beyondtheselenses said: Lazy yogi, I feel like I'm in this constant stressful environment, an environment that I'm creating. I keep stressing over not saving up enough money to move to a place in the future that I'm undecided about. I'm ignoring the present and focusing all my energy on the past and future and I'm at that point where my head feels claustrophobic. I just want to breath again and feel focused in a relaxed way....but I just feel unclear at this point in my life.

This is the raison d’etre for meditation. Everything you just listed as an issue actually has little to do with your environment. The stress is in your mind’s fixation on past and future rather than a certain quality of the present. In fact, it is the very lack of presence that makes the stress seem all the more inescapable. 

When we define our world too solidly, too definitively, the world starts to feel like a smaller place. We think we know what there is to know, or even that the world can be an object of our knowing. That’s a ruse I sometimes get caught up in as well. 

Primarily it is caused by the fixation on past and future. The past makes you feel as if you are a solid person, a specific individual. If you want to be another, then you will have to change. That is the perspective of the past; it freezes identity into place and relies on time for any changes. 

The future, on the other hand, is what limits our current activity. Plans or hopes for the future can create a tension between the present and the mental conception of the future. It can almost feel as though you are living in a game of pre-selected moves. 

These factors, in addition to the compulsive thinking that is driven by the added stress, come together to create that feeling of claustrophobia. 

Firstly, let’s make one thing clear: You are capable of planning for the future while being mindful of the past without sacrificing your sanity and presence here and now. That is the new skill you are in the process of developing. 

Daily meditation is an opportunity to sit, be still, and bring all of your attention to one single place. And since there isn’t anything for you to accomplish, no way for you to fail or mess up the meditation, you can also be wholly relaxed. 

This has an impact on you both energetically and mentally. Your thoughts, judgments, and perceptions about you, your past, and your future all create energetic sensations in your body. They’re stored as neural pathways and like any pathway through the wild, the more well-traveled the path, the easier it is to traverse. Thus, these energetic sensations leave traces that are easily re-activated. When they are, they also cause the return of invasive thoughts. 

There you can see the way thinking and feeling are a coupled system, as one can propagate the other. 

In meditation, you are allowed to relax totally. However, unlike nearly all other forms of relaxation known in our society, this relaxation is conscious. People wrongfully associate meditation with a “tuning out,” like flipping on the TV at the end of a long day. That’s definitely relaxing but it is not conscious. When you relax consciously, these disharmonious energetic pathways are brought to your attention in one form or another. 

All you do is sit with them. Whatever thoughts, whatever feelings arise, you just sit and remain focused and relaxed. The thoughts and feelings self-liberate. This means that not only is there nothing you can do about them but that there is nothing you need to do about them. All you can do is drop your preferences as to what you experience during meditation. 

Every time you sit for meditation, something changes in both your mind and energy. It is a healing process and also one of awakening. But awakening nearly always begins with healing. 

So take up daily meditation as a place to begin. You can start as soon as today! 

It is okay to feel unclear. I can actually relate to that feeling. I’m in a new apartment for a new semester and I’m still sorting out all my responsibilities and commitments. I’m slowly but surely ramping up into study mode but I really have no idea what’s going on. This is one reason why I’ve made the extra effort to carve out time for daily meditation. It’s easy to get mired in the insecurity and ambiguity of any rat race, be it grades or money.

"Things" aren’t clear yet for me but that’s okay. If you’re clear, life doesn’t have to be. It can be messy, confusing, and demanding, but that doesn’t have to diminish you in any way. Life and its component parts are always shifting and changing. Sometimes they’ll be in a recognizable arrangement, sometimes not. Should we have to wait for specific formations before being at peace?

A book I would also highly recommend to help keep you oriented during this time is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. 

