‘Peace of Mind’

by meditative - January 24th, 2017

Let go of your troubles and allow yourself to be free. Acknowledge and accept things just as they are… as best you can. Try not to avoid or avert what is … while it is. The world is a very different place when our hearts are light and kind and our minds are open and clear. Let stillness & quiet give rise to a peaceful state of being. Let it nourish your attitude and intention.

In the space of awareness, we can embody the freedom to be and to choose our own way regardless of our present circumstances. Relaxing and opening up to ‘what is’, we can engage our experiences skillfully and appropriately.

‘Breathing Space’ To Know…

by meditative - May 17th, 2016

In this ‘breathing space’, we sink deeper into our awareness- and into our own being. Here, we curiously ‘strip down’ the ‘events’ of mind with the power of our ‘observational awareness’… seeing & letting beseeing & letting go… over & over again. It is in this quiet & calm space that we can begin to ‘see clearly’ with kindness & care what may be underneath our patterns (i.e. thoughts, feelings, perceptions, assumptions, beliefs, etc.) of mind.

Breathing with ourselves… we have ‘come home’ to simply be- to rest- to observe- to acknowledge & investigate all that may be arising with some kind of message for us to come to know. Beyond our “running narrative’, there is underlying truth to the nature of how we are. To come to know this nature- this often subtlety of being, we must learn to sit in stillness… breathing, observing, and listening.

In this ‘breathing space’, there is insight to know, and there is the energy to shift and transform our ways of thinking, being, and doing.

The Curious Observer

by meditative - May 5th, 2016

In our practice we look into ourselves and into our lives with this relaxed and open curiosity to explore and examine with greater interest, depth, and appreciation. We are committed to our awareness and attention training as it brings us insight and understanding about who and what we truly are as human beings. We watch the mind to learn about our habitualness- our reactionary tendencies to get caught up in narrative identifications that are simply events of consciousness. We observe the defilements of mind- anger, greed, and delusion- as well as the hindrances of mind like desire, aversion, torpor, restlessness, and doubt. It is only through our understanding the conditions of mind that we can learn to handle them and eventually become free of them. To ignore them only allows them to run away with our peacefulness- our happiness- and our sanity.

As a curious observer into the mystery of our own humanity, we look into the “shadows” of our existence. We see the essence of what is both “good” and “bad” within us. We face and embrace ourselves as we are… to better understand a more complete picture of our “wholeness”.  Our balanced and stable attitude is sustained with equanimity. Mindful interest and intent to stay with our difficult qualities of mind seed our discernment for what is “good” and “bad”- for what is “skillful” and “unskillful”, and for wisdom to flourish. We cannot clearly see, understand, and ultimately discern without this direct experience of mind.

It is our open, non-judgmental curiosity that leads us deeper into ourselves. We come back “home” to our “knowingness” of the qualities inherent to our intrinsic happiness, and of the conditions precipitating our “dis-ease” and human suffering. Our curiosity is inclined toward cultivating healthy qualities of mind… insight, compassion, and understanding. We often sit to be still in our practice, but the mind works to meditate. It works with the intent and effort to nourish conditions for wisdom- for it is wisdom that penetrates and dissolves our defilements and hindrances of mind.

With effort we may experience change, but it is wisdom and understanding that conditions real transformation in our lives. We continue to investigate with devotional curiosity and interest to know the qualities of our mind- and to keep exploring and examining the unknown aspects of our humanness. Our interest in self-discovery becomes self-sustaining as our practice expands and deepens, and as we directly experience the relief of “letting go” and not “personalizing” the events of mind.

As insight flows naturally and spontaneously with our practice so does wisdom and interest. We are emerging and becoming with “right effort”… balanced and stable regardless of the qualities of mind experienced. We are here and now to be aware- and to know our states of mind just as they are… free to question and observe with our natural curiosity.

