Archives for category: Uncategorized

Doing-Dishes

Today we ask you to focus on what is right in front of you.

Focus on what is here in front of you now.

Do not focus on what is going on over there.

Do not focus on the upsetting news stories.

Do not focus on all the problems in the world.

Do not focus on frightening things that might happen, that are not happening now.

Focus on what is right in front of you.

Arrive in the place where you are. The space that you currently occupy.

Just be here, for a few moments.

Notice what is around you.

Notice how your body feels.

Notice the sights and sounds around you.

If you are occupied by a task, absorb yourself fully in that task.

Do the dishes. Feed the cat. Pick up the child from school.

Be with the cat. Be with the child.

Just do that.

If you are someone who actively engages in political or social activism, and there is a task for you to do — then good, do that.

But do not sit there ignoring the tasks in front of you while brooding over all the problems and tragedies in the world.

Who helps the world more?

A frightened person who feels helpless, overwhelmed and victimized, full of complaints about the state of the world?

Or a person mindfully, peacefully doing the dishes?

Just do the dishes. Whatever your dishes are right now — do that.

Turn off the TV in the background. Turn off the phone. Don’t do one dish, check your phone, do another dish, check your phone. That’s hopeless.

If you arrive in your body, and discover that your body is exhausted, then the thing to do is rest.

The best thing to do right now might simply be to take a nap.

When your body is rested, you will more effectively attend to your tasks.

If a friend is suffering, you will more effectively help your friend if you are rested and grounded.

If your mind is scattered, if your energies are drained, if you can’t get it together just to do the dishes — then really you are not much help to anyone else.

Just attend to what is right in front of you.

Arrive where you are. Listen to the sounds. Look around. Feel your body.

Just do that.

If everyone did that, it would resolve almost all of the world’s problems. And whatever problems might then be left — there would be plenty of attention to deal with them.

Advertisements

the art of setting goals

Today we ask that you relax around the concept of “goals” and “getting somewhere.”

In life, it is good to have positive goals. However, if the attachment to reaching these goals causes unhealthy stress in your life, then the goal-setting is not positive. Indeed, if it is too stressful, than you run the risk of sabotaging your efforts completely.

It is good to think of achieving goals in light of the game of golf.

In golf, the goal is clear: the ball must go into the next hole, preferably with a minimal number of attempts to hit it there.

A skilled golfer, before hitting the ball, usually has a very clear sense of where he desires the ball to land. One might say that he has set a very clear intention.

So — he hits the ball. And then reality intervenes. Sometimes the ball goes where he wishes. Often it lands elsewhere. Sometimes it lands in an easy place. Sometimes it lands in a difficult place.

The most skillful golfers do not feel crushed or disheartened by “failure.” Instead, they move to the next position, and ground themselves completely within the new reality. 

If the golfer must now hit the ball out of the sand, so be it. A new intention is set.

Ideally, the golfer is also enjoying the journey. He takes time to appreciate the trees, grass, and sky. He remains present, and grounded with whatever arises.

This is a very good approach to life.

One sets intentions. One has clear, positive goals. You would like the ball to go into the hole with as few strokes as possible.

But you accept that reality may intervene.

When the ball goes elsewhere, you are very fluid and adaptive. Okay, the ball is in the rough. You adjust and ground yourself within that new situation — whatever it is. You set a new intention.

When it is time to hit the ball, you are fully present. You are not thinking about your to-do list. You are not thinking about all the other holes ahead of you. Only the next hole before you.

Along the way, you are mindful and appreciative. If the weather is pleasant, enjoy that. Even if the weather is not pleasant, there is always something beautiful to see when you are outdoors.

This is the way to set goals and intentions. You know what you wish for. But you are fluid, and adaptive. You are mindful, grounded, and present.

You enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

This will take most of the stress out of goal-setting. Which, in turn, will give you much more power and skill in the process of creation.

For those of you who believe in any kind of higher power or benevolent awareness underlying reality, it is also very good to give over your goals to that power. It takes the goals out of the grip of your limited ego. This will also greatly reduce any stress around goal-setting.

flowering-tree

Today we ask that you trust the timing of events.

Trust the timing of events.

Events can only occur when the conditions are right.

If something is meant to happen at a particular time, all heaven and earth cannot delay it.

If something is not meant to happen at a particular time, all heaven and earth cannot force it to happen.

This truth is very frustrating for humans. Humans like to believe they are in control of things, and can make things happen through sheer will alone.

Will is important. Determination is important.

But still, no one can force things to happen, if the timing is not conducive.

Generally speaking, plants are not going to flower in the dead of a frigid winter.

New life can only be conceived in a time of fertility.

