Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘awareness’

Breathing Saved My Life

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the art of breathing
The secret to living mindfully.
Just don’t breathe a word of it..
by Dr. Danny Penman
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

I haven’t seen any book quite like this since the classic Be Here Now, by Ram Dass, back in 1971. Those pages about consciousness, meditation and oneness, opened my eyes to seeing life in new ways, and discovering that I was not a victim of circumstances, or destined to live with pre-conceived conditions. In many ways that book saved my life. The art of breathing can save yours. 

Though half the size of Be Here Nowthe art of breathing is also similar in the way it is designed, using different fonts, layouts, and illustrations, throughout. Dr. Penman includes sections on breathing, happiness, curiosity and awareness, that are straight (or circular) to the point(s), easy to understand, and even easier to practice. There is also a link included to an online site that has all of the meditations available.

Here is a brief excerpt.

“You are not your thoughts. You are the observer of your thoughts. It’s a subtle distinction that’s only perceived with practice.

Your thoughts are a running commentary on the world; a ‘best guess’ of what’s truly happening. Often, your thoughts will reflect the powerful emotional currents swirling through your mind, body and breath. Sometimes they are true, sometimes they are a frantic work in progress, sometimes they are wrong.

Mindfulness teaches you to take the long view, to put your thoughts, feelings and emotions into a broader context. And when you do so, your most frantic and distressing thoughts simply melt away of their own accord, leaving behind a calm, clear, insightful mind.”

There you have it. The means to not get caught in drama after drama, but learn to pause, take a breath, and observe the dance. Our experiences are shaped by stimulus and response. It is the space in between, the breath, that provides the opportunity to see what is there and make conscious choices. The art of breathing is an international best-seller, and when you get your copy you will see why. Become conscious – one breath at a time.

 

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I Am the Lover’s Eyes

From The Treasured Writings of Kahlil Gibran. Translated by Anthony Rizcallah Ferris and edited by Martin L. Wolf (1951).

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Song of Love by Kahlil Gibran.

I am the lover’s eyes, and the spirit’s
Wine, and the heart’s nourishment.
I am a rose. My heart opens at dawn and
The virgin kisses me and places me
Upon her breast.

I am the house of true fortune, and the
Origin of pleasure, and the beginning
Of peace and tranquility. I am the gentle
Smile upon the lips of beauty. When youth
Overtakes me he forgets his toil, and his
Whole life becomes reality of sweet dreams.

I am the poet’s elation,
And the artist’s revelation,
And the musician’s inspiration.

I am a sacred shrine in the heart of a
Child, adored by a merciful mother.

I appear to a heart’s cry; I shun a demand;
My fullness pursues the heart’s desire;
It shuns the empty claim of the voice.

I appeared to Adam through Eve
And exile was his lost;
Yet I revealed myself to Solomon, and
He drew wisdom from my presence.

I smiled at Helena and she destroyed Tarwada;
Yet I crowned Cleopatra and peace dominated
The Valley of the Nile.

I am like the ages – building today
And destroying tomorrow;
I am like a god, who creates and ruins;
I am sweeter than a violet’s sigh;
I am more violent than a raging tempest.

Gifts alone do not entice me;
Parting does not discourage me;
Poverty does not chase me;
Jealousy does not prove my awareness;
Madness does not evidence my presence.

Oh seekers, I am Truth, beseeching Truth;
And your Truth in seeking and receiving
And protecting me shall determine my
Behaviour.

Can I have a word?

From Abbott Toshiba’s 14th Lama Sutras. Some words out of Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

What is Zen?

Zen is another word for meditation.

Meditation is another word for mindfulness.

imagesMindfulness is another word for vipassana.

Vipassana is another word for awareness.

Awareness is another word for satori.

Satori is another word for presence.

Presence is another word for Buddhism.

Buddhism is another word for Buddha.

Buddha is another word for one who is awake.

Being awake is another word for meditation.

Meditation is another word for Zen.

What is Zen? It’s another word.

Many more words at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

S.E.E.I.T.

