Category Archives: Meditation

Something Good

1. Meanwhile: An Illustrated Love Letter to the Living Fabric of a City and Our Shared Human Longing to Be Understood on Brain Pickings. I might need this book.

2. 14 Benefits of Mindfulness. {Infographic} on Elephant Journal.

3. Wisdom from Ringu Tulku,

A feeling has arisen in the mind, like a cloud. Like a cloud, it appears and then it disappears, and that’s all there is to it. This time it is sadness arising, the next time it may be happiness, the next time it may be anger, and later it may be kindness. All sorts of things arise, like wildflowers in a spring meadow. All sorts of flowers grow; all sorts of thoughts and emotions arise. They are all okay; they’re nothing special. When we understand what our thoughts and feelings are, and we experience them in this way, we are able to let them come and let them go.

4. In his most recent newsletter, Austin Kleon shared some really good articles about the problematic nature of the assertion that we should all “do what you love”: In the Name of Love, and The Ploughshares Round-Down: Why “Do What You Love” Is Bad Advice, and Do What You Love.

5. Good stuff on Bored Panda: The Winners Of The 2014 Sony World Photography Awards, and Intimate And Playful Dog Portraits By Elke Vogelsang, and The 30 Happiest Animals In The World That Will Make You Smile, and Japanese Photographer Takes Beautiful Sun-Kissed Photos Of Cats.

6. Wisdom from Rainer Maria Rilke,

Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final.

7. Good stuff from MindBodyGreen: 5 Things I Miss About Weighing More Than 300 Pounds, and 10 Things That Will Happen When You Start Pursuing Your Dreams, and 10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Therapy. Also Why I Hate “Bikini Body” Pressure + How To Get Over It For Good, which says “Deprivation has no place in long-term well-being.”

8. More good stuff from Elephant Journal: How to be Productive (an infographic), and 5 Ways You Can Make a Living as a Yoga Teacher.

9. Wow…This 3200 Year Old Tree Is So Huge It’s Never Been Captured In A Single Image. Until Now.

10. How to Get Out of Bed.

11. Nobody Expected This From a Little Girl. What She Was Caught on Video Doing Shocked The World.

12. Good stuff on Viral Nova: A Kindergartner Wrote And Drew The Most Genius ‘How To’ Guide Ever. The Drawings Are Hilarious. and A 31 Year Old Was Sick Of Expensive Rent And High Costs. What He Did Took Guts… But Look Inside. and This Guy Started With Nothing. What He Had Just 6 Weeks Later Made Me Ridiculously Jealous.

13. Garbage Piece from Jeff Oaks. Even his garbage is beautiful.

14. Two beautiful shares from Jessica Patterson,

Boundaries, by Lynn Ungar

The universe does not
revolve around you.
The stars and planets spinning
through the ballroom of space
dance with one another
quite outside of your small life.
You cannot hold gravity
or seasons; even air and water
inevitably evade your grasp.
Why not, then, let go?

You could move through time
like a shark through water,
neither restless or ceasing,
absorbed in and absorbing
the native element.
Why pretend you can do otherwise?
The world comes in at every pore,
mixes in your blood before
breath releases you into
the world again. Did you think
the fragile boundary of your skin
could build a wall?

Listen. Every molecule is humming
its particular pitch.
Of course you are a symphony.
Whose tune do you think
the planets are singing
as they dance?

And

Self-Portrait
by David Whyte

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
abandoned,
if you can know despair or see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eye,
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living,
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.

15. 10 Things Highly Intuitive People Do Differently on Huffington Post. I haven’t checked, but this seems like the almost exact same list that was about Highly Creative People.

16. Wisdom from Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

We do not become healers. We came as healers. We are. Some of us are still catching up to what we are.

We do not become storytellers. We came as carriers of the stories we and our ancestors actually lived. We are. Some of us are still catching up to what we are.

We do not become artists. We came as artists. We are. Some of us are still catching up to what we are.

We do not become writers, dancers, musicians, helpers, peacemakers. We came as such. We are. Some of us are still catching up to what we are.

We do not learn to love in this sense. We came as Love. We are Love. Some of us are still catching up to who we truly are.

17. Happy – Pentatonix (Pharrell Cover). I have a soft spot for acapella groups.

18. How I earned my white belt in desire on Superhero Life. I love how Andrea sees everything in her life as an opportunity to learn, to practice, to transform.

