Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween brings in 7 billion people on Earth...


It is predicted that Earth will hit the 7 billion population mark on Halloween day...The future is uncertain and dangerously fragile...Sort of ironic don't you think?

I look at the faces of my kids, and I wander what the future will hold for them...I ask myself, what can I do to prepare myself, what can I do to prepare the ones I love...I ask myself this question over and over again? The path ahead will be rocky, its best to prepare oneself for it now...

Please explore http://7billionactions.org/, it is a great way to raise awareness about the world around us, as we reach this historic milestone.  The world around us is intricately tied up with the world in us...to change outside, we must change inside...lead simpler lives, inculcate compassion, curb our minds, contemplate, meditate...


flurries-of-snow-float-from-sky


North by East West
Picture "North by East West" kindly provided by mindgutter

I wrote this today enjoying the beautiful snow that came down:

Flurries of snow float from the sky...
Barefoot outside, I fly...
Let these little clouds of ice float right on top of me...
Let the snow flakes kiss my face, thousands of them floating above me is all I see...
My bare feet freeze below me, my body shivers...but I feel more alive then ever...
To go outside like this, one side of me would normally say never...
For now, I merge with the snow flakes, I forget about me...
As the ice melts, so does the mind, into what the eyes can't never see...



Thursday, October 27, 2011

learn-to-live-as-one

to-be-with-our-suffering

Buddha heartfully stoned
Picture "Buddha heartfully stoned" kindly  provided by h.koppdelaney

There is a lot of good reasons to care about one's emotions, health, peace of mind, productivity to name a few.  Emotions are the fuel to getting things done, however they can also bring you down,  bring about ill health if not attended too.

Gawler and Bedford indicate that there is two aspects of an emotion, the story, and the experience.  The first part is the story, the cognitive or thinking part the second is the experience, the feeling part. Most people stay with the cognitive part and avoid the feeling part because the feeling may be overwhelming, uncomfortable or may be a sign of weakness (in Aussie slang being a whoosy!)

We tend to repeat the story over and over in our heads, analyzing it from as many angles as possible, continuously fueling the feeling part without even realizing it.  We don't spend enough time paying attention to the feeling part in terms of what is happening to our body, because we are so caught up in thinking about it repeatedly!  Think of all the brain cycles caught up in this useless loop!

Gawler and Bedford say that paying attention to the experience or the feeling part transforms the emotion, I think that is quite powerful...To have strategy to diffuse the negative emotions by paying attention to what is happening to your body opens up many possibilities, so that we can curb our response more appropriately...an arrow of steel can be healed, but an arrow of a hurtful word may never be resolved in a life time...

To close I would like to quote an interesting section from Gawler and Bedford book "Meditation an In-depth Guide":
Mindfulness of emotions is a bit like an alchemical process, only it works! The torso of the body is made up of the throat, chest and abdomen, is the "crucible" By bringing attention to this crucible and allowing intense feelings to be experienced, a process of emotional transformation is initiated.  Out of vulnerability can grow courage and confidence. When we sit with uncomfortable emotions (lead), the emotions gradually unwind and are transformed; they become opportunities for developing spirtual virtues (gold).  The catalyst in this emotional transformation is compassion.  "Com" means with, "passion" means suffering. Compassion means "to be with our suffering" and not to avoid or run away from our vulnerable, soft center.



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

reinventing-storytelling


I watched Adam Wade at TedXPennQuarter last week, Adam was so funny in this speech.  A glimpse of me laughing is there at 8.09 minutes into the story.  I really enjoyed it and thought it was worth sharing...

Its pretty amazing that he was able to get so much laughs just by telling a personal intimate story, notice the details he goes into to make his story interesting and engaging, and how so much of it is something we can relate to.  Notice the vulnerabilities that he exposes, no macho man here, his story is real, his emotions are real, his humility is real...I loved how he finished up the speech...great guy too! caught up with him after the speeches and exchanged several perspectives...


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

happy-diwali-everyone

Candles
Picture "Candles" kindly provided by Adam Tinworth


Diwali is the festival of light, I really think  of it as a festival celebrating enlightenment...

What is enlightenment but a rediscovery of our own light, a remembrance of the divinity that we hold inside of us, something so precious, something we have long forgotten, the silent inner flame lives, because without it we would not be alive, thirsting for that chance, waiting patiently to vanquish the darkness and emptiness of our own minds, our own ignorance, our own lives...

