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.
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
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
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.
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.
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.
Whenever you’re feeling down, overwhelmed, anxious, have hope that these feelings don’t last forever and we’ll find our way home eventually. Inspired by “Hope” is the thing with feathers, 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.
Arriving and embracing the present moment with the people around you instead of frequently being lost in the head with our thoughts, often reviewing the past or speculating about the future, or being buried in our mobile phone.
Inspired by Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh’s poem: Please Call Me by My True Names (extract).
Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow —
even today I am still arriving.
Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.
I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all that is alive.
My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and my laughter at once,
Happy 2022! The mind is an incredible machine that generates ideas, solves problems but it can also produce thoughts that cause us grief and make us do things that we regret. How do we practice disengaging especially from thoughts that are not true, not realistic, not useful and only serve to weigh us down?
Inspired by the tradition of Soto Zen, we simply watch our thoughts, coming and going as they are as we are a third party, not identifying ourselves with thoughts, not judging, not needing to react to every single thing the mind tells us to do. Here we are just sitting quietly and watching. The pause allows wisdom to emerge and perhaps a new found appreciation for how the mind works.
Emily Dickinson describes this in her poem (extract).
The Brain — is wider than the Sky — For — put them side by side — The one the other will contain With ease — and You — beside —
The Brain is deeper than the sea — For — hold them — Blue to Blue — The one the other will absorb — As Sponges — Buckets — do
As we wind down for the year and set New Year resolutions, we anchor on what the heart longs for without judging ourselves. Simply just holding our desires in mindful awareness and allowing whatever emotions that arise when we bring to mind and feel in the heart what we truly want at the deeper level.
Inspired by William Wordsworth The Rainbow (or My Leaps Up). Life begins when we embrace our humanity with grace, and acknowledge what we really want even if it’s not within reach or seems silly.
Radical self-love by paying attention to the body with care and compassion is a way to tap into our subconscious wisdom for guidance instead of being confined by limiting stories and beliefs the mind tells us. We end with this poem on Self-Love by e.h. (Erin Hanson).
Every heart’s a hurricane, Each soul a starlit sea, Every mind’s a meteor Unbound by gravity. And everybody’s wishing They could learn to tame their tides, When nothing more than nature Is what’s echoing inside. Every life’s a lightning bolt, Yet everyone’s told no; Bite back all your thunder And don’t let the wild things show. Every heart’s a hurricane, Everyone a world within, Every life too short for loathing Any storms beneath your skin.
If every day is precious, every moment is too. This practice is about taking the time to just be, to appreciate the preciousness of each moment as it is. To just sit without constantly living in the head, in our stories and plans. Finding the balance instead of striving or planning in the head on how to strive. Being in the being mode.
Inspired by Days, written by Billy Collins, former US Poet Laureate.
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.
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.
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”.