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

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.

Disengaging From Rumination

Rumination is the source of stress. Thinking, thinking, mental chatter. Perhaps useful when trying to solve an external world problem, but not so when we’re judging our inner world experiences such as thoughts and feelings.

In mindfulness we recognize that thoughts are like like random photo-bursts or mental events and so we don’t have to cling on to them nor need to take them as the absolute truth. The invitation is to mindfully watch thoughts like sitting at the bus stop watching cars come and go without engaging with them. Until when we are feeling more calm do we only look at thoughts that really need our attention. We end the practice with writings by Rumi.

Be empty of worrying.

Think of who created thought!

Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.

Live in silence.

Flow down and down in always widening rings of being.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 25 mins

Image credit: Eric Han

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

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