May the light that is in our hearts shine so bright that it can be seen from space, may this light touch the wick in others through examples of our own compassion, through our own faith, through our own discipline.

Slowly but surely, the power of our own intrinsic goodness will come out benefiting us and all around us...and for this for me is the true meaning of Diwali.

Wishing my dear readers, a enlightening Diwali...

l

noam-chomsky-on-occupy-wall-street

Monday, October 24, 2011

why-do-we-ignore-our-most-important

Spirit + Nature
Picture "Spirit + Nature" kindly provided by h.koppdelaney

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.

It strikes me why we routinely ignore our most important assets, ourselves, our body, our emotions, our minds, our spirit.  Its almost like all different aspects of ourselves are living in different parts of the same house but not knowing or being intimate with each other.  Look around you, there is plenty of evidence, how many people stay in the current moment, witnessing with the full attention what is happening?

Take our bodies for example, in the Gym most people are either listening to music, watching TV, or reading a magazine rather than paying attention to their bodies while exercising.  Even the motive for Gym is mostly to have a body that others might find attractive...There is no harm in trying to look good, I must say, but I was more questioning the motive for people to go to the Gym, it seems to be more to look good (to appease the Ego), rather than to pay close attention to what the body needs (to know thyself)

I really liked Eckhart Tolle's comment on this in his book "The Power of Now":
The more consciousnesses you bring into the body, the stronger the immune system becomes. Its is as if every cell awakens and rejoices.  The body loves your attention. It is also a potent form of self-healing. Most illness creep in when you are not present in the body. If the master is not present in the house, all kinds of shady characters will take up residence there. When you inhabit your body it will be hard for unwanted guest to enter

A simple "mental body scan" is a great accessible method to get in touch with your body taking only 10-15 minutes a day...Paying attention to your body, emotions, thoughts pays large dividends, managing stress is free, energizing and pleasurable, yet we don't seem to have the time of day for it.

Don't sacrifice your piece of mind, health for anyone else...everyone has the obligation to put self leadership first, which naturally leads to real leadership...


cost-of-commoditize-everything

I see it everywhere, where there was once something beautiful, now it is shallow and skin deep,
What it was there before, is still there now, but a shallow reminisce of its former self
Stripped of its original glory, simplicity and beauty
It is now just a vehicle for funneling ignorance in the money printing machine
The system propagates the system, with no regards for the innocent,
Like invisible grim reapers, they wait patiently,
Best to be aware of these traps, 
So you don't be an easy victim for these modern day vampires...



Saturday, October 22, 2011

A glimmer of hope

Buddha Bridge
Picture "Buddha Bridge" kindly provided by h.koppdelaney

What strikes me today, is the amount of distilled knowledge available on meditation, in plain simple English, really good clear explanations, crisp and practical advice.  I don't feel personally that this is substitute for good teachers and company, but it sure does help!

For example a long time I did not know the difference between awareness and thinking.  I found the following piece of writing really interesting from "Meditation An In Depth Guide":

Awareness is silent, whereas thinking creates a commentary in words and pictures.
Awareness is receptive and formless, whereas thinking is active, and has form in words and pictures
Awareness is always in the present. We can only imagine the future because it does not exist, it has not arrived yet. Thinking via the use of memory and imagination, projects into the future or past.  The bird sings a sweet note, and then the thinking mind says, "Sweet birdsong", but the note is already gone.

Awareness is still and unchanging; it is the same now as it was five minutes ago and five years ago. Thinking, by contrasts always changing (like all the contents of awareness)
Awareness, being silent, is also by its nature accepting and nonjudgmental. Again thinking labels, interprets and evaluates.  Thinking is frequently judgement; it struggles to understand, solve, improve or fix things. Awareness is the capacity to simply observe what is in this current moment.

Not too long ago, all of this knowledge was locked up in the minds of yogis, meditation masters...Not that they did not want to share it, it was probably that they could only do so in their own culture, in their own language...People from the west flew to the east to gain access to these teachings.

What we are seeing is a merging of minds, through technology the world is no longer a segregated place...Through social media, one can gain insights that effect real change...

A glimmer of hope appears for the world at large to change for the better...through grace many teachers are emerging, like phoenixes rising from the ashes...



