Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Natural State - Essay #2

Meaningful experiences are sought in the physical environment but they are in fact generated within the psyche. In ancient times, being in tune with nature and instinctively interacting with other living things connected humans with the natural environment. In the cultural arrogance of modern society, this timeless practice has been lost and a sort of lazy indifference has taken place. Experiences of inner reflection deepen and clarify personal observations of life. Meditation is a way to be in touch with our own true nature and with the natural environment. The natural practice of meditating brings back a powerful state of control when facing daily challenges.

Thoughts draw objects of desire or familiar feelings to present awareness. When something is foremost in thought, we take more notice of that thing. Whether perceived as good or bad, intentional focus creates insight and understanding of a situation. Thoughts bring about conscious awareness of the condition of life. Awareness of thoughts and allowing them to pass as such, just thoughts, brings about a natural state of being. Meditation is a way of taking notice and then letting thoughts slip away. By not clinging to thoughts, they become entities that are observable and can be let go. When seen as such, another step can be taken back to ponder as to whom it is that is doing the observing.

Daily disturbances, turmoil and unsettled feelings of restlessness manifest illnesses such as upset stomach or headaches. Overlooked or ignored these maladies lead to more serious conditions such as migraines, ulcers, and eczema. Research on a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, finds that mindfulness-meditation helps patients who are suffering from continual medical conditions (“Clinical: An introduction to mindfulness 33). Clarity of the relaxed mind brings about a smoother flow of energy, reducing tension and generating healing. Mindfulness meditation in the present moment creates this inner flow of energy that leads to a healthier existence.

Meditation focuses on controlling how the mind perceives circumstances. Life is an array of hurt and disappointments varied with blissful joy and abundance. Allowing thoughts to run rampant is devastating to the mind. Physical and emotional disorder offset the natural balance. Cord Cooper stated in an Investor’s Business Daily article that taking a deep breath, relaxation and focus is key to master energy level, ability to focus and attitude (A03). The breath naturally brings us back to the present moment. The breath also supplies the body with oxygen rich blood. Blood that is rich with oxygen relieves the body of tension and ultimately clears the mind. Focusing the mind on the present moment increases the ability to cope with these daily stressors.

Pain is inevitable; meditation is a vehicle for passing through the discomforts. When the mind focuses on thoughts of pain, it generates more of the same. Pain causes the muscles to tighten and resistance builds through thoughts. Softening into the resistance causes dramatic physical and emotional change. Determination is necessary for gaining strength to continue forward. Settling into the pain relieves tension and provides allowance to pass through like a wave rolling ashore. An example of the power of this meditative practice may be childbirth and the Lamaze breaths, which provides a “…sense of involvement in the process, control, awareness, and a level of anxiety relief and pain management…” (Hartman 87). Lamaze focused breathing techniques are a form of meditation to calm the mind and ride through the intensity of physical pain.

The simple act of meditation has powerful benefits. Meditation gives the opportunity to cultivate energy to push against comfort zones. Stepping through a comfort zone enhances and enriches life. This does not change the cause of hurt but does changes the perception of the cause. There are unpleasant situations where action needs to be taken and the mind is demanding that it is impossible. It is the mind that is forming and repeating the negative story. It is the mind that is compiling the road block. This is where the mind needs to be settled and the fortitude to continue is drawn forth. A shift in view gives the opportunity to develop intentions into positive actions. Taking positive action in life creates a sense of control and inner stability.

The changes faced in society today require the attention, control and compassion that are cultivated with meditation. Experiences are much more meaningful with an open awareness. Life is richer, deeper and more fluid. This sense of control gives the ability to take action in a constructive manner easing the tension inside the physical body. In conjuncture with outside forces, the inside forces can integrate with daily existence seamlessly. Healthy respect for the body demonstrates that relaxation is the body’s natural state. In the natural state of relaxation, the mind focuses on positive thoughts. Mental health combined with physical health contributes to positive emotions. With these things combined, life is harmonious. By not acknowledging the connection with all living things; this creates a denial in an authentic participation of life. The benefits of meditation release the mind from the bond of unhealthy thoughts that hinder resilience. With practice, serenity is the natural state of presence. By taking a mindful approach to change, hardships are dealt with productively and health is controlled holistically.