Namaste :)

humansofnewyork:

"Before I went to the protest that day, I stood in front of a picture of the Dalai Lama, and I swore an oath: ‘If I am arrested, I will not give the names of any of my friends.’ They put me through eight months of interrogation. They burned cigarettes on my face. They made me stand in ice for four hours, until my skin froze into the ice, and then they pushed me forward. They gave me electric shocks on my tongue. They told me they were going to kill my father and mother. After eight months, I had a trial. Two guards stood next to me when I testified, and they hid electric shocks in my sleeves in case I said something they didn’t like. I was sentenced to four years. Sometimes I’d get so hungry I’d eat toothpaste. And sometimes I’d get so thirsty, I’d drink my urine. When I finally got out, I weighed 39 kilograms."
(Dharamshala, India)

humansofnewyork:

"Before I went to the protest that day, I stood in front of a picture of the Dalai Lama, and I swore an oath: ‘If I am arrested, I will not give the names of any of my friends.’ They put me through eight months of interrogation. They burned cigarettes on my face. They made me stand in ice for four hours, until my skin froze into the ice, and then they pushed me forward. They gave me electric shocks on my tongue. They told me they were going to kill my father and mother. After eight months, I had a trial. Two guards stood next to me when I testified, and they hid electric shocks in my sleeves in case I said something they didn’t like. I was sentenced to four years. Sometimes I’d get so hungry I’d eat toothpaste. And sometimes I’d get so thirsty, I’d drink my urine. When I finally got out, I weighed 39 kilograms."

(Dharamshala, India)

my immune system noticing the transition to autumn has prompted the first matcha bowl of the season :D

my immune system noticing the transition to autumn has prompted the first matcha bowl of the season :D

Non-reaction to the ego in others is one of the most effective ways not only of going beyond ego in yourself but also of dissolving the collective human ego.

Eckhart Tolle

markcfm said: "A year from now, you might regret not starting today". My teacher wrote this on the whiteboard at school today as a 'motivational tool'. What are your thoughts on this?

Time passes ceaselessly. A year will pass regardless of what you do or do not start today. But the tiniest seed today may become a monolithic redwood in time. 

Two years ago, I was in a rather tortured place. Living at home on a pullout couch, no job, cutoff from the society of my peers I had grown accustomed to in college. My ex of six years and I had split and I was continually bombarded by the criticism of my family, barely disguised as “advice.”

Then I had a fateful lunch one day with an old family friend. My father had died when I was in high school and this man was one of his close friends all my life. Originally I had planned to ask him about the potential for finding work through Tibet House, a charitable organization dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan culture. However, something else entirely came of our meeting. 

Over lunch in Grand Central terminal, he explained to me why he thought I should be a doctor. More than that, he felt I was meant for it. 

The first thing I said was, "I’ll have to go back to school. It will take a long time."

He looked at me with a saucy smile and replied, "I’m sorry, are you busy?"

I was a writer. Two years later and now I’m as versed in the chemical structure of molecules as I am in grammar. The physics of the fundamental forces composing reality, the applications behind calculus, and use of statistical methods all factor into my daily considerations of this or that. 

It doesn’t matter who you think you are or what you think you are good at or what you think you aren’t good at. What matters is whether or not you plant the seed, nurture it, and help it to grow into whatever it is going to become

I’m halfway through my 2-year premedical program and then I’ll be off to medical school, assuming one wants me. When I started, I had no idea if this would fit me. I also had no idea how much the thing I considered myself to be would change as a result of this new direction. I regret none of it. 

Motivation is important but not because progress is important. The significance of motivation lies not only in the willingness to plant a new seed today but also in the commitment to nurture it every day. Inevitably that seed to which you initially gave shelter and support will become a great tree which will in turn give you shelter and support.

That’s one cool teacher you got, if you ask me. 

Namaste :)

handoh said: So, I've been hurt by men too many times, and I am starting to think that it's all my fault. I'm the common denominator in all my failures. What i am asking is, how can I learn to let go of these thoughts and just be happy with myself... I try to let go, but they are invasive and sneak back in when I least expect it.

Hit the pause button for a second. 

Your fault? Their fault? How is that a useful approach? The end of a relationship may be painful but it’s only a failure if you didn’t learn what it had to teach you. No one can stop you from growing.

