The Network of You

The Network of You.

You are not an individual. You are a collective, and the collective that is you extends in every direction – inward and out. It can be found in the mitochondria that power every cell of your body. It can be found in the bacteria of your gut; which doctors are just now discovering how important they are for your health, and without which you would not be alive today.

As much as you all like to think of ourselves as an individual, you are simply not. You are part of a collective linked together physically, psychologically, even spiritually with those around you. It is only now that we are all beginning to realize just how strong the threads that bind us together truly are.

Long before we had two arms and two legs, the ancestors of the bacteria in your gut banded together to create cells. They adapted in this way to survive. They still do to this day – ever changing to respond to the environment around them. Just as you and I do.

The thread of our collective past is still alive today. It lives in our need to connect with each other. The same need that our ancestors followed forty or one hundred thousand years ago. Back then it was to protect each other, to hunt and to farm. Hundreds of years ago it drove our forefathers and mothers to venture into the unknown in pursuit of freedom.

It is why the internet was created and continues to grow so quickly. It is why apps like Facebook and Instagram are so popular. No matter how much you think of yourself as an individual, you are part of a collective – always have been, always will be. It is in your DNA.

In so may ways I know you are trying to escape the psychological trap of the internet. On one hand you are inundated with useless information that you may think of the internet as the trash bin of humanity. On the other you are still searching to expand your circle of friends. You may call them your “online friends.” But there is a psychological connection with them. It is not right or wrong, it simply means your world has expanded beyond your physical self, on a global scale.

It is also why, in times of trouble, you should not retreat into a solitary corner of yourself. I know it is hard, but this is exactly the time to reach out to the very collective of friends and family, associates and even strangers, that is the network of you.

So where will you go from here? Might I suggest taking a step back in time; to the network that existed long before the internet was created? It is a network of energy that is all around you. It always has been. It always will be. There are no subscriber fees to plug into it. All you have to do is reach out and tap into the energy that is already there.

In many ways, reaching this network of energy is no different than reaching into the practice of meditation. You first need to settle your body in order to quiet your mind. Only when your mind is quiet can you open your heart, and only when your heart is open can you connect to the Love and energy that flows around and through each of us. It follows that wonderfully familiar pattern of Body, Mind and Spirit, or as some say – Physical, Mental and Spiritual.

The Evolution of Solitary to Collective

Even the practice of meditation changes and evolves. It used to be a solitary act, practiced alone, enabling the person meditating to become one with him or herself; to become enlightened. While it is still practiced alone, the path to enlightenment has become a communal practice. People talk and exchange. There is a back and forth as people share their experiences online and off.

Perhaps it has always been a communal act, and we are just now recognizing it as such.

Just as the evolution of the human race is the story of individuals banding together out of survival, from individual bacteria to collective cells, from collective cell to the creation of invertebrates, vertebrates, animals, mammals, and eventually modern humans, the human experience has always been one of evolving past the individual to form a collective on every level, physically, mentally and even spiritually.

Transcending the physical to the spiritual has never been something you could readily do simply by closing your eyes. It has always required a slow journey. One that first requires you to cleanse physical self so that you can open your mind. Once free from your ego, you discover you can you open your heart and touch upon the love and the energy that is all around you. Only when your heart is open can you release your spirit and touch upon the spiritual side we all carry within us.

This is not something that is easy to do alone. It is an act that is far easier to do in a community, a collective, of like minded souls. However, only you know yourself well enough can you prepare yourself for the next step in your journey – that of transcending the physical for the divine.

Transcendence does not mean you will disappear from this plane as you rise up to the heavens. It simply means you will see the world around you with a growing realization that this is not all there is. That what exists goes beyond the physical on so many levels, you will understand why you felt trapped with every choice your path gave you.

Now is the time to break through whatever walls you created for yourself. Just reach out into the network that is all around you, even though you may have never realized it. You may be very surprised at how easy it is to feel whole and complete. But you will never know until you reach out in times of trouble.

Be well, and I hope this helps –

 

 

Jeff

Stop Grasping

The Simple Truth is that many of you do not need meditation. you simply need to stop grasping.

