Monday, October 29, 2012

Dropping the Armor & "Coming out" as Authentic Human Beings

     During a workshop at a recent meeting, a friend and colleague publicly described her difficult life as a vulnerable, fully human being for the first time. This self-disclosure was a very challenging "coming out of the closet" event for her (it had nothing to do with sexuality). So why was this so difficult? Because she's a health-care professional, and members of her profession are typically rigidly armored and pretend to be invincible - ie live "divided lives"!
        Don't most of us fail to relate to each other honestly, as vulnerable humans? Isn't it tragic how we all to some extent try to hide our FEARS by putting on a show of invincibility (armor) and even aggression? Few of us realize that those who look and behave the most stoic or even aggressive are usually frightened, while those with a gentle smile may be the most fearless and resilient among us.
     Each moment of time we spend being armored, we learn to be more heavily armored - and we become less and less sensitive to our own and others' needs. However, each time we "out" ourselves as normal, imperfect (not false modesty, but genuine honesty), we become progressively more genuine AND approachable, inviting human beings.
     Since we're ALWAYS training in one direction or another, should we not choose the direction carefully?

     For more on armoring, see:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Letting addictions go AND Engaging the flow of life

     “Each time you cut a habitual pattern by becoming aware of it, you become a bit dissociated in the sense that you can no longer continue doing or believing in the same old thing. At this time, you may feel somewhat disconnected from your life, even if what you are cutting has clearly been a negative pattern.
     But it is not enough to disengage from habitual patterns. It is important to continue in your practice and look directly into the absence. As you go deep inside, connect with the quality of openness, the unbounded space inside yourself, and become aware of that spaciousness. As you abide there, warmth and creative energy will spontaneously arise and bring about personal transformation.”

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly, Fall 2012

Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia

Monday, October 22, 2012

Active participation in the flow of life

     “become aware of negative emotions or obsessive thought patterns that interfere with the flow of life … By bringing non-conceptual, naked attention to whatever you are feeling or sensing, the impermanent nature of your perceptions is revealed. You witness the dissolution of that which appeared solid.”

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly, Fall 2012

Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The glue that holds everything together

     “In an outer sense, precepts are the ethical guidelines of sila first taught by the Buddha and kept by all Buddhist traditions. In an inner sense, precepts are the person you have become, the life you have lived, and the actions that you take. … And in an innermost sense, precepts are the universal, transpersonal moral glue that ties everything together.” 

Lewis Richmond, Zen priest in the lineage of Shunryu Suzukin Roshi
Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly, Fall 2012

Domaine de Grand Pré, Nova Scotia

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Amazing Life

Mighty spaceships
pass by us
in broad daylight

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Critical Spirituality - A Holistic Approach to Meaning

     Spirituality is “that which gives life meaning, in a way that connects the inner sense of meaning with a sense of something greater.
     Using this definition of spirituality makes it clear why it is important for human service workers to include spirituality in their work with clients and colleagues: how can you understand what is happening for another person in a holistic way if you do not have a sense of what gives life meaning for them?
     We need to be asking critically spiritual questions and seeking spiritual growth in order to create the kind of life-affirming communities and societies that we want for ourselves and our clients. Critical spirituality is about seeking meaning in a way that creates wholeness individually and leads to communities that live in sustainable, inclusive and socially just ways. Implicit here is that as critically spiritual workers we also need to include our own spirituality; we need to be able to reflect critically on what gives life meaning for us and the implications for how we practice.”

       Gardner F. Critical Spirituality. A Holistic Approach to Contemporary Practice. Ashgate Publishing Co. Burlington VT, 2011. 

See Rod Meade Sperry's editorial "Welcome to the Big Tent":

Photo: bijan64

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Right Attitude for Meditation

     "Meditation is acknowledging and observing whatever happens - whether pleasant or unpleasant - in a relaxed way."
     This is great in theory, but serious practice when your health is a question mark (and it actually always is).

     "Meditating is watching and waiting patiently with awareness and understanding. Meditation is NOT trying to experience something you have read or heard about."
     Mercifully, when life gets seriously challenging, stuff you've read or heard about fly out the window, so in a way, it's easier to learn from what's in front of your face.

         Ashin Tejaniya “Don’t Look Down on the Defilements – They Will Laugh at You."

Photo: seysincinv

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Open questions

House on fire
What is this?

House on fire

This is not me
This is not mine

Who am I?

Trident Booksellers & Cafe, Halifax NS

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Primary object of meditation

     "When there is attachment or aversion in the mind, always make that your primary object of observation."

         Ashin Tejaniya “Don’t Look Down on the Defilements – They Will Laugh at You."
Photo: Synchronium

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cognitive fusion = Wrong view

     "When you start practicing you have to keep reminding yourself that thoughts are just thoughts, feelings are just feelings. As you become more experienced you will gradually understand the truth of this. But as long as you keep identifying with your thoughts and feelings, ie if you keep clinging to the view 'I am thinking' or 'I am feeling', you will not become able to see things as they are. You cannot see reality if you have a wrong view, if you see things through a veil of ignorance."

