Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Rush hour...

This week's message was on
'Patience: Patience & Appreciation of Oneself AND also Patience towards others. It seems everyone has jumped up a notch in our 'pace' of life lately... I guess with many festivities & family gathering preparations... its more work on top of our current day to day existence. So everyone is rushing around even more, more tired, less patience of self & others... So if you find you get caught in the 'christmas rush' - not just in the shopping sense... take a step back, take a few deep breathes to re-focus... then chill out & enjoy the festive season for what it is... time to enjoy the company of our loved ones & to celebrate the year that we are concluding... '

Friday, December 4, 2009

Valuing One Self

Previously in the blog 'Valuing My Own Space' we spoke about valuing one's space in terms of time & physical space in our surrounding environment. Allowing and wanting space in our lives to even be open to experiencing something new. Now, its time to speak about ‘valuing one's own space’ from a different angle.

No longer, are we just talking about our environment, the physical space around us or the opportunities to experience things beyond ourselves. Now, we look more inward and start to value the space one occupies. So physically one takes up space as we stand or sit - we literally take up space in our environment. But how often do we appreciate and value the space that we are and occupy. I.e. How often do we appreciate the physical body that we have?

Imagine a person that you see and feel that is amazing and beautiful inside and out. Now, imagine - feeling that same admiration for that person - but this time direct those feelings to oneself? Does this feel foreign? To admire and value a person as if it was yourself? Then my question is - why not?

Valuing one's space is not only a physical level, but also to value our emotions - what we feel at each moment. Not hiding or stuffing our emotions in the background when a certain situation makes us feel uncomfortable. But valuing how we feel and making the appropriate action to feel better with ourselves and our situation.

Likewise, valuing one's mental space... valuing that one has the capacity to have many thoughts and also has the ability to choose the appropriate thought for each moment. How often are our thoughts with the task, person or environment before us? Or is it based on our past experiences or even in the anticipation of the future of the situation or person? Are our thoughts fresh to each moment?

As we have the ability to choose which thoughts we bring into focus - like when a camera lens focuses on its subject. When we value our ability to choose which thoughts we experience and give power to - we realise how amazingly powerful we can be as we can 'create' our experiences at each moment.

So valuing one's space is to value all that we entail: our body, our emotions, our thoughts and our endless potential and abilities to create and experience life as we wish.

Lately classes have been about 'feeling amazing' about ourselves - not for any particular reason or circumstance but because we 'value' ourselves for who we are, in each given moment. No longer do we need others or circumstances to confirm or validate our worth or our abilities - as we 'know' and feel how amazing we are now - right?

When we value ourselves, we no longer need to create 'fixed' boundaries or rules for others and self. We are free to be in each moment and if others encroach in our space, we will kindly let them know and are able to deal with it without getting too emotional about it. We are no longer 'attached' to others, our circumstances or expectations upon ourselves... as we value ourselves and are comfortable with ourselves regardless who we are with, what happens and what others do. We no longer need to control others or our environment.

Food for thought.
Have an amazing week! Just because YOU, yes, YOU are AMAZING.

[Believe it is possible and you will become it.]

Friday, November 27, 2009

"Not enough Time, Not enough Money?" - Our 'Cause' & 'Effect' of Our Thoughts & Focus

Just a reminder from this week's meditation class.

What we 'focus on' becomes our experience. So for many, we can focus on 'not having
enough time' so everything that we do and is based on this foundation. Thoughts such
as "I dont have time, so I better do this...", or "I dont have enough money, therefore I have to do this..."

Too often we blame our circumstances/environment for our experiences. ie. our family background, our workmates etc. What if, all circumstances are momentary. There is no 'fixed' situation we need to be in. Some days, when we are amongst loved ones we can feel so adequate and relaxed about what we're doing and where we are placed in life. And perhaps, even laugh at our experiences & see the learnings from our experiences. Yet, some days, we can feel so tired from trying so hard and feel that we are getting no where. Our internal thoughts & emotions determine our external experiences - its inside out, not outside in.

So this week, we covered looking at our internal foundations that steer our thoughts, actions and hence reality. We called this the 'cause & effect', where the 'cause' was our fundamental thoughts that create the 'effects' or experiences that reflect our internal thinking and what we 'really' believe is possible for us.