Centuries ago, letting go was probably enough to bring calm into someone’s life. It was really all you needed to do to remove the stress that may have built up in your life. Life back then was pretty immediate, but there was simply not that much information moving back and forth to cause the kind of stress you have in the first few minutes of your day.

In today’s world, however, you are connected 24/7. You are overwhelmed with Megadata and microbytes. The level information spinning you comes in through all of your devices. The Simple Truth to it all is that most of it has little direct relevance to your life. The result is that you spend a lot of time on irrelevant topics and fail to actually live your life, in your way.

This year, make your life less about “Letting Go” and more about not rasping in the modern the first place. The simple truth is that most of the information coming across your screens is irrelevant. Most of it deals with subjects that will never effect your life.

Some of the rest may be important, but there is little, if anything, that you can do about it; no matter how hard you try. What remains is so distorted by the media that uncovering the truth is rarely worth the time and effort you will have to put in, in order to dig it out.

What this means for you is that if you truly want to find your own peace and calm, then stop grasping at the straws that inevitably fly by. Why hold onto opinions from pundits so that you can “Let it Go” later on. Stop carrying all of this information around with you. It will only add weight to your already complex life.

In the short-term it will prevent you from being nimble and able to move quickly. In the long -term it will wear you out and exhaust you. Either way, stop grasping at straws. Simply before those straws become issues you now need to Let Go of.

Teach yourself to live with an appreciation of the present moment you are in. Train yourself to see the information that is out there, but to ignore the distractions that are all around you. Do not put on the blinders all together, but recognize what is relevant  so that you are free to focus on the things that effect your life directly.

Once you are able to do that you can begin to expand your sphere of information and to begin taking on additional topics when you are ready.

It is okay to admit you cannot do it all. Nobody can. There is simply too much going on in today’s world for your brain to handle it all, and that is okay.

When you stop grasping, you will no longer need to let go. Better still, you will be free from the weight of all that irrelevant information you now have in that baggage we call life.

 

I hope this helps –

 

 

 

j.

 

The Red Silken Threads of Life

It is said that there is a red silken thread of destiny that connects us all. This magical cord may become tangled or stretch, but it never breaks. When a child is born, an invisible thread connects that child’s spirit to all the people he or she will meet – past, present and future – who will play a part in that child’s life. Over time that thread becomes woven with the threads of those souls, of those people into a tapestry we call life.

Over time the threads of different spirits shorten and shrink, bringing closer and closer those people who are fated to be together.

This is a wonderful image for each of us to keep in mind. It is a reminder of the paths we all walk throughout our life. That sooner or later, we will make choices, not out of anger or hate, but because your tapestry can only contain so many threads. As much as some of you would like to include everyone in the world, the weight of your tapestry would submerge beneath the gentle waves, forcing you beneath the sea of consciousness unable to move.

Think about this image when someone new comes into your life, or your head starts to spin and your heart begins to sink. Do you have the threads in your tapestry that will weight you down, or that will catch the wind and lift you up?

Every once in a while it is time to comb your tapestry, to search out new spirits and souls that will help you continue to weave your life’s tapestry, before it becomes too heavy for you to continue on your journey.

 

Zen For Busy People – A Free Workshop

With 2016 off and running. why not start on the right path with our Meditation4All program?

We are arranging a number of free workshops for 2016, and the first one is coming up quickly.

On February 22nd, we are hosting a workshop at the Mulberry Branch of the New York Public Library. It is called Zen For Busy People.

As a part of our Meditation4All program it is free to everyone.

So take a look on our calendar at the Simple-Truth website for the 22nd, or copy the information below:

New York Public Library – Mulberry Branch
Monday, February 22, 2016
5:30 pm – 6:45
10 Jersey Street
New York, NY

We look forward to an enjoyable and enlightening evening and year ahead, and it all starts on the 22nd. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out at info@simple-truth.com. It will be a bit of short guided meditations, a bit of conversation, and a lot of AHA moments all around.

We look forward to connecting in 2016 and to seeing where it will lead.

