Sunday, January 17, 2021

Cause of Death


Three friends died this past week--two from cancer, one from COPD. Maybe we could say we all die from breathing. We all die from living, from having lived. The cause of death is birth.

Look deeply into the eyes of those you love.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Winter Wonderland


It's a winter wonderland here today. Big fat snowflakes falling. Pine trees bowing under the weight of the snow. All is still.

"Hear rest" is one of my favorite meditations. It's like listening to the sound of silence.

Pay attention to your throat. Relax your throat and keep it relaxed. Notice that every time a thought crosses your mind, you experience a sub-vocalization and your throat tenses up a little bit.

Relax your throat. Relax into stillness.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Winter Sunrise


The earth turned last Saturday, and now we are gaining daylight at the beginning of the day as well as at the end. Already we've gained 24 minutes of daylight in the evening. Thank goodness. So far we've gained 2 minutes in the morning. Now those minutes start to add up--11 minutes a week of additional daylight.

Meditation can be like that. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. Though sometimes it feels more difficult too.

Just keep adding another minute here and there. Another minute of mindfulness is always good.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Cardinals at First Light


 The cardinals come precisely at sunset for a last bite to eat before bedtime. They are also early risers--here at the first light of day, half an hour before sunrise.

Sunrise and bedtime--excellent times for meditation. I've been trying out a new meditation schedule:

5:15 a.m.  half an hour by myself

6:00 a.m. 1 hour on Skype with 2 meditation friends

7:10 a.m. half an hour at our local meditation center on Zoom

8:00 a.m. 20 minutes with my neighbors on Zoom

I find this 1-2-3-4 schedule very helpful, like doing repetitions.

And i see the cardinals at first light.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Mistaken Identity


 A new visitor appeared at our suet feeder. It looked like a nuthatch, but it was a beautiful chestnut brown instead of slate gray. It had an eye stripe.

I asked my birder friends, and eventually someone came up with the answer: a Carolina wren.

What i had failed to notice was the perky tail and the ever so slightly curved beak. Now that i see those features, i see them clearly.

Identifying our emotions can be similarly blurry. We know the feeling in the body, although even those sensations are blurry for some people. But what's the name of that emotion? It takes a while to develop the emotional intelligence and the emotional fluency to identify the emotions in our very own body. "Well, it sort of feels like...." What?

Welcome, Wren.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Feeling Left Out


 Last week, my 6 a.m. meditation buddy, Elizabeth, reported that, during meditation, she had felt a very familiar feeling of being left out. She recalled a reading group she was part of, but she hadn't heard from them since last summer. Were they meeting without her?

Feeling left out is one of my very familiar go-to places. I could give you a hundred examples, similar to Elizabeth's. They are meeting without me. No one told me about.... Everyone else is (or has).... They all seem to know about [something i don't know].

Elizabeth said, that during meditation, she felt the thought from a place of Awareness, and the thought turned into a pleasant vibration. The thought was gone. Gone.

I said, "Well, that gives me hope."

The following morning, i saw HOPE floating among the trees in my yard.

The belief that I am being left out is just a thought. A thought that, if i pay close attention, is a vibration. 

Sound is a vibration. You can "hear" sound throughout your body as it vibrates your bones. That vibration can be pleasant. Though roaring motorcycles might be unpleasant. A thought is nothing more than inner hearing; hearing an inner sound with a very weak vibration. But it does vibrate. Use all your mindfulness to notice this.

The thought/belief of being left out dissipates into emptiness.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Floating Hope


This morning, i looked out the kitchen window and saw the word HOPE floating in the trees on the other side of the lawn.

Usually, hope is a desire for something different--wanting this moment to be different or wanting an outcome to be different. The Buddhist path cultivates the equanimity of accepting this moment just as it is. We may not like it. We may not like the news, for instance, but accepting what is, as it is, is clear-eyed seeing.

The Buddha teaches us about the path. Desire, wanting, craving are the sources of the problem. When we stop wanting, when we stop resisting this moment, as unpleasant as it may be, our minds and hearts come to rest.

Then we proceed with our heart leading the way.