December 25, 2011

In honor of this day!

"We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves."

-- the Buddha
~~~

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mind alignment

This strikes me as very thought-provoking, very true:
"Aligning our minds with the most compassionate
words and thoughts we can muster can bring
connection and a sense of peace. For some,
it means giving up almost an entire way of life,
but only this will allow glints of joy to shine through."
~~~

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday Meditation Picture Blogging

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How to be at home

I really do love the following quotation. And I believe it utterly:
We can travel a long way and do many things, but our deepest happiness is not born from accumulating new experiences. it is born from letting go of what is unnecessary, and knowing ourselves to be always at home.
~~~

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mindfulness

Here's a verse to ponder:
A drop of pond water under the microscope just like in science class but now you are the pond & the microscope is mindfulness
~~~

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A powerful Zen saying

I recommend that we all ponder this one for a while:
If you understand, things are just as they are;
if you do not understand, things are just as they are.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Contentment and discernment

Here's a nice little article to read:

Meditation: Finding Contentment in Everyday Life

As "discernment" is truly one of my favorite words concerning the inner life, I particularly like this passage:
Discernment is the tool that got you interested in meditation. I'm guessing that like so many others, you discerned that you were not 100 percent happy with the way things are in your life and decided, "Well, let me try this meditation thing out." Perhaps after you learned to meditate, you discerned that it's a tool that's valuable for you and determined that you wanted to make it more of a part of your life.
It's a very short piece so do click through and read the rest of it.
~~~

Monday, December 05, 2011

Monday Meditation Picture Blogging

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Sympathetic Joy

Sympathetic joy is one of the "Four Divine Abodes" - sometimes referred to as the "Four Sublime States":
One of the hardest things for many of us to do is to feel happy when something good happens to another person. Judgment and envy, the tendency to compare and demean, and greed and prejudice narrow our world and make sympathetic joy nearly impossible to experience. But learning to feel joy for others can help transform our own suffering and self-centeredness into joy.
-- Joan Halifax
~~~

Friday, December 02, 2011

A wonderful description of mindfulness

Take a look:
Mindfulness is a very simple form of meditation that was little known in the West until recently. A typical meditation consists of focusing your full attention on your breath as it flows in and out of your body. Focusing on each breath in this way allows you to observe your thoughts as they arise in your mind and, little by little, to let go of struggling with them. You come to realise that thoughts come and go of their own accord; that you are not your thoughts. You can watch as they appear in your mind, seemingly from thin air, and watch again as they disappear, like a soap bubble bursting. You come to the profound understanding that thoughts and feelings (including negative ones) are transient. They come and they go, and ultimately, you have a choice about whether to act on them or not.

Mindfulness is about observation without criticism; being compassionate with yourself. When unhappiness or stress hover overhead, rather than taking it all personally, you learn to treat them as if they were black clouds in the sky, and to observe them with friendly curiosity as they drift past. In essence, mindfulness allows you to catch negative thought patterns before they tip you into a downward spiral. It begins the process of putting you back in control of your life.
I found it right here.
~~~

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Enlightenment

Oh, this speaks. Yes, it does:
Enlightenment is not imagining figures of light but making the darkness conscious.
-- Carl Jung
~~~

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Inner values

Entirely sensible:
Developing inner values is much like physical exercise. The more we train our abilities, the stronger they become.
-- The Dalai Lama
~~~

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Meditation Picture Blogging

(Click to enlarge)

Something about boundaries

A friend of the Center who runs a recovery email list sent out the following today:
Boundaries define our comfort zone. They can be physical or emotional. We enforce them to protect our bodies and our emotions as well. In recovery we learn to enforce our boundaries by standing up for our rights against all manner of actions by others that are inappropriate in either physical or emotional space. Physically, this could range from firm rejection of physical or sexual abuse to not permitting touching of our shoulder, leg, or other body part. Emotionally, the range might cover our need to protect ourselves from efforts to brainwash us into doing something wrong to just not letting others tease us or not responding to requests for our personal information. I have the right to indicate my unwillingness to tolerate comments that are gross or offensive and the right to insist that my personal space not be invaded. For best health, I will ensure that my boundaries are neither too rigid to allow contact with others with whom it is appropriate to open up to nor too loose to allow me to get run over. I will also respect the boundaries of others.
Establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries is definitely part of a good meditative practice.
~~~

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Cat Blogging!


