Life doesn’t always schedule itself at your convenience.

So, when you find yourself in the middle of one of life’s transitions, learn to break free of the fear you may be feeling so that you can find a safe place to land and begin to plan your next chapter.

There are two core fears that will keep you frozen in time; the thoughts of a) losing what you have, and b) not getting what you want.

The key to breaking free of your fears is not to fight them but to acknowledge them so that you can let them go as you learn to enjoy the life you have always wanted to live.

I know it’s not always easy to practice this in the real world. Your mind is using logic to find a  safe place for yourself to land while your primordial brain is screaming to find the safety of solid ground as quickly as possible.

Guess which one wins every time. That’s right, your primordial brain. Your mind and brain will always give your primordial brain the room it demands because it is there for one reason only – it is there to keep you alive, and your life is far more important than any amount of logic ever could be.

Don’t worry though, there is something you can do to break out of the loop you feel trapped in. You can do what you do when you sit in meditation. You can breathe slowly and deeply to quiet the noise of your primordial brain. You can acknowledge that you are in the middle of a transition, and even label your discomfort as just that, discomfort, then you can let it your panic go as you press on.

Allow yourself to find comfort in your discomfort, because until you do, you will never find that space for a soft landing so that you can begin to write the next chapter in your post-transition life.

It may not be as easy as it sounds if you don’t already have a meditation practice. Which is why I encourage everyone to start a meditation practice that works for you before you actually need it. Don’t get caught up in what lineage to follow. Build your own that works on your terms. Whether it’s a ten minute here and there practice or a deep seated practice that runs over an hour, it is a way to train your mind and brain to see beyond the here and now, to find a place of calm, and to focus yourself for the space and time ahead of you.

If you want to learn more click here to my new mindful life coaching website at jeff-cannon.com.

Just remember, do not wait for your panic to set in before you create a small practice for yourself. In the end, this is your life. So why not start living it your way?

I hope this helps

Walk With Me

When you walk somewhere you have a destination in mind. Your entire walk is spent anticipating your arrival or looking back at the place you just left. So little time is spent just being present and enjoying the experience of walking or driving.

How many times have you driven somewhere and spent minutes driving with absolutely no idea of what you just drove past? How many times have you walked somewhere and had the same experience?

With walking meditation, every step is your destination. Every time your heel touches the ground is an experience all on its own.

Why not use this exercise the next time you need to clear your mind or to take a break? It’s simple and easy and a great way to start your week, or even better, to start your vacation so that you can actually enjoy your time away from the stress and anxiety of your work?

If you’re in New York City join me as I step into each week with a series of walking meditations every Monday morning. I created this program with the Rubin Museum to celebrate Meditation Month and the launch of Walk With Me – a film that explores celebrated monk Thicht Nhat Hahn’s spirituality. Click here to find out more.

Learn more here: https://simple-truth.com/thicht-nhat-hahn-walking-meditation/

The walk is free and attendees will receive discounted admission to the Rubin Museum’s screening of Walk With Me.

If you’re not available for the walks you can learn more about creating your own Walking Meditation by clicking here.

https://simple-truth.com/walking-meditation/

 

 

New Meditation for 9/11

I know this will not be a very popular post, but acting properly is rarely the same as being popular – especially on something as delicate as 9/11.

This year let’s begin a new tradition of forgiveness to memorialize the tragedy of 9/11. I am not condoning what was done, nor am I saying we reduce our security one bit. But when you think about it, the path of anger and revenge has not gotten us or the world anywhere.

It has enabled a totalitarian President to gain power, it has sown an aura of protectionism, and has created an environment were we are talking about building walls rather than tearing them down. Do you remember how we all felt when Ronald Reagan asked Gorbachev to tear down his wall? Do you remember how great it was to see the people of Germany reunite through the peaceful power of sledgehammers? That is what we need now more than ever.

Is a mentality of revenge really what you want to teach your children? Is the idea of an eye for an eye really what we want the world to be blinded by?

I am not saying that we just let it go. What I am saying is that we maintain a high level of alert so that our safety remains paramount so that our republic remains intact, but let’s also extend empathy to those who would harm us. Somewhere inside their hearts is a very empty space that is crying out to be heard.