So this week's homework, was to notice what foundation/platform we are currently working from, in terms of our thoughts & beliefs. Notice what our actions reflect and how we place ourselves. If we think and believe there is 'never enough time' or 'never enough money/abundance' then that's what we will experience... as soon as we 'let go' of the need to compensate for our 'world of lacking' or what we are missing in life... we can focus & enjoy the abundance that we have - whether it be love, health, wealth or happiness.

Our actions & thoughts reflect what we believe is possible. What foundations are we working from? What is our 'cause' & 'effect' that we experience?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What's the Rush? - Are You Thinking & Doing Too Much?

Are you excessively thinking & doing and attending to more 'detail' than necessary??
Last night's yoga class was about 'rest' as many of us are getting quite weary, yet are not realising how fast pace we are still running at... kind of like stuck in 5th gear and not realising we can actually run on other gears to function. To stress less about the details and know/trust that we are heading in the direction that we want to be already - if only we stepped back for a moment to realise this.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Taking Care of Self

Today's lesson: Taking Care of Self. Stocktaking where our energy (& thoughts) have been focusing on lately and re-assessing if we need to steer or fine-tune where our energy is directed. To check that it is directed towards what is important to us and pertinent for the current situation/environment before us now and diverging less from that - as we become more aware of it.

Where has your energy & thoughts been focusing lately?

As the year comes closer to an end, it is a good time now to re-visit where our energy has been focusing on lately, our attitudes to particular parts of our lives and start tying up loose ends, in preparation for a fresh start and focus for the coming year. Letting go of the old thinking habits and embracing a new approach. A 'New You' doesnt need a new wardrobe, or alike - just a fresh set of eyes to see what we believe is possible and aligning our thoughts and actions towards this.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Valuing My Own Space

Tonight's class was about ‘valuing one's own space’. Sometimes when we have some 'space' in our diary/hectic lives i.e. a day free on the weekend - we tend to book in or fill in this time with other commitments or 'things to do' from our never-ending 'to do' list. Then before we know it, every spare moment has been booked - and then, we wonder why there's never enough time to do things that we want to do or wonder why we're so tired all the time to enjoy quality time with ourselves and loved ones. So in today's class, it was about 'valuing' our space and to not habitually commit ourselves when we do have a morning off or a few hours between commitments - but to commit this time to being what it is. 'Space' or 'free time' which is 'NOT' time to start tackling our 'to do' lists, but a time to do 'nothing' without the guilt overhanging us. To value this space to enjoy being spontaneous, creative and to have inspirational thoughts. Too often we are use to trying to think, think, think or do, do, do... to create our desired outcomes or solutions and making things happen. Then we wonder why we get so tired or drained. So why not, value our own time to being free to do nothing and seeing what new thoughts or inspiration comes to us. So allowing for new solutions or perspectives to come to our awareness, instead of recycling old thoughts or re-living our old habits/beliefs?

Valuing our time to rest and have no commitments is just as valuable as 'committing' time to visit friends etc. As you give yourself time to re-grip your thoughts and to see things with a different perspective. i.e. seeing work deadlines as work deadlines, not the end of the earth. Don’t get me wrong, it serves its purpose to feel the urgency and importance of doing things to fulfill our deadlines, but sometimes we forget that we 'CAN' let go or turn off that need or 'sense of urgency' once in a while to feel calm, centered and comfortable about what we're doing and where we're heading in life.

Much can be said to valuing our own space - mentally & emotionally too. But I'll leave that one for another time.

I shall finish with one example. What is more significant? A glass of wine, or the empty glass that holds the space for the wine. Until we have the empty glass, there is no opportunity to experience fine wine, as there is no space to hold it. I.e. valuing our own space allows for new experiences to happen, and new opportunities to explore our potential and dreams.

So my question today is: Are you valuing your own space?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

What are your thoughts focusing on today?

I was watching the waves break today…. It’s amazing what detail you can experience at the beach. The immaculate colour of the water, the perfection in the clouds formation. The natural rhythm of the waves breaking.

So my thought for today is clear and simple. The ocean can be cleansing and calming, yet it does have many particles of debris and impurities it washes up and stirs around each day… but we don’t think of that when we look at the magnificence and beauty of the beach as a whole… so why do we give any thought or focus to our impurities - when we are amazingly powerful and beautiful as a whole.

