The practice of patience is slowing down by breathing slowly, then noticing our breathing and pausing, Each time an impulse arises to do something, to say something, slow down using the breathe, breath and pause before acting. We’re less likely to be reactive.
Patience, by Jewel
they say its a key but I don’t need to unlock it when I’ve seen what’s behind them
it doesn’t prevent it but rather demotivates me
Yet I sustain my hope and wonder.
I push on until I set off and I do so with as much knowledge in my head as I have power in my legs.
On International Women’s Day, we take special care to celebrate women. As women, we celebrate our humanity and let go the need to be perfect, to trust that we do not need to be everything everywhere all at once. This is the essence of today’s practice.
We tend to drop out of meditating when it is perceived to be boring, and question the need for it. This is an opportunity to use boredom as the object of our meditation, to watch it, and practice the skill of being with unwelcome situations while steadying our cravings, reactions and impulses.
Bored Poem, Margaret Atwood (extract)
Why do I remember it as sunnier all the time then, although it more often rained, and more birdsong? I could hardly wait to get the hell out of there to anywhere else. Perhaps though boredom is happier. It is for dogs or groundhogs. Now I wouldn’t be bored. Now I would know too much. Now I would know.
This practice is about cultivating easing ourselves into whatever emotions that arise whenever things do not go our way or when something upsets us. Ensuring we are not overly gripped by our feelings and say or do something that will cause us or others harm.
I’ll be okay, by Leeann Rose
A cool breeze , makes me feel free
A cup of coffee or tea , is soothing to me ..
A lit candle burning, puts me at ease ..
A walk around the block, the children laughing makes me smile.
When we try to practice compassion towards someone who tends to trigger strong negative emotions within us, we may get stuck and end up ruminating and feeling conflicted in the process. This is a practice of compassion without needing to think, justify or force any particular feelings by accepting whatever that arises as they are.
We’re vulnerable to triggers if we take ourselves and whatever experiences that arise too seriously ie when we’re attached to our selves or sense of self. Of course, we have to be discerning about our boundaries. Here is a practice of merely observing, and not taking everything that arises so seriously to learn to let go.
Beautiful World, written by Isabelle Thye
It is sad that sometimes people focus on what is lacking instead of what is thriving. We can never diminish differences, but love, life, and gratitude are living things that could grow bigger and bigger.
Sometimes I fell into this trap and felt miserable too.
It’s okay that not everyone sees what you see, don’t take yourself too seriously. I’ll remind myself when I come back to my senses.
My life means something when I can write like this.
While I am here, the world is too beautiful to not enjoy it.
It is humanly to crave for recognition, praise, love to avoid being abandoned, and that is why there is unhappiness. Even if we get what we want, the mind will be grasping for the next thing. It’s never satisfied!
Cravings manifest in thoughts (“I must do this”), feelings (anxiety, frustration), body sensations (tightness), impulses to do something such as eat, binge on Netflix, smoke or engage in extreme or compulsive behaviour. The invitation is to practice RAIN – Recognize, Anchor, Investigate, Nourish.
Recognize – we start by recognising what thoughts, feelings, body sensations and impulses are here, and not judging ourselves and needing to act on the cravings especially those unhelpful ones as that would only keep us locked in the cycle of unhappiness.
Anchor – Then we tame the wild mind by anchoring or directing the attention to the breath or a body part say the feet.
Investigate – After the meditation, we reflect on four questions about cravings as mentioned in the recording. It is crucial that we achieve some sense of stability before contemplating on these questions.
Nourish – Throughout the practice, we send kindness toward ourselves and others to nourish the being.
Above The Silence, Line Gauthier
i listen for the sound of you as the sun parades across the sky i listen for the sound of you when the moon outshines the stars
i reach out there in the beyond and crave to hear the velvet of your voice it soothes me to the core and calms the chaos of my mind
This is a practice of bringing awareness to the body to help us stay in the present moment, and step away from rumination. Our toes do not ruminate nor judge. Once a toothache is gone, the body does not feel it but the mind may still bear memory of it.
Feelings: Body Consciousness (extract), Kiran Pillai
I know my policy is for joy and happiness. Nothing else matters really for me today. No getting stuck in emotions and feelings. Live from depth of life. Nothing else matters.
Everything is a feeling in body. Nothing more. All emotions just are. I got a hint that emotions are feelings. You feel in your body. Maybe even mind things.
Anger. Just a thing in your body. Fear. Again something in your body. You shrink, clench and constrict. Do that for long and sickness appears.
As the year comes to an end, we make resolutions. Here’s a practice of remaining steadfast to our new year goals before giving up on them. Happy 2023!
Learning To Stay, Pema Chodron
So whenever we wander off, we gently encourage ourselves to “stay” and settle down. Are we experiencing restlessness? Stay! Discursive mind? Stay! Aching knees and throbbing back? Stay! What’s for lunch? Stay! What am I doing here? Stay! I can’t stand this another minute! Stay! That is how we cultivate steadfastness.
As we head towards the end of the year, a gentle reminder to slow down and smell the roses. And even if the mind is jumping around, here is an invitation to slow down. Inspired by Walk Slowly by Danna Faulds.
The mind in its origin is pure before conceptual ideas and assumptions are formed. Our underlying beliefs may be valid and some not, and could be taking us down the path of distress. Here is a practice of returning to an open mind, keeping an open heart to the vagaries of any meditation that tend to arise in life outside the mat too. When the mind merely mirrors reality as it is, we can respond more wisely and calmly to the circumstances.
The practice of cultivating grace—embodying qualities of calmness, graciousness, which requires responding from a place of inner wisdom such as kindness instead of conceptual beliefs, and sitting or softening ourselves toward unpleasant emotions such as fear and the need to control instead of reacting or resisting to make ourselves “feel better”.
Inspired by Grace, by Joy Harjo (extract)
I could say grace was a woman with time on her hands, or a white buffalo escaped from memory. But in that dingy light it was a promise of balance. We once again understood the talk of animals, and spring was lean and hungry with the hope of children and corn.
Referring to Buddhist text, Martine Batchelor describes feeling tone or its Pali word “vedana” as the pleasant, unpleasant and neutral tonality of experience that arises upon contact through the six senses with one’s outer or inner environment. Our distress in part come from our reactive underlying tendencies in connection with experiencing pleasant, unpleasant or neutral vedanas. Investigating the impact of feeling tones could help us identify the neurophysiological blueprints of mental processing, and therefore help us find ways to respond more helpfully to stimulus.
The purpose of this practice is to observe feeling tone, the first or most instinctive feeling or sensation that arises, holding space for it ie not judging them, followed by noticing desires or impulses that arise which are often about ridding or fixing how we feel after the initial feeling tone.
In connection with this theme, we refer to Birdwings, a poem by Rumi
Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror up to where you are bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead, here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.
Your hand opens and closes, and opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birdwings.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
when you face old age and its natural conclusion
your courage will still be shown in the little ways,