98 % New



Ninety-eight percent of the atoms in your body today were not there a year ago.  They have been replaced or "swapped out".  This is your physical reality that has changed by 98 percent in just one year!  Makes you think maybe it's silly to believe we can't change our minds, thoughts, and experience of reality, doesn't it?

When you feel trapped and like you are powerless to change, remember that change is the way of things.  The Universe is on your side.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living


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Flowers - Daily




Do things to be proud of - daily.

Be proud of yourself - daily.

Be grateful - daily.


Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

HELP! We are trying to establish a meditation center in Frisco, Colorado.
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Trouble



Trouble should be treated as a traffic sign redirecting our attention or efforts.  It says "Look here, but don't dwell.  Because this exists, show me how that can exist.  Because there is scarcity, show me abundance.  Because there is difficulty, show me ability and creativity.  Because there is confusion and hatred, show me clarity and compassion."

Focus and attention are yours to choose.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living  HELP! We are trying to establish a meditation center in Frisco, Colorado.
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As You Are


"Soul is about authenticity....about finding the things in your life that are real and pure." ~ John Legend

I think we all know that we live in an imperfect world.  We are sometimes able to see that imperfections are what make the world beautiful and exciting.  The unpredictability of a thunderstorm can be beautiful in itself and also makes a bright sunny day even more enjoyable in comparison. Most of the time life is so much more beautiful if we enjoy things as they are instead of wishing for something else.

Though we are able to see that imperfections in the world around us add to the experience, I believe we are often unable to see that the same is true of our selves or the people around us.  We are ashamed of our imperfections and hide them from others.  We wish others would behave the way we think they should.  We think we are doing the world a favor but we are isolating ourselves and insulating ourselves from authentic connecting relationships - a deep rooted human need.

Empathy and acceptance are starting points towards authenticity and understanding.  For one week, with one trusted person, try being authentic.  Don't hide and don't expect.  Accept and love.  See how it goes.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

Dealing with Anger



What triggers your (my) anger says a lot about you (me).  It says more about what is wrong "in there" than out there in the world. If you continue to blame the outside world for your anger then you are giving away your power and  you will be more dependent, less free, and more confused than ever.

Next time someone makes you angry sit down and talk it out with yourself.  Really try and separate the other person out of it.  What about the event really pushed your buttons?  What did you do to allow or even invite the situation?  What vulnerability did it expose?  Who are you really angry with? If you are honest you might learn something about yourself.

(Yes, I'm talking to myself, but I thought it might help you as well)

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Don't Change a Thing (Prophecy)



I've spent a lot of time trying to convince the world how I'm right and they are wrong.  Hasn't worked yet but I know I'm right so I'm not gonna change a thing. (Self fulfilling prophecy).

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

Wide Open

 
 


It happens to all of us - we get hurt, we fall, someone disappoints us.  We get fearful and so we close ourselves off - slowly but surely.  It sneaks up on us.  Our defense mechanisms are like instinct and many times we don't even realize they are there.  We only know that life isn't as joyful as it once was and that we've become cynical and more cautious.

I remember talking to a counselor years ago who asked me point blank "Why are you such a smart-ass and so cynical?"  "I don't know, it's the way I am" was my answer.  An unexplored child's answer. 

I've since spent many hours for many years exploring how and why I became so cynical and closed off from life.  It really isn't who I am.  I can spare you the details - it was life and we've all faced it.  The particulars don't really matter. What matters is how we face our challenges.  If we allow our hearts to close then we die an early death.  I don't want to live or die that way and I hope you don't either. 

In my ongoing journey to be open and to experience life fully, I've found the following steps useful:

1.  Use meditation, reflection, and insight to identify your defense mechanisms.
2.  Read, read, and read some more.  Study how others have dealt with fear, pain, and disappointment.  Be informed and inspired, but don't stop here.  You've got to get out into the world and put your knowledge into practice.
3.  Have faith - in God, the Universe, your higher self, nature...anything.  Just have faith in something bigger than you.
4.  Reach deep down and find courage.  Return to step three when necessary.
5.  Get out of the mindset that got you where you are.  Meditate, pray, and open up.
6.  Let go and open up to life.  You can't always control the outcome.  Let life happen and enjoy the ride - even when it's a little scary.
7.  Take risks.  Nothing in life is guaranteed.  Life is fragile and that is what makes it precious.
8.  Do it all over again.

