Waking Up From Grasping

Obsessively grasping for something or someone leads us down the path to distress or suffering if we’re not mindful. Here’s to becoming aware of it in thoughts and actions, and letting go by simply observing and moving the attention back to the breath, and becoming more discerning of where we should be paying attention. The quality of our lives depends on where our attention is. There’s no need to grasp.

As Basho, the Zen monk says:

Sitting silently,

Doing nothing,

Spring comes and grass grows by itself.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Piotr Musiol, Unsplash

Self-Love

When we feel our life is lacking something, add love to it. When the mind judges and distresses us, add love to those thoughts. Whenever we feel impatient or judge ourselves and others, add love. Even if we don’t feel very loving at that point, we can just bring to bring to bear the intention, perhaps with words of affirmation.

The universe is inside of you, Rupi Kaur

the universe is inside of you

look inwards

and see yourself

for who you really are

we are all made of stardust

and we are all beautiful

when we love ourselves unconditionally

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Elvis Ray, Unsplash

Playfulness

This practice is about not taking ourselves too seriously whenever we find it difficult to sit — a practice of not taking life too seriously when things don’t go our way. Playfulness helps cultivate patience. And when we can sit with that quality, we see things with clarity. What’s clear is clear, what’s veiled is veiled – nothing more.

Haiku by Matsuo Basho

A day of quiet gladness,

Mount Fuji is veiled

In misty rain.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Nina Mercado, Unsplash

Humbling

Patience is said to be a virtue to help us deal with distress or when things are not going our way. Underlying patience is humility, and so here’s a practice on humility. Humility is not about cancelling out our voice or lowering our self-esteem. Rather it’s the quiet confidence that we can go about our lives without needing overt validation. When we become like the bald eagle that flies towards the storm, only then can we go above it and become more.

surrendering like an eagle, Noelle Lim

if we remind ourselves of our imperfections

tell us we’re not good enough

punishing the fragile ego

life becomes a suffering

but what if we can be for changing

if answering setbacks

means leaving outside the ego

the enemy of courage locking us in a wallow 

instead, why not surrender and accept

on hand, a willing heart

to life’s irregular cracks and weathering

we’ll see the play of her seasons

and witness the glory of her possibilities

let life not beat us down

instead, accept her grand invitation

to climb onto her big, strong wings 

like those of the bald eagle

that flies towards the storm

gliding higher, gathering more strength, more speed

soaring above rain clouds

why let the ego keeps us on our knees

when we can fly above the gust

an eagle 

does not dwell on the size of her claws

nor apologises for her flaws

instead she opens up to the call of life

accepting a lift from the stormy winds

going higher, going further, she becomes more.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Karina Vorozheeva, Unsplash

Conscious Breathing

The breath represents life, it’s the first thing we do when we become a life. Being conscious of the breath also has the benefit of activating the parasympathetic nervous system that restores us to equilibrium and calms us down.

It’s also possible that the breath can be triggering. If you find it difficult to focus on the breath, just do the best you can as an observer, bringing to bear just an intention to observe and nothing else.

Breathing (extract), Thich Nhat Hanh

Breathing in,
I have become space
without boundaries.
I have no plans left.
I have no luggage.

Breathing out,
I am the moon
that is sailing through the sky of utmost emptiness.
I am freedom.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Erik Jan Leusink, Unsplash

Exploring Courage

Exploring courage starts with preparation – how we are starting and then continuing in the practice with a strong back (signalling confidence, conviction), soft front (care) and paying attention moment-by-moment (the little ways).

Courage (extract), Anne Sexton

Later,

when you face old age and its natural conclusion

your courage will still be shown in the little ways,

each spring will be a sword you’ll sharpen,

those you love will live in a fever of love,

and you’ll bargain with the calendar

and at the last moment

when death opens the back door

you’ll put on your carpet slippers

and stride out.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Manel Sean Kcl, Unsplash

Saying Yes

Saying yes to all our experiences—thoughts, emotions, moods, physical sensations—is not a weakness. This is a practice of just saying yes to our unfolding experiences as they are and noticing how our resistance and tension ease thereafter, when we no longer all these moments to have a grip over our sense of wellbeing.

Saying Yes (extract), RoseAnn V. Shawiak

Life falls, sliding through a side door, one that has not

been marked, but opens quickly when given a second chance.

An entire world opens up to an invitation, love is emanating

from people everywhere.

Splendidly opening upon a new shore, being rinsed clean, a

pure and newly sprung life.

All around sounds of nature are pouring forth in tribute of

our lives and experiences.

Bowing down, kneeling on one knee, saying yes with a gentle

happiness and a joy so great it cannot be contained.

Flowing out upon others who are in need, filling them with

the love and peace of a new world without war.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Erik Jan Leusink, Unsplash

Responding To Pain

Turning towards, opening to the feeling pain spot by spot, moment by moment with kindness and gentleness instead of running away and avoiding.

On Pain (extract), by Khalil Gibran

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. 

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Chris Abney, Unsplash

Let Me Be Grateful

Using the phrase “let me be grateful for this moment” as the anchor whenever the mind starts to wonder and we get lost in the busyness of our thoughts. Gratitude is probably one of the most powerful healers.

The Gift, Mary Oliver

Be still, my soul, and steadfast.
Earth and heaven both are still watching
though time is draining from the clock
and your walk, that was confident and quick,
has become slow.

So, be slow if you must, but let
the heart still play its true part.
Love still as once you loved, deeply
and without patience. Let God and the world
know you are grateful.
That the gift has been given.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Liang Wang, Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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.