I had lived in a wide open space in a village size little town in India until I was 16. I graduated from a high school and went to a collage located in a relatively big town.Now when I go back to India, the same town has become a mega city.There is not much open space. It is crowded and cluttered. Living in a wide open space expanded my awareness of natural beauty and human beings.I felt easily connected with them. I indeed saw the wisdom expressed in the saying "Small is beautiful". The smallness of size expanded and enriched my inner space,my connectedness with nature and people around me. The bigness squeezed my inner and outer space.
My inner openness helps me to receive blessings coming from nature and from people in my life. Outer openness facilitates my inner openness and expansion. I may not be able to change the outer openness but I can expand my inner openness-mind and heart openness.Living this way has definitely enriched my life-mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually.
When my eyes are open, I see the miracles of nature. When my ears are open, I hear the music of silence.
When my hands are open, I feel the touch of kindness. When my heart is open, I feel the grace of love and gratitude. What more do we need to fill the cup of life?
May we not live in the self-created prison, when the door of freedom is wide open!
Living is an art like music and dance. The art of living fully in the moment is the way of living.When our mind is occupied by the future we miss the existential unfolding beauty and joy of the present moment. A mind that is present enjoys the present of presence. The mind that is absent misses the present of presence. When we are fully engaged and absorbed in the present, we are in the flow, in the being zone.
I have been practicing mindfulness, the art of being fully present, attending to what is happening inside and outside without being hijacked by the past or the future. It has been a great blessing to me. This way of living is enriching my life personally and relationally. I have been able to appreciate the gifts coming from nature and people, feeling my heart with gratitude.
I am 91 years old and I am accepting my aging mindfully and gracefully. If I compare myself with the past, I am sure I will make myself impoverished and miserable. If I worry about the future, I am going to reject, diminish or even destroy the gifts of the present. I have realized the wisdom of living in the here and now. When I step out of the flow of the river, I miss the water of living and get thirsty.When I wake up from my illusion, I quickly get connected with the flow of life which is beyond space and time. I love Deepak Chopra's book "Ageless Body, Timeless Mind".
May we learn and practice the art of living life fully and share our gifts with others!
There are two worlds I (and we) live in: The world which has more darkness than light and also the world which has more light than darkness. I can talk about my world more authentically than the world of others. What are the two major components of my inner world?:The kind of world I really like and love to create and live in. It is a world filled with light and love, a world graced by kindness, forgiveness, truth, gratitude, generosity and compassion. Then there is another inner world with my ambitions, needs, and desires and my likes and dislikes. The challenge for me is to strike a dynamic balance.
My life long work and challenge has been to build a realistic and constructive bridge between the two worlds. Can I serve myself and others? Can I take care of myself and others in my life? I do not aspire to be a martyr or a an unkind self-serving narcissist. The more I introspect and remain aware of the self created imbalance between these two apparently opposite perspectives, the less I go through self-hurting or other-hurting wishes, desires and behaviors. To me, life is an ongoing journey of maintaining the balanced flow between these two valances.Living life this way has made me a better person and a happier person. Living this way is like maintaining the flow of the river of life between the two banks.
May I maintain a wholesome balance between the two poles of existence! May others live a balanced and happy life!
Life is a cycle of connectedness. We all are connected as human beings. Life begins because of connectedness between two beings. Life is sustained and flourished by connectedness. We all are connected with nature. We are a part of nature, not apart from nature.Our being is made up of five primordial elements:earth,water, fire, air and space. What is inside is also outside. We have organic connection with life within and life without. It is our sacred responsibility to express our gratitude to the life giver and sustainer, the Mother of all, the Mother Earth.
We need to awaken and sustain this spiritual awakening in our everyday life.We may remain awakened when we read a writing like this or listen to a spiritual discourse or be in the presence of an awakened soul.. And then we go back to sleep. We get disconnected with the source of our being. We waste and dump toxic chemicals in water, we poison crop, rip soil, pollute air because of ignorance and at worst by greed. In the name of progress, we cut the sacred chord of life. We ignore and deny the inconvenient truth.
This is a serious global challenge. We will save our Mother Earth or kill her. We all need to take responsibility and make right and wise choices for sustaining and flourishing life everywhere.We need to wake up and remain awake for preserving life of all beings, us and nature. This way we can express our gratitude to the Creator.
May we have an awakened mind and a grateful heart for the survival, sustenance and flourishing of our Mother Earth.
Life is a web of relationships. Some are I-It relationships. They are utilitarian,pragmatic and self-serving. Such relationships are shallow leaving no nourishing deep roots of memory in our mind. I have had such relationships leaving no worth- remembering deep traces behind.
I cherish I-Thou relationships. It is a relationship between two genuine and deeply caring beings. It has openness, trust, and compassion. I have been blessed to have such deep relationships with my parents, family members, a few friends and my soul mate. Such relationships have made me a whole and wholesome person. Such relationships have been blessings to me and I am deeply grateful for such blessings.
May we keep our mind and heart open to cultivate such I-Thou relationships!
Scores of research studies have demonstrated positive effects of meditation on biological, neurological, mental, emotional, social and behavioral well- being of the mediation practitioners. A research study done at Emory University in Atlanta confirms the residual effects of two forms of Meditation. Mindfulness Meditation and Loving Kindness Compassion Meditation. The first group was designed to cultivate skills of focused attention and non-judgmental awareness of breathing, bodily sensations, thoughts and, emotions. The second group was designed to cultivate loving kindness meditation. Twelve participants in each group who had not gone through Meditation training before were the subjects of the research study. One group went through 8 weeks of Mindfulness Meditation training program. The other group went through 8 weeks of Loving Kindness Compassion Meditation training program. The third control group took a health education course for eight weeks.
