Saturday, December 31, 2011

in the new year

Heart Chakra Energy
Picture "Heart Chakra Energy" kindly provided by h.koppdelaney
in the new year, have no fear
be the change you want the world to be
see the change within you, in the world you want to see
the two are not so far apart, as you may think
together, we will all stop this ship of madness to sink
but it needs to start with me & you, with a few
write, speak, act with love and compassion,
live a mindful life of gratitude, live a mindful life of passion,
happy new year,
remember in the new year have no fear...


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year Everyone!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Here is a tip for new year's resolutions. Keep them to yourself!




Monday, December 26, 2011

Qi Gong



Imagine a knot, tie it many times over, until you cannot tie it any more...now imagine what this is like to undo...well the same thing happens with our minds, emotions & bodies...many years go by, closed body postures, poor working conditions, stressful situations, you can imagine what can happen to you...imagine what happens to the subtle electrical currents that need to move in these layers...

I love this video, it is really something else, it started me on the Qi Gong journey, I only stumbled on it by chance personally...Qi Gong allows you to unclog those subtle energy pathways, gather and recharge Qi/Prana from nature...

I highly recommended Qi Gong...here is two links I brought across from my old blog, the first was some basic pillars of Qi Gong, the second is one of the most popular Form "The 8 brocades"...


Amazing Grace...


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Moola Mantra




Om Sat Chit Ananda Parabramha
Purushottama Paramatma
Sri Bhagavathi Sametha
Sri Bhagavate Namaha


Tweet - pray for the gift that is priceless

Buddha heartfully stoned
Picture "Buddha heartfully stoned" kindly provided by h.koppdelaney
merry Xmas everyone...give the gift that can't be wrapped, pray for the gift that is priceless...maybe the greatest gift has already been given to us...waiting to be unwrapped with our minds...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Zen @ Starbucks

Good Night Buddha
Picture "Good Night Buddha" kindly provided by h.koppdelaney
I bumped into my yoga instructor today while I was getting a coffee from Starbucks, it was good to see E, a kind hearted brilliant yoga instructor, and a friend. We sat down for a coffee, somehow people you meant to talk to just turn up sometimes…I thought I would capture some of my words that happen in this short space of time…

“You, me everyone in this cafĂ©, we all have the same potential, because we all have the same soul…you can say it is the energizer battery in us, only it is immortal, intelligent, compassionate…now what’s the difference between the people in the room then…is that some of us, work hard to get our negative habits out of the way.   The process never really ends, because once you say that you are done, you are complacent again...

There is a few ways to do it, one is to replace it with positive habits that give more long term internal satisfaction, contemplating on opposing positive attitudes, cultivating stillness of mind, like a wise Tibetan teacher once said, that if you let the mind settle down into stillness, the deluge gets settled at the bottom, and the mind like the water on top gets clear and can be poured out into a clear glass.

People don’t realize the that consistent training using simple basic techniques like holding discomfort of body, staying present with it, softening to it has a direct link to being able to do it in uncomfortable situations at home, at work…this would have saved me much heartbreak in the past…but hey that’s in the past…what matters is now…and the training that we can instill in our self in the training ground of our own intimate self that matters…”


Friday, December 9, 2011

The poverty line of happiness…

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Follows is my Toasmaster speech which I am doing next week as a key note:

In the world bank global poverty indicators, the poverty headcount ratio is at $1.25 a day (PPP)
(% of population) 41.7% in 1990 to 25.2% in 2005.  As more and more people come out of physical poverty they are faced with a different type of poverty, a poverty of mental happiness.

In an interview the following dialog takes place between Oprah and the Dalai Lama:
Oprah: Though many Americans have read your book about happiness, some still don't understand how to achieve it. How can someone attain true happiness in a culture that emphasizes materialism? 


Dalai Lama: Even when a person has all of life's comforts—good food, good shelter, a companion—he or she can still become unhappy when encountering a tragic situation. Physical comforts cannot subdue mental suffering, and if we look closely we can see that those who have many possessions are not necessarily happy. In fact, being wealthy often brings even more anxiety. On the other hand, those who don't have a life filled with luxury may have a home filled with compassion, based on their choice to be content and to practice self-discipline. Even when we have physical hardships, we can be very happy.


Oprah: So happiness begins in our minds?


Dalai Lama: Yes. That's why mental happiness is more important than physical comfort. Physical comfort comes from the material. But material facilities cannot provide you with peace of mind.
Read more: http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Oprah-Interviews-The-Dalai-Lama/2#ixzz1g71lsmro

According to NIH, at least 1 in 4 Americans suffer from some sort of mental health problem every year.  

