Zen

During today’s meditation I was to contemplate my body in order to become aware of the feelings, emotions, and the sensations that creates. I promise that I was engaged the entire time, and that I did not fall asleep. I was sitting cross-legged and I did not have to jerk to catch myself like I have had to when I fell asleep. And yet, I entered this place with no thought and was shocked when the chime rang to end the meditation. The time just disappeared. I felt calm, recharged [like from a good power nap], and peaceful. I love when meditation feels this way.

Mantra or Contemplation

This morning I tasted two separate kinds of meditation.

The first kind was mantra meditation. In this form of meditation, there is generally an introductory thought expressed by the facilitator, followed by a mantra to be repeated as a focus. I appreciate this form of meditation for its simplicity. I find that it is much more difficult for my mind to wander during this meditation. In large part I believe this has to do with my unfamiliarity with the language. When I have attempted to use English as a form of mantra, I do not have to focus on it as much and my mind wanders off.

The second kind was a meditation on being present and non-reactive. In this meditation we were asked to consider, from the safe place of meditation, a situation where we reacted to a person or event. We were to examine the feelings associated with that reaction in order to learn to recognize those feelings as they arise, and thus develop a plan to accept and move through those feelings when they arise. I do not get the same calm feeling of centeredness from this meditation but I think that is, at least in part, the point. I do appreciate this form of meditation as well, though it is more work.

Who are you?

In order to be who you are, you must be willing to let go of who you think you are.

Michael Singer

 
Today I spent 10 minutes in a meditation where I focused on my breathing. I used a free app, Insight Timer, which I highly recommend. With your permission, it turns off the notifications on your phone while you are using it which helps to avoid distractions.

After that, I practiced a focused meditation upon the above quote. I love short quotes like this because there are so many ways you can take something like this. After some contemplation, I decided that for me, in this moment, it means that you must let go of your own pre-conceived notions of self, those established in your childhood, youth, teens, 20s, and however far past that you have gotten. It means disregarding the labels, good and bad. In letting go of the labels, yours for yourself and others for you, you will be able to find your own self of the moment.

Learning Mindfulness

I have been meditating on and off for years. It has been a part of my yoga practice for the last 20+ years, but I will be honest, it was not my focus. About six months ago, I promised myself I would take 5 minutes a day to meditate. Everyone says even that little will help. Two months ago I moved to 15 minutes a day. It was hard. It was hard to make the time; to justify spending my time ‘just sitting.’

I would like to point out that I have no problems at all sitting and watching TV, or sitting and surfing the web, or sitting and answering email. I know that about myself and yet it was difficult to commit to spending 15 minutes sitting with me. Upon realizing what a hypocrite I was being, I took the plunge. I found an inexpensive course online that would last 40 days [they say it takes 30 days to build a habit] and be less than 15 minutes a day.

I am going to detail my experiences from here forward so that I will remember why I need to keep doing this.

The first few days were about paying attention to the breath. This seemed really silly at first. I mean, breathing is something we all do, but they explained that by connecting the autonomic nervous system with the somatic nervous system it forms a connection between your entire nervous system, bringing them in sync and creating a connection. It is also incredibly hard to do! Try it. Try focusing on your in and out breath for say, three complete breaths…without wandering. At first I just could not do it. Now I can, and I am feeling so much more focus in my life.

Stay tuned!

Attachment

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

Dr. Seuss

Some truths we know but struggle against. The good Doctor was right. We need to smile because that wonderful thing happened at all, but instead, most of us, end up crying because it’s over. We do our best to keep it alive even as we watch it fade. We are so attached to that wonderful feeling that we just can’t bear to let it go, not even if something even better is on the horizon.

I am working now on appreciating, valuing, and loving, while not being attached to any particular outcome. In order to do this, I am using mindful meditation several times a day, as needed. I am starting to find some peace.

Surrender

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.

Lao Tzu

I have been known to rush headlong through my day getting caught up in every hiccup and inconsistency the world throws my way. On days like that, it feels as though I am fighting my way through life, each moment an epic battle to create form from the void.

Other days, I find a peace within. I float through the day addressing each thing that comes up as it arises, not anticipating, not mulling over what was…just in a state of recurrent now.

It’s on these later days that the universe surrenders…maybe because I have too.

stillness

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.

Lao Tzu

feel the air as it enters.
cool breeze touches your nostrils.
lungs filling and warming the chill.
breath catching with full lungs.
warm air leaving.
easing the nip of cold.
lungs becoming empty poised.
breath catching with empty lungs.

moment

emotions are strange things.
i have every reason to be happy
but instead i feel numb.

meditate. close my
eyes and drift. allow here and now
to suffuse me. no yesterday.
no tomorrow. hear the thoughts
parading by. no attachment.

return. back to the day…the now.
feeling happy for this moment.
it is enough.