19. Orphaned Baby Rhino Loves To Run With Her Rescuers on Huffington Post. You must watch the video.

20. Wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert, “If you are looking for your home in the world, here is a clue: It’s whatever you love more than you love yourself. (Addiction and infatuation don’t count! Unsafe neighborhoods in which to build a home!) Identify that worthy thing to love, and abide there.”

21. Wisdom from Richard Bach, “There are no mistakes. The events we bring upon ourselves, no matter how unpleasant, are necessary in order to learn what we need to learn; whatever steps we take, they’re necessary to reach the places we’ve chosen to go.”

22.  Wisdom from David Whyte, “You must learn one thing. The world was made to be free in.”

23. Apple and Poppy Seed Coleslaw recipe. Looks yummy.

24. 10 Things I No Longer Believe About Having a Creative Career (and Being an Entrepreneur) from Michelle Ward.

25. When gratitude is harmful from Danielle LaPorte.

26. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

With the commitment to not cause harm, we move away from reacting in ways that cause us to suffer, but we haven’t yet arrived at a place that feels entirely relaxed and free. We first have to go through a growing-up process, a getting-used-to process. That process, that transition, is one of becoming comfortable with exactly what we’re feeling as we feel it. The key practice to support us in this is mindfulness—being fully present right here, right now. Meditation is one form of mindfulness, but mindfulness is called by many names: attentiveness, nowness, and presence are just a few. Essentially, mindfulness means wakefulness—fully present wakefulness. Chögyam Trungpa called it paying attention to all the details of your life.

27. Wisdom from Joseph Campbell,

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.

28. 7 Simple Truths about Dressing with Less on Be More With Less.

29. When You Want to Call It Quits Do This Instead… from Dawn Dalili, in which she says,

The escape is temporary. The comfort in going numb is fleeting and often followed by a pain more unbearable than breathing through my fear – it is the pain of living a life that is disconnected from my spirit, my soul, my God, my truth (choose the word that suits you.)

As challenging as it may ever seem to move forward through challenge, I dare say that it’s more challenging to give up. When we give up, our body contracts, our shoulders slouch which closes our hearts, and our energy fades.

30. Sacred Ground from Rachel Cole.

31. Dream Tree from Soul Pancake.

32. ColorHexa. Confession: I have a thing for color tools.

33. From Preacher To Grass Cutter To Earth-Shaking Soul Singer from NPR Music. Watch the video. You won’t believe what comes out of this guy’s mouth.

34. Guy Impressively Sings Katy Perry’s ‘Dark Horse’ In 20 Different Styles (Video) from Huffington Post. The final one, the John Mayer version, is worth the watch.

35. Funny Husky tries to talk other dog into giving her a toy (VIDEO) on Dog Heirs.

36. 5 Steps to Declutter Your Schedule and Live Your Desired Life from Becoming Minimalist.

37. Shared on Positively Present Picks: 17 Things You Suddenly Start Doing When You Get An Office Job, and Canva (another cool graphics tool I can’t wait to try), and 15 powerful side-benefits to living in the present moment, and 25 Bold Ways to Avoid the Trap of Overwhelm.

38. Shared by Susannah Conway on her Something for the Weekend list: her “My Country Home” Pinterest board (I want to go to there), and Porn Burger (warning: if you eat cow, this will make you hungry).

39. How to Put a Toddler to Bed in 100 Easy Steps on Huffington Post.

40. Watch dogs respond to a magic trick.

Life Rehab Resource: Practice

liferehabresourcesDisclaimer: I could write a whole book (and am) about practice, so to imply I’m going to be able to say everything there is to say, or even only the very most important things there are to share about practice in a single blog post is just silly. And yet, this is the life rehab resource that wants to be shared today.

I started thinking about it when I was writing my morning pages. This is a practice I first learned by way of Julia Cameron, who describes it this way,

Morning pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages* – they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind – and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.

She even made a video about the practice.

As I was writing my morning pages today, I was thinking about how they are a life rehab resource I’ve been able to maintain no matter what else is going on in my life. There are lots of other things on my to-do and to-be lists right now that I’d love to be doing but had to give up, temporarily. For example there are stacks of books I want to read, a list of movies I’d like to watch, Nia and yoga classes I’d like to attend, letters I want to send, courses I’d like to design, two books and various essays I want to write, but for now there just isn’t time. But morning pages, those get done every day no matter what. For me, they are like warming up before exercising. It’s the thing I need to do to be ready to write the stuff I plan to share.

