STRESS REDUCTION THROUGH MINDFULNESS AND WISDOM

Posted on Nov 17, 2021 in Ressources

Mindfulness based stress reduction comes to us through a tradition of wisdom based on a loving and accepting attitude.
The other day, I realized that the Beatles’ song Let it be expressed the heart of that wisdom:

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be…

‘Let it be’ is another way of saying ‘let go’—let things be without reacting to them with anger, attachment, envy, or disgust. Allow the world to run its course without losing one’s centre. Even members of our own family are bound to have different tastes and attitudes. We do not have to agree or disagree; we just need to let it be. The same is true of work colleagues.

This does not mean that we condone everything everybody does—it means that we need to be grounded enough to embrace each day and each person the way they are. We can speak our truth, or ‘whisper words of wisdom’ without yelling or insisting. And then we let go and let it be. (By the way, ‘Mother Mary’ in that song is Paul McCartney’s own mother who passed away when he was 14, and later appeared in a dream.)

But what about a wish to make this world a better place, and to support good causes?

The fact is, a person first needs to ‘support’ herself—in the literal sense of being able to stand on her own two feet—before being able to support others. And the stress of reacting emotionally to everything is exhausting. A person who is emotionally exhausted and teetering is in no position to support anyone else.

‘Peace in oneself, peace in the world’ said Thich Nhat Hanh. That is the right order, not only for peace, but also for wisdom, love, and compassion. They emanate from a centre outward.

The next 8-week session includes the practice of mindfulness meditation and its well documented stress-reducing effect. But it doesn’t stop there. Just as a restaurant menu includes a variety of foods such as soup, salad, pizza and chocolat cake, we also need to offer a variety of nourishment to our heart/mind.

During the 8 weeks, we will also also update the practice of meditation to include ‘thinking’ in some of its various guises such as contemplation and reflection.

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STAGES OF MEDITATION

Posted on Sep 4, 2021 in Posts

STAGES OF MEDITATION

 

Meditation comes in many varieties. Below is a summary of the different stages or kinds of meditation as I have experienced them myself. Generally, each centre or teacher specializes in one of these, and teaches only that one. However, each kind of meditation has its own benefits to offer, as you’ll see below.

Also, some people stop meditating because they get tired of their own approach to meditation. Becoming aware of the different kinds of meditation makes it possible to move forward instead of stopping.

  1. Posture Meditation
    This is typical of do-it-yourself meditators, but also of people who are in groups where there is no instruction or coaching. Here you mostly imitate meditation by copying its physical aspects. You sit straight, with legs crossed and eyes closed, even though this posture feels uncomfortable. I must confess that I also started this way.

People with a Yoga background might be more likely to have this attitude toward meditation, as Yoga works with postures (Asanas). Good posture is important—for the health of your back, for your state of mind, and for proper breathing. But it is not enough for meditation. Awareness of the mind is also necessary.

Check that you are breathing from your diaphragm. Sitting on the floor with legs crossed is not necessary for meditation, but breathing from the diaphragm is.

  1. Guided Meditation

When you are first starting to meditate, you may find that the mind slips into the brooding or rumination mode easily. A guided meditation helps keep you on track with a reminder every minute or so. Consider the bell also as a reminder.

You might start with the first meditation entitled Calming the Mind at:

mindfulnessmeditationcentre.org/buddhas-book-of-sleep/

The second one on the same page is entitled Taming the Mind, aims at developing a positive attitude. Follow the first one in the morning and the second one in the afternoon or evening. Do this daily until you can stay on track on your own.