Be the ocean or be the grain of sand, you are still perfect as you are in the bigger picture.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Victims or perpetrators?

We are such creatures of habit, in our actions and our thoughts. As little toddlers, we learn to put one foot in front of the other, eventually these single steps become several steps and before you know it we are walking and running. This a healthy way to learn by naturally trying, then falling, and repeating this process till we feel more comfortable and confident in travelling on our feet - and then, this becomes a natural part of ourselves. It seems simple really, common sense right? But what thoughts and habits have we created, recently and perhaps from many years - that are now, how we perceive as ‘ourselves’?

So think about the experiences that we have had over the week. How did they make us feel? Perhaps some more pleasant than others.

Knowing that we are creators of our experiences, what have we chosen to experience? And perhaps ‘become’. What perception/s of ourselves has made us feel these emotions from these experiences? It’s amazing how everyone can have a different perspective of the one same experience, even though all people were in the same room etc. Same with our experiences, each experience can be felt and enjoyed/not enjoyed through our own perception of ourselves.

A classical example is when we feel overburdened by our work, family and/or social commitments and obligations. Sometimes this can lead us to feeling quite overwhelmed and exhausted at times. Some can come to the conclusion of feeling like a ‘victim’ of their circumstances. My question, who is the victim? Of whom? Knowing that we have full choice (in theory) to choose whatever we wish to do with our time. What are we saying about how we value or perceive ourselves? Are our needs and wants lesser of importance than others? Are we not as deserving to feel good about ourselves? Quite confronting sometimes, yet very interesting to see how we meet our experiences from an internal perspective - it can become way too easy to blame the external circumstances isn’t it? So why ‘are’ we choosing to commit or do things that make us feel exhausted and overwhelmed. For some of us, it’s become ‘so’ frequent and more ‘the norm’ - we know nothing else but to feel exhausted and overwhelmed. And quite often wonder why. Why we fall ill more frequently. Why we cant ‘enjoy’ life. Hence my question again - who’s the ‘real’ victim of our experiences?

What thoughts of ourselves have we habitually told ourselves and experienced through those eyes and have now become? Knowing that these are all just habits, old perspectives of ourselves and experiences. So just notice, without judgment, but just notice how we hold ourselves internally in our experiences. How DO we choose to perceive ourselves in each and every experience?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Feeling 'Under the WEATHER' lately?

If you've been feeling like you've been hit by a tonne of bricks lately. I can assure you, you are not alone. We can look into the astrological reasoning or alike but the point is many of us have felt many emotions swirl around last week... and perhaps are feeling quite tired and drained to start this week. So depending what we have chosen to do to 'deal' with these unsettling feelings in the last few days, we could have watched our physical body show tell tale signs of discomfort eg. Tension or immobilization of parts of the body, or even feeling our ‘wheels’ of our car falling off (metaphorically, or in some cases literally). This would happen if we have chosen to resist or 'battle out' the unsettling sensations. Or we could have tried to just sit with it and notice that these emotions do exist within us and starting to look deeper and see what we need to 'tweak' within ourselves to make this a more comfortable journey. So the common question is: 'so what can I do now?'

My suggestions are simple, if these resonate with you. Or perhaps, knowing you are not alone gives you sufficient comfort. Clearly, if we are feeling under the weather of our emotions, we are already noticing that this is occurring. My question is what part of us is 'noticing' the movement of our emotions? If we have enough clarity to see that we are amongst the swirl of emotions, then technically we have already 'stepped out' of the fog of emotions. Let’s stop and think about this one for a moment. If we were still in the fog, how could we ‘really’ notice that there was a fog in the first place?? Therefore, we must have removed ourselves enough from it to notice that the fog is definitive, has a start and an end.

I have been recently reminded that ‘us’ humans are the one of the few species that has this capability. The ability to step back and watch our own thoughts and emotions. It’s pretty amazing if we just stop and ponder about this concept. So knowing we have this capability, why would we not choose to sit and watch the emotions? This does not mean physically site, but just to stop and notice our thoughts and emotions as they play out in our heads. We may perhaps notice the physical discomforts we are experiencing too. The key here is to just notice them as they are, without trying to explain them with a story but seeing them as they are. Without 'trying' to do something about it yet, just sit and watch - as the emotions do flow, from one to another or perhaps they circle around one issue in your current life now. Just watch.

