Posts Tagged With: mindfulness

This is It!

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It’s amazing how simple life really is…and how complicated we can make it! I don’t have much coming in these days in the form of funds and have generally been ok with that…happy to just BE and see what doors open up or which way the universe directs me to move. Recently though, I have been feeling a little antsy, and maybe a bit nervous about the future and all kinds of thoughts have crept into my head about where to live, how to generate funds, whether or not to take a job, etc. etc. etc. I’ve noticed myself feeling restless and out of balance, caught up in indecision and starting to stress over all these earth-shaking matters hanging over me waiting to be dealt with! I have a set of oracle cards called “Healing with the Fairies” given to me by a close friend and it’s fun to shuffle them and pull one occasionally to see what “message” the fairies might have for me that day. Amazingly, they are often very apt! This morning, my mind still restless, I pulled one, thinking the universe might have a really life-changing message for me. What I got was, “Body Movement”…which reminds me that my body has its own life force and intelligence and that I should listen to it as it wants to express itself through movement of some kind. Well…ok. I haven’t really done much in the way of physical activity the past few days as I’ve spent so much time thinking about “bigger matters”, so I listened to my body and went running and swimming…and it felt great! My bank account isn’t any fuller, but my body is very happy and I am in much better condition to deal with the “big” issues.

More importantly though, I was reminded (again) that there is only one important decision for us to make; to be present in this moment! Then it is helpful to make that decision over and over until presence is (once again) our natural state of being. One of my closest friends and I used to say to each other in all kinds of situations…whether we were blissful or in misery or somewhere in between…”This is it!” It was a reminder that this moment is all we ever really have, and that it is wise to welcome it, whatever form it comes in, and be present with it/in it.

What that means to me is that we do best when we are mindful…always; when we pay attention to the little things that are often lost or overlooked because we’re so caught up in our minds thinking about past experiences or future moments, neither of which we can do anything about since they don’t exist except as thoughts. We’ve all heard that every journey begins with a single step and that even the greatest of projects starts out with a single idea, but we forget that a successful life is made up of many small, very simple tasks and decisions. When we focus on the moment and remember to deal regularly with all the basic issues…like drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food, exercising, spending some quiet time alone every day and keeping everything in our lives in balance…the complicated issues we commonly stress over just seem to fade away. Practical issues still need to be dealt with at some point, but we realize (when we let go and stop stressing over them) that they aren’t nearly as complicated as we tend to make them…and they often resolve themselves without any effort or stress on our part! If you feel overwhelmed by all the small matters that need to be dealt with, make lists until you get things under control…and then let them go! If your physical space is cluttered, your mind probably is as well. Straighten things up and notice how much better you feel. As my friend always brightly states, “Organization is the key to success!” If you are feeling stressed or depressed, try focusing on this moment and take a few small steps to bring order back to your personal space and to your life. Treat yourself to a healthy meal, take a quiet walk in nature, drink a few glasses of water or go to bed early and notice how your outlook changes. Make those things habits, take care of yourself instead of indulging yourself and notice how your life changes! This is it! Quiet your mind and enjoy the moment!

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Finding Bliss

boardwalk If you read my earlier post, or even the header and tag line on this site, and already have a set of beliefs you are living by, you might be thinking this doesn’t apply to you…that you already have it all figured out and that you are reading this just to see what this crazy loon is going to come up with next!  Don’t let me scare you away, but if you are reading this, there could be a chance that something you’ve seen or read here resonates with something inside you…or in other words is something that you already know at some level.  It shouldn’t be frightening to us, but it is sometimes a shock when we first start to wake up from the dream most us exist in and remember we are more than just a mind trapped in a physical body.  Please don’t be alarmed….there is nothing new here.  There is no intent here to plant strange ideas in your mind and somehow lead you away from whatever path you are on. The only purpose for this writing is to help us (myself included!) remember where that path leads, and to help us focus not on the pointing finger, but on that to which the finger is pointing…to our natural state, and bliss