  1. Mindfulness Meditation: Observing and calming the mind.

Start with observing the breath. Normally, our attention goes outward. In meditation we reverse this, and look inward. This feels like looking at the mirror, or introspection. Here’s video for a five-minute introduction to mirror meditation at:

youtube.com/watch?v=95qO4gDiZ7E

Thoughts ideally come and go, as appropriate for changing circumstances. But sometimes they come and do not go. Observing the mind makes us aware of that—it makes letting go possible. Grounded in the breath and the body, you sit noticing thoughts, states of mind, and feelings coming and going. You become acquainted, and then intimate with yourself. You know what kinds of thoughts you are prone to—anxious ones, negative ones, sexual ones…
At this stage, you experience important benefits of meditation. Awareness is the first step in calming the mind, and a calm mind (colloquially known as ‘being Zen’) is necessary for a happy and successful life.

When judgments arise, replace ‘good’ or ‘bad’ with ‘That’s how it is!” Nonjudgmental observation is helpful in relationships, parenting, and work.

  1. Reaching toward positivity.

Just like breath awareness is the way to start any meditation period, reaching toward positivity is the way to end one. In its default state, the mind often leans toward negativity. Nature is more positive. That is why there is often a bouquet of flowers on the meditation altar. If you just observe the mind and start and end your meditation on a negative note, your happiness or wellness level will not improve. Today is my Dancing Day is a video that focuses on positivity:

youtube.com/watch?v=DjvXrKkc904

Here’s a short list of positive emotions:

Joy, Gratitude, Serenity, Interest, Hope, Amusement, Awe (such as in front of nature), Contentment, Confidence, Appreciation.

You can invoke one of these in three ways. Examples:

  1. Memory. Bring to mind an occasion when you spontaneously felt gratitude. Then, let go of the particular occasion, and stay with the emotion.
  2. Imagination. Just imagine you won the lottery. Joy will arise spontaneously!
  3. Intention. The video, Light through the Clouds focuses on intentional positivity:
    youtube.com/watch?v=LfpGPTWfJ_U

Positivity is the way of nature. Plants lean toward the light, not toward darkness. Their roots reach toward wet soil, not toward dryness.

  1. Insight meditation.

This stage reaches toward a holistic vision and the interrelatedness of all things. The video Love the Apple Tree focuses on holistic vision:

youtube.com/watch?v=MH07R_z4a4Q

Insight meditation prompts us to make peace with change in relationships, in parenting, in health, in youth and looks, at work, indeed in all areas. It also urges us to go beyond the ego-mind.

In mindfulness meditation we detach from thoughts in order to find some peace.
In Insight meditation we listen to them selectively—we are no longer drowning in thoughts, and can afford to be more discerning. The mind is not our enemy, it is our friend. Here, we listen to thoughts and separate the grain from the chaff.

Bob Marley had a black spot growing on his foot. He did not worry. It got bigger and was diagnosed as melanoma. He still did not worry. He sang,
Don’t worry about a thing, for every little thing’s gonna be all right.
He was offered amputation to save his life. He refused, saying he enjoyed playing soccer. He died of cancer at age 36.
A good way to stop ruminating is action—taking care of the issue. If you do not turn off the timer that says that the rice is cooked, it’s going to continue ringing.

As you feel at home in them, feel free to combine different stages in one meditation period. Traditionally, Calming the mind and insight Meditation (Samatha and Vipassana) go together—a calm mind helps us to appreciate insights. And positivity is a good note to end any meditation period on.

  1. Flow: meditation in action
    Thich Nhat Hanh has integrated meditation in action into the life of his retreat communities where activities such as walking, eating, and meal preparation are also done as meditation. I have a cup that says ‘Drink your Tea’ on it. What this implicitly means is, ‘Drink your tea and enjoy its taste. Connect with the spirit of the herbs and the Earth they grew on. Don’t daydream or ruminate between sips. Just stay with the tea, its flavour, and the feel of the warm cup in your hands.’

Try applying similarly appropriate instructions to other activities, such as taking a shower, eating, meal preparation and dishwashing. Apply it to driving, and to housecleaning. The psychologist with the challenging surname, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has applied flow to tennis and other sports activities. However, there’s a difference in purpose: The Zen tradition aims at paying full attention in every moment. Csikszentmihalyi is more interested in a spontaneous grace that comes with full absorption in action that moves us forward.