Thursday, October 20, 2011

Toastmaster Speaking to Inform - Speech 1 - Meditation on Compassion

ZEN
Picture "Zen" kindly provided by h.koppdelaney

There are 3 fundamental problems people are facing today at home and at work:
1.     Relationships
2.     Focus
3.     Leadership

What if I could tell you a way to improve your ability in all 3 of this using from just 30 minutes of your time daily?

From the mindful society seminar in New York by Omega a few weeks ago, it was shown that there were significant benefits associated with contemplation of compassion in children, novice mediators, as well as business leaders.

What is meditation?
I like the definition “Creating a space for grace” by a meditation teacher.

There are 3 types of meditation broad techniques: Meditation on Attention, Meditation on Intention, and Meditation on Inquiry...all of these make use of repetition.

Do not mistake these techniques for meditation, just like the finger point to the Moon is not the Moon.  Meditation is the outcome of patiently training yourself in these techniques day in day out.

Before we start I would ask you to try to relax and reserve 25% of your effort in doing the technique, another 25% for bring your mind back to the technique, and the last 50% (qoute from Gawler & Bedson) doing nothing but creating the space for grace.

Meditation on Compassion
Keep your attention on your hands, the sensations in your skin.
Bring your hands overhead holding heaven above...Pause
Bring your hands down opposite each other...Pause
Bring your hands together in prayer position in front of your chest (Qi Gong technique adapted from Master Li's Awakening the Soul)

Think about someone you love, repeat this contemplation (by Jack Kornfield) after me in your mind
May you be held in compassion
May you be free of pain and sorrow
May you be at peace

Direct that attention to yourself, and repeat the following in your mind
May I be held in compassion
May I be free from pain and sorrow
May I be in peace 
Pause in Silence

Bring that attention to everyone in this room, and repeat this contemplation out loud
May you be held in compassion
May you be free of pain and sorrow
May you be at peace 
Pause in Silence

To finish lets meditate on this inquiry to ourselves?
How can I be compassionate in my everyday life? Pause
How can I be compassionate in my everyday life? Pause
How can I be compassionate in my everyday life? Pause

Now it’s time to come back, how is everyone feeling? 
Did anyone see the moon?

Can we make space for grace to come into our lives every day? Or we think we can get through life without grace?




average-person-with-less-than-average

Buddha Mind
Picture "Buddha Mind" kindly provided by h.koppdelaney

Mahatma Gandhi Ji once said:
I claim to be no more than an average person with less than average ability.  I do not have a shadow of doubt that any man or woman can achieve what I have, if he or she would make the same effort and cultivate the same hope and faith...

Most people don't realize the innate abilities that is present in them already.  I like to think that everything is possible, but what separates you from what is possible is the time, faith and peseverance.  I was at TEDxPennQuarter this week and David Kord Murray gave account of his life, and said the single most important lesson he learnt was "being able to get up and try again after being kicked to the ground".

What might wander which endevour is worth pursuing? I say the only one is to know thyself...If you say that you already do, then you have already limited yourself to what you know about yourself....The relation between you and yourself, and you and the world is tied together so intricately, that it is almost impossible tear them apart...

So don't stop believing, don't stop dreaming, don't stop trying for a better future for yourself and the world around you...Don't doubt for a single moment that you don't have it in you...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

paradox-of-discomfort-in-meditation

Buddha heartfully stoned
Picture "Buddha heartfully stoned" kindly provided by h.koppdelaney
Often we make ourselves too comfortable in meditation, so comfortable that we just relax and go to sleep.  This could actually be detrimental to you, I often did this and I started getting a lot of migraines...My spiritual mentor used to say that we get ourselves so comfortable sitting for meditation that we actually just prepare ourselves to go to sleep sitting up!

I thought this particular writing was quite interesting from the book "Meditation An Indepth Guide" (Gawler & Bedson):

The back needs to be stright "like a pile of coins balanced one atop the other".....

Ideally, your posture will support your practice better if it is a little uncomfortable.  Yes, uncomfortable.  This was one of the things that Dr. Meares explained:
If we get into a comfortable position, say by lying in or on a bed, then it is easy to relax. We relax our body, and the relaxation comes from our body. On the other hand, if we were to relax in a position that is slightly uncomfortable to begin with, we need to use our mind to relax through the discomfort. In this way, the relaxation comes from our mind,.  Therefore it is actually quite helpful to make sure we use a position that is just slightly uncomfortable for us.

Master Li advised in a class if we are sitting on a chair, then we should sit at the edge of the chair.  His "Awaking the Soul" Qi Gong Meditation embodies discomfort :) he says one must learn how to relax in discomfort :), I feel a certain amount of self control over the mind, body, senses is developed through this practice of discipline (Tapas) in Sanskrit.

The most comfortable uncomfortable posture I have found personally was from Paul Grilley the "Burmese Seated Meditation Posture".  The video below has the different postures available as well as the Burmese one about 1 minute in.  



Monday, October 17, 2011

A spoonful of salt

Buddha's Eagle
Picture Buddha's Eagle kindly provided by h.koppdelaney

We often look at our problems as insurmountable...however if we look deeper, and expand our consciousness, they are really quite inconsequential.

There is a lot to be grateful for if you look carefully, even suffering has a purpose, to make you grow stronger, to make you grow wiser, to drive you to your real self otherwise you will just be too complacent.  We often can't see around the corner, yet in retrospect, everything leading up to now seems to makes sense, even so called mistakes...

I love this beautiful piece of writing by Jack Kornfield in his book "The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindess and Peace", there is a lot of depth in this few lines.  My spiritual mentor always said "through meditation mountains become molehills", reading this I know what that means:
If you put a spoonful of salt in a cup of water
It tastes very salty
If you put a spoonful of salt in a lake of fresh water
the taste is still pure and clear.


So it is with us, if our minds are filled with the pettiness of everyday, the garbage of the media, our own struggles for power, what else do we expect but suffering, on the other hand, if we build in the practice of daily meditation, and experience that sense of expansion, the boundaries of the ego melt away, the joy in being and giving become reality...problems sort themselves out, and we will be in peace...




Sunday, October 16, 2011

compassion-and-blind-man

Golden Path
Picture "Golden Path" kindly provided by h.koppdelaney
It's hard to practice compassion when you know you are being wronged at times...an appropriate response is required, but it needs to be tempered with compassion, try to imagine using your anger as flame to cook some food, rather than a flame thrower out of control...the first is beneficial for both parties, the second destroys the relationship and everything else in its path...Here is a great story I like contemplating when I need to be more compassionate from Jack Kornfield's book The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace:


Alan Wallace illustrates a truth from the Tibetan teachings. Imagine walking along a sidewalk with your arms full of groceries, and someone roughly bumps into you so that you fall and your groceries are strewn over the ground. As you rise up from the puddle of broken eggs and tomato juice, you are ready to shout out, “You idiot! What’s wrong with you? Are you blind?” But just before you can catch your breath to speak, you see that the person who bumped into you actually is blind. He (/She), too, is sprawled in the spilled groceries, and your anger vanishes in an instant, to be replaced by sympathetic concern: “Are you hurt? Can I help you up?” Our situation is like that. When we clearly realize that the source of disharmony and misery in the world is ignorance, we can open the door of wisdom and compassion.


Friday, October 14, 2011

meditation-in-depth-guide


Just got this book "Meditation An In-Depth Guide" from Georgetown Library, they really have some fantastic books there. The authors are referencing places in Australia that I am very familiar with! Blue Mountain, Glebe, Melbourne...It makes me kind of homesick, but hey you never know where life takes you, and what you end up doing. That's the beauty of it all, wait for them waves, when they comes ride them like there is no tomorrow, if you get dunked relax, don't panic, move out of it, go out and ride another one!

Here's is a beautiful poetic verse from the first chapter of the book where Paul Bedson tells his story, it resonated so strongly with me that I had to read this many many times over, here it is:

Looking back, I see the path that has unfold on this meditation journey, the path that has brought me to this place, here today. My journey was navigated by the compass of grace, the guidance of many valued teachers and the good fortune to have listened to the "still, small voice" inside my heart --the voice of Spirit. This meditation journey has revealed an intimate love affair with the life within me, outside of me, and beyond, into the silent, nameless realms of awe and mystery. Like whispers echoing from a silent core.

Meditation has given me a deep reverence for the Divine, as it reveals itself in this ordinary life that we share. It has been a humbling process, learning to let go, learning when to trust and when to wait and see. Learning what I do not know, what I cannot know, and what I do not need to know. Basically how to "mind my own business"


And it has been an empowering process:learning that I have direct access to the source of creativity and goodness that sustains all life. I have learned that we are all One, that we are all connected, and therefore, my choices, my words and my deeds, my being, has an impact on all beings. This life does matter; I am important and special.


And you are important and special, and you can make a difference in your life, by paying attention to your choices, words, deeds, and your very being to impact yourself and all around you...


Thursday, October 13, 2011

qi-gong-yoga-is-gift


This is a beautiful video by Master Li.  Although he talks about Sheng Zhen Qi Gong specifically, one can include any form of Yoga & Meditation into this category.  What we are no-one can know with everyday consciousness , one who knows, knows the folly of trying to explain what we truly are...Qi Gong and Yoga helps unlock our potential, leading us down the path of self discovery of our own awareness and potential preparing a fertile ground for meditation and the exploration of consciousness to take place.

In today's extremely stressful environment one needs several  "legs" of a table to be able to live a meaningful life, have meaningful relationships, do meaningful work, have meaningful insights.  Master  Li's Sheng Zhen has been a wonderful gift to me, complementing my other personal practices all of which I treasure.    Particularly powerful they are because, they distill the essence of timing, breathing, mindfulness and life force itself (Qi/Prana)...they create a space of expansiveness, opening up the heart, and clearing up the blocks  in the mind or body.  Some would call it dissolution of karma...


art-of-forgiveness-lovingkindness-peace

I have almost finished reading this excellent book  "The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness & Peace" by Jack Kornfield.  I would love to meet Jack one day, his legendary book "A Path with Heart" was the first book that lead me to the path of independent thinking and investigation on matters of the spirit.

The book is a short read, divided into 3 sections on Forgivness, Lovingkindess & Peace. Each section has an excellent meditation to contemplate and develop these qualities. Although each meditation is only a few pages long, to practice it would take years, so it is with many important lessons in life.


If we must change then we must integrate what we are trying to learn, the first step is contemplation, the second step is action, the third result is joy, that comes about by the fruitful contemplation and action, much by itself.





Monday, October 10, 2011

awakening-soul-qi-gong



I had the good fortune of learning the "Awaking the Soul" Qi Gong Form (above) from Master Li as well as hearing him speak on some important world issues recently.  It took everyone by surprise watching him jump onto the almost waist height table with the agility of a cat.  Master Li turned 73 in the same week!

The following is my recollection of Master Li's talk and discussion (in italics) based on my understanding:


Master Li indicated that the world is going through a difficult transition period at the moment, people are very stressed, people are overloaded with information, people have too many desires.  All this results in a majority of people being very unhappy (and very unwell), even if they have outwardly comforts

Just look at the pills people pop these days, its almost like a small meal 3 times a day!, "having endless desires" is the worst curse one can put oneself through, I feel. Just imagine yourself as a "Chinese Hungry Ghost" which has a huge belly and a tiny mouth!  There is almost 7 billion people on Earth today, if you take half this amount all having unquenchable desires, how long will it take to deplete Earth's natural resources? It may be just only enough to sustain the planet as it is.  Lets play "Spot the Hungry Ghost"...be it an individual, be it a corporation, be it a country, tell me how many you find?...There is a cree prophecy that says "Only after the last tree has been cut down, Only after the last river has been poisoned, Only after the last fish has been caught, Only then will you find money cannot be eaten"

Master Li  drew a comparison to the planet Earth and Human Beings, he indicated that if one just has one physical ailment in the human body, it affects the whole person, similarly affecting just one part of planet Earth has implications for the whole planet. 

I asked Master Li, what is the difference between Yoga, Pranayama and Qi Gong, he replied once you start working at an energy level, it is all just Qi Gong...

Master Li shared the "Awakening the Soul" form, this was the Form which Master Li used to "give birth" to all the other wonderful forms through the insights achieved from this Form. Pamela Tantan kindly gave me the following clarifications: "The system is called Sheng Zhen Wuji Yuan Gong or ... Sheng Zhen...the foundation of the system is Zhongtian Yiqi Meditation. Awakening the Soul is a form that came a little later. It was the meditation that Master Li says really opened him up to receive the (many other beautiful) forms."

