Renewal



An emotional response - the initial body/brain biochemical process - lasts for about 90 seconds.  If someone says something that makes you angry then you're going to feel the surge of emotion for about a minute and a half.

There is very little we mortals can do about our initial responses, but after that it's a choice.  To continue to be upset, afraid, angry - or any other emotion that life triggers - is a choice. If we choose to renew these feelings with our thinking mind, then we will continue to feel the triggered emotion.  We can, in fact, escalate the emotion to higher and higher levels.  Renewal is a choice...each and every moment we choose our response to life.

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A Flash



Searching for what is right in front of me,
Life is what it is.
This is this and that is that
but That's not what I see.

Denial is the source of suffering,
wanting what I think I want.
Bravery is facing the momentary magic,
Lightening in the night sky.

"When we are not so self-involved, we begin to realize that the world is speaking to us all of the time." ~ Pema Chodron


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Don't Be Hooked



Someone looks at you wrong or makes a snide remark and there you go.  You are hooked.  Your temple tightens and your blood pressure rises.  You feel hurt and become angry.  You've been pulled down into the muddy murk of the ego.

These reactions are normal and part of being human.  Research shows that our bodies react to social pain, such as being slighted or treated unfairly, much the same as physical pain.  Typically our initial reaction is to brood, get angry, and then when our emotions become painful to repress our feelings.  Blood pressure rises, body chemistry changes, and inflammation sets in.

Acting upon our anger or emotional hurt can often lead to unwanted results.  In a rage we can do things we later regret.  We can hurt someone, physically or mentally if we respond without reflecting.

Suppressing our feelings can be just as detrimental.  Suppressing our emotions can result in the emotion being magnified and stored.  Stored emotions cause distortion and leave us less capable of dealing with the world objectively.  Repressed memories and emotions are a major source of  stress and mental ailments.

Another choice is to observe.  Create a gap between trigger and response.  Mentally lean back away from and not into your thoughts or initial reactions.  Use your higher power of observation, your awareness.  Watch your emotions and try to observe without getting tangled up in the surging biochemical reaction of your lower mind.  Acknowledge your feelings - both good and bad.  Seek understanding, learn what you can without acting or repressing.  See the situation clearly and experience it fully, then let it pass through you.

After we have paused and are able to see clearly, then we can respond compassionately to almost any situation.  Don't let yourself get hooked.

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Avoidance



It's human nature - we shy away from our biggest and most challenging problems.  We push them to the back of our mind or to the bottom of our to-do lists.  Denial, it's called.

We keep busy, we check Facebook, we chat idly, we focus on other people's shortcomings and what they should be doing.  We begin to project.  The problems are all out there, not with us.

I am a people pleaser.  Left unchecked this can be a real problem.  I put the needs of others before my own and subconsciously expect them to fill my needs.  When this doesn't happen then I become resentful and project.  There is something wrong with "them".  Why are they so selfish?  In my mind my problem becomes their problem.

When our mind is faced with a problem that it doesn't know how to (or doesn't want to) handle, it tries to evade, to escape, or pretend that it isn't important.  By limiting our attention to the small challenges in life we limit our growth and happiness.  Acknowledging our problems, our limitations, and repressed selves opens us up to a full and productive life.

Step one is to be mindful and face what is really going on.  Whenever I catch myself placing other people's needs before my own it takes a lot of work to realize what is really going on.  It can take hours, days, or even weeks to get in touch with my own needs and the process is often painful.  I could avoid this short-term pain and continue to vent about how fucked up the rest of the world is... or I could work on myself.  It's probably more productive to work on myself than 6 billion other human beings with all of their own things going on.  Maybe then I'll have more to offer.


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Real?



Listen to the conversations that you hear each day, your own included.  Do you wonder at their purpose? We ramble about the weather, a sporting event last weekend, a television ad...... I know we're just trying to connect or to fill an awkward silence, but why all the meaningless jabber? 

Why do we have so much to say about trivial things and so little to say about important things?

When was the last time that you spoke your heart to your spouse, your mother, or your child?

Did you voice your true opinion on company policy the last time that you talked to your boss or business partner, or did you just say what they wanted to hear?

Are you giving of your true self in your conversation?

Are you bringing something to the table or just showing up?

Are you being real?  Are you truly present? Is it important?


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Sanity



Our egos are constantly trying to arrange the Universe and everything in it such that we feel safe.  Instead of working on ourselves and opening to life as it is, we want to manipulate everyone and everything around us.

"Please don't push my buttons."

"Do this, don't do that."

"I wish it wasn't like this!"

Does that sound sane?

Using mindfulness and deep awareness we can explore our thoughts and fears.  We can realize that most of them are unfounded.  We can come to realize that we are more resilient than we ever believed.  We can develop a confidence that is much more powerful than the delusion and defense strategies we have used in the past. One must simply be open to life.

Fear is inherent in life.  Living according to our fears is a choice.  We are capable of so much more that we know.  Give life a try, let it flow.


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Every Day



Repetition can be boring unless we feed it with strength and desire, but practice brings mastery.  Sitting meditation and mindfulness can seem a waste when we go long periods of time with no great breakthroughs.  Patience is part of the lesson.  Do not become too idealistic.  Life is what it is.  Look deeply and learn.

"Transcendental patience never expects anything.  Not expecting anything we do not get impatient." ~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche



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Wabi Sabi and Perfection



Wabi - a quality of austere and serene beauty expressing a mood of spiritual solitude recognized in Zen Buddhist philosophy.

Wabi Sabi -beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. [ Leonard Koren]

In the world of wabi and sabi there is no attempt, no attainment, no anger, no joy, sorrow, or any waves of mind of this kind whatsoever. Each existence in this world is the fruit of subjective self-training and objective pure and direct understanding. The savor of fruits comes home to our heart, and confirmation of reality takes place. We observe falling flowers at their best. By repeating this kind of direct experience, one may have calm and deep understand of life and deliverance from it, like a traveling monk who has full appreciation of everything and is nonetheless completely detached from it. ~ Shunryu Suzuki

Wabi Sabi - life as it its, the perfection of imperfection.


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Nightmares



While sleeping, nightmares seem real.  When we awaken, we find that our minds created the dream.  It wasn't "real".  We can continue letting it bother us throughout the day, or we can get out of our heads and get on with our lives.

Thoughts and beliefs are created in our minds, the same as nightmares and other illusions.  For some reason many of us are very gifted at creating thoughts that bring stress and suffering to our lives.  In the end we need only become aware and wake up from our thoughts.  We might not be able to stop them, but we don't have to get caught up in them.

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Stillness Speaks and 9 Great Quotes from Eckhart Tolle



Eckhart Tolle is the author of the best selling books, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment and A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose (Oprah's Book Club, Selection 61).  In 2011 The Watkins Review referred to Tolle as the most influential spiritual person in the world.  While I enjoy Tolle's ideas, I found his books a bit cumbersome until  I recently read his latest book Stillness Speaks.

In this latest book Tolle presents his ideas in verse that is much more concise and easier to read than the monotonous style of prose used in The Power of Now and A New Earth.  If you haven't read Tolle, Stillness Speaks is a good introduction and if you have then it is a refreshing and gentle reminder of who we are.

 “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”

 “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.”


 “Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose”


 "If stillness is there, it can contain anything."


 "If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally."


 “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”


 “Life is the dancer and you are the dance.”


 "..whatever is could not be otherwise."


“Always say “yes” to the present moment. What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is? what could be more insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now? Surrender to what is. Say “yes” to life — and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.”




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