We have tried to shock and awe them into nothing; that didn’t work. We have tried to annihilate them with drone strikes to little or no effect. Isn’t it time we stepped onto a different path? As Einstein once said, and I paraphrase, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.”

Yes, I remember what happened. I saw the first plane flying low over the city. I watched the empty busses driving back because there were no survivors, I stood in line to give blood only to be turned away because none was needed and I watched as the anger and screams for revenge echoed through the city and spread to those beyond our bridges and tunnels.

I lost a friend that day, I have also seen what following the path we took as a nation has done to us as a people and as a country. Hate has not worked. It is time to forgive. Forgive those who attacked us and forgiving ourselves for our response.

Now is the time to open our arms to those who would do us harm with a gesture of warmth and empathy. It is time for us to change the course of the world and try a new path with a new response – that of Love and compassion for a change.

Q+A: What is the simplest and fastest meditation I can do?

Your question is not as simple as you may think. Realize that meditation is a wonderful 2,500 year old practice, but it is 2,500 years old. It was created for a world far simpler than the one you now live in. No matter what style you begin with, you will undoubtedly find you will outgrow it as you advance and begin to search for better, faster, deeper practices; which is as it should be.

Some people practice a lifetime before realizing that every door they open also opens a window as they realize there are ever more doors to explore. When you start with the idea of reducing stress and anxiety you inevitably discover those are surface ripples for the delusions you now take as realities. This is part of the self-realization that anyone who has meditated for any length of time begins to undertand.

If you are serious, begin your journey with a reputable school to learn the basics of breathing, dropping in on your thoughts and letting them go. Those are the three core elements to any style of meditation whether it is Vipassana, Samata, Zazen or some manifestation of them. Just as every school teaches you to not cling to your thoughts, forget about clinging to a single school, as each is woefully out of date for what you are looking for. Recognize the non-attachment they all talk about applies to their own school as well.

I teach people how to recognize the commonalities that is the foundation which connects all forms of mediation together. Learn those three core commonalities and then learn to pick and choose which technique work for you in your life. One technique may be better for stress, another may be better to manifest loving kindness, another still may help you focus on an issue through contemplation.

None are right or wrong, that is for you to decide. Learn to weave them together so that you can create a practice that works for your unique style and life, rather than trying to fit your life into a 2,500 year old practice which, in reality, are the same. You will find it much easier to maintain your practice with less frustration when you do.

Be well and I hope this helps.

Jeff

Make A Real Impact On The World

Do you want to make a bigger impact on today’s world?

How about on those you love and care for?

There are no shortcuts or easy paths to doing this. But there is a simple strategy if you are serious about being of service to yourself and to those around you. All it requires is that you open your heart and share yourself with those around you.

When I speak of opening your heart I don’t mean just using words like “soulful” or “Zen”, enjoying a “calming breath” or “being authentic”, I mean really bringing those ideas into your life and making them a part of your daily habits. And yes, practices like meditation and yoga are wonderful but if your practice stops when your chime sounds then really, what good is it?

Why leave your all the goodness of your practice on your cushion when you can weave it into every aspect of your life? You can live a life that is true to the person you want to be by finding the virtues and values that are a part of your own simple truth and passing those forward to the people in your life.

It all starts with practicing simplicity. When you get rid of the extraneous garbage that fills your life you will begin to understand what your life is all about. Simplifying does not mean getting rid of everything in y our life or running off to live a monastic life.

Living simply means living in the real world fully aware of what is going on all around you and embracing those things that are real for you. It means staying present to every moment of every day so that you can explore your boundaries and come to know the person you were always meant to be.  The person you are deep down inside.

Until you meet that person you will never be happy with yourself because your actions will never be true to the person you truly are deep down inside of you.

But you already know that.

Being the person you want to be is not impossible. It’s really quite easy. You don’t have to change who you are or what you want in life. You simply need to follow your gut and your heart. You need to be true to yourself, free from all the pressures of modern society and the Jones’, free from that gnawing need to conform and fit in.