Enjoy the start of your year and be well,

j.

Q+A: Find God in Your Meditation

Before our session started a new student asked me about God and meditation. “How does it all work?,” she asked.

These are two terms I increasingly hear together, especially since the rebirth that meditation is experiencing these days. It used to be that meditation was so closely tied to Buddhism that one just accepted they were born of the same cloth. But no more, and rightly so. Now that the idea of God has pulled away from the Biblical character raining down fire and brimstone on sinners, and has become a more Loving entity, more synonymous with the teachings of Christ or Mohammad, or even Abraham, finding God within yourself is a much easier concept to pursue.

It is why so many monks, like myself, have found a balance when they practice meditation. Regardless of religious affiliation meditation is a way to transcend the physical distractions of the body and find the higher self we so often seek. It is within that higher self, that we begin to touch upon the divine.

With practice, meditation will take you to a higher level of awareness, to a place where your consciousness is free to play without the pain and distractions of the human experience we are all a part of. In so many ways meditation allows you to find enlightenment in your body and mind so that you open up to the connections we all share on a more spiritual level.

Even if you are not a practitioner of any religion or consider yourself an agnostic or an atheist, there are elements behind a good meditation practice that will connect you with those around you, uncovering the Love that is common among all sentient beings.

“How does this work?” she asked.

I explained to her that meditation is not about floating on a cloud of Nirvana. It is a practice, and like any practice it takes time to develop. We do not all become Beethoven’s or Olympic class gymnasts over night. We sit. We learn to quiet our minds. We allow our focus to develop so that our awareness can grow. As our awareness grows, our consciousness expands. And when that happens we can begin to adopt more advanced meditation techniques.

I led her through basic meditation; sitting, breathing, acknowledging and letting go. Then I led her through the Simple Truth Method, through the thought interrupting Out Breath exercise and through the connection meditation that helps you become aware the people that are near you and support you through the natural Love that is within all of us. I then showed her how to weave the Love, understanding and empathy of these people into the intentions for you to follow, is the basis for how you want to live your life.

“That is how you find God in your meditations. Not as an angry being who is watching your every move, but as a caring, loving, understanding entity that represents the Love that flows within and around each of us.”

She smiled and said thank you. I held her hand. “Remember, there are two levels of meditation. The first trains you how to sit, how to calm yourself, and how to rid yourself of the stress and distractions of the world we live in.

“The second allows you to transcend this world and introduce yourself to the Love that is God on your terms.”

Your God Is You

God  is not Christian or Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist. God is a combination of all the natural laws in the universe that we witness, as well as the LOVE we feel. It is the energy that is within us without knowing where it comes from.

It is not we who decide who our god is. God is the destination of the path we end up following.  In the end you will find that whatever faith you decide to pursue, that the Creator simply is. The creator simply set everything in motion, all those billions of years ago – whether through a Big Bang, or simply the drop of a leaf.

From there, it has always been up to us to define the world we live in, to try to improve upon it, with good intention and with the Love that is within each of us.

If you doubt this, simply look around. Everything, every creature on land and in the air has the same bone structure as that first creature that crawled out of the sea. We all share the same spine, the same rib cage, one bone in our upper extremity and two bones in our forearm or calves, a small clutch of bones in our hands and feet that expand out into fingers or wings or toes. The fact is we share DNA with practically all life on earth at one level or another. We simply missed the Love we were supposed to share along the way. In the end, we are not so special. We are:

  • 98% genetically similar to a chimpanzee
  • 92% genetically similar to a mouse
  • 44% genetically similar to a fruit fly
  • 26% genetically similar to yeast
  • 18% genetically similar to a common weed

So all those small ideologies that we created out of our own ego to differentiate people based on race, age, sexual preference of being gay, straight, bisexual or transgendered; it is not god who decreed we are different. It is us. If anything it is his or her way to test your capacity to just LOVE one another – just as Jesus or Muhammad, or Buddha or Abraham would have wanted you to.

