Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Silence for 10 Days

Meditation retreat grounds: Menomonie, Wisconsin.
A 10 day silent vipassana meditation begins today. No reading, writing, talking, smart phoning, etc. I will be picking up another participant who needs a ride, and we will begin the course this evening.  If you would like to join in at anytime, just close your eyes and look/feel within yourself. Spend as much time as you can with a felt sense of being present in your body, watching the coming and goings of the mind with loving kindness. Feel the coming and going of breath and sensation.

What I love best about this practice is the inarguable confirmation that I am not my thoughts. I am consciousness. I just am. There is never any turmoil in the present moment, something I can easily forget when running around in my mind much of the time. During meditation, thoughts come and go, yet my experience is not tied up in the content of the thinking/plotting/planning/controlling mind. Again, not controlling or trying to prevent thoughts from passing through, just noticing that thoughts are not reality. Stay tuned into everything present; bodily sensations, environmental noises, more thoughts. There is a gradually a loss of interest in the content of thoughts. It gets easier to see how the thinking mind tries every angle to distract from the Now. Imagined stories of past and future parade through like urgent matters needing immediate focus and fixing. In the now, the thinking mind loses it's job, so I can understand it's desperation and drama. Once the thinking mind loses it's authority, the breath becomes unbelievably interesting, always present, just waiting to be noticed. Tuning into the breath, you can be released from the controlling nature of the mind, and released into the the reality of now.
You may find "Finding the Feeling" a valuable practice in getting started or reacquainted with meditation. It is a brief practice found in Pema Chödrön's new book, How To Meditate. A Practical Guide to Making Friends with your Mind. For some on-line meditation tips, check out Yoga International here.

"You are the Saviour
but only of yourself.
To save yourself
simply means to awaken
out of the past and future
into the present moment."

-Leonard Jacobson

Monday, August 5, 2013

May All Beings Have Clean Water!

Filtered water at the airport!
What "thing" do you most need while traveling? I imagined missing my pillow, comfortable bed, access to clothing packed away, or maybe a favorite cast iron pan. In actuality, the thing I most need and want is clean, clear, safe, water. Ever since watching the documentary Tapped, I've not been comfortable consuming water from plastic bottles. Not even the disastrous effects of fracking, which was in progress just a few miles from my Los Angeles location, brought me to purchase plastic jugged water.  One afternoon, my host in L.A. suggested that we watch Gasland, an insightful documentary about fracking, which had me wondering what was in that southern California drinking water? The smell of chlorine stood out and the taste was confusing. I decided to stop drinking the city water, coupled with refusal to buy plastic bottled water, which led to the dragging effects of dehydration. Water, I needed good water!

A few days later, I had the urge to book a ticket to the Land of 10,000 Lakes for a home visit. Spotting a filtered water machine at the Chicago Midway airport, I wondered if it was a mirage! It invited me to "Refill your water bottle here." The machine calculates how many plastic bottles are saved by using a water filling station. I drank one down and then another. I felt like a dehydrated apple coming back to life. The taste of this water was divine and it had a brightening effect on the way I felt. A delayed connecting flight ended up being a blessing for my body. It kept me near that machine for the next few hours, rehydrating and thinking about the preciousness of water.