We think that by protecting ourselves from suffering, we are being kind to ourselves. The truth is we only become more fearful, more hardened and more alienated. We experience ourselves as being separate from the whole. This separateness becomes like a prison for us—a prison that restricts us to our personal hopes and fears, and to caring only for the people nearest to us. Curiously enough, if we primarily try to shield ourselves from discomfort, we suffer. Yet, when we don’t close off, when we let our hearts break, we discover our kinship with all beings.

Pema Chodron

gingerlysnapping asked: "I have lived with several zen masters - all of them cats." -Eckhart Tolle. i feel like you'd be a cat person.

I do find cats to be very hypnotic. But I also love dogs and ferrets. 

Sometimes I just like to look into an animal’s eyes and see that it is alive and aware. You can see that it is conscious. 

The earnest eyes and wagging tail of a dog always shows so much enthusiasm for being here. The calm, steady, curious gaze of a cat reveals a kind of intelligence completely divergent from the human version. And ferrets sleep for like 23 hours a day before spazzing out and playing with each other for the rest of the time. 

I appreciate the way animals often reveal what it’s like to be nakedly alive. 

To be genuinely friends with an animal is a blessing. 

Namaste :D

Listen to your being. It is continuously giving you hints; it is a still, small voice. It does not shout at you, that is true. And if you are a little silent you will start feeling your way. Be the person you are. Never try to be another, and you will become mature. Maturity is accepting the responsibility of being oneself, whatsoever the cost. Risking all to be oneself, that’s what maturity is all about.


resideinlove asked: How do you recommend incorporating mediation into your daily routine when you have a hectic lifestyle?

Before I started my premedical program this past fall, I was meditating an hour a day. After I started the premed program, I stopped having time for regular sittings. I was working part time, volunteering in a neuro lab, and taking on very difficult courses. 

I found other ways to keep my practices going and keep working on my path. However, this semester I noticed something. 

Old thoughts weren’t leaving me. Little annoyances such as people moving slowly and unmindfully during morning commutes, resentments toward certain responsibilities I had agreed to, and repetitious desires. 

Thoughts leave traces in our mind, and they continue to resurface in different forms. Even though I had the upper hand on my stress and anxiety, those traces were still effecting my health both mental and physical. I would eat and sleep less, I would over-plan for things that I needed to change when the moment got down to it, I desired things that I didn’t really want, and so on. 

It was clear this would all be helped if I just started meditating again. So I did. About three weeks ago I started sitting every evening for meditation. Since I am very busy in general, I started with ten minutes and increased it to twenty minutes over the following weeks. 

The difference is already evident. No longer am I reliving old thoughts about the present, no longer am I resisting the responsibilities that have been given to me, and no longer am I feeling anxiety-based physical distress.

A hectic lifestyle needs meditation if you are hoping to remain sane and at peace. Life can be hectic, but the life within you need never be hectic. That’s the main reason why I took the name the Lazy Yogi. Outwardly, go wild and be wild—get intense with the work and lifestyle you have, if necessary. But inwardly remain tranquil, at ease, and serene. 

For a hectic lifestyle, I find that meditating at the end of the day, when there’s nothing left to be done, is the best time. It is an opportunity to let go of the day’s work and reconnect with having nothing to do. 

Often when there’s nothing to do after a long day, we just want to do something mindless. We want to watch tv, work out, and disengage. Meditation is a way to be fully engaged yet thoroughly relaxed. 

My suggestion is to insert a ten minute meditation sitting into a pre-existing routine, such as before or after you brush your teeth at night. 

Remember that the only tool you have with which to manage your life and its responsibilities is you. Meditation is a very necessary form of self-maintenance that has scientifically verifiable uses

Recognize the necessity and then surrender to that recognition. When your doctor prescribes you something, like it or not, you do it for your wellbeing. Health is more important than our personal preferences. 

Namaste :) Get some. 

If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. If we really know how to live, what better way to start the day than with a smile? Our smile affirms our awareness and determination to live in peace and joy. The source of a true smile is an awakened mind.

