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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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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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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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.

Be Your Meditation Master

Meditation is not something one can teach. One can only share their practice with your. It is for you to take what resonates with your life, to layer it with the teachings of others, to question what you do not understand, and to develop a practice that works for you, in your world.

Meditation is a practice you develop over time. It is not a one-time program that you learn from just one teacher in one sit. It evolves. It grows. It becomes a part of you just as you become a part of it.

With every moment of growth, you will exceed the teachings of the one before you. As you establish yourself in The Way, you will learn to share your own insights with those around you. This is how you create community. This is how you learn to straighten the crooked, even within yourself. If you are ever to grow, to become more than you are, you must continually strive toward a harder task, even within your meditation. It begins within yourself and reaches out to those around you.

Just as your practice starts with a breath and grows as you layer that breath with a count. As you learn to acknowledge your thoughts and to let them go, you will also learn to open your heart so that you can reach out to those around you. In so doing you will learn to straighten yourself; not in solitary contemplation or meditation, but in the shared community we are all a part of.

As you grow you will uncover the master within yourself. This is your only true master. When you surpass what you were you will find enlightenment. Just as meditation is not a one-time event, enlightenment is not a one-time moment. Each is an ever evolving series of steps, each leading upward to the next.

If you ever ask “who is my Meditation Master?” It is you. Who else could it possibly be? Who can know how your heart and mind works as well as you?

Just remember, only after you subdue yourself can you release yourself into the world around you with a new-found sense of focus, peace, and calm

Yours is a never-ending experience that requires more than an occasional sit. It requires that you open yourself to the peace and Love that is within you. It also requires that you share same peace and Love with those around you. That is how you emerge from your chrysalis.

Yes, enlightenment and even transcendence can be found in solitary contemplation. It can also be found in community. Neither is better or worse than the other. They are simply different paths to the same end.

Trust yourself to make the right choices for you. They will always lead you forward, toward the next fork along your path. If you are to make good choices you must learn from your past so that you can apply that knowledge to your future, the one that is happening in the present moment, all around you.

 

 

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Just 1 Thing

One Thing.

That truly is the answer – to simply focus on just one task at a time.

Your brain is a wonderful organ, but it is not meant to multi-task. It is only meant to address one task at a time. What you think is multi-tasking is actually your brain ping ponging between individual tasks very, very rapidly. The result? Exhausting you and reducing your ability to perform tasks that require higher cognitive functions.

The moment you try to multi-task is the moment you lose it all. You brain gets overwhelmed. You become more easily confused, more easily frustrated, and unable to identify and manage the details.

How many times have you arrived at your desk to find all that work you did the night before to be a mess?

Removing stress and distractions from your life simply means returning to a point of singularity again and again. That means approaching a single point of focus by bringing your mind and your body to rest on doing one thing at a time. And yes, a key to this lies in your breath and your ability to focus on it.

And that is called meditation. It is why meditation works so well in the modern world we have created for ourselves. There is no mystery to it, it is simply bringing our brain from  a confused state while attempting to do everything, to doing just one thing at a time.

So mono-task instead. When you are washing dishes, simply was dishes. When you are eating, simply eat. When you are working on a project, Simply work on that project. Do not try to squeeze one more task into what you are doing.

Instead, slow down and focus on the task before you.

Learn more at our event on this Monday evening [February 22, 2016] at 5:30. It takes place at the Mulberry branch of the New York Public Library. Learn more by clicking here or send us an email.

We are here to help.

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.

 

Smile on This Humpday

9 Tumors, 7 weeks of radiation, and a half dozen seizures later, and I still don’t have a clue of what will happen next in my life. But you know what? It’s okay. Because I don’t look at any of those events as an end-all. In fact, every time I have walked into physical therapy to overcome the deficits I acquired from a recent procedure, I look around and seen people who are much worse off than myself.

At the end of the day, I walk out telling myself, “you know what? I am walking out, and not everyone in here is able to say that.”

So think of that this hump day, as you face the issues that will lay themselves out before you. Because, while you can dictate where you want your life to go, you can never dictate what issues you will have to overcome.

That said, here are some things to keep in mind to help you get through your day with a smile, and end your day on a positive note:

  • Eat Your Breakfast: I know you have been hearing this since day 1, but you know what, every so often your parents were right. Giving yourself enough energy in the morning helps to ensure your brain and your body have the power they need to help you stay healthy, happy and productive even when the world is knocking down your door. It doesn’t have to be eggs, bacon, and all the fixings, but eat something. You will feel the difference.
  • Take a Ten Minute Break: every hour or so. It took me way too many years to learn that our brains just cannot maintain a high output level if you force yourself to plow through your day. So here’s an idea, use that coffee break as a way to hit the pause button. Every hour, get up, get a cup of coffee or tea, take a deep breath, and simply watch your cup mindfully as you breathe. You will be amazed at how quickly your brain will start producing again, and at a higher level than before.
  • Talk to People: Yes, you are a social creature. You gain energy when you interact with others. So get up, wander around, and say hello to a few people. It can be your office-mate, it can be someone else’s assistant, it can be the person at the register at your favorite deli or coffee place. They don’t need to hear all the boring details of your work. They don’t need to be a part of your team. They simply need to be human. That’s right, go out and chat someone up, and then see how that conversation has changed your outlook on work and life, in general.
  • Do Something Different: We all get set in our ways, and yes those ways are not always the best way to keep our body and minds active. So do something different. Change the patterns of your day. Take a different route to work. Laugh inappropriately. Have something different at lunch. Try a new location for lunch. Mix it up. It will create new networks in your brain and keep your mind active trying to figure out what you’re up to, and that will keep you young at heart no matter how old you may be.

It’s not difficult to stay alive, be more productive and come out more human than when you went in. In fact, it’s pretty easy. Try to remind yourself to do just one of these things and you will be surprised at how your life will change for the better.

If you want more tips, feel free to sign up for our emails on the  right, or at https://simple-truth.com/blog.

Be well and enjoy the rest of the week.

 

 

j.

Q+A: Find God in Your Meditation

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

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

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

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

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

“How does this work?” she asked.

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

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

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

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

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

Your God Is You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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