New ideas can only be born when conditions in the mind are fertile.

So really this is what it means to trust the timing of events.

Seeds blossom when the conditions are ripe.

If you plant seeds when the conditions are not ripe, they cannot grow. It doesn’t mean the seeds are defective in any way. It’s just an issue of timing.

A human life has its seasons. Some seasons are fallow and still. Others are fertile and active. These things cannot really be controlled.

Therefore a wise person develops patience and steadiness. The fallow periods are just as valuable as the fertile periods.

In truth, there can be no fertile ground that is not in some way preceded by a fallow period.

In times when nothing is happening and progress appears to be delayed, in reality a great many things are happening.

During the winter, seeds lay in the ground, awaiting spring. The earth restores itself, and grows in fertility.

Constant activity leads to exhaustion, and burnout.

That is why it is good to trust the timing of events.

If something you desire does not happen now, if plans are botched, that is not a cause for giving up, cursing reality, and becoming despondent.

It just means: regroup, put your energy elsewhere, and perhaps return to it later, when the timing is more conducive.

At this moment, you simply may not be truly ready for the thing you desire.

You may need to grow more, to learn more.

Later, after this growth has occurred, you may be ready.

Often little children clamor for things they are not ready for.

They want to ride the bigger bicycle, or watch the grown-up movie. When a loving parent denies them their desire, they are outraged and frustrated.

Still, the loving parent knows the child is not ready for these things just yet.

Reality is often like this.

Sometimes, the child needs to demonstrate to the parent — through effort, and a willingness to learn, and grow — that he is ready to take on a more grown-up challenge.

And then the doors will open.

So it is with reality.

Therefore trusting the timing does not mean that one should be passive or inactive. It does not mean, be fatalistic about things.

It means: work toward things wholeheartedly, yet accept that often events may not unfold as you plan. If there are setbacks and delays, learn from them.

Trust that your desires are not being thwarted by a cruel and capricious universe, but rather by a loving and benevolent one.

It is not easy to do this.

But learning to trust the ebb and flow of life, and to go with it, rather than dwell in a state of resistance —

This creates a peaceful mind.

And when the mind is peaceful, the timing is always right for whatever is happening in the moment.

self-hug

Today we ask you to embrace yourself as you are.

Embrace yourself as you are.

Let go of trying to be someone else.

Embrace yourself as you are.

Embrace your body as it is.

Embrace your size, your shape. Embrace the age of your body. Embrace whatever discomfort you may feel in your body today.

Just accept it as it is today.

Of course it is good to cultivate health, to work on creating health in your body.

But health is not possible if you do not accept your body. If you do not embrace your body, you will never be healthy — no matter how much you may exercise, or how pure your diet may be.

So please embrace your body as it is in this moment.

This one action is more powerful than all the work on exercise or diet.

Just accept it as it is today.

And thank your body for all that is good within it.

If your body did not function at a high degree of perfection, you would not be reading these words.

Think of all the things that your body must do in any given moment in order to sustain your life.

Embrace all that is good about your body today.

Embrace all that is good about yourself today.

Whatever you consider your “self” to be — embrace that.

Just accept your “self.”

Whatever your identity is at the present moment, whatever your mind thinks it is, whatever your mind is up to — embrace that.

And it is of course fine to work on your “self,” to cultivate a healthier “self.”

But true self-realization is not possible if you cannot embrace yourself as you are today.

No matter how much you work on becoming a “better person,” however you may define that — you cannot ever attain that without embracing yourself right now, today, in this moment.

Just accept yourself, whoever you believe you are, today.

Appreciate yourself. Look at how far you’ve come, and all that your mind does in any given day. Even if you believe that you are not accomplishing anything, still just look at all that the “self” is doing. This mind of yours, this identity. It is always learning and absorbing. It is always engaged in highly complex actions, even when it does not appear to be doing much.

Brushing your teeth, doing the dishes — these are highly complex actions. A baby cannot do these things. A cat cannot do these things. You may even be able to drive a car while your mind is thinking about other things. Consider how complex that is!

Embrace this. Embrace this wonderfully complex “self,” this mind, at work.

Embrace your life as it is today.

Embrace your reality as it is today.

Even if there are many things you dislike about your reality. Can you just embrace your life?

You will never make your world a better place if you reject life as it is today. It is not possible.

Only people who love and embrace life have any hope of creating a more harmonious world.

There have always been plenty of life-hating people who try to fix and save the world. Terrorists are such people. Hitler was such a person.

You cannot help the world if you don’t love life, as it is, today.

So embrace life as it is.

Embrace the trees, the sky, all that sustains and nourishes you.

