Splinters



Splinters are painful.  The areas around them them are often red, swollen, and inflamed.   Our initial reaction is to protect the wound by avoidance.  We will go to a lot of trouble to keep anything or anyone from touching it and even restrict our activities to avoid the pain.  At this point the splinter is running your life.

The other option is to go ahead and face the pain of removing the splinter and treating or disinfecting it.  More painful for a moment or two, but then it's over.

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You are here



All change begins with acceptance.

You are here.

This is where it all begins.


Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

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Fear is an emotion, Get over it!

 photo courtesy of Juan Julbe Creative Commons on Flickr.com 


I'm afraid (fear) that most of us spend a disproportionate amount of time fearing the worst.  Catastrophes rarely happen, but often we tend to waste a lot energy worrying about things that will never come to be.  I know that I can be extremely guilty of this.  At times I have driven the people around me crazy with my doomsday -Chicken-Little reaction to unsettling events.

Studies show that we tend to overestimate the probability of something bad happening and we underestimate our ability to cope with the trials in life.

The real catastrophe is that we spend so much time and energy worrying about things that will most likely never happen.  Studies show that we tend to overestimate the probability of something bad happening and we underestimate our ability to cope with the trials in life.  The resulting stress wreaks havoc on our bodies and our minds.

Every moment of every day is uncertain.  If it weren't, the universe would be stale.  Outcomes would be fixed and life would be boring and meaningless.  Every little decision and action that you take today includes risk and unknown outcome.  Uncertainty is a fact, but fear is an emotion and you have the ability to act in spite of it.  Remember that there is NO ONE ON EARTH that doesn't feel fear. Some people have just learned how to deal with it and so can you.

There are many ways to reduce our anxiety and counteract our mind's tendency to fear the worst.  Below are a few of the simplest and most effective means.

1.  Try and put realistic odds of your worst case scenario coming in to play.  What are the chances that the sky is really going to fall today?  In our modern world we don't generally have lions, tigers, or bears chasing us on a daily basis. Most of our fears are imagined or greatly exaggerated in our minds.

2.  Think of the great challenges that others have been through and not only survived, but gone on to have very successful lives.

Albert Einstein didn't begin speaking until four years old.  He was also a poor student in highschool.
Franklin Roosevelt was partially paralyzed at 39 and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
Jim Carrey was homeless and lived in his car.
Bill Gates' first business failed and he dropped out of college.

Life is hard for everyone.  If others have made it through hard times, so can you.

3.  Realize that your idea of how things need to be for you (and everything) to be okay is coming from your limited experience in the past.  You have created a very narrow comfort zone and probably get very frightened and edgy when you even think of stepping outside of your comfort zone.  Research shows that most people actually adapt very quickly and establish new "norms".  The degree to which you can learn to accept and work with what the Universe brings your way is the degree to which your success and happiness will improve.  Fighting reality is a losing game.

Get out of your "head", step back and see the big picture.  Fear is an emotion and you can get over it!

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Awareness of Awareness Meditation



For many people meditation means simple, one-pointed concentration - for example, focusing upon the breath.  While this is a good way to start meditation, I've found that the deepest meditation comes from focusing upon your own awareness - Awareness of Awareness, as some call it.  This is thought by many to be the highest form of meditation and the path to awakening or enlightenment.

To begin, become aware of your current emotional state and thoughts.  If you are agitated acknowledge that and let it be a starting point. If you are mellow then acknowledge that.  Notice your thoughts.  Listen to them as you would listen to another person in a conversation.

Next step back from your thoughts.  Don't try and stop them, but distance yourself from your thoughts until you no longer identify yourself with your thinking mind.  If you find yourself straying and caught up in your thoughts , just distance yourself once again from them and begin to focus upon your breathing.

You can look at a room and notice 10,000 things in an instant before your thinking mind starts analyzing and critiquing.

Spend several moments focusing upon your breath.  Breathing in, notice yourself breathing in.  Breathing out, feel the air leave your lungs.  When thoughts enter your mind simply observe them as an object and return to your breath.  Continue watch your breath over and over.  Realize that thoughts are just something you do, like breathing, but they are not you.

Now realize and acknowledge the awareness that is watching the breath.  Awareness is not thought, it is higher.  You can look at a room and notice 10,000 things in an instant before your thinking mind starts analyzing and critiquing.  This noticing is awareness.  The language and thoughts about what you see are thoughts.  You are aware of your thoughts so you must not be your thoughts.  The thinking mind is a lot like your beating heart - it thinks, but it is not you.

