Category Archives: #spirituality

There’s always one more (damn) thing to do

I am convinced that I would benefit from the daily practice of meditation, in spite of the fact that I have never actually developed that daily practice.
Thousands of research papers, clinical studies, meditation teachers, and every day folk who merely practice meditation, talk about the myriad of benefits that can be experienced through meditation … such as:
  • improved blood circulation
  • less stress and anxiety
  • stronger immune system
  • clearer thinking
  • more feelings of well-being
  • better relationships
  • greater peace and love in the soul
My challenge is that meditation requires that I sit still for 10 minutes … meaning, that I have to stop doing what I am doing, and go find a place to sit still for 10 minutes and focus on my breathing.  Unfortunately, I feel that sitting still and “just being” for 10 minutes is a complete waste of time.
I have tried meditating in the past, but while I am sitting still trying to meditate, my mind fills with all kinds of things that I could be doing.  In fact, a little while ago as I attempted once again to sit still for 10 minutes and meditate, my mind filled with various things I would like to say in this message about the benefits of meditation, so I stopped meditating to write these very words you are reading.  It’s madness, I tell you.
There’s always one more (damn) thing to do.
So, I am going to try one more time to sit still for 10 minutes and meditate.  I cannot sit cross-legged, yogi-style, on-the-floor, hero’s pose, or any other way that is suggested for optimal meditate-ability.  So, I’ll just have to sit in a chair on my two butt points (or whatever they’re called), try to hang my spine (or something like that), sit with good posture (if that’s even possible), and focus on my breathing (though most days I don’t realize that I am actually breathing).  I’m going to go meditate immediately after posting and sending this message.
If this kills me, please know that I was the exception to the preponderance of evidence in support of the benefits of daily meditation … and may I rest in peace.
Also posted in #personalgrowth

What is happiness?

Last night at in our Spanish conversation group our topic of conversation was … What is happiness?

As expected there were various responses to this profound question … each person has their own idea about what constitutes happiness.  Some of the ideas include:

Happiness is having good friends.
Happiness is achievement.
Happiness is financial security.
Happiness is having control of your life.
Happiness is doing work that is completely fulfilling.
Happiness is knowing your purpose in life.
Happiness is peace of mind.
Happiness is helping others have a better life.

What are your thoughts?  Respond to this message by completing this sentence:

Happiness is …

Also posted in #personalgrowth

12 Mindful Movements

The following 12 mindful movements are adapted from the seminal work of Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. He developed 10 mindful movements that he and his friends have been doing many years, but I changed a few and added a few movements to make the series more amenable to my body … specifically, to make it easier on my back, hips, and knees.

The first 6 are the same as his, and I modified the 7th.  I replaced his 8th and 9th movements (since I prefer not to balance on one leg) with 4 exercises I regularly do for the benefit of my back and hips (which are the new 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th movements).  And the 12th movement is essentially the same as Thay’s final movement (Thay is the name his friends call him), however I do it at only a 45 degree angle, and I made it more of a Tai Chi “heaven and earth” stretch.  I hope you enjoy them.

The 12 mindful movements are rooted in breathing.  They help bring the body and mind together, and help you live more fully in the present moment.  Stay balanced.  Breathe into your belly, and enjoy your breathing.  Remember to smile.

