A tardy Day 11 of 30 Days of Peace (but, I forgive myself)!
One of my spiritual teachers, Rev. Richard Burdick, is a musician. He recently shared that new piano students would focus on the mistakes they made while playing. He explained that he would try to shift their focus to celebrating the dozens of right notes they played instead.
We’ve all been the aforementioned novice musician. We gave a presentation and focused on the one slide we flubbed. We made a beautiful meal and focused on the salty side dish. We were snappy with a loved one and forgot all of the hugs, kisses, and wiped tears. Or, we got distracted from our spiritual practices and labelled ourselves a failure.
An essential component of inner peace is forgiveness. I know it sounds cliché; but, forgiveness begins with ourselves. In several previous posts I note the importance of maintaining regularity in practice, the benefits of small sessions, and not judging yourself harshly if (and when) you slip. The reason these tips are repeated so often is I speak from experience. There are so many opportunities to become distracted from the path of fire and light.
…But, each slippery rock is a stepping stone. One deep breath and you’re back on the tightrope. The important idea to hold is the only reality is this moment. That is what all of the new-agey whoey phooey means by “The Now“!
Whatever you did before is over; whatever you think you may do is not guaranteed. This moment–which appears to move linearly through this imagined construct called time– is really not moving. This moment is Eternity–in experiences of flow, deep connection, and the blissful states of meditation we chip away at its veil.
When you have full awareness in the moment it is the zenith, the ambrosia, heaven on earth. Isn’t attainment worth the effort?
But, even if you find you’re distracted from The Now by the illusory pull of the ephemeral world, it’s right there just waiting for you to wake up enough and let it pull you back in.
I was just there. Were you?
The Road to Heaven is Paved with Good Intentions (Thank You, Swami J)
Direct experience is the only “Real” experience.
So fleeting this awareness
So palpable sometimes
like a thing I can possess
and others it’s a wisp
breezing through my fingers
my strong, capable hands
try to grab hold
try to keep it close
my heart needs to
so it can find the strength
to take the next breath
please help me remain
convinced that it is all worth it
or that ALL is what I think IT is
Help me rend this idea
from the physical trappings
of a limited, falsely
entitled physical mind
and let the freedom
pervade every thought,
which is in and of itself
a tribute to a perfect time,
a perfect place, a perfect peace
that’s an indefinable wisp
breezing through my fingers
I eliminated duality with joyous laughter
Saw the Unity of here and the hereafter
Unity is what I sing, Unity is what I speak
Unity is what I know, Unity is what I seek
Appearance plays a particularly interesting role in the Himalayan Tradition. The Master’s of these practices elucidate, from their direct experiences, that All that exists is One Power, One Presence, One Consciousness (call out what you will, I will NOT anthropomorphize). But, it appears to present as multiplicity. This appearance goes by many names: maya, avidya, shakti, illusion.
The cosmological apparent multiplicity is mirrored in the microcosm. People appear one-way outwardly. But, what is going inwardly may be entirely different.
We all have different expectations for our relationships. Most of them are made from our attraction (raga) to about particular outcome: we expect loyalty, companionship, perhaps even financial support.
Some of these expectations are stated when we commit to a relationship, some of them are implied. But, this can lead to assumptions.
Furthermore, there are societal expectations and norms for where what kind of relationships we need to be in based on constructs such as: age, sex, race, and socioeconomic status.
People can disappoint us (which leads into a whole different post about expectations and attachments). They may even harm our bodies (I write this with the assumption that readers of this post know they are not merely a body).
If we allow it, all of this creates stress.
It’s no wonder many wise sages sought refuge in monasticism! Even there, unless you’re a hermit, there are still vows, obligations, and relationships with other monks!
The irony, and purpose of this post, is that it’s all the Power of the aforementioned illusion, the Leela, the Play of Consciousness.
We started this post discussing Unity, not connection–that would denote that the One could be separated.
What’s really going on is utterly magical. Through its own will the One manifests as many. Therefore, relationships are a way the One expresses its magnificence.
This is important for a seeker to understand.
We are relationships. We are the result of relationships. We create and sever them. Our actions may create humans that, in turn, share this web of karma. It sounds really ominous; but, it’s actually beautiful… We are every apparent individual that exists. We are not separated.
When we remember this we can practice lovingkindness to everyone. So many master teachers have tried to impart this wisdom. Because, as stated in many previous posts, there are no others.
One practice from this tradition is a meditation on the Four Attitudes.
- Friendliness : an attitude to cultivate with the general public
- Compassion : an attitude to cultivate with those who are suffering
- Gladness : an attitude to cultivate with those you are envious of
- Neutrality : an attitude to cultivate with those you have strong negative feelings towards
During your seated practice you can bring forth the image of a person who evokes these responses in you. You breathe and hold their image in your mind-field. Allow the attitude to fill the space and send the recipient the blessing of your positive wishes. Neutrality is the most profound of these attitudes. If you can become neutral, by remembering those who cause pain are also in pain, you may eventually progress to compassion.
Click the links!!
Twenty-second hugs are so healthy.
Twenty-second hugs make you strong.
Twenty-second hugs are so healthy.
They make you flourish all day long.