  1. Meditating with themes.

We can also move forward embodying our own and others’ insights. Koan meditation, an example of this, is central to Rinzai Zen. Many sayings of Thich Nhat Hanh are meditation themes. A sampling of my songs to his words are at:
https://mindfulnessmeditationcentre.org/basket-of-plums/

Life lessons from your partner, your child, from birds and flowers, even your dog can serve as meditation themes. Here is a lesson from a horse:

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.
This saying was not intended as course material for veterinarians.

Each day, each encounter brings new insights if you are open to them

  1. Loving-Kindness Meditation—Making Love your primary emotion and motive.

Loving-kindness Meditation has a special place in the Buddhist tradition. My simple version of this practice is at:

https://www.pleineconscience.ca/loving-kindness-meditation/

Love also holds a special place in Sufism.

The Sufi poet Rumi said, “Love is the bridge between you and everything.”

Make that bridge a reality:

In business, do not lose sight of love in the search for profits.
In ecology, keep your care for the Earth in mind while shopping.

At work, let love for the people you are serving motivate your efforts.

In relationships and family life, do not lose sight of love and kindness for the members of your family.

  1. Mantra Meditation is another path to meditation. It uses repetition of a phrase that has a positive significance to induce elated states of mind in the listener. Weekly kirtan sessions are held in many Hindu and Sikh temples.

George Harrison of the Beatles founded the Hare Krishna temple in Paris. His song, My Sweet Lord, was written in homage to Krishna.

youtube.com/watch?v=Dpdq7a_zIxY

However, just chanting Krishna’s name is not enough. A knowledge of Krishna’s legend is essential for appreciating his mantras fully. Some of my songs are in fact mantras you can meditate with. They are in simple language without reference to ancient traditions. The song ‘Just Breathe’ is one of them. To find it, navigate to:

mindfulnessmeditationcentre.org/buddhas-book-of-meditation/
and scroll down to it.

  1. Non-verbal meditation (Zazen)

In a sentence, there is a subject and an object. That creates duality. Duality is built into our grammar, as categories are built into our verbal thinking. Language is unable to express the experience of non-duality directly.

Non-verbal meditation cuts through the subject-and-object duality. It is a way to touch nature that is also in us.

Consider butterflies: they know air already at birth, they don’t need a master’s degree in aerodynamics in order to fly.

Nature is also in our bones, DNA, our makeup; we are part of it. What alienates us from nature and from ourselves is our language and dualistic mode of verbal thinking. Nonverbal meditation reconnects us intuitively.

The Zen tradition calls this practice Zazen, or ‘just sitting’.

In Zazen, just sit, and when verbal thoughts come, let go. ‘Think’ with images, sounds, smells and other sensations rather than words. These are always present outdoors. In traditional Buddhist temples, they are also available indoors in the form of images of the Buddha, the sound of bells, and the smell of incense.

Words make it possible to share knowledge of all kinds. Yet, nature itself is not divided into the verbal categories that we humans invent to describe it. Take the step of seeing the world without words to fully appreciate your oneness with nature.

My version of the traditional Gayatri Mantra points the way: youtube.com/watch?v=hZIW9hDzOv8

  1. Finding the Buddha within: Actualizing an archetype

The real Buddha is an archetype that resides inside our heart/mind, and awakening starts when a person stops looking for the Buddha outside, and touches the one inside.

‘Only sit with the Buddha-heart, be only with the Buddha-heart, sleep and arise only with the Buddha-heart, and live only with the Buddha-heart,’ said Bankei. I read that as an incentive to recognize, and then to connect with the mind of awakening and the mind of love. The archetypes of Buddha (awakened mind), Tara or Guanyin (loving kindness), Manjusri (wisdom), are more real for some of us than for others. Parents, culture, and training all help in connecting with them. The video entitled RUMI: A Trio of Kirtans is a reflection on this theme:
youtube.com/watch?v=l3Jp-q7V6qk

  1. Staying ‘Zen’ in the midst of everyday life and its chaos.

Now the circle is complete, and we are back at everyday life where the meditation journey started.

