Appreciating The Now

Staying in the present moment and embracing the beauty and imperfections of the experience as it is. Words by Hafez.

The mountain’s face lifted me higher than
itself.

A song’s wink aligned me with joy. And a
tune paradise hums I came to know.

The forest, letting me walk amongst its naked
limbs, had me on my knees again in silence
shouting – yes, yes my holy friend, let your
splendour devour me.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Maiken Ingvordsen, Unsplash

Titration For Healing

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.

Whole & Worthy, by Jennifer Healy

A miracle is known not by its fullness alone,

But by its emptiness.

Even a blank piece of paper is a miracle,

Like a sky is worthy even if

The stars are hiding.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Abed Ismail, Unsplash

Playfulness, Lightness

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.

Responding To Worrying

Worrying is a natural reaction of the mind and body. We de-compartmentalize by firstly noticing with equanimity and curiosity what and how we add to our worries – the stories we tell ourselves. Then, noticing how worrying is felt in the body, and breathing in and out of that sensation, taking long exhales. And finally as best as you can, letting be, letting go. The poetry “I Worried” by Mary Oliver comes to mind. 

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers

flow in the right direction, will the earth turn

as it was taught, and if not how shall

I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,

can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows

can do it and I am, well,

hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,

am I going to get rheumatism,

lockjaw, dementia?

Finally, I saw that worrying had come to nothing.

And gave it up. And took my old body

and went out into the morning,

and sang.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Diana Parkhouse, Unsplash

Befriending

In this meditation, taking a moment to take a mindful pause, acknowledging and accepting whatever feelings are arising, and sending well wishes to ourselves and others including people who annoy you. We only need to bring to bear the intention of well wishing even if we don’t feel like it. And we end off with this poem by Emily Dickinson.

Hope, 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.

Disengaging From Rumination

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.

Thoughts, by Myra Viola Wilds

What kind of thoughts now, do you carry

In your travels day by day

Are they bright and lofty visions,

Or neglected, gone astray?

Matters not how great in fancy,

Or what deeds of skill you’ve wrought;

Man, though high may be his station,

Is no better than his thoughts.

Catch your thoughts and hold them tightly,

Let each one an honor be;

Purge them, scourge them, burnish brightly,

Then in love set each one free.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Andreea Popa, Unsplash

Open Mind

Here we are training the mind to stay open and steady whenever unwelcome emotions and experiences arise. Keeping an open mind, meaning when thoughts come through the mind, or emotions and sensations arise, we just meet them as they are, noticing them, as best as we can not judging although we might not be able to help ourselves. When that happens, not judging ourselves further! And when thoughts get too overwhelming, we can choose to return to an anchor like the breath or a part of the body that feels stable. The poetry Door by Miroslav Holub is read as we bring the practice to a close.

Door by Miroslav Holub

Go and open the door.
Maybe outside there’s
a tree, or a wood,
a garden,
or a magic city.

Go and open the door.
Maybe a dog’s rummaging.
Maybe you’ll see a face,
or an eye,
or the picture
of a picture.

Go and open the door.
If there’s a fog
it will clear.

Go and open the door.
Even if there’s only
the darkness ticking,
even if there’s only
the hollow wind,
even if
nothing
is there,
go and open the door.

At least
there’ll be
a draught.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Yoonjae Baik, Unsplash

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Curiosity

In mindfulness meditation, the encouragement is to get curious about whatever experiences that arise, whether pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. This means with a beginner’s mind, noticing what is felt, where, how intense, what happens next, how we tend to react, and less about the “why”. By doing so, we’re allowing ourselves to process our emotions instead of judging and resisting which only compounds suffering. We’re less concerned about the “why” because emotions and sensations come and go – they’re impermanent and intangible.

Curiosity, by Alastair Reid (extract)

Face it. Curiosity

will not cause us to die

– only lack of it will.

Never to want to see the other side of the hill

or that improbable country

where living is an idyll

would kill us all.

Only the curious have, if they live,

a tale worth telling at all.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Manja Vitolic, Unsplash

Showing Up

Showing up in the present moment means showing up for ourselves in the bloom of the moment, instead of being lost in the head or lost in the “busy-ness” of our lives.