Too often we are quick to try and 'fix' or re-adjust out of the discomfort we may be feeling. Yet, remembering that it when we feel the most discomfort we are just being challenged out of our comfort zone. Thus it’s also an opportunity to grow from that experience. So by choosing just to sit and notice the emotions and watch how the emotions evolve and eventually tell a story of its own. We learn more about ourselves. Perhaps we will see what we are ‘not’ too comfortable with, in our approach to life or lifestyle. Seeing the fuller picture of these emotions first - then making slow mindful adjustments in our approach to everyday life will allow us to work/play with 'ease' in our daily lives.

So if we are feeling quite drained to start of this week, or perhaps more than usual. Then perhaps honour this, and be selective with where we spend our energy this week. Learning to be fluid in our approach to our daily routine, gives us the freedom to be true to ourselves each and every moment. Respecting where we are at, and not where we think we should or shouldn’t be. Creating space and freedom for ourselves refers to not only the physical sense but more importantly of our thinking patterns and our approach to each experience.

So how are you ‘responding’ to these whirlpools of emotions and perhaps the lack of energy today?

The key of being ‘responsible’ - is being free to ‘respond’ in the best possible manner of the greater good of ourselves and others. But is this the definition we have of ‘responsibility’ in our daily lives?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Why the Angst?

Lately I have seen and felt a lot of anxiety... through my students and my own experience.
Funny where these angst lie, and how we re-act (or not re-act) to them. Most of the time ‘fear’ can be the cause of the angst. Fear of what? Fear of losing ourselves, others, relationships, things… usually all the things that we want to enjoy and embrace - yet we have chosen to add fear to these equations... why?? Why do we do this to ourselves? It’s funny. We tend to strive and want the ideal circumstances, whether it be in the work, family, social arena... yet, how often do we step back and enjoy what we do have? Or even stop to notice what we have in front of us? What do we do instead? We possibly enjoy it for a brief moment, when we are open to the new possibilities - yet, when we get attached to these things, people and circumstances... we tend to add fear into the equation by fearing the longevity of 'owning' these things and situation. The question is, do we 'own' anything in the first place?? Do we 'own' people? Do we ‘own’ money? Do we 'own' our jobs? Technically we don’t, people, money and jobs all come and go throughout our lives. Yet how often do we get attached to our loved ones and our heart strings are pulled dependant on their actions? Likewise with money, how often do we sit and enjoy what we purchase rather than stress about our next pay cheque or purchase?

Why do we get so attached to our current circumstances and fear the possibilities of changes in the future??

When we attach value to these things - we seek to control the situation. So our actions tend to be driven from this fear, fear of change, fear of 'losing' what we current 'have'. But again, I ask: what do we 'own'?? How can we own people? Does a parent really 'own' a child - as he/she grows up and finds their choices in life? Does a person 'own' their partner? Do we ‘own’ money? So why, are our actions geared towards protecting these 'controls' or perceived 'ownership' of things?? Wouldn't it be more fun to just embrace and enjoy the experiences that we have with our loved ones, our jobs, our ideal circumstances etc? Yet, why do we sit in such a fog of emotions based in these fears and anxiety that really just exist in our heads... what experiences are we choosing for ourselves... ones of guilty and fear? Or enjoyment of what is really before us - the great company of our loved ones and our perfect situation of what we've wanted in the years past and is now reality, before our eyes. What are you choosing to see and feel today?

I choose the perfection of ‘what is’ now…

Friday, April 24, 2009

Reflections of ourselves

Funny how we humans work... sometimes we fall into the trap of feeling like victims of our circumstances and even of the condition of our bodies. Yet we sometimes fail to recognise our habits of ‘falling victim’ to our condition of our thoughts. As we delve deeper into our relationship with ourselves, by noticing what thoughts we habitually feed our minds with, and noticing what circumstances this creates on our physical selves and our environment and circumstances - we eventually learn that we have the reigns. We have had the reigns all this time. If our bodies are not reflecting the optimal health - what perception of ourselves (ie. self image/thoughts) have we been feeding ourselves? - to create this reality or experience of our bodies? Likewise, in our circumstances whether it be on the career front, financial and/or family life. As we notice what we have, and more to the point perhaps, what we have NOT been doing to experience our current circumstances. Our natural reaction after noticing what we have created for ourselves, is to judge and perhaps feel anger in ourselves (or maybe we have deflected this anger towards others or our circumstances unconsciously) - either way, it takes time to sit with ourselves to notice, to watch the emotions that arise as we notice what we have been creating in our lives and have called 'reality'. Then, to give ourselves enough space and freedom to dust ourselves off and take a better grip of our reigns, and steer our thoughts and naturally our actions in a manner that creates experiences that are comfortable, happy and purposeful each and every moment. Isnt this the life that we are or have been striving for in the first place - the only thing we have perhaps forgotten is that, the 'ideals' of our lives are being played out now. What thoughts (and hence experiences) are we creating now? This current moment in time. Forget about the future and past - what are we doing now? Our real experience of life - this very moment.

