Archive for December, 2010

Focusing Our Energy

December 31, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

Staying focused in each moment allows us move with the rhythmic flow of the universe and harmonize our being.

As modern life makes a wealth of information and opportunities available to us, we may find ourselves torn between a wide variety of interests and projects. Our excitement may entice us to try all of them at once, but doing so only diffuses our energy, leaving us unable to fully experience any of them. Like an electrical socket with too many things plugged into it, we may be in danger of overheating and burning out. But if we can choose one thing at a time to focus all of our attention upon, we can make the most of our life-force energy, engaging ourselves fully in the moment so that it can nurture us in return.

Our attention can be pulled in many directions, not only in our own lives, but by advertising, media, and the hustle and bustle of our surroundings. But when we take the time to listen to our inner guidance and focus our thoughts on the goals that resonate the most strongly within us, the rest of the world will fade away. This may mean focusing the spotlight of our attention upon developing one aspect of our work, one course of study, or one hobby to pursue in our free time, but it doesn’t mean that we have to stay focused on only one thing forever. We may never know which of our interests is best suited to our abilities and heart’s desires unless we give it a proper chance. By being fully present with all that we are and all that we have, we can experience each choice fully and make the most fulfilling choices for our energetic investments.

Because we are multi-faceted beings, we are perpetually involved in many aspects of life in every moment. Our work in the world is necessary to attend to our physical needs, and our relationships are important for our emotional needs, but when we engage our spirit as well, we can choose the area that will nurture body, mind and soul. Staying focused in each moment allows us move with the rhythmic flow of the universe and harmonize all aspects of our being into balanced whole.

The Heart Sutra

December 30, 2010

By The Buddha (Last Updated Sep 11, 2008)

This teaching belongs to the class of texts called the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras. It is the Tibetan version.

The Sutra on the Heart of the Transcendent and Victorious Wisdom

Homage to the exalted Three Jewels!

Thus have I heard at one time. The Blessed One was dwelling in Rajagriha on Vulture Mountain together with a great assembly of monks and a great assembly of bodhisattvas. At that time, the Blessed One was absorbed in the concentration of the countless aspects of phenomena called “profound illumination.”

At that very time the Superior Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva, the great being, was looking perfectly at the practice of the profound perfection of wisdom, perfectly looking at the emptiness of inherent existence of the five aggregates also.

Then, through the power of Buddha, the Venerable Shariputra said to the Superior Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva, the great being, “How should a child of the lineage train who wishes to engage in the practice of the profound perfection of wisdom?”

Thus he spoke, and the Superior Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva, the great being, replied to the Venerable Shariputra as follows:

“Shariputra, whatever son or daughter of the lineage wishes to engage in the practice of the profound perfection of wisdom should look perfectly like this: subsequently looking perfectly and correctly at the emptiness of inherent existence of the five aggregates also.

“Form is empty, emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form. Form is not other than emptiness. In the same way feeling, discrimination, compositional factors, and consciousness are empty. Shariputra, like this all phenomena are empty, without characteristics, that is, they are not produced and do not cease; they have no defilement and no separation from defilement; they have no decrease and no increase.

“Therefore, Shariputra, in emptiness there is no form, no feeling, no discrimination, no compositional factors, no consciousness. There is no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no visible form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no object of touch, no mental phenomenon. There is no eye element and so forth up to no mind element, up to no element of mental consciousness. There is no ignorance and no cessation of ignorance and so forth up to no aging and death and no cessation of aging and death. Likewise, there is no suffering, no origin, no cessation, and no path; no exalted wisdom, no attainment, and also no nonattainment.

“Therefore, Shariputra, because there is no attainment, bodhisattvas rely on and abide in the perfection of wisdom, and because their minds have no obstructions, they have no fear. Passing utterly beyond error they attain the final state beyond sorrow. All the buddhas who reside in the three times, by relying upon the perfection of wisdom, become manifest and complete buddhas in the state of unsurpassed, perfect, and complete enlightenment.

