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Posts Tagged ‘memory’

Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha): “Do not believe in anything because it is found written in your religious books.

The Rigveda is an ancient Indian text one of the four canonical sacred texts of Hinduism written between the 5th and 2nd century BCE, the first four books of the Bible Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers were written between the 6th and 2nd century BCE, the Tao Te Ching in the 6th century BCE, the Buddhist Sutras between the 2nd century BCE and the 2nd century CE, the New Testament in the 1st century CE, the Qur’an is the newest written around 632 CE.  Wow!  If you can remember all of that you’re better than I am!

 What’s my point?  The people who wrote these books were wonderful people who wanted to memorialize their beliefs and experiences for those who would come after them.  They were trying to explain, nature, birth, death, life, good and evil and more.  Science was not at the level it is today, they only had their eyes, ears, nose, and sometimes mouth to discover and memorialize their lives and how they dealt with what happened to them and in them in their waking and sleeping hours.

This is neither good nor bad—it just is.  Thus if saying a bed time Buddha at Bedtimeprayer will help keep you alive through the night—great what can you lose! If not eating meat is how you desire to live your life wonderful, go for it.  If eating meat but not pork or crustaceans (lobster, crabs, shrimp, etc.) is your choice that’s great too.  In ancient times you might have been better off not eating pork because it caused an infection we know as trichinosis, but so did lots of other foods.  Just a few more reasons “not to believe” everything found in your ancient texts.

My mom believed it about the pork and thus when we had pork chops for dinner they were so well done they tasted and acted like shoe leather!  That was one of the nights I always found a reason to eat at my best friend’s house for dinner.  Another time I bought some “free range chicken” and served it to her for supper.  I was bragging about how great they were and that all the chickens should be freed.  Once again mom told me a “farm story.”  “I fed plenty of chickens on the farm growing up and let me tell you they ate anything and everything in sight, at least this way their waste ends up far enough away that they can’t get at it.” You’ve got to love my mom!

So in this day and age with our education, science, technology, the internet, and more you have the opportunity to be your own researcher and discover about life for yourself.  If following your religious and family traditions is important in your life…go for it.  Just remember that not everything written in them is true…then move full speed ahead and live the life that works for you and spreads peace, love, and compassion wherever you go!

In gassho,

Shokai

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My work teaching developmental English at Broward College opened my eyes to the failure of our K-12 educational system in America. Many of the students who had high school diplomas could not do something as simple as write a complete sentence and had no idea what an adverb was. Most had feelings of low self-esteem and were blaming themselves for their inability to pass the English exam so they could be accepted into the college. So to help them relax and open their minds to learning I began including mindfulness and meditation practices into the classroom. Doing this I discovered that the students actually felt more confident and self-assured, and as an added benefit it seemed to help raise their level of self-esteem.

There are many methods that can be used to help students focus on and retain the information. For this article I will share one easy method I use before each of my classes: Simply get relaxed.

All students end up rushing to class whether the class is on line or on campus. They have a hundred other things running around in their minds from finding a parking space, logging on to the internet, the assignments they have to complete, the bills they have to pay, getting the children fed, and more. Yet, as faculty we expect the students to be prepared and ready to learn the second we start the class. That is a totally unrealistic idea.

Being a Zen Buddhist I have used many techniques to help me focus and quiet my mind. Thus I understood that my students needed to quiet their minds and focus their attention if they were to learn the material. So I revised a simple exercise, “Just Three Breaths,” that I had found in a great book entitled How to Train a Wild Elephant & Other Adventures in Mindfulness (2011) by Jan Chozen Bays, MD.

After several weeks of using my revised version of this exercise in my developmental English classes one of my students approached me with great excitement about her first presentation that she made in her speech class. She told me that she used the three breath exercise before she got up to present and it helped her stay so calm, cool, and collected that she just “killed” her talk! She was so proud of herself she was beaming with light and had a smile from ear-to-ear. I could see that this experience helped raise her level of self-esteem a little bit as well.

Since that time I have had hundreds of students tell me right after we’ve done this excise in class how calm, focused, relaxed and ready to learn they were. Many have even shared that they’ve used the technique at work when they felt stressed or anxious, before a job interview, while sitting in a traffic jam, or on line at the bank.