What you experience today is only a reflection of what you create each and every moment. As they say, “happiness comes from within” so have fun creating your experiences today.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

We are not our thoughts

Great question... I have been asked to expand on the concept we touched on in our first class.
Where I mentioned the quote:

"Yogas citta-vritti-nirodhaha"
Where yoga/meditation is described as ... 'the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.' [Patanjali - 8 limbs of yoga in Yoga Sutras]

In this class, I mentioned that if we were our thoughts - we would remember clearly what thought we had precisely this time last night/day. If our thoughts were the true essence of who we are - why can't we remember that thought, we had at that time? If we were our thoughts, we would 'be' that thought now, in this present moment, right?

This is a great question, thank you. I'll do my best to expand on this. This question has come at the right time, as we have been exploring this week - our thoughts, our beliefs and perceptions of ourselves. Which has been our natural progression from realising we are not our thoughts, to watching our thoughts and creating space to allow them to settle, then till now - where we have been noticing our thoughts. What they reflect in our perception of ourselves and then creating new thoughts to align ourselves to our true essence of being ie. who we are originally when were born - an abundance of boundless potential and love. Which is also who we are now, when we peel away the layers of labels, beliefs and conditions that we have painted ourselves with.

My question is then, if we can notice our thoughts, notice what each thought represents in terms of what we perceive ourselves to be. Then… who is this “I” the entity that can notice that there are thoughts in the first place? The 'I' that can choose which thoughts serve us the best, in a given moment? We tried to define this “I” last week in our activity. Was there a clear definite answer to “who am I?” An answer that we can use 100% of the time that all encapsulates the whole essence of who we are? When we sit in our stillness - is there any definition or boundaries that define this space?

Last week, we spoke of being ‘undefined’ when we are fully present in a given moment. The example given was when we are in love, and am fully present in the moment - there are no other thoughts in that given moment. We are not thinking what show is on tv, or analyzing how our partner dresses etc. We are so fully focused on just being in that moment, we act according to how we feel in that moment. There are no other thoughts that do not relate to that moment. We are so present in that moment, we are ‘undefined’. Of course, we can give ourselves the labels, ie our names etc. but the thought “I am Benjamin” is not constantly ringing in our heads as we interact with a loved one. The “I” in that moment can be felt, as we are there to experience that moment, but the “I” was not attached to any label or thought at the time.

This undefined presence or “I” can be described as various terms by various spiritual books and paths. Some call this the ‘soul’, ‘inner-self’ - the undefined ‘space’ that we ‘are’ when we create the stillness in our meditation. It is the ‘I’ that has been noticing the thoughts, the ‘I’ that has been noticing our senses, the “I” that has been choosing how we experience each moment through our thoughts and perceptions of ourselves. It is the "I" that remains undefined, that creates and experiences life as we know it.

Eventually there is no duality between "I" and our experiences - as we are complete... lets expand on this last point in future courses. =>

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sit with the Madness

This posting for those who are finding it difficult to meditate lately. Including myself.
Whether we are beginners or well-seasoned practitioners in meditation - we are always going to experience times where it is not 'easy' to sit in our stillness.

There are going to be times when you're so clouded with emotions, stress, anxiety, restlessness...
meditation seems virtually impossible or the last thing we feel like doing. Or our minds have created stories for ourselves why we dont have time for it etc. In times like these naturally we seek comfort in the situation through comfort foods, coffee, sugars, or other habits we have
to make us feel somewhat more content or happier about ourselves temporarily, yet we are still left with the emotional turmoil or dis-'ease' we felt in the first place.

