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Dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh on August 16, 2001 at the University of Massachusetts during a retreat with the theme, “The Practice of Peace and Nonviolence in Family, School, and the Workplace,” from August 13-18, 2001 in Amherst, Massachusetts. We begin with the creation of a loving support group in the classroom and then continue with teaching on consumption.

These students are my continuation of mine and should create a loving support group in your class or school. We can then begin practicing peace and happiness in the class. We can understand the suffering so we can then transform. Suffering is there. A little bit everywhere. Including in our children and in the classroom. Recognizing this is the first noble truth of the Buddha. The group can propose a session of deep listening that includes the teacher, so the teacher can know about the suffering of the children. If we have such a group in the class, then the group can support each other. You can practice the Third Mantra: I suffer, please help. Thay shares how a student can communicate to the teacher by using loving speech. We can also learn how to address being persecuted by another student. How do we practice this? How do we help children feel happy when they think of school? How does the teacher feel excited to come and teach?

The children should be able to express their difficulties. We don’t need to be cruel to create happiness. Many sessions of deep listening may need to be organized. The schools should allow this to take place. It is about ethics and should be an aspect of school life. Thay tells the story of Henry, a mathematic teacher in Toronto, who came to Plum Village to learn about mindfulness.

At this point we shift away from the children and Thay begins a talk on anger. Anger has roots in the body and in the consciousness. The Five Skandhas: body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, store consciousness. What is a formation? Anger is a feeling and a mental formation. Anger is in every cell of our body. All our ancestors are in every cell of our body.

To illustrate, Thay teaches about chickens. Mindfulness can help. In particular, mindful consumption. Thay shares a report on meat eating, food production, and deforestation. We then turn to the Discourse on the Sons Flesh. Bringing toxins into our body. Nourishing compassion can by looking deeply into the food we eat. Sangha is where we learn to generate compassion. Sangha is a way out. Everyone can be a Sangha builder.

We turn to the Four Kinds of Nutriments and it starts with edible food. Then we turn to sensory impressions. We need a collection he awakening. When you listen to a dharma talk, then you don’t consume poisons. But thinking too can be consuming. Our elected people also need to be awakened to consumption. Some discussion of the Five Mindfulness Trainings. Practice with a gatha to help us with our consumption.

We conclude with a discussion on the third kind of nutriment. Volition. Your deepest desire. That is a type of food too.

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Original author: Chan Niem Hy
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Writing teacher and author of The Story You Need to Tell: Writing to Heal from Trauma, Illness, or Loss Sandra Marinella, MA, MEd, has presented hundreds of workshops to veterans, educators, and cancer patients. In this inspiring conversation about the transformational power of expressive writing, Sandra offers dynamic methods we can use to understand, tell, and edit our personal stories in ways that foster resilience and renewal. She also shares her own experience of using journaling and expressive writing to navigate the dark nights of her soul, including breast cancer, postpartum depression, and more. You can tune in and listen to this great conversation directly on Unity Online Radio, iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, or YouTube, and if you enjoy this podcast series, please feel free to leave a five-star rating and review on iTunes.For more discussion with other listeners and fans after the show, we invite you to join the New World Now podcast community on Facebook.
Original author: Publicity Admin
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I first heard of Dogen when I was 19 or 20 years old. I am 53 now. So I’ve been acquainted with Dogen for most of my life. Dogen was a Japanese Buddhist monk and writer who lived around 800 years ago, from the year 1200 to 1254. He was barely older than I am now when he died. 

When I first heard of Dogen, I assumed I was a latecomer. I figured that the people of Japan had read and studied Dogen’s philosophy for the past 800 years. I assumed that Dogen’s ideas were part of Japan’s national philosophical identity.

Nope. For about 700 years, Dogen’s writings were barely known even in Japan. A few very scholarly monks and historians read and studied his writings. But most people had no idea what he wrote. Oh, they knew he wrote stuff. It’s just that very few people had read any of it. 

However, Dogen also started a temple, and monks from that temple started other temples. After a while, there were a lot of temples associated with Dogen. These temples became very popular and influential. 

Dogen also taught a style of meditation called “just sitting,” or shikantaza in Japanese. 

The “just” in “just sitting” isn’t like the “just” in “just sitting around.” The Chinese character used to represent the word I’m translating as “just” also means “to hit,” like “to hit a nail right at the center of its head.” So when Dogen said “just sitting,” he meant doing nothing else when in sitting meditation except sitting. You weren’t supposed to meditate on anything. You weren’t supposed to try to gain anything through your meditation. You weren’t trying to become calm or centered or mindful. You were supposed to completely devote yourself to the simple act of sitting, completely absorb yourself in doing nothing at all but sitting.

And a lot of people in Japan took his advice and sat for the sake of sitting alone. It wasn’t exactly a popular activity. But enough people did it that we can say that Dogen’s style of practice became an important aspect of Japanese culture.

Still, even though some of them sat, very few people in Japan read what Dogen wrote. And no one outside Japan had any idea he even existed.

In 1633, about 400 years after Dogen died, Japan closed its borders to outsiders. Very few people could come in or out of Japan. The nation deliberately isolated itself from the rest of the world. In 1865, the American Commodore Matthew Perry forced Japan to open itself to international trade. This began what is called the Meiji Restoration. The film The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise, takes place at about this time. It’s a fairly accurate movie, but Tom Cruise was not actually there.

Japan suddenly realized it was very much behind the rest of the world. Those Americans had weapons that were way beyond anything most Japanese people had ever seen. They realized that, in this age of colonization, they were incredibly vulnerable to being taken over by a more advanced foreign power. They knew that they needed to modernize fast. 

This also led Japanese people to try to find Japanese things that were as good as similar things in Europe and America, so that they could prove that Japan was worthy to stand with the mighty powers of Europe and the Americas. So they started to look more closely at their own art and literature, as well as at Japanese philosophy and religion. There was a nationwide push to discover the best that Japan had to offer to the outside world.

In 1925 a scholar named Tetsuro Watsuji published a book called Shamon Dogen (The Monk Dogen). In this book, he presented Dogen as one of Japan’s most important philosophers. This led to a widespread rediscovery of Dogen’s work in Japan. For the first time in 700 years, ordinary Japanese people started to read Dogen’s writings. And for the first time ever, they began presenting Dogen to the rest of the world.

What they discovered in Dogen’s writings surprised many people. Here are a couple of examples of interesting ideas from Dogen’s writings. 

Dogen did not believe in miracles, but he did not deny them, either.