The Lens of New Light - Essay #1

Life is full of potential and many things to do, places to go, people to meet and photos to take! Simplistic or eventful as life can be, it is always adventurous, always interesting and always there for us. Not everyone thinks of grabbing the camera as a necessity, along with car keys, sunglasses and pocket cash while walking out the door. Nevertheless, maybe more should. Looking through the camera gives the opportunity to see things in a new light and expand personal growth.

The person who brings the camera finds personal satisfaction in sharing the story with others. There may be feelings of inadequacy with the responsibility. There is trial period of practice while settling into an artistic style. Taking pictures connects the photographer with the photograph. There is a sense of control while taking pictures. Conversations develop when taking pictures of people. Bonds form in the midst of smiles coaxed for the camera. Fun and laughter of camaraderie brings individuals together with a group photo. Children are entertained when attention is on them while taking pictures. Carolyn Lane is a Haiti volunteer who was taking pictures of children and realized that they were not smiling. She found out that they did not get their pictures taken often and were trying to be serious. Once she shared the photos with the children, they became excited and smiled for the pictures then on out (Gienow). Children draw into the event when seeing themselves in the viewfinder window. Children encourage the photographer to take more.

If there is luck, if there is good light, if the subject is in focus and if the mind is calm, astounding pictures can happen. When the camera is the photographer’s eyes, countless more perspectives become available. A blurred splash of distinct colors promotes a child’s view while on the bedroom floor. Radiant sunlight illuminates through a forest of dandelion speckled expanse of lawn. When focus narrows down a fencerow, the depth and distance create the illusion of time receding. Creative photos project an intentional point of view for others to perceive.

Interesting facts are uncovered when researching specific photos. Researching photos on the internet, or otherwise, is entertaining because they are oft times manipulated in some way. The media does ‘stage’ photos for journalistic reasons. Popular magazines air brushes the model’s pictures and contorts their figures to make them appear flawless and irregularly proportioned from the real life human figure. Robyn Ryan, writer for Choice magazine, expresses her dismay at being misled when she purchased an Ebay item without investigating the photograph’s authenticity (11). By researching photos, there is also opportunity to look up an evasive species of plant life, an odd bug or investigating a treasured antiques’ value. Interest deepens when investigating a particular brand or breed with similar reputable photos. Facts are uncovered and may lead the curious photographer onto new interests.
Looking through the lens gives the opportunity to look for an original style. Photographer Jonny Briggs expresses that he constructs his own style by using digital photography and photo manipulation to recreate the past through puzzling pictures together in seamless montages (“Photography & Image”). Taking pictures is a chance to save a memory with a certain perspective in mind. It is a personal preference. Individuals have their own unique style, own unique way of interacting with people and objects, and own unique artistic flair. By reflecting within creates an individual style. Distinct personalities emerge when experimenting with new styles and techniques. By viewing and interacting with other artists, mix and matching styles, fresh ideas develop. Entering contests encourages thought about theme and style, narrows focus and is an opportunity to try something different. Journals are for keeping ideas and dreams for creative inspiration. Keeping the mind open, scanning for opportunities and following the light can lead to many new discoveries.

There are so many wonderful miraculous sights. The way the light shines through the tree leaves or blinking of fireflies in the warm summer’s night, there are many wonders to behold. If captured in a jar and secured with a hole studded lid, the flies bright sparkle, even for a brief time, is captured for thoughtful up close inspection. Detained fireflies are a curious form of enjoyment and appreciation. Fireflies set free will continue their journey in life. With photography, small snippets, a fraction of reality, is memory saved in a photo. The fireflies will fly free; the photo will obtain the memory.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Breath

Paraprased from a chapter in The Tao of Abundance

In the Taoist perspective the universe was not "made" but "just is". The process which is the universe is not deliberately manufactured but of organic growth. Everything that ever existed or ever will came into being when Mother Tao was "mysteriously brought into existence". Everything is grown out of this one source. "Heaven and Earth were born at the same time I was, and the ten thousand things are one with me." No thing has caused other things to be, all things have mutually arisen and therefore mutually create and sustain one another.

