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.

Observe, Assess, Appropriate Action

It’s not just about the election, it is a lesson to carry with you for the rest of your life.

I have been inundated by calls and emails from people on both sides of the aisle. Each had some very strong emotions about the recent election. Those emotions run the gamut of anxiety and anger to fear and helplessness. Each is also very complicated.

On one hand, your emotions are a very real chemical response to the perceived threats of your world. On the other, each is also layered with your past experiences and future expectations. Your brain layers these on as it tries to assess how large a threat the events of your life actually are. While they should never be dismissed, they should also never be taken at face value.

Emotions like fear, anger and anxiety are sparked by very real events. However, the memories your brain accesses are rarely as accurate as your brain would like to think. In fact, some of them may have never actually occurred at all.

In many ways the fear and anger you feel are disproportionate to the reality going on around you. When this happens they quickly become a distraction that will prevent you from being a better person or from living your life, your way.

In one sense fear and anxiety is your brain telling you to watch out, that you are walking into danger. It is no different than when your prehistoric ancestors stood at the edge of a forest and stared into the darkness. Their fear made them hesitate, which is why you should do what they did so many millennia ago. They stopped. They Observed. And they Assessed before taking the Appropriate Action.

Whether you love the election results or hate them, I encourage you to slow down, to observe and to assess what others are doing before you take any action. We are all at a crossroads. One path leads to a more enlightened world where we all get along. The other leads back to the swamp of hate and fear that we have spent hundreds of thousands of years climbing out of.

It is more important now than ever to be sure your responses are appropriate to the situation at hand, not only for your self-interests, but for the interests of everyone around you.

Now, more than ever, you need to stop and listen, truly listen, to those around you. You need to hear what they have to say and understand their hopes and dreams and concerns. I think what you will find that We The People are more alike than the media would like to admit.

After all, Love and Kindness rarely plays as well as Hate and Anger in the ratings game. That is a shame. It also prevents us from putting our energy where we should be. If we are ever to change the way we behave, we need to change the way we think. We also need to change the way we treat our neighbors.

After all, it is not our neighbors that are the problem, it is the political process and the way the media covers it that is. Just remember there is far more at stake than your ego and pride. Now is the time to dial down your auto-responses and clear your mind so you can respond in a way that is appropriate to the situation at hand.

 

Meditation: Be Like The Sun

I sat and watched the sun rise this morning. I saw the sun shine evenly over the entire earth. I realized it does not differentiate between plants and animals, friends and enemies. The sun does not discriminate. I only noticed that those who rise up to greet it, who are closest to, it receive more light and warmth from its radiance.

Be like the sun with your Love. Love everyone and everything equally. Let those who believe in you and reflect your own Love rise up to meet you and return your Love to you. Let them revel in the Love and community you offer, but do not hold back from anyone. Like the sun, let your inner warmth shine.

 

 

 

 

 

Meditation & Mindful Consumption

In our media-rich world, be careful of what you ingest. It may not always agree with the life you live or aspire to life. I am not only writing in terms of food and drink, but in terms of what you watch and listen to, what you read and even write.

Everything you bring into your life effects your outlook and world view. The violence you see on television or in the theater, will resonate in how your treat those you love. The podcasts you listen to and the blogs your read online all their opinions which sooner or later end up in the way you speak and think. When you hear candidates berate and undercut each other, their words affect relationship to the world around you – whether you agree with them or not.

So just stop. The residue each of these leave behind will weigh on you and drag you down into that dark world of anger and depression. It’s okay to take a break from the news, to let go of slasher films, to put down the gossip magazines and simply be who you aspire to be.

It is called Mindful Consumption – the art of placing your breath and your awareness on the things that you are bringing into your space physically, mentally and even spiritually. If, as you eat, drink, watch or listen, feel yourself sinking into self doubt or anything that resembles the darker side of yourself then simply stop and change the channel.

If you find this difficult, stand up and take a deep breath. Put your hands on your hips and curl your lips into a smile. Feel that smile spread across your cheeks and down into your lungs as you attach your smile onto your breath.

If you need to gather your inner strength, assume a power pose by standing up straight and putting your hands on your hips, or reaching your arms above your head in a big V. Give yourself the gift of a clean spirit as you shed the residue that the world wants to weigh you down with.

Mindful Consumption is easier than you may think, especially if you build it on top of a foundation of meditation.

Either way, just be careful with what you ingest. You know who you are. Don’t let them bring you down to their level. Rise above and smile into the sun that always shines above.

Be well, and I hope this helps.

Learn more about Mindful Eating and Consumption by clicking here.

 

 

 

Jeff

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.

 

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.

Is Your Style of Meditation a Cup or a Sword?

Which style of meditation or yoga is right for you?

Some people tends toward the cup, while others tend toward the sword. One reflects the masculine side of human nature, the other the feminine. Neither is right. Neither is wrong. Each simply connotes the basic nature of the human experience. They have little to do with being a man or a woman, and everything to do with the nature of existence. One speaks toward nurturing, the other toward a well defined path. They are simply facets of our humanity.