Awakening the Soul is a very powerful Qi Gong Form, capable of generating a massive amount of Qi. Master Li says moving Qi Gong circulates the Qi, where as stillness increases and stores Qi in the body, calms the nerves down, gives one peace and opens up the heart...Meditation is what the world needs today to negate society's negative habits going rampant without control like a wild elephant in a flower garden!

Whats wonderful about Master Li's Qi Gong Forms are the powerful visualizations that go with them.  The Awakening the Soul visualizations are:
1. Opening the heart
2. Love descends on me
3. Unraveling the heart
4. Suddenly lifting the veil
5. Hold heaven grounded on Earth
6. Free oneself to become a saint
7. Walk to the center of Heaven
8. Return to the origin


The poetry in the video is out of this world, although it only goes to movement 5, the video is a piece of art itself., you can pick up the last moments from other videos, however its never quite the same to learn first hand.  In this case the video captures very vivid imagery.

I hope everyone gets a chance to have a workshop with Master Li in Shen Zhen Qi Gong one day, his perfection of technique, is only surpassed by the generosity of his heart, always showing humility, kindness, compassion to everyone...




Saturday, October 8, 2011

self-dignity-vs-ego

Buddha in my Heart
Picture "Buddha in my Heart" kindly provided by h.koppdelaney
What is the difference between acting with dignity and acting with Ego? There is a lot actually...No-one can run away from Ego, it is a natural faculty that we need to survive, otherwise we would give the shirts off our backs to anyone who needs it! It is a basic survival instinct, if we look at it that way, and let it do its job, we can tame it to be a healthy ego, one that will work for us.

The trouble is when we identify with the Ego as a sole reason for our existence, as a substitute for our soul, then it is shallow, self serving, all consuming and quite frankly inconsiderate and obnoxious. We have to treat the ego as a means to an end, it needs to fulfill its purpose, to help us preserve the necessities in life, so that we have time for contemplation, time for meditation , time for service. Only if our house is in order, we can help others do so, only when we have peace of mind, we can offer it to others, only if we guard ourselves with humility, can the leadership of the spirit shine through...

Dignity on the other hand is knowing that one deserves to stand equal to any other human being because of a fundamental right, because we recognize all things are fundamentally not different but one, just like rays from the same sun.  Dignity as defined in Wikipedia: "Dignity is a term used in moral, ethical, and political discussions to signify that a being has an innate right to respect and ethical treatment".  One should have the dignity to be able stand up to anyone, be it your boss, be it the president, be it the queen and speak in confidence, heartfully of whatever matters purely because one understands this as a basic right, and that all are truly created equal.

It is a powerful thing to act with conviction when you are driven by self dignity and guarded by humility. Look at Gandhi, he had self dignity, he was able to throw out an entire British empire because they could not take that away from him. Gandhi also said that that "he is is own worst enemy", referring to his own ego.  Jim Collins author of "Good To Great" identifies the best leaders as level 5 leaders that built companies that persevered and outperformed all others, had an interest common attribute, humility forged with a passion for doing what was right for their people and organisation (dignity), putting this in front of their own selfish interests many times.  How rare is this? compare this with today's corporate greed and ridiculous payouts when people have no jobs!  Look at the Dalai Lama, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar with their simple robes, their message and beliefs is more important then themselves.

When you are driven by a positive value, then it is not called an action, its called a movement! Movement of the consciousness materialized on the earthly plane, full of fruitful intention...it is powerful stuff, it is Matrix material :)!

Humility, self dignity, service is the perfume that evolved souls adorn themselves with. Please ponder this deeply in your mind as you go about your day to day life.




Thursday, October 6, 2011

toastmaster-storytelling-manual-speech

Roaring
Picture Roaring kindly provided by dynamosquito under CC
I delivered my first speech today from the Toastmaster Storytelling Manual on a story I wrote based on an old Indian spiritual fable, "The Lion that thought it was a sheep", I threw in bits of the Lion King and some last minute improvisations during the speech.

I was trying to do a lot in this speech, the intensity of my speech built up during the speech ending the speech with the climax of the moral of the story. I set myself some goals to vary the vocals, deliberate pauses, use of inflections, and adjusting the tempo. Its difficult to do that facing a roomful of 20 odd people, establishing a personal connection all at the same time.

