Peace Of Mind

Cultivating peace of mind by letting go of thinking, thinking to intentionally choosing when we want to place our attention.

Peace, Sara Teasdale

Peace flows into me

As the tide to the pool by the shore;

It is mine forevermore,

It ebbs not back like the sea.

I am the pool of blue

That worships the vivid sky;

My hopes were heaven-high,

They are all fulfilled in you.

I am the pool of gold

When sunset burns and dies–

You are my deepening skies,

Give me your stars to hold.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Vinicius Henrique Photography, Unsplash

Breathing deeply

Using the breath to keep us grounded and steady, and to release tension to find your way home.

Breathe Deeply, by Nina Heyen

Let your body sink

into the arms of silence,

the deep solace of a soul at peace.

Stop the world for just one moment,

and inhale the soothing still.

Rest your mind for just one instant,

and let your breath

steer your home.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Designervn, Unsplash

Letting Go Reactions

In mindfulness meditation, we’re cultivating the quality of non-grasping, non-driven-doing by staying with the breath or the body, and letting go the need to rise to the bait of our impulses to act. Often times, we could be reacting for no good reason.

In Blackwater Woods, by Mary Oliver (extract)

To live in this world

you must be able to do three things:

to love what is mortal;

to hold it against your bones

knowing your own life depends on it;

and, when the time comes to let it go,

to let it go.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Borna Bevanda, Unsplash

Heart Meditation

Often we tend to live in our heads, lost in our thoughts. In this meditation, the invitation is to feel the heart without judgment, without analysis, without having to arrive to any conclusion. Just feeling it and allow whatever insights that spring from the practice.

Heart to Heart, Rita Dove

It doesn’t have 
a tip to spin on,
it isn’t even
shapely—
just a thick clutch
of muscle,
lopsided,
mute. Still,
I feel it inside
its cage sounding
a dull tattoo:
I want, I want—

but I can’t open it:
there’s no key.
I can’t wear it
on my sleeve,
or tell you from
the bottom of it
how I feel. Here,
it’s all yours, now—
but you’ll have
to take me,
too.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Syed Ali, Unsplash

Thoughts Are Like The Wind

Thoughts such as judgments, beliefs, and assumptions are transient, impermanent, and mental events. The invitation is to simply observe our thoughts, and not get hooked, believe or act on everything that the mind suggests, and instead to practise

The Windy Day, Annette Wynne

The wind was very bad that day,

It blew my brand new hat away,

It blew and blew and blew—

It should have found some better things to do.

Perhaps the sailor on the sea

Wanted that wind that pestered me,

But the wind just stayed around and blew

My things about. When he was through

He went and hid himself away

And never came again that day.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Alvan Nee, Unsplash

The Breath

The breath is closest to us, it’s what gives us life and sustains us. Using the breath as an anchor is one of the most powerful ways to stay anchored in the present moment. Breathing seems like the most insignificant thing we do every day yet miracles are in the smallest things if we care to observe.

Breath, Kabir

Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.
You will not find me in stupas, not in Indian shrine rooms,
nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals:
not in masses, nor in kirtans, not in legs winding around your
own neck, nor in eating nothing but vegetables.
When you really look for me, you will see me instantly—
you will find me in the tiniest house of time.
Kabir says: Student, tell me what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Timo Volz, Unsplash

Being Present

Here’s a meditation of not rushing through today for tomorrow. You worked so hard to get here to this moment, why rush through it?

Each Moment Is Precious (extract), Patricia A Fleming

Live in the moment,

Just take it all in.

Pay attention to everything,

Right there and right then.

Don’t let your mind wander

To what’s coming next.

Cherish this moment

And give it your best.

Don’t let tomorrow

Make you rush through today,

Or too many great moments

Will just go to waste.

And the person you’re with,

In that moment you share,

Give them all of your focus;

Be totally there.

It can take but a moment

To change your life’s path.

And once it ticks by,

There is no going back.

In just 60 seconds,

You may make a new friend.

Find your true love,

Or see a life start or end.

You become who you are

In those moments you live.

