Common Humanity

common humanity

“Do you suffer sometimes, want to be happy, but don’t always know how to make that happen?

Congratulations! You’ve just discovered you have something in common with every other person across the world and across history.” *

And with this realization we know we are not alone. We are all human beings, experiencing what we experience.

It’s when we believe that we shouldn’t be feeling like this, or that there is something wrong with us, that we create more suffering for ourselves.

When we are feeling down or down right miserable we tend to think that we are the only one feeling this way. We become very self absorbed. We project our misery on to the world around us and think that everyone else seems to be so happy, and have their act together. We ask ourselves “Why are we the only one feeling alone and miserable”.

Don’t believe this inner critic. Your thoughts are not the truth.

It’s human nature to go through highs and lows in our lives.

Knowing that you are not alone, and that everything changes, can help you move through this… and find compassion for yourself and others along the way.

Give yourself a hug or go hug someone right now.

Feel the love.

💛🙏💛

 

*Abblett, Mitch. The Self-Compassion Deck: 50 Mindfulness-Based Practices (Kindle Locations 1151-1175). PESI Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Haiku – Second Nature

revolving-door-stack-effect-building-science-history

~

What if letting go
Became our second nature
Find your Middle Ground

~

Find your Middle Ground is about stepping away from stressful days and anxious minds, and taking time to pause… again and again. Like a revolving door of awareness. We recognize a current state or thought, are able to let it go, and keep coming back to it.

When we are mindful of the present moment and simply allow it to be, we open a door to our natural state of being – accepting, loving, peaceful, kind and content. Most of us are so distracted and moving so fast that we get caught up in the world of “doing” or worrying about what we should be doing next.
Too much doing and thinking disconnects us from our sense of “being”and who we really are.

I write about finding this place of connection, contentment and peace in the highs and lows of life. I call it our Middle Ground.

Haiku – Wearing Thin

asphalt clouds endurance grass

Photo by kinkate on Pexels.com

~
Save your sneaker soles
When life begins to wear thin
Find your Soul Ground

~

Instead of running. Slow down.

Instead of jumping ahead. Step aside.

Instead of doing. Find a seat.

Change your pace in life.

Take time to pause.

Breathe fully and slowly from the center of your being.

Open up to your Soul ground.

 

Inspiration – the Middle Way

Middle way

I am delighted to share this story from a very special mindfulness teacher, Jonathan Foust. His website has many resources and free podcasts and audio meditations. This story shows us what the Middle Way is.

I love his practical approach and the two questions for self inquiry in our practice of mindfulness.

“I quit,” a young man announces to his meditation teacher.
“You’re nothing but contradictions,” he continues. “You tell one person to work harder, sit up straighter and sit longer. Then the next person you encourage to sit in the sun and drink tea. What the heck are you teaching?”
The teacher smiles and responds:
“I teach ‘the middle way’ — cultivating that place that is not too tight and not too loose.
If someone is unfocused and scattered, paying close attention to the here and now brings them back into balance. If someone is too clenched and dour, they may benefit from relaxing and letting go.”
A big element of mindfulness practice is a form of self-diagnosis. You can ask variations of these two questions:
  1. What is happening right now?
  2. How does this moment want me to be with it right now?
Are you experiencing the profound dissatisfaction of feeling scattered or over-emotional or you have lots of ideas but can’t get started on any one of them? Concentration practices may help you gather your attention and bring about a sense of calm and centeredness.
Too wound up? Feeling grim, tight or judgmental? You may find investigating relaxation practices and meditations that cultivate spacious and compassionate awareness help reset your system.
The more you practice and study the more you become, as my friend Pat Coffey says, a “contemplative artist.”
In any moment you can self-diagnose and respond to the moment with greater wisdom and compassion.
I wish you well into the new season.
Jonathan

May you have a not too tight, and not too loose day.

Namaste

Inspiration – Mindfulness

“Ultimately I see mindfulness as a love affair – with life, with reality and imagination, with the beauty of your own being, with your heart and body and mind, and with the world.”

– Jon Kabat Zinn

Mindful living

What an inspiring way to describe mindfulness. Life is beautiful.