Becoming the person you want to be may lead you down an uncomfortable path, but there are no obstacles along that path that you cannot overcome because that person is already within you and always has been. The obstacles you think are out there don’t really exist. They were created by you as you journeyed through life to protect you from those around you.

To find yourself again you simply need to realign your values and virtues with the person who is still there within you.

It’s time to question those habits that you think make you who you are and have always driven you to do what you are doing.

Who knows, you just may discover your true self along the way.

I hope this helps, and click here to learn more through our programs.

Be well, and in the end, it is your life. It’s time to live it your way.

6 Simple Tips For Better Meditation

If you don’t think you can meditate, it is really not difficult to sit and weave your meditation into your life. In fact it is really quite easy.  Just follow these simple tips and don’t forget to smile as you do.

You may even surprise yourself when you realize how easy it is and what a lifesaver it can be in the worst and best of times.

 

1. Create Your Space:

Try your best to meditate in the same space every time. You don’t need Zen-like images of serenity nor do you need your place to look like a formal Buddhist setting. All you need is for your space to hold your energy. When you site you should sit within yourself. The last thing you need is to carry the baggage that comes with a 1,500 year old lineage.

That lineage is there to teach you the meditation techniques they have refined, that is all. It I up to you to find the ones that work for you so that you can weave them into a tapestry that works for you on your terms. That is what your practice is all about, creating a meditation that works for you in the realities of the contemporary world you live in.

 

2. Set A Time:

Set a time to meditate. Don’t buy into the whole “I have no time to meditate” excuse. Try earlier if you must or take a shorter shower. Perhaps you can shorten your morning tea ritual, and if that old brain of yours says you can’t possibly meditate without tea, then just tell it yes you can and begin. Remember your rain is not the boss of you, it is simply an organ that processes all the input that comes in through your five senses.

Think of your morning meditation as a game of distractions. Your mind will try to distract you from your daily practice. It will tell you, you can’t possibly meditate without a cup of tea. You can’t possibly sit for thirty minutes with that hair hanging out of place, tickling your forehead.

Well, guess what, you can. Simply scroll through your five senses and settle into the space you are in, right here and right now

 

3. Dedicate Yourself:

Dedicate yourself to your practice. Dedicate a time and place for your meditation he night before. When you rise in the morning your mind should already know where and when, making it for you to simply follow along. When you first open your eyes put one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Feel yourself breathe and remind yourself of your promise to meditate. Even speak the words out loud, “I promised myself I would meditate at 8:00 this morning and I will keep that promise.”

 

4. No Content, No Contest

Don’t check your social media feeds. Let Facebook, Twitter and Instagram be. Your texts and your emails will be there for you when you are done. Also, don’t look at the TV or check the newspaper. Each will set your brain moving in the opposite direction of your meditation.

 

5. Meditation Before Contemplation

If you just want to meditate then simply sit and breathe and let go of your thoughts. If your intention is to contemplate a specific issue or aspect of yourself then decide to do so after you meditate. Meditation will clear your mind and provide you with a clean slate upon which to contemplate whatever issues are rumbling through your head.

If you are going to contemplate, make it personal, keep it from being abstract, create a mission statement up front if that will help you keep your focus like I want to improve my relationship, or I want to improve myself, or I want to improve my apartment. It’s all fair game but by making it personal you will stay on that topic whenever you veer from your path. Repeat your statement when you feel yourself losing your direction.

 

6. Live Your Meditation

When you finish your meditation don’t just leave your stillness behind. Take it with you. Begin to weave what you need from your practice into your day. When you read your emails and recognize your stress rising from that panicked email your boss just sent, simply breathe as you contemplate each step required to complete their assignment. Break it down into manageable steps and then think through each one.

Remember the old adage about how to eat an elephant?

The answer is simple, bite by bite.

 

 

 

Click here to learn  more about how I can help you create a deeper, richer, more relevant meditation that you can bring into your life today and everyday.

 

Be well and I hope this helps.

 

 

A Monk’s Pace

It is amazing what happens when you slow down and spend your moments taking in the world around you. At first your mind may say, “but why am I not moving as fast as those other people?” or “we’re falling behind, we’re not going to get there first.”