Thich Nhat Hanh

an amusing wrong number. no idea who this is.

an amusing wrong number. no idea who this is.

life-is-go0d asked: Hi :) I was just wondering if your can give any advice on how to turn studying into a spiritual activity. I find that in my life I seperate my 'spiritual life' from my 'study life' in the sense that I will try to get my uni work done early so I can spend time reading/watching spiritual quotes/videos etc, which makes me feel at peace. I am currently writing a long essay and I feel that I need to constantly take breaks and go on websites like yours because I feel stressed and pressured. Thankyou!

I can relate to this inclination, it was something that troubled me when I first began my studies in the fall. 

Here’s a helpful Alan Watts quote to keep in mind: “Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.” 

Like you, I find a lot of joy and peace in the Dharma. But it is important not to get attached to the medicine and forget to actually heal. 

There is a time to learn and there is a time to put that learning into practice. Writing a long essay, for example, is just such a time to practice. 

Firstly, notice that you are trying to escape. But there is nothing to escape. You’re just sitting at your desk (or whatever) and writing your essay. So take this opportunity to discover the real meaning of surrender and acceptance. 

Do what life is asking of you, and be faithful to that responsibility. Then you are already free of it before you even finish. 

Secondly, anything becomes a spiritual activity when it is not undertaken from the perspective of an ego. The ego has preferences, spiritual activity is transcendent of preference. 

For example, suppose you were studying under the Buddha and he told you to go write this essay. Would it be a problem? Even if it were the most boring essay possible, perhaps on tax law, it would still be a spiritual undertaking because you were doing it for Buddha, not for yourself. You wouldn’t be caught up in trying to escape the essay nor would you falsely believe that finishing the essay will bring you happiness. 

You just do it as an offering to the Divine. And so you are already free of it. 

Where there is preference, there is ego. The ego is just yourself known unclearly. Become aware of the subtle way your preferences and rejection of this homework responsibility is a form of aggression toward the present moment. 

Sometimes it is easier to accept a outright challenging present moment than it is to accept a dull, boring, annoying, or joyless present moment. Perhaps it is because the outright challenge stares you in the face whereas the dull or annoying present moment is more sneaky and comes at you below the radar. 

In the end, there is no separation between study life and spiritual life. Spiritual life is not defined by or limited to the feelings you have while reading the words of the Dharma or watching youtube videos of teachers. 

Those are good things. They teach us how to face stress and pressure. But then it’s up to us to actually do just that!

It is certainly acceptable to take a break from your work and sit for a brief meditation or go for a mindful walk, but the idea is to return to your work with more rootedness. Whereas if you are reading or watching something, you are going to try to keep that stuff in mind while you are working and then the mind simply becomes overcrowded. 

Empty yourself and do your work. Then let it go. That is very, very spiritual. 

"Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.” 

~ Lao Tzu

Namaste :)

How do you let go of attachment to things? Don’t even try. It’s impossible. Attachment to things drops away by itself when you no longer seek to find yourself in them.

Eckhart Tolle

thethirdeye1900 asked: I'm quite a spiritual guy but recently i've been so depressed and i want to kill myself but at the same time i don't want too . What's wrong with me? how can i help myself?

There is nothing wrong with you, brother.  

You want to end the depression, not your body’s life. 

Since you’re a spiritual guy, I’ll give it to you straight: Use the depression. Right where you stand now is the meat of the path. 

All who walk the path are in some sense wounded healers. We heal ourselves and in doing so heal others. That is the meaning of harmony. 

It is not a one and done event. You don’t just snap out of depression or “become” healed. Healing grows to be a way of life. In Buddhism, that is called compassion. 

The Bodhisattva Way has been likened to being a kind of spiritual warrior. To constantly stay and face these challenging experiences, to actively allow them to soften us, to dare to love and weep or laugh and embrace, this requires a warrior’s bravery. 

If you stay, exhale, and attend to the depression, then you will digest it as you continue to walk the path. It will make you softer, braver, and more loving. Sometimes it hurts. 

An excellent place to start is with daily meditation and tonglen. These are two essential practices. By all means, use all resources at your disposal, be they therapists, psychiatrists, or acupuncturists. 

