Strengthening Anchor

During meditation, something is often calling for our attention, and we are easily distracted or feel restless. To cultivate steadiness and to stay in the present moment, we turn toward our chosen anchor such as the breath with curiosity and a beginner’s mind. This practice is also intended to help us stay anchored whenever triggered by what someone say or do. Inspired by Sarah Kay’s poetry “The Paradox”. Here is an extract.

When I am inside writing,
all I can think about is how I should be outside living.

When I am outside living,
all I can do is notice all there is to write about.

When I read about love, I think I should be out loving.
When I love, I think I need to read more.

I am stumbling in pursuit of grace,
I hunt patience with a vengeance.

I spend most of my time wondering
if I should be somewhere else.

So I have learned to shape the words thank you
with my first breath each morning, my last breath every night.

When the last breath comes, at least I will know I was thankful
for all the places I was so sure I was not supposed to be.

All those places I made it to,
all the loves I held, all the words I wrote.

And even if it is just for one moment,
I will be exactly where I am supposed to be.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 21 mins

Image credit: Andrea Caramello, Unsplash

To register for our Wednesday Pause, live Zoom sessions, go here

Going Deeper On Feeling Tone

We further deepen our practice on noticing feeling tone (“vedana” in Pali) and what precedes and accompanies it. Do you notice unpleasant feeling tones arising around certain thoughts like “this meditation is taking forever”, accompanied by the restless need to quit? Or maybe there were beliefs such as “my mind keeps wandering, I suck at meditation.” What experiences accompanied those beliefs eg feelings of defeat? The purpose of this practice is to take a step back and watch for the whole chain of reactions surrounding feeling tones, recognizing that they are natural outcomes of the mind and body, and simply acknowledging them without needing to get caught up.

The practice ends with a reading of Wendell Berry’s poem The Peace of Wild Things.

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Duration: 22 mins

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Caleb Woods, Unsplash

Feeling Tone

Feeling tone or feeling sense is a sense of awareness that we typically interpret as unpleasant, pleasant or neutral. It is what puts us in a foul mood or a good one. The Pali translation in Buddhist text is “vedana”.

It is natural to desire pleasant experiences, to avoid unpleasant ones, and to zone out or feel bored, restless and even empty when there are neutral feelings (the mind constantly need stimulation). It is those underlying desires that cause us to be unhappy or stressed when things are not going according to our wishes.

The antidote is to become conscious of and to tune in to any feeling tones so that we are aware what is causing us to “suffer” in the first place. And then, we let these feelings come and go without needing to get caught up in them. We weaken the grip of reactivity, and find peace.

The practice ends with the poem On Pain by Khalil Gibran:

And a woman spoke, saying, Tell us of Pain.

And he said: Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;

And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.

And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 22 mins

Image credit: Tucker Good, Unsplash

Patience

The lack of patience signals the desire to get a “pleasant” state or to run away from whatever the mind deems to be “unpleasant”. In this practice, we look beyond what often captures our immediate attention, which is our feelings, and appreciate pleasant moments that we easily overlook or take for granted such as temperature and sounds to cultivate patience. Inspired by the writings of Rumi, 13th century Persian poet and scholar.

Patience is not sitting and waiting, it is foreseeing.

It is looking at the thorn and seeing the rose.

Looking at the night, and seeing the day.

Lovers are patient, and know that they moon needs time to become full.

Keeping Quiet, Resting The Body

During this Eid festive season, the invitation is to allow the mind to quieten and the body to rest and recharge. For those who had or will be receiving their vaccination shots for Covid-19, this mini body scan offers a helpful response to ensuing side effects like fever and body aches. Stay safe and healthy.

Inspired by Keeping Quiet by Pablo Neruda.

Life is what it is about…

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with
death.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

Transitioning

Transitions in our external world are also felt inside us, expressed in changing thoughts, emotions and sensations in the body. Sometimes the transitions feel painful, uncertain, worrying or hopeful. We may end up more fixated with the destination and lose the opportunity to learn something new about us in the process of transitioning. To get comfortable with change, we practice getting comfortable with transitions experienced in our inner world. This is done by noticing our experiences moment-by-moment while keeping our awareness on the breath and accepting whatever that is arising with a welcome mat.

