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Archive for March 13th, 2012

Stories wanted…

If you are in a 12 step program, take a look at the Existential Addict’s call for stories.

The Existential Addict

Some friends of mine are working on this new project. I plan on submitting a story or two and see what happens. I thought some of you might be interested.

12 Step Stories is a collaborative writing project, illustrating the path of addiction and recovery. Authors, David Earle and company, in addition to sharing their own stories, are seeking meaningful contributions from others who walk this parallel path. If you have a story you need to share, want to share, and/or will benefit others who are struggling, we are eager to record your story.

You do not have to be a writer. You need only have the desire to share. We can help you with the rest.

Written, video, and/or audio submissions welcome.

If you would like to be involved, please contact us via https://www.facebook.com/12StepStories or email at 12stepstories@gmail.com.

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As always, another great post! I love the idea of your morning walk through the cemetary.
When I was having a lot of pain issues many years ago, I found myself driving to the cemetary to meditate. It was a good wake up to be here and be present to what life was at that moment.
We hide from the charnal grounds… we hide from the convalescent homes… we hide from all those experiences that can afford us growth, compassion, and care…

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LIke William over at Fiercebuddhist, I agree, this is fabulous and totally worth the effort in trying to reblog again (hopefully it worked William!!!).
What are you waiting for? Be here now, be here presently, ask yourself these simple questions.

Hands-of-Faith Holistic Healing Centers® Blog

At the cusp of a new day, week, month or year, most of us take a little time to reflect on our lives by looking back over the past and ahead into the future.  We ponder the successes, failures and standout events that are slowly scripting our life’s story.  This process of self-reflection helps us maintain a conscious awareness of where we’ve been and where we intend to go.  It is pertinent to the organization and preservation of our long-term goals and happiness.

The questions below will help you with this process.  Because when it comes to finding meaning in life, asking the right questions is the answer.

  1. In one sentence, who are you?
  2. Why do you matter?
  3. What is your life motto?
  4. What’s something you have that everyone wants?
  5. What is missing in your life?
  6. What’s been on your mind most lately?
  7. Happiness is a ________?
  8. What…

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Cover of "Awake at Work: 35 Practical Bud...

Cover via Amazon

In Michael Carroll’s book Awake at Work:  35 Practical Buddhist Principles for Discovering Clarity and Balance in the Midst of Work’s Chaos he has a chapter on Extending the Four Composures.

I like the idea of using these composures for our “work” by the bedside. . . when we are being caregivers.  When I apply them to what we do, they remind me of Frank Ostaseki’s Five Precepts for Compassionate Companioning.

Let’s take a look.

  • The Composure of Kindness — Michael write, “The kindness we extend to ourselves in meditation we can now extend to others at work.”  In this section, he talks about letting go… letting go of the story lines in our head, the beliefs that we have about a situation or a person.
    • Instead, he suggests that like when we are on the meditation cushion, come back to the present moment again and again, the thing that teaches us to have kindness and compassion for ourselves as we sit.
    • So can you imagine when you are sitting with your loved one, your patient, your client, waiting at the doctor’s office, or any of the things we do as caregivers, can you say to yourself, come back to my breath?  Drop the storyline?  Be present?  Can you take the extra bit of effort to breathe deeply and let your shoulders drop and your brain waves change there, in that moment?
  • The Composure of Respecting Difficulties —  Michael states, “By sitting still with ourselves, we learn to respect and attend to our “negativities” rather than resist and argue with them.”  In this section, he discusses the ability we foster. . . learning to respect what some might call our shadow side.
    • Can you imagine what that might be like?  To be able to be okay with your grumpiness, your short-sightedness, all of the things that we find to be awkward, stick, and uncomfortable about ourselves.
    • Instead of our usual ways of dealing with ourselves and our “faults”, we can learn what might be like to have the energy it takes to usually push these parts of us away?  Maybe that energy could be freed up for us to actually learn to have more patience, compassion, speak wisely, etc.
  • The Composure of Calm Alertness — In this section Michael reminds us, again, what we learn to do on the cushion is what we learn to bring out into the world with us.  While we’re on the cushion, we may notice that we are bored but we continue to come back to the present moment, attend to our breath.
    • Instead of following up on the story that we are bored and seeing where that takes us — to the kitchen, to the television, etc. we sit with it.  We place gentle attention and focus to our boredom and realize that we can have a level of calm alertness as we attend to our breath.
    • Can you imagine?  What would it be like in the fogginess of running around to doctor’s appointments, running errands, setting up meds, etc if we just sat and attended to that which is there, readily available, moment to moment.
      • Think about the alertness that comes from the practice of Yoga Nidra, attending passively to the consciousness in different parts of our body and the profound effect it has on our brains.  If you didn’t see my other blog and the entry, click here for more on this practice.
  • The Composure of Availability — In this section, Michael states, “On the cushion, we learn to be open and attentive.”  Of course, remember, Michael is talking about using these precepts at work and for this lesson, he discusses applying effort that is not seeking results but being present to what is.  Honestly, I don’t think it is any different in our lives at home either.
    • We are a being that is stuck on the past, moving toward the future, and has difficult being in the present moment.  But that’s why we practice, right?  We learn to let go of reliving the past again and again.  We learn to let go of putting effort into plans for the future.
    • Imagine what it might be like, to be present with the person you love.. not thinking about your adult child as the little kid who scraped their knee or thinking ahead to this Christmas or Passover when that person may or may not be here.  But being really present, making a snapshot, a memory right here and now, crystal clear to cherish.  We can’t create that moment if we can’t be present to it.

