Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘meditate’

Yadda Yadda Yadda

Just Sit: A meditation guide for people who know they should but don’t. By Sukey Novogratz and Elizabeth Novogratz. Illustrations by Niege Borges. Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

412a0ezS86L._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_If the writers of Just Sit could do so, they would reach out from the page (or screen) grab you by the throat, wrestle you to the ground, and hold you there until you started meditating – metaphorically speaking. That is what it seems to take for us to stop with all of our excuses (real and imagined) and actually do it. The Novogratz’s do everything in their power to convince us – joke, explain the benefits, teach us the fundamentals, and answer every possible question. “10 million Americans meditate, 6 million of them because their doctor told them to.” Let’s just pretend our doctor told us to and start doing it.

Whether you are just beginning, or are the oldest living meditator on the planet, the insights and instructions within make a lot of sense. It includes steps for how to meditate, questions that arise once we’ve started, and why we are reluctant to begin in the first place. “Meditation is a way of training your mind to slow down, to be responsive, not reactive, to bring you into your life and out of the constant chatter that’s going on in your head.” It is often this chatter, and mind-fuck, that keeps us from paying attention to our selves, or side-tracts us once we’ve begun. One of the most practical, and enlightening aspects of this book, is how to work with such thoughts, feelings, and actions. How to “observe” our experiences without believing we “are” our momentary experience.

Here are some of the questions people ask. If some of these sound familiar, join the crowd.  “I feel like a fool. How do I get past it?” “How does just sitting there help me train my mind?” “My mind is sharp already. So why would it need training?” “Can anyone meditate?” “What can I or should I expect?” “I understand prayer, but meditation seems a little out there for me.” “Can I do meditating wrong?” Here’s the crazy part. The answer to most of these questions is, “For meditation to work, you actually have to do it.” Go figure. What a wild idea. “The biggest secret to meditation is all you need to do is show up.” Like exercising the rest of the body, the mind needs attention. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes practice.

The introduction says, “Meditation Is Not for Sissies”, which reminds me of another book “Growing Old Is Not For Sissies”. In other words, it’s not always a bed of roses (though that could be quite thorny). One of the reasons people avoid meditation is because we begin to see what’s going on, and what we are telling ourselves about what’s going on (with our body, emotions, and thoughts). It isn’t always pleasant, but it is what it is. Sukey and Elizabeth Novogratz invite readers to watch whatever arises. “In order to deal with your shit and have a way better life, you’ve got to be willing to show up and sit in the much.”

So, there you have it. Grab yourself by the scruff of the neck (gently), get a copy of this book and Just Sit. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s hard. It’s difficult. I don’t have time. It doesn’t work for me. I don’t know what to do.” Yadda yadda yadda. Stop believing you are what you think (or feel), and take a chance. What have you got to lose? As the author’s state so simply, and brilliantly, with one of the headings, “WARNING: Conditioning impairs freedom.”

P.S. The illustrations, and layout, match the words, and greatly enrich Just Sit with clarity, wit, and wisdom.

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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.

 

Every Day of Her Life

An excerpt to chew on from Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

It is said that Master Toshiba created some rules to live by, which she practiced every day of her precious life.

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Before dressing each morning, cough vigorously five times, stretch until you touch the ceiling and meditate upon the sky.

Go to bed late. Eat whenever you feel like it or when food is offered and never eat more than you can chew.

Never receive guests when you are in a foul mood and don’t visit others when you are upset, sad, or depressed. There is no point in having your negative emotions rub off on someone else.

Always say the first thing that comes to mind and don’t hesitate to let others know how you feel and what you think. Otherwise, how will anybody get to know the real you?

Seize every opportunity by the throat and don’t let go until you have derived some satisfaction and understanding of the situation.

Meditate on the past daily and try to figure out your past mistakes. When thinking of the future, make sure to plan ahead as much as possible, so you have some control over what takes place.

Keep the innocence of a child, the wisdom of an elder, and stand steadfast in what you know and don’t know.

Before retiring for the night, cough and stretch, walk quietly in a circle counter-clockwise for three rotations and always sleep with your head at the foot of the bed.

If you can’t go to sleep, drink a large glass of lime juice, repeat your bedtime routine, and go to the toilet before you lay your body down to rest.

More coughing and stretching at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

Nothing From Nothing

An empty excerpt from Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

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There is nothing to defend, protect, or discover, because there is no thing. Nothing from nothing leaves nothing. You’ve got to have something, if you want to be with me. But, if I am no thing and you are no thing, then you need not have any thing to be with me, since we do not actually exist as individual entities.

We must keep what we call our minds open to the vastness of being. In what we see as reality we are both nothing and everything. There is nothing which we are not part of, yet nothing is the totality of who we are.

This is one of the most difficult teachings to understand with the human mind. That is why we must understand it beyond the mind, with the essence of who we are or whom we think we are.

Some of you may ask, “What is our essence?” Of course, you already know the answer, because you consist of the same essence as I, which is difficult to express in words. Some people say we are mostly made of water and minerals and that is true. Others say we have energy fields that run our biological systems and radiate outwards and that is true. Yet others would insist that we are merely matter with limited brain capacity and that too would be a factual statement. Yet, none of these explanations contain the ultimate truth or explain who or what we are.