Sometimes the best way to deal with the discomfort in our thoughts and emotions is to 'sit right in it'. To sit down regardless how you're feeling at the moment, commiting this time to sit and watch the emotional tornado fly through. Too often we feel we need to 'do' something to feel better. Yet, the only solution I have found is to sit 'in it'. As we sit in the emotions and thoughts that are swirling around us, we notice the speed and chaoticness of these emotions and thoughts. We see how cloudy we feel, unable to think clearly or rationally. It may not feel the most comfortable position to be in at that moment, in fact, it can feel the most tormenting thing one can do to oneself sometimes. To sit in ones chaotic state. It can be very confronting. Yet as we notice the swirls of chaos, noticing the cloud of emotions we are in - in that very moment, we have stepped out of the clouds of emotions. Huh? How? What does this mean, you ask? If we were still stuck in and amongst the clouds - how could we realise that there is a cloud of emotion in the first place - wouldn't we be so trapped in the turmoil to even notice?? Think about this one. It takes a little to digest. That as soon as we make contact with the fact that we are no longer 'IN' a cloud of thoughts and emotions because we can 'see' or 'notice' that there IS a cloud in the first place.

As we sit watching the cloud of thoughts and emtions swirl, we eventually watch the movements slow down. Knowing that these thoughts and emotions do not define who we are in this present moment as we sit - they are just movements in our thoughts/mind which we've created during the day. I guess this is similar to the analogy in class about watching the sediments in the murky water settle. Yet, sometimes its easier said than done.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Duality of Mind

Week 4 - Class content

Today we recapped what we have covered over the weeks.

The first stage of meditation is to cease distractions and make our mind clearer and more lucid. This can be achieved through the various techniques we have tasted and practiced over the weeks. ie. using different objects of meditation eg. breathing, senses, mantra etc. Perhaps, this is more about creating the time and space within our lives to experience ourselves in our true nature. Sitting with ourselves.

At first the mind will be very busy. You many even feel meditation is making our mind busier, but in reality we are just becoming more aware of how busy our mind actually is. We may be tempted to follow different thoughts as they arise. We eventually lose the need to follow these thoughts and remain focussed single-pointedly on our sensations of breath. If we realise our mind has wandered, and followed our thoughts, we immediately come back to our breath - eventually the mind settles on the breath. We practice patiently in this, gradually distracting thoughts will subside and we shall experience a ssense of inner peace and relaxation. Our mind will feel lucid and spacious and shall feel refreshed.

Creating this stillnesss, has allowed us to 'let the sediments in the murky water to settle'. Referring to the analogy of meditation being a process where through creating the space or stillness, we can let the flying thoughts in our chaotic mind or 'sediments in the murky water' to settle. Allowing us to see with clarity. Clarity to see who we are defining ourselves as and our environment. Lets keep this in mind... that the stillness creates clarity...

From this we moved on to the concept of the 'duality of the mind'. It can be defined as having two components the conscious and subconscious. This is explained more in this week's class notes. The concept of the mind and its functions have been described in many forms. We have called the Conscious Mind as consisting of whatever is occupying your awareness at any one moment, whether this be thoughts, sensations, feelins or emotions. The conscious mind - consciousness - is essentially the part of the mind in which we feel ourselves to live. eg. the gardener as per class notes.

The Subconscious consists of those mysterious depths which are generally inaccessible to the conscious mind without the use of appropriate techniques (hypnosis, dreaming and , above all, meditation). This we referred to as the 'bed of rich soil' which helps grow all kinds of seeds to sprout and flourish, whether good or bad. In class we discussed, if we ow thorns, will we gather grapes? If we sow thistles, will we harvest figs? So every thought is a cause, and every conditions is an effect. This is the reason it is so essential that we take charge of our thoughts. In that way, we can bring forth only desirable conditions.

In class, we did the 'who am I?' exercise. Where we were not allowed to think but to automatically write down the first thing that comes to mind, each time we are asked 'who am I?' We touched on the topic of when a child is born, it is born of no definition and a truth of boundless potential. As adults we forget we are still this boundless potential but for some reason or other we have forgotten our boundless potential and restricted by definitions we have placed upon ourselve or by others.