There were 12 participants in each group. Three weeks before the study began, the study participants were administered fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging}. The brain scan provided baseline data of the study participants.
Three weeks after the training program the participants in each group were administered fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging test. The participants of both meditation groups showed decrease in the right amygdala in response to emotional stimuli. Amygdala plays an important part in emotion and memory. The participants were given an assessment tool to check the symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress before they went through meditation training. They were given the same symptoms assessment test after they completed their meditation training. The decrease in the amygdala activity is correlated with decreased depression and anxiety scores. Meditation helped the meditators for creating emotional stability. When the participants in the Loving Kindness and Compassion Meditation were shown images depicting some form of suffering, they showed enhancement in compassion for the people going through suffering. Showing compassion for others may also be beneficial not only for the receiver but also for the giver. Both groups showed remarkable reduction of stress symptoms.
The findings showed the positive and enduring effects of meditation. The studies show that both forms of meditation result in enduring changes in the brain function, especially in the area of emotional processing.
Violence breeds violence, love breeds love. Thirst for violence cannot be quenched by violence. It can be quenched only by forgiveness and love. Esho dhamma santatano, This is the eternal law, says the Buddha.The highest form of love is self transcendence as displayed by the Baba.
I practice loving kindness meditation to cultivate compassion, acceptance, forgiveness and love for me and for others including those who have hurt me.I teach Peace Education to children and teachers in a Montessori School. We all practice loving kindness meditation together and share our growth experiences. We all are witnessing antagonism, divisiveness, aggressiveness, hostility and violence everyday. We all need to cultivate compassionate understanding of each other and learn to build bridges rather than walls.Building more and more weapons of destruction are going to back fire and may cause universal inhalation.
We all need to realize and remember that the seeds of violence are planted in the minds of people and the seeds of peace can also be planted in the minds of people.We all need to learn to make wise choices to preserve life, human as well as the life of the mother planet.
May we cultivate loving kindness to nurture the tree of life!
The Way is indescribable in words. It is like pointing fingers towards the moon but not seeing the moon. When we are in the flow, we become the flow .And such flows are experienced in many contexts and in many ways. When I am fully immersed in something or with somebody, I lose my sense of separateness. There are no two-there is only one. The ancient Vedanta philosophy describes it as advaita-not two.
I experience such oneness when I am in a deep meditative state where the two banks of the river-this and that, me and you, right and wrong get dissolved into one flow of river; where the small self , the egoic- self, vanishes and the Universal Self unfolds.It is like soul meeting the soul and merging into one other. I have such experience when take a walk in nature where everything is connected with everything.I sense and feel harmony.
We all are born with the potential to realize the Self. I have been blessed to be in the presence of such self realized people.For them the Kingdom of Heaven is right her and now in its full glory and majesty. We need to be awakened from the trance of separateness and go back to our universal home which is inside all of us.
May we go beyond our small self and be open and awakened to expand our consciousness!
How to deal with this strong affliction affecting us in many ways? To vent or not to vent is the question.
Anger is energy. How do we use it, how do we manage it? This is a big challenge for all of us.
There are four ways we deal with anger: Release angry feelings in an intense and explosive way. Type A personalities display this pattern and these patterns become habitual. We may describe them as “hot heads”. Then there are those who consciously suppress such feelings and stuff them. We may describe them as “suppressers”. There are those who unconsciously suppress their anger-filled feelings. We may describe them as “repressors”. People who stuff their angry feelings and do not deal with them constructively often display passive aggressive behaviors. And there are those who mindfully manage their angry feelings in constructive ways. We may describe them as “cool heads”.
Spending twenty minutes a day to practice Mindfulness Meditation is very beneficial for our mental and emotional wellness. It lays a good foundation for living clearly and peacefully.
We are a social being. We have a need to belong to, to be connected, to take care and to be taken care of, to share our dreams, joys and sorrows. We create a social net work, a world of relationships of all kinds. The closer the relationships, the greater are the challenges and opportunities for growth and development. A big challenge in interpersonal relationship is how to work through differences without causing emotional distances. What do we do to create and sustain bridges instead of walls? How do we communicate as I to I rather than I vs. I or I and It?
This is where the practice of Mindfulness Meditation comes into play.
Create personal space and time for processing the inner stuff by recognizing (awareness) and staying with it(attending) non-judgmentally, non-critically, without reacting , accepting it. This needs to be done gently, patiently and compassionately. We do not get stuck with or dwell on the energy draining recurring negative stuff. We are making a shift from fight, flight and freeze stress response zone to a stress free flowing zone. We are on the path to wellness. We are coming out of the cloudy sky to a clear sky. A wholesome understanding and insight arise from the clear mind. Right knowing leads to right speech and right action. We get numerous opportunities in our daily life to practice mindfulness meditation. We do not hold onto and accumulate negative stress resulting in self and other hurting behaviors.
The same procedure needs to be used when we encounter differences in intimate and important relationships. We follow the same procedure as a couple or as parents, teachers or friends and colleagues. We need to create space within ourselves and between ourselves to create and sustain I to I mode of communication resulting in we-together- mode of communication. We get numerous opportunities to work on ourselves personally and interpersonally.
So let us do it.
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