Money Meditation

Before reading any further just Google Money and Meditation. You may be surprised to what pops up.

What started out as an extension of meditation has now become a buzzword in itself. Among corporate types it has become woven into the very culture of the whole concept of work/life balance. In the military mindfulness creates a focused sniper. In both it also creates a very focused psychopath. How do you tell the two apart? Or how do you tell who practices me, me, me mindfulness without regard for those around them?

In many ways mindfulness enables people to do away with the ethics and values we all consider to be the backbone of society. Mindfulness can provide people with a neo-meditation that is good for you, but that will not make you a better person without the proper rules to live by.

Letting go and being present may make you happy, they may empty your cup, but once your cup is empty, how do you make sure that the water you refill it with is clean and pure? Many mindfulness teachers are too busy branding themselves for their next speaking engagement, the next one-on-one client visit, or the next corporate presentation to bother teaching their clients how to provide a larger perspective on values and on life in general.

Yoga grew to be an $80 billion business in 2015, because many of its teachers dropped the ethics that made it so attractive to its early practitioners. It is also how meditation grew from nothing into the multi-million dollar meditation centers that include MDNFL or the recent bourgeois Inscape, complete with gift shop selling the trendy Los Angeles/Chinese herb “dusts.”

How do we take the benefits of meditation and mindfulness and apply them to help the world become a better place? Simply, we don’t. It is simply not in the nature of many people to simply let things be. In a world of rampant individualism the Ten Commandments or the Buddhist Precepts are quickly being rewritten. What were intended as laws and guidelines to live by, have centuries been slowly, modified. The intent of Thou Shalt Not Kill has been effectively changed to Thou Shalt Not Kill Unless I Say It’s Okay.

The same is true for how the concept of Spirituality evolved into Spiritual Materialism. What was once a search for purity, truth and peace has quickly become one where it is more important to have the right outfit than a right mind.

At a yoga studio I recently overheard one student say, “She is so Zen, just look at her hair. I have to have it.”

When did it somehow became more important to have the Zen look than to actually be balanced in a serene way, or the best designed little house than it is to live in simplicity? The television now has program about having the right design for your “tiny house,” rarely mentioning why a tiny home makes more sense than a McMansion.

Something as simple as yoga pants have followed the same path. There are now cut-outs that strategically show just the right amount of skin in just the right places to be sexy and slimming. We managed to turn a practice of thousands of years into a physical workout designed to make practitioners as “body-perfect” as can be.

I am not surprised by this, nor do I waste a lot of time marveling about it. To each their own. Everyone is free to practice in their own ways and for their own reasons. Just don’t be surprised when the mindful sniper turns his or her well trained mind on one of us. Because if we do not teach people how to question themselves and their practices, if we fail to teach people the ethics and values behind meditation, mindfulness and yoga, it will all be for naught – quickly subverted to yet another materialistic path to follow.

These are the lessons that used to be taught in Buddhist and Yogic temples. These are the directives that could be found within the communities of priests and monks who provided direction on how to keep practices pure when refilling the cups that were so freely emptied.

The only way to prevent Karmen Ghia to be mistaken for Carpe Diem [which actually happened] is to teach people the essence of the various practices rather than just the veneer that lies on top, a veneer that is easily marred.

If you think I am over-reacting, just wait to see what happens to the purity of mindfulness in five or ten years.

Once we humans get a hold of something we tend to subvert it into the very thing it was created to work against. If you doubt this, just go back and Google “Money” and “Meditation”. You may be surprised to what pops up…

Live Life Richly, Deeply, 100%

Deep meditation is a wonderful way to remove the stress, anger, negative thoughts, and distractions that can so easily undermine our lives. We all know by now that meditation is a way to calm ourselves so that we, you, can turn dreams into ideas and ideas into actions, free from the delusions that all too often undermine the higher purpose to which we are trying to arrive.

But who ever said that is what the human experience is really all about? Having an issue to resolve is rewarding at times. It can give us meaning and a sense of fulfillment. We have all followed the fast rising celebrity who, at the height of having it “all”, suddenly lost track of what makes life worth living and tumbled a long, slow path back to humanity.