So this week's homework, in addition to practicing our stillness, is to see and notice how we choose to feel or meet our external experiences. Firstly, to notice who or what we define ourselves as, what labels have we placed upon ourselves? Then to see with clarity, if these definitions/labels are applicable in the greater scheme of ourselves. Do these labels serve us in defining who we are or want to be?

One example we used was that one who affirms to oneself 'I am trying to be a writer' will naturally struggle and experience the difficulties of 'trying to be a writer'. When another 'label' or definition that can serve oneself better is "I am a writer" - rather than confirm an sense of inadequacy as a writer.

So I have suggested to just observe what labels we place upon ourselves during the week and more importantly, see if we can change one of these 'labels' or thoughts of ourselves that do not serve us. Some examples used in class were "I am confident", "I have plenty of time", "I am a natural writer", "I am true to myself", "I am complete as I am".... whatever is applicable for you. But just commiting this week to choosing one 'affirmation' and seeing how this affects our experience of life internally and externally ie. our experiences with others, and what emotions we experience within - is it dependant on the situation and circumstances or is it determined by how we feel inside, eg. at peace with ourselves.

Lots covered this week. Many things to contemplate and experiment. Its an exciting week to explore our current reality. Looking forward to sharing your experiences. Hope this makes sense, it is a bit late afterall - please feel free to call or email to discuss.

Monday, March 2, 2009

What is Meditation? - Meditators Perspective

Week 4 - Post Class Notes

As psychological research tells us so little about the actual experiences of the meditator, the sensible thing is to go to meditators themselves and ask them to tell us in their own words the effect that meditation has upon them. Following are two examples from westerners who have studied meditation under Eastern meditation teachers.

From Jane Hamilton-Merritt, an American writer who spent some time in intensive meditation practice in Thai monasteries:
"Meditation... is among many things a learning to still the mind, to control it, to center the mind's potential energy... ther mind expands and is capable of producing more acute realisations... the body and mind seem to come together in a harmony or centring because separateness, or duality, of the body and mind which prevents humans from knowing their true self and is consequently the source of much struggle, of much unhappiness, of much suffering. The process of meditation seems to involve a shedding of desires, of the need for unnecessary possessions, of a demanding ego..when these fall away.. it becomes possible to know something of the true self. In this new state minus all these hindering distracting trappings, the mind can be centred and achieve personal equanimity." - [A Meditator's Diary, p.142]

On the subject of this personal equanimity, Hamilton-Merritt confirms that 'there is a calmness, an understanding, a harmony in my life which has developed as a result of meditation'.

The second example is by Timonthy Ward, another American who studied in a Thai monastery, and gives us a tasted of the experience of 'samadhi', a deep level of meditation.

"My breath came through clearly, easily. It sustained itself with a perfect concentration never before achieved. Thoughts arose from time to time but they could not intrude. I was aware only of balance, of ease... It was a surprisingly active state of mind, nieghter automatic or trancelike. Only moment by moment concentration could sustain it. It required energy but produced no stress... I felt I could sustain the state indefinitely.. What I cherished was the feeling of ease." -[What the Buddha Never Taught', p.150]

Both these examples describe something over and above what emerges from techniques like relaxation training, no matter how similary the physiological effects may be. The literature produced by relaxation training contacins no accounts of the knowledge of the 'true self' gained by Jane Hamilton-Merritt, no accounts of the samadhi experienced by Timothy Ward. Evern the literature produced by those who have undergone the various psychotherapies developed in the West contains nothing directly comparable.

The literature produced by meditators is full of similar examples. The more one delves into this literature and talks to and observes practising meditators, the more one becomes aware that here is a tehcnique like no other technique, a practice like no other practice. A practice that can transform, that brings with it a richness of understanding and imparts a wisdon hard to put into words but which transports thow who sample it into a deeper dimension of experience.

For in the way that my first tentative attempt at meditation subtly transformed the shapes and the colours of the room around me, so meditation alters not only the perspective one has of oneself - the way one thinks and feels about and experiences oneself - but also the perspective one has of the outer world. There is a shift not only in one's mental and emotional condition but also, as it were, in one's sense perception. One becomes more open to the environment, more aware of the beauties and colours of nature, of the joys and sorrows of others. One 'feels' the texture of life, in the way that a parent feels the smooth warm skin of a baby, or the potter the clay on the wheel, or the gardener the petals of an opening flower.