Be Here Now

Here’s the article on the present moment and what it may or may not be. Batchelor doesn’t go into much detail, but at least it might help you to think about how we experience (or not) the present moment.

Self-Reliance and the Present Moment: Stephen Batchelor

and here’s the very funny New Yorker article on how frustrating the breathing instructions in meditation can be:

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/some-calming-new-breathing-exercises-to-try-out

Finally, here’s the article where you can find theĀ  Mary Oliver poem I read to you.

Mary Oliver on the Measure of a Life Well Lived and How to Maximize Our Aliveness

 

The Dark Side

I had some thoughts, possibly given a bit haphazardly, about how the present mood of the United States is creating a sense of selfishness and anger that is at odds with the teachings of the Buddha and with our ability to be at peace. I guess this isn’t a huge insight, but at least we can recognize it and make an effort to understand our emotions right now.

Here are some interesting articles on personality and culture:

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/the-dark-core-of-personality/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/culture-shrink/202005/how-america-fell-toxic-individualism

 

 

 

Authenticity and Honesty: for yourself

Today we talked some more about working with difficult or discursive thoughts and emotions. We often find that our sitting practice contains two typical elements: thoughts that run on in a way that may seem like annoying chatter, and also periods of calm, more observational states. Both are fine.

From Jason’s book Thoughts are Not the Enemy: “In Recollective Awareness meditation we are working toward becoming aware, wise and compassionate individuals, not just good, positive-thinking people. So instead we move toward being honest with ourselves when we feel hatred, envy, lust, greed, and other negative emotions. We don’t want to replace them each time they arise–that would not be honest.”

Also take a look at what Herman Hesse said about difficult thoughts and taking responsibility for them:

Hermann Hesse on Hope, the Difficult Art of Taking Responsibility, and the Wisdom of the Inner Voice

 

 

The Lonely City

We talked after the first meditation aboutĀ  vulnerability and openness in relation to sitting meditation. We also talked about the inevitable human condition of loneliness, which we all feel but which can be transformed, if we allow ourselves to open to those feelings of vulnerability.

I’m reading a beautiful book on along these lines called “The Lonely City”. Read more about it here:

The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

 

Shifting attitude in meditation

One of the ways we learn to practice meditating with kindness toward ourselves is to allow our thoughts to show up. How is this kind? One reason is that our thoughts can just arise without us having to make a big deal about it: we are safely sitting in meditation and we don’t have to react to the thoughts moving through. What can they do to us? Isn’t it an interesting idea to kindly and gently observe our thoughts without reacting violently to them, shoving them away?

When little children have nightmares, doctors have told them to imagine the scene, remind themselves it’s just a dream, and turn around and face the monster and ask, “what do you want?” This therapy has been highly successful in the treatment of nightmares.

“Value your ability to stay with and tolerate your thoughts and emotions rather than detach from them.” –Jason Siff

Here’s some more of what we discussed: How and why we need meaning in our lives:

Yes to Life, in Spite of Everything: Viktor Frankl’s Lost Lectures on Moving Beyond Optimism and Pessimism to Find the Deepest Source of Meaning

Welcoming thoughts

A little bit challenging for me getting in touch on Sunday: our power was out! But I got on Zoom with the group via cell phone and had enough power to get through the meditations and discussions.

I talked about our difficulties in dealing with obsessive thoughts in particular: it may seem contradictory to home in on obsessive thinking when we’re sitting. Our teachers generally instruct us to go back to the body and the breath to calm down and basically get rid of the constant onslaught of unwelcome thoughts and emotions. But Jason Siff, in the book: “Thoughts are Not the Enemy” suggests a different technique: stay receptive to the thoughts and emotions and don’t necessarily shut them out. If you fear discomfort and even fear acknowledge the fear. “Be kind to the fear. It is all right to have these feelings in meditation.”

Thoughts Are Not the Enemy