A Friend in Fear…

by meditative - May 2nd, 2016

Fear is a perfectly natural response. It is programmed deeply into our extended nervous system as a mechanism for survival.  All living beings have some form of aversive and reflexive reaction to external threats. Becoming more comfortable with our own sense of fear begins with the acknowledgment that these strong sensations we feel are a biologically programmed reaction to some perceived threat. It is purely a primordial force to help us to survive, and to understand its role in our being, we gain some perspective and perhaps some release from our identification with the feeling as it arises.

Fear awakens us directly into the present moment, and to understand its presence is to befriend its deeply underlying intention. Fear is our ally- it is looking out for our sustained existence. To know and to understand is to look and to listen without being consumed by it. When fear wells up inside of you, try to practice bringing awareness to the sensations in the body, and say to yourself something like… fear is natural… it’s “ok” to experience fear… and it’s part of being human. Without personally identifying with the fear, it loses its “force” to tighten and contract our sense of just being with it as it is. The bodily sensations associated with a fearful experience are of you, but they are not totally you. Everyone of us share in this human condition.

Wisdom teaches us to understand fear- to respect its place in our lives, and to use its energies as a means to illuminate our own self-discovery.

Even-Mindedness of Equanimity

by meditative - April 21st, 2016

We don’t often discuss this term, but it has lasting, beneficial impact for those who practice in its cultivation. Its presence is particularly meaningful in difficult, challenging, and stressful moments as we remain balanced and even in our awareness. The mind is relaxed and at ease yet alert to what is experienced. Despite the potential for heightened emotional affect, we remain surprisingly calm and centered. We are fully connected and engaged, but in an impartial manner. Objectively we witness without overreacting- we stay with the experiencewe remain in the moment– without taking it too personally and over-identifying with it. The outcome of the situation does not affect ultimately who and what we are. Equanimity helps us to “let be & let go”- to be integrally a part of our own experiences, but not to be defined by them.

To see our situations through the perspective of equanimity helps us to realize the true transient nature of all that we experience within our own minds. In the absence of personal attachment, our situations arise and pass by their own natural course. To stay calm and centered within our experience allows us to cultivate a curious acceptance for things as they are- and as they happen. With repetition and practice, our open mindedness gives way to greater, more sustaining equanimity. We naturally become more observant and less reactive as awareness and attention becomes refined with calm and stability. The even-mindedness of equanimity can become a mindful trait strengthening our capacity to both monitor and modify the events of mind- the habits of mind.

 

The Veil of Self-Doubt

by meditative - April 16th, 2016

Even as experienced meditators, we may sit and wonder… vacillating from one thought to another… one feeling to another. Why am I sitting? What is this sitting really all about anyway? What do I need to know from this process of inquiry? Is this process really good for me, or even relevant? I just don’t know…

Let these inquiries of our practice be what they are… questions. They are only hindrances when we energize them by our reactions to them. Self-doubt is only a veil onto what we perceive when we cannot see through its hollow nature. Let “doubt” in your practice be your object of attention. Look at how it arises, its intensity, and how it comes to pass. It, too, is only an event of mind. To objectify and identify with its arising only extends its life as an unskillful mental state. See it truly for what it is… and ultimately, its “OK” to question the “Way” we have chosen. Don’t let your state of mind stand in your way. Curiosity and inquiry is what keeps us moving toward the “truth” of “what is”.

The Practice of Just Being…

by meditative - March 19th, 2016

When we cease to try and surrender to awareness, the world takes on a different light…

‘Ceasing to try’– ceasing to be anywhere else but here and now in this moment… sitting in stillness in the quiet and calm of awareness. Nowhere else to be and no one else to be. Sitting in stillness with this ‘choiceless awareness’ is in direct contradiction to the core of our conditioned ‘self’- to be anything less than doing, striving, controlling, imagining, thinking, etc. We are constantly in motion- ever so busy trying to intervene and influence the outcome of our moment-to-moment living. More often than not, our outer measure of doing and acquiring can routinely leave us short of fulfillment… a vacuous and repetitive cycle.

In just being in our own ‘‘breathing space’, the ‘emptiness’ of this mind-body process allows us to simply be where we are- to be ourselves without pretense or expectation to be anywhere or anything else. Just being ourselves- openly & authentically- is inherent to our practice- and allowing our moments in ‘choiceless awareness‘ to flow forward to reveal the light of their truth- reflective and pure- and absent of self-conscious thought, opinion, judgment, etc.