How do we know we are more than simply minds trapped in bodies?  Ask yourself this;  How do you know that everything you can experience with your senses is temporary?…that all this around us, including these bodies, will soon pass?  What is the basis from which you judge these things to be temporary?  One of my favorite authors/teachers suggests that if the entire world were blue, we would not recognize the color blue.  We perceive the universe as being a universe of contrast where there is an opposite for everything…at least everything that can be named—darkness/light, hot/cold, dry/wet, misery/bliss, etc.  If we haven’t experienced cold, we can’t recognize warmth; if we haven’t experienced darkness, we can’t see light; if we haven’t suffered, we can’t experience bliss;  and if something in us isn’t eternal, we would have no understanding of temporal.  The idea that some part of us is “not of this world” is the basis of every religion and/or spiritual path that exists and the “common ground” from which these words are coming.

We humans are of many different shapes, colors, backgrounds and beliefs, but one thing we have in common (with a few exceptions) is that we all have minds with which we are strongly identified.  One of life’s greatest ironies is that we are joined by (among other things) the existence of our minds and at the same time separated by our identification with our minds.  That separation, from each other, from nature and from our true selves, is the source of every “problem” that we perceive.  On the flip side, the solutions to our problems (personal and global) lay in the dissolving of that sense of separateness and realizing our unity…our oneness.  How do we accomplish this?  Since the same “force” (which is referred to using many names) animates everything and everyone on earth, we should be able to sense and connect with it anywhere, in anyone at any time, but because the active mind and our identification with it is a very effective screen obscuring our perception of this force, we are challenged with the task of going beyond the mind; a task which can only be accomplished through quieting the mind…finding the off switch.

The discussion of where this is all leading may appear to be very philosophical and complicated, but the means of getting there are very simple; so simple in fact, they are often overlooked or laughed off.  If they aren’t laughed at, they are sometimes shunned out of fear.  We are all familiar with the adage, “An idle mind is the playground of the devil” which comes up often when the subject of quieting the mind is broached.  However, an idle mind is an unfocused mind that could latch onto any thought that might drift through whereas a quiet mind is totally focused and (ideally) free of thought altogether.  The good news is that everything stated here is immediately verifiable, and you don’t have to even “google it!”  Finding the off switch to your mind can be accomplished by simply swinging your focus to something the mind can’t wrap itself around…like your own breath.   The breath is no thing…it simply is.  How can you describe it?  We can talk about the rate of it, the depth of it, the force of it, we can hold it for a short time and otherwise exercise some minimal control over it, but we can’t really describe it…yet it gives us life.  One conscious breath is all that is needed to begin opening the hole in the flute that you represent—“conscious” suggesting that your awareness is focused on whatever the subject is.  Test it now!

If you are not presently engaged in some activity that requires sight, close your eyes.  It is helpful to sit, but you can try this in any position at any time.  Take a deep breath through your nose and focus on the flow of the air passing in through your nostrils.  Note how it feels as the air passes through the hairs in your nostrils, how your chest and abdomen rise as the lungs fill, how it flows out effortlessly, passing back through your nostrils as the chest relaxes and then notice the slight pause at the end of the exhale before the cycle is repeated.  Go ahead…try it now!  If you’re so inclined, try focusing on several breaths…. I’ll wait.

 Well?  Did the world grind to a halt while you were away?  Did you lose your mind?  Did evil thoughts come flooding into your mind like dirt into a vacuum?  My guess is that it wasn’t a bad experience at all for you…in fact it might have been a fairly pleasant one!  If you were comfortable with this, start now doing it whenever you think about it…whenever you become aware that your mind is running wild again and desire even a moment of stillness.  It is an incredibly refreshing and rejuvenating exercise.  Don’t worry about or be watching for something to happen, simply enjoy the stillness.  When the mind drifts away, which it will very quickly at first, gently swing your focus back to your breath…again and again.  If you do this regularly through out the day…while sitting in traffic going to work, sitting at your desk, while walking, etc….you will gradually become more and more aware of what is going on in your mind most of the time, and you may notice that you are feeling less stressed and anxious.  Congratulations!  You have located the off switch to your mind and survived its activation!  Doesn’t it feel great?!!  The peace you seek has begun with you!