Many teach a softer form of yoga and meditation; that is more reflective of the cup. Yes, there are elements of the sword in those styles, but for the most part, they are soft and gentle. The other style, found in practices like Zazen, are more reflective of the sword, providing a strong foundation and a solid path upon which to grow.

Many men find this style more reflective of their natural state of mind. The important element to keep in mind, is not hard or soft, but which is right for you and when. The Simple Truth Method is created to help men and women from all paths to decide for themselves which techniques to use for different purposes. Yes, our students learn to weave a tapestry that aligns with your natural state. At some times, that state tends toward the sword, at others it tends toward the cup – depending on what you are going through in the modern world we now live in.

If you are seeking a style of meditation that reflects who you are, and have not found that in such styles as Samatha or Vipassana or Transcendental, then you may consider the Simple Truth Method, a style that helps you become who you are.

It is why so many men and women have found themselves more comfortable weaving traditional techniques together, into their own practice. On that fits their needs, in a way that works for them, free from judgment, free from the need to fit into something that they simply are not.

Sword or Cup – which are you? Which do you naturally tend toward?

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…

Solving The Immigration Crises Mindfully

The world has become a far different place than it was ten years ago. With climate change effecting more and more third world countries, the mass immigrations we are starting to see will be the norm and not the exception in the coming years. This is simply a fact we need to stop averting our eyes from, to accept, and to realize it is up to us to do something about it. It is time for the nations of more advanced economies to realize this.

Instead of sitting back with talk of spending increasing monies building fences and closing off our borders, we need to be start being proactive and start developing real solutions. It is easy to send warplanes, drones and troops to places like Syria and the Sudan, it is more difficult when the results of those actions end up on our doorsteps; and they will.

Immigration EuropeOnce the waves of immigrants make it to what they feel is the promised land of Britain, they will realize that nation does not have the resources nor the space to keep them. That is the point they will start to look West and to the doorstep of America. It is only a matter of time.

So why wait? Why not take action now? Why put our collective heads in the sand and pretend it is not our problem, when the solution is easily within our grasp, right in front of us? Why not take a collective gasp and admit that the immigration problem is a global problem? Why not help the immigrants, instead of bemoaning the boatloads of seekers as they drown in the oceans and soon on our streets?

To do this, we must first admit that we are all a part of the global community. We must also admit that no economy can survive the influx of millions of undereducated, impoverished, and often abused people. To accept them as they are would only take down whatever country they end up in. And therein lies the solution.

What we can do is start to set up integration camps in key areas of the world. Along the borders of Northern Africa, Central America, and South Eastern Asia, the UN can step in with the goal of preparing the refugees to enter the Western economies they so want to be a part of.

Who will pay for this? Well, it will fall on the first- and second-world economies of Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Russia and even China. I can already hear the collective moan of “Why is it always us,” but we need to suck it up and realize it is a far less expensive offering than the monies currently being spent on border fences, dogs and patrols.

With the promise of a 12 month stay to study Western laws, to learn computer programming, and to learn a new language such as English, French, or German, we can prepare the growing waves of immigrants for integration into their potential host countries, rather than trying to hide them in the growing refugee camps like the infamous Jungle of Calais.

Still think it is not worth it? Just wait until one of these immigrants brings a virus like the Bird Flu or even Ebola into one of those camps, and you will see an instant outbreak that will make the Zombie Apocalypse seem like a field day.

Think what a change this would have on people with nothing. The promise of a better life is far better than the promise of martyrdom with a bomb strapped around their chest. The promise of a visa upon the completion of a course in remedial citizenship and applicable skills would not only open the door for them, but might even make them realize that we are not the enemy, and that our economies are do not hold the promise they are seeking.

Yes, it will mean a lot of countries will have to coordinate. Yes, it will mean a lot of countries will have to budget the cost of upkeep for these camps to their/our national budgets. But with all the money we are spending to handle these situations with our militaries, I cannot see either of these being a real problem. Beides, whether we like it or not, it is our problem; and we can either handle it today while it is relatively inexpensive, or we can try to handle it tomorrow at a much, much larger cost.

After all, it is a new world out there. We need new solutions to solve the problems we are facing with it.

What are your thoughts? I would be curious to hear them.

Summer Camp Meditation for Kids & Parents

Do your children and yourself a favor this summer. Give both of you a meditation break without even breathing. Have them leave their cell phones at home during summer camp and even sleep aways.

Summer camp and summer sleepaways are about the finding their independence. They are about giving yourself the chance to do the same.

Give everyone a break this summer and allow everyone in the family to experience summer and be filled with experiences, not ringtones, that you can all share when you all get back together at the dinner table.

Yes, remember that? The dinner table? And how much you have complained how little family together time you have had?

I know, your old brain probably uses the reasoning that you have to check in to make sure they are okay. But they are. Otherwise you would not have given them permission to head off on their own in the first place.

LOL – so let it go. Let the mobile phone go and learn patience this summer instead. It will do everyone good.

Be well, smile and breathe – knowing they are enjoying their growing experience as kids – almost as much as you are as parents…

 

 

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