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Something about our lifestyle

This is really seomthing to think about:

The cause of all our personal problems and nearly all the problems of the world can be summed up in a single sentence: Human life is very deep, and our modern dominant lifestyle is not.

- Bo Lozoff

~~~

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wednesday life form blogging

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"Actively do nothing"

I'm reposting here what I think is a very profound meditation instruction:

Take a seat ...and just sit. .... Relax. Don't try to do anything at all. Don't try to make anything come, don't try to make anything go leave. Let everything do its own work, chart its own course. As you sit, just sit with the world, with whatever is there, all of the arisings and passings away in your mind, body, and environment. As you notice sights and sounds, thoughts and feelings, memories and anticipations, relax into them. Relax your mind and body. Actively do nothing. Make no efforts. Just sit, just be, at least for now
....
The mentality is this. There is nowhere that you need to go, nothing that you need to achieve, no one that you need to be....

- Jundo Cohen

This is a very powerful antidote to the all too frequent obsession with "getting it right" in meditation.
~~~

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Meditative Picture of the Day

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The down side of multi-tasking

In an article about how to be happier, I found this:
Do one thing at a time. Edward Suarez, Ph.D., associate professor of medical psychology at Duke, found that people who multitask are more likely to have high blood pressure. Take that finding to heart. Instead of talking on the phone while you fold laundry or clean the kitchen, sit down in a comfortable chair and turn your entire attention over to the conversation. Instead of checking e-mail as you work on other projects, turn off your e-mail function until you finish the report you’re writing. This is similar to the concept of mindfulness.
You can read the rest of it right here.
~~~

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Seitei (Shotei) Watanabe 1851-1918
Image from Wikimedia Commons
~~

Something that makes SO much sense

This little snippet by Waye Muller:
"Once people feel nourished and refreshed, they cannot help but be kind; just so, the world aches for the generosity of a well-rested people."
So, let's give ourselves that nourishment and refreshment and stop telling ourselves that we don't have time to meditate...
~~~

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Wednesday life form blogging

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Being willing to stop sometimes

Who would have thought that something a Supreme Court justice had said would be so pertinent to meditative practice?
"When a man feels that he cannot leave his work, it is a sure sign of an impending collapse."
-- Louis Brandeis
I so very much agree.

If you find yourself getting obsessive-compulsive about your work, do consider that to be an alarm bell, okay?
~~~

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Anxiety?

First aid for any experience of agitation and anxiety:
Try breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth for five minutes with their eyes closed.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Wednesday life form blogging

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Impermanence

Late last Sunday afternoon, I happened to overhear the tail end of the Middle Path group led by David Beach. He was quoting George Harrison:
Daylight is good at arriving at the right time
Its not always going to be this grey

All things must pass
All things must pass away
All things must pass
None of lifes strings can last
So, I must be on my way
And face another day
It's worth remembering, people. Yes, it is.
~~~

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Understanding silence in a whole new way

One of my favorites of the Desert Mothers also taught about viewing and practicing silence in a non-literal manner:
Being silent for me doesn't require being in a quiet place and it doesnt mean not saying words. It means, "receiving in a balanced, noncombative way what is happening." With or without words, the hope of my heart is that it will be able to relax and acknowledge the truth of my situation with compassion.
-- Sylvia Boorstein
~~~

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday life form blogging

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Something about limits

Hmmm. Just give this one some thought, okay? Really ponder it:
It is the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive.
-- C.W. Leadbeater

Monday, October 24, 2011

That which is within

Well! The Nazarene church down the street on the corner has got another good one on its marquee:
"What is behind us or before us is tiny compared to what is within us."
Yes indeed. What we have within us is a fundamentally enlighted nature - although we're not completely awake to that.

Yet.

Let us bring that wonderful potential into the arena of mindfulness. (It will make all the difference.)
~~~

