Friday, August 15, 2014

Morning


I really, really, really dig the early morning hours, 4.30ish to about 9.30 or 10. Everything is so clear and uncluttered. This morning putzing around the house, feeling the sun coming up and filling the place with light, the morning sounds of life coming to life outside I didn't want to leave the house and taint the mood with outside negativity, hatred, hustle and bustle, and panic of everyday smallness.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Apologizing


"Apologizing doesn't always mean that you're wrong & the other person is right. It just means you value your relationship more than your ego."
— Timber Hawkeye, Buddhist Boot Camp


Monday, May 19, 2014

Something To Ponder


When someone tells lies or is being deceitful with another, who is really being lied to or deceived?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Seeking To Understand


Our capacity for compassion and understanding is truly boundless; and our ability to embrace it is truly a gift. Sure, it’s a learned habit to some extent, but I also believe that the source of it is not learned. It’s something that exists deep down in all of us. Some of us embrace it naturally, and some of us have to work hard to overcome our fears to let it open up inside of us.

I have, at various times, been a hater, lover, participant and rejecter of 12-step groups, their movtives and messages. Regardless of my 12-step group stances, however, I have come to wholly embrace one of their core messages, “Seek to understand rather than to be understood.”

It took me a long time to understand that phrase. The selfish me couldn’t let go of my fear of not being “understood back.” I’ve finally come to the conclusion that 12-step groups and the core principles of compassion are one and the same. When we seek to understand rather than be understood we are selfless. We are giving. We are compassionate. And as for being understood back, well the answer is easy. If we are all working to understand rather than be understood, then we are all giving and compassionate toward other. It’s just that simple.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

What is the "right" path?




So many times we get caught up in wondering if we're on the right path. I've come to the conclustion the answer to that question is a simple one:

If the path you're on is moving you forward, not taking you backward or stagnating your progress, then you're on the right path.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mindfulness


"When the Buddha was asked, 'Sir, what do you and your monks practice?' he replied, 'We sit. We walk, and we eat.' The questioner continued, 'But Sir, everyone sits, walks and eats.' And the Buddha told him, 'When we sit we know we are sitting. When we walk, we know we are walking. When we eat, we know we are eating.' 
Most of the time we are lost in the past, or carried away by future projects and concerns. When we are mindful, touching deeply the present moment, we can see and listen deeply, and the fruits are always understanding, acceptance, love and the desire to relieve suffering and bring joy."
— Thich Nhat Hanh, Living Buddha, Living Christ

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Leave No Trace



There is a principle I have run across in my exploration of Buddhism, its principles and its practices called “Leave No Trace.” This principle is also referenced in Timber Hawkeye’s fantastic book, “Buddhist Boot Camp” (a book I highly recommend to anyone wishing to “dip their toe” into Buddhism.) This principle basically says this: you’ve washed the dishes? Put them away. You’ve done the laundry? Fold it all and put it away. You’ve tracked mud into the house? Mop it up. In more direct terms, pick up/clean up after yourself. Be responsible for your actions.

I was walking home today and was noticing the curbsides on my street. Now that the snow has melted, the curbsides are filled with litter. Cups, old newspapers, food wrappers, condoms(!), and countless other kinds of garbage. It occurred to me that “leave no trace” applies not only to us as individuals in our own households, but to us as global tenants as well. Most of us don’t live in squalor. We keep our homes free of garbage and clutter, but we don’t seem to practice that principle in our global home. We leave traces everywhere. Carbon emissions warming our atmosphere, factories belching poisons into our air, pesticides making our land untenable, diseases of all sorts running rampant, the list goes on and on. All of it leaving a trace. Our trace. We are not picking up after ourselves. We are not being responsible for our actions.

