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Posts tagged ‘mindfulness’

Dying and Living Zen

41CcmYmNunLJewel in the Mud: Zen Musings by Harmony Kent
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

Jewel in the Mud is a laywoman’s guide to living life like a nun, as a householder living in the world. It is laid out beautifully, in fifty-two week increments, for anyone who chooses to practice being more aware of what is taking place with their inner and outer world. The author speaks from experience, having lived in both worlds. Ms. Kent resided in a Zen Temple for 13 years, and in mid-life decided to leave that environment, and began a new vocation, meeting a loving partner, and getting her own home.

Many of the weeks thoughts and words were previously conveyed on Ms. Kent’s blog. Luckily, for all who read Jewel in the Mud, she expanded her “Monday Musings” into book form. The weeks include titles such as, Nobility of Silence”, “No Strings”, “First, Breathe”, “Dying to Live”, and “It’s Okay. Have a Meltdown”. The illustration of the lotus flower for each week is lovely, and the caption summing up that section always fits perfectly. For example, in a talk about appreciation, she concludes with, “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”

Here is a brief excerpt from Week Eighteen, called “Life Before Death”.

“Mindfulness is simply about seeing what we have right here, right now, in this moment. It’s about noticing the myriad of small things that make our lives whole. And about catching the stories we tell ourselves. Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way right in the present moment. The easiest way to notice as much as possible is to live each moment of your life as though it were the last moment of your life. Or, the first.”

In many ways, Jewel in the Mud, reminds me of the classes Stephen Gaskin held each week in San Francisco, California, in 1969 and 1970, which were later turned into a book called Monday Night Class. He spoke about life, death, community, love, and awareness, in a way that was easily relatable and personable. Ms. Kent’s work has the same vibe. Like Stephen, she does not come off as preachy, egotistical, or superior. Jewel in the Mud has gifts of compassionate and experienced insight for one and all.

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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.

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.

Eve Ensler & Penis Dialogues

The Penis Dialogues: Handle With Care by Gabriel Constans
9780944031940

“I was struck by this book’s humor, probing curiosity and genuine compassion.”
Eve Ensler (Author of The Vagina Monologues, performer and women’s rights activist)

The Penis Dialogues is an informative and funny book about the life of our penis and its affect on love, sex, relationships and our health. The book explores myths, cliches, and misconceptions in a funny and curious way.”
Gary Johnson (Publisher of Black Men in America)

“If you live in any city, you have probably seen THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES. Well, along comes THE PENIS DIALOGUES by Constans, published by Aslan Publishing. Not only is it hugely funny, it provides so much information about this part of a guy’s anatomy. Because there are so many myths and misconceptions about what is good and what is bad, this book is reassuring and comforting, and you can even laugh at your penis and its idiosyncrasies. Ladies, do your partner a favour and give him this book.”
W Network (Television network for Canadian women).

Copies can be ordered from your local independent bookstore or online bookseller, including:

Amazon

Bookshop Santa Cruz

Barnes and Noble

Indie Bound

Vagina Monologues & Penis Dialogues

The Penis Dialogues: Handle With Care by Gabriel Constans

9780944031940“I was struck by this book’s humor, probing curiosity and genuine compassion.” –Eve Ensler (Author of The Vagina Monologues, performer and women’s rights activist)

The Penis Dialogues is a pioneering work. Men’s feelings and attitudes about their sexuality, gender and experiences of being male have seldom been spoken of with such honesty and insight. Read this book!”
–Bob Stahl, Ph.D. (Author of The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook)

After seeing The Vagina Monologues, Gabriel realized the value of a similar investigation into men’s feelings about their penis and its influence on them and others. Men of various ages, occupations, sexual orientations and cultures talk about love, sex, relationships and painful, humorous and joyful moments in their lives.

This book lays bare the facts, myths, experiences, misconceptions and stories of that part of men’s bodies by which they are so often defined. It goes beyond the cliches, jokes and comparisons of male virility and power as men speak from the heart with honesty, curiosity, shock, bemusement and surprise.

“Constans has created a heads up, hands on exploration of the male member. It is both amusing and informative.”
–James McElheron (Building Consultant and Supervisor)

Copies can be ordered from your local independent bookstore or online bookseller, including:

Amazon

Bookshop Santa Cruz

Barnes and Noble

Indie Bound

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.

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