         Ashin Tejaniya “Don’t Look Down on the Defilements – They Will Laugh at You."

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Insight into the nature of reality OR Peacefulness?

     "Be aware of peacefulness. Be aware of the awareness of peacefulness. Doing so allows you to check whether or not you are indulging in it, getting attached to it, or still aware."

         Ashin Tejaniya “Don’t Look Down on the Defilements – They Will Laugh at You."
Photo: valentin tsuprun

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cultivating Open Awareness

     "Let the mind naturally choose its object. You just need to be aware of the quality of your awareness."

         Ashin Tejaniya “Don’t Look Down on the Defilements – They Will Laugh at You."
Martha in her element

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mindfulness Practice - an Iterative Process

     Iteration, according to Wikipedia, is "the act of repeating a process usually with the aim of approaching a desired goal or target or result. Each repetition of the process is also called an 'iteration,' and the results of one iteration are used as the starting point for the next iteration." 
     The stepwise, cumulative learning that occurs with longstanding mindfulness practice seems to be iterative in nature.

Photo: Valentino 67

Monday, October 8, 2012

Aspiration prior to sitting meditation

     “May my heart and mind be purified of all defilements, of all unwholesome tendencies, for the welfare and benefit of all beings."            Joseph Goldstein 

Credit: slideshare

Sunday, October 7, 2012

How can I, personally, contribute to world peace?

     “We need to start with ourselves. If our minds are filled with anger, and filled with hatred, and filled with jealousy, and filled with envy, and filled with fear, then that’s what we’re contributing to the world. And so our primary responsibility is, through some method or other, through some tradition or other, through some means, to purify our own minds and hearts. And the more people that do that, the less anger, the less fear, the less hatred, the less envy there will be in the world. And so it is encouraging to see, both in this country and in many cases around the world, a kind of renewed interest in meditative techniques of one kind or another that really aim at transforming our own understanding. And that just seems essential. So that’s what we can do on a very personal, individual level.”           Joseph Goldstein

     Above from the excellent full-length (8hrs 24min) 2010 documentary movie "Eastern Mystics - Discovering the Sacred in the Ordinary". The shorter {78min} version is: "With One Voice. Awaken to the Reality that Unites Us All" 

Stars of Dalhousie University's 3rd Annual Mi’kmaq Mawio’mi - A Gathering for All

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Warm embrace

     Perhaps the most meaningful encounter we can have with one other is a genuine, loving hug.
     We all need it, feels wonderful, it's immediately reciprocal, and we can all easily provide it.

     So, why hold back?

Credit: slideshare

Friday, October 5, 2012

And then, we rise again

We rise again,
In the faces of our children,
We rise again,
In the voices of our song,
We rise again,
In the waves out on the ocean,
And then, we rise again.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Middle Way - between Hair on Fire & Timelessness

     Fear makes us behave compulsively, unconsciously, and thereby cause suffering all around. It's worth seeing "As Good As It Gets" again so we can enjoy a good belly laugh at ourselves - we have a lot in common with Jack Nicholson's character!
     In our youth, didn't we squander time and complained about being bored? I know I wasn't alone feeling that people over 60 were of a different species or planet. Why else is everyone "shocked" by signs & symptoms of their own aging? Living in the fantasy of endless youth, very few of us make wonderful use of our ephemeral youthful energy - that requires wisdom.
     Now that we have a more realistic appreciation of our lifespan, can we seize all fleeting opportunities to intentionally cultivate wisdom? Tejaniya advises continuously cultivating mindfulness - on and off the cushion. We have less (linear) time than we think.

     "Living in the shadow of cancer makes every day action an affirmation of life. I see the importance of accepting death in a non-fearful way and the importance of finding joy in life. For the present I continue to live in a complex world with an uncertain future, the same as everyone else."                        Robert Pope (1956-1992)
Robert Pope Retrospective @ Art Gallery of Nova Scotia Sept 8, 2012 to Jan 13, 2013.
Clock by Robert Pope

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Self-awareness through Art

     “It was as if, underneath the self I knew and was in public, there was another self, mysterious even to its owner, that lived beyond the grasp of explanation but would read (Graham) Greene’s works as if they were a private diary.”
      Pico Iyer, “The Man Within My Head” (2012)

      "Art is powerful preventive medicine. Looking at a picture is like walking through an endless series of doors, with each succeeding door leading us deeper and deeper into a rich experience. This journey stimulates our minds, our emotions, our souls; it makes us more alive. Ultimately the esthetic experience heals us and makes us whole."
     Robert Pope, "Illness and Healing, Images of Cancer" (1991)

Visitors by Robert Pope

Monday, October 1, 2012

Increasing Degrees of Friendly Acceptance

     “… psychological health involves a skillful balance between goal-oriented effort & acceptance …

      … we compound our suffering by trying to avoid (what we fear). …

      Mindfulness is a technology for gradually turning … attention toward the fear as it is happening, exploring it in detail with increasing degrees of friendly acceptance.”

      Germer CK, Siegel RD, Fulton PR eds. “Mindfulness and Psychotherapy.” The Guilford Press, NY, 2005.

View from Luckett Vineyards, Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia