Posts Tagged ‘buddhism’

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Philosophy Tuesday

July 17, 2018

That recent rescue of the boys trapped in a cave in Thailand is remarkable many times over.

For one, the sheer drama of it, no question.

For two, the amazing display of humanity, of generosity, of what truly lives deep within our souls wherein hundreds mobilized and gave their time and their action and their sweat and put themselves into harms way (with one Thai diver unfortunately dying) to rescue these thirteen people.  The display of striving together, of aligning and unifying to drive towards great depths and first reach, then stabilize, then rescue the boys and their coach.  The teams of volunteers who came from around the world and worked as one.  Beautiful example of human nature and who we can be.

But for me, the most amazing aspect of it all is the trapped boys themselves.  To be entombed in darkness in a tight cave with water lapping nearby… and to not completely lose it well before the rescuers could reach them.  Thanks to meditation.  Their soccer coach had studied at a Buddhist monastery for a decade, and he led the boys in mindfulness meditation so that they (and himself) could be with it and to face the ordeal with a certain peace of mind.  Including for sure the rescue itself, which I can imagine would be quite a frightening prospect.  They meditated for an hour before each was brought out of the cave.

Sometimes the upshot of mindfulness is hard to fathom.  And sometimes, like this, it’s quite plain to see.  It allowed for calm to rein, it allowed for energy to be conserved, and it allowed for great protection, a lasting effect that dampens any potential trauma from the ordeal and, going forward, for facing the trials and tribulations of everyday life with greater and greater equanimity.

In the midst of heartwarming excitement, it’s a great reminder of why mindfulness, and why possibility.

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Philosophy Tuesday

February 27, 2018

There is a difference between mental health, and mental illness.

Our bodies can be in poor health without an actual illness or pathogen acting up on us.  Poor eating, stress, lack of sleep, overwork, exhaustion, rough environmental conditions, all of these can sap us of our vitality and wellbeing, leaving us weakened.

There’s nothing “wrong” to treat.  We’re just weakened.

So too it is with our mental (to which I am encompassing whole wide realm of mental/emotional/’spiritual’) health.  It is very possible to be in a weakened mental health state without a physical/brain impingement acting up on us.  Stress, environment, lack of sleep, social atmospheres, interactions, exposure, messaging, stories, all of these can sap us of our mental vitality and wellbeing, leaving us weakened.

It is, perhaps, an apt description for one of the ways Buddhism describes the term Dukkha, or dis-ease.

And when we are weakened, we are, in all manners of ways, not going to perform our best.  Our thoughts, feelings, judgments, decisions, and actions are all going to be impaired.  We can act out in ways we truly don’t want to, be rash, get into arguments, make logic errors, buy the wrong things, say terrible things, make poor choices, overreact, get into accidents, be violent, all manners of ways and actions that are far from the noble truths of our authentic desires.

It is vitally important to know this difference between mental illness and mental health.  Because when we focus only on the former, and get into binary “have/don’t have” mental illness thinking, we can greatly miss that which affects us and millions like us.  We can take what’s so and think it is the norm.  We can dismiss our own troubles and unwellness, rendering ourselves susceptible to the fallout of the unwellness while blinding us to the steps we can take to lead ourselves back to health.

Most importantly, without holding this difference out in front of us we can miss all the influences that are making us all unwell, and so miss having the conversations and taking the actions necessary to lead our collective selves back towards wellness and even strength.

And within a community, that strength is what we want.  When those in our community are well, we are well.  It is a foundation that supports individual lives, with greater freedom, peace, and peace of mind.

 

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Wonder Wednesday

November 29, 2017

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Philosophy Tuesday

August 15, 2017

A couple of years ago, during a mindfulness and meditation panel I was co-leading, one of the participants raised their hand:

“If attachment, so suggests Buddhism, is the root of all dis-ease… well, how do you know when you are attached to something?”

Hmmm.  That was a good one.  It can be fabulous and very empowering in life to be committed to something, but at what point can we tell its crossed beyond a commitment into an attachment?

I paused for a moment to let this percolate.

“I’d say that… if you find yourself righteously hot, fixated, uncontrollably going on about something, and you’re gripped by it… then it’s probably an attachment.  There’s a visceral component to it, one of those ones that defies neat and accurate description but if you let yourself be sensitive to it you get to know that grip.  Actually, you can probably think back to a time when something was said or done or you learned that just had you react with such recoil and fury that seemed to come out of nowhere… well, bingo, that’s the feeling, that visceral reaction.  There’s something there beyond just a commitment.

And this is really good to notice, not only because attachments can cause us such distress, but because it robs us of our freedom and, perhaps counter-intuitively, kills our performance and our power.  It also means that maybe we should check that commitment, because I’ll bet ya if we have that reaction we’re actually attached to something other than what we’re saying we are committed to.  And if our authentic self wants us to embrace that commitment, authentically, then we’re going to want to deal with that inauthentic hidden attachment.

Once we’re out of the grip of attachment, we are free to play and be who we truly want to be.”

A great question that had me distinguish something for myself that day.

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Philosophy Tuesday

April 11, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

There’s a distinction that Sifu has brought up a few times in our training I call the “Olympic Distinction”.

Which is to say that at the Olympics, things are decided by the 1/1000 of a second.  That little extra oomph of training and effort often makes all the difference.

In that way it’s not an unfamiliar distinction, and one propagated on countless motivational posters. BUT!  In a very Niels Bohr-ian way, there’s an even more powerful distinction here, especially for those, like me, who can or readily do fall prey to streaks of perfectionism:

“1/1000 only applies at the Olympics.” *

There are many times in life when we can get caught in our own mental traps that drive us to over polished—and ultimately unproductive—excess. We push and prod and try to make perfect and fret and expend time and effort and sweat and oomph and get nervous and distraught and stressed and all riled up and lose sleep and then… either…

never finish the darn thing,

have to cut it short to finish on time thus parts are left ironically underdone,

have to make changes and the extra effort is lost,

or all that extra effort didn’t make a difference in the final result or even in quality.

It’s hard thing to grasp sometimes.  It’s even hard for me to type it out.  It sounds so much like “be sloppy” or “don’t try your hardest” or “everyone else is a fool they won’t notice anyway”, or “cut corners”  or “never improve” or…

But it’s not really that.  It’s a reminder that good enough is still pretty frikken good.  That perfection can be an illusion.  That not everything we participate in is the Olympics.  And above all to be simply present to the cost that comes with perfectionism.

Sometimes that cost is that we don’t even start.  We see the amount of work it would take to reach that level of perfection and we think, “I’m never going to be able to get to an Olympic level to do that, so why bother, it’s not worth even starting.”  And so we abandon all the joy we’d have in the learning, the doing, and losing ourselves deeply in that activity.

We can get trapped on both ends, never starting or never finishing.  We can hinder our enjoyment of the task, and we can hinder our time to enjoy other things as we burn it all into this moment of perfectionism.  And, in the most counterintuitive way possible, it can even hinder the work.

Finding that middle path, and walking it, is where we, and our work, can shine.  We can play full out and avoid the Perils of Perfect(ion).**

And turn out some quite frikken good stuff.

 

* In many ways, this sentiment is also captured in the more common phrase “Perfect is the enemy of good” (or the more original phrase by Voltaire, “Le  mieux est l’ennemi du bien” – “The best is the enemy of good.”)

** Hmmm… Beware the PoP?

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Philosophy Tuesday

January 24, 2017

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

PEACE

It does not mean to be in a place

where there is no noise, trouble or hard work.

It means to be in the midst of those things

and still be calm in your heart.

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Philosophy Tuesday

October 18, 2016

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

Heard this on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me this past weekend:

“Over and Next.  We don’t pay enough attention to them.  When something is over, it is OVER, and we are on to NEXT.  And if there was a hammock in the middle, between over and next, that would be what is meant by living in the moment. ”

— Norman Lear

Wow.  What a nice and succinct phrase that captures a a whole bunch within.  There’s so much I like in there, beginning with the notion of attachments and of letting go.  A reminder to not drag the past into our future, a reminder to let what’s so be what’s so, and to let what happened be what happened.  An invitation to transformation.    And then, onto creation.   A look forward, towards what’s up and coming, towards possibility.  In the middle, the glorious middle, is the right now, the glorious moment by moment by moment of our everyday.  A call to be present, a call to practice mindfulness, and a call to live our lives with intention.

And that image of being present as being a hammock is great.  A place to hang out and be at ease and relaxed and listen and feel and experience.

Lovely.

I gotta read/remind/listen/etc to this quote every now and again.  Well said and moving, and one to realign me into what’s possible.  Alright!  Let’s go.