Perhaps that was their lesson to learn in the human experience we are all here to live through.

I recently told a student of mine, do not create issues that do not exist just so that you can solve them. There are more than enough issues out there for you. Just open your eyes and look ahead. They are out there, in all their miserable glory. Take the time to contemplate those issues as you develop a resolution based on your observations.

If you jump to a solution too quickly, you may end up resolving the delusions you created, not the underlying issue at the root of the problem. In time the core issue will resurface and you will be left to once again scratch your head, wondering how similar your current issue is to the one you had a week, a month, or a year ago as you once again jump to resolve the problem that seems to surface again and again and again. Each time failing to look any deeper than is needed.

When a thought interrupts your meditation, do not simply ignore it or let it go. Take a breath, take a moment to examine it. Hold it in your hands and contemplate it as you turn, to see it from a different perspective. Ask yourself if it is a thought that is worth further examination, or one you should simply release back into the ether.

Use this same approach for all the issues you stumble upon in the “real world”. Do not jump to a solution too quickly. Take the time to examine the issue. Take time to explore whatever obstacle lies in front of you. Take a breath to look at it from a new perspective. Some obstacles you think are there may not even be relevant, they are things you can avoid by simply side stepping, adjusting your direction, until you have passed it.

Do you really have to bump into that person walking toward you on the sidewalk, or can you simply drop your shoulder to avoid them altogether? Do you really have to wait for that car to drift into your lane? Or can you be fully present when you slow down to avoid them with little or no interruption in your journey. In some instances you may need to stop or step off your path, but is that really all that bad? Considering all the regret in your life from blundering forward, will that really make a difference to your future?

There are many ways to avoid an issue or an obstacle without confronting it. Simply give yourself enough time to plan an appropriate response and you will be surprised by how many seemingly insurmountable issues fade away before you even arrive at them. Take a meditative approach to your life, so that you can live your life without changing your life. Simply bend with the winds and currents of life, rather than obstinately standing up to them. Trust me, no matter how tough or strong you are, no matter how cunning you think you are, life will eventually throw a wave or a wind in your path that will knock you down, as long as you look ahead to see it coming.

I know many meditation “masters” say to be present, to remain in the here and now if you want to be happy. But who said happiness is all that life is about? There is something far better in looking ahead to make sure your path is a safe one. You do not have to live an either/or existence. Perhaps you can spend 80% of your time in the here and now while spending the other 20% looking just far enough ahead so to see the obstacles that may block your path in the future. Perhaps you need to take a break and be 100% present, know that tomorrow or next week you can look up to make sure your path is clear, or if there is even a path at all to continue on.

This is the difference between living a meditative life in the here and now, in the 21st Century world we all live in rather than the world of 2,500 years ago when meditation as we know it came to be. If happiness was the goal of life, rather than learning the lessons you were meant to live, then the Buddha would have never ventured outside the walls of his father’s compound.

Being aware is more important than being happy, if you want your life to unfold as it was meant to be.

I know it is not always easy, but for better or worse, that is not what this life is about. It is about awakening, enlightenment, and learning the lesson you are here to learn.

I hope this helps.

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10 Ways to Pick Yourself Up

There will always be days, weeks, even months when you feel as if the delusions in your life are running your life. It’s okay, we all get them. It’s just a signal that it is time to wake up to the real world that is all around you, not the one you think you live in, but to the real world that is actually all around you.

It may feel like you need a shot of caffeine or a cocktail, but it’s not. You just need a bit of sleep, some healthy food, to slow down and to reach out to your community of friends and family, or as Bruce Banter says, “to do o everything you know to do, then stand still.”

More than likely you are simply feeling tired of living your life in delusion. Stop thinking in terms of success and failure, winning or losing, think in terms of the delusions you created for yourself.

I know it is not easy, but these tips will help get you back on your path to stop tripping over your own nature and truly awaken to your own Simple Truth.

