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Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Consider movement stationary
and the stationary in motion,
and both the state of movement and the state of rest disappear.
When such dualities cease to exist
oneness itself cannot exist.
To this ultimate finality
No law or description applies.
For the unified mind in accord with the way
all self-centered striving ceases.
Doubts and irresolutions vanish
and life in true faith is possible.
With a single stroke we are freed from bondage;
nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.
All is empty, clear, self-illuminating,
with no exertion of the mind’s power.
Here thought, feelings, knowledge, and imagination
are of no value. [1]

Faith in Mind is filled with opportunities for us to read and contemplate on the Buddhist principle of the dangers of picking and choosing. These verses help us look at the dualities in our lives and thoughts and the bondage that is created by them.

In the Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen (1991) it says this about Seng-ts’an the author of Faith in Mind:

Hardly any details are known of the life of the third patriarch [Seng-ts’an]. There are however, many legends about him and his meeting with Hui-k’o. According to one of these legends Seng-ts’an was suffering from leprosy when he met the second patriarch. Hui-k’o is supposed to have encountered him with these words “You’re suffering from leprosy; what could you want from me?” Seng-ts’an is supposed to have replied, “Even if my body is sick, the heart-mind of a sick person is no different from your heart-mind (page191).” [2]

Which brings us right back to the importance of remembering the difficulties that accumulate in our lives when we are picking and choosing. “For the unified mind in accord with the way all self-centered striving ceases and doubts and irresolutions vanish and life in true faith is possible. With a single stroke we are freed from bondage…”

Unity minister and teacher H. Emilie Cady in her wonderful book, Lessons in Truth, named her very first chapter “Bondage or Liberty, Which?” She writes:

Every man must take time daily for quiet and meditation. In daily meditation lies the secret of power. Watch carefully, and you will find that there are some things, even in the active unselfish doing, that would better be left undone than that you should neglect regular meditation.

No person, unless he has practiced it, can know how it quiets all physical nervousness, all fear, all oversensitiveness, all the little raspings of everyday life—just this hour of calm, quiet waiting alone with God. Never let it be an hour of bondage, but always one of restfulness (pages 23-25). [3]

As you can see meditation is practiced in some form in all religions around the world. Use of a meditation practice to help us quiet the mind is a healthy self-loving process. In the quiet mind we stop the picking and choosing and are free of its bondage. Those musings have no value at all when we are sitting in the silence. As Seng-ts’an says, “Here thought, feelings, knowledge, and imagination are of no value.”

And so our lives become easier and more fulfilling. Self-love and neighborly love can be found without picking and choosing in our time of quiet meditation. As Seng-ts’an said, “Even if my body is sick, the heart-mind of a sick person is no different from your heart-mind.”

Shambhala Dictionary defines the “heart-mind thus:”

In Zen it means, depending on the context, either the mind of a person in the sense of all his powers of consciousness, mind, heart, and spirit, or else absolute reality—the mind beyond the distinction between mind and matter, self-nature, or true nature (page 118).” [4]

The heart-mind melds together in meditation without picking and choosing, simply sit and watch what happens as your “true nature” quietly appears and disappears.

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Osho (2014) Hsin Hsin Ming, The Zen Understanding of Mind and Consciousness. Osho International Foundation

[2] Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen, 1991. Boston: MA

[3] Cady, H. E. (1995) Complete Works of H. Emilie Cady. Unity Books. Unity Village: MO

[4] Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen, 1991. Boston: MA

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Do not remain in the dualistic state;
avoid such pursuits carefully.
If there is a trace
of this and that, of right and wrong,
the mind-essence will be lost in confusion.
Although all dualities come from the one,
do not be attached even to this one.
When mind exists undisturbed in the way,
Nothing in the world can offend,
and when a thing can no longer offend,
it ceases to exist in the old way. [1]

My favorite line in these verses is “When mind exists undisturbed in the way, nothing in the world can offend, and when a thing can no longer offend, it ceases to exist in the old way.” How many of us still hold a grudge or negative thoughts about someone that may have “offended” us in the past. The past could be as long ago as yesterday or 20 years—the time span does not matter. What matters is those words or deeds are still controlling our lives.