In the beginning it takes practice, and yes, some discipline to bring mindful awareness to our thoughts and feelings.   Many of us will choose to sit in meditation as a daily practice, and focus on our breath. This takes time and willpower. Which is also part of the mindful practice.

Yet, ultimately, it isn’t about the place we are practicing in, or what we want to gain from meditation. Its about opening ourselves up to being aware of every aspect of our life. Our actions, thoughts, beliefs, speech. Our body and breath. Our attitudes and how we relate to others.

Connecting to the world around us and within us.

It becomes a love affair with the world and our being-ness.

Namaste

 

* Why our Brains Aren’t Tuned into the Good

watching tv on cell phone

I listened to an interview with Danial Goleman the other day. He is a neuro psychologist and is known for identifying the elements of Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Awareness of our emotions, mastery of our emotions, awareness of other’s emotions and empathy, our ability to build relationships.

He was talking about the different parts of our brains and what their purpose is. The conversation turned to why its so hard for us to set aside our cellphones or turn off the news.

Our limbic (animal) brain is always on alert for threats. When we sense a threat, it goes into action and stimulates our prefrontal cortex (analytical) brain – “what can we do about this?” .

Fear is very stimulating to our brains. Neurons love being fired up.

So it makes sense that when the media focus on danger and threats, it engages us more and more. The immediacy of cellphones stimulates this too. There is so much demanding our alert attention and we let it, because we are wired to react.

But what about love, peace and gratitude?  Its a state of being that most of us long for, but it’s affect is calming and soothing. In an animal that is hard wired to react to danger and figure things out, it does seem somewhat boring.

Human beings are not wired for serenity, but we can re-wire our brain through mindful awareness and meditation. It only takes a moment to pause, breathe and find our middle ground.

Its easy to understand that it takes awareness, some effort and committed practice if we want to nourish and expand the calming part of our brains. Only then can we go beyond our thinking mind and into a place where we can fully feel the good: Love. Gratitude. Peace.

Of course, we must also expect resistant thinking and diversions along the way. Remember, there’s nothing wrong when we get distracted, its simply natural.

Namaste

* Sitting Still

sitting meditation

“People began doing (yoga) postures so they could sit for a long time.
And what will happen if you sit longer? Conflicts will disappear. You will feel calm.
So learn to sit first before you talk about meditation.”

~ Vijayendra Pratap

I enjoy this practical approach. So many beginners try to meditate when their mind is hyperactive or they feel overwhelmed and distracted. Just sitting down and expecting your mind to be still doesn’t work.

Taking time to prepare for sitting meditation is important for beginners and practitioners alike.

Yoga postures prepare us by moving the body and stretching while focusing on the breath.

At the beginning you are able to sit for a bit and notice what is alive in you: your thoughts, emotions, body sensations, resistance or judgments about what the experience should be like…

In meditation you learn to embrace everything that comes up.

Focusing on the breath will help you keep coming back to each moment.

Remember meditation isn’t about getting anywhere.

Its about finding where you already are.

In that knowing is where peace resides.

* Just Come and Go

moving clouds

Whatever comes, do not push away;
whatever goes, do not grieve.
Everything appears just like clouds floating by;
they just come and go.
Stay only as the unmoving awareness.
Awareness and Truth are one.*

~Mooji

These words sit well with me right now, as a reminder to allow the coming and going, and to take time in my hectic day to tune into the flow and stay in awareness.

I am creating a new training program for yoga teachers that will start in a couple of weeks. It’s a fun, exciting and engaging project that has taken me away from visiting other blogs as much as I would like to.

May you also come and go as life unfolds.

Namaste

 

 

*Mooji (2015-12-03). White Fire: Spiritual insights and teachings of advaita zen master Mooji (Kindle Locations 249-251). Mooji Media Publications. Kindle Edition.

* How Good a Listener are you?

listening

To truly listen to someone we must be present – without distractions or interference in our heads.
Its estimated that the average human being has 10,000 thoughts per day. Real thinkers can have over 50,000 thoughts. That’s over 30 thoughts per minute…

Now that’s a lot of buzz, interference and distraction going on.