Just as Julia describes it, much of what I write as part of my morning pages is garbage — whining and complaining, rants, confessions, anxiety, speculation, disillusion and confusion, lists, “and then he said” nonsense. A record of confusion. It gets it all out of the way, clears a path, makes space for the truth, what needs to be said, wants to be shared — the lotus that pushes its way out of the muck.

morningpages

there is a tattoo of a lotus on the inside of my right wrist to remind me of exactly this

In writing out all the crap I can see how silly it is, how ridiculous I am. It’s the same when you watch your thoughts and emotions arise in meditation, where the instruction is to observe them arise and let them go without getting attached. I realize through sitting practice how much of my life is spent in reaction to my thoughts and emotions, getting triggered and hooked. Someone says something, judgement kicks in, and off I go. A thought arises and I run after it, trying to catch and hold it, turn it into something solid.

A fundamental quality of all practice is the cultivation of observation without attachment. Practice helps me to see the ways I habitually react, sometimes allowing me to interrupt myself and rest in the gap between thoughts/emotions and action. Through practice I contemplate how my habitual patterns and discursive thinking are no longer serving me. In this way, practice helps me to ease suffering. Over time I start to realize how blindly driven I’ve been by my thoughts and emotions, see how empty they actually are, and start to relax, consider other options, access a deeper wisdom and compassion, and employ more skillful means.

For example, on the yoga mat, I observe how in a pose I might criticize myself for not doing it “right.” Maybe I compare myself to the person on the mat next to me who seems to be doing it “better,” or I judge myself against a “perfect expression” of the pose. The thought arises that I’m doing it wrong and I begin to criticize myself. Shame quickly follows and soon I am smashing myself to bits, not really practicing yoga at all. In a final act of aggression, I force my body further into the pose, causing discomfort or pain, possibly even injuring myself.

sundaymorningyogaThe longer I practice, the more I am able to interrupt this pattern. I notice the thought or emotion arise. I pause and am curious about it instead of immediately acting on it. I consider what might be triggering it, notice how it feels in my body, all while trying my best to not start telling myself a story about it. Staying with this, I might understand that my body is unique (in the case of the yoga pose “gone wrong”), and at this particular time this is what is. Maybe my quads are especially tender after lifting weights or doing a lot of walking earlier in the week, or maybe I didn’t get enough sleep the night before and I have less energy. I recognize that the compassionate thing to do in this moment is a slight modification of the pose to maintain alignment and accommodate my body’s current state. My self talk shifts to love for my body, appreciation that I showed up to practice, gratitude that I’m paying attention and working with my body in this way, listening and trusting, being gentle.

Suddenly there is space, ease where before there was struggle. As in yoga, it’s best when writing morning pages — with all practice, actually — to not force or attempt to control, but rather show up with an open heart, be curious about what is, and in this way sink into and allow the truth of the moment.

#smallstone: Bark

sundaymorningyoga02Sitting in meditation, a dog outside barks. It’s a sound filled with joy, excitement, energy. It must feel so good to bark, to open up and release the full measure of your voice — feeling it rise from deep in your belly, fill your chest and buzz past your heart, through your throat and out your wide open mouth, your body and mind for that one moment focused completely on the music of your own voice, the energy of your own being.

Gratitude Friday

samhiking041. Lemon Poppyseed Scones from Whole Foods.

2. Found recipe for Tomato Rhubarb Chutney. I can’t wait until we have fresh tomatoes again, for eating and to try this recipe. Our friends had a jar of tomato chutney on Christmas, served with cheese and crackers, and I could have eaten it straight out of the jar with a spoon. It was so good.

3. The Great Clear Out. I’ve been working for close to two weeks on clearing out my office space, which led to cleaning the garage, the front closet and dresser, and the “dog cabinet.” It feels so good to clear out some space, let go of things that no longer serve me, clean up and make room.

journalshelves

new shelves in the closet for my journals

4. Meditation practice. I’ve been having some horrible anxiety lately, as we try to figure out what’s up with Sam, determine how to help him, keep him comfortable (he has some sort of nerve issue in his lower jaw), and meditating is one of the only things that helps me to calm down.

5. Being on break with Eric. He’s one of the other things that helps me calm down. It’s good to get to spend some extra time with him right now.

