Staying The Course, Not Giving Up

Our thoughts could be discouraging, demotivating, compelling us to quit. This is a meditation of practicing staying the course, not giving up so easily. Inspired by I Bend, a poetry written by Selena Odom.

I bend but do not break.

I’ve been lost, but I’m not a loser.

I’m a wreck, but I’m not totaled.

I’m fractured but not broken.

I’ve failed, but I’m not a failure.

I’ve fallen hard but can get up again.

I’m isolated, but still I’m free.

I have been destroyed but will rebuild.

My heart is broken, but it will mend.

See, no matter how close I come to breaking, I just continue to bend.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 18 mins

Image credit Paul Hanaoka

What Will You Let Go?

The question of the day is: what will you let go of? Here is a meditation session of learning to let go of what upsets and weighs us down, recognizing that all our experiences, good and bad, are impermanent. Often thoughts and desires that accompany the feelings magnify our distress, the need for things to be in a particular way, like the need for us to stay calm and centered during a meditation. Otherwise the session feels like a waste of time. Actually the best time to practice is when the mind is unsettled. We’re cultivating accepting situations or reality as they are before deciding on the next best response. 

Nothing Gold Can Stay, Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 20 minutes

Image credit: Dorothe Wouters, Unsplash

Responding To Negativity

It’s easy for negative thoughts or negative inferences to take root. They can be as subtle as “I can’t do this” to something extreme we won’t say to others like “You’re (I’m) stupid”, or excessive worry and downplaying ourselves or others.

One outcome of negativity is that it can lead us to a striving mode, needing to fix or improve ourselves. We sign up for a bunch of courses, throw ourselves into projects to shut off the pain, make ourselves feel like we’re progressing in life. A striving mode can also mean to deliberately avoid situations.

This is not to say we don’t do anything to improve our life outcomes or to purposely invite difficulties, but we want to be more discerning about what thoughts we want to act on and what actions are really necessary, lest we end up distressing ourselves further or shy away from living a full life.

In this meditation, we acknowledge thoughts as they are (just thoughts), and practice restoring a sense of being or balance. When we’re in a less driven-doing, judgmental mode, we can see our priorities and what really matters with more clarity.

We also use the poem Negative Thoughts (extract) by Murray Lachlan Young to convey the theme of the practice.

Negative thoughts

Oh, they come and they go

And sometimes they come

A lot more than they go

Then do what they like

And say what they please

To stifle your life

With their negative squeeze

So why not breathe in

And exercise choice

Why not breathe out and say “No” to the voice

And say “I’m worth more much, much, more than all that

And that negative voices

Are uncool and old hat”

So why not decide

That it’s time to get free

And stand up to the (deeply uncool) voice

Of Negativity

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 14 mins

Image credit: Dim Hou, Unsplash

To register and join our Wednesday Pause meditation, please go here

To view the complete archive of our meditations, go here

I Am The Lake

This is an adaptation of the Lake Meditation written by Jon Kabat Zinn, founder of MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction). We are cultivating the qualities and energy of a lake – silent, merely reflecting back what it sees as it is, and returning to stillness whenever the wind, rain and storm pass. Visualizing ourselves as the lake. Like it, we can return to our original being of stillness and silence once unwelcome thoughts and feelings move on.


We end with this poetry There In The Stillness by Show You Love (extract).


There in the stillness, the whisper of angel’s wings

There in the stillness a place for beggars and kings

There in the stillness a fluttering of the soul

There in the stillness someone broken is being made whole


There in the rest a river of life overflows

There in the rest a fruitful garden grows

There in the rest I am anchored and secure

There in the rest is a joy so real and pure


Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 17 mins

Image credit: Redd, Unsplash

Be Like A Mountain

This is an adaptation of the Mountain Meditation, created by Jon Kabat Zinn, founder of MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction). We are cultivating the qualities and energy of a mountain – solid, strong, dignified, unmovable, and not apologetic for our presence. So like the mountain, we remain grounded despite experiencing strong emotions and intrusive thoughts. 

