Monday, December 22, 2014

" The Difference ... "

“ … The only difference
That I see
Is you are exactly the same
As you used to be

… With bow and arrow
And the artificial heart … 
Made of dishonour
He loaded the cannon 
With a jealous appetite … 

You always said that you needed some
But you always had more, more than anyone … “

~ The Wildflowers ~ The Difference ~


A great deal of information is available regarding meditation and mindfulness.  Yet do most truly understand the relationship between the two?

Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment on purpose and non-judgemental.    Meditation is an application of mindfulness for a specific period of time.  When we take on the practice of meditation, we focus.  This focus could be an aspect of breathing, such as the sensation of our breath at the tip of the nostrils or visualizations techniques.  

Hence, meditation is the application of mindfulness to a specific object for a specific period of time.  And while we can be committed to our practice, the real benefits are in the moments we spend not meditating.  It allows us to manage with the chaos of life with greater focus, along with the benefits of inner peace, spontaneity and equanimity.  

When asking others what is meditation, varied answers will follow.  Meditation can be an infinite different things, including prayer, chanting and stillness … 
Yet mindfulness is more concise … paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, with no judgement.  Mindfulness is available, always, in the present moment, the only moment we have … 

Mindfulness meditation originates from an ancient Buddhist meditation technique …

A recent study showed that after an eight week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s fight or flight centre, the amygdala, appears to shrink.  

This primal region of the brain, associated with fear and emotion, is involved in the initiation of the body’s response to stress.  As the amygdala shrinks, the pre-frontal cortex – associated with higher order brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision-making becomes thicker.  

The “functional connectivity” between these regions – i.e. how often they are activated together – also changes. The connection between the amygdala and the rest of the brain gets weaker, while the connections between areas associated with attention and concentration get stronger.  

In other words, our more primal responses to stress seem to be superseded by more thoughtful ones.

Personally, my zen practice has helped to lessen the abusiveness of stimulation, the stress and pain associated with cancer.  I have been learning how to refrain from engaging in though process that magnifies the pain.  The process is simple, the practice is challenging.  But it’s worth noting that the change in perception can be permanent … just don’t give up.  

Mindfulness meditation takes commitment and devotion to your practice.  And it is more than those moments of stillness … it is who you are in those other moments of life.  Meditation allows you to detach from your thoughts, which manifest into feelings.  As the observer, you can ask how and what rather than why.  

Eventually, no matter what kind of thoughts come up, you have the opportunity to be critically honest with yourself.  How true can you be with yourself is a great question to ask.  

No matter how wild or bizarre your thoughts, mindful meditation guides you back to breath, back to the here and now.  The gift within each meditation session is the journey of discovery to understand the basic truth of who we are.  

“The masters say if you create an auspicious condition in your body and your environment then meditation and realization will automatically arise.”
- Sogyal Rinpoche

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

" It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year ... "

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you "Be of good cheer"
It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
It's the hap -happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It's the hap - happiest season of all …

It's The Most Wonderful Time
It's The Most Wonderful Time
It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year end of lyrics

~ Andy Williams ~ It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year ~

And here we go again … it’s officially the most wonderful time of the year, the holiday season.  For most, it is a time of happiness, nostalgia and joy … until you go to the mall.

Relax … Release … Let go

The outside pressures of the holidays begin to creep in and the stress starts to gain momentum.  More expectations, more drama and more pressure to be perfect.  

… the word gift wandered through multiple meanings before arriving at its current common meaning: “something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance.”

The real meaning of love, joy and peace is simply magical yet it can be lost when the holiday become bigger than life itself.  It can be overwhelming, frustrating and more of a bother than a pleasure.  Yet with some thoughts to keep in mind, we can bring ourselves back to a place of gratitude for what is in our lives …

Start with yourself if you want your holidays to be less stressful.  
A daily practice of meditation and silence provides an opportunity to shift your perspective and bring an entirely different energy to your environment.  

Let go of perfection because you will fail miserably if you don’t.  
Memorable holiday experiences have come from unplanned events so make plans, set intentions but release your desire to control the details.  

Perspective is necessary, especially at this time of the year.  Most understand that your presence has so much more greater value in your loved ones lives than that great boxed gift you picked up.  Yet, regardless of your gift giving practices, it may be good to know why we give during the holidays.  The concept of gifting can be traced back to the gold, frankincense and myrrh which were given to baby Jesus by the three kings.  And so gifting in the modern day gives us many reasons … to reconnect with old friends, to express our love and gratitude, to share some of the joys we may have experienced throughout the year … or simply do a little something for others and let them know we care.

And so if you are running out of time, consider YOU! ... don’t underestimate the power of offering more of yourself as a gift to others.  Attention and your presence truly are precious jewels.  Personally I am so grateful of the holiday season because it provides us with this opportunity.  Consider the challenge and know that you are enough and you, yourself are the most precious gift of all.