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What we can and can't do

A good metaphor in keeping with meditation principles:
“You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”
-- Jon Kabat-Zinn
~~~

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This is excellent ---

And I particularly like the definition of mindfulness that is offered.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Seeing through the nature of attachment

I've noticed over the years that many people strive to alleviate their suffering by gaining control over their minds. I assure you, dear readers, that this will never happen. Charlotte Joko Beck explains:
The process of practice is to see through, not to eliminate, anything to which we are attached. We could have great financial wealth and be unattached to it, or we light have nothing and be very attached to having nothing. Usually, if we have seen through the nature of attachment, we will have a tendency to have few possessions, but not necessarily. Most practice gets caught in this area of fiddling with our environments or our minds. "My mind should be quiet." Our mind doesn't matter; what matters is non attachment to the activities of the mind. And our emotions are harmless unless they dominate us - that is, if we are attached to them)---then they create dis-harmony for everyone. The first problem in practice is to see that we are attached. As we do consistent, patient [sitting practice] we begin to know that we are nothing but attachments; they rule our lives. But we never lose an attachment by saying it has to go. Only as we gain true awareness of its true nature does it quietly and imperceptibly wither away; like a sandcastle with waves rolling over, it just smoothes out and finally Where is it? What was it?
~~~

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Being truly in touch with life

This is a basic teaching that is very beautifully expressed in these words by Thich Nhat Hanh:
Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Opening our eyes to the beauty of life

I want to call your attention to a little article entitled "Meditation Isn't For Me" by Dr. Reggie Ray. Here's a little bit of what it says:
Sometimes people say, “Well, you know, I don’t really meditate. That’s not my thing.” Well, is your thing to be yourself? Is your thing to discover the depths of your own being? Is your thing to open your eyes to the beauty of life? Well, then you’re a meditator, because that’s all meditation is. It’s being willing to sit down and stop watching television, so to speak. To be willing to sit down and put the Time Magazine over on the shelf or the Utne Reader or whatever your thing is. To be willing to be alone, to be willing to give your own state of being room to show itself…
...
This is something I tell my students:

“If you don’t put meditation on the top of your To Do list, it will be at the bottom, and it won’t happen.”

I find that if meditation is not the first priority of my day it won’t happen.
This is good stuff, people. Give it some serious thought. Please.
~~~

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What causes unhappiness?

This man really understood what attachment (in the meditative sense of that word) is all about:

If you look carefully you will see that there is one thing and only one thing that causes unhappiness. The name of that thing is Attachment. What is an attachment? An emotional state of clinging caused by the belief that without some particular thing or some person you cannot be happy.... Here is a mistake that most people make in their relationships with others. They try to build a steady nesting place in the ever-moving stream of life.

-- Anthony de Mello

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday meditation picture blogging

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A proper kind of detachment

Today on the blogs I'm sharing some excerpts from a book called Peace of Mind by Rabbi Joshua Loth Liebman that was published in 1946.

His use of the word detachment is really what we mean by non-attachment in today's meditation terminology.
By detachment I do not mean total flight from life, but rather the achievement of wise perspective -- what Spinoza called "looking at things under the aspect of eternity." Detachment gives us the understanding that we are born into a world that is larger and more important than we; that we are drops in an infinite sea; that we are marvelously distilled globules of Divine rain and dew; that we shall not last forever; that all of our priceless values are at the mercy of time, and that we cannot have both intensity of experience and permanency of duration.

By detachment I mean the ability to look at ourselves with a kind of laughing humor, a nodding acquaintance with our fragilities, a tipping of the hat, as it were, to the petulant angers which vanish as we recognize them. By detachment I mean also the daring to view our individual life in the greater setting of time and eternity; to taste beforehand with the tongue of imagination the defeats and the pains to which life commits us, and by so tasting to remove something of the gall and vitriol from the cup of defeat. Man has this gift of discounting both his own victories and his own calamities. Let us utilize it to the full, for our greater peace of mind.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Under the weather...

So sorry for the lack of posting. I'm down with a really bad cold, I'm sorry to say, and will be back to normal posting when I'm feeling a bit better.

Take care, everyone!
~~~