Here is a series of 3 experiments to try for yourself to see how present and focused your mind is. I believe that if we can listen to ourselves, then we can be a better listener for others.

At each level, be patient and try not to judge yourself. If your mind wanders simply start over.

Begin by taking a few deep breaths and take a moment to center yourself and be present with this moment. There is no rush.

Level 1
Count from 1 to 50 in your head.
Notice how many times you had to start over…

Keep working on it!
Once you have this one down, move on to the next level.

Level 2
Count from 50 back to 1. Notice that a little more concentration is needed here…
Once you can do this easily, move on to level 3.

Level 3
This is a meditation practice that I learned during my yoga teacher training. With your eyes closed bring your attention to the inhales and exhales of your breath.
On each exhale, count from 50 backwards until you reach 20. After 20, count on every exhale AND inhale until you reach 1.
When you have reached this goal, your mind will be clear of interference.

.. And you will have learned a lot about patience, commitment and acceptance of yourself in the process.

Not only will you have learned to listen to yourself, but you will have begun to train your mind to come to a place of focus. Through focus we are able to quieten the mind and find peace. … and of course, become better listeners.

Namaste

 

 

 

* From Awareness to World Peace

Water drop reflects the world

Photo by Markus Reugels

To meditate is simply to take time to be aware.

When we pause in mindfulness, we open up awareness to new insights about ourselves and life.

Our awareness expands beyond our own thoughts, beliefs and feelings, and taps into a deeper consciousness.

There is a softening as we acknowledge our frailties and imperfections … and that of mankind.

I believe that this mindful awareness opens the gateway to peace in the world.

In taking time to pause and find peace within, we become an instrument to bring about healing transformation in human relations.

Namaste

* Pondering – accepting what is

I woke up this morning pondering how it is so hard to accept what is. Our brains say – yes I get it. We may even bring it into mindful awareness every day through meditation or yoga.

We think we have it handled, and then … out of the blue we find ourselves getting impatient, frustrated or triggered.

For example, think of the last time you were driving and were cut off by someone else. Or you were running late and got stopped behind a school bus or a red light? What thoughts, sensations and feelings came up?

road rage

So how can we handle these turbulent emotions and accept what is….

In the moment we become aware of our reactions we have a choice: to allow the fight or flight  reaction to take over with its rush of adrenaline and cortisol; or to center ourselves with full deep breaths and consciously let go of the stories, judgments, and resistance to what is happening.

With mindfulness practice, our reactivity gets less and less.  Our acceptance of the highs and lows of life grows and we become more centered and less volatile.

Like a pendulum we find our way to the center.

From a scientific perspective, the more we meditate and calm our mind, the more neural pathways we create and reinforce our ability to come more quickly to a calm state.

It is a practice…. that may take a long time if not a life time.

The Dalai Lama says that while we cannot stop an emotion from arising, we have the power to let it go, and the highly trained mind can let it go the moment it arises.

writing  on water

The Buddha shared a metaphor for this state of mind. He called it “like writing on water”. Whenever an unwholesome thought or emotion arises in an enlightened mind, it is like writing on water. The moment it is written it disappears.

Through meditation and mindfulness practice we learn to master our reactions and center ourselves.

We re-balance ourselves and in doing so, learn to accept what is.

The next time you are in traffic be ready to breathe deeply and let the emotion flow through you…

And don’t get upset with yourself for getting upset! Let it go.  Just keep practicing coming into the present moment.

Namaste

 

* Be Kind with your Practice

coming home to now

“Living in the now is a natural practice, because the present moment is the natural state. We’re always in the now, even if we don’t totally know it.
If we are remembering the past, where does that take place except in the now through present awareness? If we are thinking about the future, we are doing our planning and thinking now.

We are always in the present no matter how scattered and distracted we may be to the now and maintaining awareness is like coming home to ourselves.”

Lama Surya Das from “Awakening to the Sacred”

Whenever we become aware that our mind is going over things from the past or leaping into the future, we bring attention back to the present moment.

How many of us then scold ourselves for not being fully present, instead of thanking ourselves for bringing it to our attention…

Let go of being perfect and embrace this moment of awareness.

Be kind with your practice.