Many religions are based on the idea that miracles can sometimes occur. For example, Jesus changed water into wine, walked on water, and was raised from the dead. Christians believe these miracles to be evidence that Jesus was divine. Because Jesus was divine, they say, his words must be true.

You might have heard that Buddha was originally not considered to be a prophet or a god or any kind of divine being. That’s true. But, as Buddha’s legend grew and his teachings were translated into new languages and introduced to new cultures, many Buddhists came to believe that Buddha performed miracles. 

Dogen believed that all things in the universe are subject to the law of cause and effect. So even if something that seems like a miracle occurred, Dogen believed it was the result of some cause. He did not believe in supernatural forces that can make things happen without any cause.

However, when he talked to his students about this, he did not deny the supposed miracles of the Buddha. Instead, he said these were “small-stuff miracles.” The bigger miracle is that there is a universe in which small miracles can occur. The existence of the universe itself is the great miracle. All other miracles are insignificant by comparison.

In my new book, It Came from Beyond Zen!, I try to express what Dogen says about Buddhist miracles by describing Christian miracles the way Dogen talks about Buddhist miracles. I write, “Jesus fed a multitude with two fishes and five loaves of bread, and he raised Lazarus from the dead and was himself raised from the dead three days after his crucifixion. These are indeed great accomplishments. But they are examples of small-stuff miracles, not the big-time miracle. It is only because of the big-time miracle that such small-stuff miracles as the ones Jesus performed exist. Without the big-time miracle, even the most spectacular of small-stuff miracles could not occur. Jesus worked great wonders. But the greater wonder is that there is a world in which Jesus could have been born, that there is a universe in which that world exists, that you and I are alive to hear about his miracles. It is only the big-time miracle of existence itself that allows smaller miracles to occur.”

Dogen believed compassion is intuitive. 

Dogen said that compassionate action is like someone reaching back for a pillow in the night.

It’s a very strange expression. Most of us think of compassion as deliberate: We see a situation. We think about what is the compassionate thing to do about that situation. Then we do that thing.

To Dogen, compassion was not like that. Dogen thought that compassion was spontaneous. We don’t need to think about what to do. We follow our intuition and automatically do what is necessary. 

Dogen also warned us against judging what others do as “not compassionate.” 

Dogen said, “There’s a difference between nighttime as conceived of by a person during the day and the reality of the darkness on an actual night. You should also look into times that aren’t quite day but aren’t quite night, either.” 

“Day” means times when it’s easy to see what the compassionate thing to do is. Like when you see a turtle on its back. The compassionate thing to do is turn it over. Easy. 

“Night” in this case would mean times when you have no idea what the best thing to do is. Sometimes there is no clear-cut, easily identifiable way to be compassionate. 

Then there are times that are neither day nor night. That means times when you might not know which among several options is really the compassionate one. 

When Dogen says “nighttime as conceived by a person during the day,” I believe he’s talking about the kinds of situations when folks think they can see what somebody else ought to have done in a certain situation. 

Sometimes we look at history and we think, “If I was alive at that time, I would have been better than those people!” Or we look at people in faraway countries and think, “If I was over there, I would do better things than those people!”

It’s easy for those of us in the “daylight” of a world at peace (at least our corner of it) to speculate about what those in the dark night of war ought to have done or what we would have done if we were there. But we weren’t there. So we have no idea what we would have done. In fact, our assumption that we know what we’d do in such a situation is the height of ignorance and arrogance. 

It’s totally pointless to claim moral superiority in these kinds of speculative matters. It’s better to listen to what people who were actually in those situations have to say about it. Sometimes you can learn a lot by listening, even if you don’t always believe everything you’re hearing. 

There is a big difference between real night and night as imagined by someone during the day. 

In the end, we are not other people. We can only try to listen to our own intuition in the real situations that we encounter for ourselves. If we meditate every day, we will be able to listen to our own intuition more clearly. Then we can act with genuine compassion. And when we do that, compassionate action is spontaneous like when you reach for a pillow in the night.

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Soto Zen priest Brad Warner is the author of It Came from Beyond Zen! and numerous other books, including Don’t Be a Jerk, Sit Down & Shut Up, and Sex, Sin, and Zen. He is a punk bassist, filmmaker, Japanese-monster-movie marketer, and popular blogger based in Los Angeles. Visit him online at www.hardcorezen.info

Based on the book It Came from Beyond Zen! Copyright © 2017 by Brad Warner. 

Original author: Publicity Admin
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Posted by on in Plum Village (RSS feed)

Thich Nhat Hanh at the BellWe begin this Public Talk at the World Forum Theatre in The Netherlands, dated April 28, 2006, with a 5-minute introduction on how we can listen to the monastics invoking the name of Avalokiteshvara. Listening can bring peace and well-being into ourselves. We can listen deeply with compassion to relieve suffering. Following the brief introduction, the monastics begin the chant.

31-minutes (bell)

Walking meditation is a way to move between one place and another. With Mindful walking we can enjoy every step and bring peace. It is an easy and effective way to learn how to live deeply in every moment of our daily lives. Even the children can enjoy this practice. Taking refuge in the Sangha through the collective energy of mindfulness through our mindful breathing. Walking meditation is a time when we can behave as one organism and we can feel the energy of this collective effort.

I have arrived.
I am home.

With one in-breath, you touch the earth with your step. Established in the present moment. I have arrived. This means I don’t want to run anymore. With one out-breath, you arrive in your true home. Right here in the present moment. We arrive in the here and the now. We can live deeply in our daily life. Happiness is possible.

We all have many conditions of happiness if we look for them. We don’t have to run around looking for our happiness. We can touch the pure land of the Buddha, the kingdom of God in each step. Touching the many wonders of life.

57-minutes (bell)

Mindfulness is always mindfulness of something. And we can be mindful all day long. It is the kind of energy the allows us to be present in the here and the now. Anyone can generate this energy. It is the energy of the Buddha, and so any one of us can be a Buddha. Even if it’s a part-time Buddha.

Our spiritual leaders should offer the kind of teaching that helps us to enjoy the kingdom of God. Then many could possibly return to the church. Especially for our young people.

66-minutes (bell)

Freedom from our anger, fear, violence and despair. Our teachers should teach us how to handle these emotions. To be able to embrace and transform them. Peace should be cultivated in our daily life while we sit, while we drive, while we cook, while we wash the dishes. This only needs some training.

Compassionate listening. To have the capacity to listen with compassion. Avalokiteshvara is such a person. She can teach us how to listen in order to provide relief from suffering.

71-minutes (bell)

The art of mindful breathing is a method to cultivate this compassionate listening. To listen without blaming or judging. We can also use the techniques of loving speech. These tools help us reestablish communication. During a five-day retreat, we teach people how to do this work. Thay offers a very concrete example how we can do this in our family.

83-minutes (bell)

During this process, we may observe many wrong perceptions. What can we do? What techniques can we use to better practice loving speech and deep listening. Wrong perceptions are the foundation of fear, anger, and violence. We should know how to remove wrong perceptions. Even our own wrong perceptions. This practice is effective for individuals, groups, and even nations. Peace can become possible.

Why do young people who want to blow themselves up? What can we do? Do we blame them for the violence, hate, and despair? They need our compassion. A community of practice makes this effort much easier.

92-minutes

Thay answers a few questions from the audience.

If you don’t have time to listen, especially to someone who is angry, then what can we do? Anger can be a very good energy. Can you explain more about this and transforming the energy? Can you say more about loving speech? Where can I learn more?

Su Co Chan Không concludes the evening with a song.

If you are able to support this project financially, please visit our account on Patreon where you can make a donation for as little as $1 per dharma talk.

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Original author: Chan Niem Hy
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Fermented foods have long been celebrated for their ability to improve gut health and digestion, but did you know that new evidence suggests that their healing properties go even further? In her new book, The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life, certified herbalist and board-certified doctor of natural medicine Michelle Schoffro Cook highlights not only the deeper benefits of eating fermented foods but the ease with which you can pickle and ferment at home in your own kitchen for very little money. In this excerpt from the book, learn how fermented foods can help alleviate anxiety, as well as ten other benefits that can make your body a happier place to live. Enjoy.

# # #

If I told you that bacteria could alleviate your anxiety, you’d probably think I was joking or uninformed. But if you suffer from anxiety, particularly social anxiety, you’ll be happy to learn about the exciting study conducted by researchers at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. The study, published in Psychiatry Research, found that regularly consuming fermented foods replete with plentiful amounts of beneficial bacteria may indeed help reduce social anxiety.

In the College of William and Mary study 710 students completed food diaries about their intake of fermented foods over the previous thirty days. They were also asked about exercise frequency and their consumption of fruits and vegetables so the researchers could control for healthy habits beyond fermented food intake. Researchers found that those who ate higher amounts of fermented foods had lower levels of social anxiety. The link was particularly noticeable among those who demonstrated signs of neuroticism.

Matthew Hilimire, a professor of psychology at the College of William and Mary and one of the researchers who conducted the study, said in an interview with PsychCentral, “It is likely that the probiotics in the fermented foods are favorably changing the environment in the gut, and changes in the gut in turn influence social anxiety.”13 The study found that people prone to anxiety experience less social anxiety when they frequently consume fermented foods replete with probiotics.

It may be hard to comprehend how bacteria can affect your mind, but an increasing body of research is proving that they do. A study conducted by researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, published in the medical journal Gastroenterology, showed that the specific probiotic known as Bifidobacterium longum eliminated anxiety and normalized behavior. The researchers found that chronic gastrointestinal inflammation induces anxiety-like behavior and alters the biochemistry of the central nervous system.

Further, a French study published in the British Journal of Nutrition confirms both the American and Canadian studies. They found that the same probiotic strain studied by the McMaster researchers, B. longum, along with another probiotic strain known as Lactobacillus helveticus, reduced anxiety. Additionally, the French study found that these two probiotics reduced psychological stress, depression, and feelings of anger and hostility.

Although the exact mechanism or mechanisms at work are not yet clear, researchers believe that the probiotics reduce gastrointestinal inflammation and boost serotonin levels. Serotonin, a feel-good brain hormone sometimes called the happiness hormone, was once believed to be exclusively found in the brain but is actually produced by the gut; in fact, scientists estimate that about 90 percent of the body’s serotonin can actually be found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. That’s right: your intestines do some of the same work as your brain. And this is why many scientists now refer to the gut as the body’s “second brain”: the gut-brain health link has been the focus of a growing body of research proving the connection.

Ten Ways Specific Fermented Foods Can Improve Your Life

Eating sauerkraut helps protect you from breast cancer. When cabbage is fermented as it is in making sauerkraut, its nutrients, known as glucosinolates, transform into the powerhouse anticancer nutrients isothiocyanates. Researchers have found that isothiocyanates balance excessive hormone production linked to breast cancer and even suppress tumor growth. Kimchi is the medicine of the future. Scientists have identified a whopping 970 different probiotic species in kimchi, many of which offer powerful immune-boosting effects. Some of these unique probiotics are proven to kill superbugs even when our most potent medicines fail! The Journal of Medicinal Food found that kimchi’s additional health properties include anticancer properties, anti-obesity benefits, anticonstipation, colorectal health promotion, cholesterol reduction, fibrolytic effect (a process that prevents blood clots from growing), antioxidative and anti-aging properties, brain health promotion, immune promotion, and skin health promotion. Regular consumption of miso fights at least five different types of cancer. Research published in multiple medical journals, including the International Journal of Oncology, found that miso consumption prevents and even effectively treats lung, liver, breast, colon, and liver cancers. Eating yogurt can reduce four markers essential for preventing diabetes and heart disease. Research published in the journal Nutrition demonstrated that yogurt cultured with the probiotic L. plantarum improved cholesterol levels, blood sugar balance, and homocysteine levels in women with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of four symptoms, and when they occur together, they increase a person’s risk of diabetes as well as heart disease and stroke. So reducing these markers bodes well for long-term health. Eating certain fermented foods can alleviate seasonal allergies. Fermented plums contain beneficial yeasts known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae that have been linked to reducing allergies, congestion, and sinusitis. But why pop expensive supplements when you can reap these benefits and enjoy my Cultured Plum Chutney? Eating fermented foods can give your brain a boost. Exciting new research published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that intentionally boosting beneficial microbes by adding fermented foods to the diet could directly activate neural pathways between the gut and the brain and may boost brain health and prevent depression. Eating nondairy yogurt can improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Research published in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition and multiple other journals found a direct link between dairy-free yogurt consumption and bone health. Drinking probiotic-rich kefir helps protect against cancer and even effectively treats the disease. Kefir contains a probiotic called Lactobacillus kefiri P-IF, which is effective against leukemia even when multiple cancer drugs fail. Eating fermented soy, known as miso, can prevent radiation injury. It’s not just an urban myth: medical research conducted in Hiroshima found that eating fermented soy protects against the damaging effects of radiation — a growing concern in our modern society. Fermented foods are the missing link when it comes to effortless and permanent weight loss. In many studies the intestines of overweight and obese people were found to differ from those of lean people. Research published in the medical journal Beneficial Microbes found that obese and overweight people tend to have a higher ratio of harmful microbes to beneficial ones. The best way to boost beneficial microbes to benefit from their slimming properties is to enjoy fermented foods that contain live cultures on a regular basis.