Learn new things - experience success and failure. 
 
Connect with others - experience love and pain. 

Learn to live again. 

Be wide open.

Some of my favorite resources are listed below.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living






“The only way to find true happiness in life is to risk being completely cut open.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk

Offense and Defense

Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/Buddhism.BTH


When we are defensive we are easily offended.  You don't have to take it personal if it rains or someone else is having a bad day.  Tolerance, compassion, and understanding are the best tools to keep us from becoming resentful and bitter. 

I often have to remind myself not to let things get to me so I periodically take the following vow:
"I vow not to let anything anyone says or does today offend or put me off."

Bitterness can creep into life and strangle your joy, but you have a choice every day.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

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A $50 Bottle of Wine and Reality

A $50 bottle of wine always taste better than a $12 bottle of wine, except in blind taste tests.  What other tricks does your mind play on you?  Looking carefully at your thoughts and beliefs can save you a lot of money and grief - unless you enjoy being duped.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

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Uncertainty (Exploring Options)



Uncertainty is a good thing.  It means you have options.

Many people seek certainty and by doing so limit their world.  Often they find that down the road life has become monotonous and a chore.  EXPLORE! Open up to possibility in your life.  Try something new.  Don't be afraid of uncertainty.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

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Things Change



I'm near the end of my 30 Days of Now experiment and I wanted to share one of my greatest realizations with you.  It is so simple and I'm sure you all know it, but sometimes we have to re-learn life's lessons -  Things change. 

One of the base ideas of Buddhism is that everything in life is impermanent - things change.  Our greatest source of suffering is resisting this truth.  We try to make things a certain way and then want them to stay that way.  Good luck with that.  Were it not for impermanence - change - our lives would not even be possible.

Flexibility in life is crucial to our happiness and well-being.  To constantly judge and wish for things to be different than they are is a fool's game and will only bring unhappiness in the long run.  We all experience birth, aging, illness, highs, lows, and finally death.  Accept life events for what they are and experience them with an open mind.  Try not to judge, sometimes the unplanned aspects of our lives bring about the most memorable moments.  Allow yourself permission to be fully present with whatever is going on in your life and explore the lessons in it.  Sometimes you don't need to do anything.

I'd like to leave you with an old Zen Koan:

There was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Perhaps,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “What great luck!” the neighbors exclaimed.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

"Perhaps," said the farmer.....

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

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Understood

To be understood
or not
doesn't matter
except that it does
when it matters
to me.

Wind blows
I know
When it rains
I do get wet
I've tried not to care,
but I do.

Sun, Stars, Moon
Does it mean anything?
Who is asking?


p.s. -Whenever I feel like loosing a lot of readers I publish a poem. No I am not Zen Habits. :)

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

Daily Meditation - How To

I've dabbled in meditation for years.  My first experience was a guided meditation and it was a moving experience.  I experienced a peace and touched a part of myself I had not seen before.

Despite my positive experience, I cannot say that I ever established a regular meditation routine until recently.  I would meditate when the mood struck me and that's a shame because I'm now discovering that like physical exercise, meditation is best when part of a daily practice.

Routine meditation is linked to stress reduction, reduced blood pressure, improved cognitive abilities, and greater happiness and contentment in general.  There are possibilities for many spiritual benefits as well.  I find that I've discovered a lot about myself and my beliefs while in deep meditation.  Both Jesus and Buddha were known to spend hours in silent meditation.

To start a daily meditation practice I recommend:

1.  Starting small.  Commit to just five or ten minutes a day at first. You can extend it after it becomes habit.

2.  Pick a time and place where you will be undisturbed.

3.  Sit  comfortably.  You don't have to meditate in a full lotus position.  Several members of the Zendo that I attend kneel on a cushion.

