If you are still enough, the wild mind, the mind that isn’t preoccupied with oughts and shoulds and the minutiae of life, will approach you and make itself known.
Category Archives: Meditation
Inspired from Rick Hanson, P.H.D and Budda’s Brain – The practical neuroscience of happiness, love, & wisdom.
Let’s be mindful of the automatic mental processes that cause us to identify with a particular group (gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, political party, nation), and then regard members of different groups as others. Focus on similarities between “us” and “them,” not differences. Recognize that everything is connected to everything else, that “us” is the whole wide world – that, in a deep sense, the entire planet is our home and the people on it are our extended family. Deliberately create mental categories that include us along with people we usually regard as not-us. For example, when we see someone in a wheelchair, consider the fact that we are all disabled in one way or another.
Be particularly mindful of the default processes of valuing our own group while devaluing others. Notice how often that valuing actually has no rational basis. Be aware of the little ways that our minds regard others as less of a person than our individual selves. Focus on the good things about people in other groups. Regard people more as individuals than as representatives of a group, which reduces prejudice.
Meditation on Loving Kindness
Find a posture that helps you remain relaxed and alert. Settle into your breath, establish some equanimity, some mental spaciousness and balance.
Be aware of the sensations of the breath in the region of your heart. Bring to mind the feeling of being with someone you love. Keep that feeling of love. Sense that love flowing through your heart, perhaps in a rhythm with your breath. Feel how that love has a life of its own, flowing through your heart, not specific to any one person.
Sense the love toward people you know, your friends and family. Feel that loving-kindness extending further out, to people you know who are neutral to you. With them the best, wish that they suffer less, and that they truly be happy.
You may feel loving-kindness like warmth or light or like a spreading pool, with gentle waves that extend further out to include more people. Feel this loving-kindness including even difficult people and people who may have harmed you. Wish that even they suffer less and be truly happy.
The peacefulness and strength of this loving-kindness flows outward even to people who you don’t know, whether you agree with them or not, whether you like them or not.
Keep feeling that flowing love as you watch your breath enter and leave your body.
Taking purposeful steps in life is hard – it requires staying aware, in the present moment, and not being bound by the chitter-chatter of the monkey mind or the societal pressures we all face. Yoga, meditation, prayer, reflection help us stay in alignment and on our purposeful path. When we come to a crossing on our path, we have this opportunity to slow down, pause, and then choose the path that is most in alignment to our true purpose. Our society tells us to move fast, make big decisions in flash seconds. But, does it ever hurt to take even 24 hours, or sometimes even longer, to pause and stand still to figure out if the opportunity to change course on our path is truly the most appropriate direction?
There are moments in our lives when we summon the courage to make choices that go against reason, against common sense and the wise council of people we trust. But we lean forward nonetheless because, despite all risks and rational argument, we believe that the path we are choosing is the right and best thing to do. We refuse to be bystanders, even if we do not know exactly where our actions will lead. Belief in ourselves and in what is right catapults us over hurdles, and our lives unfold. – Howard Schultz
I thought this prior post was worth reposting, especially as the beautiful spring mornings and evenings are upon us!
A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meaningful but purposeful path.
Labyrinths have long been used as a tool for meditation and prayer. A labyrinth
is a metaphor for life’s journey. Walking the labyrinth affords us an opportunity to go inside of ourselves and commune in the solitude of our own heart, mind, and soul.
Many people use the terms labyrinth and maze interchangeably; but the two are not the same. A maze is like a puzzle to be solved. It has twists, turns, and blind
alleys. It is a left brain task that requires logical, sequential, analytical activity to find the correct path into and out of the maze. A labyrinth has only one path. It is unicursal (one way). The way in is the way out. You cannot get lost. A labyrinth is a right brain task, and involves intuition, creativity, and imagery. With a maze many choices must be made, and an active mind is needed to solve the problem of finding the center. With a labyrinth there is only one choice to be made: that choice is whether to enter and walk the spiritual path. A receptive mind is all that is needed.
Representing the deepest part of ourselves, the journey toward the center offers many opportunities for contemplation. Once one reaches the center, they are in a
place to receive the answers to their questions. On the journey out, a person is sent back into the world energized and with a broader sense of who they are
and what they are to become.
Three stages of the walk:
Letting go – a releasing, letting go of the details of your life. This is an act of shedding thoughts and emotions, letting the mind become quiet and empty.