The entire exercise takes two to three minutes out of the class, but the lasting effect is immeasurable. I hope you’ll try it. The directions are below.

Three Breath Exercise

Read these steps aloud and do the exercise along with the class. After the exercise is completed get their feedback on how they feel and how it may help them during the class:

 

  • Shake out your hands to release the tension in them then place them comfortably in your lap or on the desk or table where you are sitting.
  • Close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing so as it will help keep out the visual distractions. If you are not comfortable with that keeping them open is okay as well. Simply focus your eyes on one small object.
  • Take three slow deep breaths counting one on the in breath and two on the out breath.
  • Be careful not to breathe in so deeply that it makes you cough.
  • Is everyone ready—then let’s begin.

Let me know how it works!

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

Reference

Bays, J.C. (2011) How to Train A Wild Elephant& Other Adventures in Mindfulness. Shambhala: Boston& London

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Being mindful in life, in the classroom, at work, at home or at play can increase your powers of concentration, recognition, memory, and more.  Would you like a better relationship with your significant other?  Then using mindfulness techniques in your relationship just might help.  When was the last time you forgot his or her birthday, an anniversary, or her favorite food or that he liked his coffee black?  Want to have a better relationship with your boss, co-workers, and customers?  How mindful were you at that last meeting with them?  Was your mind wandering from to-do list to- do list so much so that you couldn’t even remember what he or she said, what they were wearing, or the color of his or her eyes or hair?  If this sounds like you help is on the way!

Russell Simmons in his new book Success through Stillness writes, “…we eventually come to understand that our happiness is derived from being present in the moment.  In seeing the miracles that are constantly unfolding around us every second, instead of blindly running past them (page 51).[1]  So here is the trick…when you catch your mind wandering, acknowledge it and invite it to come back into the present moment.  Whether you are reading a text for school or work, washing the dishes or the car, or waiting for a bus bring yourself back into the now moment.  Take a deep breath, scan your environment, focus on the person you are speaking to or the book that you are reading or the assignment that you are writing and smile. Yes, smile! Don’t put yourself down or criticize yourself for having that wandering mind just be grateful that you are beginning to recognize it and call it back to the now moment.

I like to help my students practice being mindful with a simple exercise like taking a piece of wrapped hard candy and using every one of your senses to “experience” the candy.  Yes, experience the candy.  Most of the time when we just eat the candy: We just unwrap it and throw it into our mouths and never really know what it felt like or tasted like and seconds later some of us have forgotten that we’ve even eaten it!

So try this and see what happens.  Take the candy and use all 5 of your senses to eat it. How does it feel to the touch?  Look at it before unwrapping it and after unwrapping it.  See its color, texture, shape, and more.  Listen to the sounds it makes as you do that.  Next, smell the candy and really smell it. Yes, hard candy does have some luscious smells!  Next, hold it in your mouth and feel what it feels like in there.  Is it sharp, soft, hard, feel it as it melts does it get slippery?  What happens to your saliva?  Does it taste different when you move it around your mouth from one place to another?  Really “experience” the candy.  Many of my students have noted after this exercise that this was the “best” candy they had ever eaten.  Why?  Because they actually took time to “experience” it.

What would happen if you spent your life really experiencing it—seeing the people, places, and things around you? What if you really smelled the smells, felt the textures, and enjoyed the views.  Really read the words that the author has written—really put yourself into the writing.  Really be there!  What would happen if you really looked at the cashier behind the register?  Saw him or her as a real human being with feelings, likes, dreams, and ambitions.  Like you!

Woody Allen once said that he’d never met a man on his deathbed who said “I wish I’d spent more time at work.” I have always said that when I die on my tombstone I want it written that “She died having no regrets.”  How about you? What will yours say?

Live life today—experience  it every moment, no matter how many times you have to remind yourself to “be in the now moment.”  Simply be here now!  Now is the only time there really is.


[1] Simmons, R. (2014) Success through Stillness Meditation made Simple. Penguin Group: NY, NY

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