Mindfulness is everywhere these days, but it’s often poorly defined. To me its central and defining characteristic is self-observation. When we’re unmindful, there’s no self-observation going on. The lights are on, but nobody’s home.
Thoughts, feelings, speech, and actions are all functioning, but there’s no inner observer, and so there’s no evaluation going on. Without evaluation there’s no mechanism for recognizing that certain thoughts etc. are causing us or others suffering. And so we’re really nothing more than a complex bundle of instincts and habits. Those instincts and habits can do amazing things, like drive a car (ever “woken up” to find you’ve driven somewhere and have no recollection of the journey?) or read a … Read more »
Are you one of those people who think, “Oh, I could never meditate. My mind’s too busy!”?
I’m here to tell you that having a busy mind is the very best reason to meditate, not a reason to avoid it! After all we start going to the gym because we’re out of shape, not because we’re already fit. Meditating helps our busy minds become calmer.
Of course, just as when you start going to the gym the first thing you notice is how out of condition you are, it’s often a shock when we first meditate to discover just how unruly our minds are. But that’s OK. That’s something we just learn to accept.… Read more »
We’re pulled and prodded by financial pressures, commuter traffic, corporate policies, technology, advertising, politics, and the people we work with and live with. Also, internal forces yank the proverbial chains, including emotional reactions, compelling desires, “shoulds,” and internalized “voices” from parents and other authority figures.
Sometimes these pressures are necessary, like a flashing light on your car’s dashboard telling you to get gas. Even a broken clock is right two times a day.
But on the whole these pressures are stressful and breed a sense of helplessness. Plus, a lot of the internal forces come from childhood, irrational fears, unfair self-criticism, ancient tendencies in the brain (e.g., its negativity bias), or the darker corners of … Read more »
The title of this practice is a little tongue-in-cheek. What I mean is, most of us – me included – spend time worrying about criticism: past, present, and even future. Yes, try hard, keep agreements, “don’t be evil,” etc. But sooner or later – usually sooner – someone is going to point out the error in your ways. Often in subtle versions that still have an implicit criticism, such as giving advice, helping or teaching when you don’t really need it, making corrections, comparing you negatively to others, or focusing on the one tile in the mosaic of your actions that’s problematic while staying mum about the 99 other good tiles.
In other words, criticism … Read more »
For some, pleasure is defined as freedom from work, unstructured time, travel, leisure activities, not following a proscribed plan, or leaving responsibilities behind.
Pleasure can be seen as an escape from:
We many see exercise or meditation in this way, activities that we “should” do.
For many years I struggled in my meditation … Read more »
Research suggests that people who feel gratitude benefit in the following ways:
2. less depressed
3. less stressed
4. more satisfied with their lives and social relationships
5. aware of their purpose in life
6. self confident
8. able to cope with the difficulties in positive ways
9. more likely to seek support from other people, and
10. able to learn and grow from their experiences.
It has been said that gratitude is strongly linked with mental health. Several times in my life I have kept a gratitude journal, in which I have written about five things I was grateful for each day. I kept this journal on my computer in … Read more »
Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, author of Rebel Buddha: On the Road to Freedom, explains that our innate drive for freedom can be expressed either destructively or creatively.
Rebel Buddha is an exploration of what it means to be free and how it is that we can become free. Although we may vote for the head of our government, marry for love, and worship the divine or mundane powers of our choice, most of us don’t really feel free in our day-to-day lives. When we talk about freedom, we’re also talking about its opposite — bondage, lack of independence, being subject to the control of something or someone outside ourselves. No one likes it, and when … Read more »
The more aware we become of ourselves, the more we notice that our minds resort to pre-programmed “scripts” — habitual ways of reacting to the world. Srimati discusses how awareness creates the freedom to choose our responses and free ourselves from our conditioning.
In this short video, Srimati talks about how to know which of the competing voices in our head to trust. She suggests listening to the inner guidance that leads towards expansiveness and freedom.