“Therefore, the mantra of the perfection of wisdom, the mantra of great knowledge, the unsurpassed mantra, the equal-to-the-unequaled mantra, the mantra that thoroughly pacifies all suffering, since it is not false, should be known as the truth. The mantra of the perfection of wisdom is proclaimed:

tayata gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi soha!

“Shariputra, this is how a bodhisattva, a great being, should train in the profound perfection of wisdom.”

Then the Blessed One arose from that concentration and said to the Superior Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva, the great being: “Well said, well said, O child of the lineage. So it is. The profound perfection of wisdom should be practiced exactly as you have taught, and the tathagatas will rejoice.”

When the Blessed One had said this, the Venerable Shariputra, the Superior Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva, the great being, and the entire assembly as well as worldly beings— gods, humans, demigods, gandharvas, and others—were filled with admiration and highly praised what had been spoken by the Blessed One.

So ends the noble discourse on the essence of the wisdom gone beyond.

Roles of Support

December 30, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

While some people are best suited to be conductors, their work would be impossible without the musicians.

In the great symphony of life, we all have important parts to play. While some people are best suited to be conductors or soloists, their contributions would be diminished considerably without the individual musicians that lend their artistry to the fullness of an orchestra. The magical accents of the percussion section might sound random and out of place without the music they accompany. But any one member of an orchestra, doing less than their best at their particular part, can destroy the harmony of the whole piece, such is their importance. So although we may not receive the same amount or quality of attention as another, all of our contributions are valuable and integral to the success of the whole.

When we do our tasks well, we infuse them with our unique energy, making each act a gift. Each of our personalities and talents are suited to different roles of support. Even leaders and star performers support others in their own way. We can look around us at any moment to see that while we nurture some people with our work, others are supporting us with their gifts. Doing any job from this place within us allows us to do our part with humility and gratitude, while also learning lessons that move us steadily toward our goals.

When we can be fully present in every job that we do, we bring the fullness of our bodies, minds and spirits to the moment. Our contribution is enhanced by the infusion of our talents and abilities, and when we give them willingly, they attract the right people and circumstances into our experience. Anything we do begrudgingly limits the flow of our energy and closes us off from the good that is available to us in every situation. But by giving the best in us to make the world around us better, we open ourselves to receive the best from the universe in return.

The Heart Of Humanity

December 29, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

When we are dealing with sadness it is important to really sit with it and have to courage to do so.

The last thing most of us want to hear or think about when we are dealing with profound feelings of sadness is that deep learning can be found in this place. In the midst of our pain, we often feel picked on by life, or overwhelmed by the enormity of some loss, or simply too exhausted to try and examine the situation. We may feel far too disappointed and angry to look for anything resembling a bright side to our suffering. Still, somewhere in our hearts, we know that we will eventually emerge from the depths into the light of greater awareness. Remembering this truth, no matter how elusive it seems, can help.

The other thing we often would rather not hear when we are dealing with intense sadness is that the only way out of it is through it. Sitting with our sadness takes the courage to believe that we can bear the pain and the faith that we will come out the other side. With courage, we can allow ourselves to cycle through the grieving process with full inner permission to experience it. This is a powerful teaching that sadness has to offer us�the ability to surrender and the acceptance of change go hand in hand.

Another teaching of sadness is compassion for others who are in pain, because it is only in feeling our own pain that we can really understand and allow for someone else’s. Sadness is something we all go through, and we all learn from it and are deepened by its presence in our lives. While our own individual experiences of sadness carry with them unique lessons, the implications of what we learn are universal. The wisdom we gain from going through the process of feeling loss, heartbreak, or deep disappointment gives us access to the heart of humanity.

The Gift Inside

December 29, 2010

[ From DailyOM]

We all have the same things going on in our lives; they are in essence the same gift, wrapped in a different ribbon.