Illumination – the center of the labyrinth. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive. Stay there as long as you like.
Integration – joining your Higher Power or the healing forces at work in the world. Each time you walk the labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work your soul seeks.
Guidelines for the walk:
- Clear your mind and become aware of your breath.
- Allow yourself to find the pace your body wants to go.
- Pass people or let others step around you as it seems appropriate.
- The path is two ways. Those going in will meet those coming out.
Worldwide Labyrinth Locator: http://labyrinthlocator.com
*Adapted from instructions by Rev Dr. Lauren Artress, Vereditas.
Wisdom by Sally Kempton
Most of us hold buried emotions. We might not be aware of them, but they can affect our mood and our relationships without our even knowing it. When we meditation, those layers of emotions are brought up so they can be seen and let go of. So there will often be periods, especially in the early days of practice, when emotions keep bubbling up from inside. Just understand that this is part of the process and that it can ultimately be helpful to our emotional state.
One of the great practices for working with emotions is to embrace an emotion by making space for it. You begin by feeling the emotion, focusing especially on the energetic experience of it rather than on the “story” it is telling you. Try to find the energy of the emotion. Notice what part of your body it seems to affect the most. Focus your attention on the felt experience of the emotion in the body. Breathe into it. Now imagine that a space surrounds that part of your body. including the feeling of the emotion. Let the emotional energy and the space be present together. Without trying to make the emotion go away, notice how it will naturally evanesce into the surrounding spaciousness.
When you practice with emotions this way, over time you will be much less subject to emotional upheaval. Yet you’ll be able to feel your feelings without being scared of them.
Everything at its finest level of creation is energy. We are exchanging energy and silently communicating with every person we meet or come into contact with. Energy impressions are always our first impressions that influence what we think or feel about others. – Carol Tuttle
All people will hold negative energy at times – we’ve all experienced it ourselves, and we’ve all experienced being around a person when they are holding negative energy – it simply doesn’t feel good in either instance. But we all have a choice to stay and hold onto that negative energy or we can work to release that negative energy and come into a positive state again. When we are in a positive state, or when we are around others who are in a positive state – it simply feels good – there is a flow and a magnetism. It’s dynamic.
The most common term for negative energy or blocked energy is stress, anxiety, and depression. Think of a time when you’ve felt any of these energies – also think of a time when you’ve been around another person who is experiencing these….no good. But – again we have a choice to grip onto these feelings and allow them to take us on a wild emotional roller coaster ride – or we can release them.
We all have the capacity to clear our energy. We can do this by practicing asana (physical yoga) and working with our chakras. We can also do this during meditation. There are many guided meditations on the internet. Some people have a hard time letting these kinds of feelings or mental and emotional blockages go. Sometimes it’s simply too hard to do the work on our own. That’s when it is useful to work with an energy therapist or a yoga teacher who focuses on energy healing.
Wisdom by Sally Kempton
It is the nature of the mind to create thoughts and images. The energy that we call “mind” is dynamic. Like an ocean, it has an innate tendency to create surface waves. Yet when you sit regularly, you’ll begin to become aware of a part of the mind that is untouched by thoughts. You might experience that deeper layer of consciousness as pure sense of being or as a sense of being a witness. Sometimes it feels as if you have plunged into the deeper “water” of the mind, where it is calm – while all the time, the mental chatter continues. In other words, the mind can keep thinking, but “you” are not affected by those thoughts.
So let the thoughts be there, and see if you can become aware of the awareness – the sense of being present – that is behind the thoughts. Or simply let yourself keep coming back to the sensations of the breath in the body, or the felt sense of energy in the heart, or the vibratory quality of a mantra. In time, you’ll notice that the thoughts drift more and more into the background while the underlying sense of being comes more into the foreground. That’s meditation.
There is within every human personality a child. Everyone can remember how it was to be a child, to feel the inner freedom of a child and to experience life in a simple way.
This inner child is very wise.
It feels CONNECTED to ALL LIFE.
It knows LOVE without question.
This inner child gets covered as we become adults and try to live by our rational minds only.
This limits us.
We all long for freedom – it is through the child that it will be gained.
– Barbara Ann Brennan “Hands of Light”
“Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am determined to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy and hope. I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain and will not criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or community to break. I am determined to make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.” – Author Unkown