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Posts Tagged ‘Sharon Salzberg’

“People tell me they’re saddened by the ugly, uncivil polarization they see in public life, and the isolation and loneliness they feel in private.  They hunger for cooperation, connection, and community.  Meditation, which teaches kindness, compassion, and patience, is a clear, straightforward method for improving relationships with family, friends, and everyone else we meet.”

Sharon Salzberg, Happiness

I don’t know if we are ever so polarized as during an election year.

Human beings label things, pick sides, need to be right, and have fear.

Meditation teaches us how to label without judgment, to follow the middle path, and to let go of fear for a more compassionate relationship with the world.

I am really excited that I have the opportunity to teach at a local community college and mindfulness is one of my first agenda items.  It’s a skill that we should teach in first grade but if they can be inspired, as I was in my sophomore year, than maybe we have a chance for real change and happiness.

Thanks to Sharon Salzberg for an amazing book and profound and simple wisdom.

Peace, Jen

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I’ve written articles on mindfulness, shared quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh and Sharon Salzberg.

I’ve even given you some links to Youtube videos and a sneak peak of Mark Thornton’s work Meditation in a NY Minute.

So, how it changed your practice?

Do you have a daily practice?

Share via the poll or comments below this post.

Let us know what works, doesn’t work, what helps and what makes it a tougher struggle. . .

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Would love to get some feedback from readers on the recurrent series of posts I am leaving with tips for people who are new to meditation.  Please feel free to leave a comment or to drop a note on the Ask Here tab on the blog.

“Meditation teaches us safe ways to open ourselves to the full range of experience — painful, pleasurable, and neutral — so we can learn how to be a friend to ourselves in good times and bad.  During meditation sessions we practice being with difficult emotions and thoughts, even frightening ones, in an open and accepting way, without adding self-criticism to something that already hurts.”

~~ Sharon Salzberg, Happiness

Mindfulness has such huge implications for things like working with what we label mental illness — our afflictive states such as anxiety, depression, despair, angst, sadness, phobia, stagnation, boredom, false euphoria, lack of concentration and mindlessness.

It also plays a major part in everyday life-like relationship, loss, illness, dying, communication, community, family, work, and just simply living.

This quote by Sharon Salzberg reminds me of Frank Ostaseki’s and Roshi Joan Halifax‘s teachings on being with dying.

I would love to teach every therapist and every teacher out there. . . in addition to every caregiver, every doctor, every patient. . . well, that could be all of us, couldn’t it?

Imagine teaching our children how to stay with their problems without running, hiding, drinking & druging, without losing themselves in peer pressure, sex before they are ready, self-mutilation, or eating disorders.

What would it do for our self concept?

Or our ability to make choices (really informed choices?)

Or create healthy relationships. . .

work spaces

neighborhoods

families

towns

I have to believe that we would grow a different world. . .

one where people could have time and space to explore what ails them rather than push it away

one where loved ones could be present to the needs of our children, the elderly, and ill

one where we didn’t go running for the bottle or the prescription pad

but rather

moved toward the meditation cushion, using walking meditation

or held the space for people to creatively and compassionately deal with their difficulties and those of others.

or foster open-hearted communication,  group problem-solving, and nurturing for all.

So much good could come from those two minutes of breathing at your desk.

Or 10 minutes on your cushion

Or the walk where I listen to the rustling of leaves below my feet

Or that plate of food I savor and eat, bite by bite.

So what keeps us from it?

How do we teach others?

How do we model what kind of world we could have and what kind of world we want?

The answer (and the power) lies in the space between our exhale and inhale. . .

Does that sound cryptic?  It really isn’t.  Pick up a book about meditation and then try it.

You’ll get it!

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English: Picture of Sharon Salzberg.

English: Picture of Sharon Salzberg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is a great clip from Sharon Salzberg answering a question about mindfulness….

Mindfulness is more than just an awareness of what’s going on. . . take a listen. . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fQjWSSKhgA&feature=youtu.be

Would love to know what you think about this, given your own practice of mindfulness.

Please leave a post/comment below.

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Meditating in Madison Square Park, Manhattan, ...

Meditating in Madison Square Park, Manhattan, New York City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Still not satisfied that meditation can benefit you in a whole bodied, interpersonal, spiritual way?

Here is more proof:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120314170647.htm

No time?

No energy?

Afraid?

Check out the New to Meditation?  Category for simple meditation practices, teachings, inspiration.

Just 2 minutes makes a difference.

Practice any where, any how, any way. . . but do it.

Count out the next 4 breaths.  When that’s done, do it again.  If your mind wanders, go back to number 1 and start over.  No big deal.  No big drama.  Just do it and be with your breath.

It’s how most of us start the journey. . .

Peace, Jennifer

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Clinical research shows Buddhist mindfulness t...

Clinical research shows Buddhist mindfulness techniques can help alleviate anxiety , stress , and depression (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is a simple to read article by Rick Hanson.

http://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/give-your-head-a-rest-from-thinking

Here is a small excerpt:

When your thought processes are tired, it doesn’t feel good. You’re not relaxed, and probably stressed, which will gradually wear down your body and mood. You’re more likely to make a mistake or a bad decision: studies show that experts have less brain activity than novices when performing tasks; their thoughts are not darting about in unproductive directions. When the mind is ruminating away like the proverbial hamster on a treadmill, the emotional content is usually negative – hassles, threats, issues, problems, and conflicts – and that’s not good for you. Nor is it good for others for you to be preoccupied, tense, or simply fried.”

I really liked this article and would totally use it with caregivers, professional or otherwise.  It’s a skill we can all benefit from in one or or another, in our career and private lives, whether we are young or old.