1. Breathe in and lift arms, stretch forward.  Breathe out and lower arms.  Do 3 times.
2. Breathe in and lift arms to sky, stretch upward.  Breathe out and lower arms.  Do 3 times.
3. Place fingertips on shoulders, breathe in and bloom like a flower.  Breathe out and return fingertips to shoulders.  Do 3 times.
4. Stand with feet a bit wider than shoulder width.  Breathe in while making half circle with arms, breathe out while completing the circle.  Reverse direction and complete another circle.  This makes one set … do 3 sets.
5. Bend over and drop arms to earth.  Breathe in and raise arms to sky, stretch upward.  Breathe out and drop arms to earth, stretch downward.  Do 3 times.
6. Put hands on hips.  Bend forward and breathe in while making half circle with upper body, and at the point you are leaning back breathe out while completing the circle.  Reverse direction and complete another circle.  This makes one set … do 3 sets.
7. Breathe in to stand on tippy toes, breathe out while squatting and extending arms.  Do 3 times.
8. Lie on floor and breathe in, then breathe out while pulling knees to chest.  Do 3 times.
9. Sit on floor with right leg extended, breathe in with legs crossed and left foot at right knee.  Breathe out while twisting back to right.  Reverse and twist back to left.  This makes one set … do 3 sets.
10. Lie on floor and breathe in, then breathe out while pulling right leg up and over for hip stretch.  Reverse and pull left leg up and over.  This makes one set … do 3 sets.
11. Lie on floor and breathe in, then breathe out while doing stomach crunch.  Repeat at least 12 times.
12. Step right and forward at a 45 degree angle.  Breathe in while bending knee, lifting right hand to sky, and extending left hand to earth.  Breathe out and return to starting position.  Do 3 times.  Reverse, and do 3 more times.

Bow and give thanks with a smile.

Also posted in #personalgrowth

I don’t mean to brag, but …

Last night we went to bed at our normal time (around 9:00 PM), and this morning I woke up when my mind and body were ready.

I don’t mean to brag, but by 6:30 AM this morning I had already gone on a long bike ride up the hills around our house, practiced my Spanish lessons for 2.5 hours, had a bowel movement, taken a shower, dressed, checked the internet and email, and brewed some coffee and enjoyed a cup.

I don’t normally awaken during the 3:00 AM hour, but I have discovered it to be … incredible, spiritual, glorious, magical, peaceful, and more. There’s just something about being up after the last stragglers have gone to bed, but before most of the early birds.

I believe that all of life is holy, so I can’t really say that one hour of the day is more spiritual than the others. But it just seems that way.

Try it out. Go to bed early some night, and set your alarm clock for 2:45 AM. Spend the 3:00 AM hour sitting in your home, or if it is safe to do so, walking around your neighborhood … observing life, listening to life, feeling life, learning from life.

Also posted in #morning

Pay in Advance

God is the administrator of justice in this temporal life and in the eternal life beyond.

I’d like to say that again, but in a slightly different way. There is one life … experienced both temporally and eternally, and God’s sovereign justice infuses it all.

And I gotta believe that true justice is really that – it is true, and it is justice. Somehow, some way, it all evens out for everyone … eventually.

So if you’re cheating life, or cheating your neighbor, and you feel like you are getting away with something, I want you to know that some day you will receive your due. I believe that God’s justice demands it.

And if I am deluded and somehow think that God’s true justice does not apply to me, I am just that … deluded. One day I am going to reap my reward. The Bible puts it this way – by our standard of measure we will be measured in return.

What goes around comes around.

The exciting news is that if you are genuinely, lovingly, quietly, honoring life and reflecting God’s live-giving ways, you have peace in your heart and look forward to what God has planned for you.

Not only is God’s justice true, but God’s foreknowledge is real, and as a result I have this feeling that sometimes we pay in advance, or get paid in advance. In other words, we should not expect all of the reward (good or bad) to come after the word or deed. Instead, I think that we can expect some of the reward (good or bad) to come before we actually do or say something deserving of a specific reward.

Pay in advance … or get paid in advance.

I have a hunch that sometimes we are blessed in advance because God knows beforehand that we will do or say something to reflect God’s love, and that specific blessing-in-advance could come moments, days, weeks, or years in advance.

On the other hand, sometimes we are rewarded in advance with trouble, heartbreak, financial setback, sickness, or whatever because God knows that we are about to do or say something NOT reflective of God’s love, and that specific hardship-in-advance could come moments or even years in advance of our life-negating word or deed.

Today is the day, and now is the time … for you and me … to do and say the things that give life, and reflect God’s love.

Invest now in the eternal.

And who knows, we might just receive a blessing today for something we will do or say years down the road. Set your heart, and so be it.

Also posted in #karma