Category: Links & Articles


instructions by Sally Kempton

Advertisements

Home. Dharma.

This came from a horoscope from Omega Institute, but I think it really speaks well to identifying one’s passion or Dharma (life’s purpose):

In much the same way that homes of many earlier eras were designed to be oriented on the hearth or the kitchen, the way to organize your life is from the center outward. To do this, you’ll first need to determine what the center is. I will give you a clue: It’s where the heat is coming from. It’s also related to the theme, activity, or mission you keep coming back to, even if you’ve made other plans. Said yet another way, it’s where you reach for the sensation of home on our wild, unpredictable planet. This is a powerful spot in your consciousness. There’s a chance that your commitment and passion may be veiled by layers of emotional material—denial, guilt, shame, or some form of uneasiness. None of those can stop you, and it would be helpful if you make peace with that and therefore take away some or all of the power that those feelings seem to have. You have a right to devote yourself to what matters, and I suggest being vigilant toward anyone who would try to deny you that, or who has done so in the past.

What is the theme, activity, or mission you keep coming back to, even if you’ve made other plans?

Where do you reach for the sensation of home on our wild, unpredictable planet? For me, that’s downward dog on my yoga mat. But also the classroom.

Bishop explains religion

I am humbled – because I honestly didn’t think I would so admire the words of a Christian authority figure.

Favorite quotes:

Religion is in the guilt-producing control business.

Every church I know claims that we are the true church….

The idea that the truth of God can be bound in any human system by any human creed by any human book is almost beyond imagination for me…

…all of those [various major religions] are human systems which human beings have created to try to help us walk in the mystery of God.

 

John Shelby Spong, retired Episcopal bishop from Newark, N.J.

Compassion burnout

I asked a Twitter friend

and she was kind to reply with a blog post, one I am grateful for and wish to keep here so I can go back to it, because even though  my mind understands the words, there are many things in here my heart still needs to understand.

 

 

The Chronicle of Higher Education published today an article about a course on Information and Contemplation taught by David Levy at UW. Interesting to see that Levy’s previous work on effects of meditation on multitasking was actually funded by the National Science Foundation. Interesting to see that ACM CHI and Graphics Interface publish this kind of work.

Spiritual Surrender

My homework for the week is “letting go of struggle.” I’m sad to admit that I often struggle with struggle and struggle with letting go of struggle! This article came in my inbox yesterday and it speaks to the theme of the week beautifully. Read the entire article by Sally Kempton or see my excerpts below. Highlights are mine.

A truly surrendered person may look passive, especially when something appears to need doing, and everyone around is shouting, “Get a move on, get it done, this is urgent!” Seen in perspective, however, what looks like inaction is often simply a recognition that now is not the time to act. Masters of surrender tend to be masters of flow, knowing intuitively how to move with the energies at play in a situation. You advance when the doors are open, when a stuck situation can be turned, moving along the subtle energetic seams that let you avoid obstructions and unnecessary confrontations.

Such skill involves an attunement to the energetic movement that is sometimes called universal or divine will, the Tao, flow, or, in Sanskrit, shakti. Shakti is the subtle force—we could also call it the cosmic intention—behind the natural world in all of its manifestations.

Surrender starts with a recognition that this greater life force moves as you. One of my teachers, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, once said that to surrender is to become aware of God’s energy within oneself, to recognize that energy, and to accept it. It’s an egoless recognition—that is, it involves a shift in your sense of what “I” is—which is why the famous inquiry “Who am I?” or “What is the I?” can be a powerful catalyst for the process of surrender.

As a practice, surrender is a way of unclenching your psychic and physical muscles. It is an antidote to the frustration that shows up whenever you try to control the uncontrollable. There are any number of ways to practice surrender—from softening your belly, to consciously opening yourself to grace, turning over a situation to the universe or to God, or deliberately letting go of your attachment to an outcome.

When the attachment or the sense of being stuck is really strong, it often helps to pray for surrender. It doesn’t matter who or what you pray to, it matters only that you are willing to ask. At the very least, the intention to surrender will allow you to release some of the invisible tension caused by fear and desire.

Most transformational moments—spiritual, creative, or personal—involve this sequence of intense effort, frustration, and then letting go. The effort, the slamming against walls, the intensity and the exhaustion, the fear of failure balanced against the recognition that it is not OK to fail—all these are part of the process by which a human being breaks out of the cocoon of human limitation and becomes willing on the deepest level to open to the infinite power that we all have in our core.

Contemplative pedagogy

More on this from the Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University.