Monday, October 03, 2011

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Awareness

As you can see, this point has been made by great thinkers and teachers since antiquity:

"The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival."

- Aristotle

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

Creating problems...

Here are two interesting statements by Alan Watts:
At times almost all of us envy the animals. They suffer and die, but do not seem to make a "problem" of it.
...
If we live, we live; if we die, we die; if we suffer, we suffer; if we are terrified, we are terrified. There is no problem about it.
Maybe it would be helpful to practice simply experiencing what we experience and give ourselves permission not to frame difficulties as "problems". At least not all of them...
~~~

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday life form blogging

Seeing our own impermanence

Here are some suggestions about to think things through when we become confused about ourselves:

Let go, and respond to the immediate needs around you. Don't get caught in some false perception of yourself. There will always be another person more gifted than you. And don't perceive your position as important, but be ready to serve at any moment. If you can let go of who you think you are, you will become free--ready to love others. If you learn to see your impermanence, you will be able to live for the moment and not miss opportunities to love by pushing things into the future.

--Thich Nhat Hanh

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A sincere wish for all of you -- and myself, too

Here's a wonderful blessing by a great master:
May you be at peace.
May your heart remain open.
May you awaken to the light of your own true nature.
May you be healed.
May you be a source of healing for all beings.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wednesday life form blogging

Bring the mind back

Here is a truly beautiful description of the meditative process:

When I dance, I dance; when I sleep, I sleep; yes, and when I walk alone in a beautiful orchard, if my thoughts drift to far-off matters for some part of the time for some other part I lead them back again to the walk, the orchard, to the sweetness of this solitude, to myself.

-- Montaigne

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A translucent whole

If you are having any difficulty right now - any difficulty at all - this will help. It really will:

Sometimes say softly to yourself: "Now...now. What is happening to me now? This is now. What is coming into me now? This moment?"

Then suddenly you begin to see the world as you had not seen it before, to hear people's voices and not only what they are saying but what they are trying to say and you sense the whole truth about them. And you sense existence, not piecemeal - not this object and that - but as a translucent whole.

-- Brenda Ueland

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday meditation picture blogging

The most important of all voyages

How very true this is and how beautifully expressed:

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.

-- Thomas Merton

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The incomparable value of appreciation

Here's a re-post of something I shared with you back in 2006. It seemed to be well worth a repeat:

Do you appreciate appreciation? Have you ever thought about it? I want to share with you a practice called "mudita" which is the Pali word for appreciation of the joy and success of others. Mudita is also translated "sympathetic joy".

The instruction is found in Kevin Griffin's One Breath at a Time:
Very slowly move through these phrases in your mind, contemplating their meaning and letting their meaning penetrate beyond the idea to the actual feeling itself.
"May I be appreciative and grateful."
"May I be aware of beauty and joy [in others]."
"May I be open to beauty and joy."
"May I respond to beauty and joy with appreciation and gratitude."

Think of those who are dear to you and offer them the same wishes. Say their names to yourself as you repeat the phrases, "May ___ be appreciative and grateful." Envision them experiencing mudita.
"May___ be aware of beauty and joy."
"May___ be open to beauty and joy."
"May___ respond to beauty and joy with appreciation and gratitude."

After wishing those who are dear to you mudita, move out to people more neutral: neighbors, colleagues, people you see in your daily routine. Instead of using names, you can visualize them and say, "May you be aware of beauty and joy." You can see many faces as you repeat the phrases.

Finally, wish mudita for those who are difficult, people you resent or fear, or someone who has harmed you.

Then radiate mudita outward to all beings nearby, and gradually out to the whole planet, and finally the entire universe.

Here is a link to an article on mudita you might like to read. And here's another. Both articles bring joy just by reading them.
~~~