I’m Busy by Brooke Hampton

I’m busy;
but not in the way
most people accept.
I’m busy calming my fear
and finding my courage.
I’m busy listening to my kids.
I’m busy getting in touch
with what is real.
I’m busy growing things and
connecting with the natural world.
I’m busy questioning my answers.
I’m busy being present in my life.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Bogdan Farca, Unsplash

Steadiness

This week demanded steadiness. So here it is, Steady by Afiyah The Poet

Storms are coming
I go steady

Water is churning
I go steady

Whether the sky
is blue or gray
I keep going
with steady steps

Lived this life
long enough to know
upsets are many

Can’t break down
with every misstep

I’ve seen the floor
way too many times

Learning to go steady
when disasters strike

Assess and adjust
learn the lessons

I keep going
with steady footing.

Serenity

We’re always running, on a constant treadmill, wanting to be somewhere else. How about just accepting that you’re where you need to be right this moment – sitting, closing the eyes, meditating. What if we just paused and embraced the moment.

Serenity by Robert Longley

Peaceful in the moment

Tranquil in your soul

To reach a state of balance

Seems to be the goal

A point where cares are absent

Or maybe put on hold

Often redefining

The many rules were told

There is no need to journey

No need to get away

Just carve out a moment

And enjoy it every day

The moment will embrace you

Take time to give it care

Finding the serenity

Of just being there.

Cultivating Softness

A practice of meeting each moment—whether we welcome it or not—with softness rather than resistance so that we can sit with whatever experience that arises and not be so ruffled. Words by Rumi guide.

Don’t claim in spring on stone some

verdure grows

Be soft like soil to raise a lovely rose

For years you’ve been a 

stony-hearted man (or woman)

Try being like the soil now if you

can!

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Paul Hanaoka, Unsplash

Slowing Down

Thinking, working too fast and constantly striving would kill our wellbeing. Here is an invitation to slow down, inspired by Thich Nhat Hahn’s poem Drink Your Tea, and in honor of his memory.

Drink your tea slowly and reverently,

as if it is the axis 

on which the world earth revolves 

– slowly, evenly, without 

rushing toward the future;

Live the actual moment.

Only this moment is life.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Mikhail Vasilyev, Unsplash

Have Hope

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.


Guide: Noelle Lim

Image credit: Tran Mau Tri Tam, Unsplash

Arriving In The Moment

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,

so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,

so I can wake up,

and so the door of my heart

can be left open,

the door of compassion.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 19 mins

Image credit: Lasma Artmane, Unsplash

Watching The Mind

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

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 19 mins

Image credit: Matheus Queiroz, Unsplash

Gratitude. Make The Leap.

Closing 2021 with a gratitude mindfulness practice, bringing to mind whom we’re grateful for, and what we’re grateful for this year and right this moment. Happy 2022, and make the leap, folks!

Crossing, Jericho Brown (extract)

We work, start on one side of the day

Like a planet’s only sun, our eyes straight

Until the flame sinks. The flame sinks.

Thank God I’m different.

I’ve figured and counted.

I’m not crossing

To cross back.

I’m set

On something vast.

It reaches

Long as the sea.

I’m more than a conqueror, bigger

Than bravery.

I don’t march.

I’m the one who leaps.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 19 minutes

Image credit: Sarah Shull, Unsplash

What The Heart Longs For

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.

My heart leaps up when I behold

A rainbow in the sky:

So was it when my life began;

So is it now I am a man;

So be it when I shall grow old,

Or let me die!

The Child is father of the Man;

And I could wish my days to be

Bound each to each by natural piety.


Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 20 minutes

Image credit: Andreas Brun, Unsplash

Stillness

Whenever we’re feeling down, upset, angry or worried about something, using stillness might be helpful. It’s about allowing our emotional energy to find a resting point. Inspired by this poem Stillness by Karen Lang.

In the stillness

I feel

I listen

I face my truth

In the stillness

I see

I acknowledge my needs

I let go In the stillness

I receive

I rejuvenate

I heal

In the stillness

I reconnect

I am one with everything.

Guide: Noelle Lim

Duration: 17 minutes

Image credit: Werner du Plessis, Unsplash

Radical Self-Love

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.

Guide: Noelle Lim
Duration: 20 mins
Image credit: Ludemeula Fernandes, Unsplash