Initiate giving. Don't wait for someone to ask. See what happens - especially to you. You may find that you gain a greater clarity about yourself and about your relationships, as well as more energy rather than less. You may find that, rather than exhausting yourself or your resources, you will replenish them. Such is the power of mindful, selfless generosity. At the deepest level, there is no giver, no gift, and no recipient . . . only the universe rearranging itself.
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As long as you are breathing, there is more right with you than there is wrong, no matter how ill or how hopeless you may feel. But if you hope to mobilize your inner capacities for growth and for healing and to take charge in your life on a new level, a certain kind of effort and energy on your part will be required.... It will take conscious effort on your part to move in a direction of healing and inner peace. This means learning to work with the very stress and pain that is causing you to suffer.
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The only time you ever have in which to learn anything or see anything or feel anything, or express any feeling or emotion, or respond to an event, or grow, or heal, is this moment, because this is the only moment any of us ever gets. You're only here now; you're only alive in this moment.
My father was a world-class scientist and my mother was a prolific painter. I could see that my parents had completely different ways of knowing and understanding the world, and relating to it. My father approached things through scientific inquiry and exploration, while my mother experienced things through her emotions and senses.
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"What is my job on the planet?" is one question we might do well to ask ourselves over and over again. Otherwise, we may wind up doing somebody else's job and not even know it. And what's more, that somebody else might be a figment of our own imagination, and maybe a prisoner of it as well.
The importance of the development of the emotional body is hardly recognized today. We are pretty much left to our own devices to come to full adulthood, whether man or woman. Our elders may have become so denatured themselves from a lack of such nurturance that there is no longer a collective knowledge of how to guide the awakening emotional vitality and authenticity of our young people, our children. Mindfulness may contribute to a reawakening of this ancient wisdom in ourselves and in others.
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Even though in principle we may "know better", we routinely succumb all the same to the incessant, often frantic and unexamined busyness of thinking we have to get somewhere else first before we can rest; thinking we need to get certain things done to feel we have accomplished something before we can be happy.
Meditation is simply about being yourself and knowing something about who that is. It is about coming to realize that you are on a path whether you like it or not, namely, the path that is your life. Meditation may help us see that this path we call our life has direction; that it is always unfolding, moment by moment; and that what happens now, in this moment, influences what happens next.
Once you have established yourself as a center of love and kindness radiating throughout your being, which amounts to a cradling of yourself in loving kindness and acceptance, you can dwell here indefinitely, drinking at this fount, bathing it in, renewing yourself, nourishing yourself, enlivening yourself. This can be a profoundly healing practice for body and soul.
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Karma is often wrongly confused with the notion of a fixed destiny. It is more like an accumulation of tendencies that can lock us into particular behavior patterns, which themselves result in further accumulations of tendencies of a similar nature... But is is not necessary to be a prisoner of old karma.
To let go means to give up coercing, resisting, or struggling, in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome which comes out of allowing things to be as they are without getting caught up in your attraction to or rejection of them, in the intrinsic stickiness of wanting, of liking and disliking. It's akin to letting your palm open to unhand something you have been holding on to.
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Concentration is a cornerstone of mindfulness practice. Your mindfulness will only be as robust as the capacity of your mind to be calm and stable. Without calmness, the mirror of mindfulness will have an agitated and choppy surface and will not be able to reflect things with any accuracy.
Patience is an ever present alternative to the mind's endemic restlessness and impatience. Scratch the surface of impatience and what you will find lying beneath it, subtly or not so subtly, is anger. It's the strong energy of not wanting things to be the way they are and blaming someone (often yourself) or something for it. This doesn't mean you can't hurry when you have to. It is possible even to hurry patiently, mindfully, moving fast because you have chosen to.
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Perhaps we just need little reminders from time to time that we are already dignified, deserving, worthy. Sometimes we don't feel that way because of the wounds and the scars we carry from the past or because of the uncertainty of the future. It is doubtful that we came to feel undeserving on our own. We were helped to feel unworthy. We were taught it in a thousand ways when we were little, and we learned our lessons well.