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

More and more peace

Etty Hillesum, who died at Auschwitz in 1943, has inspired me perhaps as much as anyone else whose works I have read. Here is something she said that I don't think I've taken note of before:
Ultimately we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others. The more peace there is in us, the more peace there will be in our troubled world.
~~~

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Loving-kindness

I've talked to you before about the "metta" practice - or loving-kindness. Here's what Jeffrey Brantley has to say about it in Calming Your Anxious Mind:
With a kind and compassionate heart, all you attempt - including your practice of mindfulness - will flow more easily. Loving-kindness meditation uses repeated phrases, images, and feelings to evoke kindness and compassion. It is not exactly a mindfulness practice, yet the qualities it cultivates are crucial to the practice of mindfulness.

This meditation is not about sentimentality or about manufacturing "good" feelings. It is about connecting with and cultivating a capacity for kindness and friendliness that is already within you. At first it may feel mechanical or clumsy. It may arouse painful feelings like anger or grief. Don't let this disturb you. Keep up your practice and discover what happens next. When you have difficulty, hold yourself with kindness and compassion.
As you remember, I have recommended the phrases, "May I be happy; may I be well; may everything be well in my life," and then extending that to others. Here is the formula Brantley recommends:
May I be happy.
May I be healed and healthy.
May I be filled with peace and ease.
May I be safe.

Then, of course, as you extend the practice out from you, change the pronoun to "he", "she" or "they".

As Brantley says:
With some practice a steady sense of kindness can develop. You will be able to work with directing kindness toward all kinds of people - even difficult people.
This is a good time of year to work on loving-kindness practice. It is a wonderful antidote to stress and tension and an overall sense of busyness.
~~~

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Close attention

It's so easy to go through the day on automatic pilot without paying real attention to what we experience and encounter. Here's a reminder not to do that:

The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.

--Henry Miller

Friday, September 09, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

Attachment to "stuff"

Hello, friends. You may think it surprising or even incongruous for me to post the following on a meditation blog. But I want to assert that there really are profound implications here for our practice. Let me simply call to your attention the basic meditative principles of impermanence, the power of attachments to give rise to suffering, and how we get trapped by habitual tendency:

Thursday, September 08, 2011

A little reality check

This is about seeing how things really are - not trying to convince ourselves that they are really otherwise:

Let go, and respond to the immediate needs around you. Don't get caught in some false perception of yourself. There will always be another person more gifted than you. And don't perceive your position as important, but be ready to serve at any moment. If you can let go of who you think you are, you will become free--ready to love others. If you learn to see your impermanence, you will be able to live for the moment and not miss opportunities to love by pushing things into the future.

-- Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Wednesday life form blogging

The role of conscious determination

Here's an inspiring paragraph by Lama Surya Das from Awakening to the Sacred:
Can we be a little kinder, gentler, more loving to those around us? This requires a certain amount of conscious determination. I find that it is important to think about speaking kindly and gently, and being more present with others, even when we feel burdened and busy. We have to think about using words that convey acceptance and support. We have to think about being more generous with what we have - with our time, with what we know, with our financial resources, and with our feelings and emotions. A little kindness, a little warmth, a little affection, a little empathy goes a long way in all our relationships. We know this is true with our children, our mates, and our friends. But it's also true with others - even in chance encounters with those we may never see again. We need to live in ways that express our belief that lovingkindness matters.
I like the emphasis on thinking. In other words, don't expect kindness and gentleness to be automatic. Thought and effort are required.
~~~

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The value of a trained mind

Here are a couple of sayings from the Dhammapada:
Hard it is to train the mind, which goes where it likes and does what it wants. But a trained mind brings health and happiness. The wise can direct their thoughts, subtle and elusive, wherever they choose: a trained mind brings health and happiness.More than those who hate you, more than all your enemies, an untrained mind does greater harm. More than your mother, more than your father, more than all your family, a well-trained mind does greater good.
I found these on the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation website.
~~~

