spirit, mind, matter

"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end." – Ursula K. Le Guin


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Our True Nature

Our true nature is like a precious jewel: although it may be temporarily buried in mud, it remains completely brilliant and unaffected. We simply have to uncover it. Pema Chödrön

 

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Meditation offers us the opportunity to explore or true nature. Take a few moments today, and all throughout the week to see if you can uncover your true nature.

 

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Steadfastness

I subscribe to Heart Advice: Weekly Quotes from Pema Chödrön. You can subscribe by clicking here

The quote from this week:

August 27, 2014
STEADFASTNESS
We’re encouraged to meditate every day, even for a short time, in order to cultivate steadfastness with ourselves. We sit under all kinds of circumstances—whether we are feeling healthy or sick, whether we’re in a good mood or depressed, whether we feel our meditation is going well or is completely falling apart. As we continue to sit we see that meditation isn’t about getting it right or attaining some ideal state. It’s about being able to stay present with ourselves. It becomes increasingly clear that we won’t be free of self-destructive patterns unless we develop a compassionate understanding of what they are.

 

Pema Chödrön in A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation: Practical Advice and Inspiration from Contemporary Buddhist Teachers, page 161

 

This teaching came at the perfect time. I have been mentally wavering in my practice. I still practice yoga and meditation daily however, getting started has been the hard part. I will dilly-dally around, play on the internet, do chores, or do any other stalling technique before surrendering. A minute or two in, I’m always so happy I did it, but something about getting started has been difficult lately. 

This is why this quote resonates with me. I know that sitting and practicing under this current weather system of the mind that I’m experiencing, will continue to teach me how to be compassionate with myself under all circumstances. It also keeps me honest in my practice of both yoga and meditation. 

So today, remain steadfast in your practice and continue to cultivate compassion. 


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Addictive Doing

My favorite story was told by Tara Brach on her latest podcast

Hindu teacher Swami Satchidananda was asked by a student if he needed to become a Hindu to go deeply into the practice of yoga. Satchidananda’s response was, “I am not a Hindu, I am an undo.”

 

Meditation is a great way to de-condition the “doing-mind.”

If you’re anything like me, you notice the weather system of “doing” and how it permeates your day. I know, for me, the “doing” self often masks uncomfortable feelings and anxiety. I also notice that my ego can be hitched to getting things done. Thankfully, Tara Brach talks about this in her latest podcast. Take an hour or so and listen to her podcast. 

From her website: 

One of the core domains of egoic trance is addictive doing – chronic activity driven by fear and wanting that keeps us from realizing a wholeness of Being. This talk looks at how addictive doing keeps us in the map of time, identified as a separate self, always on our way somewhere else. We then explore ways we undo this conditioning by pausing and opening to the liberating dimension of Being.  

 

You can listen on iTunes, clicking here, or visiting her website

Today’s Opportunity for Mindfulness: Take a pause, arrive in the moment, and set the intention to un-do the conditioning of busy-ness. 


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Mindfulness in the News: How Negative Thoughts Are Ruining Your Life

I read an amazing article on Psychology Today that I wanted to share with everyone. 

How Negative Thoughts Are Ruining Your Life

This article gives wonderful practical advice for dealing with the idea of an inner critic. You know, that voice that tells you everything bad about yourself. Please take a couple of short minutes to read the article! 

Although the article is not written through the lens of mindfulness, it is certainly present in the strategies given to overcome the inner critic.  Like most mindfulness practices, the article teaches us to start with noticing. We must become the observer who can watch our thoughts, feelings, and emotions and then become aware of how we react to them. 

After we can recognize what we’re doing, we can then step aside and chose not to react, but rather respond with a useful pattern, thought, feeling, or idea. 

Since it’s a given that we all have some sort of inner critic, let’s agree to be aware of the voice of our own critic and cultivate compassion for ourselves and for others. 

Namaste


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Reiki Principles

Many years ago I  experienced the healing powers of Reiki. So much, in fact, that when the opportunity came, I received my Reiki level 1 attunement. Through my journey I’ve had times where I’ve practiced regularly and other times where I go into a period of forgetting. 

I’m currently in a processes of remembering.

I found the card that I received at the end of my level 1 class and I am working on remembering the principles in my daily life.  Even if you are new to Reiki, these principles are wonderful to live by.

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I love the “Just for today” as it reminds us that all we have is right now. It’s the little moments and “todays” that make up our lives. When we focus too much on the future, it becomes overwhelming. Instead of focusing on tomorrow, we focus on today.

Namaste!


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Bending with Difficulties and Contradictions

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Yoga and meditation teach us flexibility of the mind. We learn that we don’t have to react to every whim, thought, feeling, or impulse.  We learn, through these practices, how to become an observer of these things and then to ask, “Is this true for me, now?” I have found, throughout my journey, that there are ideas and beliefs that I have become attached to. Meditation and yoga have taught me to notice them, and then step away and look at the bigger picture. There have been some things that I have learned to looks at differently, now.

With flexibility of the mind, we are able to tap into more creative problem solving strategies when we encounter difficulties. We are better able to see things objectively and have an open mind and loving heart. Today, and throughout the week, I challenge us all to see where we can become more flexible with difficulties to see if it creates more ease and happiness in our lives.

 


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Helping Those Who “Make Us” Suffer

I know we all have people in our lives that are difficult to be around. We can usually be found saying things like they make us sad, crazy, angry, or whatever feeling you want to throw out there.  Yet, we all know that only we are responsible for our own feelings. We can’t allow every whim of another persons thoughts, actions, or feelings to dictate how we feel or act.  We seem to exist between these two ideas. Those of us on the path know about what Thich Nhat Hanh is saying in the following quote.