I am the mountain

Snow falls, gone soon after winter

Spring clouds, drift by not a matter

Summer sunshine, only a fair friend

Autumn leaves, fall with an end

Seasons come and go

Yet I remain unmovable, to know

Thoughts emerge, emotions arise

Winds come

Rain falls

I don’t turn them away

Come what may

Because I am the mountain

Guide: Noelle Lim

Poem written by: Noelle Lim

Duration: 18 mins

Image credit: Justinas Tessalis, Unsplash

Change In Each Moment

Noticing each moment as thoughts and feelings change, noticing how transient our experiences are. One moment we’re upset, shortly after that we’re fine, and the cycle continues. As we learn to embrace change moment-by-moment, it helps us embrace changes and new chapters in our lives that take us out of our comfort zone. Inspired by New Chapter, a poetry written by Denis Martindale (extract).

One chapter ends, another starts –

Just like another game of darts.

New thoughts take hold, new people speak,

Past characters play hide-n-seek.

New meals are made, new shows are seen…

Forget about life’s in-between…

Fade out the memories, let them go…

Move on to greet some pastures new –

The sky above is just as blue…

Transcend the traumas life inflicts

And soothe the wounds with gentle licks…

Patch up the heart that drips life’s blood,

Refuse to wallow in the mud,

Cherish the chapter that’s just begun

And close the book on the previous one…

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 18 mins

Image credit: Julian Ame, Unsplash

Well Wishing

Attention and compassion are twins that keep us in the present moment instead of living in the past and future which is exhausting and distressing. To cultivate compassion, wishing well is the mantra of our Wednesday Pause meditation for #WorldMentalHealthDay.

Wishing well a person whom you have an easy relationship with, someone who is experiencing difficulty, yourself in the midst of a difficult time, and those around you.

It’s possible that wishing yourself well might be the most awkward, even seemingly un-deserving. It could also be triggering, leading to more judgments, what is called a backdraft.

The purpose is to bring to bear an intention rather than to create any special feelings. And so the invitation is to keep wishing yourself well, bit by bit like dipping your toes in a cold pond.

This traditional Irish blessing comes to mind for you.

May the road rise up to meet you. 

May the wind be always at your back. 

May the sun shine warm upon your face

And rain falls soft upon your fields 

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand. 

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 13 mins

Image credit: Amy Baugess, Unsplash

Welcoming Change

Often what makes it difficult to accept change is the experiences that are triggered such as anxiety, sadness, fear of the unknown. Ruminating on it only compounds the suffering. This practice is about cultivating the capacity to welcome change, even those we don’t like, in order to ease into stepping out of our comfort zone and taking risks. Poetry for today is Change by Kathleen Raine.


Change 

Said the sun to the moon, You cannot stay. 

Change 

Says the moon to the waters, 

All is flowing. 


Change 

Says the fields to the grass, 

Seed-time and harvest, 

Chaff and grain. 


You must change said, 

Said the worm to the bud, 

Though not to a rose.


Petals fade 

That wings may rise 

Borne on the wind. 



Are you ready to change? 

Says the thought to the heart, to let her pass .

You will change, 

says the stars to the sun, 

Says the night to the stars.


Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 19 mins

Image credit: Malek Dridi, Unsplash

Being With Nature

The invitation is to accept our thoughts and feelings as how we would accept what happens in nature around us like the sound of birds, the rise of the sun, the four seasons. Inner experiences are after all the outcomes of the mind and body, and we are in turn the product of nature. Acceptance helps us meditate in peace.

Inspired by Margaret Atwood’s poem The Moment.

The moment when, after many years 
of hard work and a long voyage 
you stand in the centre of your room, 
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country, 
knowing at last how you got there, 
and say, I own this, 

is the same moment when the trees unloose 
their soft arms from around you, 
the birds take back their language,

the cliffs fissure and collapse, 
the air moves back from you like a wave 
and you can’t breathe. 

No, they whisper. You own nothing. 
You were a visitor, time after time 
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming. 
We never belonged to you. 
You never found us. 
It was always the other way round.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 19 mins

Image credit: Keanu K, Unsplash

Self-Love

Today’s Wednesday Pause is a practice of self-love. Cliche as it sounds, its really an invitation to be gentle with ourselves, meaning whatever that is arising, whether we like it or not or find it inadequately stimulating, we gently accept the moment as it is. This reduces the hold unpleasant feelings has over us. And if we find ourselves experiencing strong emotional energy be it grief and anxiety, we respond with gentleness without needing “to do something” to fix it and make it go away. It’s as if you respond with gentle energy instead of brute force, counterintuitive as it may seem.

Inspiration sought from Walt Whitman’s poem Song of Myself (1892, extract).