Monday, September 05, 2011

Monday Meditative Picture Blogging

More about personal equanimity

Quite a number of the people I have worked with individually over the years have experienced suffering because they don't live up to what I call the "idealized self image". They have the mistaken belief that if they judge themselves harshly that somehow they will do better. Well, not long ago I came across a wonderful quotation that speaks to that:

Be patient with everyone, but above all with yourself. I mean do not be disheartened by your imperfections, but always rise up with fresh courage. How are we to be patient in dealing with our neighbor's faults if we are impatient in dealing with our own? He who is fretted by his own failings will not correct them. All profitable correction comes from a calm and peaceful mind.

-- St. Francis de Sales

Well, he's talking about equanimity, isn't he? I like the point that we will not really correct our faults if we fret about them. That's been my experience - with both myself and in observing others. Deep acceptance is paradoxically what helps us change.
~~~

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Making friends with ourselves

I see so very much suffering when there is an unshakable attachment to "getting it right":

"As long as our orientation is toward perfection or success, we will never learn about unconditional friendship with ourselves, nor will we find compassion. "

Pema Chödrön

Friday, September 02, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

~~~

Something about empathy

Empathy is the capacity to feel what another is feeling, to be in genuine solidarity with another, to lose the sense of separateness between yourself and another. Now it's relatively easy to have empathy for someone who is grieving or who has been hurt by another, but what about having empathy for someone who does wrong - who is cruel or unkind? Here's an excerpt from The Power of Empathy: A Practical Guide to Creating Intimacy, Self-Understanding, and Lasting Love by Arthur P. Ciaramicoli and Katherine Ketcham:
Empathy leads us to tolerance, for only with empathy can we build bridges to others who seem so unlike us. Only with empathy can we reach out to people we initially want to push away because we imagine that in their brutality or their simplicity or their stupidity they are not like us. Empathy reminds us that the evil in others is a potential that we also carry within our own hearts. The capacity to hate, to exact revenge, to refuse forgiveness, even to take a life is in you as it is in me as it is in all human beings. That humbling realization and acceptance of our own shadow inevitably and unfailingly leads us to tolerance.
It is so easy to judge another. If I realize that I, too - under the right circumstances - am capable of that for which I judge another, I will have not only tolerance but true compassion.
~~~

Thursday, September 01, 2011

The moving landscape

This is from 1,001 Meditations by Mike George:
Sit quietly and reflect on your life right now. It is changing. The future is unknown; some of your hopes will not be realized - but neither will some of your fears. Also, you are getting older. You are on a journey, moving in a landscape that itself is in constant flux. All these changes constitute "home". Take a few minutes to appreciate where you are now in your life... and feel grateful for it.
This is a meditation about impermanence. Often we perceive impermanence to be something we don't like. But think about it. Without impermanence we could not grow or develop. We would not be able to change in the ways we want to change. So let's cultivate an appreciation for the fact that things continually change.
~~~

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturday prayer blogging

This is a re-posting from some time in 2007:

May we be united in heart.
May we be united in speech.
May we be united in mind.
May we perform our duties
As did the wise of old.

May we be united in our prayer.
May we be united in our goal.
May we be united in our resolve.
May we be united in our understanding.
May we be united in our offering.
May we be united in our feelings.
May we be united in our hearts.
May we be united in our thoughts.
May there be perfect unity amongst us.

From the Rig Veda

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A big fear about meditation

Many people resist meditation because they're afraid of what might "come up". Well, stuff is supposed to come up:

Spiritual progress is like detoxification. Things have to come up in order to be released. Once we have asked to be healed, then our unhealed places are forced to the surface.