But where is it that you are going to so fast? If the destination of this life is eventually death then I hope you are in it for the journey rather than for that destination. If that is the case then doesn’t slowing down actually get us to enjoy the journey faster?

When I walk at a monk’s pace, I observe the placement of my feet, I feel the lightness of my body as I roll from my heel to my big toe. I feel the other toes fall in line to stabilize my body as I shift my weight from one foot to the next. I can see the sadness in the sound of a beggar’s cup. I can hear the hopping of a sparrow as it gathers twigs for its nest.

Am I not taking in more of life by going slow than if I race to nowhere like those around me?

Let them win the race I say. Let them get to the finish line faster.

I will smile as I watch them fall as I enjoy each step as its own reward.

Q+A: What was the most challenging relationship you have experienced?

Q:

What was the most challenging relationship you have experienced?

A:

My most challenging relationship is the one I have with myself.

Only by having a healthy and honest relationship with myself can I hope to have a healthy and honest relationship with someone else. In the end, your defects and truths will arise no matter what your intentions are. Within a long-term relationship, they will bubble up no matter how hard you try to stuff them down. In fact the more you try to deceive someone the quicker your faults and lies will arise. That is the beauty of companionship and community, your truths will surface no matter what you try to do.

In casual conversation you will slip when you least expect yourself to. You will grow comfortable with those around you and there it is – the truth. You may not blurt out some falsehood as if vomiting up your lunch but it will be there for you and those around you to be aware of. And once it is out there the more you try to cover your tracks, the more entwined and confused will your story become.

That is how your deceit will be noticed, not with the initial lie you told, but through your efforts to cover your tracks. The only way to avoid this is to be honest with yourself, to know yourself, and to make a vow that you will only be honest with yourself an with those around you.

This is not an easy thing to do, but it is essential if you want an honest relationship free from the confusion of half-truths so many try to live with. At first this is a challenge for many. But as time passes you will learn that those challenges fade away as your relationship with yourself comes from a place of honesty, honor, values and virtues.

When  you are completely honest with who you are, you free yourself of the weight that you have carried with you for so long. You can be with anyone in a fully intimate and honest way and feel good about yourself while doing so.

What Would The Buddha Say?

What would the Buddha say?

All this talk about lineage and dharma, precepts and which form of Buddhism is best, whether Soto or Proto Zen should be followed, or the forms of Rinzai? Mahayana or Theravada?

To me, that is all semantics and superfluous. At the heart is would he even approve of the statues and processions, the flowing robes and flickering candles, the golden statues of his own image to which everyone bows? Would he be more content with practitioners simply seeking to meditate in their own way? Perhaps even out in nature as he did?

Having turned away from the path of formal ordination, I think he would have said, what he actually did say:

 

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it,

no matter if I have said it,

unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

 

My guess is that the Buddha would have spoken against the golden chalices and flowing robes that have filled so many zendos and which some monks believe are a necessary part of their ceremonies if they are to stay true to their lineage.

At some point the messages of the Buddha has gotten lost to the fund raising that some consider to be the foundation of their efforts to save the souls of sentient beings. Whether it is the precepts or the dharmas they dole out, they forget that their teachings have strayed far from the simple truth that is behind their words. And, that makes me very sad, because the original messages were so simple – to Love and have compassion for all things, to simply do no harm.

And this is the thread that links, not just Buddhism, but all faiths to the mass killings that plague our country. Those simple words that have been pushed aside remain the foundation of any faith – Love and Compassion.

What would the Buddha say?

Would the Buddha look at the way his simple message of Love and approve of how it is being practiced? Or would he want whatever money is being spent on robes and golden statues, the latest head sets and digital sound mixers so that the faithful can hear the voices of the holiest of holies tweaked so that they resonate deeply throughout the high ceilings and reach into the deepest recesses of the halls?

You already know the answers to this. It is within you.

I only hope the monks and clergy understand this as well. Faith and belief are not about how loud and far your voice carries, but how deeply you believe in the Love and compassion we all share.

