Posts Tagged ‘Buddha’

Wow, this summer has been 10 times crazier than I ever would have thought.  I snapped the photo above when I was running errands about 10 days ago.  Even when it’s busy, you’ve gotta stop and check out the clouds… it’s been too hot for a lot of stopping and smelling those proverbial roses.

I’m getting ready to teach General Psych for the first time this fall.  I start in less than 3 weeks and it is a LOT of work, on top of dissertation work and working a stressful 40 hour work week.

So, I have to admit that this blog has suffered.  And I thank all of you who stopped by, left me messages, checked to see if I was okay, etc.  I really enjoy doing the blog and unfortunately, there are only a few things in life that I can put on the back burner.

I’m thinking the Fall will be just as busy but I will do my best to find still, clear moments to share things I’ve read, videos I’ve watched, etc.

I’ve just re-watched Clara’s Heart with Whoopi Goldberg and Neil Patrick Harris several days ago when I was home with a migraine.  It’s the story of several losses and how everyone involved deals with their losses.  And well, it’s fun to see Neil Patrick Harris as a little boy.  If you have Netflix check it out.

I picked up a new book for my Kindle. . . The Wisdom of Listening by Mark Brady.  I have to say that I am really enjoying the few stolen moments that I find to read a couple of passages.

In this book, Mark states,

Once you have the attitude in your mind and heart, no matter how distressing your work environment, you can be really happy. . . Before beginning your daily meditations, spend some time reflecting on the suffering in the world, or your friends’ or patients’ suffering, and as their suffering touches and opens your heart, let your compassion grow even deeper, and your intentions to help even stronger.”

There is a lot of suffering that goes on at my full time job.  Our direct care staff work long hard hours with little gratitude.  We work with very difficult clients and there isn’t a day that goes by that their shifts are probably not very demanding.

Add on top of that all kinds of threats in the last year. . . the Governor will close your site.  The Governor is going to take a big chunk of your pay.

And then there is the world at large that might not impact us day to day but it does wear on our psyche. . . a new shooting today in neighboring WI. . . because someone’s religious beliefs and looks were different.

And a few weeks ago, another shooting in Colorado. . . in Aurora which is not that far from Columbine and it is the story of many systems going wrong. . . the mental health system, schools, enforcement of gun control or the lack thereof.

Of course, there is also the hostility that is the backdrop of most elections. . .

The Buddha was so wise is saying that our problem was suffering and illusion.  We can spend a lot of time focused on the lack, the need, the pain, etc.

But I like Mark’s reframe in this quote.  It’s much like the concepts of metta and tonglen.  We cannot ignore or be ignorant of the pain and suffering in the world.  If we do, we can become foolish or calloused.

But we cannot fret and let the world paralyze us or worse, make us wall off our hearts.

So what do we do?  We walk the middle path. . . we acknowledge the suffering in the world, we hold it close and let it fill us with compassion so that our hearts break open to hold more.

There is so much pain in the world and sometimes it feels like not nearly enough love.  So, when we look at holding compassion and lovingkindness for those who suffer, are filled with fear, are alone, etc., we generate lovingkindness in its midst.  We create love because of the suffering of others.

I know that some will say that just praying for people doesn’t do any real good.  I would disagree.  I don’t know if praying for some different outcome will work, but opening your heart and allowing it to expand to hold much more can never be wrong.

So, before you settle in with a difficult situation, a full schedule, chronic pain, heart break, and other craziness in the world, take those 10 minutes to sit with the suffering on a global level and allow it to touch your innermost essence.  And allow the space for your essence to foster new and deeper love as well.

May all beings be free from suffering and the root of suffering.


Read Full Post »

The Buddha encouraged us to think of the good things done for us by our parents, by our teachers, friends, whomever; and to do this intentionally, to cultivate it, rather than just letting it happen accidentally.

~~Ajahn Sumedho, “The Gift of Gratitude”

I am truly thankful for all those who are in my life. . . my loving and devoted parents, my dear supportive friends, and wise teachers.

Life is nothing without love, compassion, and faithful companions.

Deep gratitude and prostrations to you all.

Namaste, Jennifer

Read Full Post »

From Advice for Dying & Living a Better Life by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

“It is crucial to be mindful of death — to contemplate that you will not remain long in this life.  If you are not aware of death, you will fail to take advantage of this special human life that you have already attained.  it is meaningful since, based on it, important effects can be accomplished.

Analysis of death is not for the sake of becoming fearful but to appreciate this precious lifetimes during which you can perform many important practices.  Rather than being frightened, you need to reflect that when death comes, you will lose this good opportunity for practice.  In this way contemplation of death will bring moreenergy to your practice.

You need to accept that death comes in the normal course of life.  As Buddha said:

A place to stay untouched by death

Does not exist.

It does not exist in space, it does not exist in

the ocean.

Nor if you stay in the middle of a mountain.

If you accept that death is part of life, then when it actually does come, you may face it more easily.

When people know deep inside that death will come but deliberately avoid thinking about it, that does not fit the situation and is counterproductive.  The same is true when old age is not accepted as part of life but taken to be unwanted and deliberately avoided in thought.  This leads to being mentally unprepared; then when old age inevitably occurs, it is very difficult.”

Deep gratitude to His Holiness for all of the teachings he has shared with us over the past seven decades, but no teaching more precious than the teaching he has given us of the example of his life.

May His Holiness have a continued long and healthy life.  May He live to see His people politically free and safe from harm.