“…the faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention,
over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character and will.
No one is compos sui if he has it not. An education which should
improve this faculty would be the education par excellence.”
[William James, 1890]

compos sui = master of one’s self

Like most of us, I’ve been enjoying watching the Olympics – but as I learned about the personal sacrifices kids like sweet Gabby Douglas had to endure, I thought to myself, “it’s not worth it.” I came across a couple of opinion columns on Huffington Post that spell out more eloquently than me what the problem may be, what the values underlying the Olympic sacrifice are and how they influence collective thought (aka culture & society). I am copying below the sentences that sum up the argument for me:

The pedestal … gold … success … grit and determination and resolve and tenacity — suck it up and grin and do it again and again because today’s record will be broken tomorrow and Tuesday’s excellence is Thursday’s mediocrity and Saturday’s failure. Redefine “success” as prestige and mint it into a medal, then market it throughout society and see it bloom.

Apparently not. It’s all about “winning” — and since there can only be one champion, the vast majority collapses from a broken heart. And don’t celebrate too long. Next year’s gauntlet menaces for all the Little Leaguers and Big Leaguers and those far beyond the world of sports. Businesses can’t just make a profit; they must quash the competition and reign as Number One. In Washington, the party that’s lost its mind bare-knuckles with the party that’s lost its vision — and insanity’s apparent candidate shifts his views like a cold-calling salesman plying for customers. Win and only win. Don’t present a coherent program and argue for it; just launch attacks that are obvious plays for votes and nothing more — because it’s all about “me” and a pyrrhic November victory with no mandate to govern. Stand on the pedestal in January, then plow into the exhausting campaign for the next election. There’s no break.

They’re also unwitting icons of a nation in which relationships are swapped for medals and that transient moment on the pedestal. We do them no dishonor when we see that, nor do we help them by turning a blind eye to the price they paid for their brief triumph. We’re all paying that price. Perhaps it’s too high. – read the entire article by Charles Redfern

This other article discusses the unbelievable performance of 16-year old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen, that may very well be the result of grueling training in “Olympic factories” where the life is hard and athletes train because they were chosen, not because they wanted to. The author compares that with the more easy-going attitude of Great Britain, who may be satisfied with bronze. She also analyzes what these Olympic values mean for culture, society, and business:

You might, in fact, think about the things we call “success.” You might think that winning a medal if you’d taken drugs definitely didn’t count as success, but that you weren’t at all sure that winning a medal if you’d lived your life as a kind of prisoner did. You might think that annual economic growth of nearly 8 per cent sounded great, until you found out about the chemicals, and the nets. You might, in other words, think that sometimes the price of success was too high.

And if you were a citizen of a country that used to be a leading world power, and was now only the sixth biggest economy in the world, and which happened to be hosting the Olympics, you might be pleased. You might think that the opening ceremony, which was funny and charming and a little bit mad, told the world that we had a lot to be proud of, but that the most important thing about our country wasn’t our pride. You might think about the young men who won a medal that hadn’t been won for 100 years, and who practiced because they wanted to, and entered the Olympics because they wanted to. And you might well think that there were times when bronze was worth an awful lot more than gold. – read the entire article here.

I like these two articles because I believe it’s important to stop and consider what values we learn to believe in as we worship the Olympics and admire Olympians. I hope the paragraphs I extracted here motivate you to read them and consider: What does it mean to succeed? What is the price that’s worth paying for success? What does it mean for our society when there can only be one winner?

“Don’t try to relax.

Don’t try to quiet your mind.

Don’t try to be comfortable.

Don’t try to be peaceful.

Don’t try to be in some condition that might please people.

Don’t try to be spiritually advanced.

Don’t try to be intelligent.

Don’t try to control your energy.

Simply be in a state of not trying.

You can stay in this state for as much as you like and then if you have an inclination to do some action you can go ahead and perform that action with minimal effort and then return to the state of not trying. If words arise and you feel an inclination to speak, you can speak with minimal effort and return to the state of not trying.”

The trick, then, is to not try to not try…

 

 

On the fly

I’m traveling a lot these couple of weeks, and, even though I bought toesox to practice yoga during my trip, it isn’t happening. Too little time, too many

Soar

Soar

people I want to spend it with. As my teacher writes, being fully in the moment with them rather than wishing I were practicing yoga is my yoga these days. I don’t know if reading Yoga Journal on the plane counts?! 🙂

But what I do try to do wherever I am is to be present and mindful – and here is a wonderful article about integrating brief moments of mindfulness throughout the day. Excellent reminder.

Namaste,

M