We understand that those who cause suffering are suffering. We can usually arrive to a place of compassion pretty quickly if we take a few moments to see where this person is coming from.  This doesn’t mean allowing the person who has suffering spilling over free reign to do, act, or say whatever they please. We can deal with the thoughts, feelings, and actions and set appropriate boundaries.

First, we must start with ourselves. We need to look at the suffering we are feeling. When we feel as though someone is making us suffer, we can first identify what feelings we are feeling. What is there, at the core. I’m not talking about what “they” did, but rather, what do “we” feel? Take “them” our of the equation and focus on what “we” feel.  After we come home to what we are feeling, we can offer those hurt feelings compassion. We must not forget to do this. We cannot be compassionate to the world without first being compassionate towards ourselves.  A time will come whenwe then can feel comfortable with digging a little deeper and questioning our feelings. We can ask ourselves if these feelings are true, where are they coming from, what would we say to a friend who was experiencing this? All of these questions can bring us to the hurt place in us, the place that needs attention. Once we have investigated our own feelings, thoughts, and actions. We can move towards helping the other.

When we encounter that other person and we recognize what’s happening in us as they spill their suffering, the first thing we can do is to stop, breathe, and offer compassion to the hurting place inside of them. It can stop there. Sometimes, it has to. If someone close to us says something hurtful or acts out their suffering, sometimes all we can do is to offer them some compassion with our hearts, and then walk away or change the subject. However, if there is some space, sometimes we can help them by asking questions about where they are coming from, or gently sharing the messages that they are sending us with their actions. I believe that in the quiet moments of pausing and listening, we can hear God, and when we are aligned with the Spirit inside of us, we can speak truth (or silence) that serves best. Let us all trust that the right words will come that can create a space for healing. Like Jesus says in Matthew 10: 19-20:

19) When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; 20) for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Dealing with suffering is part of life. We all suffer. We call create suffering. Our path is to show love. In times of suffering I like to quote something I heard on a Tara Brach podcast, “May this suffering serve enlightenment.”

Namaste ❤


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Planting Seeds

I’ve read quite a few books where teachers talk about planting seeds.  The Bible is probably where I’ve read the most. A quick search and I found these gems (certainly, not a comprehensive list):

2 Corinthians 9:6 – But this [I say], He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

Ecclesiastes 11:6 – In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both [shall be] alike good.

Galatians 6:8 – For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

In Thich Nhat Hanh’s book “Living Buddha, Living Christ,” he talked about our thoughts being seeds that take root and grow in our lives.  He reminds us that we can chose which seeds to water, which seeds to nurture,  and which weeds to pull.

I find this to be such a profound, yet simple, idea.  When I stop to think about what seeds I’m proverbially sewing in my life, which seeds I’m nurturing, and which weeds are choking my spirit, it reminds me that I have a choice. While I can’t control all of my thoughts (I mean, thoughts are shameless, they will pop in and out of anywhere), I can control which thoughts I believe, which thoughts I nurture, and which thoughts bring be closer to a beautiful and full life.

Today’s Opportunity for Mindfulness: When you catch yourself thinking, ask, “is this a seed I want to nurture?” If so, allow it to grow and blossom, and if not, then dismiss it and allow it to leave.

Namaste

 

 


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Needing Closure

I know I have at least one reader (ahem, Kacey), who remembers that episode of Friends…the one with the closure.  Ever since that episode aired, I remember my friends and I always talking about closure. It morphed from talking about ending relationships into talking about anything. It started being a term that my generation used for ending jobs, moving through different life stages, relationships, and pretty much anything ended up needing some sort of closure.

All of the sudden, it became clear to me that we all tend to keep looking for resolutions and closure to everything. When we live in that belief that we need specific markers to be an “end” to something, we get very attached to goals and the way things should be.  If we don’t get closure or a resolution, we feel uncomfortable!  We have learned that ambiguity is bad and wrong.

Yesterday, I got a quote of the day sent to me from my girl Pema Chodron.  You can click here to learn how to subscribe to her emails.

In her Book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön, page 54, she writes:

WE DON’T DESERVE RESOLUTION

As human beings, not only do we seek resolution, but we also feel that we deserve resolution. However, not only do we not deserve resolution, we suffer from resolution. We don’t deserve resolution; we deserve something better than that. We deserve our birthright, which is the middle way, an open state of mind that can relax with paradox and ambiguity. To the degree that we’ve been avoiding uncertainty, we’re naturally going to have withdrawal symptoms—withdrawal from always thinking that there’s a problem and that someone, somewhere, needs to fix it.

 

Did you catch that?  We deserve our birthright, which is the middle way, an open state of mind that can relax with paradox and ambiguity.

Did she just suggest RELAXING with paradox and ambiguity?  I’m certain that my conditioning has been to do everything BUT relax with those feelings but if it’s good enough for Pema, it’s good enough for me!  I will try.

Today’s Opportunity for Mindfulness:  Let’s examine our thoughts, beliefs, and feelings to see where we are missing the open state of mind that can relax with paradox and ambiguity.

Namaste

 

 


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Practical Mindfulness Techniques

I was listening to one of Tara Brach’s podcasts (please check them out if you have any interest in mindfulness, they are amazing), and she was talking about Freedom and Happiness in Daily Life.

The talk was is so good, that I wanted to pass it on to you readers. The talk is under an hour and it is wonderful!

From her website:

Freedom and Happiness in Daily Life (Audio)
How you live today is how you live your life. This talk explores different meditative practices and teachings that help us reconnect with and nurture presence in the midst of the array of daily stressors.

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I hope you can find some time to listen and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.