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

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

Breathing deeply

Using the breath to keep us grounded and steady, and to release tension to find your way home.

Breathe Deeply, by Nina Heyen

Let your body sink

into the arms of silence,

the deep solace of a soul at peace.

Stop the world for just one moment,

and inhale the soothing still.

Rest your mind for just one instant,

and let your breath

steer your home.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Designervn, 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

Patience

In a fast-paced, relentless environment that we live in, patience could be short in supply. Here we practise mindful patience, training the mind to focus on where we want it to be, steadying it.

Patience, Rabindranath Tagore

If thou speakest not I will fill my heart

with thy silence and endure it.

I will keep still and wait like the night

with starry vigil and its head bent low with patience.

The morning will surely come,

the darkness will vanish,

and thy voice pour down in golden streams

breaking through the sky.

Then thy words will take wing

in songs from every one of my birds’ nests,

and thy melodies will break forth in flowers

in all my forest groves.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Anna Kumpan, 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

Celebrating moments, life and the road not taken

Life may have its ups and downs. We celebrate each moment by willingly showing up for it as it is. This gives us the steadiness and calmness to decide the next best course of action if one is needed. Celebrating moments, we cumulatively celebrate life. It seems apt to end off with a favourite poem, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Jan Huber, Unsplash

Meditating On Four Elements

Mindfulness meditation is so practical because we use what’s available to us right this moment. In this practice, we pay attention to the four elements as they arise for us.

eeling the contact points as support (earth), our breath (air/space) , moisture such as sweat, saliva (water), and our energy and mood (fire).

Fire, Water, Air And Earth, Soren Barrett

A soft silvery glow

A distant symphony of frogs and crickets

Play in concert under a shower of stars

Distant thunder rolls, lightning flashes

Drops patter on the clay tile roof

The smell of fresh rain on dry ground

Fire, water, air and earth

All that was, is or ever will be

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Jeanie de Klerk

In Silence We Sit

A practise of sitting in silence because we allow ourselves too.

Sound of silence (extract), Paul Simon

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

Noticing the choices we make

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.

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.

II.

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.

III.

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.

IV.

I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

V.

I walk down a different street.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Nine Koepfer, Unsplash