We have all had the experience of encountering someone whose life seems so completely different from ours that we can almost imagine we have nothing in common. However, if we go deeper into observing, we will see that we all have the same things going on in our lives. It is as if our different lives are in essence the same gift, wrapped in an infinite variety of containers, wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows. Everybody experiences loss, grief, happiness, excitement, anger, and fear. Everyone can have money issues of one kind or another, and everyone struggles with difficult choices.

Our lives show up differently for each one of us because we each learn in different ways. One person may need to learn the value of money by having too little of it, while another may need to learn by having more than enough. We each learn about work and love, with experiences that are tailored to our particular perspective. Even as it appears that some people have it easy while others are in a continual state of struggle, the truth is that we are all learning, and it is very difficult to tell, when looking only at the exterior of a person, what�s going on inside.

This is one of the many things that can be so valuable about cultivating relationships with people from all walks of life. As we get to know those who seem so different from us, we get to really see how much of life’s challenges and joys are universal. We begin to look beyond the packaging of skin color, clothing preferences, and socioeconomic differences, hairstyles, and the cars we drive to the heart of the human experience. It is important to honor and value the differences in our packaging, but it is just as important to honor the gift of life inside each one of us, and the fact that, no matter how different the packaging, the gift inside is the same.

Doing for Others

December 24, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

Many times the best way to get out of the blues quickly is to turn our attention to other people in loving service.

When we feel bad, often our first instinct is to isolate ourselves and focus on what’s upsetting us. Sometimes we really do need some downtime, but many times the best way to get out of the blues quickly is to turn our attention to other people. In being of service to others, paradoxically, we often find answers to our own questions and solutions to our own problems. We also end up feeling more connected to the people around us, as well as empowered by the experience of helping someone.

When we reach out to people we can help, we confirm that we are not alone in our own need for support and inspiration, and we also remind ourselves that we are powerful and capable in certain ways. Even as our own problems or moods get the better of us sometimes, there is always someone else who can use our particular gifts and energy to help them out. They, in turn, remind us that we are not the only people in the world with difficulties or issues. We all struggle with the problems of life, and we all feel overwhelmed from time to time, but we can almost always find solace in service.

In the most ideal situation, the person we are helping sheds light on our own dilemma, sometimes with a direct piece of advice, and sometimes without saying anything at all. Sometimes just the act of getting our minds out of the obsessive mode of trying to figure out what to do about our own life does the trick. Many great inventors and artists have found that the inspiration they need to get to the next level in their work comes not when they’re working but when they’re walking around the block or doing dishes. We do ourselves and everyone else a great service when we take a break from our sorrows and extend ourselves to someone in need.

Permission to Forgive Ourselves

December 23, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

Guilt is temporary and unproductive, it is all too ironic that being hard on ourselves is the easy way out.

Learning to accept the things that we perceive as wrong can be a difficult task for many of us. Often we have been brought up to accept that it is normal to feel guilty about our actions and that by doing so we will make everything seem alright within ourselves. Even though we might feel that we have a reason to make up for the choices we have made, it is much more important for us to learn how to deal with them in a healthy and positive way, such as through forgiveness and understanding.

When we can look back at our past and really assess what has happened, we begin to realize that there are many dimensions to our actions. While feeling guilty might assuage our feelings at first, it is really only a short-term solution. It is all too ironic that being hard on ourselves is the easy way out. If we truly are able to gaze upon our lives through the lens of compassion, however, we will be able to see that there is much more to what we do and have done than we realize. Perhaps we were simply trying to protect ourselves or others and did the best we could at the time, or maybe we thought we had no other recourse and chose a solution in the heat of the moment. Once we can understand that dwelling in our negative feelings will only make us feel worse, we will come to recognize that it is really only through forgiving ourselves that we can transform our feelings and truly heal any resentment we have about our past.

Giving ourselves permission to feel at peace with our past actions is one of the most positive steps we can take toward living a life free from regrets, disappointments, and guilt. The more we are able to remind ourselves that the true path to a peaceful mind and heart is through acceptance of every part of our lives and actions, the more harmony and inner joy we will experience in all aspects of our lives.

