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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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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Wheel of Awareness with Dr. Dan Siegel

I came across an article on Psychology Today  (under the Neuroscience section) called Mindfulness as Integration by Dr. Dan Siegel. In the article, Dr. Siegel discusses the Wheel of Awareness that can be used to help mindfulness practice.  Please read the article.

 

Dr. Seigel has a few resources online that talk about the Wheel of Awareness.

 

(source)

I haven’t experimented with his method, but I am excited to try. Have you heard of this? Please share your experience!

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.


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The Meditation Technique that Changed My Life: RAIIN

I’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite meditation and mindfulness teachers is Tara Brach. She is a psychologist, author, and teacher. Listening to her podcasts and reading her books has changed my life.  There is one technique that she teaches that is called RAIIN. The acronym stands for Recognize, Allow, Investigate with Intimate Awareness, and Non-Identification. She sprinkles this teaching throughout her books and her talks, but this week, her podcast focused on truly delving into the process.

I encourage you to find an hour, at some point this week, to listen to this talk.  It’s a wonderful way to practice insight meditation and really learn the habits, thoughts, and feelings that keep us separate.

You can download the talk on iTunes (free) or you can go to her website and get the audio or video option. It’s the April, 16th talk.

 

If you are able to listen, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

So true; no matter what country I'm living in--I'm with my family.

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Have a wonderful week!


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Lotus Meditation

One of my favorite meditations is the Lotus meditation. It seems to speak to me each time I practice it.

I found a well-written example here and I have copied it below.

Imagine that you are a lotus seed buried beneath a muddy lotus pond. There is mud all around you, and you can feel them clearly. Above you, above this muddy pool of dirt, mud and filth, are sunshine and air. You are not disheartened as you begin your journey towards the surface.

With a determined heart, you begin to wiggle in the earth. You grow roots deep, deep into the mud. Your little stem grows up slowly. Suddenly, “pop” you are out of the mud! Your stem grows higher and higher, taller and taller. You rise up slowly, fighting against the muddy water. All of a sudden, you are out of the muddy pond! You reach up towards the warm sun, shining down on you.

Your lotus bud begins to grow on top of your stem. It expands and grows larger and larger, finally bursting into full bloom. A white lotus flower. You stand beautifully above the muddy water, not dirtied by the mud from which you grow. You are white, fragrant and beautiful.

Everyone who saw you marvelled at your beauty! Your determination to grow out of the muddy pond reminds them of the Buddha and his journey towards Enlightenment. The Buddha, like a lotus, is determined to grow out of the muddy surroundings, that is the defilements and sufferings of life. He has done all that is to be done and he is showing us that we can all do it too. We may have defilements but we all have the potential of growing out of our defilements and achieving wisdom, like the Buddha.

You are a beautiful white lotus flower, and your role is to remind people to rise above their defilements and sufferings, just as you are arising above the muddy water and not dirtied by the mud from which you grow. 

 

Tara Brach has a wonderful talk about this subject. You can listen here.

Have you tried this meditation before? If not, you may want to spend a little time exploring this!

 


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Establishing a Meditation Practice Part 3: Exploring Gateways to Presence

This is the third blog post in the series I began on Monday that discusses one process of establishing a meditation practice.  This is the process that has worked for me. I’m sharing it because I’ve had quite a few people in my life ask me how to get started with meditation.  You can read part 1, here and part 2, here.

Today, I’m going to talk about a few different ways to meditate.  I call these gateways because they are simple, yet effective ways, to begin your meditation practice.  I encourage you to try all of these ways a few different times before deciding rather to use one, or dismiss it.  I like to think of trying these like tasting new foods. At first, you may not like a particular flavor or seasoning, but the more you expose yourself to it, the more it grows on you.

After you try a few of these ways, you may find that some work for you better than others, or you may find some that work for you when you’re in different mind-states.  I practice all of these ways and a few other variations of these ways. Often, I can tell what I need when I wake up in the morning.

A Few Common Gateways:

  • Breath: Using the breath is one of the easiest ways to meditate in so far as you don’t need any special equipment and you’re already breathing, so you might as well try to meditate with it!  Set a timer, if you are worried about time, and come into a comfortable position. Laying or sitting is fine. As you inhale, feel the lungs expand, and the chest and belly rise. As you exhale, feel the chest and belly fall and the lungs deflate. Think to yourself, “In, Out” or “Rise, Fall,” or “Inhale, Exhale,” whatever works for you. Keep your focus on the breath and when thoughts inevitably enter your mind, simply allow them to leave. You don’t have to pay attention to them. Treat them like passing clouds in a blue sky.  If you start to pay attention to your thoughts, simply allow yourself to come back to the breath.
  • Movement:  For people who enjoy moving, movement can be a wonderful anchor for meditation. A walking meditation might be a great tool. Click here for Thich Nhat Hanh’s instructions. He talks about how each step can bring you into the present moment.
  • Music: Music is a great tool for people who love music. I like using music because it helps set a timeframe and I can choose a piece of music that speaks to me. Sometimes I will use a spa-like instrumental selection, or sometimes I will use a Kirtan. Krisha Das is a wonderful artist if you enjoy Kirtan. I also have used music with lyrics that I find to be beautiful and loving. To use music as a guide, come in to a comfortable position and listen to the song. Notice the breath, enjoy the sounds, and savor the melody. I like to breathe with the phrases. You can still stay with the breath, but you can hear the music in the background while you stay with the breath.  Meditating with music has taught me that I can be aware of my breath at the same time I’m also paying attention to something else.
  • Mantra: Mantra’s are a very useful tool in meditation. Mantras can be traditional Sanskrit mantras, prayers that you know (rosary, Glory Be, Our Father, etc…), inspirational quotes, poems, or words that mean something to you! Really, it’s wide open.  Find a word, combination of words, poem, or prayer and as you recite it to yourself, stay with the breath. Focus on the meaning and the breath.  This can be very helpful with dealing with anxiety, especially if you use a calming text.
  • Guided Meditation:  I truly enjoy using guided meditations. Guided meditations are all over. Simply google it and you will find more than you know what to do with.  what I like about guided meditations is that I can simply sit and follow the instructions. The guide will bring me back if I drift away.  Tara Brach is my absolute favorite teacher and resource for guided meditations. You can find hers free online at her site: www.tarabrach.com.

Today’s Opportunity for Mindfulness: Try one of the gateways above and note how it worked for you!


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Letting Go of Assumptions About Meditation – Tara Brach

Please take a couple of minutes (2 minutes) to listen to this little talk about letting go of assumptions that we have about meditation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDXFA0Iv858

From youtube:

This short video helps reveal the “shoulds” that can generate self-judgement and possible feelings of failure. To watch the rest of this talk, go to tarabrach.com/​video/​2011-09-14-Do-You-­Pay-Regular-Visits.html