Here where we sit quietly breathing & observing in the middle of our direct mind-body experience, we look for nothing as the witnessing of self-observation reveals what emerges and becomes on its own.  The energy of our intention to simply sit and watch brings forth what shall come to be known in this ‘choiceless awareness‘. Nothing but to be with ourselves, and with whatever comes to be in our just being in the here and now.

With gentle attentiveness and relaxed alertness, we focus in our arisings while remaining aware of their surroundings. To let be, life has an interesting way of breaking into our awareness to reveal the quality of our response to it. In the process of awakening, we merge with refined sensitivity into the act of witnessing or ‘awarenessing”– focused yet expansive as we ‘dial in’ and ‘dial out’ with the dynamic of our conscious arisings. Gentle yet determined, we remember even in our streams of unconscious endeavors to come back again and again to being wakeful, and to seeing how our mind states can be both fuel for our suffering and our happiness.

Today, doing more and having more are strong societal measures of our success, but inwardly we are still rather paupers in the fulfillment of true happiness. The longings of heart still burn deeply in our consciousness, but yet this frontier seems overlooked for the sake of pursuing the conventional and the conditioned. We communicate with such eloquence and opulence of speech, but yet the words often manifest as empty rhetoric. Our relationships suffer as we are so busy tending a field of burgeoning technology rather than the inherently rich soils of shared and collective consciousness. Just being allows us to step back into the expansive frontier of the human psyche. As meditators, we are like “psychonauts” (R. Thurman) exploring and examining the unknown of our expansive minds for the sake of humanity.

The radical shift in our individual consciousness is to be more at home within ourselves… to be sensed, felt, and shared with the collective consciousness of others. The challenges to living more fully, with deeper happiness and less suffering may lie within the depths of our consciousness. It is through the light of awareness that we begin to illuminate and penetrate our life’s obscurities. Just sitting & being may not seem all that important or meaningful- but for many who routinely do- it can be a real life changer.

‘Simply sitting.’

by meditative - March 5th, 2016

‘Simply do it…” If you see the value in it, then ‘sit’. Find a time and place that works best for you- for your lifestyle. It doesn’t really matter when you sit- morning, afternoon, or evening- or how long you sit, whether it be 5, 10, 30, or 60 minutes. It’s the quality of attention and intention we bring to the practice that’s most important. Frequency & consistency are also vital to sustainability and to realizing the many benefits (physical, mental, & spiritual) inherently associated with regular meditation practice. Just like strengthening the muscles in the body, the ‘mindfulness muscle’ needs to be exercised often for it to be toned & strengthened.

With skillful ‘sitting’, we need to avoid indulging the ‘events’ arising in our field of awareness as thoughts, feelings, impulses, and sensations of the mind/body experience will come and go like clouds in the sky. In cultivating our practice, we also need to gently allow the space in our awareness to give us observational distance from what’s directly happening in our consciousness. We ‘hold lightly’- with not too much or too little effort- keeping things balanced and clear by staying somewhat ‘detached’ from what we are closely experiencing or ‘awarenessing’.

As we all come to experience with regular practice, the mind and body truly does begin to relax and rest conserving energy as we stay anchored in the expansive space of awareness simply witnessing instead of indulging and reacting to whatever is arising. This is our ‘breathing space’ where we can simply take a break, just sit and be… relax and restore. It is a quiet & still space much larger than ‘what is’, so that we may objectively & non-reactively watch the ‘show’ for whatever may ‘play out’ on the stage of our consciousness.

The objective here is to be relaxed, alert, steady, and receptive to all that we may come to experience- closely & directly- openly & compassionately. There’s nowhere else to be or to go… except right here & now, as we simply notice & acknowledgeaccept & release. It is this practice of seeing & letting beseeing & letting go… over & over again that seeds our inner capacity for ‘clear seeing’ not only on the cushion but in our everyday lives… and as we continue to refine our inner capacities for awareness and ‘clear seeing’, we will also realize the wisdom and insight to be more responsive & discerning in the free choices we make as curious, confident, and caring human beings.