Here are a few ways to get you back on your path and to keep you moving in the right direction – your direction. After all, it is your life, and now is the time to live it your way, only with a meditative twist this time:

  1. When was the last time you got 8 hours of sleep? When was the last time you sat down to a healthy meal? When was the last time you sat down with a friend and listened, really listened to them? If you do not take care of yourself nobody else will. Remember what the airline stewards say before every flight, put your own mask on, before trying to help the person next to you, and yes, listening mindfully is a way to take care of yourself. So get some sleep, eat a healthy meal, listen to a friend, do a body scan and then see how you feel.
  2. Take a deep breath, roll your shoulders back, and smile. Every time you inhale feel the relaxing strength flow from the top of your head to the tips of your fingers and toes. Begin with your scalp, feel each breath flow down from your scalp and relax your eyebrows, your eyes, your cheeks, your lips and your jaw. Feel your tongue drop from the roof of your mouth, relaxing you as it passes down your neck, your shoulders, your arms and your fingers. Feel each breath flow down to your hips, your legs and your toes. Relax and feel the ebb and flow of that energy as it flows through you, lifting you, giving you the Focused Calm to move forward.
  3. Reach out and help someone. It does not have to be earth shattering. Just smile at someone, hold the door for someone, be fully present as you listen to them without judgment. Make someone else feel good about themself without seeking anything in return. Then smile at yourself for doing so.
  4. Touch the earth. It can just be the side of a building or the pavement, a sidewalk or an office floor. Remind yourself that you are connected to the earth in some way. Tune yourself in to that connection and smile as you follow that connection no matter how thin it may be. Remember electricity travels though the thinnest wire to illuminate a lamp from the tiniest of batteries. Do the same as you touch the earth to re-energize yourself.
  5. Write down five things that you are proud of. Put that list in your pocket or handbag. Remind yourself that you have done great things in your life and will do many more in the days to come.
  6. Acknowledge the good and the bad in your life. Label the moments where you think things went wrong and acknowledge them. Then recognize what happened after them, and where things went right. Let your brain know that those are just moments in your life, that those were just moments in your life and that everything will be okay.
  7. Stop picking up your mobile phone, stay off of social media [Facebook, Twitter, Instagram]. Pick up a book, sit back, and read instead. Who cares what others think. It’s your life, to be lived by no one but you.
  8. Stop comparing yourself to others. You are not someone else, they are not you. Know that they are just as insecure as you are. Now, laugh at yourself for being foolish and only seeing the curated life they want you to see.
  9. Stop watching the news. Today’s news is just a rehash of yesterday’s events, played over and over again so they can make their budgets. It does not change from day-to-day. So take a break and enjoy life instead. CNN will not mind, it will not even know, but you will.
  10. Train yourself to quit the negative and focus on the positive. Start today. Know that everyone is programmed to see the rain more than the sun. It is human nature instilled in us from the time when we were hunter-gatherers, but it does not have to be your nature today.  So smile, start at “1” and continue down the list until you arrive at “10”. Wash, rinse, repeat…

 

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Where Are You – Modern Meditation

Where are you right now? Not just the physical location, but emotionally, in your own head? There is more to feeling peace than your location. There is more to your location than the address where you are, what you can see, hear or smell, because there is more to your world than just the space you fill.

Take a moment to look around. Take a moment to look within. Ask yourself what you are feeling right now, right where you are. Are you feeling anger, anxiety, comfort, ease? Are you relaxed or tense? Those are just as much an indicator of where you are than the longitude and latitude of your location – even more so in many cases.

Every sight, every smell, every breath of wind you feel is processed by your brain in micro-seconds. Your brain takes 13 milliseconds to attach memories to the scents and sounds you experience. Those are what tell you to beware or to relax. It even goes deeper than that. It dictates how to respond.

We have all walked into a room or a party and gotten a sense that it will either be a dud or a great time. We have all walked into a meeting and instantly knew we were either going to kill it or it was just going to be 60 minutes of living hell. Those sensations quickly begin to shape your world, creating a better or worse situation for yourself to live in.

I bring this up for a very simple reason, all of those memories and expectations, as well as the memories yet to be experienced are attachments your brain layers onto a location. They are what shape your life. They are just as important to your well-being as the location you have traveled to. They are what make you comfortable or uncomfortable no matter where you are. They are what make you happy or sad, excited or bored, laying out the scene you will have to live through.

