Deepen your self-understanding. – April 19, 2017
Those of us who attempt to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening our own self-understanding, freedom, integrity, and capacity to love, will not have anything to give others. We will communicate to them nothing but the contagion of our own obsessions, our agressivity, our ego-centered ambitions, our delusions about ends and means.
Thomas Merton, Philosopher
What is the purpose of life? – April 12, 2017
“One great question underlies our existence. What is the purpose of life? After much consideration, I believe that the purpose of life is to find happiness.
It does not matter whether one is Buddhist like me, or a Christian like the Archbishop [Desmond Tutu], or any other religion, or no religion at all. From the moment of birth, every hu
man being wants to discover happiness and avoid suffering. No differences in our culture or our education or our religion affect this. From the very core of our being, we simply desire joy and contentment. But so often these feelings are fleeting and hard to find, like a butterfly that lands on us and then flutters away.”
“The ultimate source of happiness is within us. Not money, not power, not status. Some of my friends are billionaires, but they are very unhappy people. Power and money fail to bring inner peace. Outward attainment will not bring real inner joyfulness. We must look inside.
“Sadly, many of the things that undermine our joy and happiness we create ourselves. Often it comes from the negative tendencies of the mind, emotional reactivity, or from our inability to appreciate and utilize the resources that exist within us. The suffering from a natural disaster we cannot control, but the suffering from our daily disasters we can. We create most of our suffering, so it should be logical that we also have the ability to create more joy. It simply depends on the attitudes, the perspectives and the reactions we bring to situations and to our relationships with other people. When it comes to personal happiness there is a lot that we can individuals can do.”
The Dalai Lama, in The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World.
Discovering the Depths of Your Compassion – April 5, 2017
“In Buddhism, compassion is defined as the wish that all beings be free of their suffering. Although we cannot rid the world of its pain, we can cultivate compassion in our own hearts, thereby helping others do the same. Compassion, which literally means to “suffer with,” is not so much a feeling as a quality of being. Compassion is different from pitying another person, for though pity may come from a tender heart, it keeps us separate from the suffering of another. Pity often carries with it judgment and contempt.
Sympathy and empathy, often used synonymously with compassion, are also quite different. The Greek word pathos, translated “feelings,” is the root of these words and implies an exclusive nearness through the sharing of feelings. Whatever affects one person similarly affects the other. “I know just how you feel,” are sympathetic words.
The experience of compassion is much larger, taking us beyond both the distance inherent in pity and the closeness that comes through the shared feelings of sympathy. Compassion grows when we know something of a neighbor’s suffering because we can connect through similar experiences in our own life. Compassion deepens when we recognize that our neighbors, friends, and enemies alike share our humanity with us.”
Jane E. Vennard, from her book, Fully Awake and Truly Alive: Spiritual Practices to Nurture Your Soul.
Your Fundamental Nature is Pure – March 29, 2017
“When you set out on the path awakening, you begin wherever you are. Then—with time, effort, and skillful means—virtue, mindfulness, and wisdom gradually strengthen and you feel happier and more loving. Some traditions describe this process as an uncovering of the true nature that was always present; others frame it as a transformation of your mind and body. Of course, these two aspects of the path of awakening support each other. Your true nature is both a refuge and a resource for the sometimes difficult work of psychological growth and spiritual practice. It’s a remarkable fact that the people who have gone the very deepest into the mind—the sages and saints of every religious tradition—all say essentially the same thing: your fundamental nature is pure, conscious, peaceful, radiant, loving, and wise, and it is joined in mysterious ways with the ultimate underpinnings of reality, by whatever name we give That. Although your true nature may be hidden momentarily by stress and worry, anger and unfulfilled longings, it still continues to exist. Knowing this can be a great comfort.”
Rick Hanson, Ph.D., In Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom
Improve Efficiency and Increase Self-control – March 22, 2017
In today’s workplace our minds are “full” of the demands of living a fast-paced, high-pressure life. It seems inevitable if we want to be successful. However in the last 20 years, research has shown that we can train ourselves to be mindful instead. Mindfulness is the basic human experience of open, non-judgmental awareness that allows us to respond to challenges with resilience, compassion and creativity rather than stress. Even when high achieving people begin to practice mindfulness they discover that they can learn to be attentive to all that is going on in their minds without reacting to it and that they can begin to relax in the midst of their workday while bringing new insights, creativity and empathy to their jobs.
The good news is that it is possible to train our minds so that we can manage stress, experience well-being and satisfaction at work and increase our ability to respond to challenges with compassion and resilience. Research shows that mindfulness can help people improve efficiency and increase self-control when we are able to choose our response to the stimuli we encounter.