Everything happens so fast. In the blink of an eye, sensations, emotions and thoughts come and go. We usually remain unaware of these reactions to internal and external experiences, and remain as slaves to our conditioning from culture, family, and ourselves. To break these unconscious chains, we can learn to pause, look closely at what is happening and make choices. Psychologist (and holocaust survivor) Victor Frankl summed up our situation, and opportunity, when he said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lie our growth and our freedom.”

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Mindfulness meditation can be one of the ways to take that pause, that moment or breath, to stop and look at what is happening. But, what if what we witness, or observe, is overwhelming and/or jumping from one thing to another? What do we do when the sensations, emotions and/or thoughts are arising and passing, seemingly all at once, or in rapid secession?

One of the means that can be used to decipher, and simplify our experience is by naming or labeling what we see moment to moment. There are a number of aphorisms and techniques that are available for such practice. Here is one called S.E.E.I.T., which can define and refine our observation and understanding of what we are aware of.

S.E.E.I.T. encompasses everything and anything that may come into our consciousness or awareness. S stands for Senses. E is for Emotion. The second E denotes Emptiness. I is the letter for Intention. And T is our Thoughts.

Senses include all that can be felt, heard, tasted, smelled, spoken or seen.
Emotions are a spectrum including sadness, joy, grief, pain, laughter, anger.
Emptiness is when there are no emotions, thoughts, senses or intentions.
Intention arises as desire and/or wishes and motivations.
Thoughts can be seen as P.U.F.F. (Past, Unfolding, Fantasy or Future).

Each of these aspects of our mind, and our experience of living, can be separated further into more distinct categories, and labels for objects of our awareness, but S.E.E.I.T. more than suffices for beginning and experienced practice. It is a way to remember, a means to slow down, pause and see what is happening in our body moment by moment. It can assist our understanding that what is going on internally and externally is not who we are, but what we are experiencing in the present. It is a step towards not only creating “space” between stimulus and response, but also identifying what happens in that space and giving us insight and freedom to choose.

Keep It Simple

Keep It Simple: The gift of awareness.
by Andrew Olendzki
Tricycle Summer 2014

The human mind has a tendency to make everything it takes up more complicated and elaborate than it needs to be. You may have noticed this. The Buddhists even have a word for it, papanca, which means something like mental proliferation.

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Meditation moves us in the other direction. It is an attempt to remove, piece by piece, layer by layer, all of the baroque ornamentation with which we embellish our world of constructed experience. Underneath all the drama, the restlessness, the hopes and fears, behind the narratives we weave about ourselves, and even before we’ve thought of ourselves as ourselves, lies a simple, unadorned awareness. It’s not even a thing—just an event that happens, a little burst of knowing, deep in the center of it all.

Experiencing this awareness has more to do with subtraction than with addition or multiplication. René Descartes was on its trail in his Meditations when he imagined all the complexities of our world to be an illusion. Take away everything with which we populate the story, and what is left? Just me, thinking. The Buddha got two steps further than Descartes, beyond the “me,” and beyond the thinking: awareness occurs. Knowing as an event does not belong to anyone, nor need it be constrained by the thinking of thoughts.

This is an alien idea for many in the modern world. Because so much of our mental activity consists of thoughts, images, concepts, and words, it seems inconceivable that the mind might manifest in powerful ways devoid of thought. Yet you can feel this for yourself (so to speak), here and now. It might take some practice, and 20 minutes of letting go of one thing after another, but the simple event that is consciousness, that unadorned episode of awareness, is accessible to direct experience. Like the dimmest of stars in the night sky, it slips away if you try to pin it down. But if you learn to release hold of the clutter and pry the mind out of the grooves and channels in which it is accustomed to run, you can feel it spilling out and spreading formlessly in other directions.

One of the most basic structures of the mind taught by the Buddha is that consciousness manifests in six modes, flows through six channels, or passes through six doors (choose your preferred metaphor). Consciousness is always aware of something, and it accesses six kinds of objects by means of six different organs. The sensory organs (eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body) and the mental organ (mind/ brain) compose an apparatus that is capable of processing information, each being sensitive to a particular type of data. The objects of experience consist of the information processed by the organs, and since there are six of them, there are six kinds of things of which we can be aware (sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches, and thoughts).