Bonus Joy: The way Sam sometimes curls his feet under when he sleeps. This morning, he got on this bed under my writing desk because Eric had started the dryer and Sam has decided he doesn’t like laundry. He digs himself a little nest in the corner and tries not to think about it.

samcurledfeet

#smallstone: Ease and Anxiety

sleepysam02As I listen to the guided meditation, “Finding Ease in the Moment,” Sam shifts in his bed behind me. I feel a surge of anxiety in my body, the cold tingle of fear, the rush of panic, the burning ache in my throat and chest and stomach. I breath in deep and then out, trying my best as instructed to find the “okayness of this moment.”

Something Good

image by eric

image by eric

1. Good stuff from Patti Digh: your daily rock : give comfort, your daily rock : transform, your daily rock : you make a difference, your daily rock : you know the answer, and your daily rock : feel good now.

2. Write A House Is Giving Writers Free Homes In Detroit on Huffington Post.

3. A little preview for you, an update about the You are Beautiful book by Matthew Hoffman that I helped fund through a Kickstarter project. Can’t wait to get my copy.

4. Let Everything Happen by Rainer Maria Rilke:

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.
Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.

5. This Man’s Wife Died 2 Years Ago. What He Just Discovered Last Week Is Indescribable. Get A Tissue. on Viral Nova.

6. The Five Things Our Dogs Want for Christmas from The Other End of the Leash.

7. Love from Be More with Less.

8. Truthbombs from Danielle LaPorte:

If you measure your success against someone else’s results, you will never be free – ever.

and

Do not give your past the power to define your future.

9. how to keep the spirit of christmas all year long from Positively Present.

10. From Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend post: Something small, every day, Sensitivity is Beautiful, 8 Kale Salads, and sit on a small wooden bench with yourself.

11. Wisdom from Robert Holden,

One new perception,
one fresh thought,
one act of surrender,
one change of heart,
one leap of faith,
can change your life forever.

12. the magic is in the mess from Brene’ Brown.

13. Good stuff from Marc and Angel Hack Life: 10 Ways to Stop Treating Yourself and 10 Gifts You Deserve to Give Yourself.

14. What Christmas Is Like For A Working Poor Family Earning $10,000 A Year (And How To Help) on Huffington Post.

15. No one reads a comic strip because it’s drawn well from Seth Godin. Something like The Oatmeal is proof of this, which leads to an interesting post he made on Facebook, which shows what an amazing artist he really is.

16. Wisdom from Anne Lamott on Facebook.

17. Here Are All The Movies Expiring On Netflix As Of January 1st, in case you want to do some binge watching over the next few days.

18. Wisdom from Marianne Williamson, “The most powerful step is when we move from “Ain’t it awful” to “Let’s make it not awful.”

19. Wisdom from Rumi,

Sometimes you hear a voice through the door calling you,
As a fish out of water hears the waves …
Come back. Come back.
This turning toward what you deeply love saves you.

20. 12/26/13 on 3x3x365. Beautiful.

21. Maitri on Elephant Journal by Waylon Lewis, in which he says,

But it is also the essence of maitri. It seems to me in my experience and also in talking to other people that we come to a body of teachings like the Buddhist teachings or any spiritual path, to meditation in some way like little children looking for comfort, looking for understanding, looking for attention, looking somehow to be confirmed. Some kind of comfort will come out of this.

And the truth is actually that the [meditation] practice isn’t about that. The practice is more about somehow this little child, this I, who wants and wants and wants to be confirmed in some way.

Practice is about that part of our being finally being able to open completely to the whole range of our experience, including all that wanting, including all that hurt, including the pain and the joy. Opening to the whole thing so that this little child-like part of us can finally, finally, finally, finally grow up.

22. Zadie Smith’s 10 Rules of Writing on Brain Pickings, in which she says, “Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied.” Word.

23. How to Write: A Year in Advice from Franzen, King, Hosseini, and More: Highlights from 12 months of interviews with writers about their craft and the authors they love, a really great series on The Atlantic.