‘Suppleness.’

by meditative - February 20th, 2016

Sitting without attachment- without aversion… simply noticing, acknowledging, letting be & letting go, the mind begins to soften. It becomes more flexible and amenable to things as they are. Sitting with this ease of mind, we become more calm, relaxed, and stable. Things seem to become naturally clearer as we are less bound by the constructs (e.g. thoughts & emotions) of mind. This suppleness helps to open our mind penetrating our habitualness- our ‘hardness’… inspiring us- enlightening us- refreshing us to be more curious and imaginative- to be more trusting and confident with the workability of our own minds.

‘Silence.’

by meditative - February 1st, 2016

In silence and stillness we dial in our capacity to pay attention- to focus- and to concentrate. With practice, the space of silence allows distraction to fall away as we simply and quietly observe with some ‘distance’ our impulse to indulge. With forbearance and curiosity we become more thoughtful, reflective, and insightful. As the ‘chatter’ and ‘noise’ of the mind quiets, we begin to really see and to hear the subtleties of our embodied experiences- directly and intimately. Listening attentively in this way becomes the insight and bridge to our understanding.

‘Pain.’

by meditative - January 17th, 2016

We initially sense pain as a physical manifestation in the body. We feel the sensation of pain as we respond emotionally or affectively to it. Depending upon how we cognitively perceive and attribute meaning to it, we may subsequently magnify a painful experience. Filtered by our expectations, projections, and fears only compound the stress of our pain, and may ultimately cause us suffering. What truly matters is how we perceive, attend, and relate to our painful experiences.

As the saying goes… ‘Pain is inevitable while suffering is optional.’

‘Why Pause?’

by meditative - January 10th, 2016

In an emotionally-charged situation, when we stop and take pause, we give the ‘executive center’ or ‘thought center’ (prefrontal cortex) the opportunity for its neurocircuitry to remain in control of the more primitive ‘alarm center’ (limbic) of the brain. Consequently, we are less likely to be reactive to the reflexive impulses (e.g. thalamus & amygdala) stimulated by our emotional brain. Taking pause can short-circuit our limbic system and help us to create and sustain observational distance from indulging and entangling in the thoughts and feelings that are subsequently arising in our field of awareness.

‘Mental States.’

by meditative - December 30th, 2015

Through awareness training, we can simply observe our mental states as they arise, peak, and pass away. Experience with mindfulness practice can teach us that they are impermanent and ‘empty’, with only the energy of attention that we feed them. As we become more aware of our everyday mental states- simply witnessing & noticing them- letting be & letting go with ‘observational distance‘- we can learn to better regulate our impulsive tendencies for mindless words and/or unskillful actions that may arise from them.

The art of noticing…

The art of letting go…

‘Concentration.’

by meditative - December 23rd, 2015

In practice, we must first cultivate the art & skill of simply noticing– a quality of observation that is without judgment- witnessing things just as they are. Relaxed and alert, we notice & acknowledge without attachment or aversion to whatever is arising in our field of awareness. Noticing & letting be. Noticing & letting go. 

Attending meditation helps us to quiet the mind with a deeply penetrating and abiding sense of awareness. With greater focus & calm, the mind becomes more luminous & discerning. Things come alive with detail. In the ‘light’ of discerning awareness & skillful concentration, we may free our mind of ‘hindrances’ (negative tendencies) to become open for insight meditation… and a path for clearly knowing the causes & conditions of our deeply habitual minds.

Without concentration, observation without indulgence, there can be no liberation from our own ignorance of mind.

‘Apologize.’

by meditative - December 18th, 2015

If an apology is appropriate, then we should extend ourselves to another and apologize. When timely and appropriate, we can extend goodwill to another with the simple words…“I am sorry.” In doing so, we also reorient ourselves toward our own natural goodness.

Apologizing can help us re-establish our connection with who we truly want to be, and our well-being may depend upon our ability to honestly acknowledge and take responsibility for our ‘harmful’ actions.