That is why we must say that we come from nothingness and return to nothingness. That is why we know that we are no thing, yet every thing. This is what makes us unique and yet the same. We have the answers, yet there are no answers.

Sit and think upon these things, even though there is no one thinking. Blessings to you all; whoever you are.

From a talk given to followers during the sunny season in 417 B.C.

More of the same at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

Mindfulness IS the News

Mindfulness IS the News
from Wild Divine Newsletter
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Last week, with the Time magazine cover featuring the trend of mindfulness in US culture and the world, you can see that indeed a sea-change has occurred. With mindfulness being addressed at the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland we can see from this article that there are several approaches to the subject, its importance, and a diversity of support within the world business community and elsewhere.

In Barrington, RI meet Police Chief John M. LaCross who has been leading an 11-minute meditation utilizing deep breathing and visualization to comfort grieving families who have lost loved ones. He is also a Reiki master, and has put his focus on using mindfulness as part of police work to help individuals and communities. “It’s about compassion, respect for others, treating people with dignity,…..It’s a very difficult job being in public safety. You have to be strong in times of crisis. You can’t show emotion,” he said. “We’re all human, we just wear different clothes to work.”

And, on another side of the law, read here about law Professor Charles Halpern at the University of California, Berkley, where he teaches a popular course called “Effective and Sustainable Law Practice: The Meditative Perspective.” He also offers retreats for legal professionals of all sorts to enhance listening skills, focus attention and help legal professionals make more empathic to others they interact with.

Meditation Helps Immune System

From The Telegraph

7:12AM GMT 01 Nov 2011

Meditation improves the immune system, reduces blood pressure and even sharpens the mind, according to research.

The practice – an essential part of Buddhist and Indian Yoga traditions – has entered the mainstream as people try to find ways to combat stress and improve their quality of life.

Now new research suggests that mindfulness meditation can have benefits for health and performance, including improved immune function, reduced blood pressure and enhanced cognitive function.

The study, published in the latest issue of the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, draws on existing scientific literature to attempt to explain the positive effects.

The goal of this work, according to author Britta Hazel, of Justus Liebig University and Harvard Medical School, is to “unveil the conceptual and mechanistic complexity of mindfulness, providing the big picture by arranging many findings like the pieces of a mosaic.”

The authors specifically identify four key components of “mindfulness” – the state of meditation – that may account for its effects: attention regulation, body awareness, emotion regulation, and sense of self. Together, these help us deal with the effects of stress.

Dr Hazel said the components are closely intertwined so an improvement in attention regulation, for example, may improve our awareness of our physiological state. Body awareness, in turn, helps us to recognise the emotions we are experiencing.

She said: “Understanding the relationships between these components, and the brain mechanisms that underlie them, will allow clinicians to better tailor mindfulness interventions for their patients.”

However, the framework underscores the point that mindfulness is not a vague cure-all. Effective mindfulness meditation requires training and practice and it has distinct measurable effects on our subjective experiences, our behavior, and our brain function.

Dr Hazel said: “We hope that further research on this topic will enable a much broader spectrum of individuals to utilize mindfulness meditation as a versatile tool to facilitate change both in psychotherapy and in everyday life.”

Read complete story, with related articles at The Telegraph.

Flash Mob Meditations

From Positive News (October, 2011)

“Flash Mob” meditations awakens public interest!

Hundreds of meditators are converging in public spaces in London to take part in ‘flash mob’ meditations. The pre-planned events have startled passers-by when, following a signal, groups of strangers seemingly going about their business have suddenly sat down to meditate together.

Since June 2011, events have taken place at Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, and City Hall by the river Thames. They are coordinated by Wake Up London, a group of 16 to 35-year-olds inspired by the teachings of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh.

Wake Up London believe the flash mobs are a demonstration of peace and show how anyone can sit down and experience inner silence, even in the centre of a huge city.

Elina Pen, a member of the group, says the events raise awareness of the joy of meditation while enabling people to unite as a multicultural group of all ages and backgrounds.

“We are a microcosm of the rest of the world here in London,” says Elina, “and we are very proud of that fact.”

Marie Kennedy, also a representative of Wake Up London, adds: “Meditating together creates so much peace, within and without.”

Simultaneously, significant numbers have been gathering together in the more traditional setting of the Swiss Church in Covent Garden, for group practices of transcendental meditation ™, organized by a new charity, the Meditation Trust.

“Over the past few months, diverse meditation groups have seen a significant and what seems to be a spontaneous growth in interest and enthusiasm for group meditation experience,” says Colin Beckley, director of the Meditation Trust.

Marie Kennedy agrees. “This has gone global. There are more and more groups being created every day; pods of meditators.”

Wake Up London is working with an international movement called Med Mob, which is coordinating meditation flash mobs across the world at around the same time each month. Fourteen groups are involved in the UK, from Aberdeen to Brighton, as well as many more globally.

READ ENTIRE ARTICLE AT POSITIVE NEWS.

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