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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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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Thoughts on Non-Attachment

A dear friend asked me a question yesterday.  She asked how non-attachment and love work. I mean, when we love someone, like a spouse, child, parent, or friend, aren’t we attached?  I thought about it for a while because that’s a really good question. Attachment, non-attachment, and love are words that are thrown around in all of the spiritual traditions. First, I believe that we all will have different thoughts and opinions about this as our lives change over time. I can only speak from where I am at right now.

First, love.  I only know one great definition of love and it goes like this:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
New International Version (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Second, non-attachment.

Vairagya/Non-attachment: The essential companion is non-attachment (1.15), learning to let go of the many attachments,aversions, fears, and false identities that are clouding the true Self. (http://www.swamij.com/yoga-sutras-11216.htm)

I heard a great teacher (on a Tara Brach podcast) who was talking about his favorite chalice. It was beautiful. It was made of colorful glass and had jewels adorning it. He drank from the chalice every day. Some of this followers approached him and asked if he was attached to the chalice.  He replied, no. He said that it was because each time he took a sip from the glass, or saw it, he would imagine it shattered on the ground.

I don’t believe that love is necessarily being attached in the sense of vairagya.  I believe that when we truly love something or someone we allow it to be as it is, without grasping. Like, a butterfly landing on an open hand. We don’t then grab the butterfly and crush it! We let it be, admire it, enjoy it for the time it is there, and then when it flies away, we move on with an open hand because we know more moments will come. I do not believe that savoring the beauty, tastes, sights, sensations, smells, and feelings of the world around us is being attached. I believe that as stewards of this earth, that God has given us these things in order to see Him in everything and remind us of our true nature.

I believe that love can only be attachment when it gives us a false sense of self or we become attached to the outcome of the love. For instance, when we become attached to our role as husband, wife, partner, parent, or teacher. Yes, they are roles we have in our lives, but that is not who we are at the deepest being. Our purpose for loving each other is to remind each other how God loves us. God loves us unconditionally with an open hand. May we be free from the ego attachments in order to love God and others fully.

Today’s Opportunity for Mindfulness: Let the butterfly land in our open hands.

such gorgeous colours in this butterfly

Namaste.

 


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The Good Samaritan

I was reading my daily “Sayings of Jesus” newsletter that I receive from http://www.everydayhealth.com and something spoke to me a little differently this morning. If you’re familiar with the story, feel free to skip past it, but I encourage you to take a moment to reread or familiarize yourself with it again, before we move on.

Luke 10:25-37
25) And behold, a lawyer stood up and put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26) He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” 27)And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28) And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.” 29) But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30) Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31) Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32) So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33) But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 34) and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35) And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, `Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36) Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37) He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.

 

I was thinking about this story and how so often we forget who our neighbors are. However, I think we are now the opposite of the lawyer in the story.

This lawyer, was looking to “justify” himself. This leads me to think that the lawyer in the story believed that his “neighbor” was a close family member, friend, or other person that he had frequent interactions with each day. I say this because Jesus stops, and tells the parable of someone helping someone they didn’t know.  From what I’ve always learned, that wasn’t the practice of those times.

In our times, I believe that we spend a lot of time and energy on social causes and helping charities. We give and give, abundantly, with our votes, thoughts, sharing stories on social media, crying out against social injustice, and yet, I see us (myself included), not showing that same enthusiasm for those in our immediate circle of family and friends.

What would happen if we truly remembered that the people in our household are like the man in the story? We are all suffering with our own pain and karmic patterns. We all have the same needs. We want to be safe, be heard, and feel loved!

Today’s Opportunity for Mindfulness: Take a new look at the people you interact with most during your day, the closest people to you, and see how you can be the Good Samaritan towards them. Give kindness instead of judgement, and honor them truly, as fellow children of God.  We are all on this path together. It is our responsibility to be the light.

 

Parable of the Good Samaritan

(source)

Namaste

 

 


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“The Kingdom of God is Within You.” Luke 17:21

Christians all over the world are celebrating Easter this time of year. Being Christian, I wanted to celebrate this on the blog.  One of my favorite verses from the Bible is from Luke 17:21.