Stop and see. Don’t draw conclusions, don’t impose your own feelings. Take a good long look at yourself, your actions, the men you have chosen, their actions, and the outcomes. 

Are the men you choose somehow injured or in need of healing? What are you seeking when you enter a relationship? How much peace and love can you experience by yourself, totally alone? Are you seeking a lover or avoiding aloneness? Do you become clingy, fearful, or overprotective once you taste happiness? These are just a few common lines of inquiry worth exploring.

My point is that fault-finding isn’t useful. Thorough examination is. 

The mind can fall into the habit of compulsive thinking. You can’t help but to start questioning your value, decisions, personality, whatever. Thinking becomes cyclic and painful.

Whenever there are thoughts present that are causing you distress, it means your mind has started using you. The mind is a tool we are meant to use but when the tool starts using you, things get out of hand. What is needed isn’t to get rid of these thoughts but to no longer react and relate to those thoughts from a place of fear and suffering. 

You want peace. You want to love and to receive love. Let those aspirations guide you. Right now you think that if these thoughts weren’t there, you would be happy. But that isn’t true. At one time, those thoughts weren’t there and look where you are now. The presence of certain thoughts or their absence is no guarantee of any measure of peace. But if you can meet all thoughts and emotions with a mind of peace, openness, and awareness, then it doesn’t matter what is here in your head and in your moment. You are ready for it. 

Daily meditation is essential.

I would also recommend the book The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron. It is a masterpiece. 

Namaste :)

If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.

Mr. Rogers

Use every opportunity to be grateful and take every opportunity to allow others the same experience.

The best way out is always through.

Robert Frost

Electric Feel

For the first time since graduating from college in 2011, I’m living in an apartment of my own. My roommate is a great guy in the same premed program that I am. And while the road ahead will be a challenging one, the way is lit and I know what I must do. 

There is the potential for a sense of rootedness, agency, and security that I haven’t known in many years. All of those qualities fall into the purview of the Muladhara chakra, the root chakra. Therefore when I first moved two weeks ago, I decided to involve my first chakra in my spiritual practice.

Ever since my teenage years, I have experienced a surplus of nervous energy in my system. My mind could be calm and even still my body would be rattled and overflowing. Typical symptoms of being ungrounded. 

However, things took an interesting turn when I went to physical therapy for the first time this week. Some of you may remember that about two months ago I had an episode in which both of my knees locked up for days and strangely aggressive muscle spasms wracked my legs before spreading throughout my body. It was diagnosed, after quite an exhaustive process, as patella femoral syndrome.

But it was at physical therapy that they finally got at the root of the problem: my coccyx. The physical therapist said that not only was my coccyx borderline dislocated but that it was also twisted to one side. Additionally, my sacrum is also twisted asymmetrically. Sound much like lower chakra issues?

Just one day of physical therapy and I already started feeling in a way I haven’t since childhood. The palpable effect of even just a sliver of release was mind-boggling. 

For those like me who don’t know much about the coccyx, the essential point that she explained to me was that not only is there a nerve cluster at the coccyx but it’s also an important place where certain leg muscles attach. The muscle spasms I had experienced occurred as a result of those nerves being aggravated. 

All of this felt like the final piece to a puzzle that’s been baffling me for years. Another interesting thing I learned through my research on the lower chakras was that sometimes instead of opening from the bottom up, for some people the chakras open from the top down. Given that I was playing with my third eye in seventh grade, I think I’m a top down person. 

So now I’m learning myself in the ways of grounding. I’m using certain stones, walking barefoot on grass and earth, and engaging in specific physical exercises. The whole thing feels like revisiting the electro-magnetism chapters of physics. I can feel the electricity in my body—in fact the very act of feeling is itself the electricity. 

I was once told that the first person a healer must heal is him or herself. The wounded healer is an interesting Jungian archetype as well. This new breakthrough is the opportunity I’ve been looking for to help me sort out my life on the physical plane within society. We’ll see what comes of it. 

Bombs away!

