Month: August 2018

Susan Piver on Meditation and Creativity

By Susan Piver // The other day, I read a tweet from someone looking for advice about taking up meditation for creative reasons. Could it help one become more creative, they wondered? I’ve had ample opportunity to study this question. I lead meditation and writing retreats that are about reconnecting with our own creativity and, beyond that, with the moment of inspiration. And after all, what is creativity, exactly, besides a continuous series of moments of inspiration? Which raises the questions: What is inspiration and where does it come from? Can my meditation practice help? When it comes to the latter question, the answer is “absolutely” and “maybe not.” Fascinatingly, Dictionary.com offers us this definition of “to inspire”: “To infuse into the mind; to communicate to the spirit; to convey, as by a divine or supernatural influence; to disclose preternaturally; to produce in, as by inspiration.” And this: “To draw in by the operation of breathing; to inhale.” At no point is the definition offered: “to be clever” or “to impress.” Rather, the definition points …

MBSR

Wholeness and Mindfulness

By Janet Solyntjes // Nearly everywhere one turns these days the language of “mindfulness” is to be found. Its ubiquitous influence is flavoring American culture. Because my professional life is part of the mindfulness movement, I have sensitivity towards noticing the numerous references to mindfulness that are popping up in the media. What I personally find inspiring is not the “Zen” or “mindful” references dotting our media world. What is heartening is the clear shift that happens in an individual and culture each time a person opens to unconditional goodness, wholeness, and worthiness. Can you feel something shifting? Are you curious about the transformative power of the increased number of people practicing mindfulness in America? Jon Kabat-Zinn, the progenitor of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, speaks of the healing power of the view and practice of entering wholeness: When we glimpse our own completeness in the stillness of any moment, when we directly experience ourself as whole in that moment and also a part of a larger whole, a new and profound coming to terms with our problems …

The Practice of Dropping: An Antidote for a Busy Life

By Brian Spielmann & De West // When we’re babies, the ability to grasp, which becomes fully developed around 9-12 months, is one of the most important developmental milestones. This core skill demonstrates planning, hand-eye coordination, muscular strength, and motor skills. As adult spiritual practitioners, we have the opposite issue: how do we stop grasping and let go? Our minds are constantly grasping and fixating, creating much suffering in our minds and tension in our bodies. As Mick Jagger says, “You can’t always get what you want.” And that grasping is where samsara begins. The Buddhist and Yogic traditions both offer clear, practical instructions on how to let go fully. When we integrate these traditions, working both with our body and our mental awareness, we have a powerful dual pathway to further relaxation and sense of peace. Take a Load Off The good news is that our thoughts and emotional baggage don’t actually exist. They come and they go, and we can let them arise with no judgment or need to push them away. We …

Patience

By Katharine Kaufman // In 1965 I was 7. On certain nights my parents sat at the dining room table with their lists and three by five cards. “I am trying to be patient!” my mother says. Her voice has some authority, like she is the only one working at it. Patience itself is impatient. The act of trying is lonely and it split us from each other. Impatience turns to fear, anger. Why won’t this be like I want? My father’s patience transformed to face twitches, shoulder shrugs, and sighs. He tosses up his hands, walks from the room.                                                       ~ The man answering the phone says his name, Kaylin, with equal emphasis on the Kay and lin. The name means meadow, water, pool. Kaylin mumbles and stutters. Interesting choice, being the answer- the- calls- guy for the credit union, I think. After a first rush of irritation, I decide to like Kaylin.  His voice sounds like he has water in his mouth, plus the stutter. I ask him to repeat. I put more attention into …

Andrew Holecek

The Benefits of Lucid Dreaming

By Andrew Holecek // One of the most common questions around lucid dreaming is, “Why bother?” Life is already so busy, what’s in it for me? After forty years of exploring these special dreams, the scope and depth of their potential continues to astound me. The benefits are almost too good to be true. But the vast literature supports these claims, thousands of students I’ve worked with continue to verify them, and my own experience confirms these remarkable gains. Not everybody will experience these benefits. It all depends on how deeply you engage in the practices, how firmly you believe in them, and how patient and determined you are. Many people will be thrilled to simply indulge their lucid dreams and leave it at that. The entertainment value is enough. At the other end of the spectrum are those who pursue lucid dreaming and dream yoga as a lifetime path. These are the dream yogis and yoginis who realize that these practices can lead to complete enlightenment. Most people are somewhere in the middle. They …