So we end up living in the past and not in the now moment. Our lives are so fleeting and yet we still spend a significant amount of our short time on planet earth remembering and holding onto the past. Thus what we are NOT doing is living in the present moment with an open mind, clear eyes, and attention to what is going on now. We’ve missed the beauty of the trees in spring, the sound of the snow beneath our feet in the winter, the joy of the sounds of our children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors laughing and living life in the moment.

“Do not remain in the dualistic state” do not hold on to anything the sutra says, the good moment, the bad moment, or the insignificant moment. Let each pass by with a quiet mind accepting what comes, dealing with it in the moment as best you can and then letting go of any expectations for the future—Just this! Be one with the moment—for a time will come when that moment may just save your life, or bring you peace, or help you solve a problem in a future moment. Feel the pain, feel the joy, feel the expectation as you are experiencing it.

Suppressing life only brings physical and mental pain now and often again in a future moment. When you see a sad movie cry, when you hear a funny joke laugh, when you recite an affirmation do it with passion, when you feel like singing, sing! When you feel like sitting in the quiet, sit. When you feel like cursing—curse! Be one with everything and it will help you experience compassion for others both the criminal and the victim. And don’t be attached to anything! Let nothing offend you as it will cease to exist in the very next moment.

Just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free [2]

Just follow these words of wisdom from Paul Simon and set yourself free!
In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Attributed to: Seng’tsan, 3rd Chinese (Sosan, Zen) Patriarch

[2] Paul Simon, 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover Published by
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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“Faith in Mind” [1]
Attributed to: Seng’tsan, 3rd Chinese (Sosan, Zen) Patriarch

When the deep meaning of things is not understood
the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

The way is perfect, like vast space
when nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.
Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject
that we do not see the true nature of things.
Live neither in the entanglements of outer things,
nor in inner feelings of emptiness.
Be serene without striving for activity in the oneness of things
and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.
When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity
your very effort fills you with activity.
As long as you remain in one extreme or the other
you will never know oneness.
Those who do not live in the single way
fail in both activity and passivity,
assertion and denial.

These verses may seem to be very confusing at first glance. It seems to be saying in one line that when we do not understand something our mind is “disturbed to no avail” and yet a few lines later we read we are being asked to try not to be bothered with knowing and not knowing, so which is it? Know, not know, understand, not understand? Seems to me that Buddhism is the best philosophy on the planet, knowing and not knowing are both okay. Right can be wrong, and wrong can be right on any given day. Black and white do not exist, life is filled with shades of every color on the spectrum of light.

And yet he writes, “As long as you remain in one extreme or the other you will never know oneness.” Thus many have called this path the “middle way.” That is something I can grasp. I can see that in my life when I have taken my thoughts and feelings too far in one direction or the other I have either been in “heaven” or “hell.” I may choose the heaven over the hell, but eventually even that means that I’ve decided on “preferences.” If you read my previous blog you’ll see how that can cause problems in our lives as well.

So what is the answer? Let’s go back to this line for a minute: The way is perfect, like vast space when nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess. Too much of anything can be a bad thing from too much love which can end up suffocating us or too little love which can end up creating feelings of unworthiness and self-doubt. But just the right amount like these lyrics illustrate “a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, in a most delightful way,” as Julie Andrews sang so beautifully in the Mary Poppins movie. Not too much sugar and not too little, just “one spoonful” was just right. The best medicine of life is to find balance and equilibrium though the middle way: Just enough, not too much and not too little in life of challenges, love, contentment, peace, joy, happiness, and sadness.

So when you find yourself moving too far in one direction or the other remember Mary Poppins and your life will be lived “in a most delightful way.” Remember also these words of Seng’tsan, “The way is perfect, like vast space when nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.” The middle way: Try it I think, like Mary Poppins, you’ll love it!