Famous actors don't give award winning performances by reading the scripts the day before, they work hard honing in their skills on vocal training, facial expressions, acting day in day out, building these skills one at a time so that they can come together on the day that it is needed. So is it with speaking and anything else thing else really, what we are trying to do is work those skills into long term memory so they become automatic. Toastmaster is a great safe and affordable environment to practice speaking with impact...




Tuesday, October 4, 2011

do-you-dare

Buddha heartfully stoned
Picture "Budda heartfully stoned" kindly provided by h.koppdelaney
I have always wanted to write a song, here is one I wrote recently:

Do You Dare?
You say you love me,
You say you need me,
How can you say that to me?
When your actions don't seem to agree?


Chorus
Do you dare, do you dare?
To drop your pride, can you really care?
Do you dare, do you dare?
To give more of yourself, can you really share?
Do you dare, do you dare?
To commit yourself, how well will you fare?


Where does your time go?
I see you waste it so much so?
Stop before its too late
Don't seal your fate
Just give me your thoughts and your mind
Leave all the rest behind

Chorus
Do you dare, do you dare?
To drop your pride, can you really care?
Do you dare, do you dare?
To give more of yourself, can you really share?
Do you dare, do you dare?
To commit yourself, how well will you fare?

Do you love me?
Do you love me?
I will wait for you to realize in time
What you are missing inside...



Saturday, October 1, 2011

building-mindful-society


I managed to catch some of the "Creating a Mindful Society" town hall which was kindly streamed online.  Thanks to the thoughtfulness of Sounds True to make this available as a live stream to anyone.  

There where some great questions, please pardon my notes, paraphrasing and interpretation if they are not fully accurate and my lack of reference of the speakers:

Q. How is mindfulness different to meditation?
Mindfulness is a subset of mindfulness practice, mindfulness is generation of non-judgement fully attentive way of being.  Mindful works better with meditation because a formal meditation practice modifies internal state in a way that compliments mindfulness, both go hand in hand, like the left hand and right hand.  Mindfulness is moment by moment acceptance without judgement, (it involves awareness, but not necessarily thinking), which also happens in a formal meditation practice, both together come together in a form a perfect union. (I personally don't see much difference in them, although  with meditation you put some time aside, and focus on the meditation technique, I like to think that mindfulness integrates meditation into daily life)

Q. Positive Psychology vs Mindfulness
Happiness arrives in a spontaneous way with Mindfulness, its there, Positive Psychology although a step in the right direction, has lack of emphasis on specific paths to cultivate happiness, there is a difference between wholesomeness and (outwardly) happiness.  (Mindfulness lets you experience the whole range of your emotions, rather than denying them, accepting them as a teacher, learning from them.  Mindfulness, Meditation, Yoga, Qi Gong, Pranayama are all a laboratory to experiment and realize who you really are!).  A funny story was related when a Japanese scientist asked the Dalai Lama what was the most happiest time in your his life, the Dalai Lama replied saying "I think right now!"

Q3. There were several questions on how to make the mindful movement more prominent.
There were several answers, but the message was clearly that we don't want to create a false movement, better do just act in a mindful way, and to try to set up ways to practice and talk about it in your own circle.  Jon Kabat-Zinn indicated that if we unfold it in a conventional way then we may fall prey to conventional pitfalls as well.  Jon Kabat-Zinn said that one cannot put a center on awareness, and one cannot find the periphery of awareness.  He also said that we needed to be patient, and that a thousand year view of mindfulness unfolding could be taken, let us be patient and "lets not push the river", let us embody our own understanding, our own truths, and don't commoditize this, that would be a kiss of death.  Jon Kabat-Zinn said that we did not have to have a master plan of how it will unfold (otherwise it would be artificial, and there is already plenty of that in the world today!)

One of the lady speakers mentioned on could start with places where we work, in our organisation, mindfulness training can help organisations, leaders today can make better change, every person can learn to put purposeful pause in before caught up in a knee jerk society tends to make.  Create communities, do it in your work space, create a drop in environment.  (I think this is the key personally, it is industry that create jobs, that create the economics to support the society and the environment.  It is the industries that need to think about the financial, social and environmental ecosystem of their communities and the planet!)   