And the growth’s not in taking

But in how much you give.

Life is just moments,

So precious and few.

Whether valued or squandered,

It’s all up to you!

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Anastasiia Rozumna, Unsplash

Patience

In a fast-paced, relentless environment that we live in, patience could be short in supply. Here we practise mindful patience, training the mind to focus on where we want it to be, steadying it.

Patience, Rabindranath Tagore

If thou speakest not I will fill my heart

with thy silence and endure it.

I will keep still and wait like the night

with starry vigil and its head bent low with patience.

The morning will surely come,

the darkness will vanish,

and thy voice pour down in golden streams

breaking through the sky.

Then thy words will take wing

in songs from every one of my birds’ nests,

and thy melodies will break forth in flowers

in all my forest groves.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Anna Kumpan, Unsplash

To Be Still

To be still is to conserve energy. To be still is not to react nor rise to the bait of our thoughts and emotions. We’re cultivating the ability and willingness to just sit with what’s here instead of getting stuck in the loop of doing, grasping.

Inspiration sought from Pablo Neruda’s I Like For You To Be Still

I like for you to be still
And you seem far away
It sounds as though you are lamenting
A butterfly cooing like a dove
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not reach you
Let me come to be still in your silence
And let me talk to you with your silence
That is bright as a lamp
Simple, as a ring
You are like the night
With its stillness and constellations
Your silence is that of a star
As remote and candid

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Ege Mese

Celebrating moments, life and the road not taken

Life may have its ups and downs. We celebrate each moment by willingly showing up for it as it is. This gives us the steadiness and calmness to decide the next best course of action if one is needed. Celebrating moments, we cumulatively celebrate life. It seems apt to end off with a favourite poem, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Jan Huber, Unsplash

Meditating On Four Elements

Mindfulness meditation is so practical because we use what’s available to us right this moment. In this practice, we pay attention to the four elements as they arise for us.

eeling the contact points as support (earth), our breath (air/space) , moisture such as sweat, saliva (water), and our energy and mood (fire).

Fire, Water, Air And Earth, Soren Barrett

A soft silvery glow

A distant symphony of frogs and crickets

Play in concert under a shower of stars

Distant thunder rolls, lightning flashes

Drops patter on the clay tile roof

The smell of fresh rain on dry ground

Fire, water, air and earth

All that was, is or ever will be

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Jeanie de Klerk

In Silence We Sit

A practise of sitting in silence because we allow ourselves too.

Sound of silence (extract), Paul Simon

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

Noticing the choices we make

It’s said that the choices we make shape our destiny. Here’s a practice of noticing the little choices we make moment-by-moment to deepen our capacity to become more conscious of the important choices we make on a daily basis that could have far-reaching consequences. In mindfulness, the invitation is to notice that we always have a choice of how we want to engage with whatever thought that arises – sometimes we can’t help thinking about something – how we choose to face it is a choice. We could choose to judge ourselves or simply just watch that thought.

Inspired by the Autobiography of 5 short chapters

I.

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

II.

I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I still don’t see it. I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place. It isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

III.

I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there, I still fall in.
It’s habit. It’s my fault. I know where I am. I get out immediately.

IV.

I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

V.

I walk down a different street.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Nine Koepfer, Unsplash

Noticing

This evening’s practice is about noticing what’s here for us right now, how we’re holding our body, our posture, our feelings, moods, what thoughts are passing by, and how we’re reacting or responding to what’s arising, with kindness – do we tend to judge, do we tend to try to push away, do we try to dampen positive thoughts or shrug off negative thoughts. Here we are just noticing, not needing to react further to what’s arising within us. It’s a practice of letting be instead of having to resist and fight against our feelings or what might be unpleasant, or constantly needing to cling on to pleasantness.

Noticing, Aisha Sherazi

Notice the way,

Children laugh and play,

They notice these things,

Each bright new day.

So when you stop,

Seeing those things,

You know you’ve grown up,

And your heart no longer sings.

So take the time,

To look with new eyes,

At all that surrounds you,

To do so would be wise.