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Osho (2014) Hsin Hsin Ming, The Zen Understanding of Mind and Consciousness. Osho International Foundation

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I received the Upaya newsletter today and they are having a Seminar on the Heart Sutra with Sensei Kaz Tanahashi, Roshi Joan Halifax, and Joshin Brian Byrnes February 17-19, 2015. The list below was included in the announcement.  I thought you would all like to have it and to be able to focus on these tenets throughout the upcoming Holiday Season when stress and tempers can get quickly out of hand.  Blessings from my home to yours.  In gassho, Shokai

. Sensei Kaz Tanahashi

10 Laws on the Art of Joyful Living: Sensei Kaz Tanahashi

1. Your happiness is more important than anything else.

2. The happier you are, the more you can help others.

3. Smiling makes you happy.

4. The more relaxed you are, the happier you are.

5. A moment of meditation can help you refresh yourself.

6. The lower your expectations are, the happier you are.

7. Happiness attracts happiness.

8. The ultimate healing is to live joyfully at each moment.

9. The more fully you face your own death, the more joyous you become.

10. You can always improve your art of joyful living.

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On December 7, 1975 a short piece was published in the Family Weekly Magazine about Peace Pilgrim. In it she talked about the idea of peace that Americans held:

Peace is much more than the temporary absence of war; it is the absence of the causes of war. I believe it will take another 10 years for an outer peace to develop and sustain itself, but even after that time I will continue to talk about the inner peace man needs to maintain outer peace (page 180).[1]

Sadly 42 years have gone by since she made this statement and wars on the common people by their governments and the fundamentalist religious groups around the world are raging harder, longer, and in more places than ever…from the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, to the mountains of Iraq, to the sovereign state of Ukraine, and still fermenting are wars between the Israels and the Palestinians that live in the Gaza Strip. Just to name a few!

So what would you suggest to the Peace Pilgrim if she were still amongst us as to the “causes of war”? The absence of war for me will come when we all develop a constant and consistent attitude of peace, love, and compassion for self, and then allow that to flow freely and fully to all beings at all times, and in all places. Next, move that peace, love, and compassion to the trees, lakes, mountains, and rivers, to the grass beneath your feet and the sun and stars above—to see everything through the eyes of love. Finally, to teach these principles in every town and village on the planet to the young ones who will be the future caretakers of it. This is what’s missing and is the cause of war everywhere from the bedroom to the boardroom to the city and to the countryside.

The eyes of love for self disappeared in Robin Williams as his depression and life’s challenges grew harder and harder to accept and manage until he took his own life. His peace and compassion for himself began to dwindle and finally to disappear. That is just what the Peace Pilgrim was speaking about when she said, “I will continue to talk about the inner peace man needs to maintain outer peace.”

We are a union of minds melding together through the energy that moves around this planet. We feel the energy of others in our presence all the time. Sometimes we can feel the energy of joy, laughter, and love and sometimes we feel the energy of fear, hatred, and sadness. But feel the energy we do, sometimes it is so palpable there is a saying that “you could cut it with a knife.”

While sitting in the Zendo this morning one of our teachers, Mushin Sensei, put on a beautiful piece of music for us to focus on after the talk given by our teacher Doshin Mitch Cantor. The music was a piano piece that was so fabulous it brought the energy of a recently departed friend into the room. I saw his light, I could feel his love, I could see how his spirit/energy was everywhere present as far as the mind could imagine from cosmos to cosmos from heart to heart and from mind to mind. I felt both tears of joy and sorrow begin to roll down my cheeks as our energy merged with the music and I was once again reminded that “all is one” that there is no separation in time and space when agape love is concerned.

Wouldn’t it be great if the love energy of the Peace Pilgrim and my dear friend Kevin Dulling could be flowing in and through all that is to help end this madness on planet Earth? I know they both would approve!