Is this what we want to bring the rest of the world into? by lifting them out of a poverty of physical needs to a poverty of mental health.  Do we just replace one set of suffering with a different more difficult set of suffering to solve?

Here is some interesting research from Harvard university that used an IPhone app to randomly sample people (embedded video) shows when we actually feel happy in our daily life…

Mean happiness reported during each activity
(top) and while mind wandering to unpleasant
topics, neutral topics, pleasant topics or not
mind wandering (bottom). Dashed line indicates
mean of happiness across all samples. Bubble area
indicates the frequency of occurrence. The largest
bubble (“not mind wandering”) corresponds to
53.1% of the samples, and the smallest bubble
(“praying/worshipping/meditating”) corresponds to
0.1% of the samples.

If we have a look at this chart it gives us some interesting insights, things that we think may give us joy, actually don’t make us happy at all, or only slightly happy, rest, working, home computer, grooming, watching TV, yet it seems that this is where spend most of our time.

The other big insight that this research shows us is that we are most happiest when we are devoted to one thing at a time, how often do you think that happens in todays environment, 80%, 50%, 10%? look at your own minds what percentage of your time is your mind not wandering? is it present in your what you are doing right now, not the in the past or future?

So if you want to be more happy what do you think you should be doing or rather not doing (not mind wandering, if you did this 1/2 of the time you would be less stress, a lot more happier half of the time. 

There are specific training that can help you do this, typically based on Zen principles of mindfulness, being in the present moment, non-attachment, compassion, simplicity, meditation.

This speech does not give me much time to go through various aspects Zen teachings, however I would like to tell a simple story that illustrates many aspects of these ancient attitudes that are mostly forgotten in the modern world which leads to suffering.

A monk was travelling with his student, both had vowed a oath of celibacy, until they came to a river, there was a beautiful woman at the edge, who was lavishly dressed to go to a wedding, however the bridge between the shallow river had been broken, the young student monk, being the stronger and faster one, walking ahead got to the river first, and asked what was the problem.


The young woman, asked “I need to go to a wedding, but I cannot ruin my dress, could you  kindly lift here across the shallow water, I will give you some money for that”,  The young monk thinking about what his master would say exclaimed “Oh no, I cannot do that, we as monks are not supposed to touch a woman, and my master will be very upset”


The master arrived and asked what was the problem, the young monk exclaimed righteously how the young woman was trying to “corrupt” him by asking him to taking him across the river.  The old master upon hearing this gestured to the woman “may I”, and lifted her up with a clean swoop, the woman wrapped her arms around him in the fear off being dropped.  


On reaching the other side, the women took out some coins, and gave it to the master, the master said “kindness is not kindness if it demands a price”, departing the woman gave him a affectionate hug, and made her way.


They walked to the monastery, and the young man was upset for various reasons, one how could the master be such a hypocrite, secretly he also wished he got the same attention from the woman, as she was very beautiful.


The Master now moving on from his gracious deed, had forgotten about it, in enjoying every second of the beautiful scenery of the mountain along the way, he was hummed a folk song, felt the cool breeze caressing his bald head, while the young student was roasting in the fire of his emotions…


The student could not take it any more, and he demanded an explanation “Master, how can you touch a woman? we are taught not to give attention to such things, how could you carry her”


The master paused thoughtfully and then replied “Well, I left her at the river 4 hours ago, you on the other hand still seem to be carrying her”


So the poverty of happiness is real, the line exists, to move on the right side of the line, involves a shift in attitudes, discipline, and it pays off in real joy, it seems that the modern comforts of today and the things that we think make us happy don’t actually make us happy at all and a major factor of happiness is being in the present moment.

There are ancient practices like Zen and Meditation, which are probably more relevant in today’s stressful life then ever, if we cultivate and practice this self disciple, we will live happier lives, and this happiness will extend to those around us. at home, at work…if everyone starts doing this on a global scale, the world will be a kinder, more compassionate place for our future generations to enjoy…


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A guide from beyond

Dharma
Picture "Dharma Singing in the Rain" kindly provided by h.koppdelaney

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival

A joy, a depression, a meanness
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture
still, treat each guest honorably
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight

The dark thought, the same, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond...

~Rumi~

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Zen in Las Vegas

Dharma Moon
Fantastic picture "Dharma Moon" kindly provided by h.koppdelaney
I have been on a technology related conference all last week in Las Vegas, learning about social, mobile, cloud, “gamification”, “management hacks”….there is a lot of change happening in this space.  The technology landscape is changing quite quickly, and will impact the way work is done in the future.  There is even a government in a box being developed which looks quite interesting.