What does this look like in the real world? If you find yourself staring out the window while breathing in the sun and the sky outside, perhaps being cooped up in a floor of cubicles is not the job for you. I know you’re working hard for the windows of that corner office, but maybe the pleasure of having a corner office will wear off quickly as you once again start to feel trapped no matter how hard you worked for it, because it will never give you the escape you associate with living. Don’t worry. It’s not for everyone.

Some people are not comfortable in the great outdoors. They feel anxiety because to them, behind every tree and rock their your brain sees danger, creating stress with every step they take. Some people take to the ocean immediately. Others prefer the hardness of land beneath their feet.

There is a simple reason for this. Everyone is different. Everyone’s genetic makeup is unique, as is their upbringing. It is why it is so important to be aware of the places you are most at peace.

When you find yourself in a new location, take a step back and assess your feelings without judgment or comment. Breathe in slowly to bring yourself to a place of calm.

Begin to find the threads that connect those places to the happiness or the stress in your mind. Find out for yourself what makes you feel at ease or stressed, then use those threads as a way to weave your life into one you will love day in and day out.

That is how to use modern meditation as a tool to create a life of well being for yourself, no matter where others may find it.

Be well, and I hope this helps.

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Pick Yourself Up

There will always be days, weeks, even months when you feel as if the delusions of your life are overrunning your life. It’s okay, we all get them. It’s just a signal that it is time to wake up to the real world, not the one you think you are living in, but to the real world that is all around you. It may feel like you need a shot of caffeine or a cocktail, but it’s not. You just need a bit of sleep, some healthy food, to slow down and to reach out to your community of friends and family. More than likely you are simply feeling tired of living your life in delusion. Stop thinking in terms of success and failure, winning or losing, think in terms of delusions.

I know it is not easy, but these tips will help get you back on your path to stop tripping over your own nature, to truly Awaken to your own Simple Truth.

Here are a few ways to get you back on your path and keep you moving in the right direction. After all, it is your life and now is the time to live it your way with a meditative twist:

  1. Ask yourself when was the last time you got 8 hours of sleep? When was the last time you sat down to a healthy meal? When was the last time you sat down with a friend and listened, really listened to them? What you hear may surprise you. If you do not take care of yourself nobody else will. Remember what the airline steward , and you need to take care of yourself or you will fall apart. So get some sleep, eat a healthy meal, talk to a friend and then see how you feel.
  2. Take a deep breath, roll your shoulders back, and smile. Every time you inhale feel the relaxing strength of each breath flow from the top of your head to the tips of your fingers and toes. Begin with your scalp, feel each breath flow down from your scalp to your eyebrows, your eyes, your cheeks, your lips and your jaw. Feel your tongue drop from the roof of your mouth, relaxing you as it passes down your neck, your shoulders, your arms and your fingers. Feel each breath flow down to your hips, your legs and your toes. Relax and feel the ebb and flow of that energy as it flows through you, lifting you, giving you the Focused Calm to move forward.
  3. Reach out and help someone. It does not have to be earth shattering. It can just be a smile, holding the door for someone, being fully present as you listen to them without judgment. Make someone else feel good about themselves without seeking anything in return. Then smile to yourself for doing so.
  4. Touch the earth. Even if that is the side of a building or the pavement, a sidewalk or an office floor. Remind yourself that you are connected to the earth in some way. Tune yourself in to that connection and smile as you follow that connection no matter how thin it may be. Remember electricity travels though the thinnest wire to illuminate a lamp from the tiniest of batteries. Do the same as you touch the earth to re-energize.
  5. Write down five things that you are proud of. Put that list in your pocket or handbag. Remind yourself that you have done great things in your life and will do many more in the future.
  6. Acknowledge what is happening in your life. Label the moments where you think things went wrong and acknowledge them. Let your brain know that those are just moment in your life and that everything will be okay.
  7. Stop picking up your mobile phone, stay off of social media [Facebook, Twitter, Instagram]. Pick up a book, sit back, and read instead.
  8. Stop comparing yourself to others. You are not someone else, they are not you. Just know that they are just as insecure as you are. Now, laugh at yourself for being foolish and only seeing the curated life they want you to see.
  9. Stop watching the news. Today’s news is pretty much a rehash of yesterday’s events. It does not change from day-to-day. So take a break and enjoy life instead. CNN will not mind, it will not even know, but you will.
  10. Train yourself to quit the negative and focus on the positive. Start today. Know that we are programmed to see the rain more than the sun. It is human nature from the time when we were hunter-gatherers, but it does not have to be your nature today.