Recognizing Happiness

December 21, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

We are used to analyzing why we are unhappy, but taking the time to contemplate your happiness is important too.

Those of us on the path of personal and spiritual growth have a tendency to analyze our unhappiness in order to find the causes and make improvements. But it is just as important, if not more so, to analyze our happiness. Since we have the ability to rise above and observe our emotions, we can recognize when we are feeling joyful and content. Then we can harness the power of the moment by savoring our feelings and taking time to be grateful for them.

Recognition is the first step in creating change, therefore recognizing what it feels like to be happy is the first step toward sustaining happiness in our lives. We can examine how joy feels in our bodies and what thoughts run through our minds in times of bliss. Without diminishing its power, we can retrace our steps to discover what may have put us in this frame of mind, and then we can take note of the choices we’ve made while there. We might realize that we are generally more giving and forgiving when there’s a smile on our face, or that we are more likely to laugh off small annoyances and the actions of others when they don’t resonate with our light mood.

Once we know what it feels like and can identify some of the triggers and are aware of our actions, we can recreate that happiness when we are feeling low. Knowing that like attracts like, we can pull ourselves out of a blue mood by focusing on joy. We might find that forcing ourselves to be giving and forgiving, even when it doesn’t seem to come naturally, helps us to reconnect with the joy that usually precedes it. If we can identify a song, a picture, or a pet as a happiness trigger, we can use them as tools to recapture joy if we are having trouble finding it. By focusing our energy on analyzing happiness and all that it encompasses, we feed, nurture, and attract more of it into our lives, eventually making a habit of happiness.

The First Moments Of The Day

December 16, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

When we very first open our eyes it sets the tone for all that comes after it, our ability to create the day.

The moment during the day when we very first open our eyes and come into consciousness is a precious opportunity. It sets the tone for all that comes after it, like the opening scene in a film or novel. At this moment, our ability to create the day is at its most powerful, and we can offer ourselves fully to the creative process by filling this moment with whatever inspires us most. It may be that we want to be more generous, or it may be that we want to be more open to beauty in our daily lives. Whatever the case, if we bring this vision into our minds at this very fertile moment, we empower it to be the guiding principle of our day.

Sometimes we wake up with a mood already seemingly in place, and it’s important to give this feeling its due. It can inform us and deepen our awareness to what’s going on inside us, as well as around us. As long as we are conscious, we can honor this feeling and also introduce our new affirmation or vision, our conscious offering to the day. We may want to decide before we go to sleep what we want to bring to the next day of our lives. It could be that we simply want to be more open to whatever comes our way. Or we may want to summon a particular quality such as confidence. Then again, we may simply call up a feeling that perfectly captures the texture we want our day to have.

We can reaffirm our vision or affirmation as we shower and eat breakfast, as well as recalling it at various times throughout the day. We can write it down and carry it with us on a little slip of paper if this helps. Simply by being aware of those first moments, we set the stage for a more conscious, enlivened experience, and we become active participants in the creation of our lives.

Going Back By Going Within

December 15, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

With the wisdom of an adult, we can be the loving parent or guardian we needed as a child.

Events from childhood, our first experiences, have the power to shape our lives. Some do so immediately, offering us challenges to overcome and encouragement to make use of our talents and interests. In the process character is built, and we make the first steps upon our personal paths. Other events seem to lay dormant until adulthood, when our closest relationships help to bring out the deepest aspects of ourselves. This is when unexamined lessons can be put to use and untended childhood wounds make themselves known in a call for healing.

We may discover issues of trust coming up, or perhaps we find ourselves mirroring actions from our past instinctively. No matter the case, we have the power within us to heal ourselves at the deepest level. With the wisdom of an adult, we can be the loving parent or guardian we needed as a child. Knowing that we are each whole spiritual beings having a human experience, we can nurture ourselves from that wholeness, and then reach out to others as well. We can recreate scenarios in our mind’s eye, trying different outcomes and following them to their logical conclusions. In doing so, we may be able to imagine possible reasons a situation occurred as it did, and even accept that it could not have happened any other way. With the wisdom born from age and experience, we might be able to see events from a different perspective, bringing new understanding and freeing ourselves from any hold the past may have on us.