Clementine Hurt (age 5)
Hugs and kisses are good for us. They trigger the parasympathetic nervous system and make us feel safe and loved. So, does meditation. Think of it as kissing and hugging yourself!
OK, if you’re not already convinced that a regular meditation practice is one of the greatest gifts you can bestow upon yourself–I’ll try to bait you with a little evidentiary support.
I am writing this semi-sarcastically because the Yogis understood the profound effects their sadhana (practices) had on their body, breath, mind, conscience continuum without doing experiments on others. They were the laboratory.
But, my Master’s degree is in Public Health; so, I appreciate a good peer-reviewed journal.
Benefits of meditation include (each one is linked to a recent peer-reviewed article):
- Increased gray matter in the brain.
- Decreased age-related cognitive decline.
- Decreased resting blood pressure.
- Lowered blood glucose levels (as well as appetite control).
- Improved digestive function.
- Better sleep.
- Improved sex drive.
- Decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Increased feelings of well-being and compassion.
However, these (as I’ve posted previously) are the fringe benefits.
I love teaching meditation in hospital environment. I am supremely grateful for my job. But, our focus is on the aforementioned benefits and mindfulness.
But, this benefit, as valuable as it may be (and as well-promoted as it is, right now) is also a fringe benefit (that does not diminish its value!).
The teachings of the Himalayan Master’s (the convergence of the three streams of Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra) reveal, through repeatedly corroborated direct experiences, that there are many stages of unfolding during meditation. The physiological responses (although pleasant) are merely a threshold to cross. Mindfulness (although extremely beneficial) is a result of another doorway. But, the final stage is absorption (samadhi) with the Center of Consciousness… Which is True Inner Peace.
Part 5: 30 Days of Peace
Why is it difficult to simply sit and meditate?
The practice should not be seen as daunting–it is your right and privilege.
Yet, so many people plan on beginning to meditate for years…
First of all, I speculate, when we sit in the silence uncomfortable feelings, thoughts, memories, and emotions come forward. It can be a stark contrast to the idealized bliss we associate with the image of a meditator on the beach.
In order to meditate successfully, you must develop a different understanding of your how your mind works (you don’t try to stop thinking or suppress the thoughts) you learn to look at them as an experience–consider their transience. In a sense, you have thoughts; but, you are not your thoughts.
The problem is, at the beginning (and maybe for a long time afterwards), you identify with them– I think therefore I am (not)!
If you wanted to learn to speak a new language or learn calligraphy, you start with small steps. Instead of expecting to sit for 30 minutes and experience nirvana, just hang out with your mind. But, do this with a playful attitude– be amused and amazed at your inner workings– 1,2,3 minutes in a quiet room, just watching the stream of thought is amazing.
The other reason people do not meditate is lack of discipline.
I know it sounds judgmental; but, I am speaking from experience. There were many years when I liked the idea of meditation more than I really wanted to do it. It was a great leap forward when I acknowledged that I really would rather do something else. When I was honest with myself I could see there is greater value in getting up a few minutes earlier or turning of the TV and getting off my couch. Believe me, I have to recommit regularly.
If you really want to go further, just begin to work with the breath. Don’t over complicate it, deep breathing, awareness at the diaphragm (below the breastbone, above the navel) 1,2,3 minutes. Just focus on the breath and let the thoughts come… But, you have to get up and do it.
But, if you begin a sincere practice, I can promise the world unfolds to aid you in coming to the Center of Consciousness.
You are what you are looking for… You are the Inner Peace.
There you go, you’re on your way.
helping each other stand
Much more than a friend
the best us strongly depends
on the goodwill we send
in intricate crafts unmanned
releasing bombs of intensity and number
that no man can outrun or withstand
perfect explosions shake us from slumber
drawing us to the front lines
divine weapon at our command
us and them surrender and combine
to a nuclear reworking that demands
peace and compassion as our mission
an art to be practiced and refined
beginning the proud tradition
of improving each other’s position
freeing our brilliant minds
from the confusion of opposition
setting the stage for our grandest designs
The cosmic syllable “Om” can be understood to be one and the same with the Center of Consciousness. Although “Om” is not a mere human construct, it can be used as a way to conceptualize the indescribable. According to the Mandukya Upanishad, it symbolizes the states of Consciousness receding into their Silent Source. According to the Yoga Sutras, contemplation on its vibration brings stabilization in meditation.
Previously, I have discussed the Center of Consciousness being pervasive with everyone and everything. Granted, insentient objects do not have mind to illuminate their True Nature; but, they are manifestations of the same Divine Perfection.
Om shanti, shanti, shanti
That is perfect,
This is perfect.
When perfection is taken from the perfect,
Perfect alone remains.
Om, peace, peace, peace
Therefore, EVERYTHING IN CREATION IS PERFECT.
This may be challenging to affirm for numerous reasons. However, the chief issue is the clouding of our minds. They are colored by perception of separation (egoism), mistaking the unreal for the unreal (or ignorance of our True Nature), fear of death, attraction, and aversion. These colorings are removed by a regular practice of going inside–away from the ephemeral to the Eternal.
When we are firmly established in this Supreme Awareness we realize no one is broken. They are asleep. How can anyone want to harm another–there are no others! We are One; We are Om.