Cyndi Lee

Radical Inclusivity and Just Showing Up

By Cyndi Lee // The other day a friend of mine texted to cancel our lunch date. The reason, she wrote, was that her body wasn’t feeling well and was telling her it needed to rest. After wishing her a delicious nap and a speedy recovery, I couldn’t help but wonder about this conversation between her and her body. I pondered how it could be that her body is not her and, if so, who is she that isn’t a body? Of course, this brings up age-old questions about the nature of consciousness, impermanence, and the definition of the true self. But what I’m really struck with is how we separate ourselves from ourselves. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word, yuj, which is typically translated as to yoke or bind, to join, unite or re-unite. In other words, yoga is relationship. Of course, we know that mind and body are part of each other. You cannot have a body without a mind or a mind without a body. But sometimes we forget. One …

[VIDEO] Zen Path of the Heart

By Gerry Shishin Wick, Roshi and Ilia Shinko Perez, Roshi // Many spiritual practitioners are confused about what to do when feelings and emotions arise during meditation. Some traditions teach to treat the emotions like thoughts and let them go, returning to the breath. In Zen Path of the Heart, feeling sensations and emotions are welcomed and seen as necessary aspects of progress in the path of awakening. The sensations of emotions, when present, become the focal point of the concentrated mind and are held with nonjudgmental awareness. This gentle and kind acceptance of our present state allows feelings to come, run their course, and dissolve and transform. Allowing these emotional processes to unfold as they naturally need to heals the emotional wounds developed throughout one’s life, and thereby dissolving karmic habit patterns. Ongoing meditation develops the expansive container that can hold these emotional states without needing to eject into mental stories or repress the emotion through avoidance. The path to the recognition of our True Being must include everything: our feelings, our personality and our humanity. …

Why Jiu-Jitsu for Self-Defense

By Maya Fliegel // I have always been intrigued by martial arts of all kinds. The discipline, the body-mind coordination, the strength and of course the bad-assery. The self-defense aspect of knowing martial arts seemed secondary to me at first. As a kid, I did Judo for a while and I liked it a lot. However, being a passionate, lifelong horseback rider, I had to decide at some point where I wanted to invest my resources—and horses won at that particular point in my life. Later in my 20s, I reconnected with martial arts. I was told about Aikido and thought I should really like it. However, I tried it and I didn’t. I just couldn’t connect with it at the time. Luckily, that same day I got an introduction to Jiu-Jjitsu; an art that I had barely heard of at that point, and had no concept of what it entailed. Nevertheless, it immediately clicked with me. So, why would I voluntarily let myself get tackled by a guy who is twice my size and …

Blake D. Bauer

Understand Your Life Purpose

By Blake D. Bauer // The questions ‘Why am I here?’ and ‘What is my life purpose?’ are at the heart of every human life. If we truly want to be happy, well and at peace, we’re called to remember, with crystal clarity, why we were born. Understanding that your life has a purpose and that all suffering is purposeful can help you find the strength to persist on your healing and spiritual journey when you’re struggling. As with the destiny of every human being, your destiny entails learning how to love, value and be true to yourself completely, which then unlocks the love within you and allows you simply to enjoy being alive. It’s helpful to know that our choices, spoken words and actions in each moment are either leading us closer to fulfilling our life’s purpose or creating more pain, misery and sickness. Every experience that we’ve had since our birth right up until this very moment has been teaching us to accept, forgive, honour, value, respect, express, trust in and be true …

How a Meditation Retreat Can Change Everything

By Daniel Hessey // Acharya Bill McKeever and I led a dathün a few years ago, and at the beginning of the month–long retreat, he filled a glass of water and stirred some mud into it. It became murky and funky. You could not see through the glass, and you wouldn’t want to drink it. Even when the the water stopped swirling, the dirt remained suspended and the water opaque. Bill put the glass on the shrine, where it sat untouched for four weeks. The first week, it didn’t seem to change all that much, but on the second week you could see some sediment accumulating at the bottom—though the water was not clear. The third week, you could see through the water much better, though it was still a little brown. Then, in the fourth week, Bill picked up the glass and drank from the clear water above all the mud that had settled to the bottom. Daily meditation practice changes everything. We learn we can make friends with ourselves, our thoughts, our emotions, and …