Life offers opportunities to clear these weeds in the gardens of our souls. However, when we want to focus on easier and more pleasant tasks, we are likely to pass up the chances, leaving the wounds to continue to drain our energy and resources for living life fully today. We might find we need support to face the events of the past, so turning to a trained professional who can offer tools for healing can be a valid choice. As long as we remember that the child we were lives on within us,  we are always free to go back and right old wrongs, correct mistaken perceptions, heal wounds, forgive, and begin anew.

Unifier of Opposites

December 14, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

The color green balances our energy so that in looking at it we feel confident that growth is inevitable.

Green is a combination of the colors yellow and blue, each of which brings its own unique energy to the overall feeling of the color green. Blue exudes calm and peace, while yellow radiates liveliness and high levels of energy. As a marriage between these two very different colors, green is a unifier of opposites, offering both the excitement of yellow and the tranquility of blue. It energizes blue’s passivity and soothes yellow’s intensity, inspiring us to be both active and peaceful at the same time. It is a mainstay of the seasons of spring and summer, thus symbolizing birth and growth.

Green is one of the reasons that spring instigates so much excitement and activity. As a visual harbinger of the end of winter, green stems and leaves shoot up and out from the dark branches of trees and the muddy ground, letting us know that it’s safe for us to come out, too. In this way, green invites us to shed our layers and open ourselves to the outside world, not in a frantic way but with an easygoing excitement that draws us outside just to sniff the spring air. Unlike almost any other color, green seems to have its own smell, an intoxicating combination of sun and sky—earthy, bright, and clean. In the best-case scenario, it stops us in our tracks and reminds us to appreciate the great experience of simply being alive.

Green balances our energy so that in looking at it we feel confident that growth is inevitable. It also gives us the energy to contribute to the process of growth, to nurture ourselves appropriately, without becoming overly attached to our part in the process. Green reminds us to let go and let nature do her work, while at the same time giving us the energy to do our own.

Harmonizing with the Universe

December 10, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

Singing is an act of vibration. It takes music from the realm of the unformed and moves it from within to without.

Singing is an act of vibration. It takes music from the realm of the unformed- whether that is in your mind or from that magical space of inspiration- and moves it from within to without. From the first breath singing moves the energy in a circular way inside your body. As the breath fills your lungs, it brushes against the second and third chakras,the centers of creation and honoring self and others. Instead of merely exhaling, pushing the air past the fourth and fifth chakras where heart charka and the center of will and intention reside, singing engages both the heart and mind. Sound vibrations from vocal chords resonate in the sinus cavities, filling the head with motion and sound while the brain lights up with the processing of the mathematics of music. This marriage of activities brings the third eye into play and opens the door for inspiration from the crown chakra before sending the sound out into the world.

Once the vibration begins, it is sustained with each note, moving throughout your body and the space around you. This can help you to harmonize your frequency with the world and with the divine. The use of the voice can bring about catharsis, a cleansing from the expression of emotion, which is why we feel better after singing certain types of songs. All of this occurs even if we are not conscious of what we are singing, but when we really connect with an intention, the power of the voice and music together are powerful tools in creation.

Even if you are not a singer by nature or talent, you are not left out. If you have a voice, it is your birthright to celebrate life with song. It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel you have a nice voice. Chanting or humming, singing solo or with others, your voice is yours to enjoy. Whether you sing along to the radio or use vocalization as part of your meditation time, singing and harmonizing are healing activities that bring your body’s vibrations into alignment with the universe.

Life as We Know It

December 9, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

Are you more attached to preserving the status quo than to honoring the universal givens of growth and change?

