Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wherever You Go There You Are

Wherever You Go There You Are
Mindfulness Meditation In Everyday Life
by Jon Kabat-Zinn


Meditation is simply about being yourself and knowing something about who that is.

Meditation is the process by which we go about deepening our attention and awareness, refining them, and putting them to greater practical use in our lives.

It is possible through meditation to find shelter from much of the wind that agitates the mind. Over time, a good deal of the turbulence may die down from lack of continuous feeding. But ultimately the winds of life and of the mind will blow, do what we may. Meditation is about knowing something about this and how to work with it.

Non-Doing is a cornerstone of mastery in any realm of activity.

It’s not that feelings of anger don’t arise. It’s that the anger can be used, worked with, harnessed so that its energies can nourish patience, compassion, harmony, and wisdom in ourselves...

Mindless giving is never healthy or generous.

Stillness, insight, and wisdom arise only when we can settle into being complete in this moment...

The mind states of liking and disliking can take up permanent residency in us, unconsciously feeding addictive behaviors...

...practice sharing the fullness of your being, your best self, your enthusiasm, your vitality, your spirit, your trust, your openness, above all, your presence.

Voluntary Simplicity...involves intentionally doing only one thing at a time and making sure I am here for it.

I practice saying no to keep my life simple, and I find I never do it enough. A commitment to simplicity in the midst of the world is a delicate balancing act. But I find the notion of voluntary simplicity keeps me mindful of what is important...

Without calmness, the mirror of mindfulness will have an agitated and choppy surface, and will not be able to reflect things with any accuracy.

Mountains are held sacred, embodying dread and harmony, harshness and majesty. To traditional peoples, mountains were and still are mother, father, guardian, protector, ally.

If you believe in love, do you manifest it or just talk a lot? If you believe in compassion, in non-harming, in kindness, in wisdom, in generosity, in calmness, in solitude, in non-doing, in being even-handed and clear, do you manifest these qualities in your daily life?

But concentration practice, however strong and satisfying, is incomplete without mindfulness to complement and deepen it. What is missing is the energy of curiosity, inquiry, investigation, openness, availability, engagement with the full range of phenomena experienced by human beings. This is the domain of mindfulness practice, in which onepointedness and the ability to bring calmness and stability of mind to the present moment are put in the service of looking deeply into and understanding the interconnectedness of a wide range of life experience.

Mindfulness can put you in touch with the toxicity of the anger to yourself and to others. It its energy can be transmuted to forcefulness and wisdom, without the smoke and fire of self-absorption or self-righteousness, then its power multiplies, and so does its capacity to transform both the object of the anger and the source.

Invoking qualities of elevation, massiveness, majesty, unmovingness, rootedness, helps bring these qualities directly into posture and attitude.

...it is possible to rely on the practice (of meditation) itself to guide us through the maze. It keeps us on the path, even in the darkest moments, facing the most terrifying of our own mind states and external circumstances. It reminds us of our options. We must be willing to encounter darkness and despair when they come up and face them, over and over again if need be, without running away or numbing ourselves in the thousands of ways we conjure up to avoid the unavoidable.

Try seeing your own life this very day as a journey and as an adventure.

If I can’t do anything useful, at least I would like to do as little harm as possible.

...you must be willing to let life itself become your teacher.

...in the meditation practice, it is best to hold to and honor one’s own direct experience... Our feet and our breath both teach us to watch our step, to proceed mindfully, to truly be at home in every moment...
“Insist on yourself, never imitate. Do that which is assigned to you and you cannot hope too much or dare too much. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Perhaps we just need little reminders from time to time that we are already dignified, deserving, worthy.

Too often, our lives cease working because we cease working at life, because we are unwilling to take responsibility for things as they are, and to work with our difficulties. Love and kindness are here all the time, somewhere, in fact, everywhere. Usually our ability to touch them and be touched by them lies buried below our desperate clinging to the illusion that we are truly separate and alone.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Radical Acceptance

Radical Acceptance
Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha
by Tara Brach

"The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis but rather the feeling of not belonging." Mother Teresa
Wanting and fearing are natural energies, part of evolution's design to protect us and help us thrive. But when they become the core of our identity, we lose sight of the fullness of our being.

...Zen master Seng-tsan taught that true freedom is being "without anxiety about imperfection." This means accepting our human existence and all of life as it is. Imperfection is not our personal problem - it is a natural part of existing.
"We must plant ourselves again in the universe." D.H. Lawrence
Without judging yourself, simply become aware of how you are relating to your body, emotions, thoughts and behaviors. As the trance of unworthiness becomes conscious, it begins to lose its power over our lives.

Fear is the anticipation of future pain.

...psychologist Carl Jung describes the spiritual path as an unfolding into 'wholeness'.