Using the Zen principle of “beginner mind”, one needs to hold a natural curiosity of things in awareness that is related to one’s profession and just let this natural curiosity drive the learning. If you see a child, curiosity and awareness goes hand in hand, a child can go for hours experimenting and learning….

I was talking to an intelligent and eloquent friend, he expressing some frustration at not doing something about his great ideas.  This is something I can relate to, however I always found this made me more distant to what I had to do every day…I said the key is to hold the intent, with a certain amount of detachment…He did not quite understand that, and my other work buddy next to me broke in with a great Zen story.   I had heard this story before, I wanted to share it with you with some of my own adaptations Smile

A monk was travelling with his student, both had vowed a oath of celibacy, until they came to a river, there was a beautiful woman at the edge, who was lavishly dressed to go to a wedding, however the bridge between the shallow river had been broken, the young student monk, being the stronger and faster one, walking ahead got to the river first, and asked what was the problem.

The young woman, asked “I need to go to a wedding, but I cannot ruin my dress, could you  kindly lift here across the shallow water, I will give you some money for that”,  The young monk said “Oh no, I cannot do that, we as monks are not supposed to touch a woman, and my master will be very upset”

The master arrived and asked what was the problem, the young monk exclaimed righteously how the young woman was trying to “corrupt” him by asking him to taking him across the river.  The old master upon hearing this gestured to the woman “may I”, and lifted her up with a clean swoop, the woman wrapped her arms around him in the fear off being dropped.  On reaching the other side, the women took out some coins, and gave it to the master, the master said “kindness is not kindness if it demands a price”, departing the woman gave him a affectionate hug, and made her way.

They walked to the monastery, and the young man was upset for various reasons, one how could the master be such a hypocrite, secretly he also wished he got the same attention from the woman, as she was very beautiful.

He could not take it any more, and he demanded an explanation “Master, how can you touch a woman? we are taught not to give attention to such things, how could you carry her” The master paused thoughtfully and then replied “Well, I left her at the river, you on the other hand still seem to be carrying her”

The Master was able to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the mountain on the way, he was singing a folk song, he remembered as a child, and the joy of the breeze hitting his bald head, while the young student was roasting in the fire of his emotions…

Applying the moral of this story, what needs to be done, needs to be done, however one need not be attached to the results of the action, the young monk was attached to anger, while the master was not attached to even joy, yet he acted without hesitation and with clarity.  Too often we get tied up with attachment to whatever happened good or bad, this traps valuable energy in us, that could be used to get to our goal or make progress towards it…

I said to my friend, there is a lot of Zen that can be applied in every day life including work, at which he was interested in borrowing a book from me.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Zen, Zombies & Karma - ZZK Chapter 3

Follow the Flow
Picture "Follow the Flow" kindly provided by h.koppdelaney
Zen Mindfulness Techniques
Mindfulness is an essential ingredient in meditation, meditation itself cannot be described, only the meditation technique can be described, likewise mindfulness itself cannot be described only the techniques can be described, you probably use mindfulness already in much of your life, particularly when you are doing something you enjoy, or are with someone you love, the trick is how do you use it to dance with your Karma.

As with everything there is technique, from applying that technique, one gets to use the technique more skillfully without thinking too much about the technique.  There is a view that it takes about 10000 hours to master any technique, so the more we do it everyday the faster we get to master it and, more joy and peace comes into our lives.

Often there is disappointment when a new technique is tried, we are all impatient creatures, we expect instant gratification, I told my friend I was having coffee with the other day, expect a 3 year learning circle, and it is worth every single moment that you spend on it.

One needs to realise that there is a learning cycle that happens with everything, and we need to give up so easy.  The cycle goes something like this, first we don’t know that we don’t know, then we know that we don’t know, then we know that we know, the we forget that we know, we just know, everything happens automatically.

There are many great books on Zen mindfulness, the technique itself is so simple that it can be explained in a few lines:
- Be totally in the present moment,
- Be aware of what is happening within and without,
- Reserve judgement,
- Be compassionate to yourself and others

I often like to use the analogy of an anchor and the ship.  Imagine a ship in a storm, it will get tossed and taken anywhere, but if there is an anchor the ship will hold steady until the storm passes.  The anchor is the attention focusing technique, that keeps the ship steady rooted to the bottom of the ocean.  Once the mind is held in the present, awareness and deeper contemplation takes place, coupled with compassion, only favourable responses or Karmas are possible.