One small shift in the way we each conduct ourselves, and the crystal lattice structure of the world is already different. In this way, we are the world, and when we take responsibility for our small but not insignificant part of it, the whole is already different-the flowering we manifest emotionally and in every other way of some importance, potentially enormous.
Symptoms of illness and distress, plus your feelings about them, can be viewed as messengers coming to tell you something important about your body or about your mind. In the old days, if a king didn't like the message he was given, he would sometimes have the messenger killed. This is tantamount to suppressing your symptoms or your feelings because they are unwanted. Killing the messenger and denying the message or raging against it are not intelligent ways of approaching healing. The one thing we don't want to do is to ignore or rupture the essential connections that can complete relevant feedback loops and restore self-regulation and balance. Our real challenge when we have symptoms is to see if we can listen to their message and really hear them and take them to heart, that is, make the connection fully.
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The future that we want - this is it. This is the future of all the previous thoughts you've ever had about the future. You're in it. You're already in it. What is the purpose of all this living if it's only to get some place else and then when you're there you're not happy anyway, you want to be some place else. It's always for 'when I retire, ' 'when I graduate college, ' 'when I make enough money, ' 'when I get married, ' 'when I get divorced, ' 'when the kids move out.' It's like, wait a minute, this is it. This is your life. We only have moments. This moment's as good as any other. It's perfect.
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Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to being present. There is no "performance." There is just this moment. We are not trying to improve or to get anywhere else. We are not even running after special insights or visions. Nor are we forcing ourselves to be non-judgmental, calm, or relaxed. And we are certainly not promoting self-consciousness or indulging in self-preoccupation. Rather, we are simply inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intentino to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and now. Of course, with continued practice and the right kind of firm yet gentle effort, calmness and mindfulness and equanimity develop and deepen on their own, out of your commitment to dwell in stillness and to observe without reacting and judging. Realizatinos and insights, profound experiences of stillness and joy, do come. But it would be incorrect to say that we are practicing to make these experiences happen or that having more of them is better than having fewer of them.
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One practical way to do this is to look at other people and ask yourself if you are really seeing them of just your thought about them. Sometimes our thoughts act like dream glasses. When we have them on, we see dream children, dream husband, dream wife, dream ob, dream colleagues, dream partners, dream friends. We can live in a dream present for a dream future... But if we take off the glasses, maybe, just maybe, we might see a little more accurately what is actually here.
When you have children, you realize how easy it is to not see them fully, and perhaps miss all those early years. If you are not careful, you can be too absorbed in work, and they will be only too happy to tell you about it later. Being a parent is one of greatest mindfulness practices of all.
Buckminster Fuller himself was fond of stating that what seems to be happening at the moment is never the full story of what is really going on. He liked to point out that for the honey bee, it is the honey that is important. But the bee is at the same time nature's vehicle for carrying out cross-pollination of the flowers. Interconnectedness is a fundamental principle of nature. Nothing is isolated. Each event connects with others.
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Life on earth is a whole, yet it expresses itself in unique time-bound bodies, microscopic or visible, plant or animal, extinct or living. So there can be no one place to be. There can be no one way to be, no one way to practice, no one way to learn, no one way to love, no one way to grow or to heal, no one way to live, no one way to feel, no one thing to know or be known. The particulars count.
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Most of the time, if you're not really paying attention, you're someplace else. So your child might say, "Daddy, I want this," and you might say, "Just a minute, I'm busy." Now that's no big deal-we all get busy, and kids frequently ask for attention. But over your child's entire youth, you may have an enormous number of such moments to be really, fully present, but because you thought you were busy, you didn't see the opportunities these moments presented. . . . People carry around an enormous amount of grief because they missed the little things.
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Mindfulness means moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness. It is cultivated by refining our capacity to pay attention, intentionally, in the present moment, and then sustaining that attention over time as best we can. In the process, we become more in touch with our life as it is unfolding.