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I Am Bliss!

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I lived at an ashram/yoga retreat in the Bahamas for a few months recently and we (staff and some guests) would all rise every morning at 5:30 and be sitting in the temple by 6:00 meditating.  At about 6:30 we would begin a half hour of daily chants…a long series of mantras put to music.  One of those mantras went like this

 “I am bliss, I am bliss, bliss absolute, bliss I am!”

 Even in the Bahamas we had a number of cool nights and mornings, and of course not everyone was always wide awake or happy about being up before the chickens and sitting in satsung.  I remember looking around the temple and laughing at the apparent irony in all the people bundled up in winter clothing, sitting there appearing grumpy and half asleep, staring at the floor singing, “I am bliss!”  At the same time I sensed the truth in the words—that bliss is our natural state and often felt it as I sang!  I am there now!

 Yes…I am in one of my favorite places in Florida and I love the warmth of the gentle spring sun, the happy sound of palm fronds frolicking in a light sea breeze, the songs of Cardinals and Mockingbirds and the joyful cries of gulls and Osprey sounding all around me, the soft scattered clouds highlighting a brilliant blue sky, but that is all surface stuff!  Other surface stuff should be causing me depression and anxiety!  I am jobless, my funds are dwindling, I am alone, I have no idea where I am going or what I will be doing next week, let alone 5 years from now, and I have nothing except an old truck, a few tools, some clothes and a bit of kitchenware with no real home to leave it in.  Now that I’ve listed all those reasons, I AM feeling a bit nervous! LOL!

 What I really want to do though is dance…after I share the bliss with you!  Why?  Because I have finally realized that the ultimate purpose of absolutely everything we engage in (even if we don’t realize it) is to find the bliss…to find our way back to our natural state!…and when we do, there is nothing else we really need.  How do we find bliss?…by quieting the mind.  Yes…as long as we’re in the physical world, our forms require food, water, shelter, and in some climates, some kind of covering.  These needs seem to require constant thought, but they come fairly easily to most non-human life forms…why not to us?  Jesus said, “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”  Most of our bodily processes…healing, constant reconstruction, etc. take place without us even being conscious of them;  why do we think the external world is any different?  Where do we get the idea that the whole world will fall apart without constant effort on our part, endless input from our minds…and lots of stress?  Have you observed lately the kind of stuff that occupies your mind most of your waking hours?  I heard a speaker recently suggest that 80 to 90% of the thoughts we have today are the same ones we had yesterday, and the day before that and the day before that….endless repetition of mostly nonsense!  Don’t take my word for it!  Observe your own mind…for even a few minutes!  Really!  Start now……….

Ok…did anything useful come through?  Did you notice anything new and exciting?  Did any solutions to your problems reveal themselves?…solutions to our collective problems?  If my mind is any kind of example….and I think it’s safe to say it is!…while thought is sometimes enjoyable and it can be fun to relive some of the best moments of our lives or to look ahead and dream of things being better than they are at this moment, and while it is sometimes necessary to focus for short periods on situations that require our attention, most of the really useful material that comes through does so without any effort on our part!  If you read the biographies of great writers, artists, composers, mathematicians and others who have produced works of lasting value, I think you will find that most of them would say much the same thing…that their best work was produced without any real effort on their part…that it seemed to just flow out of them!  Einstein didn’t sit around for hours and hours thinking hard to come up with solutions;  he took long, quiet walks in natural surroundings.  Do you think Handel could have produced the Messiah in 21 days if he had sweated over all the technical details, questioning himself at every turn?  My understanding, and now my personal experience, tells me that the most important thing we can learn is how to get out of our own way!…how to live every moment of our lives as an open channel, a hole in a flute that the beautiful music of the universe can flow through!  What do we gain from learning this?  Everything we could possibly need…and BLISS!

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