Embrace the animals, embrace the children.

Embrace your fellow humans, even if this is challenging. They are all doing their best. Truly this is so. There is a lot of fear and ignorance. Judging others will do no good, and will not help anything or anyone.

Everyone does their best with the limited awareness they possess in any given moment. You do, too.

Accept this. Embrace it.

With this embrace comes a deep peace.

Your body will feel it. Your “self” will feel it. The world around you will feel it.

It’s good to receive a hug, isn’t it? It’s good to feel accepted and loved as you are.

Everyone feels better with a hug.

trust the flow of life

Today we ask that you trust the flow of life.

Trust the flow of life.

Everywhere you look when it comes to life, you perceive rhythms and tides.

Spring, winter, summer, fall.

Day and night.

The waxing and waning of the moon.

The rising and falling tides.

Life is born. Life dies.

That is how it is, in your reality. It is a reality defined by changing states.

There are many causes of mental suffering for humans. But one of the greatest causes of such suffering is the human tendency to cling to that which must inevitably pass.

If you live long enough, you will grow old, and die. This is true for everything in a physical body. It is inescapable.

Babies are born, grow into children, become adolescents, and then adults. It is inescapable.

It is natural to feel grief when things change and pass away. It is natural to feel sadness when things come to an end.

But with every ending, comes a new beginning.

And so the healthy human being does not linger too long in that which has already passed. Or worse, cling to or attempt to prolong states which desperately need to pass.

A parent cannot keep his child a baby. Attempting to do so will harm the child.

When someone is very sick or elderly, prolonging life past the point of any joy is harmful.

When an aging man or woman tries to artificially maintain youth, this is harmful.

Clinging to relationships that have reached their natural end is harmful.

The day cannot stop the night. Summer cannot stop the fall and winter.

Acceptance of this is not only wisdom, but the key to peace.

The most miserable people in all the world are those who cling to a past that is long dead and gone. The aging person bitter over lost youth. The parent who cannot accept that his child has grown up. The person clinging to a relationship that ended years ago.

If you wish to be miserable, that is the way to live.

If you wish for peace in this life, you must find a better way.

The happiest people in the world are those who embrace reality as it is. Those who embrace change.

Such people still experience sadness and grief over loss and passing. But — they do not linger there. They do not cling.

Life is a book with many chapters. When a chapter ends, that does not mean the book is over. It means it is time to begin a new chapter.

Youth, middle age, old age — these are just different chapters of life. Each one has its dramas, its highs and lows.

While people tend to believe that youth is superior to old age, in practice this is not necessarily so. Many young people are terribly unhappy. Many people find more peaceful minds with maturity. Nothing is fixed.

One of the main things to learn in this lifetime is how to let go gracefully.

This is not an easy skill to master. It requires a great deal of practice.

Children have a very hard time letting go of things: toys, food, turning off the TV show. They feel loss very acutely, often over things that are quite trivial, from an adult perspective.

One of the best things a parent can do is model for children how to let go of things, even when there is sadness.

Letting go is a practice, and an art. It does not come naturally. It is an acquired skill.

You acquire this skill only when you make a conscious effort to acquire this skill.

This may happen when, at last, you decide that you do not want to experience so much mental suffering triggered by the inability to let go of things.

So practice this skill in your daily life. Find little ways to let things go. The dispute with the co-worker. The need to possess this or that thing. The need to win something or prove something.

If you acquire skill at letting go of the little things, you will be much better equipped when it is time to let go of the big things.

One chapter ends, another begins. One book is over. Time to start a new book.

If you wish to experience peace in this life, this is a good place to begin.

simple meal

Today we ask that you simplify your life.

Simplify your life.

Most people feel that they would like their lives to be more simple. Yet they feel that this is hopeless. Life is too complicated, and it is getting more complicated all the time.

But simplifying one’s life is not complicated. It is challenging — but not complicated.

The main thing that makes life feel complicated for people is the modern habit of “multitasking.” That is, modern humans are chronically distracted, and trying to do too many things at once.

When you think of a simple meal, what do you think of? A few good things served on a plate. Nourishing food, that will go down well in your belly. Food that won’t give you indigestion.

A complicated meal might involve many courses, and many things to eat. It might be a gourmet meal, or a meal with many different competing flavors. Very likely such a meal will leave you feeling overfull — it is difficult to digest such a meal.

That is what life is like for many people. A complicated meal, with many competing flavors. There may be moments of pleasure as you eat, but in the end, there is indigestion.

It is fine to eat a complicated meal every so often. But if it is all you eat — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — then it will compromise your health.

So how to make life more simple, more nourishing, more easily digested?

