Monday, August 29, 2011

Five Symptoms that Show Your Meditation Practice is Working

This is a wonderful little article by Lawrence Grecco submitted on The Interdependence Project. The site and the article are quite inspirational and motivating. Enjoy!

Five Symptoms that Show Your Meditation Practice is Working

By Lawrence Grecco
If you are experiencing just 1 of these symptoms, you can be sure that your mediation practice is off to a good start:

1. You are getting overwhelmed with heavy thoughts and emotions.
Excellent news! It means your practice is working and you are becoming more and more aware of how your mind works. This often happens when a person is just beginning a meditation practice and they mistake it for a sign that it doesn’t really work. Au contraire,grasshopper...Remember, meditation isn’t about eradicating your thoughts, it’s about learning to be aware of how your thought process works so you no longer have to be so beholden to it. You’re not supposed to have an empty head all the time so let go of that idea and realize that whatever thoughts you are having are simply an incredible expression of your mind and it’s vast capabilities (even though it sometimes resembles a horror film).

2. When you are angry, you don’t always react right away.
If even once in a while you find yourself pausing before reacting by acting out the way you normally do, you’re on the road to changing your relationship to this poisonous state. Anger has a way of convincing us that we have to do something immediately because it is such a compelling emotion. In reality by letting anger take us over, it’s as if we are holding onto hot coals that we want to throw at someone--and we’re the one who gets burned (thanks, Siddharta!). Letting anger control our actions does nothing but reinforce that feeling within us which brings about unhappiness for ourselves and other people.

3. You have a little more perspective.
When we take the time to sit quietly with some degree of regularity (even 10 minutes a day for 5 days a week) it’s as if we move from a small 350 square foot studio apartment to a 3,000 square foot loft space. Meditation gradually reveals the vastness of our minds so that the things that once used to bug the hell out of us no longer take up quite the same amount of room in our minds, or the same time and energy that they used to. Consider what it’s like to have 10 guests in a small studio and how loud and crowded they would seem there. If you put those same guests in a huge loft space they wouldn’t bother you as much. The same goes for difficult emotions, experiences, and circumstances--when they come up we have a larger container of awareness within our minds with which to handle them. The bigger the container, the less daunting they all seem.

4. You can hang out with things as they are instead of trying to change or “fix” them right away.
An uncomfortable situation arises and while you would normally want to flee or talk nervously or do whatever it is you used to do, you can now just be there and notice the awkwardness of things with the understanding that it’s only temporary.  Or let’s say you’re bored but instead of texting or eating or shopping or smoking or turning on the TV you can just coexist with your boredom for a while. Meditation practice teaches us to sit with things as they are and to realize that things are quite fine just as they are, even though it doesn’t always appear that way.

5. You can be a little kinder to yourself and others.
You’re not as screwed up/awful/stupid/lazy/untalented/ugly/poor/worthless/foolish/immature/unlovable as you think you are. The Buddha often compared our true nature to that of a nugget of gold that’s been buried in the dirt for a long time. Even though your naturally spacious mind may be obscured by years of conditioning, experiences and limiting beliefs, it’s still there underneath all the grime. Over time as you practice, it’s like you are cleaning that chunk of gold off and every now and then a small part of it’s brilliance gets exposed so you get a glimpse of your inherent goodness. By understanding that you and all other people possess the same goodness, kindness naturally ensues. Just give it some time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vigilance By Lord Shantideva

When the urge arises in the mind
To feelings of desire or wrathful hate,
Do not act! Be silent, do no speak!
And like a log of wood be sure to stay.

When the mind is wild with mockery
And filled with pride and haughty arrogance,
And when you want to show the hidden faults of others,
To bring up old dissensions or to act deceitfully,

And when you want to fish for praise,
Or criticize and spoil another's name,
Or use harsh language, sparring for a fight,
It's then that like a log you should remain.

And when you yearn for wealth, attention, fame,
A circle of admirers serving you,
And when you look for honors, recognition---
It's then that like a log you should remain.

And when you want to do another down
And cultivate advantage for yourself,
And when the wish to gossip comes to you,
It's then that like a log you should remain.

Impatience, indolence, faint heartedness,
And likewise haughty speech and insolence,
Attachment to your side--when these arise,
It's then that like a log you should remain.

Examine thus yourself from every side.
Note harmful thoughts and every futile striving.
Thus it is that heroes in the bodhisattva path
Apply the remedies to keep a steady mind.

With perfect and unyielding faith,
With steadfastness, respect, and courtesy,
With modesty and conscientiousness,
Work calmly for the happiness of others.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Italian Buddhist-Urban Buddhism: Love Thy Self

We are taught from an early age to love our neighbor and be giving. All too often we put others before ourselves and forget to shine the light of compassion on our own heart. We deserve our own love too!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Be Open Minded About Compassion

I absolutely love! This is her latest post on compassion....

“Love is saying, ‘I feel differently’ instead of ‘you’re wrong.’” -Unknown

I’ve written a lot of posts about compassion these past few years, challenging both myself and readers to be open-minded and see things from others’ points of view.

On almost every post, someone has commented that there are times when other people are, in fact, wrong–when the person who cut you off in traffic really is a jerk, not just having a bad day; when the friend who hurt you actually had cruel intentions, and didn’t just make an innocent mistake; or when the person who sees things differently is truly misinformed, as opposed to holding a varied, but different opinion.

I think we sometimes fear losing our sense of self and self-respect by giving other people too much leeway. If we give the benefit of the doubt one time too many times, we may start to feel like a door mat. Or if we consider other people’s perspectives too seriously, we may risk losing the beliefs that help us make sense of the world.

If we continually refrain from identifying people as right and wrong, we may find it challenging to hold onto the ideas that feel right to us. And that can be a scary thought, particularly when many of us wrap around our identities around our beliefs and understandings.

But maybe it doesn’t have to work this way. Maybe we can define the conduct we believe to be good and kind, without assuming we know people’s intentions, thereby labeling them right or wrong when they stumble. Maybe we can decide and honor what we believe and allow other people the same freedom, choosing not to be threatened if they see things differently.

Maybe loving ourselves is feeling secure without having to convince other people we’re right; and loving other people is wanting to understand instead of wanting to tell them they’re wrong.

Today if you feel tempted to point out the err of someone’s ways or beliefs, ask yourself: Would I rather argue and create pain, or agree to disagree and maintain peace?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Every Morning

Every morning, when we wake up, we have 24 brand new hours to live. What a precious gift! We have the capacity to live in a way that these 24 hours will bring peace, joy and happiness to ourselves and others. Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in every thing we do and see - Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, August 8, 2011

One: The Movie

This is one of the finest documentaries on the various questions of life I have ever seen. It is absolutely amazing! Every religion, faith, group of people...anyone you could possibly imagine, are asked profound questions...questions we’ve all thought of. Some of the individuals questioned are the greatest spiritual minds in contemporary times. It is wonderful!