Register to join us in future Wednesday Pause mindfulness practices here

For a complete archive of our meditations, visit here


Inspired by the poem I Am A Transition (extract), by Emu Getachew

Transition…I think I am? I am a progression! 

I am the vacancy between the alphabets. 

My feet travel silently.

Back and forth-side to side  with a blazing desire to transit.

Asking who I am? 

I am a transition-I reply, not a completion. 

But a passage, traveling between the alphabets of time  in self-expedition.


Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 22 minutes

Image credit: Astrid Shaffner, Unsplash

Not Living A Half Life

Inspired by Khalil Gibran’s poem, this practice is about showing up for ourselves in the present moment instead of living following other people’s agenda and our to-do list which is often the case. Enjoy!

Not Living Half A Life (extract)

Half a life is a life you didn’t live, 
A word you have not said
A smile you postponed 
A love you have not had
A friendship you did not know
To reach and not arrive
Work and not work
Attend only to be absent
What makes you a stranger to them closest to you
and they strangers to you
The half is a mere moment of inability
but you are able for you are not half a being
You are a whole that exists to live a life 
not half a life.

Dealing With Distractions

A thought easily produces a chain of ideas, intentions, stories, and next thing we know, time has passed. Life has passed. Sometimes we unwittingly shoot another arrow, for example, chiding ourselves for having certain thoughts.

Another trap is when a negative thought arises, we think “positively” to “neutralize”. That is helpful if the intention is to see a more realistic picture. It is not helpful if we’re adding thoughts that are potentially false and speculative simply to make ourselves feel better or to justify ours or other peoples’ actions. It’s a survival instinct.

An alternative response is to let thoughts be like water flowing in the stream instead of adding more. And if we choose to, mindfully directing our energy to thoughts that really matter and to be kind to ourselves for having thoughts. We look deep down to find what matters and what is true for us.

Inspired by Ryokan’s poem:

Keep your heart clear

And transparent,

And you will

Never be bound.

A single disturbed thought

Creates ten thousand distractions.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 22 minutes

Image credit: Yan Laurichesse, Unsplash

Cultivating Presence

Cultivating presence by firstly paying attention with wholehearted, non-judgemental interest to the present moment, to ourselves or to the people we’re with. Part of this experience is to watch and let be our” baggage” often expressed in the need to react to unpleasant feelings. These reactions could range from avoiding, giving up to aggression. Here’s an invitation to let all that go by simply connecting directly with the present moment instead of living in the head, lost in thoughts.

Inspiration came from a poem by Taigu Ryokan, Zen master.

Yes, I’m truly a dunce

Living among trees and plants.

Please don’t question me about illusion and enlightenment

This old fellow just likes to smile to himself.

I wade across streams with bony legs,

And carry a bag about in fine spring weather.

That’s my life,

And the world owes me nothing.

To attend our meditation sessions live on Wednesday Pause, register according to your timezone here

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 23 mins

Image credit: Chunlea Ju, Unsplash

Sitting With Time

Practicing mindfulness helps us deal with impatience because it seems like it has a relationship with time – needing things now or yesterday. A practice might seem to take forever because our minds constantly need to be stimulated and “satisfied”. It’s this constant shifting attention, always searching, never resting, that keeps us in reactionary mode. So instead of perpetually seeking stimulation and getting lost in our thoughts and stories, the invitation is to engage with the present moment differently, and to be able to just sit with the passage of time.

The inspiration of this practice came from a poetry by Rabindranath Tagore.


The butterfly counts not months but moments,

and has time enough.


Time is a wealth of change,

but the clock in its parody makes it mere change and no wealth.


Let your life lightly dance on the edges of time

like dew on the tip of a leaf.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Time: 22 minutes

Image credit: akifyevasvetlana, 123rf