Simplify what’s on your plate. Eat less. What you do eat, make nourishing.

Most people protest that it is impossible to simplify life. Their work is too demanding, family life is too demanding, etc. 

Certainly work and family are part of a balanced meal for many people.

But what about all the extra courses and flavors? What about all the colorful distractions — the constant checking of phones and computers, the constant absorption of information? These things can be reduced.

Do you really need to do all the things that you do? It is one thing if you have plenty of energy to do these things. Then there is no problem. But if you are exhausted and stressed, it might be time to take a close look at all the things sitting on your plate.

Look at the things you do as if they were food. Does what you do nourish you?

Another way to simplify life is to be present in what you are doing.

If you are at work, be at work.

If you are with your family, be with your family.

If you are cooking a meal, cook the meal.

Focus on what you are doing right now. Be there. Don’t let your mind wander in twenty different directions at once. Just do what you are doing.

People think, oh, nothing will get accomplished if I don’t multitask.

But in reality, nothing much gets accomplished when you do multitask.

A truly focused, present human can get a great deal accomplished in relatively little time.

A distracted human takes a lot of time to do little. There’s just too much food on the plate.

So simplifying one’s life is possible.

Really it just means breaking the addictive habits of chronic distraction, multitasking, and over-scheduling. It is challenging to break these addictive habits, but it can be done.

The first step is recognizing that chronic distraction, multitasking, and over-scheduling are addictive, destructive habits — not just the thing that everyone does and calls modern life.

Chronic distraction, multitasking, and over-scheduling are not givens. They are a part of the current cultural conditions — the societal mores of your time. In the past, cultural conditions promoted such things as the morality of owning slaves, or the healthy properties of cigarettes. From a modern point of view, you can see these things were destructive. But they were normal, in their time. 

Therefore, it is wise to question the prevailing cultural conditions of the time that you inhabit. What may seem “normal” to most people now will be looked at by future generations as destructive and unhealthy.

Simplify what’s on your plate. Let what you eat in this life be nourishing.

have patience with the process of human evolution

Today we ask that you have patience with the pace of human evolution.

Have patience with the pace of human evolution.

Many people live in a state of chronic frustration with the pace of human evolution. It is not happening fast enough. How can so many people still hold on to backwards, reactionary belief systems? How is there is still so much bigotry and violence in the world of men? How can people be so blindly greedy and destructive?

It is natural to feel this way at times. But really, humanity has come a long way — much further than you may think.

100 years, 200 years, even 500 years — this span of time is quite small, in the scheme of human evolution. Many of the problems you reckon with today are roughly the same problems your ancestors reckoned with in the past few centuries.

And yet: the world just a mere 200 years ago was once in which there was virtually no understanding of “human rights.” The vast majority of humans, 200 years ago, believed that women were simple-minded and weak, that dark-skinned races were inherently inferior and subhuman, and that homosexuality was an abomination. Even highly educated, relatively enlightened men believed these things a mere 200 years ago.

Just a century ago, it was not much better. Progress had been made, to be sure. But still, the majority of humans believed that heterosexual males of rank and status, with culturally desirable skin color, were intrinsically superior to all other humans. It was perfectly commonplace and socially acceptable to hold such beliefs — anywhere in the world. 

100 years is so very little time. In the grand sweep of history, it is nothing. It is the blink of an eye.

The world you now reside in is more tolerant and compassionate in the field of human rights than any history. Enormous strides have been made.

Yes, much of the world still struggles with widespread bigotry and violence. Yes, even in the most progressive, developed nations, there are large reactionary factions and forces. But that is because it was only yesterday — twenty years, fifty years, one hundred years — that points of view you may consider to be backwards and barbaric were, in fact, the mainstream social norm. 

So have patience. Have patience with the process of human evolution. It may appear to be slow, but in truth the progress of the past century has been exceptionally fast. The very speed of this evolution is, in fact, what is so deeply threatening to those who try to cling to the past and wish to roll the clock back.

Most of these changes cannot be rolled back no matter how much reactionary forces may attempt to do so. This is because they have reached a “critical mass.” There is no turning back.

Have patience, also, with your own individual pace of evolution.

Many people are chronically frustrated that they are not evolving more quickly.

You wish to be better, more enlightened versions of yourselves, free of all your hang-ups and fears — and you want to be that person today. You want to have been that person yesterday, ten years ago.

Honor your own process of evolution. Instead of being frustrated that you have not come far enough, appreciate how far you have come.

Instead of being frustrated that collective humanity has not come far enough, appreciate how far it has come.

In this state of appreciation, with a patient heart, you will be in a far better position to create positive change in the world — and in your own life.