The Art of Meditation [Alan Watts]

Alan Watts talks about the art of meditation and why it is important to everyone.

Compassion

Well put!

Uncommon Mommy

When we know ourselves to be connected to all others, acting compassionately is simply the natural thing to do.

-Rachel Naomi Remen

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In Order to Grieve, Helen MacDonald Got a Hawk and Practiced Disappearing

Longreads

Hawks aren’t social animals like dogs or horses; they understand neither coercion nor punishment. The only way to tame them is through positive reinforcement with gifts of food. You want the hawk to eat the food you hold – it’s the first step in reclaiming her that will end with you being hunting partners. But the space between the fear and the food is a vast, vast gulf, and you have to cross it together. I thought, once, that you did it by being infinitely patient. But no: it is that you must become invisible. You’re trying to get her to look at the steak, not at you, because you know – though you haven’t looked – that her eyes are fixed in horror at your profile. All you can hear is the wet click, click, click of her blinking.

To cross this space between fear and food you need…

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Only This

Everything is here! Thank you, Bob!

Feeling To Infinity

This magical realm we call “the world”
is a wild wonder beyond human reckoning!

The mere appearance of anything at all
is a perpetual mystery of pure awe
and relentless astonishment!

These ever-shifting props that provide
the sense of time and change are nothing
but children’s toys the Great One
juggles like batons in the air!

How thrilling to suddenly realize
we ourselves are This!

The synchronous majesty
of our infinitely expansive being
is the perfect body of the Beautiful One,
the One who is living us now, dreaming
us now as the very miracle we Are.

Any rain-splashed leaf is nothing
but another moistened kiss of Infinity.

Every wandering breeze rustling trees —
the amorous breath of our own Divinity.

Every sigh, every breath, every beat of heart
is an orchestrated choir of regal rapture.

Every molecule of light amazes itself
at its own inexplicable appearance.

Even…

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5 Ways Science Says Kindness Will Change Your Life – by Birju Pandya

Kindness Blog

kindness wallpaper

Is kindness just an old-fashioned value celebrated in kindergarten and then soon forgotten as one grows older and more ambitious — or is there more to it?

As increasing numbers of people look to live a purpose-driven life, research is beginning to reveal the tremendous rewards that come with living kindly. What follows are some of the most compelling recent studies on the topic of kindness, and the ramifications they hold for ourselves and our world.

1: Kindness rewires our minds for greater health:

“The biggest news is that we’re able to change something physical about people’s health by increasing their daily diet of positive emotion, and that helps us get at a long-standing mystery of how our emotional and social experience affects our physical health,” says researcher and author Barbara Fredrickson.

The change only occurred in practitioners who became happier and felt more socially connected; for those who…

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Life! Get Centered!

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Whatever energy we bring to any situation completely alters our view of that situation.

Whenever I am less than content, I simply observe myself:

What is going on (facts)?

What story do I tell myself to make sense of the situation?

How are my beliefs affecting my body?

When I check in with myself in this way, nature aligns with reality and I return to a more peaceful traveler in life.

Try it. Get centered!

Jane W

The Story of “Stuff” & Surviving the holidays without consumerism

Watch this classic short video explaining consumerism, then take a nice pause, and let go.

~ L to the Aura ~

This is the season when consumption skyrockets. The average American spends over $800 on seasonal gifts, even though a national survey (by Center for a new American Dream) indicates that over 70% of Americans would welcome less emphasis on gift giving and spending.

Need proof that people don’t need more “stuff”? The Environmental Protection Agency, estimates that from Thanksgiving to New Year’s household waste increases by more than 25%. That’s an additional million tons of unneeded gifts, packaging and shopping bags – a week! 

It’s very fitting, then, that I share one of my favorite visually appealing explanations of the issues surrounding consumerism – The Story of Stuff – which has now rightly turned into a movement. Check out the video above, and consider re-evaluating how and what you give this season.  Better yet, consider being more intentional with the way you interact with “stuff” all the time.

Convinced, but unsure how to get through the…

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Borderline Personality Disorder: Understanding the often misunderstood.

The Shameless Shrink

When I first thought about Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD. A few things came to mind: fear, that it was a “woman’s issue”, but mostly that it was a VERY difficult disorder to have or treat.