Jon Kabat-Zinn said we can look at action itself as a meditation to be held in silence "What is next? Hold it in the silence of now, and be very aware of the impulse to act, and trust that whatever that is required of you will flower in its own time".  This is a political act, a gestational process, is what is required is trust that we have intelligence to do what is right, when the time is right, in something that looks a lot like doing nothing.  Don't fall into a dualistic view that I have to do something, take a stand sitting in silent, be very aware of impulse, and trust that it will flower in its own time.  This is fundamental in a more mindful unfolding of society and the world.

Jon Kabat-Zinn also said that one should not fall into a trap of  a new speak of love, kindness, or compassion, we could use the words as little as possible, and simply be loving, kind and compassionate. Be in the doing rather the talking.  Don't make it into a problem that you have to solve "trust your heart", your essence is already love and compassion "there is a reality that there is a aspect of our being that we can visit from time to time, that is beyond thought, have fidelity, authenticity, trust in our own hearts, practice it, enact it, embody it, be it failing over and over again, what's the big deal yourself if you fall on the ground, that's how these muscle are going to exercise us.

Saki Santorelli paused briefly and said Revolutions can create shallowness.  He then asked ourselves to ask the following questions of us:

What has been entrusted to you?
What have you been endowed with?
These are not easy questions to answer, but let it lead you.

Saki Santorelli went on to say, lets us put one foot in front the other, and try to walk, to roll up sleeves and say here I am.  We each are entrusted with something, endowed with something, Do just that, Be just that .  World will not change if we don't act (if we don't contemplate).  Failures are a good thing , it serves a good purpose, helping each of us will find our own way.  We don't need to drumbeat about to announce it, just discover you own happiness, own sadness, own capacity to love, its all about being a human being.  Just get out your own way to be a human being.  Take responsibility in your own way.

There was some mention of some links and references, so I pulled together what I could while watching and family: Studies at NIHInformation overload CIO Google mindful.org, Jon Kabat-Zinn & Google (video above), Indra's net.

I hope everyone gets a chance to see the recasting of some of the events, including me starting Oct 3 @ live.soundstrue.com, it may be available for 30 days free (Thank you once again soundstrue for your gracious and thoughtful actions to share this experience across the world).

This event fills me with hope, and gratitude that there are some really good people out there that can help people like us, help us change for the better and that  change in the world is possible, be it difficult as it seems now..



karma-for-dummies


The knowledge of many lifetimes are captured here in this brilliant explanation of Karma by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, many may say that they don't believe in Karma, well one may not believe in the law of Gravity, so would it  stop one from stepping into the path of a falling piano?

Karma is a complicated subject, but it does make sense in a grand scale of creation, there is a underlying reason for everything, and yes, including you reading my post right now!

I picked up some gems from his video and paraphrased it according to my own understanding:

Karma is action, that results from the impressions of the mind, the action it has produced, and the new impressions it is going to produce in the mind in the future which will cause further actions.  Karma is latent impressions in the consciousness, which propels you to do an action, the present action in turn creates impressions in the consciousness, which propels you to do further actions.

The impression of action, the action and its impact is all called karma, the whole universe is full of impressions.  The skill is to live in karma but yet not affected by it, this is what is yoga, In the Bhagawan Gita Lord Krishna says "one who sees action in inaction, and inaction in action" is the most intelligent man.  I take this as acting without attachment or ego.

To get rid of Karma, we have to get rid of these deep mental impressions.  There are negative impressions which cause us suffering, we need to get rid of these, then there are positive impressions which gives us peace and joy these are ones we need to keep.

The way to get rid of negative impressions is by relaxing, pranayama, meditation or positive action. Positive impressions are like soap which washes away negative impressions, however attachment to positive impressions also turns them negative. The second step, to be free of attachment to positive impressions as well. Nirvana is when you are not attached to anything positive or negative.

Freedom does not mean stopping action, but doing it guided by your inner light and being a witness to the actions. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar compares a child's response to a vaccination shot as to an adult, in the former life is much more miserable, because one does not understand that the shot is good for oneself.

Also interesting is the mention of stored karma, present karma and future karma.  Stored karma can be erased, future karma can be modified, however present karma is like a arrow leaving the bow, it is in mid flight it cannot be changed, only your attitude towards it can be changed.

I hope you take the time to watch the video, a master is one who can explain the most complex of things simply. We are blessed to have someone like him alive today...