--Marianne Williamson

Why would you prefer to have toxic stuff inside you that you don't even know about? Only if we know what's there can we do anything about it. Otherwise, it will rule our lives and we won't even understand why.
~~~

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Interconnectivity

This is from a very brief article on meditation:
In the movie “Powder,” there is a beautiful scene at the county fair, where Powder and Maxine are having a conversation. Powder says: “We are part of everyone and everything.” Maxine: “Are you telling me that I am part of this tree, a part of the vast ocean, a part of a man in jail thousands of miles away?” Powder: “Yes, you don't believe me?” Maxine: “It's hard to believe.”

Can we believe that we're all connected, that we are one with each other? Would that change the world? What if we no longer judged a person whether that person was a heterosexual or homosexual, not judge a person because of his/her religious background, or the color of their skin? Would that change the world and would that change us?
You can find the whole piece right here.
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday life form blogging

The fabric of the universe

I've experienced much benefit from the writings of Elizabeth O'Connor for many years now. Here's something she said that is particularly focused in expressing what reality is all about:
An inner truth always has a corresponding outer reality. Our interdependence is woven through the fabric of the universe. The painful, fearful, wonderful message of the modern world is that we are members one of the other, and that we cannot live if we are not in communion with each other. The world, even for the hard of learning, is turning out to be one great household - every woman, my sister, every man, my brother.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday cat blogging!

Visualize blowing bubbles

There's some good stuff here:
Some people imagine a calm scene to help them wind down at the end of the day. There are no rules about what you should imagine, so long as it's calming. Although clouds, the ocean, and mountains are common choices, you can focus on something as general or as specific as you want.

"I had a patient who liked to picture his office—brushing everything off his desk and going to sleep," Walsleben says. "Other people enjoy visualizing that they're blowing bubbles. They put the stick in the jar and watch every bubble go over a field until the jar is empty."
I found it right here.
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday life form blogging

Something that's just lovely

Right here:

The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.

-- Robert Louis Stevenson

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Adversity

In this evening's ongoing meditation class, we talked about a skillful approach to dealing with hardship. Later, I found the following. I really do like it!

Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known.

-- Garrison Keillor

Mind you, this doesn't speak to every kind of adversity but it does speak to some. And it really helps with perspective.
~~~

Monday, August 08, 2011

Yes, this is possible:

Some time ago I signed up for a thirty day subscription to Kristin Noelle's trust tending sketches. The above is one of them that I particularly liked. Now I'm not thinking this means that we are supposed to cultivate some sort of split within ourselves at all. Rather, I think it is reminding us that, even when we're freaking out, there is a place of calm within us that we can access and thus alleviate our suffering.
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If I stay "in the moment", can I still make plans?

Here is some more wisdom from friend-of-the-Center, Larry H. It's originally intended to be self-coaching encouragement for people who are in recovery but it's completely consistent with meditative principles and can definitely help us all:

Plan, but don't plan the outcome.

It is all right to make plans, but it is not okay to insist on a particular outcome. Sometimes I may do things expecting particular results, but in focusing on the goal instead of the things I should do to reach that goal I may create a set up for disappointment. I can take action, but I cannot rigidly determine the results. When my mind is not set upon the end state, I can be sanguine about failures by saying I did my best (returning the focus to my behavior). With emphasis on what I'm doing instead of emphasis on where I'm going, I will be able to handle the times when things didn't work out.
~~~

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Illusions

Oh, my. This is so, so good:

Illusions commend themselves to us because they save us pain and allow us to enjoy pleasure instead. We must therefore accept it without complaint when they sometimes collide with a bit of reality against which they are dashed to pieces.

~ Sigmund Freud

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Smooth versus rough

Well, the Nazarene Church down on the corner has come up with another good one for their marquee:

If the mountain were smooth, you couldn't climb it.

How about that? It's true, isn't it?
~~~