Blessings, Jennifer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAjCzEAdlng — Peace Panel Pt 10 with Roshi Joan Halifax

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIX3tdFPolg&feature=related — Finding Happiness in Troubled Times

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XFhWI6QOHg&feature=relmfu — 76th Birthday Celebration

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeryKuwHqUU&feature=relmfu — On Birthdays

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYpLaQ56Cdw&feature=related — News clip on Richard Gere going to see HH

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2wZh6wbXJI&feature=related — Clip from the Today Show

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyAoFdx6914&feature=related  — Richard Gere interview from 2007

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxhVvXqBiDc&feature=relmfu — Talk for World Peace

Read Full Post »

Buddha Shakyamuni

Buddha Shakyamuni (Photo credit: secretlondon123)

“The Buddha said, “The mind, through its action, is the chef architect of one’s own happiness and suffering.”  It’s hard for the mind to be peaceful when the body is not in a physical space that’s peaceful.”

~~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Look around right now. . .

What’s your space like?

Does it reflect your interior space too?

Is the room you find yourself in cramped, cluttered, in total disarray?

If it is, are you in the middle of being creative. . . turning the chaos into magic?

Or it is the dark claustrophobic like cramped, “this doesn’t fit” kind of space?

Is the desk or table you sit at made of fine wood, leather, marble?

Or is it a 2×4 between milk crates because you aren’t buying furniture because you aren’t staying long?

And what color our your walls?

Are they three shades of off white?

Are they rich deep hues like wine, forest, crimson?

Are they light and airy like a French kitchen?

What about windows, light?  Is there a sense of spaciousness?

Does the air feel stagnant and stale or is there a crisp fresh breeze?

Now take a minute and close your eyes.

Breathe in and out slowly, 5 times.

Get in touch with your physical body and after you do, pay close attention to your heart space, your third eye. . .

Is your perception of your physical space mirrored in your body, mind, spirit?

Do your relationships and work resemble the area?

Are you satisfied with your answers?

If so, savor the feelings of coherence with your world.

If not, ask yourself, what now. . .

Read Full Post »

“The Buddhist tradition distinguishes the pain that is simply a part of life

from the suffering that we ourselves create by our response to that.”

~~ Judith L. Lief

The Buddhist tradition differentiates the pain that is simply part of life from the suffering that we ourselves create by our responses to the pain, as Judith Lief suggestions in the above quote.

From the Buddhist perspective, pain, like loss, comes with our birth.  The Buddha came to realize that all human beings will experience old age, illness, and dying.  Human life is ultimately fragile, no matter how hardy we may be.  These three experiences, (illness, aging, and dying) can be thought of as existential givens that we cannot escape.  These givens are also at the most basic level what connects us all to each other.

But what about suffering?  Some people would say that suffering and pain are synonymous.  I’m sure most people assume, if they think of it at all, that it suffering is a part of living.  We see it as unavoidable and some people may even seek it out.

Suffering is our psych-social-spiritual response to pain — in other words, it is how we interact and react to our pain.  You could say that it’s all the baggage that we attach to our pain.  For example, if I have experiences of pain at the dentist’s office, the next time I have to go, the bad experience will color the current situation.  If physical pain was the issue, I will wince at even the slightest nick or sound.  We want to protect ourselves from pain.  But what about more subtle situations?

One of the reasons why this quote spoke to me today was because of a situation at work.   My full time job is not where my passion is.  Our jobs are tedious and highly specialized.  Like with most professionals in any part of social services or medical services, 50-80% of our job is paper work.

There are observations we do, experiments to try out our theory in action and if it is correct and, of course, if our treatment will have the outcome we are looking for.  There are a lot of technical reports, meetings about treatment, medication reviews, staff training, deadlines, etc.

I hated not only writing these reports but the humiliation of reviewing them in a meeting wtih 6-8 peers.  But I never sat mindfully with my strong reactions and experience of this situation.  I never breathed in the pain and breathed out compassion — not only for myself but for anyone in the world that ever felt ridiculed and incredibly inadequate.

At the same time, I had a lot of physical pain problems and some cognitive dysfunction because of the pain and it was hard to imagine that I could sit and detach from the pain when it felt like that’s all there was.

What I did do was a lot of work on my pain problems and turned my life upside-down in the process.  As I slowly felt better physically and mentally, I realized that it wasn’t the meeting, it wasn’t the reports, it wasn’t my peers;  it was MY craziness around all of this.  It was self-inflicted suffering.

I was the one hurting myself.  It was my attachment to my “ego”, my attachment to my pride, and my ideas of what the process should be like that was making me hate life for two days a week.  I was living under the suffering that I was creating in my life.   I realized I didn’t want to live that way now that I was feeling better.  I did a few things that were compassionate to the team and to myself.

It’s still not my favorite day of the week when this meeting rolls around but I don’t suffer nearly as much.  Hopefully my team doesn’t either.

I’ve come to have more moments of acceptance for the reports being a part of what I need to do if I am going to work in this position.  But, I also don’t have the same level of tragedy attached to it and I know that there is so much more I need to work on accepting at work. 

Any time you have strong reactions to something, put both feet on the floor and take a deep breath.  Not a heaving chest kind of breath but a slow breath, that moves your belly and creates room and freedom in your core.

Scan your body and ask where are you physically reacting to the situation (or thoughts).  Would you want someone else you love to feel this?  What are you attaching to?  Can you have mercy and compassion for yourself?

Don’t push yourself to change it.  Not at first, allow yourself to be open.

Over time, perhaps you will come to see that what you have been “looking for” isn’t as important as learning to accept what is with grace and peace.


Read Full Post »