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Showing posts from July, 2013

Awareness of the Shadow

"Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is known consciously, the blacker and denser it is… Beneath the surface we are suffering from a deadly boredom that makes everything seem meaningless and empty… to find renewal means to descend into one's darkness."
—quotes from Carl Jung There was a man who was so disturbed by his own shadow that he was determined to lose it for good. So he got up and ran. But his shadow kept up with him, and so he ran faster and faster until the exertion took its toll and he dropped dead. If he had simply stepped into the shade, sat down and stayed still [meditated], his shadow would have vanished.   —Chuang Tzu, The Way 

Each individual has a reservoir of behaviors, desires and experiences—the shadow—that are rejected and disavowed during the hunt for acceptance and approval from others, for we humans are essentially pack animals, built to socialize, interact, seek and establish security from each other, just as fish are built to survive in…

Don't Let the River Flood

The water of a river moves in a current; there is a constant flow of material; sometimes the tide is high, rough and muddied, filled with debris, leaves, branches, other times it is lower, smooth and clear. So too the stream of content that moves through the mind; there are times when thoughts litter the mind, other times dark or agitated moods and, naturally, times of clarity and ease. What's of utmost importance is to not damn up the movement, to resist or grab at the material passing through. The mind should be kept spacious, deep and wide if it is to settle again.

Permitting the flow of mental events—plans, events, obligations, images, memories, sensations, feelings, external perceptions—is the role of mindfulness, which develops peace and ease. If awareness is allowed to narrow, contracting around and against the stream, the mind will flood, stress, anxiety, fear, expectations will build up and overwhelm us; we won't be able to contain all the demands that life places on u…

Bringing Peace to a Mind at War

Establishing Ground Rules for Settling Inner Disputes If a Buddhist community cannot resolve a dispute by establishing consent amongst those who disagree, the community should locate outside help, wherein practitioners from other centers are sought to provide help and resolution. The neutral practitioners should determine how the disagreement arose, by hearing the differing views. Having heard the history of the conflict, the new practitioners will take charge of the matter and reach a decision.              —Buddhist monastic code, chapter 11

In the middle of the nineteenth century, formative soccer games—or what the rest of the world now calls football fixtures—were originally adjudicated by the captains of the two competing teams who, in the spirit of sportsmanship and camaraderie, were assigned the additional task of calmly discussing and settling contested events on the field. Alas, this optimistic arrangement didn’t last long. It seems that quite a number of situations were not ea…

Healing Loss Through Mindfulness

There are times in life when it becomes difficult to swallow our anger, frustration or disappointment that have resulted from loss and abandonment. Opening to feelings we've attempted to suppress will become necessary, which is by no means easy. Disagreeable feelings are sensed as physical discomfort, along with a secondary layer of obsessive, repetitive memories or fears. The urge will be strong to seek external distractions, such as social networking, shopping, food, tv, etc. Another avoidance tendency is repeating unhealthy experiences or patterns from earlier life  in adult relationships, attempting to "rewrite" the drama: neglected children seek narcissistic or uncaring partners, trying to change the outcome and 'win' the love they didn't receive when it was crucial. Unfortunately, this trap always leads to disappointment: if the replacement does start to provide care or attention, the old disappointment still lingers, and the endeavor will be abandoned.…

mind 2.0

The mind can be radiant, but it is often dim and further darkened by all that it takes in. The commonplace individual isn't aware this is the case, and doesn't evolve the mind.The mind can be radiant, and it can be liberated from that which makes it dark. The learned spiritual practitioner is aware of this and evolves the mind.(Pabhassara Sutta: Radiant mind)
When a new laptop is brought home from the store and removed from its packaging, the computer will operate using its default, out-of-the-box settings. The system is oriented to implement basic tasks for the garden-variety user. Over time the surrounding digital landscape changes, bringing about new demands, such as new file formats or bugs, and at this juncture, the machine requires simple updates or patches to continue performing well. Eventually, however, changes to the computing environment are so great that an entire system upgrade will be required to keep the laptop working smoothly. A new OS must be installed that al…

Keep it Flowing

The flowing, fast moving water of a river is far less likely to contain impurities than trapped water that pools in swamps and hollows. Standing water is an incubator for bacteria, andit’s often contaminated, unsafe to drink, and a breeding ground of mosquitoes. When feelings are allowed to flow through the body, they too are safe because they do not poison or destroy the container that conveys it. Like trapped water when our emotional life is blocked, put off by distractions and the busyness of life, it becomes toxic. When pressure builds over time, it seeks out other routes, and the blocked energy eventually floods, spreading all that has developed in this damaging state. Once we open to our feelings as they arise, we create the causes and conditions of mental and physical health. This is what acceptance based, inner awareness entails. Because it’s so vital to our well-being, it’s not a practice to put off, any more than breathing, sleeping, or consuming nourishment.