The way out of our cage begins with 'accepting absolutely everything' about ourselves and our lives, by embracing with wakefulness and care our moment-to-moment experience.

Clearly recognizing what is happening inside us, and regarding what we see with an open, kind and loving heart, is what I call Radical Acceptance.
"Don't turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place. That's where the light enters you." Rumi
By accepting the truth of change, accepting that we don't know how our life will unfold, we open ourselves to hope so that we can move forward with vitality and will.
"There is only one world, the world pressing against you at this minute. There is only one minute in which you are alive, this minute here and now. The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle." Storm Jameson
"A tiny bud of a smile on your lips nourishes awareness and calms you miraculously... your smile will bring happiness to you and those around you." Thich Nhat Hanh
When we pause, we don't know what will happen next. But by disrupting our habitual behaviors, we open to the possibility of new and creative ways of responding to our wants and fears.

In the midst of a pause, we are giving room and attention to the life that is always streaming through us, the life that is habitually overlooked.

Yes is an inner practice of acceptance in which we willingly allow our thoughts and feelings to naturally arise and pass away.

When we put down ideas of what life should be like, we are free to wholeheartedly say yes to our life as it is.

Being alive includes feeling pain, sometimes intense pain.
"Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional." anonymous
"When the resistance is gone, the demons are gone." Pema Chodron
"We have to face the pain we have been running from. In fact, we need to learn to rest in it and let its searing power transform us." Charlotte Joko Beck
Everybody just wants to be loved.

The Buddha taught that our fear is great, but greater still is the truth of our connectedness.
"We have been raised to fear...our deepest cravings. And the fear of our deepest cravings keeps them suspect, keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, and leads us to settle for...many facets of our own oppression." Audre Lorde
"True love and prayer are learned in the hour where prayer has become impossible and the heart has turned to stone." Thomas Merton
Feeling compassion for ourselves in no way releases us from responsibility for our actions. Rather, it releases us from the self-hatred that prevents us from responding to our life with clarity and balance.

In order to embark on a spiritual path we need faith that our own heart and mind have the potential to awaken.
"Prayer is the voice of longing; it reaches outwards and inwards to unearth our ancient belonging." John O'Donohue
Each person is precious, each person is fragile, each person matters.

The most fully we offer our attention, the more deeply we realize that what matters most in life is being kind.
I live my life in widening circles
That reach out across the world.
I may not ever complete the last one,
But I give myself to it.
by Ranier Maria Rilke
Whenever we feel closed down, hurt or unforgiving, by simply breathing in and gently touching the rawness of our pain, we can begin to transform our suffering into compassion.

If we feel hatred toward anyone, we remain chained to the sufferings of the past and cannot find genuine peace. We forgive for the freedom of our own heart.
"There is only one heroism in the world: to see the world as it is, and to love it." Romaine Rolland
"Is there a greater miracle than to see through another's eyes, even for an instant?" Thoreau
"One moment of unconditional love may call into question a lifetime of feeling unworthy and invalidate it." Rachel Naomi Remen
Trungpa... says that the essence of human bravery is "refusing to give up on anyone or anything."

"We can do no great things - only small things with great love." Mother Teresa
No matter what appears - burning rage, gnawing anxiety, cruel thoughts or utter despondency - by offering forgiveness directly to each, we give permission of our inner life to be as it is. Rather than forgiving a 'self', we forgive the experience we are identified with.

Forgiving ourselves is a process that continues through our whole life... With each round of freeing ourselves through forgiveness, we strengthen our recognition of our basic goodness.

We forget that every person, including ourselves, is new every moment.
"Life is this simple. We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time. This is not just a nice story or a fable. This is true." Thomas Merton
...no matter how much we meditate or pray, we still need others to help us dismantle the walls of our isolation and remind us of our belonging. Remembering that we are connected to others and our world is the essence of healing.
"There is sitting meditation. There is walking meditation. Why not listening and speaking meditation? Isn't it sensible that one could practice mindfulness in relationship and so get better at it?" Gregroy Kramer
Although scriptures guide us and practices focus and quiet us... the living experience of love reveals our intrinsic wholeness and radiance.

We are social beings - we eat, sleep, work, love, heal, fulfill ourselves and awaken each other. Even when we are completely alone, we carry within us the sense of whom we belong with and our concerns about how others regard us. Feeling the care of others allows us... to awaken from (the) trance and become whole. All of our relationships have the potential to nourish this flowering, whether they are with teachers, therapists, colleagues, family or friends. ...this is our sangha, and it encompasses the whole web of conscious relationships within which we heal and awaken.
"When we recognize the spark of God in others, we blow on it with our attention and strengthen it. No matter how deeply it has been buried or for how long... When we bless someone, we touch the unborn goodness in them and wish it well." Rachael Naomi Remen
Realizing the truth of belonging, that we are all suffering and awakening together on the path, is the most powerful antidote to personal feelings of unworthiness.