Notice that thoughts are only one of these six strands of experience. Do we spend one-sixth of our time thinking about things and the rest of the time immersed in sensory experience? Hardly. We tend to operate in thinking mode almost exclusively, cycling through the other senses just briefly enough to provide information for the weaving of our conceptual narratives. Don’t believe me? Try practicing mindfulness of the body.

The first step in establishing mindfulness is to switch over to channel five, the stream of tactile bodily sensations, which serves to disrupt the tyranny of the thinking organ. That the attention wanders so easily and continually off the breath and into the story line demonstrates its habitual dominance. With patient and diligent practice, however, one can train oneself to be intensively aware of bodily sensations for many mind moments in a row. One “knows” the breath directly and intuitively, unmediated by concept, narration, or word.

The mind is now operating just as intensively as when we are thinking, but we are not thinking. We are being aware: not of the cognitive content of our thoughts but of the universe of microsensations that are exploding within the body every moment. Or perhaps we are intently aware of the nuances in the sound of a bird’s call, the rush of a passing car, or the cough of a person behind us in the meditation hall. Once just a data point to embellish our story, these sounds, when attended to without commentary, expand to become a vast territory encountered directly with awareness. The information provided by the senses is no longer of great interest, and serves merely as a support for something far more captivating: the quality of knowing.

Awareness itself becomes the most compelling object of awareness. This simple knowing, so peaceful, so clear, so open, seems diminished by and even wasted upon the narrow confines of mere thoughts. As the thinking about things is gradually squeezed out of the mind by filling the senses with awareness, and as each experience is allowed to flow through the point of focus without obstruction, we begin to get a glimpse of a profound simplicity. Everything is changing, everything is interdependent—and there is no one to whom any of it belongs.

Read complete article and more at TRICYCLE.

Hunger In America

Dear Gabriel,

Growing up, I was incredibly lucky that my family could count on having enough food on the table for my sister and me. Even if we had hit hard times, we could count on our community to help bridge the gap while we got back on our feet.

That kind of community support is a simple thing, but for hungry families it isn’t always there.

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Today, for 1 in 6 Americans, hunger is a reality.

We all know how scary it can be to face a financial crisis. Losing your job, facing an unexpected health issues or finding your rent has unexpectedly gone up can leave many families struggling to pay the bills and keep food on the table.

Without a strong safety net to help in times of financial trouble, too many families could face an empty dinner table and hungry nights.

Hunger in America can seem staggering, but the truth is by working together, we can find real solutions to the problem, before any more of our friends or relatives have to go to bed hungry.

Together we can end hunger in America. Please, sign on today to help raise awareness about those in need and give a voice to families struggling with hunger.

Thank you for taking action,

Ellen B.
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

Noting Now

Last week when we visited the meditation group at Salinas State Prison, the sitting meditation portion involved the “noting” practice. I’ve been finding it to be very helpful at any time.

“Noting” means just that. As one becomes aware of which sense they are using, they simply say to themselves or “note” what is happening at that moment. If I become aware that I am listening or hearing something, I note “hearing”. If my eyes are open and I am aware of seeing, I note “seeing”. The same holds true for “feeling” (which includes emotions and body sensations), smelling, speaking and thinking. Thinking is often the one sense that we are most unaware of and get caught in for sometime (past or future) before becoming aware that we are “thinking”. When noting thinking, it helps to take us out of the story or “stuff” our mind is telling us. It’s not a matter of trying to use one sense over another or to push away or hold on to any thing, but simply noting what is.

The question or experience that can also arise, as one is noting, is “Who or what is it that is aware of one’s self or senses, that is able to be conscious of which sense is active. Then again, that is just another question… “thinking”.

This practice of noting tends to keep one much more present and aware of what is, rather than what was or how we want things “to be”. As always, it is not “the way”, but a good boat to use as we get to the other shore.

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