The theory of the big bang suggests that the entire universe began with a single giant explosion. From silent and shapeless stuff (gases), the entire universe was born. We can be seen as having been latent in the primordial gasses that produced the big bang. The scientific consensus is the view that the universe has been continually expanding since the big bang. More recently, it has been theorized that it may eventually begin to shrink and collapse upon itself. If this hypothesis should prove out, this to would fit the Taoist cosmology. If the Universe eventually collapses back into itself, it may well be that this pattern of expansion and contraction is an endlessly repeating cycle that has been going on for incalculable eons.

this expansion and contraction of the universe could be conceived as the in-breath and out-breath of Mother Tao. Tao is the emptiness out of which all things arose and into which they will again return and arise again...and again...and so on.

This cycle applies not only to the universe but more immediately to the life cycle of the individual - all that transpires between the in-breath at birth and the out-breath on dying.

We either embrace life in its totality or we split it into an endless number of likes and dislikes. As Shakespeare put it; "To be or not to be" is the question. Fragmented, we can never find peace. Embrace the process of life and you embrace all aspects of it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bleeding heart liberal

Until I understood the real meaning of Democrat and Republican I didn't understand how liberal I really was. And until just this moment I didn't realize that I was truly the 'Bleeding Heart Liberal' that some speak in a way that makes it sound like nothing short of leprosy.

I care deeply for others. I believe in deep respect for ALL living things. It makes my heart burn to think of suffering and injustice, not only in my own country, but for the suffering of others anywhere on the planet. And that includes all of the inhabitants of Earth and of the Earth herself.

I feel it as a sign of maturity. I don't see it as something that anyone should be labeled and I hope that everyone has at least just a little bit of it!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Embrace Your Karma

I have some karma that is challenging me right about now. Actually, more challenges than I would like to handle at once. But maybe they are all keeping me from obsessing about any just one, and getting myself into real trouble. I keep waiting for it to hit, and hit hard. I'm talking about having the man that i'm totally nuts about tell me that he is "goofy", he "doesn't know" what he wants, he knows he misses me, that he wants to "be friends" with me...but he doesn't love me. :(

OK, you don't have to beat me with it. It's hard to swallow but down it goes.

Damn this rollercoaster. Damn my self esteem - I'm going to get off this particular ride and get me some more of that there self worth stuff!

I've had to speak with him recently on the phone. We had an issue to resolve. I could of been a real bitch and screwed him over, but i'm not like that. Really! I'm not.

Kill 'em with kindness.
Anyway, as luck would have it, I recieved this meditation from some subscription newsletter and it really seems to help! I think i'll print this one and keep it handy.

Embracing Your Karma Visualization

Karma is an expression of divine love.Everything that comes to us is made especially for us by God—to free us from all limitation.

Visualize God as the Divine Mother, standing before you. (You can visualize Yogananda or another saint if you prefer.)

See Her eyes gazing deeply into your own, filling you with Her love. Know that She is with you, always.

Think now of a karma that is challenging for you.

See Divine Mother holding before you this karmic test. See Her smile as she reaches out and offers this test to you with loving kindness. Reach out your arms and take hold of this karma. Bring this karmic challenge into your heart.

Accept this precious gift—sent from the Wisdom of the Universe. Know that it is a perfect gift, sent by Divine Mother, to help your soul become free.

In your heart embrace this karmic test fully, with gratitude and trust. This karma can help you raise your energy level and consciousness to where your Godly nature resides.

Focus now at the point between the eyebrows. See yourself rising to meet this karmic test and transcending its limitations.

See yourself becoming free in God. Feel the bliss of being united with Spirit.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Full of...

Trying not to think about him doesn't help. I thought it would. Why does the hurt keep coming back? How long does it take to get over it? Would it be better if he talked to me and told me why and broke my heart, snapping it cleanly in two or is it better to let it fade away? Better, maybe...for him, to let it fade away, I'm sure it's much better for him.

Do men not have guilty consciences? Maybe just not this one.

What do I know? Little of men, that's for sure.

I wanted so badly to stay innocent. I thought that way I could have this beautiful dream of happiness in the arms of a lover. What if I'm tramatized and can't bring myself to trust another? I thought for sure he was different. I thought for sure that he was everything he promised me he was.