I celebrate myself and sing myself

And what I assume, you shall assume

For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you.

I exist as I am that is enough

If no other in the world be aware I sit content

And if each and all be aware I sit content.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,

But I shall be good health to you nevertheless

And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged

Missing me one place, search another

I stop somewhere waiting for you.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 22 mins

Image credit: Mathilde Langevin, Unsplash

Not Giving Up

It’s easy to give up on meditating when we lose patience. The benefits may not be immediate and it can feel somewhat unpleasant when you’re just sitting still and not doing anything. Yet there is enough neuroscience evidence to show that mindfulness helps strengthen the brain and allows us to be more at ease in responding to difficulties. It’s probably the cheapest “solution” to mental health woes because you can meditate anywhere, anytime without guidance. This practice is about not giving up by giving yourself permission to be patient.

Inspiration from Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise (extract).


You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.


Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.


You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.


Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 18 mins

Image credit: Timothy Meinberg, Unsplash

Directly Experiencing

We practice directly experiencing reality instead of through the filters of the mind which is easily clouded by cravings and fears. Our thoughts often demand that situations have to be in a particular way and we are dissatisfied when they are not. Why not accept life as it is, moment-by-moment, in its ups and downs so that we can respond wisely instead of in a deluded way that only prolongs suffering? There’s more to life than “should be”s, labels and opinions. Inspired by Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching verse 12.

The five colours blind the eye.
The five tones deafen the ear.
The five flavours dull the taste.
Racing and hunting madden the mind.
Precious things lead one astray.

Therefore the sage is guided by what he feels and not by what he sees.
He lets go of “that” and chooses “this”.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 24 mins

Image credit: Eric Han, Unsplash

Responding To Cravings

The Buddha had said cravings (attachments) is a source of our suffering. Here’s our Wednesday Pause practice of responding mindfully to our never-ending desires so that we are less easily led astray down the path of stress. And the poetry for today is Let These Be Your Desires by Khalil Gibran.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself

But if your love and must needs have desires,

Let these be your desires:

To melt and be like a running brook

That sings its melody to the night.

To know the pain of too much tenderness.

To be wounded by your own understanding of love;

And to bleed willingly and joyfully.

To wake at dawn with a winged heart

And give thanks for another day of loving;

To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;

To return home at eventide with gratitude;

And then to sleep with a prayer

For the beloved in your heart

And a song of praise upon your lips.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 21 mins

Image credit: Piotr Musiol, Unsplash

Decoupling From Self

Part of responding wisely to our difficult feelings is to let go of the need to react, and instead transform that emotional energy by returning our attention to the breath or body. Letting go of reactivity is an act of letting go the need to pander to our cravings and fears. By extension this means letting go the need to cling on to the idea of a self. Some people may describe it as our ego or pride. The Buddha said, “Nothing is to be clung to as I, me or mine.”

The invitation in this practice is to decouple from the self by firstly taking the bigger picture, zooming out to sense our body as a whole like a vessel or container instead of getting lost in the mess of our thoughts and feelings that arise within, and each time the mind instructs us to do something, we can just let it be by not needing to answer back or act on them even if they seem so compelling and urgent.

Finally, we rest in awareness that we’re not alone in our journey. There is a group we’re plugged into – a family, workplace, society, country, and in this Zoom space as we meditate together even if it’s for a brief moment.

Charles Causley’s poem “I am the Song” is read as a gentle reminder that there is no me and them, no independent self as such. All organic beings are interdependent in this universe.

I am the song that sings the bird.
I am the leaf that grows the land.
I am the tide that moves the moon.
I am the stream that halts the sand.
I am the cloud that drives the storm.
I am the earth that lights the sun.
I am the fire that strikes the stone.
I am the clay that shapes the hand.
I am the word that speaks the man.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 20 mins

Image credit: Amy Baugess, Unsplash

Above The Noise

This is a practice of decoupling or de-centering from mental chatter, and viewing thinking as a mental event. It’s often not easy as our thoughts are so compelling and urgent, requiring us to act on them immediately, in the process exhausting us. Here we develop our capacity to observe and let go of the need to answer back or to react toward our thoughts. The practice ends with a reading of Robert Frost’s poem The Sound of Trees (extract).

Here’s the full poetry. 