Calm and relaxed? Stay that way throughout the day and not only when you are on the meditation cushion.

Aware of thoughts and emotions? Take that awareness with you as you discuss things with your intimate partner and work colleagues.

Positivity? “Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side of life” as the song goes.

Holistic vision? Drive mindfully, and eat mindfully.

Non-dual perception? See others as yourself.

Buddha within? Look at everyone with eyes of love.

A recurring thought? Look for the message behind the thought.
“Make the mountains, rivers, and great earth your sitting cushion; make the whole universe your own Zendo,” said Hakuin. Bring along your wisdom, serenity, and love with you as you go about your everyday life.

The video Serenity Mantra says this in a humorous way: youtube.com/watch?v=WuMlopXD6NQ

The group sessions starting on Wednesday September 8 at 7:30 at
43 ave. De Breslay in Pointe-Claire will follow this basic outline.
Last session: October 27.

(Voluntary Contribution)

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WHY PRACTICE MINDFULNESS MEDITATION?

Posted on Aug 13, 2021 in Posts

We practice mindfulness meditation for seeing the world with fresh eyes, and for living a more conscious and fulfilling life. But a conscious life does not mean living out of the conscious mind all the time.

When Thich Nhat Hanh makes a map of the mind, he draws a circle and a horizontal line across the middle of the circle. What is above that line is conscious, and what is below is unconscious. That simple diagram unites the essential features of the mind as seen by Freud, Jung and the Buddhist tradition. The details differ among those three, but the rough outline is similar.

Living exclusively out of the conscious mind is an illusion. The conscious mind—the Ego in Freud’s terminology—is only a part of the psyche. The unconscious mind runs the body, beats the heart, and takes care of our digestion—it is our constant companion. It is where our thought patterns and archetypes reside. It also prompts our wishes, and takes over automatically when we go to sleep, creating the images and stories that dreams are made of.

It is also the home of our habits.

Habits, whether they are habits of mind or of the body, need to be addressed one by one. As far as I can know, there is no such thing as a general mindfulness that fixes all undesirable habits.

The first step for change is the insight that a particular habit is not contributing to your happiness, to the happiness of your loved ones, or to the health of the Planet.

The second step is to make a firm resolution to make a change.

The third step is to practice the new habit consciously, patiently, and nonjudgmentally, until it becomes habitual. Then it will be spontaneous and part of the treasury of the unconscious. If you are a middle-aged person, you may have practiced the habit you are trying to break for thirty or forty years. If you did it only once a day, that adds up to about 13825 times.

Say that you are trying to break the habit of taking things personally. You may have done that 10,000 to 20,000 times over your lifetime. That habit will not change just by wishing. You need to practice until you can naturally respond to negative comments with a smile, mentally saying, ‘His thoughts are his business! My happiness is my business!’

We know how to practice the piano and how to practice Spanish, but how do we practice such mental habits as self-love and not taking things personally?

Meditation helps. Use the resources on this website, the meditation mantras, guided meditations, and the videos to focus your meditation. To move further on, consider what other old habit you wish to break next, and what new habit you wish to develop.

Can you design your own mindfulness practice with that in mind?

Do you have enough resolve to keep at it for a few weeks?

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Loving-Kindness Meditation

Posted on Jun 27, 2021 in Posts

Prof. Barbara L. Fredrickson (University of North Carolina) tested the effects of this meditation from the Buddhist tradition in a field experiment with working adults, and found that it “produced increases over time in daily experiences of positive emotions, which, in turn, produced increases in a wide range of personal resources (e.g., increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, decreased illness symptoms). In turn, these increments in personal resources predicted increased life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms.”

In her book, Love 2.0, she relates the positive effect of this meditation on relationships.