4.  Focus on your breath.  This is the most widely used form of meditation for beginners.  As you breathe in, concentrate on breathing and follow your breath as it flows through your nostrils into your lungs.  If you loose focus then just start over.  Some find it helpful to count breaths.

5.  Don't try too hard.  Often type A personalities want to "conquer" meditation practice and end up quitting because it is too hard.  Take it easy. You won’t be very good at it at first, most likely, but you’ll get better with practice.

If you find meditation a positive experience then I recommend taking other opportunities to be mindful and experience a meditative state:

Focus intently upon what you are doing when performing menial tasks such as washing dishes, mowing the lawn, or driving.  Try not to think of the future or other things.

Focus upon the taste of your food when eating.  Mindful eating has been linked to weight loss and health.

Be fully present and in the moment when you are visiting with friends and family.

Meditation and mindfulness are learned skills.  Practice patiently.


Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living




Divine



There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING that doesn't reverberate from the Source.  Ponder that today.

See my earlier post for a sure method of experiencing more joy

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

"Trust me, I tell you: you are Divine. Take it as the absolute truth. Your joy is divine, your suffering is divine too. All comes from God." ~ Siddharameshwar


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One Sure Way to Experience More Joy




















A very simple way to experience more joy is to fully engage with the joy in the moment, with no clinging or attachment.  Don't think about it, just experience it.  When we try to hold on to our moments of joy we are creating tension, suffering, and stress. This grasping and trying to hold on to things does nothing to extend our joy and in fact does just the opposite - it diminishes the joy we feel. 

Let life flow.  EnJOY.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living


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Ideas

 


Ideas are beautiful things, until you try make them something they are not....reality.  Reality is reality and truth is truth no matter your thoughts or beliefs about them.  Don't ever confuse your thoughts with truth or you will bring suffering upon yourself and others.  What is true one moment isn't the next.  If you think you really understand what reality is in this 14 billion year-old, ever expanding universe then you are highly delusional.  Live, experience, and learn.  What works for you now works. When it no longer works look for new ideas. 

You will have ideas and they can be fun, .just never forget what they are...ideas.

“Thoughts will lead you in circles. Silence will bring you back to your centre.” ~ Rasheed Ogunlaru

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

Why Now?



"Do not ruin today with mourning tomorrow." ~ Catherynne M. Valente

I began my 30 Days of Now experiment on July 15th.  For thirty days I wanted to focus on living in the present moment without planning or worrying about the future. 

"Why now?", many of you may ask.  I was asking the same thing a few weeks ago, which is why I wanted to try the experiment.  I wondered why the spiritual masters - Eckhart Tolle, Thich Nhat Hanh, Adyashanti, etc.. - stress the importance of living in the present moment to such an extent. 

Two and a half weeks into my experiment I've had mixed results.  When I'm able to focus and be present I feel really good and see the beauty in the world around me.  I feel in touch and things seem to make sense.  At other times my ego fights back and it can be rough.  The ego is very time dependent. It is a collection of thoughts and beliefs collected over time and fights very hard to keep it's sense of identity.  So far when I'm present life seems more clear and when I'm not I find I'm a bit more cynical and bitter than normal.

So back to the question, Why now?  One of the insights that I've had so far is that living in the present moment doesn't equate to being irresponsible.  I think that most of us think that we must constantly be planning for the future to be a responsible adult.  Maybe it's just the opposite.  When we are living in the past or worrying about the future then we dilute our mental energy and aren't able to concentrate our powers on the tasks and opportunities right in front of us in the present moment.  When we are off somewhere else we don't give our loved ones and the people around us the attention that they deserve.  I'm starting to believe that when we are mindful and living here and now then the future will be taken care of.  We'll see.  That's what this experiment is all about.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living



You may notice that there are NO ADVERTISING BANNERS on Zen Presence.  Mainstream advertising and consumerism go against my values so if you find any value in my work please support Zen Presence by making a donation via Paypal below.