These health benefits are just the tip of the iceberg. New studies are being released on an almost daily basis, demonstrating the health benefits of incorporating more probiotics and probiotic-rich foods into the diet.

# # #

Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM, is an internationally bestselling author whose works include The Cultured Cook and Be Your Own Herbalist. She is a certified herbalist, a board-certified doctor of natural medicine, and one of the world’s most popular natural health bloggers. She holds advanced degrees in health, nutrition, orthomolecular nutrition, and acupuncture. She lives near Vancouver, BC, Canada. Visit her online at www.drmichellecook.com.

Excerpted from the book The Cultured Cook. Copyright © 2017 by Michelle Schoffro Cook. 

Original author: Publicity Admin
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With her clear-eyed, inspiring, and sweeping vision, futurist and author of Conscious Evolution: Awakening the Power of our Social Potential Barbara Marx Hubbard says that the crises our world is currently facing are not precursors of an apocalypse, but the natural birth pains of what will become an awakened universal humanity. In this inspiring conversation with host Kim Corbin, Barbara reframes problems as evolutionary drivers and explains how each of us is being called to fulfill our creative potential so that we can be active participants in the greatest adventure in human history — our conscious evolution.   You can tune in and listen to this great conversation directly on Unity Online Radio, iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, or YouTube, and if you enjoy this podcast series, please feel free to leave a five-star rating and review on iTunes.For more discussion with other listeners and fans after the show, we invite you to join the New World Now podcast community on Facebook.
Original author: Publicity Admin
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Posted by on in Krishnamurti (RSS feed)

Can one remain with that pain? Can I look at that pain, hold it, hold it as a precious jewel not escape, not suppress, not rationalize it, not seek the cause of it, but hold it as a vessel holds water? Hold this thing called sorrow, the pain, that is, I have lost my son and I am lonely, not to escape from that loneliness, not to suppress it, not to intellectually rationalize it, but to look at that loneliness, understand the depth of it, the nature of it.

Mind Without Measure, p 57    
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Like certain timeless wisdom, there’s a sutra right at the very beginning of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali—that wonderful collection of wisdom from Hindu philosophythat defines my ongoing mental struggles so simply, I can actually find it a little aggravating.

Maybe that’s just me thinking about it in the wrong way. You know—habitually sending my thoughts in an aggravating direction. It also happens to be the sutra that supplies my favorite definition of what Yoga actually is. It’s Chapter One, verse two, and it goes something like this:

“Yoga is the control of thought-waves in the mind.”butterfly on pond with wave ripplesAs usual, with the Wisdom of the Ages, it makes it seem so simple and direct, doesn’t it? But for all the times I’ve attempted to sort out the random jumble that makes up my mind, I’ve discovered it’s anything but—unless I can experience it myself. And then I realize it really is simple, if I can simply change the way I think about it. I have to start by sharing the awareness of my thinking as “thought-waves in the mind.”

The simplest way into that deceptively simple sutra is through its fluid metaphor for thinking—the lovely idea that my thought process can flow along in a controlled and comfortable way, like sets of waves that can be observed from a safe distance, and then guided in the direction of our choosing. Like the action of water, I need a concept that penetrates down into the process I so easily take for granted.

Water finds its greatest power by seeking its lowest point.” – A Zen saying

Functionally, my fluid thoughts are more often like choppy waters, or sudden shore-breaks; insistent, swirling whirlpools, or even tsunamis. Fluid, but not really so orderly. I’m much more likely to be thrown around, or washed over, or sucked under by spontaneous thoughts than to calmly line them up like orderly waves going in this direction or that, like Poseidon playing in the pool at Mount Olympus.

Most of the time, the most fluid metaphor for my mind comes in the image of a self-propelling shark, swinging side to side, ceaselessly roving from thought to thought, following random electromagnetic impulses (or some sudden, unconnected suggestion of blood in the water), instinctively following the pathways I feel have worked in the past to assure my “survival.”

Sandbars of used thoughts

north sea sandbarsSo, as it turns out, I think the way I think because I’ve been practicing thinking that way for a long time—and there’s a Vedic concept that describes this liquid metaphor that comes in the form that our wise Hindu philosopher would call samskaras.

Samskaras are patterns of thought—directions our thoughts run in that are caused by a kind of erosion in our minds. They’re those recurring thoughts that unconscious gravity insists must cascade down, over and over, in the same direction. And as they do, they carve out channels and build up stream banks, like sandbars of used thoughts.

Without you even realizing it, these insistent patterns force your thoughts into old directions that may not even serve you anymore, that may actually prevent you from thinking in new directions and realizing new potentials.

Over and over, your thoughts lead you back in the wrong way. Season after season, you become accustomed to irrigating the same garden of your unconscious focus, harvesting the same bounty of discomfort and anxiety.

Put simple joyful hydrology to work

a portion of the Anjajavy Forest with river winding through itBut as any good farmer can tell us, we can redirect the stream of our flowing thoughts through conscious awareness, and by putting some simple joyful hydrology to work. Our goal is to move the flow of our thought-streams into new ground—to cut new, more beneficial channels into our internal geography, and in that way, redirect our outcomes and eventually (sometimes suddenly!) reshape our minds.

We can redirect the stream of our flowing thoughts through conscious awareness, and by putting some simple joyful hydrology to work.

This concept may sound familiar to you in modern, scientific terms, and if you think of mindfulness, it should. It’s described in modern neuro-scientific terms as reconfiguring neural pathways. (When you study ancient Hindu wisdom, you realize that they understood neuroscience, astrophysics, quantum mechanics and a whole lot more “modern knowledge” a long, long time before any of it was “discovered.”) 

In order to irrigate our lives with new streams of positive thought (that is, to modify our samskaras, as Patanjali would say) we simply need to consciously introduce thought-waves that go in new and better directions, and guide them over new ground that’s been properly prepared.

We know it’s practically impossible to route any kind of stream over hardpack, so we’ve got to introduce some air and space into the ground of our thinking to counteract and command the effects of so much gravity. We need to consciously introduce joy. We can accomplish this first in sort of a counter-intuitive way.