They key to mindfulness is directing your mind to be present right here, right now, resist the urge to do anything else other than what you are doing.  Practising control over this urge is what you what to develop.

I like to practice this using Qi Gong, you could apply this to anything really.  It was the weekend of the Satnam Fest and Yogi Akasha was doing his overarm lion breathing, for at least 10 minutes and he kept on going, I spoke to him afterwards, and talked to him about it, he said, my arms still hurt yesterday but it is Tapas (Sanskrit word for purification, which is a poor translation), the next week I found some shifts happening in concentration, I was positive it was because of the weekend experience.  The more that I thought about it, the more I realised it was not just the techniques, also I am sure certain Asanas help a lot, it was simply practice of will power that made the difference.  I was able to confirm this by applying it to the Qi Gong Forms I did yielding similar results.

Once you practice it on a small controlled basis, then it really helps to be able to apply it to daily life.  You notice the most effective people are the ones that can harness their intelligence, by rituals, focus, presence, and being emotionally connected.

That's what being mindful is all about, its a skill you can learn and build, the more you develop it the more you are in control, being better enabled to handle the path that you are on.   You start bringing out the latent potential in you, in the mind problems that seem to be like mountains, turn into molehills, as you start realising the temporary nature of it all.  You start realizing that you have been a slave all along, a slave to the whims of your mind, which itself is a slave to the ego, and to the sense, which themselves were slaves of external programming.

To Chapter 2

Zen, Zombies & Karma - ZZK Chapter 2

Holy Swan
Picture "Holy Swan" kindly provided by h.koppdelaney
Zen Mindfulness and Karma
Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them..Albert Einstein

Now that we understand what Karma is its important to know that we are not our Karma’s, our true nature is actually beyond this, untouchable by these Karmas, the soul as such has no Karma, however, it takes on the layer of the mind to exist on this plane which has memory of these Karma's.  The mind is the layer of machinery that makes all this play of universe happen, govern by laws of the universe, everything is dynamic observing these laws.

Imagine if you could find a way to do something about these Karmas, so that you are not flung around like a rag doll in the waves of the Karmas that come out of the Ocean of your stored Karmas.  Imagine if you could plant more positive Karma’s that lead to joy.

If we know that these karma’s are coming from a mental layer, then to negate them we must act from an awareness that is beyond the mental layer...that means, we must act from a deeper foundation beyond the automatic response and limited mental frame of references that we have.

We must be able to build sufficient awareness through our daily discipline of meditation to be in tune to our higher self...
We must be able to put those temporary pauses in our daily action, to allow us to contemplate what is happening with our deeper self...
We must be able to act with conviction from the sensitivity that we build through our daily discipline of meditation, and be totally congruent with our higher self...

Now dealing with Karma, is not an easy thing to do, thankfully all that we need to deal with it are within us already, and that is our soul force or awareness through meditation and mindfulness.

Using mindfulness to dance with our Karmas
We are all bound by our Karmas, it is the basis of all animating life itself...so the question really becomes how well do we really handle our Karmas.  One can handle Karma only by activating the higher faculties of the soul and mind, so that in flight Karma are managed, stored Karma’s are burned away, and only beneficial Karmas is sowed for the future.  One does this by a daily disciple of Meditation, Yoga, Pranayama, and Qi Gong.  Whats common to all of this is Mindfulness, in fact none of the meditation techniques indicated actually work without Mindfulness.

What is mindfulness? As the simplest level, mindfulness is a matter of looking things as they are suspending judgment and thinking of any kind, be it temporary, however with all the attention and compassion we can give to it. Some would say it is the lamp of the awareness itself from the soul that is a “witness” to everything that is happening.

It involves non-doing or being, something that may be strange to the western world, how can the mind not being doing anything, this is where there the distinction of thinking and awareness comes in.  Thinking is not awareness, and awareness does not necessarily imply thinking, one could say that thinking is born out of the quality of awareness that is present.

From the wonderful book “Meditation an Indepth Guide” Gawler and Bedford make several interesting observations on awareness.  They say that awareness is still, unchanging, unattached, it is always in the present, it is receptive and formless.  Thoughts on the other hand, has to use imagination or memory to conjure up internal images, sounds, and feelings and is a dynamic and changing in nature, while awareness is still and unchanging, thinking is frequently judgmental, while awareness has the capacity to observe what is happening in this current moment.