I sometimes don’t like certain “techniques” because they feel so artificial.  They can seem a bit contrived but what Rick shares here, like much of the mindfulness practice work that is out there from Jon Kabat-Zinn, Daniel Goleman, Tara Brach, Chade-Meng Tan, Susan Bauer-Wu, Daniel Seigel, Jeffrey Brantley, Ronald D. Seigel, and so many more.

Take a second right now and do what Hanson suggests in this article from windmind.org. . . look up from your computer screen and breathe in and as you are breathing out, allow your exhale to be deep and long-lasting, really use the abdominal muscles and allow your whole body to benefit.

I did it as I was reading the article and I noticed a definite shift.  As I exhaled, I realized that my shoulders were sliding down and moving to the place that they were designed to be in, not clear up to my ears.

I noticed a bit of an electrical current and any fleeting bit of anxiety dissipated effortlessly.  And I had a shift in thinking.

Now, it’s easy to do this on a good day — little in the way of demands, pain, stress, etc. . . but the whole point is to do it on this kind of day so that when everything gets fired up — when the anxiety, discomfort, and frustration kick into high gear, that exhale just comes. . .

When we start a “practice”, things feel like a technique.

But they probably felt that way when we were learning to sit with a client or use proper body mechanics by the bedside but as we used the technique, to the point of it being burned into our muscle memory, it shifts from being a technique to a way of being.

And mindfulness is no different.

We practice on good and bad days, despite the weather or what else happens so that no matter what is going on, we can bring about calming the mind/body with the breath and with our mindful attention.

Check out some of the resources that I have linked with the author’s names above in this blog.  They are some extraordinary people bringing mindfulness to different populations and in slightly different ways.

Embrace mindfulness and give your brain (and the rest of your system and being) a much-needed break in this worrisome world.

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“With true calm comes new energy.  The inner quiet engendered by concentration isn’t passive or sluggish; nor is it coldly distant from your experience — it is vital and alive.  It creates a calm infused with energy, alertness, and interest.”

~~ Sharon Salzberg, Happiness

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“I suggest you start by sitting for twenty minutes of meditation three times the first week  — but if you’d rather start with a shorter time and gradually lengthen it, that’s fine.  Decide before each session how long it’s going to be.  (Set an alarm if you’re worried about knowing when the time is up.) … You’ll add one more day of meditation in week two, another in week three, and two in week for, so that by the end of the month, you’ll have established a daily practice…

~~ Sharon Salzberg, Happiness

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Are you knew to meditation?  Have you always wanted to practice but weren’t sure how to or where to start?

Check out the category of New to Meditation? series of posts that will be sprinkled, with love, throughout this blog.

Unlike other series that I’ve written, these will not be a week long or a trio of articles but a post that will show up to remind you and of course, a category for you to go back to time and time again as you need a refresher, a boost, etc.

I hope that these important teachings will bring you peace, safety, joy, and deep compassion.  May they be a bell of mindfulness that reminds you to come home to your practice and to attend to the greater sangha.

Metta, Jennifer

Lovingkindness meditation allows us to use our own pain and the pain of others as a vehicle for connection

rather than isolation.  Maybe when people are acting unskillfully we can look beyond

their actions and recognize that they’re suffering, and that they,

too want to be happy.”

“May I be safe (or May I be free from danger)

May I be happy

May I be healthy

May I live with ease

May daily life not be a struggle

“The ‘May I’ is not meant to be begging or beseeching but is said in the spirit of generously blessing

ourselves and others: May I be happy.  May you be happy.”

~~  Sharon Salzberg, Happiness

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Take a look at Pema Chodron‘s video clip…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4slnjvGjP4&feature=related

Any nun who can tell you that she joined the spiritual community because she wanted to kill her husband has to be a teacher for today’s world.

I became Buddhist after I watched a video tape, in a philosophy class at a Catholic college, of Thich Nhat Hanh.  I don’t even remember which one as it was so many decades ago.  But I remember thinking, I never met a priest in my parish that had a smile that big and had the outlook of a wise childlike being.

And to this day, I am grateful to Thay’s teachings and to his sangha.  His community in the mid-West was a welcome refuge for me when I moved here.

And Thay has always seemed like an embodiment of the Buddha. . . the loving, sacred heart of the Buddha, much in the same way that HH the Dalai Lama is the embodiment of the analytic mind and compassion presence of the Buddha.  I revere both, but always feel like how they live, their lessons, etc will always be out of reach for me.

And then I read my first book by Pema Chodron.  And I listened to my first audio book and I thought, “Oh, I get this!  Hey, I think she just swore… and oh look, she’s from my part of the country” and Buddhism became real and personal and attainable some how.

Ani Pema was the first female Dharma teacher whose work I was introduced to.  But there have been many others since then and hopefully more and more women will be embracing the Dharma and sharing it within their fields.

I am so thankful to the female Buddhist teachers today.  Tara Brach, Ani Pema Chodron, Roshi Joan Halifax, Cheri Maples, Sharon Salzberg,  and Sylvia Boorstein have made the Dharma accessible for women in the West.  And there are more and more therapists, like Irini Nadel Rockwell, Tara Brach, and Tara Bennett-Goleman are adding to the body of literature in bringing Buddhist thought to Western Psychology.

These great teachers have taught me more about being present to a client and being a compassionate presence to the dying and bereaved than anyone in my academic endeavors.  I honor them and their passion for their respective work.

May the merit of all these women inspire a new generation and help to foster compassion for all sentient beings.

Namaste, Jennifer

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