24. Give your brain a break… and achieve inner peace with our easy guide to meditating.

25. A Forest Year.

26. Duke Grad Student Secretly Lived In a Van to Escape Loan Debt.

27. Mindful Writing Challenge – Jan ’14 from Writing Our Way Home.

Something Good

1. Loving Your Perfect Self, Before Improving It and Comfort Foods Gone Awry from Eat 2 Love.

2. Good stuff from MindBodyGreen: 30 Things To Do Before You Die, and Gluten-Free Maple Granola (a recipe), and 5 Tips To Ditch Needless Pressures & Let Feeling Good Be Your Guide, and It’s Monday! Make These Gluten-Free Autumn Cookies! (I don’t care that these are supposed to be “good for you,” they look delicious), and Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Mint Chocolate Superfood Snack Balls (same goes here), and 13 Small Choices That Can Change Your Life In Great Ways, and 21 Bad Habits To Avoid If You Want To Be Happy.

3. Family stories: The ones we claim, and the ones that claim us from Christina Rosalie, in which she says,

More than ever I can feel the way certain embers in my ribcage flare up with the unavoidable heat of this: to write is everything. And increasingly, the only thing. Over and over again I find my way to this truth, even as discovering what it truly means for my everyday life is still an act in progress.

Word.

4. 20 Funny Sidewalk Signs from Pleated Jeans.

5. Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potato recipe from The Healthy Chef.

6. 19 Adorable Ways To Decorate A Light Switch Cover from BuzzFeed DIY.

7. Perfect Day from Jeff Oaks.

8. Actually, you’re the guru. Notes on resonance and respect. from Danielle LaPorte.

9. Are You Buying The Healthiest Frozen Veggie Burger? on Food Babe, which led me to Think Twice Before Buying This Type of Burger.

10. Feed Your Roots With Roots from Meg Worden.

11. Good stuff from Elephant Journal: 10 Tips for Teaching a Larger-Bodied Yogi, and The Power of Self-Worth, and What’s the Most Important Question We Ask?

12. Everyday Objects Turned Into Imaginative Illustrations by Javier Pérez on Bored Panda.

13. The 24 Most Hipster Things That Have Ever Happened from BuzzFeed.

14. Me, the overly sensitive child, by Anne Lamott on Salon, in which she says something that made me have to stop reading and weep,

As far as I can recall, none of the adults in my life ever once remembered to say, “Some people have a thick skin and you don’t. Your heart is really open and that is going to cause pain, but that is an appropriate response to this world. The cost is high, but the blessing of being compassionate is beyond your wildest dreams. However, you’re not going to feel that a lot in seventh grade. Just hang on.”

15. Unchaining Creativity: Thirty Ways to Say I Love You on Scoutie Girl.

16. Should is a Warning Sign from Shauna Niequist.

17. Present Tense: Allie Brosh, Donald Glover, And Hurting Right Now.

18. The 19 Most Relatable Tweets From Mindy Kaling on BuzzFeed. There is just nothing more glorious and valuable than a funny woman.

19. Wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook.

20. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

The third noble truth says that the cessation of suffering is letting go of holding on to ourselves. By “cessation” we mean the cessation of hell as opposed to just weather, the cessation of this resistance, this resentment, this feeeling of being completely trapped and caught, trying to maintain huge ME at any cost. The teachings about recognizing egolessness sound quite abstract, but the path quality of that, the magic instruction that we have all received, the golden key is that part of the meditation technique where you recognize what’s happening with you and you say to yourself, “Thinking.” Then you let go of all the talking and the fabrication and discussion, and you’re left just sitting with the weather—the quality and the energy of the weather itself. Maybe you still have that quaky feeling or that churning feeling or that exploding feeling or that calm feeling or that dull feeling, as if you’d just been buried in the earth. You’re left with that. That’s the key: come to know that.

21. On Owning It from Seth Godin.

22. Wisdom from Norman Fischer,

To simply be present with our lives at the depth that meditation practice can take us to is a profound accomplishment. To inhabit our lives in this way is to meet and become the Buddha, to be touched by and to touch the divine. Cutting through our entanglements without denying them, we reach the ultimate, not by an act of transcendence, but simply by living with full awareness.

23. Meditation For Those Of Us Who Can’t Sit Still from Get to the Good.

24. 105 Action Steps to Make You Bold, Brave and Successful from The Bold Life.

25. Wisdom from Martha Beck,

You are never required to do more than you can do in peace. Right now, take a breath, return to peace, and refuse to leave.

26. 12 Simple Strategies to Create Space Each Day from Becoming Minimalist.

27. Does Life End at 35?

28. 38,445 Miles by Rachel Cole.