Namaste :)

I walked upstairs to see if we have a roof from which to view tonight’s potential aurora and came across these beautiful handmade tibetan prayer flags tied to the fifth floor banister. Awesome discovery.

I walked upstairs to see if we have a roof from which to view tonight’s potential aurora and came across these beautiful handmade tibetan prayer flags tied to the fifth floor banister. Awesome discovery.

The top image is from my bio textbook. The bottom image is from a study in which the effect of meditation on brain activity was observed. Note that both the “normal” and “before meditation” brain states are rather active with a lot going on. Whereas the “after meditation” and “depressed” brain states show decreased activity. Yet how different are the perspective and quality of life between a depressed person and a daily meditator! I don’t know about you but it seems to me that a brain stuck in a depressed configuration may be more suited for meditation than trying to make their brain more like a “normal” person’s. 

The truth of art lies in its power to break the monopoly of established reality to define what is real.

Herbert Marcuse

kevluvs said: Sometimes people can be disappointing, especially when they break their word and seem to not care about how their actions affect others. How do you not get turned cynical when people you meet constantly act inconsiderate. This is not to be needy or anything like that but one would think that there should be a certain courtesy in our disposable society. What do you think??

Outwardly, our actions do affect other bodies. If someone slaps you, your body will register pain. But how you take that experience into your mind varies from person to person. How you are affected by actions internally has more to do with your mind than it does with the other person. 

If someone is discourteous to you and it hurts your feelings, that’s your challenge to face. This doesn’t mean that person should just do whatever they want and it’s on you to just deal with it. It just means that people will always be a mix of courteous, discourteous, kind, mean, happy, unhappy, and so on. Instead of policing everyone with a general doctrine of courtesy, which is a lovely idea and yet failed by every major world religion, you can address the root of your discomfort which is within. 

It’s like this well-known proverb once voiced by Ramana Maharshi: “Wanting to reform the world without discovering one’s true self is like trying to cover the world with leather to avoid the pain of walking on stones and thorns. It is much simpler to wear shoes.”

Wearing shoes in this instance means continually aspiring for inner clarity and therefore peace. How to do this? Here are some tips:

1. Stop and see. When someone is being discourteous, what do you think that indicates? Are they a happy person? Are they rooted, clear, insightful, and worth learning from? We often forget that the condemnable behavior of others comes from a place of deep confusion and suffering within. If you are not willing or able to see this, it is because you have yet to remove your own confusion. It’s easy to see the splinter in your neighbor’s eye while missing the log in your own. 

2. Be humble. Humility doesn’t mean bowing down to others. It means lowering your head to no one and allowing no one to lower their head to you. Humility is the recognition that no one being is inherently more or less important than another. Period. Be that human, insect, or fungus. 

3. Cease judgment and conclusions. You’re getting cynical because you’re generalizing the concept of the persons you have encountered with the concept of People as a whole. Then you draw half-baked conclusions. Humanity is not wonderful and all good and brilliant. Nor is it evil, worthless, or basic. Our bodies are all just bags of molecules.

You’re feeling disappointed because you were hoping for something else. But for peace to be possible here and now, all hope and fear, all judgments and conclusions, must be suspended. In order to come to know ourselves, each other, and reality as they are, we must be ready to abandon our habitual conceptions at a moment’s notice. 

If you ask me, modern day society is a very uncreative and somewhat mean game. We don’t need to be competing with each other, getting the newest iPhone, or working in an office for the majority of our lives. Our species has enough technology and learning to take care of everyone. So why don’t we? We’re bogged down by the inertia of the past. Cultural conditioning, language-bound perceptual confusion, and enduring issues from previous generations are part of the pre-existing framework with which we are forced to deal. 

Playing the coulda woulda shoulda game with modern society is just an exercise in frustration. It is only the future in which a harmonious society will be possible and nothing happens in the future for which we do not sow the seeds in the present. 

Attend to your own contributions, your own awakening. At the same time, strive to understand and give compassion to those people to whom life brings you. Daily meditation is essential. 

Namaste :)