Image from our Meditation 2018 wall calendar. Buddha statues © Anek. Click image for more info.
Gratitude has been on our minds a lot lately. It can be such a balm for the soul during times of stress and transition. As the new year begins to unfold, creating time to meditate on gratitude seems like a wonderful way to cultivate loving concern for ourselves as well as the world around us. Author and meditation teacher Jack Kornfield offers a beautiful and simple way for us to begin. Here is an excerpt from the original post on his website:
Buddhist monks begin each day with a chant of gratitude for the blessings of their life. Native American elders begin each ceremony with grateful prayers to mother earth and father sky, to the four directions, to the animal, plant, and mineral brothers and sisters who share our earth and support our life.
Gratitude is a gracious acknowledgment of all that sustains us, a bow to our blessings, great and small, an appreciation of the moments of good fortune that sustain our life every day. We have so much to be grateful for. Continue reading
Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we already are. — Pema Chödrön
Image from our Pema Chödrön 2017 wall calendar. Japanese white-eye on blossoming plum tree, Honshu, Japan © Toshiaki Ono.
When people start to meditate or work with any kind of spiritual discipline, they often think that somehow they’re going to improve, which is a sort of subtle aggression against who they really are. It’s a bit like saying, “If I jog, I’ll be a much better person.” “If I could get a nicer house, I’d be a better person.” “If I could meditate and calm down, I’d be a better person.” Or the scenario may be that they find fault with others; they might say, “If it weren’t for my husband, I’d have a perfect marriage.” “If it weren’t for the fact that my boss and I can’t get on, my job would be just great.” And, “If it weren’t for my mind, my meditation would be excellent.” Continue reading
A Thought From His Holiness The Dalai Lama:
Photograph by Oscar Fernández featured in our Dalai Lama 2017 wall calendar.
No matter whom I meet and where I go, I always give the advice to be altruistic, to have a good heart. From the time when I began to think until now, I have been cultivating this attitude of altruism. This is the essence of religion; this is the essence of the Buddhist teaching.
We should take this good heart, this altruism, as the very basis and internal structure of our practice and direct whatever virtuous activities we do toward its increase higher and higher. We should suffuse our minds with it thoroughly and use words or writings as means of reminding ourselves of the practice. Such words are the Eight Stanzas for Training the Mind, written by the Ga-dam-ba Ge-shay Lang-ritang- ba (1054 – 1123); they are very powerful even when practiced only at the level of enthusiastic interest. Continue reading
Image from our Meditation 2018 wall calendar. Tree ferns and waterfall © Andrew Watson. Click for more info.
It is often said that there are as many paths to meditation as there are meditators. These paths can be likened to streams flowing into the ocean. Each stream takes a unique course, but they all return to the source from which all waters originate.
The most commonly known forms of meditation share a few basic characteristics:
- Posture: Bring your body into a stable sitting position, in alignment, spine straight.
- Solitude: Bring yourself away to a quiet place where you may be relatively undisturbed.
- Silence: Bring yourself to silence.
- Mental quiescence: Bring your mind to stillness.
Image from our Power of Now 2017 wall calendar. Blue Dacnis, La Selva, Costa Rica © David Tipling. Click image for more info.
The sooner you realize that your outer purpose cannot give you lasting fulfillment, the better. When you have seen the limitations of your outer purpose, you give up your unrealistic expectation that it should make you happy, and you make it subservient to your inner purpose.
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Image from The Book of Awakening 2017 wall calendar. Heather in the fog, Overijssel, Netherlands © Ronald Kamphius. Click image for more.
“Loving yourself requires courage unlike any other. It requires us to believe in and stay loyal to something no one else can see that keeps us in the world – our own self-worth.”
— Mark Nepo
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Image from our Thich Nhat Hanh 2017 wall calendar featuring artwork by Nicholas Kirsten-Honshin. Click image for more details.
Sitting meditation is not to arrive
at some kind of enlightenment
in the future. When we sit, we have
a chance to be fully with ourselves.
Sitting on our cushion, we breathe
in such a way that we become fully alive;
we are fully present, in the here and the now.
—Thich Nhat Hanh
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Image from A New Earth 2017 wall calendar. Cathedral Rock reflected in Oak Creek at Red Rock Crossing, Arizona © Tim Fitzharris. Click image for more info.
We can learn not to keep situations or events alive in our minds, but to return our attention continuously to the pristine, timeless present moment rather than be caught up in mental movie-making. Our very Presence then becomes our identity, rather than our thoughts and emotions.
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