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Be well,

 

 

Jeff

 

Awaken from Delusions

There will always be days, weeks, even months when you feel as if the delusions of your life are over-running your life. It’s okay, we all get them. This is when it is time to wake up to the real world, not the one you think you are living in, but to the real world that is all around you. It may feel like you need a boost or a shot of caffeine.  More than likely you are simply feeling tired of living your life in delusion. Stop thinking in terms of success and failure, winning or losing, think in terms of delusions.

I know it is not easy, but these tips may help get you back on your path and overcome you own nature – to truly Awaken to your own Simple Truth.
Here are a few ways to jumpstart your engine to keep you moving in the right direction. After all, it is your life and now is the time to start living it your way, only this time with a meditative twist:

  1. Ask yourself when was the last time you got 8 hours of sleep? When was the last time you sat down to a healthy meal? When was the last time you sat down with a friend and listened, really listened? What you hear may surprise you.
  2. Take a deep breath, roll your shoulders back, and smile. With every inhalation feel the relaxing strength of each breath flow from the top of your head to the tips of your fingers and toes. Begin with your scalp, feel each relaxing breath flow up to your scalp, then down to your eyebrows, your eyes, your cheeks, your lips and your jaw line. Feel that relaxing strength pass down your neck, your shoulders, your arms and your fingers. Feel each breath flow down to your hips, your legs and your toes. Relax and feel the ebb and flow of that energy as it flows through you, lifting you, giving you the Focused Calm to move forward.
  3. Reach out and help someone. It does not have to be earth shattering. It can start with a smile, holding the door for someone, being fully present as you listen to them without judgment. Make someone else feel good about themselves without seeking anything in return. Then smile to yourself for doing so.
  4. Touch the earth. Even if that is the side of a building or the pavement, a sidewalk or an office floor. Remind yourself that they are connected to the earth in some way. Tune yourself into that connection and smile as you follow that connection no matter how thin it may be. Remember energy travels though the thinnest wire to illuminate a lamp from the tiniest of batteries. Do the same as you re-energize.
  5. Write down five things that you are proud of. Put that list in your pocket or handbag. Remind yourself that you have done great things in your life and will do many more in the future.
  6. Stand in front of a mirror, raise your hands above your head in a power pose and stare at your smile in your reflection. Think of the great things you have achieved in your life. When your mind turns to dark thoughts return your gaze to your smile and say to yourself, “I am smiling through my delusions.”
  7. Acknowledge what is happening in your life. Label the instances where you think things went wrong. Then acknowledge that you still have fingers and toes to feel the world with, you have eyes to see the world with, you have ears to hear with, you have a mouth to taste with, and if all those senses are gone, you still have a heart and your spirit to steer your moral compass by.
  8. Stop picking up your mobile phone, stay off of social media [Facebook, Twitter, Instagram]. Pick up a book, sit back, and read instead.
  9. Stop comparing yourself to others. You are not someone else, they are not you. Just know that they are just as insecure as you are. Now, laugh at yourself for being foolish and only seeing the curated life they want you to see.
  10. Do not allow negative thoughts in. Every time you feel one bubbling up, call it out, label it, and return to the very real world that you are in. Scroll through your five senses as you look around, listen, touch and smile until you find one teeny, tiny bit of beauty in your world. Trust me, it is there. Feel that bit of beauty expand until it fills your world, the real world you are in, free from delusions.

[BONUS] Train yourself to quit the negative and focus on the positive.  Start today. Know that we are trained at birth to see the rain more than the sun. It is human nature, but it does not have to be your nature.

 

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Stop Shopping Delusions

Consumer Psychologists spend a lot of time following people around stores, both online and off. It is not what they buy that interests them. It is the why behind the what people buy that they are interested in.

Not only do consumer psychologists find an incredible assortment of products in people’s closets, they find products that have never been worn before, and never will be worn. It is an amazing phenomenon that is shared by people from all walks of life who purchase things they never wear and, most surprisingly, never return.