So the next time you feel your anger rise because someone does not fit your ideal, look within. If  you feel some comment start to bubble up from your gut about the way someone looks or acts, stop yourself before you say or do something irreversibly foolish in the eyes of whatever creator you wish to believe in. Remind yourself, that this is just a test that your god has given you. A test that is going to look really foolish in whatever book of deeds your spiritual leader refers to, or that you think will be referred to your judgment day.

Look Forward – Meditation & Baby Steps For 2016

Welcome to Monday and to the year ahead.

Do not look back. Look Forward to School, to Work, and to  Life.

The holidays are over, so it 2015. It’s time to face 2016 with elation, excitement, and energy.

If those feelings are not there, meditate for a moment but no too long. If there is some trepidation, do not allow yourself to become overwhelmed. Turn that knot into a fiery ball of energy from within and without.

Know that some loose ends will never get tied up. Simply assess the hand you have been dealt and move on – past the loose threads that are left behind.

Better still, use them to plot your course for the year ahead. Take one step in the direction you want to go. Do not over think the year past or the year ahead.

Life does not come with a cleanly pressed hem. Life presents a rough edge that it is tattered and frayed. It is up to you to accept that as the beauty that is found in the imperfections that is.

Take one small step in the direction you want to go. Reflect on where it is leading you. Find the inevitability on where your path leads. If an opportunity comes, take it. If it moves you in the right direction, stay with it. If it doesn’t spread out your hands and find another path to follow.

Forget about those big resolutions you used to make. They will only end in disappointment. Forget about setting goals for the physical world you may never meet – there is too much going on outside to take it all on your shoulders.

Instead, focus on how you want to maintain yourself. Focus on your intentions, on how you want to live your life, how you want to be known, or how you want to look back at the end of 2016 and realize how you want to see yourself.

Then become that person.

 

Morning Meditation

Before waking this morning I lay in bed, one hand on my stomach, the other on my chest feeling the slow rise and fall of each inhale and exhale as I allowed my mind to stir in a gentle Buddha Breath. My mind woke, but not too much, never leaving the gentle meditation of my waking.

As time slid by the light changed across Manhattan. I rose and walked to my cushion. There I sat. I brought my Waking Buddha Breath with me as I lowered myself into a formal seated meditation. I started with a Pranayama OutBreath to clear my head of my dreams and focus my mind. The rapid chuffs of air that escaped through my nose in the short, sharp puffs that has given this technique its name were strong and even. One every second or so which started in my abdomen and worked themselves up to the room and the world around me.

When there was no more air to give I was left floating on my seat, my awareness followed my meditation, naturally landing on that place where my sit bones met my seat. It drew my attention down, to my feet, to my ankles as they pressed against the floor, tooting me  to the pillow and the earth below. Each reminded me of the roots of the tree that my body began to emulate.

They rose up the trunk that was now my spine and body as my consciousness gently scrolled through my five senses. My eyes, I was aware of the patterns on the back of my eyelids as the last dreams left me. My ears, as I heard the sounds of the room, the building, the world gently coming to life around me; aware of each, acknowledging and welcoming them into my world, my awareness, my consciousness. My sense of touch as my sense of self dropped to my hands and my heart.

My meditation paused at my heart for a moment as my breath slid from quiet into a mantra meditation. Less a mantra actually and more the wonderfully rasping sounds as I felt it stir against my vocal cords, delivering that wonderfully deep and soulful sound one associates with monks; resonating low and vibrating deep as if reaching to the energy that surrounds each of us.

That same resonance and vibration found its way downward to that place in my lower abdomen and centered itself within me. It wrapped itself around my chakra and shifted into the thoughts of safe, healthy, happy. My own mind followed those thoughts as the vibration of my chanting extended those thoughts of me to you, from I to us, and from us to a feeling of one.

My mind, my awareness, my consciousness shifted somewhere in there I became nestled in that wonderful network of Love that is the backdrop to our world, that we so easily forget is there. With the feeling of energy coming back to me as I connected with each of you, I smiled and continued to breathe. I let go of the callings of the morning and they let go in return.

There is no need to start my day just yet. The day will come soon enough. I simply need to watch the morning sun lighten the sky. I simply need to watch myself to stay centered in the bliss that my morning practice has given me this morning and every morning that I remember to follow it.