Michael says in the book, Awake At Work, “Buddhists regard the very act of sitting itself as the ultimate expression of human decency and poise. Having the composure to sit down and be still is considered utterly dignified and profoundly human.”

Can you imagine what that might be like?  What is it to be dignified and profoundly human?  What does it mean to be that present to ourselves?  to another person?

Can you imagine you, in this relationship with your loved one and it being an awakened relationship?  One that helps you come to and be awake for the only thing that really matters, your love in that very moment.

Peace, Jennifer

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Just received an email that the NY Zen Center for Contemplative Care and NY Insight are collaborating on an upcoming retreat this Friday and Saturday with Koshin Paley Ellison and Robert Chodo Cambell.

The topic:  The Buddha at the Bedside:  Exploring the Eight-Fold Path in Caregiving.

Their email stated that:  they will be looking that the enlightening and shadow qualities of the Eight-Fold Path:

  • Right View
  • Right Intention
  • Right Speech
  • Right Action
  • Right Livelihood
  • Right Effort
  • Right Concentration

They will also have a discussions on the Buddha’s teachings on how to end suffering in our lives by living the Eight-fold Path.

If you are lucky enough to live in the area, check it out and let us know about the workshop.  It is at NYInsight on 28 West 27th Street, 10th Floor. NY, NY 10001

Friday’s sessions are from 7-9pm and Saturday’s are from 10am – 5pm.

Registration is sliding scale and suggested donations are $55, $70, & $85 + Teacher Dana.

To register:  go to NY Insight Meditations Center’s Website:  www.nyimc.org and there is a link at the bottom of the page.

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from Tricycle

from Tricycle (Photo credit: miheco)

Lewis Richmond has a new book out, with this title, Aging as Spirituality:  How to grow older and wiser. 

Accompanying this terrific new book, Tricycle Magazine is holding 4 “retreats” in March … these are available on demand with a paid subscription to Tricycle online.  So far there have been 2 retreats, each about 25 minutes.

The first is “Lightning Strikes” where Lewis talks about waking up to aging, using aging as a spiritual practice.  The second, “Coming to Terms”, is a discussion on comparing ourslves to who we were, who we used to be, or at least, the mental constructions of who we think we were..

He has two more videos to go.. “Adaptation” where he will talk about letting go of who we were and embracing who we are as a spiritual practice.  And the last, “Appreciation”, where the topic will be learning to accept that “This is my life and I have no other.”

What an incredible teacher and what a gift to have these valuable teachings on demand, so we don’t have to go anywhere.

Lewis is the author of several other books; I think 5 altogether and was ordained by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi in 1971.

I downloaded Lewis’ book to my Kindle as a pre-order and am just waiting for some time “away” to be able to sink down into it.  I think it will be a great gift to myself to hear what Lewis and the Buddhist path has to teach us about aging.

There is quite a community at Tricyle online and I would encourage you to think about it.  I used to drive 45+ minutes to get my paper copy and I finally decided this year that I would prefer to go totally digital with all my subscriptions.  I’m happy to say that I think it was well worth it in this case.

If you download the book or buy the paper copy or if you check out these retreats, give a shout and let us know what you think of it by posting a comment here.  Would love to know what you learn!

Here is to aging with grace and being open to the grace that comes from the wisdom of aging.

Metta, Jennifer

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Improving Communication

  • Stay focused
  • Listen Carefully
  • Try to see their point of view
  • Respond to criticism with empathy
  • Own what’s yours
  • Use “I’ messages — “I feel hurt when you don’t talk to me and sleep all day.”
    • “I need to be able to go see friends once in awhile if you don’t want friends to come here”.
  • Look for compromise
  • Take time out
  • Don’t give up – progress can be slow but rewarding
  • Ask for help if you need it

Resources for Communication:

Nonviolent Communication  — Book

Nonviolent Communication — Audiobook

The Five Keys to Mindful Communication: Using Deep Listening and Mindful Speech to Strengthen Relationships, Heal Conflicts, and Accomplish Your Goals — preorder at amazon.com

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