When our lives are going well, and sometimes even when they aren’t, we may find ourselves feeling very attached to the status quo of our existence–life as we know it. It is a very human tendency to resist change as though it were possible to simply decide not to do it, or have it in our lives. But change will come and the status quo will go, sooner or later, with our consent or without it. We may find at the end of the day that we feel considerably more empowered when we find the courage to ally ourselves with the universal force of change, rather than working against it.

Of course, the answer is not to go about changing things at random, without regard to whether they are working or not. There is a time and place for stability and the preservation of what has been gained over time. In fact, the ability to stabilize and preserve what is serving us is part of what helps us to survive and thrive. The problem comes when we become more attached to preserving the status quo than to honoring the universal givens of growth and change. For example, if we allow a situation we are in to remain stagnant simply because we are comfortable, it may be time for us to summon up the courage to challenge the status quo.

This may be painful at times, or surprisingly liberating, and it will most likely be a little of both. Underneath the discomfort, we will probably find excitement and energy as we take the risk of unblocking the natural flow of energy in our lives. It is like dismantling a dam inside ourselves, because most of the work involves clearing our own inner obstacles so that the river of our life can flow unobstructed. Once we remove the obstacles, we can simply go with the flow, trusting the changes that follow.

Overachieving and Overreaching

December 8, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

In general, an overachieving lifestyle is not balanced. What changes can you make to slow down and feel more joy?

Overachievers are people who have achieved but still feel the need to do more, creating an imbalance in their lives. People who exhibit this behavior may be trying to compensate for feelings of insecurity and doubts about their worth. They may be chasing unresolved issues from their past into the present, or they might not be looking at their lives as a whole, but judging themselves based only on one aspect of their being. If this is a word that we’ve heard used with respect to our choices and lifestyle, it is worth examining in order to balance our lives for a more rewarding experience.

If we find that we cannot allow ourselves to experience and enjoy the present moment, putting pleasure off into some distant future, it may be a sign that we are being driven to achieve more than is truly necessary. Pushing ourselves beyond the point of exhaustion, or to the exclusion of important people in our lives, robs us of true and meaningful joy. Once we make the connection to the eternal part of us, it can nourish us and allow our priorities to shift from chasing after an elusive feeling to being fully present in the moment so that we can live our lives in the now.

Sometimes we need to look to those we love and admire in order to realize what we value about life. We can take time to note what we like about others, and then turn the mirror to reflect the light of those same words and feelings toward ourselves. It can be quite a revelation to see ourselves in this nourishing light. When we can put the energy that we’ve been devoting to a phantom sense of achievement into the truly satisfying aspects of our lives, we can restore the balance between our inner and outer worlds and experience true joyful peace.

Missing Our Old Habits

December 6, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

If you find yourself missing an old habit or pattern, know this is normal and acknowledge the feeling.

Whenever we make the effort to free ourselves of an addiction or a habit we no longer need, we are often surprised to find ourselves missing the old pattern as we would a familiar friend. This sounds counterintuitive, because we think we should instinctively gravitate toward that which is good for us. And yet, it makes a lot of sense when you consider that we humans are creatures of habit. This is why we gravitate to people and places—and patterns of behavior–that make us feel comfortable. Therefore, many of the habits we form are not conscious and are based instead on learned behavior from role models who were not always making the healthiest decisions.

Most addictions begin as a way of avoiding feelings that are extremely uncomfortable, so it makes sense that stopping the addiction means, for a time, a fair amount of discomfort. The same, of course, is true of habits that we have developed over time that we are ready to release. Just knowing that this is hard, and having compassion for ourselves as we work through this process, can help us to stay the course when we feel the urge to backtrack. It’s also helpful to remember that in time we will establish new, healthier patterns, and the yearning for the old ones will disappear. Eventually, we will instinctively reach for things that are good for us, and the longing for positive change may form the basis of a new habit.

The only way to get to this new place is to endure a time of difficulty, which is a challenge we can confidently handle, if we remember that it will lead to the change we seek in our lives. Our bodies, hearts, and minds always need time to adjust to a new way of doing things, but they will adapt, and even become our allies, if we remain true to our vision of a new way.