No I didn't. I lie. I wanted him to be everything he said he was. I knew he was only human but wanted to give him every single benefit of a doubt, and then some. I wanted him to see in me what I have glimpsed in myself. I am discovering that there is more to me than I ever thought possible and I hoped that if he could touch me and be with me in a way that was closer than anyone had ever been with me before, than he would confirm that I was this wonderful person just waiting to get out. When he didn't see it, I doubted that there was any depth to me at all.

I thought that if I overlooked the not so noble things in him than he would also overlook the not so interesting things in me. I wanted to be for him everything I also wanted him to be for me. Somehow I thought it could work like a mirror.

This is my test, isn't it? To not let this suck me down. To come out on top and feel better about myself than ever before. To trust that it's NOT me and that it is him. He is the one that has never had a long term relationship in his whole life. I'm nothing but long term relationships, commitments and...letting go . Maybe he had already gone well beyond his saturation point. Maybe he had already tried and tried again and is tired of trying. I loved it so much when he tried. I was in heaven when he was trying. I heard it in his voice, I saw it in his eyes, I felt it in his touch, there were times when he felt it. He knew there was something there, we both felt something that we admitted we had never felt before. Only he didn't seem to know how to hold on to it, or trust it, or believe in it, i'll never know which. Now I have to practice letting go, once again.

What is the Buddhist saying about being human is about suffering? We suffer because we grasp. We want things so badly that our every focus is on grasping, having and holding onto. As long as we want we will suffer. To ease suffering we must let loose our attachments. I've let loose of so many attachments already. More seem to grow back in their place, but I'll continue to practice letting go.

Letting go and trusting that my heart can take it. Drift off into the dark area of the unknown. I've come through it safetly before, why should I think I can't do it again?

Full of, so many questions.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring Poem

Robert Frost (1874–1963)Two Tramps in Mud Time (1936)
Out of the mud two strangers came And caught me splitting wood in the yard, And one of them put me off my aim By hailing cheerily "Hit them hard!" I knew pretty well why he had dropped behind And let the other go on a way. I knew pretty well what he had in mind: He wanted to take my job for pay.

Good blocks of oak it was I split, As large around as the chopping block; And every piece I squarely hit Fell splinterless as a cloven rock. The blows that a life of self-control Spares to strike for the common good, That day, giving a loose my soul, I spent on the unimportant wood.
The sun was warm but the wind was chill. You know how it is with an April day When the sun is out and the wind is still, You're one month on in the middle of May. But if you so much as dare to speak, A cloud comes over the sunlit arch, A wind comes off a frozen peak, And you're two months back in the middle of March.
A bluebird comes tenderly up to alight And turns to the wind to unruffle a plume, His song so pitched as not to excite A single flower as yet to bloom. It is snowing a flake; and he half knew Winter was only playing possum. Except in color he isn't blue, But he wouldn't advise a thing to blossom.

The water for which we may have to look In summertime with a witching wand, In every wheelrut's now a brook, In every print of a hoof a pond. Be glad of water, but don't forget The lurking frost in the earth beneath That will steal forth after the sun is set And show on the water its crystal teeth.

The time when most I loved my task The two must make me love it more By coming with what they came to ask. You'd think I never had felt before The weight of an ax-head poised aloft, The grip of earth on outspread feet, The life of muscles rocking soft And smooth and moist in vernal heat.

Out of the wood two hulking tramps (From sleeping God knows where last night, But not long since in the lumber camps). They thought all chopping was theirs of right. Men of the woods and lumberjacks, The judged me by their appropriate tool. Except as a fellow handled an ax They had no way of knowing a fool.

Nothing on either side was said. They knew they had but to stay their stay And all their logic would fill my head: As that I had no right to play With what was another man's work for gain. My right might be love but theirs was need. And where the two exist in twain Theirs was the better right--agreed.

But yield who will to their separation, My object in living is to unite My avocation and my vocation As my two eyes make one in sight. Only where love and need are one, And the work is play for mortal stakes, Is the deed ever really done For Heaven and the future's sakes.