New Day

It’s a perfect time to look at the road ahead. I don’t mean your five year plan, or even your bucket list. I mean literally. Get out. Take a walk. It may be cold, or rainy, or blindingly bright, but getting outside will allow you the opportunity to reconnect with something outside of yourself and we all need to do that from time to time.

While you’re out, let your mind go where it wants. Let it flip from topic to topic like you scroll through tumblr. Don’t spend too much time on the thoughts, just let them flow on by. It’s not about controlling them, it’s about allowing them. Just for this moment, none of them matter…not the good, or the bad. After all is said, our belief that a thought is good or bad is determined by our myriad of filters, and we are not here now to judge.

Feeling Your Emotions

Do you ever stop to just ‘be with’ your feelings? Do you give yourself permission to feel them while they are within you?

I was raised in a highly clinical environment. Emotions were for the weak. They hampered your rational decision making and should never be considered as a part of any decision making as they will only steer you onto an incorrect path.

Decades later, I know that our feelings are an important part of who we are and that they should be considered a primary input for decision making. If something doesn’t feel right, you shouldn’t do it. Knowing that doesn’t mean that my initial reflex in emotional situations is to stop and be with my feelings.

I read once that the way to change a habit is to become aware of your habit. Chances are that in the beginning you will catch the behavior you want to change after you have completed it. In time, you will catch it as you are doing it. The final stage is catching it before you do it. After successfully, and consistently achieving that, you will have changed your habit.

With the passing of years, I have learned to embrace my feelings. I lean into them and respect them. What I do not generally do is make time for them. For the last month I have been meditating for a time each night. The practice is becoming habit. The next step will be to observe my feelings during this time. I need to quiet my mind in order to listen to my emotions and my body. In this way I hope to become a more unified me.

Reminders

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

– Buddha

Yesterday was the new moon. As I am learning in my Pagan studies, this is considered a time of renewal and the start of new things. As the light of the moon increases, we welcome new things into our lives.

During my meditations and devotions I set my intention. My intention was to be open to the messages and lessons that are sent my way this month. I tend to be very practical and logical, so I am not always aware of, or open to, what the Universe has to say. Then I want to sleep.

I woke early…before my alarm. As I lay there wondering what woke me, a very clear thought formed in my head. The thought was, ‘Appreciate what has been, but remember that it is the past. In order to find those feelings now, look to the now.’

I knew that this message was about a specific friendship that used to be more. I want that feeling of closeness that used to exist. I can remember, very poignantly, how it felt. That feeling is gone and has been replaced with distance. I have been clinging to that past in the hopes of reviving it but I am alone in that desire.

This morning I was compelled to look up the quote for the day and Buddha reinforced the message.

I want to feel that unconditional love and acceptance. I want to be appreciated and cherished. Rather than dwell in the past where I felt that, or dream of a future where I will feel that again, I need to live in today and look for those feelings here. When I find them, I can nourish them and help them to grow. Maybe it starts with me…

A Theme

In each of my pursuits I am encouraged to be mindful. I find many times each day when my mindfulness slips, as I’m sure we all do, but I have seen so much personal progress I continue to try.

Of late, I have noticed a theme as I go through my daily learnings. The theme in a nutshell is that at some point in the past, a decision was made about how things ‘should’ be done, and now we all believe it to be gospel.

I first became aware of this theme in my study of Wicca. Modern Wicca is based upon the writings of one man who wrote his thoughts on what it meant to be Wiccan and that has become the foundation of the modern belief system.

The next time I saw this theme, it related to women shaving their legs. Apparently that was started as a marketing campaign for a razor company. The same is true for diamond rings for engagement…a marketing campaign.

Yet again today I saw this theme relating to the chakras. While the concept itself is mellinia old, when it was translated to English, liberties were taken and it was far from literal. Mention of that was never made in my previous studies of the chakras.

At first this discovery was disconcerting. It showed me that the things I was learning were far from the time tested validated data I had believed them to be. Now that I am seeing this theme everywhere, it has reminded me of a fundamental belief I have always had. Question. If you do not agree, or feel right about information you are learning, feel free to do further research, learn more, question. Always question.

Nothing we know is set in stone. No matter how well known the information may be, how well circulated, or how well established, it is always possible that we are doing what we do simply because one person at one point in time decided to do it that way.