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Peace Pilgrim Her life and Work In her Own Words, Friends of Peace Pilgrim and Ocean Tree Books, 2004.

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I am getting ready to present a workshop for Career Source Broward the audience will be people that are working with them to find employment. The title of my workshop is “Reduce Stress…Increase Success with Mindfulness.” My desire is to share with each one of them the principles of mindfulness and breath work that can help them decrease their stress in mind, body, and spirit even in these trying times.

It is easy to be relaxed and joyous when your life is moving forward with a good job, personal health, and family members doing well, and when you have time for recreation, hobbies and the like. But for the unemployed or underemployed that is not always possible. Many times they are filled with emotions of fear, anxiety, depression, and panic–some in a small way and for others in a big way where they are probably going to need the help of the medical community. But for many some simple mindfulness, stress reduction, and time management techniques integrated into their daily lives on a regular basis can help them immensely.

One of my colleagues recommended a book to me, Mindfulness an Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World (2011) by Mark Williams and Danny Penman so I ordered it online and was highly impressed by the content and the information and tips shared in it.

In Chapter 2 “Why Do We Attack Ourselves?” they shared with the reader an illustration they titled “What makes an emotion?” I thought this would be great information for the participants in my stress and mindfulness training since I was sure they were having the gamut of every emotion on the planet during this trying time in their lives.

They define emotions this way”

Emotions are “bundles” of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and impulses to act. Next time you experience pleasant or unpleasant emotions, you might check in with what’s going on, and notice the interplay of the different aspects of the bundle (page 20).[1]

These ideas: Thoughts (I’m getting nowhere with this.”), feelings (tense, upset), impulses (Escaping; crawling into bed; pulling the covers over your head) and bodily sensations (Tense shoulders, churning stomach) (page 20)[2] can come in any order and move round and round leaving you sick in mind, body, and spirit. You are probably relating to this idea and wondering what the heck you can do about it.

The authors recommend some simple things that anyone can do at any time to turn the switch from one negative thought, feeling, impulse, or sensation to a better one. Here is one simple thing they recommend that you can do at any time and in any place to bring “peace” back into your life.

Something as subtle as frowning, smiling or altering posture can have a dramatic impact on mood and the types of thoughts flickering across the mind.

. . .the act of smiling can itself make you happy. It’s a perfect illustration of just how close the links are between mind and body. Smiling is infectious too. When you see someone grin, you almost invariably smile back. You can’t help it (pages 20-23).[3]

So if you want to make peace with yourself to see more peace in your life—even in the most difficult times and situations—observe your facial expressions and body language and make a simple adjustment. Put a smile on your face and stand up tall with your shoulders back and head held high and watch what happens to your “feelings” and your “attitude” you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Plus, you’ll feel more peaceful and your mind will feel sharper and ready to handle anything that anyone throws at you! Try it today and let me know what happens!

[1] Williams, M. and Penman, D. (2011) Mindfulness An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World. Rodale: NY, NY

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

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The holidays are a very stressful time for most people.  Holidays are also times when those who suffer from depression, suffer even more acutely.  Patterns of the past brought into the present often harm us more than they help us.  The ideas below are not meant to replace your prescription medication or advice from your doctor– they are simply to be in addition to them.

Williams, Teasdale, Segal, and Kabat-Zinn wrote these wonderful words in their book The Mindful Way through Depression (2007). “What if, like virtually everybody else who suffers repeatedly from depression, you have become a victim of your own very sensible, even heroic, efforts to free yourself—like someone pulled even deeper into quicksand by the struggling intended to get you out?”

This may seem like a very disheartening idea, and you are right—it is.  But there is a way out if you will only take the time to look at this very difficult life’s situation through new eyes, with new thoughts, with new information, and with new light.  You all have heard this funny yet ironic definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different end result.  Today is the day to begin anew, to begin doing something differently and watching and waiting for a fantastic, positive, new end result: peace, prosperity, and happiness!