But this is not a flaw for you to be rid of, a monstrous or unacceptable thing. It is human suffering and you are not alone in it. In practices like tonglen, for example, you would inhale all the depression you are feeling and exhale love and kindness and compassion. Then you would broaden that to anyone who has ever felt depressed, and you would breathe in their depression and exhale compassionate goodness to them all. 

These practices help to show us how strong and loving we can really be. A book I would recommend is The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron. 

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the story of how Eckhart Tolle became realized but essentially he was alarmingly suicidal and then realized one night that the self he wanted to kill wasn’t actually him. His book The Power of Now is worth a read. 

I could also just mail you a book if that’s helpful to you. 

If at any point you feel I can be some help along the way, you know where to find me.

Namaste, much love. 

The innocent mistake that keeps us caught in our own particular style of ignorance, unkindness, and shut-downness is that we are never encouraged to see clearly what is, with gentleness. Instead, there’s a kind of basic misunderstanding that we should try to be better than we already are, that we should try to improve ourselves, that we should try to get away from painful things, and that if we could just learn how to get away from the painful things, then we would be happy. That is the innocent, naive misunderstanding that we all share, which keeps us unhappy.

This is not an improvement plan; it is not a situation in which you try to be better than you are now. It is something much softer and more openhearted than any of that. It involves learning how, once you have fully acknowledged the feeling of anger and the knowledge of who you are and what you do, to let it go. So whether it’s anger or craving or jealousy or fear or depression—whatever it might be—the notion is not to try to get rid of it, but to make friends with it. That means getting to know it completely, with some kind of softness, and learning how, once you’ve experienced it fully, to let go.

Pema Chodron

bl-g asked: I have a question. U said during college you took courses that were, let's say, not practical; if I remember correctly various philosophy and mythology courses (sorry if I'm wrong)? Then U said U continually searched for internships. Then U eventually got in 2 medical school. How did you cope coming from a non-scientific background? How did you cope with the "despair" (b4 meditation) U just applied & they accepted? I know this is personal sorry but every insight/story u provide is so useful, ty!

Not exactly, here’s the sparknotes version:

I attended college and studied a wide variety of courses from Mediterranean Archeology to Cognitive Science to Mesopotamian Mythology. However, the focus of my time there was writing. I took a host of magnificent writing courses, which included creative writing, creative non-fiction, poetry, screenwriting, and journalism.

After college, I spent two years trying to find a job. Long story short, I decided to go into medicine. Since I did not do premedical studies while I was an undergraduate, that is what I am doing now. It is called a post-baccalaureate premedical program. I am not in medical school. 

I started my meditation practice when I was in college. Therefore I used my training and passion for spirituality as a means to grow under those difficult post-college circumstances. I also saw a therapist weekly, which was immensely helpful. 

After college, whomever you talk to, whether it be a friend or a family member, has an angle on you. Your family sees you a certain way and so do your friends. It’s hard to speak to them about things like career plans or life situation without them bringing their own judgments and preconceived notions to the table. A good therapist is quite different.

As for coming from a non-science background, this is a very interesting question. When I made the move to medicine, it confused a lot of people in my life. 

Many thought of me as the “creative type,” or as a stoner or as being lazy. In a way, my decision threatened them. For a while I could see a kind of judgment lingering behind certain people’s eyes. Some felt that I was just seeking something and that I had no real interest in medicine. Others were very lighthearted and welcoming but still exclaiming “Wow! Such a different direction.”

Much of this showed me how little the people in my life understood me. This has less to do with me being a mystical enigma and more to do with the way people generally try to put individuals into labeled boxes. 

Academically speaking, I have developed a strong appreciation for my coursework. Sure, predicting molecular structures and analyzing LCR circuits are rather different from writing stories and analyzing myths. But as time goes on and my mind adjusts to this new analytical side of things, I see just how much these two seemingly contradictory forms of education lend to each other so powerfully. 

The greatest form of education, in my opinion, has been that of the “Renaissance Man.” The well-rounded education involved everything from translating ancient latin passages and composing beautiful works of art and music to also calculating the movements of the stars, uncovering the physics of reality, and cultivating knowledge of the sciences. 