Susan Skjei, Director, Authentic Leadership Center, Naropa University. Excerpted from blog post 3/7/17 https://www.enaropa.org/why-mindfulness/
Let it be there just as it is. – March 15, 2017
The on-the-spot practice of being fully present, feeling your heart, and greeting the next moment with an open mind can be done at any time: when you wake up in the morning, before a difficult conversation, whenever fear or discomfort arises. This practice is a beautiful way to claim your warriorship, your spiritual warriorship. In other words, it is a way to claim your courage, your kindness, your strength. Whenever it occurs to you, you can pause briefly, touch in with how you’re feeling both physically and mentally, and then connect with your heart—even putting your hand on your heart, if you want to. This is a way of extending warmth and acceptance to whatever is going on for you right now. You might have an aching back, an upset stomach, panic, rage, impatience, calmness, joy—whatever it is, you can let it be there just as it is, without labeling it good or bad, without telling yourself you should or shouldn’t be feeling that way. Having connected with what is, with love and acceptance, you can go forward with curiosity and courage. I call this third step “taking a leap.”
Pema Chödrön, from her book, Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change,
“Love in the past is simply memory, and love in the future is fantasy.” – March 8, 2017
“When we let go of our battles and open our heart to things as they are, then we come to rest in the present moment. This is the beginning and the end of spiritual practice. Only in this moment can we discover that which is timeless. Only here can we find the love that we seek. Love in the past is simply memory, and love in the future is fantasy. Only in the reality of the present can we love, can we awaken, can we find peace and understanding and connection with ourselves and the world.”
Even the ‘bad’ was good. – March 1, 2017
The contemplative mind can see things in a nondual way, without being rebellious or enmeshed, without being reactionary or hateful. Whenever you move to a higher level of consciousness, you would be wise to include the previous stages; do not waste much time reacting against the previous idea or generation, which had some level of truth to it. Rejecting the lower level was the dualistic mistake of almost all reforms and revolutions until very recently. This is why most reformers tended to repeat the same ills but just in a new way. The ability to “transcend and include” is the sign of a higher (or deeper) level of consciousness.
As you spiritually mature, you can forgive your own—and others’—mistakes. You can let go of everyone who hurt you, your former spouse, the boss who fired you, the church, or even God. You have no interest in carrying around negative baggage. Wisdom emerges when you can see everything, you eliminate none of it, and you include all as important training. Finally, everything belongs. You are eventually able to say, from some larger place that may surprise you, “It is what it is”and “Even the ‘bad’ was good.”
Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention -February 22, 2017
“Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation, and healing.”
“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non judgmentally. It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society
What does meditation actually mean? – February 15, 2017
“Don’t think that meditation means only sitting with your eyes closed. A smiling face, a kind word, a compassionate glance, all this is part of meditation.Through meditation, our hearts should become compassionate. Only in such a heart can God shine! We should come to feel the suffering of others and share their suffering.”
Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma), Hindu spiritual leader
When you change your brain, you change your life. – February 8, 2017
If I know one thing for sure, it’s that you can do small things inside your mind that will lead to big changes inside your brain and your experience of living. I’ve seen this happen again and again with people I’ve known as a psychologist or as a meditation teacher, and I’ve seen it in my own thoughts and feelings as well. You really can nudge your whole being in a better direction every day. When you change your brain, you change your life.
Rick Hanson, Ph.D., In Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom
Avoid all external distractions. – February 1, 2017
“Archbishop [Desmond Tutu] takes a morning meditation walk each morning, and he continued to do so through the anti-apartheid struggle, even when he experienced death threats. I had the opportunity to accompany him on one of his meditation walks. I saw the man who was willing to walk around the world to end apartheid, no shortcuts, no turning back, going to the very, very end. Walking, hiking, running, or any other exercise can be made into a meditative experience. The key is to avoid all external distractions like talking, music, or television. The goal is simply to listen to the wisdom of the spirit that often comes through the wisdom of the body.”
The Book of Joy, by the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams, 2016.
Mindfulness Can Literally Change Your Brain – January 25, 2017
“Mindfulness should no longer be considered a “nice-to-have” for executives. It’s a “must-have”: a way to keep our brains healthy, to support self-regulation and effective decision-making capabilities, and to protect ourselves from toxic stress. It can be integrated into one’s religious or spiritual life, or practiced as a form of secular mental training. When we take a seat, take a breath, and commit to being mindful, particularly when we gather with others who are doing the same, we have the potential to be changed.”
Mindfulness Can Literally Change Your Brain, Harvard Business Review, January 8, 2015
A state of being fully present. – January 18, 2017
“Mindfulness is a state of being fully present, aware of oneself and other people, and sensitive to one’s reactions to stressful situations. Leaders who are mindful tend to be more effective in understanding and relating to others, and motivating them toward shared goals. Hence, they become more effective in leadership roles.”
William W. George, professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, former chairman and CEO of Medtronic, author of four best-selling books.