Next lets turn our awareness upon itself.  Notice the self that is noticing.  Watch your own awareness.  When it starts to feel weird or your thinking mind starts chattering, watch your breath for a while and then return your awareness back upon itself.

Allow your attention to expand and encompass your entire sphere of consciousness.

Eventually you will feel a warmth, a sense of peace.  You are getting in touch with your true self, your awareness.  When you are in touch with yourself, you will gain an abiding sense of peace.

Now let your awareness expand.  Realize that your awareness is bigger than the everyday-ego-self that you are used to experiencing.  Let it include the room or space that you are in.  Feel that you are in touch with your surroundings.

Just allow your mindful attention to expand, to encompass your entire sphere of experience, of consciousness.  Allow yourself to experience clarity and spaciousness.  Realize that you are more than your everyday ego.

Sit with this experience as long as you can.    As you practice more often you will find that anxiety and agitation begin to fade from your life.  Things will happen, but you don't have to experience the same level of distress and dissatisfaction.  You will expand.  You will know yourself.

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More Happiness, Less Stuff in 2016



The complexity of the Universe allows for many possibilities, but as any truly successful artist knows, we must judiciously select from the many possibilities to create anything of value.  To narrow down, to cull, is the work of an artist.  To take a block of wood or marble and remove what doesn't look like an elephant is how one sculpts an elephant.  To select a few notes, with silence in between, is the way a beautiful melody is written.  To create a truly unique life of our own we must do the same.

In this modern world we are faced with an enormous number of choices and often find ourselves overwhelmed with suggestions of what we should own and how our lives should be.  Television is the most prevalent method of suggestion.  It tells us what to drive, what to eat, how to look, etc...

Studies show that the happiness level of Americans has fallen in the last few decades, although our choices and possessions have increased.   Could it be that we are not happy living as others say we should live?  Could it be that owning more things doesn't make us happier?

I challenge you to make 2016 the year that you take a deep look at your life and decide for yourself who you want to be, how you want to look, what you want to own, and remove the rest.

To begin you may want to reduce the amount of time that you watch television or other mass media.  Next spend some time alone and ask yourself the following questions:

What do I really value?

What do I really want or need to be the person I want to be?

What am I yearning for and why?

What can I contribute to the world?

Who am I?

The next step is culling.  Remove from your life the things that don't belong.  Leave space for what is important and create a life with meaning - your life.

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Okay




The universe is in chaos.  If you expect to get a grip on it and make everything to your liking then you will never be okay.

You will have fears, doubts, and voices in your head.  Watch them, ignore them, whatever you like...just don't believe them.

Be okay and everything will be okay.  Your experience of the outside world comes from thoughts created in your mind.  Peace comes from the inside.

Sit quietly and know that you are okay....no matter what.

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Self Liberation



If you desire to escape the limits and tortures of your egoic mind, eventually you must realize the following:

You are not your thoughts.
You are not your beliefs or your emotions.
You are not the "person" or image that you portray to the world every day.
You are not even the person that you tell yourself that you are.
Your deepest true self can best be described as the awareness behind all that was mentioned above.
Few of us are directly in touch with our true selves or awareness.  For me it comes in short durations.
Begin by detaching your "self" (awareness) from the monkey-mind's chattering thoughts.
Notice and be aware of your thoughts.  Most of your beliefs are filled with self-doubt or delusion that will disappoint.
Eventually you will begin to realize that you are not your thoughts.
Self-honesty is painful.
Self-honesty begins by actually becoming aware of the layers upon layers of self-deception (ego).
Devote your life to truth and freedom.
It will be painful and difficult at first, just as physical exercise or any other new endeavor is at first painful.
In the end it is liberating, releasing us from fear.
Meditation/mindfulness/spiritual practice -whatever you want to call it - must be practiced every day or you will slip and continue to suffer.

“There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind - you are the one who hears it.” ~ Michael Singer - The Untethered Soul

"What a liberation to realize that the 'voice in my head' is not who I am.  'Who am I, then?' The one who sees that."  ~ Eckhart Tolle - A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

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The Work

Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work, with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine. — The Dhammapada

You've read the books on meditation, you know the benefits of mindfulness...Now it's time to sit.

Reading Zen is not Zen.

We all want the enlightened state, and the wonderful visions and the peace. We want them. We look at all the things we want, but we don’t see the central fact....more at The Real Way.

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Five Minutes for Happiness and Better Relations

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Next time you are in an argument or a situation that you don't like - stop and sit still for five minutes.
For just five minutes hear what the person or situation has to say before you resist.
Let your awareness observe your thoughts before you believe them.
Maybe there is something to learn here.
That which infuriates or disturbs us has a lot to teach us.

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