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence; 
when mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers” 
Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, December 15, 2014

" Manage ... "

“ …Created time,
Now this ones mine,
Gave pictures frames …
Created man gave him woman,
Why did you do that for me?

These are the questions asked before 
i lay me down and go to sleep, 
Sometimes i wonder why you decided to keep you hands on me.
Of all the miracles, signs and wonders,
There's still one mystery,
How did you manage to love me?

How did you manage to love me? … “

~ R.Kelly ~ Manage ~

Recently, I was sharing a painful experience with a friend.  I shared my sadness regarding someone who is no longer a part of my life.  It wasn’t about re-living the experience, it was about sharing the load.  It wasn't about romanticizing the past ... it was simply about sharing the load .... 

And my friend said something that just made sense.  She said, you just got tired of managing the relationship.  Bam!! - yes, that’s it --- she had the wisdom to stop me from spiralling into self-doubt and self-pity.  She let me know that it was okay and that I was not alone.

So ever wonder what you are managing, who you are tolerating, what are you putting up with to get through, get by, not rock the boat and let sleeping dogs lie?  Do you give a special pass to family and friends versus acquaintances?  Are you filled with resentment and/or envy?  Do you suppress your emotions?  What’s it all worth?

Questions to ask yourself, quietly, 
when you are challenged, pushed to the limit, tested … 

Grateful this time it is different.  It didn’t take much to get out of a negative head space, the blame and shame game … did I do enough and could I do more?  Realization to what is present and available … focusing on what is not what isn’t … and trusting it is part of their journey, not yours.  

Gentle reminder … it is my job to love myself, not theirs.

It is liberating to focus on what is available in the present moment.  
Regrets from the past are great reference points.  
The future is open to strive for a goal.  

Words are just letters on a paper unless they are supported by action.  They have power, they have resonance and they have purpose.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.  Blessed to have real love present now.

Ask yourself do you manage or are you being manage?

Managing a relationship involves nurturing and growth, love and compassion, disagreements and respect … two sides.  When people view the same situation differently, it is an opportunity for multiple perspectives.  Yet, relationship problems often arise when power dynamics are unbalanced.  Reflect and release … letting go of what no longer serves you.  Each connection provides a deeper insight into who we really are, serving a purpose regardless how painful it may seem.

“Rejection is an opportunity for your selection.” 
- Bernard Branson

Thursday, December 11, 2014

" Gifting ... "

" ... It's funny how it starts, just how it all begins
You get your sights on dreams, and man a thousand different things
You are on for yourself, you're chasing cool desire
You get addicted fast, but man you're playin' with fire

Then there's a day that comes to you
When you get all you want, but there's a space inside that's still as empty as it was
'Till an angel comes your way and man she's fallin fast
You know she's so in need but she is to afraid to ask

So you hold on out your hands and catch her best you can
And in givin' love you feel a better man

And the gift is what you get by givin' more than you receive
And you're learnin' fast that maybe this is how you'll be happy
'Cause in takin' everything you lost, the air you need to breath
But in givin' it away, you found the precious thing you see ... "


~ Blue ~ The Gift ~


Purchasing the perfect gift, tis the season … the practice of giving extends to all forms of giving.  Yet I believe there is no separation from givers, receivers or gifts.  I believe all of life is always giving and receiving at the same time. 

Yet, if a gift is not in material form, is it still a gift?  Can the gift of listening, the gift of love, the gift of creation, the gift of attention and the gift of effort satisfy?  Is that too easy, too simple, too trivial to be considered a gift …

There can be a few ways to practice unconditional giving … giving the gift of kindness, compassion and generosity … giving fully and without reservation the gift of your presence and respect.

My spiritual teacher told us recently that if you needed something you would have it … therefore if you don’t have it, you don’t need it … simple to consider but not so simple to practice.  Because we are told how, why, when and where to buy that special gift for that special someone … can your presence then simply be enough …. Yes!

Gifting those that have - have everything.  Have everything … everything they have.  Something to consider when fighting the crowds for a parking spot, or a sale item, or the latest gadget, or the newest trend.  Because you are enough and you always have been.  Realizations set in that you cannot buy love and friends.  You just need to be … be real and be present.  Gifting is a beautiful gesture if there are no strings attached … unconditional gifting.

And there it is … the gift is within YOU!

Do we give from the heart or give to get the best reaction … do we give because we love or give to win them over … questions best to be considered in stillness, where the answers are always available.  Regardless of your gifting choices, most of us know the more you give the more you receive as the opportunity is the gifting itself.

Monday, December 8, 2014

" Reflection ... "

Look at me 
You may think you see 
Who I really am 
But you'll never know me 
Every day 
It's as if I play a part 
Now I see 
If I wear a mask 
I can fool the world 
But I cannot fool my heart 

Who is that girl I see 
Staring straight back at me? 
When will my reflection show 
Who I am inside? 