Listen to Joseph’s version of it here:

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MINDFULNESS IN EVERYDAY LIFE

Posted on May 14, 2021 in Posts

Text of a talk given at the Beaconsfield Public Library on Tuesday May 18, 2021 at 2 pm

Today’s topic is Mindfulness in Everyday Life, but what is mindfulness exactly? It’s good to be clear on what we are talking about.

Let’s compare mindfulness to a mango! You can look up Mango on Google, read about it in the dictionary, etc. but does this really give you an idea of the taste of a mango? But that’s what you really want to know when you ask the question ‘What is a mango.’

If I define mindfulness using other words, you don’t get a taste of it. So I want to define it within a context rather than in an abstract way. I want to show it to you, and to give you a taste of it.

I choose to do this in the context of better sleep, as this is the subject of my first book with Penguin/Random House.

One of the lessons of mindfulness is to think holistically.

In terms of sleep, this means that sleep is not an isolated issue; every aspect of our life affects the quality of our sleep. In turn, the quality of our sleep affects other aspects of our life. This turns out to be true about most other things as well—about relationships, weight control, or our happiness level. We tend to think that the different aspects of our life are separate concerns. Mindfulness urges us to think holistically and see that the different aspects of our life are related.

Exercise is at the top of my list for better sleep. These days I bike for an hour every day, sometimes longer. We are built for moving. Humans can outrun deer. That is how our hunter ancestors survived. For them, no hunting meant no eating. There were no refrigerators, no grocery stores. I look at squirrels foraging for food, going up and down tall trees repeatedly. The ducks in the lake are constantly in motion diving for food all day long.

Exercise needs to be the cardio-type that gets your heart pumping vigorously. Then the whole body will need a rest, and the quality of sleep will improve.

I can imagine some of you thinking, ‘But it is not my body but my mind that keeps me awake at night!’ I hear you. But calming the busy mind is not as simple as getting some exercise, so I choose to start with simple things, and work toward the more complex ones. However, I stick with my holistic view that everything has a bearing on how we sleep, and exercise is no exception.

What I eat and drink also affects sleep.

‘Alcohol is a stimulant’ says Healthline, my go-to source for health info on the web.

It says, ‘Initial doses of alcohol signal your brain to release dopamine, the so-called “happy hormone,” which can cause you to feel stimulated and energized.

In addition, alcohol can increase your heart rate and may lead to increased aggression in some individuals, both of which are typical of stimulants.’ I suggest you stay away from alcohol at or after supper if you want to sleep well. Which is a problem: If you cannot drink at night, when are you going to drink: at breakfast?

It is a trade-off: the pleasure of a glass at night against the pleasure of better sleep. We are all different, though. In all questions like this, experiment. Try staying away from alcohol in the evening for a week to see how it affects your sleep.

Caffeine is another stimulant. Varieties of it are in coffee, tea, and chocolate. Dr. Oz recommends no caffeine after 2 pm. But we all metabolize caffeine at different rates. I’m a slow caffeine metabolizer: it stays in my body longer. Try cutting it out for a week to see how it affects your sleep.

Web MD says, ‘smoking within a few hours of bedtime should be avoided; better yet, don’t smoke at all.’

Here it is, a number of apparently unrelated things that when you look into them carefully, turn out to be related to one another, and to an issue you are interested in.

*                      *                      *

You might wonder what all this has to do with mindfulness. Isn’t all this just information? I promised to give a talk about mindfulness, but now, it looks like I’m just giving information about better sleep. However, I’m doing that to illustrate an important aspect of mindfulness by example.

Mindfulness is a combination of knowing and remembering. If you do not know anything, you have nothing to be mindful about. So, information is essential, but it is not sufficient. On the other hand, if you know a lot, but don’t apply it to your own life, then the element of remembering is missing. We do a lot of unproductive things against our better judgment or out of forgetfulness. We drive too fast, we say unkind things, we eat too much. Mindfulness is remembering your own wisdom when the crunch comes, or when the temptation is in your face.