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It's interesting to look at your children as line-in Zen masters who can put their finger on places where you're resistant, or thinking narrowly, in ways noone else can. You can either lose your mind and your authenticity in the process of reacting to all that stuff, or you can use it as the perfect opportunity to grow and nourish your children by attending to what is deepest and best in them and in yourself.
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In its outward manifestation, meditation appears to involve either stopping, by parking the body in a stillness that suspends activity, or giving oneself over to flowing movement. In either case, it is an embodiment of wise attention, an inward gesture undertaken for the most part in silence, a shift from doing to simply being. It is an act that may at first seem artificial but that we soon discover, if we keep at it, is ultimately one of pure love for the life unfolding within us and around us.
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When people say "Let it go," what they really mean is "Get over it," and that's not a helpful thing to say. It's not a matter of letting go - you would if you could. Instead of "Let it go," we should probably say "Let it be"; this recognizes that the mind won't let go and the problem may not go away, and it allows you to form a healthier relationship with what's bothering you.
But when we start to focus in on what our own mind is up to, for instance, it is not unusual to quickly go unconscious again, to fall back into an automatic-pilot mode of unawareness. These lapses in awareness are frequently caused by an eddy of dissatisfaction with what we are seeing or feeling in that moment, out of which springs a desire for something to be different, for things to change.
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When we let go of wanting something else to happen in this moment, we are taking a profound step toward being able to encounter what is here now. If we hope to go anywhere or develop ourselves in any way, we can only step from where we are standing. If we don't really know where we are standing""a knowing that comes directly from the cultivation of mindfulness""we may only go in circles, for all our efforts and expectations. So, in meditation practice, the best way to get somewhere is to let go of trying to get anywhere at all.
Another way to look at meditation is to view thinking itself as a waterfall, a cascading of thought. In cultivating mindfulness, we are going beyond or behind our thinking, much the way you might find a vantage point in a cave or depression in the rock behind a waterfall. We still see and hear the water, but we are out of the torrent.
It is a form of violence, to not see a being for who he or she really is. You think, "Oh, that's my son." But the lens, "my son," completely obliterates the multi- dimensions of that being. Maybe you only see your disappointments in that child, or you aspirations for that child, but that's not the child.
It is remarkable how liberating it feels to be able to see that your thoughts are just thoughts and that they are not 'you' or 'reality.' For instance, if you have the thought that you have to get a certain number of things done today and you don't recognize it as a thought but act as if it's the 'the truth,' then you have created a reality in that moment in which you really believe that those things must all be done today.
Generosity is another quality which, like patience, letting go, non-judging, and trust, provides a solid foundation for mindfulness practice. You might experiment with using the cultivation of generosity as a vehicle for deep self-observation and inquiry as well as an exercise in giving. A good place to start is with yourself. See if you can give yourself gifts that may be true blessings, such as self-acceptance, or some time each day with no purpose. Practice feeling deserving enough to accept these gifts without obligation-to simply receive from yourself, and from the universe.
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Non-doing has nothing to do with being indolent or passive. Quite the contrary. It takes great courage and energy to cultivate non-doing, both in stillness and in activity. Nor is it easy to make a special time for non-doing and to keep at it in the face of everything in our lives which needs to be done.
Awareness is not the same as thought. It lies beyond thinking, although it makes no use of thinking, honoring it's value and it's power. Awareness is more like a vessel which can hold and contain our thinking, helping us to see and know our thought as thought rather than getting caught up in them as reality.
Once in awhile throughout the day...let go into full acceptance of the present moment, including how you are feeling and what you perceive to be happening... Give yourself permission to allow this moment to be exactly as it is, and allow yourself to be exactly as you are. Then, when you're ready, move in the direction your heart tells you to go, mindfully and with resolution.
In Asian languages, the word for 'mind' and the word for 'heart' are same. So if you're not hearing mindfulness in some deep way as heartfulness, you're not really understanding it. Compassion and kindness towards oneself are intrinsically woven into it. You could think of mindfulness as wise and affectionate attention.