We start by recognizing when we’re going in that uncomfortable direction again, that a common direction our thinking takes reliably leads us to a state of agitation or discomfort. The uncomfortable awareness we experience is really the precondition for rerouting our stream of thought in a new and more joyful direction.

For example, experiencing envy towards others shows us that we’re focusing too much on what they’ve done, and not enough on what we’re doing ourselves—too much focus on their outsides and not enough on our own insides. Or when we experience extreme sadness, we’re focusing too much on the way things end, and not enough on the excitement of their beginnings or the beauty of how they are right now.

This more joyful, common-sense perspective on our uncomfortable directions softens up the ground of our new becoming, and allows the awareness of counter-intuition to point our thoughts towards a new positivity, away from the patterns of pain we’ve unconsciously accustomed ourselves to.

Too much gravity!

piece of land with house floating in the airThe key to all this new irrigation, to the redirection of all these cascading streams of thought is, of course, gravity! Gravity—or should I say, too much of it. You have to consciously escape all that gravity! To lighten your thoughts up, and aerate the ground of your being, for Pete’s sake. Seven billion of us can’t all be that important, you know.

Positive thoughts are light thoughts; they’re easy thoughts, and the directions they stream in are easily lifted and directed in order to run straight towards your true potential. Then the fertile, uncut expanses of your inner potential can be fed by new furrows of thought—springs and streams and cascades of joyful possibility, reconfiguring the pathways of your thought process. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

The other day, I saw a perfect illustration of this skillful redirection. I was watching possibly the greatest tennis player of all time as he barely squeaked by a young, underrated player whose inspired play turned a victory everyone had taken for granted into a real struggle for survival. Immediately following the contest, the commentator revealed the direction of his own samskaras when he asked:

“That was a very difficult match, wasn’t it? Did you expect him to be so tough to beat?”

The champion answered, “We had a lot of fun. It was really exciting. That’s why I’m here, to bring that kind of excitement to people, and to experience it myself.” He smiled big.

“Didn’t you have back problems two weeks ago? Was that affecting your play today?” asked the commentator.

The champion replied, “I’m just very happy to be playing here today. It was a great match, and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the tournament.” He smiled even bigger.

The commentator (a little bemused) finally asked, “The new roof here really closes in all the action. Didn’t you find all the noise distracting?”

The champion said, “It’s a wonderful atmosphere for the tournament. All the people here have been absolutely great—it’s really fun to get to play for them!” He smiled a huge smile, politely ended the interview and smacked three or four autographed balls out into the cheering crowd with his racket.

You see, joyfully redirecting your thoughts is never such a big deal after all. You simply see that familiar pain arising, and set a course in a different direction.

«RELATED READ» MINDFUL LIVING: Want to get out of your reactive thoughts and live mindfully? Read this.»

image 1. Pixabay 2. Pixabay 3. Pixabay 4. By C. Michael Hogan – Own work by the original uploader, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Original author: Contributing Writer
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Posted by on in Mindfulness
Shelli Pruett is a Los Angeles-based artist. She has a degree in Fine Arts from New College in Sarasota, Florida. Her work has been published in many venues, including The Wall Street Journal. Her cartoons range from the pithy and philosophical to the whimsical. They’re about life and spirituality in this modern world, as well as alternate worlds of imagination.
Original author: Shelli Pruett
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Posted by on in Mindfulness
Shelli Pruett is a Los Angeles-based artist. She has a degree in Fine Arts from New College in Sarasota, Florida. Her work has been published in many venues, including The Wall Street Journal. Her cartoons range from the pithy and philosophical to the whimsical. They’re about life and spirituality in this modern world, as well as alternate worlds of imagination.
Original author: Shelli Pruett
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Posted by on in Krishnamurti (RSS feed)

All of us know physical pain a little or a great deal and we can deal with it medically and in other ways. You can observe pain with a mind that is not attached, with a mind that can observe bodily pain as though from the outside. One can observe one's toothache and not be emotionally, psychologically involved in it. When you are involved emotionally and psychologically with that pain in the tooth, then the pain becomes more; you get terribly anxious, fearful. I do not know if you noticed this fact.
The key is to be aware of the physical, physiological, biological pain, and in that awareness not get involved with it psychologically. Being aware of the physical pain and the psychological involvement with it which intensifies the pain and brings about anxiety, fear and keeping the psychological factor entirely out requires a great deal of awareness, a certain quality of aloofness, a certain quality of unattached observation. Then that pain doesn't distort the activities of the mind; then that physical pain doesn't bring about neurotic activity of the mind.

On Love and Loneliness, p 132    
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Suffering perverts and distorts the mind. Suffering is not the way of truth, to reality, to God, or whatever name you like to give it. We have tried to ennoble suffering, saying it is inevitable, it is necessary, it brings understanding, and all the rest of it. But the truth is that the more intensely you suffer, the more eager you are to escape, to create an illusion, to find a way out. So it seems to me that a sane, healthy mind must understand suffering, and be utterly free from it. And is it possible?

The Collected Works vol XII, p 176    
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What is the nature and structure of disorder? There is disorder, isn't there? Where there is contradiction saying one thing and doing something totally different there is bound to be disorder. I wonder if one is aware of this. Then, there is conflict, disorder, when we are pursuing ideals or our own projection of what we think we ought to be. That is, where there is division between actually what is happening in ourselves and neglecting that and pursuing an idea; that is one of the causes of disorder. Another cause in the psychological, so-called inward life, is to pursue authority, the authority of a book, the authority of a guru, the authority of so-called spiritual people.

Mind Without Measure, pp 52-53    
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large open plan home with high ceilingsIn our weekly Mindful Dreams column, Aneta Baranek of the School of Metaphysics is offering free dream interpretations to The Mindful Word readers, as well as articles on dreams in general.

If you’ve ever been curious about deciphering the cryptic contents of your subconscious mind, here’s your chance! If you would like Aneta to interpret your dream, fill out this form. She will respond with your dream interpretation through this column, published every Thursday. Aneta would love to receive more comments for the dreams interpreted. If you can relate to a dream posted here or have any insights to add, you can post them as comments to the interpretation, or email her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Intro

DREAM

Hi Aneta,

Before I write the dream, I should say that I was absolutely soaked in sweat by the time I arose.

First, I remember walking to a house with a giant roof and high ceilings. It was like an outfitted barn but with only one room, and everything was in it: kitchen, bathroom, living room, everything you can imagine. There were children passing in and out. I asked the couple there if they wanted to build higher up into the home, but they didn’t want to.