Waking up in the middle of the night is a problem that affects many people.
In any case, whether at 3 am or at 10 pm, don’t just lie in bed turning round and round and ruminating. Sit up and read. Listen to an audio book. Meditate. Get up and take your shower or clean the fridge. The trick is not to stay in the lying-down position if it isn’t working after a short time. It is counterproductive and frustrating.

Here is how applied mindfulness works: you may have experimented with alcohol or chocolate and know that they keep you awake. Can you remember this when you are having supper with friends who keep filling your glass or offering you seconds on the chocolate cake, or do you indulge and only think of it when you’re in bed later and sleep evades you? The first is mindfulness. The second is regret. Mindfulness happens in real time, not after the fact. 

Jon Kabat-Zinn has popularized the notion that mindfulness is observing without judgment. Here is how this works for sleep: You are in bed, it is 10 pm or at 3 am, and sleep is not coming. Can you observe that nonjudgmentally, preferably with a smile? What a wonderful opportunity to catch up on your reading or to clean the fridge!!!

Observing a sleep disturbance without judgment is mindfulness in action. Why is this important? Because cursing the situation or getting angry is counterproductive, as those contribute to keeping you awake. This makes a big difference, as doctors define insomnia as anxiety about not being able to sleep. Would you be anxious if you did not think that not being able to sleep is BAD? ‘Bad’ is as judgmental as it gets. With anger, anxiety, and judgmental thinking, you are piling one problem on top of another. Again, being judgmental also has negative effects on relationships, parenting, work, etc.

I have a teacup given to me by a friend that says ‘Drink your tea’. That is a Zen saying that means, Drink your tea, enjoy your meal, mind your own business. Stay out of other people’s business. Forget what just happened, forget resentments, forget regrets. Live your life fully in the present moment. Do not mentally comment on what other people are doing. Be HERE rather then elsewhere in your mind. The Zen approach simplifies things. Jon Kabat-Zinn practiced Zen in his student days in Cambridge, and if you look closely, you will find whiffs of Zen in his teachings.

Another thing to be mindful about is that there are lessons hidden in every situation. Try to find today’s lesson. If you have difficulty sleeping, perhaps you are not exercising enough. Try jacking that up. Perhaps the last thing you did before going to bed was not appropriate for sleep. I find watching the news quite disturbing these days, with buildings collapsing, and mothers looking desperate. At bedtime a short period of meditation may be better than watching the news. What are you feeding your mind? Is it helping? Looking for lessons is a good idea in every area; it leads to a creative life.

Another lesson from mindfulness teachings is the wisdom of Letting Go. This sounds simple, but in practice it’s tricky, because the mind is addicted to thoughts and clings to them. Our natural state is not having a quiet mind, but having a busy mind. You may be lying in bed, outwardly quiet, but mentally going over an argument you had with someone, or a birthday present you just received that you find really exciting. During this time, your heartbeat, your blood pressure, and your whole body is aroused because they are following your thoughts.

A good way to let go is to be here, now. Engage with the present moment and your surroundings. Letting go is difficult when you try it head on. Instead, get a hold of the present moment. Then the past and its issues will let go of you. The idea is not to fight with the mind, but to coax it along in a friendly way, like you might do with a child. Don’t try to take away the child’s toy by force. Instead, get him interested in a new toy. Then, he will let go of the old one himself. Let the present moment be your new toy.

The mindfulness mantra, ‘Be here, now’, necessarily means letting go of the past. In relationships, do not bring up past issues, even past issues from 10 minutes ago. “Happiness is good health and a bad memory,” said Ingrid Bergman, a Swedish movie star from the last century.

There is an apparent contradiction there. Dalai Lama defines mindfulness as remembering your own wisdom and applying it to every situation. Ingrid Bergman says, “Happiness is good health and a bad memory.” Can both of these be true?

Here is a Zen Koan for you! I’ll give you a hint: ‘Wisdom’ is a key word here. It is sometimes wise to remember, and sometimes wise to forget. And it is wise to know the difference…

When sleep is not coming, you might also sit up and do a short meditation exercise.