Since my often wrong “first thoughts”, I have learned a lot about BPD, and with exposure, reading, and opening my neural pathways I have grown to understand that although it has a bad wrap in society, it is a very interesting and important disorder to treat and understand.

Per usual, some Psych Myth Busters:

1. Only women get BPD.

While the vast majority of BPD cases are in fact female, 2 out of 10 cases are male. 20% is a large number to look over, and researchers have also stipulated that men tend to not seek help for mental health issues as often as women. Thus, as far as we know–gender doesn’t play a…

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The Space Around Thoughts

Life. Running here and there. Pre-occupied with this and that. Swept away by one thought or another. We barely have time enough to notice time passing, never mind the preposterous proposition, dare I say, to notice not just our thoughts, but the space around them: a momentary peripheral reverberation, an infinitesimal synaptic break between cognitions, the very slightest of pauses, a hiccup in the assembly line of thought production, when thought-after-thought-after-thought finally cease cascading like dominoes, responsible for the myopic blur that so often stands against our yearning for greater sanity. It’s too bad, really, because in-between is where the magic lies.

Our addiction to the grasping tendency of mind causes us to overlook the spaces around thoughts, the felt penumbra that gives our experience its subtle beauty and meaning. Neglecting these fluid spaces within the mindstream contributes to a general tendency to over-identify with the contents of our mind, and to assume that we are the originator and custodian of them.

The troublesome equation “I = my thoughts about reality”

creates a narrowed sense of self, along with an anxiety about

our thoughts as territory we have to defend.

Meditation practice is a perfect way of slowing down the mind. It transfers to life off the cushion, or, in other words, in the existential reality of every day. Because of the chaotic environment inherent in our obligatory life marathon, it becomes essential to sit, with great discipline, in one place, remaining quiet and still for good stretches of time, to train the mind to be able to be in the here-and-now of the present moment, and

not end up like a leaf caught in the wind,

floating wherever the fickle mindstream might take it.

In the absence of such discipline and intentionality, such courage to be, we often find ourselves lost in mental and physical diversions and interpersonal flare-ups that amount to nothing more, when seen straight through, than hair-trigger responses to stress. Sadly, we are blind to all that we do to ourselves, and each other, because we do not take the time to sit still and examine what the heck is going on in what Buddhist psychology smilingly calls our “monkey mind.” How can we once and for all tame that jumpy monkey?

As meditators meditate, they start to spiral in ways that inform the past-present-future paradox. They experience integration, flow, congruence, empathic transference, and a vast spatiality that grows freshly and spontaneously out of a grounding of one’s Being. We discover that our core essence is one of “basic goodness” rather than  the more popular notion of “original sin”.

In one particular moment, though, during no moment in particular, stripped finally of all the labels, recriminations, external judgment, self-loathing, and weaving of storyline, exhausted and spent from meditation’s primary edict to “return to the out breath” over and over again, the false self icon slips at last off the mantle on which it had been long worshipped. The false self finds itself shattered on the floor, destroyed in the awareness of the truth of emptiness (form is emptiness and emptiness is form), taken aback by the eureka, mind-blowing moment of satori, the deliverance into the quiet calm of no-self, and the sweetly unfolding eternality of the now.

“All the wisdom in the world is located in the gaps between breaths, in the space between thoughts”, a meditation teacher once said during a formal sitting practice. But mindfulness provides no easy kick-start, requiring thereafter a personal hyper-vigilance, a growing awareness and friend-making approach toward one’s discursive patterns and internal chatter:  “Even when the obvious extremes of the false self have been divested, there is a tendency to replace them with subtler versions of the same impulse” ~ Epstein

It is good news that insights obtained from this new awakenedness never go completely away. Yet, at the same time, the meditator learns that grasping after it is fruitless. It is attainable only through glimpses that appear from time to time from behind the overcast sky of the “natural attitude.” Reaching mind’s radiant luminosity takes great practice, patience, and diligence, over oh so many years.

But we can take heart—Zen masters have left behind a clue. As Welwood advocates, rather than solely focusing on thoughts and the content of thoughts, the this and the that of our experience, the him and the her, the we and the they, the materiality and daily grind of cause-and-effect, we can remember to explore the space around thoughts, the space between them. What is found in the gap between the out-breath and the in-breath? Where is mind then? Who are you in those spaces? Who are you in those gaps?

Excerpts from PsychAlive:The Space Around Thoughts.

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