Earlier in the dream, I remember that I was trying to get a friend out of the basement of another house that was leaking water everywhere. We couldn’t find a way out, but there was glass and a spiral staircase upwards. We used the staircase, but she seemed reluctant to climb, like dizzy or perhaps she couldn’t catch her breath. It was all a blur. 

What do you think this means?

Thanks,

Aleksa

DREAM TITLE: “Exploring Different Places in Mind”

DREAMER: Female, 21, Canada

MAIN SYMBOLS:

House — state of mind of the dreamer

Children — developing aspects of the dreamer

Basement — unconscious parts of dreamer’s mind

Friend — familiar aspect of the dreamer

Water — conscious life experience

Glass — transparency

Staircase — tool for ascension

INTERPRETATION

Hello Aleksa,

Thank you for sharing your dream.

Any house in a dream represents the dreamer’s state of mind. In your case, the house has high ceilings and a giant roof, which represent wholeness and an elevated perspective in relation to how you use your mind. All the areas (kitchen, living room and bathroom) being in the same single space speak to you not having strict and clear delineations between different parts of your mind. To explain further: a bathroom symbolizes a place for release and cleanup, a kitchen is where you prepare knowledge (food) and a living room is a place for connection with various parts of yourself.

Any person in a dream represents an aspect of the dreamer. The children symbolize unknown, developing aspects of you, and your friend a known, familiar aspect. The next step with people we know who appear in our dreams is to determine two main qualities that you, the dreamer, believe they demonstrate. This helps to narrow the aspects within the dreamer that the dream is calling attention to. 

A basement represents the unconscious parts of a dreamer’s mind. A staircase is a way to move about in the house (mind). Therefore, anytime someone is climbing up a staircase, this symbolizes a degree of ascension in the dreamer’s consciousness.

 APPLICATION            

Overall, this dream reflects how you used your mind a day or two prior to having this dream. It reflects that you were exploring various parts of your mind, from the unconscious to the higher levels of consciousness. The dream also speaks to you being aware of parts of yourself that are still developing (children), as well as the qualities that your friend represents.

The mind is composed of three divisions: Conscious, Subconscious and Superconscious. The unconscious parts of the mind reside in all three divisions and represent those parts of ourselves that we’re not aware of. Most people utilize less than 10 percent of their mind’s power.

Your dream is encouraging you to explore more aspects of your mind. A few ways to do so include recording and interpreting your dreams, journaling and meditating. The more of your mind you put to practical use, the more of your true Self you’ll discover!

May your dreams illuminate the inner and outer you…

image: Pixabay

Original author: Aneta Baranek
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How does one regain confidence and optimism about love after a breakup? After her own relationship ended, author and counselor Rebekah Freedom McClaskey developed and practiced a series of small, step-by-step actions that ultimately helped her heal her heart and live in harmony with her destiny. 

In Breakup Rehab: Creating the Love You Want, Rebekah meets readers in their states of grief or resignation and walks them through twelve steps to forgiveness and self-responsibility, self-compassion and self-awareness, power and purpose. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

# # #

What is forgiveness anyway? I offer you this: forgiveness is not holding yourself or another hostage to the past. It means giving yourself permission to be who you are — a perfectly flawed human who had an imperfect relationship.

It’s over. Everything you were building toward, the time you invested, and the moments you shared stopped. Who is to blame? What is to blame? Is there even anything to blame? I invite you to invest less time in avoiding the pain by playing the blame game and more time forgiving yourself and your ex.

But how do you forgive someone who hurt you so badly? How do you even begin to be kind to yourself after making such a dumb mistake? Hey, at least you tried. You put your heart out there. You got hurt. Now you have some big decisions to make.

Allow yourself the grace to say enough is enough and start to construct new boundaries. Oh, boundaries. I can hear the Dr. Phils of the world using this word as a catchall. We’ve talked about dropping our barriers and not walling off. How can we do that and still have boundaries? What do boundaries have to do with forgiveness?

Well, we teach people how to treat us by how we treat ourselves. We learn how to treat ourselves by how people treat us. Letting go and forgiving can break destructive cycles so that we can have healthier relationships. Breaking destructive cycles is the same as setting healthy boundaries. So forgiving yourself and others is a healthy way to set boundaries.

If you’re afraid to hurt your ex, if you’re a people pleaser, then setting boundaries is brave. In other words, if it’s over, let it be over. Bishop T. D. Jakes has a powerful sermon where he says, “There are people who can walk away from you. When people walk away from you, let them walk! . . . Your destiny isn’t tied to this person who left, people leave because they aren’t joined to you. You just have to let them go. . . . You have to know when a person’s part in your life is over so you don’t start trying to raise the dead.” Love won’t leave or forsake you. Trust that losing a relationship doesn’t mean you lose your ability to love or be loved.

Just keep surrendering the pain. Keep letting go. Keep forgiving.

Is this starting to sound like all the other books out there? Ugh, I know, right? But there is no way I could write this without including the timeless lesson of forgiveness. Without it, we don’t get a chance to try something new because we keep trying to repair the old. You can’t skip over learning to forgive.

The noun forgiveness means the act of pardoning someone or something. To pardon a sin is to have mercy on the sinner. A sinner is simply a person who didn’t stick the landing. The verb forgive means to actively behave in a way that demonstrates releasing yourself and others from accusation, blame, condemnation, judgment, and sentencing. Can you imagine the freedom you can have right now if you don’t make yourself or your ex wrong for what went down?

Do it. Imagine your relationship as one of many poignant experiences you’ll have in your lifetime. To forgive is to accept that what has been done to you was also done for you. Your relationship was your experience to have and so is your breakup. In some ways, forgiveness is the acknowledgment that there is something bigger than your agenda unfolding here. Like, “Okay, universe/God/whatever, I don’t understand exactly what is going on here, but I’m going to surrender my agenda and see what happens next.”

Did you have an agenda in the relationship? Don’t lie. Did you? Some of us feel bad about not being perfect (in everything we do) and that’s why we keep trying to improve ourselves. But self-help is kind of redundant if you consider that what is happening is what is supposed to happen. The thing that needs to shift is our perspective.

Forgiveness requires shifting your perspective. The roots of forgiveness begin by naming everything just as it is and accepting the past for what it was. Name it. Feel it. Then take inspired action to change it.

# # #

The author of Breakup Rehab: Creating the Love You Want, Rebekah Freedom McClaskey is a relationship specialist with a master’s degree in counseling psychology. Her private practice focuses on helping clients get what they want out of life and love. She lives in Southern California. Visit her online at www.rebekahfreedom.com.

Excerpted from the book Breakup Rehab. Copyright © 2017 by Rebekah Freedom McClaskey.  