I wonder about the trees.
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace,
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway,
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 20 minutes

Image credit: Erica Leong, Unsplash


Meeting Anxiety

This practice is about meeting anxiety as and when it arises. Anxiety is often characterized by a fast beating heart, sweaty palms, and maybe throbbing pain in the head. The feelings seem unpleasant, naturally compelling us to want to push them away or to get rid of them. By giving in to this reaction, we are merely avoiding and allowing anxiety to have a grip over us. We are not learning how to respond skillfully to difficulties.

The invitation is to allow ourselves to witness whatever that is arising by pausing from judging, staying as still as we can (not needing to react), and staying with the experience (not needing to run away, distract ourselves or zone out). If the feelings are overwhelming, we approach by dipping our toes and homing in slowly, as best as we can seeing anxious feelings as transient (even if they seem to last forever or they’re recurrent), and as merely outcomes of the mind and body (even if they seem so real). They do not define our identity, they are simply experiences, and we can choose how to respond to them. The response can be not to do anything but simply to just observe and embrace all life experiences as they are.

Poetry for today is Between Going & Staying, by Octavio Paz (translated).

Between going and staying the day wavers,

in love with its own transparency.

The circular afternoon is now a bay

where the world in stillness rocks.

All is visible and all elusive,

all is near and can’t be touched.

Paper, book, pencil, glass,

rest in the shade of their names.

Time throbbing in my temples

repeats the same unchanging syllable of blood.

The light turns the indifferent wall

into a ghostly theater of reflections. I

find myself in the middle of an eye,

watching myself in its blank stare.

The moment scatters. Motionless,

I stay and go: I am a pause.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 19 minutes

Image credit: Chaiyaporn Atakampeewong, Unsplash

Letting Go Perfection

It’s natural to strive for perfect experiences – to be calm, at peace etc instead of worried and sad. The reality is the mind is always digging away about something and might not hesitate to tell you where you’ve messed up. Letting go the need to feel perfect allows us to just rest in the moment as it is, whether pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. As always practice ends with a poetry reading.

Today Means Amen (extract), by Sierra deMulder

You are drawing a map of forgiveness,
where you live,
where you already are – 
you just don’t know it yet
Perfect isn’t where we’re from,
and we wouldn’t like it there anyway.
Whoever you are,
however you got here,
This is exactly where you are supposed to be.
This moment has waited its whole life for you.
You made it.
You made it.
You made it.
Here.

Noticing Intentions

In the midst of our busy-ness, moving from one thing to another on our to-do list, it is easy to forget what our intentions are or could be. Being mindful of them helps us stay true to our values and lead a more meaningful life instead of a zombie one. So this is a meditation about practicing observing our intentions before we do anything such as taking an inbreath or out-breath. Refining our capacity to just pause for a moment before acting.

Ending this with one of my favourite poems, Summer Day by Mary Oliver (extract): 

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration:

Image credit: Koen Eijkelenboom, Unsplash

I Am Here, No Action Needed

Here’s a meditation about sitting in the present moment and in stillness regardless how we’re feeling. Telling ourselves, “I do not have all the answers but I am here”, “It feels unpleasant but no action is needed”.

Inviting ourselves time and time again that we can acknowledge all of what we are feeling yet not have to react and rise to the bait of all feelings. It may be difficult to do so. We take it step by step but dipping our toes in slowly.

Inspiration sought from the poem The Invitation by the Oriah Mountain Dreamer (excerpt):

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, ‘Yes‘.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 20 mins

Image credit: Anastasiia Rozumna, Unsplash

To attend our live meditation sessions, register here

Leaning In

The invitation this week is to lean in to whatever life offers, by extension to whatever inner experiences that arise for us whether we welcome them or not. A balanced way of opening toward them, which is somewhere between not dwelling (ie not adding more judgment and analysis) and not needing to avoid, resist or push away. The more we lean in, the more we learn to see thoughts as just thoughts, emotions as emotions, and body sensations as just that, impersonal, innocuous and impermanent. We don’t have to spend our energy resisting and judging them and wishing for them to be different. Instead we choose to befriend or sit with them, thereby choosing to live more openly and courageously.


Poem by Mary Oliver, taken from her book House of Light:

Still, what I want in my lifeis to be willing

to be dazzled—to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even

to float a littleabove this difficult world.


I want to believe I am lookinginto the white fire of a great mystery.

I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing—

that the light is everything—

that it is more than the sumof each flawed blossom rising and falling.

And I do.


Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 24 mins

Image credit: Malkarium, Unsplash