~ Christina Aguilera ~ Reflection ~

For the month of December, my spiritual teacher has asked us to focus on Reflection.  Reflecting back on where we were and how far we have come.  And personally, this has allowed me to reflect on death so that I may gain an understanding of the preciousness of this life and how to make it meaningful.

Meditation teaches us to be mindful of breathing practices so that they can help us develop more concentration and calmness.  This calmness is the foundation for reflection.  But what really is reflection?  Reflection is a slightly different perspective every time you look back … 

“Imagine that you are standing in front of a calm lake. The lake is still and tranquil, and you can see the reflections of the further shore. You take a tiny pebble, and toss it into the midst of the reflections with respect, as if it were an offering to the ancient gods that live in the depths of the waters. The stone plops into the water, and disappears without trace, leaving behind waves of concentric ripples.  Each ripple presents you with a slightly different perspective on the reflections of the other shore. You watch the ripples radiating from the place where the stone vanished, as they widen and fade and eventually disappear altogether. Then once the lake’s surface is still once more, the reflections have returned to normal, and you toss in another offering “

What we know about death is that no one escapes it, it is definite and usually comes at an unexpected time.  This unknown brings us into the now ... no possession will help us, and no loved one can save us it.  I believe that every action of our body, mind and speech creates pathways in our brains which has the potential to ripen as future happiness or suffering, depending on whether the action was positive or negative.  

These imprints remain in the mind until they ripen 
or until they are purified or cleansed by spiritual practices ... 
This process in known as the law of karma.

Do we fear death or do we fear no living fully?  Do we just fear life will rob us of time with our children, our parents, our spouses, our friends?  If we have more time, what would we do differently?  If we can do it now, why don’t we?  What is holding us back?  What are we really afraid of?

Even if we do the same thing over and over again, every experience is unique,  and it is deeply fulfilling to experience the uniqueness of each precious moment.  It is within these precious moments, our purpose is revealed to us.  It is within these precious moments, infinite possibilities exists.

This process of self reflection has provided me a way to become aware of what is really holding me back.  It is one of the best ways to attain clarity and empowerment.  Through stillness, I hope for room to observe what continues to influence me, what I am dissatisfied with and what I want to change.

“ … to doubt everything, or to believe everything, are two equally convenient solutions; 
both dispense with the necessity of reflection … “ 
~ Henri Poincare

Friday, December 5, 2014

" How Deep Is Your Love ... "

How deep is your love, How deep is your love
I really need to learn
'Cause we're living in a world of fools
Breaking us down
When they all should let us be
We belong to you and me

I believe in you
You know the door to my very soul
You're the light in my deepest darkest hour …

And you may not think
I care for you
When you know down inside
That I really do
And it's me you need to show
How Deep Is Your Love

~ Bee Gees ~ How Deep Is Your Love ~


Don’t stop believing … sometimes, they are just words.  Constantly moving forward, pushing through, and living regardless of the chaos in your life.  And in the midst of challenges, you reach out to another who is suffering.  You try to lighten their load … because you know what it feels like to be down.

Makes sense and sounds wonderful.  But it doesn’t work out that way.  Because most of the time they are so busy formulating their reply or reaction, they’ve missed the intention.  The world is full of cynics and critics.  You cannot go by a moment without being judged – if not by someone else, by yourself.

Personally, the disappointment comes from lack of trust.  They don’t trust you enough.  Period.  It sounds harsh but when a relationship reaches an issue with trust, you don’t have much to work with.  If they think you are going to capitalize on their misery, your energies are served better elsewhere.

And … there is a delicate balance between being and doing.  When do you step in and take action … when do you get out of the way and let life happen?  When you see a “train wreck” about to happen in slow motion involving someone you care for, do you turn away and say … not my problem? 

The recent lesson, loud and clear … 
“mind your own f*cking business”
message received.

So where does this leave you … liberated.  Because you are not responsible for anyone but yourself.  But what if … is for the clouds.  Leave it be, let it go and move on.  Everyone is on their own spiritual journey, lessons, trials and tribulations to endure.  Perhaps it is egotistical for me to think that they need help, they need to learn my lesson, and they need some light shed on the issue … yet if they are not open to receiving, then the point is mute. 

No one asked you to be a martyr.  Ask yourself … is it your place to fix this because if you do, will you minimize their experience of valuable learning opportunities?  Abandon your need to add value and leave space for them to find their own solutions.  Suspend your need to dominate the conversation.  Invite others to listen to their inner voice, their gut and wait for answers.  Check in with yourself and don’t impose your bias.  Be an objective observer.  Remember, there is a difference between getting hurt and being injured.  So now ask yourself … how patient are you willing to be with the people you love?