The old explanation for this is that it was a well intentioned mistake the consumer made. However, after probing a little deeper consumer psychologists have uncovered a consistent pattern going on. At first consumers make excuses for themselves like, “I saw a really amazing item and I just couldn’t let it go.” Or, “after I purchased it, I found a little flaw, but I got it at such a great sale that it not worth returning.” They tell themselves this until it is no longer possible to return the item and have to keep it – thus being out of their control.

It is such a common phenomena that psychologists have put a name to it. They call it cognitive bias. It is the way in which we ignore information that doesn’t support our perceived needs, enabling us to remain in a world of delusion, that is simply not real.

It is now a completely unfit person can win an election by delivering unreal promises with absolutely no intention of keeping them, but knows that is not what the voter, or consumer, wants to hear.

 

Buy Reality, Not Delusions

Everyone lives in a world of delusion to some degree. Perhaps you see clothing and rather than step back to consider if they will work with what is already in your closet, you begin to dream of all the places you could see yourself wearing whatever it is that you want to buy. Perhaps it’s a car that you picture yourself in, driving up to the valet at some chic restaurant or through the rough terrain of the desert or jungle. If it’s an apartment you think of the fascinating people you might entertain at all the fabulous dinners you never have. If it’s a gift for someone it may be to see the smile on their face once they open it.

At some point you forget that these scenarios are just fantasies you created for yourself. This is the moment sales people wait for. That point when they swoop in to confirm your dreams and help you complete your purchase. The problem is, these scenarios are delusions. They are not real, and when they don’t happen, you see that you have left the door to depression and suffering wide open. That is the moment when you leave the world of delusion and see reality in all its cold truth before you. Rarely is this a pleasant sight to see, so off you go again, daydreaming about your next purchase.

No, this does not mean you should not dream, or that you should not “fake it till you make it.” Just the opposite. It means you should dream. That your dreams are a wonderful and very real part of your necessary psyche. You can wish for more or better. You can and should push yourself to grow. Just do not lose yourself to the dream world you want so badly to be a part of your very real life. Fake it till you make it? Yes, just keep one foot firmly planted in reality so that you never lose sight of where you are.

 

Shopping is Not An Escape

One of the top reasons so many people love to shop is that they can escape their lives for a while. You can allow your imagination to run wild as you wander through a store or sales room. Just do not forget that at the end of the day, you will have to return to the world you are in, with or without the credit card bill you have acquired, and is that bill worth the dreaming you just enjoyed?

If only you stop for a moment before you put your credit card down. Or voted, or did anything. You could have enjoyed your dream without having to wake up to the real world that is all around you.

Allow yourself your fantasies and your dreams, they are a very healthy escape in the world we all live in. Just never lose sight of the real world that is all around you. Your landing will be so much easier when you do – free from the delusions that are so easy to get lost in.

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Much Love

 

 

j.

 

Unconditional Love

Unconditional Love, as versus conditional love, is so rare. Conditional Love is easy. I give you Love when you do something for me that I want you to do. You do the dishes, I kiss your cheek. I hold the door for you and you smile at me. You do something in the bedroom I enjoy. I return the favor. It is a give and take. At times I give more than I take. At others I receive more than I give.

But it is not give freely. There is a cost, a condition, to this kind of Love. Compliance. You will do what is expected of you if you are to receive the Love and attention you desire.

With unconditional Love there is no compliance. It is the act of simply giving. It is so rare, simply giving again and again and again. Not expecting anything in return, not asking for anything with one’s eyes or hands or heart – simply giving.

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Can you imagine what this world would be like if everyone simply gave without expecting anything in return? It would be a world filled with Jesus’, Buddhas, Mohammads and Abrahams.

I have experienced unconditional Love on occasion. At my bedside, when my mother fed me ice chips when I could not sip from a cup. When my wife lifted me up when I toppled over in rehab, neither asking if I wanted it, each simply offering, helping and assisting without expecting anything in return. On the rare occasion that I turned it down, they simply accepted that without a word, and smiled with more Love for me.