If you read anything of history, you will know the faithful carried statuettes and shared scripture as they traveled the trade routes several thousand years ago. They shared their beliefs with other acolytes and found the common thread shared among the faithful of all religions – a thread of Love, compassion and caring.

Humans were not born to be killers. They were born to be compassionate, to look out for each other and to care. We were born into community and were raised in kinship. That is how we humans survived this long. That is why our streets are not ravaged with violence and why the antennas on our cars are not twisted into tangles when parked overnight, unwatched and free of alarms. It is why windows are not smashed in and doors are still left, in many communities, unlocked.

Let’s not deceive ourselves, it is still a dangerous world out there. But not because all humanity is evil, that is the work of just a few confused and angry individuals – oh yes and the wrongly open gun laws that a few organizations pay government officials to keep open.

The rest of us remain caring, Loving people hoping to help others and confused by the violence so few inflict. Many communities are still rocked by school and police violence, but that is also why people of every race, religion, gender and sexual persuasion see hope rather than despair as a way out. I truly believe that the next generation will do what my generation could not, and that is to say “enough!”

If you think these two topics, that of monks seeking money over saving, think again. One is based in doing no harm. The other is based in a warped sense of greed with which they convince themselves they are just protecting their flocks at any cost.

This week I ask you to ask the simplest of questions, what would the Buddha think about how his solitary practice has been transmitted to those around you? What would Jesus do in the halls that bear his name? What would Mohammad say? What would Abraham? What would our founding fathers? Is this really what they had in mind when they wrote Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

None of them saw the ugliness in people. Each of them saw the beauty that is still in our souls.

Shouldn’t each of us do the same for each other?

Meditation – Find Your Community

Every decision you make creates an entirely new universe for you to live in. Sometimes the choices you made yesterday streamlined your path for today, delivering you to your destination more quickly and with less stress.

Sometimes the choices you made caused you to stumble and even fall until you found your path again. Even if you never found you way back wherever you are is where you were meant to be, for better or for worse.

No decision is ever right or wrong. They simply put you on a different path that you either continue down or correct as you learn the very powerful lessons you carry with you throughout your life.

I am the first to say that some life lessons I would rather not have to repeat, but that is exactly the point; no matter which path you took you still arrived where you are today, in this moment, right here and now.

If you look back at your life, the decisions you made probably left you right back where you started from, perhaps a little scuffed and bruised, but with the life lessons you acquired from your experiences. I am not saying life is a bowl of cherries or always look on the bright side of life. Life is filled with suffering and misery. But if you can separate yourself from the physical and find the lesson you were meant to learn, it makes whatever you are going through a little easier to accept.

And this may just be the ultimate lesson to remember – that there are no bad decisions. There are only shorter and longer paths upon which to travel. Life is about learning the lessons you were meant to learn if you are to travel onward.

Do not bemoan what you think is a bad decision with a series of if only’s or what if’s. Embrace your decision and accept the outcome so that you can carry on with a deep breath and a knowing smile. Do not group your decisions together and blame yourself for your “mistakes.” Take each decision as a lesson learned that you can choose to repeat again or to avoid before you get to the point of having to make it again.

Right or left, “should I” or “shouldn’t I?” In the end your brain compiles as much data as it can so that you can make as well of an informed decision as possible, and then you leap in. Some new bit of information may arise or some new event may occur that may change your decision, but all you can do is keep your wits about you and respond to it as best you can. But you still end up going with your heart and your gut.

The more aware you are of your situation the better you can anticipate and respond. The more panicked you become the less able you are to respond.

This is why I say let go of all that mental chatter, breathe and smile to anyone who approaches you. Slow down and relax as you feel your emotions and opinions rise up from within. Be aware of them, but do not feel as if you have to respond to them.

Remind yourself that this very moment is what your meditation training has been for.

Then dive in and accept the best decision for what it is – a well informed choice that is ultimately made with your gut and your heart, not your brain.

If you would like help in these times know that you don’t have to do it alone, there is a community around you that is ready to support you. Please feel free to reach out, we can help you find your community.

 

 

Be well, and I hope this helps.