Here are the introductory steps. Do each step for three breaths.

  1. Get in touch with your breath and slow it down.
  2. Focus on all the sensations of breath: sensations from the abdomen, from your nostrils, from clothes adjusting to your shape-shifting belly.
  3. Then focus on other sensations starting with the feet, with your attention slowly going up your body.
  4. Be aware of how warm or cold the different parts of your body are.
  5. Check for tension on your face muscles and the rest of your body with a body scan.
    You might like to follow a body scan on YouTube if that works for you. There are many available, long or short, with or without music. The idea is twofold: to give your mind something else to do rather than think, and to ground yourself in the body.
  6. When you feel that your mind has quieted down, just sit with breath and body awareness for a few more minutes. That is when I often get new insights into old issues.
  7. And last, end your meditation on a positive note. One way is through connecting with nature: The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat all come from nature. We are part of nature, but we are not always aware of our connection to it. We are nature, embodied. Concentrating on bodily sensations is a way of grounding oneself in the body. In contrast, thoughts are often not grounded; they are like dreams. Feel the green plants as you breathe. They are the source of life.

Positivity is the way of nature. Plants push toward the light, they do not lean toward darkness. Their roots inch toward moisture, not toward dry ground.

Once again, this meditation is useful not only when you have trouble sleeping. It will help to calm and steady the mind whenever you do it. A calm mind is helpful in many areas including relationships and work.

Another door to positivity is connecting with the beauty we see in nature. Religions have identified God with power rather than beauty. It has been remarked that the Almighty God of the Judeo-Christian tradition has epithets befitting an emperor. In contrast, the Persian poet Rumi often praises the beauty of Nature. He refers to God as the friend, the beloved, or even the rosebush. My favourite Rumi quote is, ‘Let the beauty you love be what you do.’ With Rumi, creative God and beautiful nature fuse together and become one. For him, a true lover is someone who sees the beauty and the grace of nature shining through their love.

There, we have come full circle now. I began this talk with an invitation to think holistically, meaning that everything is ultimately related. That is one aspect of holism. Covid-19 not only makes people sick, it also affects your investment portfolio. The way you drive your car here has an effect on forest fires in Australia. This is not obvious, so it takes some investigation to realize it. It then takes some mindfulness to act in ways that foster the common good.

RUMI emphasizes another aspect of holism. That is the willingness to see all of nature in a grain of sand, in a flower, in a person. This has an effect on how we love. All love, whether romantic love, love of children, or love of flowers, has a similar feel; the beauty we see in a loved one is ultimately the beauty of nature. Conversely, we love nature in the same way that we love the person that is dear to us.

Bob Marley expressed this feeling most exuberantly in his song, ONE LOVE.

He uses some religious language that means a lot to him personally, but the message and the feeling behind the message are ‘all right’ with or without that. Look for it on YouTube:

One Love! One Heart!

Let’s get together and feel all right

Hear the children cryin’ (One Love!)

Hear the children cryin’ (One Heart!)

Sayin’: give thanks and praise to the Lord and feel all right

Sayin’: let’s get together and feel all right. Wo wo-wo wo-wo!

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HOW MINDFULNESS CHANGES THE EMOTIONAL LIFE OF OUR BRAINS

Posted on Jan 21, 2021 in Posts

Richard J. Davidson is professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison as well as founder and chair of the Center for Healthy Minds.

He is also part of a select circle of scientists who are personally inspired and guided by the Dalai Lama.

In this video titled How Mindfulness Changes the Emotional Life of our Brains, he reveals how he himself has changed course, and how mindfulness can help all of us to flourish.

Takeaway quote: ‘A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind.’

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Pressure is inevitable but stress is optional

Posted on Aug 11, 2018 in Posts

This short talk explores the difference between pressure and stress.

We all have lots of things to do, and some of them have to be done within a time frame. Even the dog knows how to put pressure on us when it wants to go!
By being mindful and centred we can avoid turning pressure into stress.

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