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We are trying politically, legally and socially to bring order in the outer world in which we are living, and inwardly we are confused, uncertain, anxious and in conflict. Without inward order there will always be danger to human life.
What do we mean by order? The universe in the supreme sense has known no disorder. Nature, however terrifying to man, is always in order. It becomes disordered only when human beings interfere with it and it is only man who seems to be from the beginning of time in constant struggle and conflict. The universe has its own movement of time. Only when man has ordered his life will he realize the eternal order.
Why has man accepted and tolerated disorder? Why does whatever he touches decay, become corrupt and confused? Why has man turned from the order of nature, the clouds, the winds, the animals and the rivers? We must learn what is disorder and what is order. Disorder is essentially conflict, self-contradiction and division between becoming and being.

Letters to the Schools vol II, pp 11-12    
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Are you aware of the daily routine, the monotony, the boredom of going to the office? Are you aware of the quarrels, of the brutalities, of the nagging and the violence, of everything which is the result of a culture that is total disorder, which is your life? You can't pick and choose out of that disorder what you think is order. Are you aware that your life is disorderly and if you haven't got the interest, the passion, the intensity, the flame to find order, then you will pick and choose what you think is order out of the disorder. Can you observe yourself with great honesty, without any sense of hypocrisy or double talk, know for yourself that your life is disorderly, and can you put all that aside to find out what order is. You know, putting aside disorder is not so very difficult; we dramatize it, make much of it. But when you see something very dangerous, a precipice, a wild animal, or a man with a gun, you avoid it instantly, don't you? There is no arguing, no hesitation, no temporizing, there is immediate action. In the same way, when you see the danger of disorder, there is instant action which is the total denial of the whole culture which has brought about disorder, which is yourself.

The Awakening of Intelligence, pp 313-314    
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Before I started graduate school, I took a temporary job at a call centre to hold me over until it was time to move away for the next phase of my life. While working there, I was surprised to meet someone who was also on a spiritual path like I was, and we became friends. On the outside, we were very different, yet we had many interests in common. We both rode our bicycles to work, for example, and we both read books during our breaks.

Although this was a long time ago, I remember my friend telling me something along the lines that if I was really interested in developing spiritually, all I had to do was practice Qi Gong and Tai Chi. Over the years, since then, I’ve sought out teachers in order to learn different Qi Gong practices, as well as Tai Chi.

Enter Falun Dafa

Falun Dafa the fifth meditationApparently, where I currently live in North Texas, Qi Gong and Tai Chi aren’t exactly popular. Sure, you can find a class here or there. There are also small pockets of practitioners. Most municipal recreation centres offer Tai Chi, especially for seniors, but it’s very generic and classes focus more on the movements rather than on energy or the breath.

In my search for a deeper study and practice of both Qi Gong and Tai Chi, I turned to the website Meetup.com to see if there were any groups near me that met regularly to practice together. Lo and behold, I found one group that met at a park not too far away from me in Arlington. I contacted the Meetup organizer for the group and got the meeting details.

The first couple of times I went, the organizer was very patient and generous with his time, and he spent the whole two hours showing me the moves instead of doing the practice himself. It turned out the Meetup I’d found was for a Qi Gong practice as taught by Falun Dafa, an informal organization that originated in China.

At the time, I didn’t know anything about Falun Dafa, except what was sensationalized in the news. Supposedly, the group was being persecuted by the Communist regime in China. Members were imprisoned and tortured, and supposedly, their organs were being harvested. This was my first real exposure to members of Falun Dafa, what they stood for and what they believed.

The Qi Gong exercises themselves are comprised of a set of four different sets of movements and one sitting meditation. Altogether, it takes two hours to complete all five exercises. Members play a recording from the group’s founder, Li Hongzhi, and follow the verbal instructions. Since the instructions are all in Chinese, and I don’t speak any Chinese, I had to learn to recognize groups of sounds as my cues to move on to the next movement.

Aware, awake, refreshed and energized

Over the summer, when I practiced the five Qi Gong and meditation exercises with the Falun Dafa Meetup group, I started noticing some subtle changes in my body. The biggest change, which surprised me, was that I’d wake up feeling refreshed and fully energized. Prior to that, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d woken up fully refreshed and wide awake!

Over the summer, when I practiced the five Qi Gong and meditation exercises with the Falun Dafa Meetup group, I started noticing some subtle changes in my body.

During this time, I cut out all my caffeine as well. I didn’t really drink coffee, and I never drank soft drinks, but living in the South, I did drink a lot of iced tea. Iced tea can have as much caffeine in it as coffee! My family wasn’t too thrilled about going from regular tea to decaf. I couldn’t really taste the difference, but apparently, they could.

Not only did I wake up feeling refreshed and wide awake, but I also felt fully energized. I was ready to go for the day, and wouldn’t stop until it was time for bed! My high energy level lasted for most of the day, too. It didn’t wear off like a cup of coffee wears off after a while. I was amazed. What else could this Qi Gong practice do for me?

Fall of summer

Falun Gong, Malaysia man sitting in meditation with photosSlowly, as the summer dragged along and I met more members of this Falun Dafa group, the practitioners gently began to insist that I read the English translations of all the books written by the group’s founder. They also requested that I listen to all his lectures, which have been translated into English and are freely available through the Falun Dafa website.

At first, I didn’t mind. I read the books and listened to the lectures. Some of the ideas were intriguing, but others just seemed plain bizarre. “How can anybody believe this?” I wondered.

Then, the members wanted me to join them in a sort of scripture study of the books. Their fanatical side started to show. They were very kind and generous, but a little on the extremist side, it seemed. Their insistence on discussing Mr. Hongzhi’s doctrine and including me in their book studies started to scare me off.

Alas, to my disappointment, I stopped going to the Meetup. When I have time, I still try to practice the Qi Gong exercises I learned from Falun Dafa, but I haven’t practiced them as regularly as I did when I met with the group.

Unfortunately, I’m back to waking up tired, and drinking caffeinated tea and even coffee to keep me going. My occasional practice isn’t enough to energize me anymore. Moreover, I only do the first four exercises, and skip the hour-long meditation, as I don’t usually have two consecutive hours to practice during the week. I was never sure how much the final meditation contributed to the energetic state, anyhow. 

While Falun Dafa practitioners are very enthusiastic and even fanatical about their group’s teachings and practices, it’s best if you don’t let that scare you away from learning and doing the exercises themselves. At their core, they’re different Qi Gong exercises that can increase the amount of energy held in your body.