 

Much Love

Meditation: Peace is Within You

Did you know that peace is within you?

 

It is there every moment of every day.

You simply have to settle your mind

With Meditation

And reach for it.

You simply have to acknowledge

That you are out of sorts

And off of your best

You simply need to admit

That you cannot do everything.

 

It is okay

Nobody can.

 

We all have our limits

But the beauty of admitting what your limits are

Makes your brain aware

That you are okay with them

 

So smile when you are overwhelmed this week

Breathe when you are finding the stress and anxiety

We all so often talk about

Let your mind settle

And admit that you are human

 

As we all are.

 

A Meditation on Hipsters & Hippies

My brother returned one evening while visiting. “I had the most amazing conversation with a cabbie today.”

Don’t get me wrong but he has this innate ability to strike up the most amazing conversations with the most amazing people wherever he goes. It’s a knack he has had for most of his life.

The cabbie had just left San Francisco because “I swear, you can’t walk into a coffee shop without some self-important hipster pontificating on something they know absolutely nothing about. I don’t know, am I just an old fart pontificating about ‘In my day? Perhaps. Do I care? Not really. But in my day, you went to a coffee house to have a conversation, which means listening and talking about some subject of mutual interest. These “hipsters” today, they don’t care about learning anything new. They just care about being heard.’

I could not help myself but I wanted to learn where the terms hipster came from and did it have anything to do with the word hippie. I did a little research to make sure I had my facts in order. So I write this not as some treatise on hipsters and hippies, or on the fading coffee shop culture,  but in the hopes that history does not repeat itself; which is something I already see happening all around us. I care more about a generation who cares more about how they look than what experiences they have and how they leverage those experiences to form the opinions they have, all on their own.

I do not say that idly. I say that because I have seen it here, in New York City, as well as in most cities I have been to. Recently graduated and somewhat flush with cash [even though they will swear to their poverty] and yes, believe me, we all lived three or more to a one-bedroom  apartment at some point in our lives. Rather than moving home or complaining about it, we just took our lumps as part of the learning experience this all was and quietly crept up whatever ladder we happened to be on. “If you don’t like it jump to whatever ladder suits you, and start climbing that one. It ain’t gonna get easier, so you might as well make sure you’re on the right ladder,” was the advice I received one night from a grizzled elder.

Either way, the moniker “hipster,” comes from a group back in the 60s who wanted to be hip and cool. They wore clothes to separate them from the mainstream, slung guitars on their backs and filled the coffee houses to hang out and discuss the issues of their days; which included the Cold War, Landing on the Moon, Communism and McCarthyism, and yes, The Man. But, did they do anything about it? No. Which is a shame, because the hipsters were a group of coffee drinking, self-aggrandizing/self-pontificating group who did little to help the world.

It is a shame, but they were eventually replaced by a group who called themselves the hippies who actually effected change at most steps of the way. Yes, they had some great parties Kin Kesey’s Electric CoolAid Acid Test, Woodstock of course, but more important they opened their eyes to Eastern philosophies, they started a whole Back to Nature movement, they lived in Yurts and brought the nation’s attention to eating natural foods free from pesticides and fertilizers, all of which helped launch the movements you see today.

I write this not as a way to bash today’s hipsters, but as a sage bit of advice to not follow in the steps of the hipsters before you. Learn from those before you. Take your ideals and your passion to actually make a change in today’s world that lasts well into the future. Think of two generations away, and ask yourself, “what is my legacy going to be?”

Believe me, tomorrow’s Hippies are already nipping at your heels. They are already asking employers about their efforts to green the future, they are already turning down jobs from companies who are not acting upon a People/Profits/Planet agenda, and they are putting their money where their mouths are.

You probably have all the clothes you need. So turn away from the consumerism that is tugging at you, think as the hippies did before you about things like meditation, getting back to nature, putting your hands in the soil and breathing in the loam. Believe me, it will do more for your life and your conscience than looking cool and pontificating in whatever coffee shop you call home…