I never really understood this, as a child and a young adult. I understood the Christian part of accepting Jesus but there was something deeper hidden in this message for me that I realized as I got older and started meditating. I believe that God is in me and I believe meditation makes me more aware of His Kingdom and his plan. When we sit in meditation, we give God the space to talk with us. Then, when we apply the second layer of insight to our meditations, we can see how our human conditioning, faulty beliefs, in other words-sin-missing the mark, are keeping us away from experiencing the daily mystery of love, peace, and joy- or the Kingdom of God. Then we learn to make choices to respond to Love.

 

Whether you celebrate Easter or not, I hope you have a wonderful weekend and know that there is something bigger, more loving, more open, and mysterious that we belong to. Each and every one of us.

Namaste

 


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Which Wolf will you Feed?

Take a moment to reflect on this powerful Cherokee legend:

So true...but isn't the problem that most of us don't know how to stop feeding the wrong wolf?

Today’s Opportunity for Mindfulness: Become the watcher of your thoughts. When you notice the wolves, take a moment to acknowledge what’s happening and chose to either nurture the good, or name the evil, and make a choice to shift and nurture the good.

For example:

  •  “I see you, jealousy , I choose gratitude.”
  • “I see you, ego, I choose humility.”
  • “I see you, love, and I choose to fully embrace you.”
  • “I see you, peace, and I choose to pass this peace on.”

This is not a new teaching.  Jesus commands us to remove our right eye if it causes us sin (Matthew 5: 29-30). Thich Nhat Hanh, in his book The Art of Power talks about nurturing the good seeds and not allowing the bad seeds to grow.  Before we can honor those teachings, we must become aware of the bad seeds and make a choice to nurture the opposite.  It’s challenging, for sure, but we know that we will be happier more peaceful people when we make this our intention.


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Anxiety as a Gateway to Mindfulness

Today’s post is inspired by one of my favorite passages from the Bible:

Luke 12:22-28
22) And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat, nor about your body, what you shall put on. 23) For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24) Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25) And which of you by being anxious can add a cubit to his span of life? 26) If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27) Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28) But if God so clothes the grass which is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O men of little faith!

I love this passage for so many reasons, here are a few:

  • Jesus tells us that our lives are more than the day-to-day trivial things
  • Jesus tells us that God takes care of his creations
  • There are few, if any, things we can control

Beyond that though, is a call for mindfulness. The teachings call us to live in the moment, not the past, not the future, but the present moment and have faith.

Anxiety is a common human experience that we all encounter to some degree or another and it can be a powerful gateway to mindfulness.  When we experience anxiety, we have two options. We can spin in the thoughts, or we can step out of them and use it as an opportunity for growth.

Today, notice when you have moments of anxiety. Feel the sensations in your body and try to notice where the anxiety is coming from. Is it coming from the past or the future? Notice where your mind is living as it’s experiencing the anxiety and see if you can come to your breath and notice the immediate present moment.

Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you... do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. - Luke 12:27-31

 


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The Power of the Pause

Today’s opportunity for mindfulness is inspired by this story from the Bible.

John 8:1-11
1) But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2)Early in the morning he came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3) The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst4) they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5) Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?” 6) This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7) And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8) And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 9) But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10)Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11) She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.

 

Whatever your spiritual background, you’ve probably encountered this story before.  There are many lessons embedded and I won’t attempt to extract them all, but there is one lesson that recently struck me that I haven’t noticed before.  I’d like to share it with you.

In the story, the Pharisees brought the woman to Jesus. Now, imagine what the scene looked like. Jesus was at the temple and it was probably crowded and chaotic.  The Pharisees, knowing he was there and surrounded with people, came with the intent to test and trap him. What did Jesus do?  Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. He paused. He took a moment, a breath, and came fully in to the moment.  From his inner wisdom, he was able to draw the right thing to say.  Then, what did he do after he gave the answer? And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.  He paused, again, and allowed the message to sink in. He didn’t engage.

The power of the pause gave Jesus the time and space to work with a difficult situation.  The power of the pause gave time for the message to sink in.

Today, we are going to encounter many situations where we have an opportunity to remember to pause and respond, rather than simply react.  Let’s see what happens when we take a moment to pause and breathe before responding to a question or a situation that demands our attention.

good night