Should you practice Qi Gong, you may find (as I did!) that you wake up fully refreshed, awake and energized, and stay that way throughout the day.

«RELATED READ» QI GONG: An effective antidote to modern stress»

In addition to being a loving husband and father of two girls, José is the author of an upcoming book, Spiritual Living for Busy People. As a holistic life coach, he loves seeing clients make breakthroughs in their lives. You can find out more on his main site, jose-delatorre.com.
image: 1. By Nation kingdom (Own work) (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons 2. By longtrekhome (Falun Dafa the fifth exercise, meditation) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Original author: Contributing Writer
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The word "art" means to put things in their proper place, not giving one or the other undue importance. If you give too much importance to technology, then other ways of existence are given too little; therefore there is disharmony. If you give sex the highest, all-consuming importance, make it the only thing that matters in life, as most people do perhaps there are exceptions then again you exaggerate and bring about disharmony. If you rate money as all important, again contradiction takes place or if you say power, domination is all important, again contradiction occurs. To live harmoniously, therefore, means to put everything in its proper place. Will you do this not give your body the tremendous importance the West gives it, how you look, how you dress? which doesn't mean you mustn't dress properly, decently. Will you do all this? If you don't, why do you talk about order? There is no point at all. But if one wants to live in order and therefore in harmony with a sense of great beauty, perhaps also peace, then you must have order.

On Conflict, p 87    
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In his Indian accent, still quite prominent even after more than 40 years in the United States, Deepak calmly instructs us to close our eyes and simply breathe and focus on silently repeating our personal mantra.

Within a minute or so, my body feels less rigid and my breathing is slower. I sense my body sinking deeper into the chair with every mantra recitation.

The Ken Commandments front cover - I'm a soul and I'm perfect

Deepak then instructs us to “picture a screen of your consciousness and see yourself today and recapitulate everything that has happened so far.”

Within a few seconds of his prompt, I picture waking up and writing in my diary in the hotel room, walking to get coffee as it’s still dark, doing a Yoga class outside on the lawn by the golf course as the sun is rising, sitting in the ballroom for morning meditation session for a half an hour, having lunch with other attendees out on the hotel terrace.

Deepak then says to become aware of any flashes of memories, not in order but just as they come, of the day each of us left home to come here. I see the images of packing my suitcase, of saying goodbye to the kids, of Brooke mentioning that she liked this “new, calmer Ken” who was about to drive down to San Diego for a spiritual retreat, of me arriving at the resort and feeling nervous about what I’d just committed to doing for the next six days.

Moving into the past

As I swim in the images, Deepak says to recall a significant event from “the last 10 years or so” that was emotionally important in some way—good or bad.

I round off to 13 years ago and think of my son Jackson being born. The image is so vivid of my pale baby son with a big head and big blue eyes, of touching his tiny hand in the delivery room and him squeezing it, cementing a bond that’s unbreakably beautiful.

By now, I’m in a trancelike state as Deepak says to imagine a time in my teens. My mental picture shows a white banner strung across my house that my Mom made, reading CONGRATULATIONS, KENNY! after I’d won a World Cup hockey tournament. I smile as I relive the moment as clearly as if it were yesterday.

Perhaps I’m in “the gap”; maybe I’ve found the amorphous space in which the soul resides. I’m just being.

Deepak asks us to remember when we were under 12 and I see me playing baseball with my brothers on a field near our house. The scene plays out like a movie. I’m both viewer and participant. My father is coaching us, laughing and hitting ground balls to all of us.

I feel my eyes welling with tears. I miss Dad. I want to reach out and touch him, squeeze his hand like Jackson did to mine in that delivery room. I’m emotionally and physically immersed in the regression exercise. I’m not asleep, but also not quite conscious. This is the closest I’ve ever come to having an out-of-body experience. Perhaps I’m in “the gap”; maybe I’ve found the amorphous space in which the soul resides. I’m just being.

Deepak then tells us to think of when we were babies, under two years old. At first, I’m having trouble, but I soften my mind’s eye and eventually an image of me staring up from my crib at a colourful mobile comes before me. It’s joyful, innocent, and simple—much in the way that I’ve been learning this week is our true, natural state of being, before our ego invades and distracts and our nurture of parents, of culture, of traumas overshadows our nature.Colourful baby mobile hanging over crib - I'm a soul and I'm perfectThen, in his soothing drone, Deepak asks for us to see ourselves in the womb. My chest is rising and falling on its own, a soothing force of life, as if the universe is passing through me like my Yoga teacher likes to describe the sensation. Every muscle in my body feels relaxed.

I’m in a fully meditative state when a totally black picture emerges before me. I’m floating in water and can only hear the pulse of my heartbeat and primordial squishing sounds amid the fluids of the womb.

Under Deepak’s spell, I’ve lost track of time and space. This exercise could’ve been going on for 10 minutes or an hour—I have no clue.

Fully immersed in the moment, I hear Deepak ask us to regress further and see ourselves in “previous lives.” A series of images immediately pop into my head. First, I see me in what looks like the 1800s or maybe early 1900s and I’m a pretty woman with big breasts wearing a fancy dress, as if I’m in high society. I don’t look very nice or warm. Then I see me as a peasant in some period of time long ago, like several hundred years ago, draped in drab gray clothing. It seems as if I’m begging in the streets of some ancient-type place. Then I see myself as a black woman in Africa; I’m topless, with big, floppy breasts.

Back to the present moment

After some period of time, Deepak invokes us to slowly open our eyes and “come back into the present.”

My gaze comes into focus as the lights slowly turn back on in the ballroom. It’s the evening of July 13, 2016, and my body is in Carlsbad, California. After seemingly having just travelled back in time, I’ve never felt more in the present. And I came to this sensation, this awareness, by turning off my thoughts, creating a space in which I could just experience my being. By losing my mind, I connected with my soul.

I’ve found a way to create space for me, a bigger space of self-awareness and peace than the one I’ve been able to find with my Headspace apps. I’d just transcended my physical self. And in that space, in between the breaths and the thoughts and distractions of my life, I found a tranquillity that I’ve never found praying to Jesus, getting my Tarot cards read, studying the Bible, or staring at a sunset. It’s a place where my stomach doesn’t hurt, my mind isn’t consumed with worry, and I don’t feel shame or guilt that I’m not a good enough father or husband or son or brother or E! News correspondent.

In this space, I’m a soul. And I’m perfect.

«RELATED READ» BORIS’S STORY: How an academic merged scientific and spiritual belief to find peace within»

image 1: Yahoo via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons BY-SA); image 2: Pexels
Original author: Contributor
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