Because we are not here,

In this world,

For very long,

Let’s appreciate its beauty,

Let’s listen to its song.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Tina Xinia, Unsplash

Appreciating The Now

Staying in the present moment and embracing the beauty and imperfections of the experience as it is. Words by Hafez.

The mountain’s face lifted me higher than
itself.

A song’s wink aligned me with joy. And a
tune paradise hums I came to know.

The forest, letting me walk amongst its naked
limbs, had me on my knees again in silence
shouting – yes, yes my holy friend, let your
splendour devour me.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Maiken Ingvordsen, Unsplash

Titration For Healing

Like a dance, we move towards and away from something so that our nervous system, mind and body can process what is occurring whilst learning to get comfortable with difficult emotions or when being out of our window of tolerance. We’re practicing self-regulating, finding balance and staying flexible in the present moment. So we start by grounding ourselves, and then feeling what’s arising for us, be it a thought, emotion, mood or sensation, and where it gets uncomfortable, we shift our attention back to our breath or a part of the body that feels safe for us, for example the belly or feet, and returning again to feeling what’s arising. We allow ourselves to move from one point to another according to what feels “safe” or “right” for us – a titration process.

It is a useful meditation when you’ve had a hard day and are finding it difficult to sit, or if you generally find it hard to sit through a meditation due to constant intrusive thoughts and difficult emotions. Also useful for those who are experiencing PTSD or had experienced trauma and are wanting to practice meditating as part of healing.

Whole & Worthy, by Jennifer Healy

A miracle is known not by its fullness alone,

But by its emptiness.

Even a blank piece of paper is a miracle,

Like a sky is worthy even if

The stars are hiding.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Abed Ismail, Unsplash

Playfulness, Lightness

Sometimes we take life, our experiences, our unwelcome emotions too seriously. This meditation is a reminder to live life with a sense of lightness and playfulness.

Let Your Life Lightly Dance, by Rabindranath Tagore

To the guests that must go bid God’s speed
and brush away all traces of their steps.
Take to your bosom with a smile what is easy and simple and near.
Today is the festival of phantoms that know not when they die.
Let your laughter be but a meaningless mirth like twinkles of light
on the ripples.
Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew
on the tip of a leaf.
Strike in chords from your harp fitful momentary rhythms.

Responding To Worrying

Worrying is a natural reaction of the mind and body. We de-compartmentalize by firstly noticing with equanimity and curiosity what and how we add to our worries – the stories we tell ourselves. Then, noticing how worrying is felt in the body, and breathing in and out of that sensation, taking long exhales. And finally as best as you can, letting be, letting go. The poetry “I Worried” by Mary Oliver comes to mind. 

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers

flow in the right direction, will the earth turn

as it was taught, and if not how shall

I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,

can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows

can do it and I am, well,

hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,

am I going to get rheumatism,

lockjaw, dementia?

Finally, I saw that worrying had come to nothing.

And gave it up. And took my old body

and went out into the morning,

and sang.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Diana Parkhouse, Unsplash

Befriending

In this meditation, taking a moment to take a mindful pause, acknowledging and accepting whatever feelings are arising, and sending well wishes to ourselves and others including people who annoy you. We only need to bring to bear the intention of well wishing even if we don’t feel like it. And we end off with this poem by Emily Dickinson.

Hope, by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –

And sore must be the storm –

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.

Disengaging From Rumination

Rumination—thinking, thinking, going around in circles—brings us down the spiral, and causes depression, anxiety and stress. The invitation is to disengage from it, setting your thoughts free, and using the body to hold you steady.

Thoughts, by Myra Viola Wilds

What kind of thoughts now, do you carry

In your travels day by day

Are they bright and lofty visions,

Or neglected, gone astray?

Matters not how great in fancy,

Or what deeds of skill you’ve wrought;

Man, though high may be his station,

Is no better than his thoughts.

Catch your thoughts and hold them tightly,

Let each one an honor be;

Purge them, scourge them, burnish brightly,

Then in love set each one free.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Andreea Popa, Unsplash