It is the Love a mother gives to her child when going through labor or when nursing. It is Loving through the pain. It is the Love a father gives to his child when explaining why the world is the way it is, free from feeling his own pain or regret, or acknowledging if his own needs are being met. Simply being present to the needs of the growing consciousness that is before them.

Unconditional Love is about caring for someone else’s happiness without a thought to the needs of the self. It is about being fully awake and aware, being fully present to the world around you, the person in front of you, to yourself.

It is not an excuse to stay in a bad marriage or relationship. It is saying I love you no matter what happens to us, not I love you no matter what you do to me.

I will love you when the sun is shining or the skies are grey.

I will love you even when I have a horrible day.

I will love you even if you do not return my love.

I will not look for love elsewhere even if you do.

For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health.

No matter what happens to us, I will Love you.

Because when I love you, I also love me.

I Love you no matter what conditions occur around us is unconditional Love.

Do not bother looking for it.

It will find you when you are ready to accept it.

If you want to feel unconditional Love simply open yourself up to it. It is all around you. It is within you.

Give it to yourself first. Hold yourself in your own heart unconditionally. Respect yourself, Love yourself, free yourself from those undermining comments you allow to fester within you. Free yourself from the self-loathing, the self-bashing you waste so much time on. All of that does nothing but distract you from the Love that is within you.

Once you see the Love within, you will begin to see the same unconditional Love within those around you. When you can feel the Love pass through you as you send it out unconditionally.

Try it.

You will be amazed at what will transpire.

Not just with others, but within yourself.

Unconditionally.

Learn To Communicate Again

When I was recovering from one of my many surgeries, I remember waking up in a hospital room all alone. The next day the nurse pulled the privacy curtain closed before she wheeled in another patient.

I could not see him, but I could hear him. In the first few hours I lay there staring at the ceiling, unsure of what to do.

It got to be too much for me. I waited to hear the sound of him stirring and took a deep breath. “My name’s Jeff,” I said. I waited, I waited, I waited, until a voice came through the curtain.

“Hello Jeff,” it said, “I am Haru.” The man on the next bed, just a few feet from me, was Japanese. He spoke broken English. I then said the only word I knew in Japanese “arigato,” or thank you.

I could hear a cough and a laugh. “For what?” He asked.

“For not closing down.”

I could hear the kind of sound that would accompany a nod, and in turn I sounded my nod back. We could not see each other, but we were communicating.

Over the next few weeks the two of us truly learned that 93 percent of communication is non-verbal. Body language and facial expressions make up about 55 percent of communication. Tone makes up just under 40 percent. Even though we could not see each other, we both made an effort to attach a sound to whatever body motion we could.

It is crazy to think that today’s media junkies cannot do the same. Those who rely on emails, texts and social media to communicate believe they are communicating, but even the best emoji is not match for the sight of a human smiling or frowning.

It is no wonder that someone can completely misread your intention, literally and figuratively, from an email you sent.

On the day Haru was discharged he came around the curtain with his wife. They both bowed deeply to me. His wife paused as he left. She took my hand and smiled. She said one word – “Arigato”.

As a human, we are deeply tribal and in constant search for a community to be a part of. Our need for kinship and connection has always been one of the evolutionary advantages we have had over other species.

It set us apart from other creatures far better equipped for survival than us. We did not have sharp claws or powerful jaws, what we did have was the ability to work with others so that we could overcome our natural weaknesses by creating the weapons we needed to compete.

The main problem is that we never stopped.

Over the millennia that we have roamed the earth it has always been our ability to communicate with others that has brought us to where we are today – for better and for worse.

If we are to stay alive, it will be our ability to communicate that will us to do so.

Even the Buddha returned to civilization after finding that a solitary life in the wild was not the path to enlightenment. Yes, you may start meditating alone, but only until you grow comfortable with your abilities. Then you seek out the company of others. You seek out a master to guide you. You join a sangha, or community, of like minded people. You talk and connect and find your path – the right path for you.

There is such a wonderful evolution from solitary to community, within your journey. It is always personal, which is the beauty of the human experience.

It is why I am so surprised that at a time of such technical advances, we are turning our backs on the very ability that bought us here – that is our ability to communicate with each other on a deeper level than we once thought imaginable.