We are wounded in relationships, and we need to heal in relationship.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Wisdom of Solitude

The Wisdom of Solitude
A Zen Retreat in the Woods
by Jane Dobisz


How many times in life do we want something, get close, and then back away at the last minute, afraid to take the risk? We humans are all like that.

"On the bones of the Great Mountain flowing water cleans the ancient Buddha's mind. Do you understand the true meaning of this? You must ask the pine tree." Master Man Gong

I appreciate this chance to watch time and space disappear in the repetition and simplicity of something so ordinary as cutting wood.

Moment by moment the choice is there: to surrender to infinite possibility or to lock myself inside the walls of pessimism, limitation, and subjectivity.

Having the mind and the body in the same place at the same time solves about ninety-nine percent of the matter. The other one percent, of course, is what you do with it.

There is nothing new, really. We just keep revisiting the same lessons over and over until we digest them. As we digest them, they become who we are.

The practice of Zen (as opposed to the study of Zen) is... to give yourself completely to each moment as it is - whether it is doing a mantra, stumbling in the dark, or feeling the fire's warm heat on your skin. It requires a complete suspension of disbelief, which amounts to trusting that there is something much deeper than reason and logic, and that if you follow it, you might just end up where you belong.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Not Always So

Not Always So
Practicing the True Spirit of Zen
by Shunryu Suzuki


The kind of life you have is not so important. The most important thing is to be able to enjoy your life without being fooled by things.

When you are not thinking that you have another moment, then naturally you can accept things as they are, you can see things as they are.

What makes your practice go deeper and deeper is the day-by-day effort of sitting.

So the secret is just to say "Yes!" and jump off from here. Then there is no problem. It means to be yourself, always yourself, without sticking to an old self.

When our life is based on respect and complete trust, it will be completely peaceful.

Our practice is to help people, and to help people we find out how to practice our way on each moment.

Instead of galloping about, we walk slowly, like a cow or an elephant. If you can walk slowly, without any idea of gain, then you are already a good Zen student.

And ordinary mind is not something apart from what is holy.
When you see plum blossoms or hear the sound of a small stone hitting bamboo, that is a letter from the world of emptiness.

Please take care of your practice. Be very kind with yourself.

With big mind and with pure sincerity and respect, love can really be love.

...in our busy life we should wear (like a robe) this civilization without being bothered by it, without ignoring it, without being caught by it. Without going anywhere, without escaping it, we can find composure in this busy life.

From ancient times the main point of practice has been to have a clear, calm mind - whatever you do.

In short don't be involved in making too many homemade cookies, your ideas of big or small, good or bad. Make only as many as you need. Without food you cannot survive, so it is good to make cookies, but don't make too many.

Words by themselves are not good enough to actualize (Buddha's) teaching, so it is transmitted through activity or through human relationships.

Yet wherever you are, you are one with the clouds and one with the sun and with the stars that you see.

When you laugh at yourself, there is enlightenment.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Momma Zen

Momma Zen
Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood
by Karen Maezen Miller


Yes, this crying-out-loud life is your crooked path, whose bumps and bends cannot be negotiated through mere reasoning. Time and again, you'll be stripped of your preconceptions, judgments, ideas, theories, and opinions... and left to go straight on through the inexplicable experience itself. These gulfs of incomprehension bring the opportunity for spiritual growth and self-acceptance.

Life keeps going. It keeps going within us. When we're not attentive, it keeps on going without us.

...thinking is not at all the same as being.

...for the light to reach any depth at all, you have to stop thinking so much.

Happy now? Yes, I would snap awake, realizing in that moment, that I could choose and change. And by changing my attitude, change everything.

Your life is a garden. And you are the only gardener.

This is your new spiritual practice: cracking a smile.

You don't have to work so hard at this. You don't have to do so much. You don't have to endeavor to be natural, normal, and good. It happens by itself when you least expect it. If you are confused about what you should be doing, try this. Stop what you are doing. Take care of what is in front of you, when it is in front of you, and the confusion will pass. This is called the effort of no effort. No effort is what powers the universe. With time, your roots grow deep and your branches long. You lean a little less backward in fear and a little less forward in doubt, resting solidly right where you are. When the wind blows, you bend. When it stops, you straighten. Your boughs provide shelter and shade. Your strength supports the sky. Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself.

My practice is to see that nothing ever gets in the way of anything else. More to the point, my practice is to recognize that no one else is ever pushing me forward, and no one is ever holding me back.

And yet there is such a thing as happiness. There is such a place as bliss when you drop your expectations, lose your selfishness, forget your grievances, give up your worries, abandon the plan, stop your striving, let it out, let it go, let things pass, take a breath, take a break, quiet down, be still, empty your mind, open your heart, and come alive. What else is there to be but happy?