And “leave no trace” applies to the psychological as well. How many times have we wounded another person with our words? How many times have we said things in anger or frustration that scarred another person, either temporarily or permanently? How much violence do we consume from television and movies? How does that twist and pervert our sense of right and wrong? Of justice and fair play? How is that “leaving no trace?” There are countless ways to litter and pollute. Ways that can’t necessarily be pointed to directly, but definitely ways in which we are not being responsible and picking up after ourselves.

Before we toss that cup out the car window, or before we hurl that insult, it might benefit us, those around us, and our global house as well to ask ourselves if what we’re about to do is truly practicing the principle of leave no trace.  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Meditation and Yoga


A very nice article at the link below on the healing power of meditation and yoga, courtesy of my friend Dan HagenNo doubt the pharma industry, who has been a former employer of mine, will do everything it can to poo poo this as it's not something that can be bottled, marketed and sold for billions of dollars in profits.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Synchronicity


The Universe and the subconscious conspiring to echo an affirmation they want the conscious self to hear.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Quelling the Monkey Mind


Thanks to my good friend Dan Hagen for this amazing meme! Words we should all remember and strive to live by. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Microwave Mentality


"Society promotes overnight delivery, express checkout lines, 24-hour customer service, instant rebates, instant messaging, and instant coffee. Constantly encouraged to expect what we want, how we want it, and to have it right away, we are conditioned to move more quickly, multitask, speed-read, and drive-through, which leaves no room in our lives to learn patience, tolerance, listening, or conscious breathing..."
— Timber Hawkeye

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Perfect Argument


In your mind have you ever had the perfect argument? You know the one. You're replaying the argument you had with someone earlier today. Or maybe it was earlier in the week, last year perhaps, or even years ago. Or maybe, just maybe it's the argument you wanted so badly to have but never got the chance. 

You've played it over and over in your mind. Planned out every little zinger, and every vicious response. And when you've trapped that person in your clever web of words, you release the hounds. They're so stunned. The look on their face says, "How could you be that cruel to say such a thing?!" Direct hit! You've struck them at their core, right where it really hurts. They slink away in total defeat. You. told. them!

You finally got have your say, and you crushed them! And all the other person could do is stand there and take it, mouth agape. How does that make you feel? You're smiling on the inside, aren't you? Victory is yours! 

Is it really, though? What did that little mental skewering of the other person really accomplish? Chances are the argument in your head didn't end there, did it? You kept going and kept hammering them right where it hurts, didn't you? Notice anything? That's right. You want to keep going. You want to bury that person with all the clever and hurtful zingers you can muster. That kind of anger is really addictive, isn't it? You can say what you want to whomever you want. And they have to take it. But take a look at who's more worked up. Is it the other person? Who has the elevated heart rate? Which one of you is gritting their teeth? Who's the one digging down for more ugly, hurtful words to hurl? It's not the other person, is it? Nope. It's you. 

So after all that, who do you think really won that argument?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Anger and Shredded Wheat


"Anger is like a piece of shredded wheat stuck in your dentures. If you leave it there, you'll get a blister and have to eat jello for a week."

— Sophia Petrillo


Before you react in anger, take a moment to think. Is it really worth eating jello for a week?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Odin's Ravens: Attention Must Be Paid (For)


"Over the course of months, I’ve become increasingly convinced of the underrated existential importance of the simple act of shifting your attention.
For example, this morning I awoke before dawn, started the coffee and read a front page newspaper article about further cuts in higher education to be caused by the state’s terrible finances."

Click here for my friend Dan's early morning insights 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall?



We've all heard that timeless joke, haven't we? There are those, however, who are under the delusion that some things don't need practice. They just happen without effort. We wouldn't be expected to sit down and produce a masterpiece the first time we try painting would we? Of course not. And no one's expecting us to play a Mozart piano piece like a virtuoso on the first try, are they? Nope. Just like getting to Carnegie Hall, these things take practice.