Yes, we can reach around the world to meet new people and connect with different cultures, but how much of the personal nuances do we lose in doing so?

Information-overload has grown to disastrous proportions. The fact that most people have a better connection with the screen in front of them is scary. Scarier still is that most of these connections live on their mobile devices than with a person just inches away. A recent study found that one of the greatest fears of the coming generation is not climate change or world war, but the idea of having to say hello to a stranger.

You must, we all must, make a conscious decision to address the growing disconnect between humans. We must learn to commit to an authentic and intimate relationship with those around us and around the world. And no, intimacy is not the same thing as sex. It is simply the ability to communicate on a more personal level.

If we cannot do that, then the human experiment is doomed to fail. Not from some cataclysmic disaster, but from within, from ourselves.

 

When you communicate through electronic devices you push the nuances and innuendos  aside. You open the door for misunderstanding, miscommunication and manipulation. According to a recent CNN story, Americans check into their social media accounts at least 17 times a day. That is once every hour if not more. On average you probably also spend a staggering 4.7 hours a day on our mobile devices.

When was the last time you made eye contact with someone else?

What can you do? 

 

Turn your devices off.

It is no wonder that you have such a problem developing a committed relationship with someone, let alone yourself. It is really not that hard. All you have to do is unplug from time to time. Try it for an hour every day. Dedicate just one day on the weekend to disconnect. Be aware of your responses to the boredom and the need for distraction that comes.

If you automatically say, “But what if someone from my office needs me,” or “what if my partner or children are in trouble,” that is okay. It is expected. Simply make some rules around your disconnection. You may even try to talk to your family, friends and workmates to discuss the difference between call times and no-call times. You may even be surprised at how they will respect them.

Make it a rule to turn off electronic devices at meal time, or to not eat in front of the television. You may be surprised at the change it will make within your family.

 

See. 

Yes I know, you amaze yourself with your ability to multi-task. You can walk down the street while talking and texting while dodging other pedestrians. Have you ever looked up and seen the glare in their eyes because of the way you weave while walking, taking up the entire sidewalk as others leap out of your way?

Aside from the fact that it is impossible to multi-task, and yes you can Google that, but is that text so important that you cannot simply be present in your walk? Can it not wait until you arrive at your destination? Do you not see that your lack of attention and presence is exactly what your body and mind are calling for to reset yourself?

And no, I am not even going to begin to discuss texting and driving…

Instead of trying to fit one more task into your already busy day, try and observe the people you pass by. You do not need to invite anyone into your personal space, just feel the desperation in their faces and their energy at the thought of someone reaching out to them. Feel the air and the sun as you connect with others through the world you are in. It is palpable.

 

Truly Listen. 

Hearing is the first sense babies are aware of. It is how they connect with their parents. Hearing is also the last sense to leave you when you pass away.

In between those two moments allow your ears to grow aware of the world around you. Listen for the subtle tones in the way people speak. Be aware to the tones within the phrases and words people use when they want to connect or disconnect. Listen to your own voice and your own tones. You may be surprised how the tones supersede the language, and the language barriers, that may or may not exist.

Be truly awake and present when with another person and take the time to explore how you communicate with them and those around you. Do not steal the conversation and kill the chance for a relationship to develop. Those are the first steps in building a real relationship with another human being.

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Last Walking Meditation Along The Hudson – 2016

It is almost the Autumnal Equinox. The point where the sun sets at the same time and in the same place that it did when we began our Walking Meditation Along The Hudson.

The sun did not fail to astound us with a farewell explosion of color, just as it did when we both began our aligned journey back on March 20th.

When we began the sun set just after our walk at 7:30. Over the summer we watched as the sun set later and later, and further and further North. We not only enjoyed our walks and our meditations, but we were able to witness the giant cogs that forever spin all around us.

We all noticed the air warm and then cool. We noticed the ebb and flow of people in the park. But most important we learned, as one person noticed, “to the West is you could feel the wind and the river, to the right you could see the lights of the city. And there we were balanced in the middle of it all simply breathing.”

Enjoy the colors of Autumn and the clean white of winter.

 

Until next year, be well.

 

j.