If you notice babies, their thinking facilities are not developed yet, but their awareness is evident, I often find it very relaxing to watch a baby stare, breathe, play, sleep, it shows natural awareness in action working with minimal use of thinking, very beautiful to watch.  Some of our most beautiful moments we feel in life, are actually when we have no thoughts, it just is what it is, we lose ourself in the beauty of it all, be it a beautiful sunset, a beautiful song, the  arms of a lover, holding a child in our arms...It is blissful, tender, almost feels infinite...time and space is forgotten.

Mindfulness is the skillful use of awareness in daily routine to be able to dance with our Karmas.  Zen is awareness or mindfulness in action, a state of “FLOW” or Samadhi, where thinking comes out as waves from bigger ocean, rather than a pond.

To Chapter 1
To Chapter 3

Zen, Zombies & Karma - ZZK Chapter 1

Meditation Red Sun
Picture "Meditation Red Sun" kindly provided by h.koppdelaney
Zen, Zombies & Karma
We live in a world of the half dead, I say that because we aren't really living, we are existing, we aren't really thinking, we are caught up in the hurt of yesterday, and a fantasy dream about tomorrow. We are simply reacting and playing a script in auto-pilot that we have created for ourselves or one that has been created for us.  Another name for this script is Karma.

This book explores where this Karma or this script comes from from, it looks at mindfulness as a Zen technique which allows one to undo this script and write a new script, one that will take you to the destination where you want to be, a destination of a less stressful life, richer relationships and better natural results!

Why we are zombies?
I see them all around me, I feel like one too at times...everywhere you look, everyone is on autopilot...

Is this what we were destined for? Is this why humans were given this intellect? Why is this?

Well it takes work and discipline to overcome the lethargy and the addictions of the mind and of the body...the spirit is boundless, the mind however is a slave, a slave of the senses, a slave to the addictions of the mind...so is this what we have reduce the spirit to? a slave? a slave of the mind which itself is a slave...Where is the freedom in all of this?

The mind has itself has forgotten about the spirit, and has itself identified itself with the mind, the ego, the emotions, the senses...In that lies the very fact, we are really zombies, being free to be controlled by a bombardment of external driven selfish and sometimes perverse programming that appeals to the palate, to the senses, to the ego...

Its akin to a person taking the hands off the steering wheel and expecting the car to drive itself...well maybe off the cliff or into the tree you will go, if you are lucky it will be fatal, otherwise it could be life of misery and pain from some serious injury...life is no different...the results from mindless action, is well mindless random results...

The mind, the emotions, the body are useful servants but bad masters...under the leadership of the soul...amazing things are possible...just from one person...just from one lifetime.

What is Karma?
O God and Heavenly Father,
Grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed; courage to change that which can be changed, and wisdom to know the one from the other, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Reinhold Niebuhr

Why is this happening to me? Why was I born this way? Why am I the way I am?  There is a lot of whys in life...too many that we can possibly comprehend.  Could it really be that life is just one big random event?

According to the law of Karma, there is no such thing as a random event, everything is interrelated working like perfect clockwork, there is a reason for everything to be as it is, there is a reason for everyone to be in everyone’s life, there is learning possible from every single situation.

I really like the definition of Karma by Sri Sri Ravi Sankar, he says:
“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."

The impressions are called Samskaras in Sanskrit, these are scripts recorded in the inner depths of our mind which governs our automatic behaviors, they also shapes our personalities. This explains why everyone has different personalities, even animals show different personalities.

Karmas are of 3 types, stored (Sinchit), in flight (Pralabdha), future (Kriyaman)...The stored karma is like seeds that have been sowed by passed actions, in flight karma is the plants (action) that have sprouted from these seeds, which is happening now, and lastly future karmas are the fruit of these plants (action) that give more seeds.  Sri Sri Ravi Shankar goes to say that we don't actually know when these seeds are going to sprout.

Why is Karma so important to understand?  This is important because one can understand that one is simply a product of ones own creation, through the actions one has taken in the past. If we understand this, we can take steps in creating karma’s that are more beneficial to us, live with them with a certain level of acceptance, and rise above them.

In the epic Hindu legend of Mahabratra the blind king Dhritarashtra asked Lord Krishna why he was born blind, and why he had lost his hundred children in battle, despite being such a kind and compassionate king.  Lord Krishna gave him the power to go back and find out for himself through meditation.  Dhritarashtra meditated and discovered in an earlier life, one day he saw a swan with a hundred signets around it, he ordered that the swan’s eyes be cut out and all the children killed just for his fancy...As such he was born blind in this life, and lost all of his 100 children in the war.

To Chapter 2