The road goes both ways. There are times in which my liberal arts education lends a greater degree of insight into my analytical work while at the same time my science education often inspires my creative passion. 

However, it’s hard work. I spend hours in the library daily. On weekends it isn’t uncommon to be studying between 5-12 hours at a stretch, depending on the circumstances. 

So far I have taken a semester of Calculus, Statistics, Intro to Chemistry, and General Chemistry 1, while I have taken two semesters of Physics and the associated lab courses. At the same time, I have been volunteering in the campus visual science lab and working as a part-time personal assistant to the CAO of an international green energy recycling company.

I have found value in each of those aspects and there is nothing for me to regret. For that, I am immensely grateful. 

Namaste my friend :) Thanks for the invitation to reflect.

kevluvs asked: Learning to accept uncertainty is so difficult but I feel that I have made some strides over the past few months. However, once in a while I do find myself slipping and searching for certainty and security. I am in a situation where I have no idea what the result will be; meditation as you said helps a great deal. What other suggestions do you have for these type of situations??

Is not this question its own way of searching for certainty? What are you hoping to accomplish through further suggestions?

Stop believing you should feel differently than you do in this moment. Stop waiting for an outcome or resolution. When you don’t know which way you are sailing, no wind is favorable. 

Meditation isn’t to make you feel better. It is to help you realize that there is enough space for whatever feelings you may have. If there is uncertainty, then okay. 

An unmindful shepherd may try to force his flock one way or another, convinced that there is a certain way things should be. That shepherd is constantly wrestling with the flock. A careless shepherd would put all the flock in a corral and go off to play somewhere, assuming the flock will behave. But a mindful shepherd will give the flock a spacious corral and then watch over the flock. By the very watching of the shepherd, the flock remains in its place. 

That is the effect of meditation and mindfulness. You don’t need to switch out your current flock of feelings for another. But you shouldn’t ignore or try to escape from them either. Just give them space and keep an eye on them.

A good practice to take up is tonglen, which can be practiced as a sitting meditation or as a day to day mindfulness technique on the spot. You learn how to stay with uncertainty and other uncomfortable feelings even while making room to bring spacious acceptance and kindness into the moment. 

The book The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron is a fantastic treatise on this kind of fearless living. 

Namaste my friend. 

We carry about us the burden of what thousands of people have said and the memories of all our misfortunes. To abandon all that is to be alone, and the mind that is alone is not only innocent but young — not in time or age, but young, innocent, alive at whatever age — and only such a mind can see that which is truth and that which is not measurable by words.


hrnlifson asked: Have you found that meditation has helped you find answers within yourself? Like during difficult times or when you don't know what to do next?

Yes and no. 

Meditation gives no answers or resolutions. Instead, it reveals the way in which you are completely whole with nothing to gain and nothing to lose. 

When times are good, we meditate. When times are bad, we meditate. In this way we can see for ourselves that there is nothing the good times can give us that will stay forever and there is nothing the bad times can do to us to diminish our fullness. 

Meditation helps us to find enough space within ourselves to allow for uncertainty, difficulty, and confusion. It is a kind of confidence born of practice, experiential insight, and truth. 

When I was bouncing from internship to internship after college, seeking a job, there was a lot of uncertainty. When my ex and I split, there was even more uncertainty. And there was nothing I could do about it. I couldn’t escape and I couldn’t force circumstances into some idealized form. 

I meditated daily and did what I could to heal and find direction. 

Meditation certainly helped me to heal but it didn’t give me direction. However, it was because of my meditation practice and the relatively clear relationship with my mind that I was able to recognize the right path when it presented itself. 

That recognition didn’t come with certainty. I didn’t feel 100% confident that I was doing the right thing and taking the next perfect step. All I knew was that it could be a good decision to explore. If it worked out, then wonderful. If not, then I had learned something in the process that would help direct me onward. 

And it was meditation that helped me along the way to stay with my doubts so that I may investigate without succumbing to the urge to seek security.

Anything in my current day to day life that is good and beautiful has come as a consequence of my meditation practice and the grace of those who have taught me. 

I’d recommend it. 

Namaste sis :) Much love