The authors share with us these two very important ideas:

  • At the very earliest stages in which mood starts to spiral downward, it is not the mood that does the damage, but how we react to it.
  • Our habitual efforts to extricate ourselves, far from freeing us, actually keep us locked in the pain we’re trying to escape (page 2).

They also caution us as well when they write: “Exactly how you will experience the profoundly healthy shift in your relationship to negative moods and what will unfold for you in its aftermath are difficult to predict because they are different for everyone.  The only way anyone can really know what benefits such an approach offers is to suspend judgment temporarily and engage in the process wholeheartedly over an extended period of time—in this case for eight weeks—to see what happens (page 3).”

You may be saying, “Eight weeks! Yikes I can’t do anything for eight weeks are they crazy?”  Maybe, but how about trying it out by starting with one day, and if you feel even one tiny bit better, do it for another day, and if that day goes just a little better why not try it for a third day?  Make no plans or promises longer than 24 hours.  No one wants to get depressed about setting a goal and then not achieving it that’s for sure!  So let’s not set ourselves up for failure once again.

So let’s begin with one simple mindfulness exercise that we can do beginning today.  The authors go on to write, “Mindfulness is not paying more attention but paying attention differently and more wisely—with the whole mind and heart, using the full resources of the body and its senses (page 55).”  So there are several different exercises that you can do to practice mindfulness even when you feel sad or depressed.  You can focus on your breathing, eating, or singing for a start.

One of the ways I get my mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, out of one of her loops is to do what we call “pattern interruption.”  I ask her to sing one of the songs I know she can sing or to recite one of the poems that she has written and memorized.  Within a few short minutes she is able to go onto something different and her breathing slows down, her mind is less confused, and she can think more clearly.

The authors also share some important information with us when they write, “The difficulty occurs when we confuse the thoughts about things with the things themselves.  Thoughts involve interpretations and judgments, which are not in themselves facts; they are merely more thoughts (page 59).”

As a teacher many times my students have shared with me the fears and thoughts that they have about taking tests, writing papers, or giving presentations in class.  For them the thoughts about those things are making them more difficult than they should be, especially if they have prepared well for them beforehand.

For these students I have them use the “Three Breaths Exercise” from Jan Chozen Bays wonderful book How to Train a Wild Elephant & Other Adventures in Mindfulness (2011).  Dr. Bays says, “As many times a day as you are able, give the mind a short rest.  For the duration of three breaths ask the inner voices to be silent.  It’s like turning off the inner radio or TV for a few minutes.  Then open all your senses and just be aware—of color, sound, touch, and smell (page 76).”   Begin by closing your eyes, and counting one on the in breath, and two on the out breath, just for three full breaths.  Once you have done that observe how your mind and body feel.  If three breaths don’t work, take four, or five.  Then observe how your mind and body feels.

Do this as many times a day as you feel the need to.  When you get stressed, the mind starts to get into that “monkey talk” or “fear talk” or “anger talk.”  This is a perfect time to stop and take the three breaths.  You can even do them right in the middle of a meeting with your eyes open, or you can take a break and go back to your office or desk or to the bathroom and do it—then  observe the results.

For me I find that after only three breaths my blood pressure calms down, my mind calms down, and I feel significantly better than I did before the three breaths.  I am now able to go back to what I was doing with calmness and peacefulness.

If I am eating I take the time to eat mindfully, focusing on each mouthful, the taste, smell, texture, and feel of the food.  Doing this helps me focus on the food instead of my thoughts, and helps me quiet my body, mind, and spirit.  Try it.  I think you’ll like it.

Anyone of these things can help you in a small way during this holiday season to return your focus to the good, the wonderful, and the new opportunities that lie just ahead. Being mindful about simple things can help you be mindful about complex things when they enter your life.  Stop the struggling—start the mindfulness—and watch that depression melt away slowly like caramel in your mouth—with sweetness and light.

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