And it's no different with mindfulness. It's not something we breathe in or gain by osmosis. To achieve mindfulness we need to practice. A case in point, I found myself today dealing with a situation that was running me through all sorts of emotions. Anxiousness. Embarrassment. Despair. Elation. Hope, and at times a sense of helplessness. Then it hit me. I wasn't accepting these emotions, I was railing against them with gritted teeth and a heart pounding with anxiety. My mind had leapt miles and weeks ahead into a scenario that hadn't come to pass yet. I had forgotten all my practice. I wasn't being centered. I wasn't in the moment and being present. I wasn't being mindful. To get back to that state I returned to what I had practiced and seemed to work well for me. I concentrated on the exhale portion of my breathing. Within a few minutes, I was able to see through the muddied emotions, accept them, and embrace the core of my issue. I was in the moment. I was able to return to a mindful state.  

So if you want to be a good painter, practice painting. If you want to play the piano well, practice playing the piano. And if you want to be more mindful? 

"Hey friend, how do I get to mindfulness?"
"Practice." 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mantra for the Day


The Rock and the River


I was talking with my good friend Argenis a while back about life’s obstacles and how we deal with them. As he was talking, in my mind flashed an image of a very ugly, craggy rock covered in uneven, sharp edges. This rock sat steadfast in a river with extremely strong and dangerous currents. I asked myself where the image came from and what it could mean. In a flash the image and what my friend was trying to tell me merged into clarity.

I am the rock. The river’s swift currents are life’s obstacles. I have the ability to choose how they affect me. With a stubborn resolve I can work harder at resisting those obstacles. I can steel myself against them and never, ever give in to them. That resistance, however, comes with a price. I am chipped away at, worn down, parts of me breaking off in the "current of life," making me craggier, uglier, sharper, more jaded and weary. Or I can embrace the obstacles swirling around and over me like the currents flowing over that craggy rock in the river. In doing so, I use life's adversities as a tool to polish my rough edges and turn me into something beautiful over which life's impediments simply flow, never able to latch on, consume me, and carry me away. 

The choice couldn’t be simpler.

Monday, February 3, 2014



Fear




"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
— Paul Atreides, "Dune" by Frank Herbert
Fear is indeed the mind-killer, the tiny acorn that if given the opportunity, blossoms into the mighty oak tree of inaction, mental and physical paralysis. Fear of failure. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of rejection. Fear of success. Fear of what has already happened. Fear of what is happening now. Fear of what hasn’t happened yet. The list is as endless and vast as the scenarios our minds can dream up.

Fear is the fog that blankets our core, the essence of who we truly are. And when the essence of who we are cannot be seen, the beauty of who we are cannot flourish and be appreciated. Alcoholics Anonymous has a saying that defines this perfectly. When we admit to and face our fears, those fears cannot hold power over us anymore.

Buddhism tells us when we practice mindfulness (the attentive awareness of the reality of the things around us) we employ a powerful antidote to things like fear. There are many ways to achieve mindfulness; my personal favorite is to concentrate on the exhale portion of my breathing. When we practice and achieve mindfulness, we allow ourselves to become quiet and centered. When we become centered, the fog of fearfulness is lifted. Our fears no longer have power over us and we are allowed to step into the warm sunlight of the here and now, achieving a calm awareness of our bodies, our minds and our feelings.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mindlessness, Mindfulness and Science


Click the title above to visit the article


Special thanks to Dan Hagen for alerting me to this article.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Life As A Cake


"If life is a cake recipe that we are trying to perfect, then I've got my recipe down JUST RIGHT for the time being (with the ideal amount of flour, sugar, baking soda, etc.). More sugar, for example, would not necessarily make a better cake. In fact, it might ruin it! So if you're not happy with your life, figure out which ingredients make it bitter and take them out. Don't believe commercials that tell you to spread more frosting on the top, because then you would simply wind up with a bitter cake that has frosting on it."
— Timber Hawkeye

The Book That Awakened Me





Thank you, Timber Hawkeye!


A wonderful tribute to a conversation with my dear friend Dan Hagen. 

“Be content to seem what you really are.”
— Marcus Aurelius