Understanding Sati and Samadhi in Meditative Practice

When mindfulness (sati) is continuous, then (samadhi) STABILITY OF MIND will become established–from the teachings of Sayadaw U Tejaniya, a Theravadan Buddhist monk and well-known and highly respected meditation teacher.

Deeper and deeper into the teachings of Buddhism, there is this ‘me’ attempting to walk in the steps of the Buddha.  No, this is not about religion–more about psychology . . . study of the mind.  We all have one but how many of us really observe how the mind works?  How to use the mind in a way that serves the greater good, so-to-speak.  That’s where I’m coming from.

Recently, a new level of understanding and wisdom arrived within my life spectrum, this continuation of consciousness.

Anyone who knows of this ‘me’ probably knows of the difficulty experienced due to moving from places of quiet and solitude for nearly 20 years.  The short version has to do with the difficulty adjusting to suddenly being around noisy humans and family drama.  Moving closer to my daughters has been wonderful in so many ways, but not without the challenges that come along with sudden change.  Here’s what I’m trying to get at . . .

Until my recent study, it wasn’t entirely clear to me that the states of Samadhi established in meditation could be maintained during regular activities of daily living,  outside of a formal meditative state–in other words, off the cushion.  Yet, while living in the mountains many times was there in a stable mind-state without knowing it.   I’ll explain more in a moment.  Additionally, in recent days my study has uncovered another real eye-opener. And that has to do with percentages of attachment equaling the same percentage of aversion.  Here’s what that means . . .

The attachment that has been present to a personal desire and preference for silence has been way too strong or large.  As a result, the aversion or anger to it’s opposite (loud neighbors) has been equally as strong.  It goes back to the basic core phrase we always hear, “Accepting what ‘is'”.  It’s not so easy to accept anything as it is when you have a high percentage of attachment to its opposite.

Of course, there are other factors that filter into the equation of imbecile aversion which include a high level of sensitivity that comes along with open awareness.  Making peace with it while maintaining a stable mind is my continual challenge and the area of focused work in this life.

When living in the mountains, days on end of samadhi, stable mind, occurred — it was as if living in my own hermitage or retreat center.   It is only now that the realization comes that when the mind was pulled into worry about finances or when going into town and mingling with humans that the state dissolved and aversions and defilements arose within the mind. I didn’t think of it as samadhi at the time.  My personal definition of that word involved deep stillness (not necessarily awareness) in which there was no awareness of a self at all.  A new or an additional understanding of the word is the stability of mind, maintained over long periods of time toward the goal of having a stable mind indefinitely or at all times.  That’s the goal.  Frankly, some days it has felt impossible but it always comes down to this moment here now . . .  being aware, mindful or aware of what the mind is doing this very moment.  Being fully in it and observing what the mind and body are doing or the reactions–watching those.

Watching the mind can be a real sport if one’s heart is into it.  Stop a moment and ask yourself, Am I aware?” 

The answer is always Yes, don’t you see?  You will find that there is always that overseer called awareness.  How deep is the awareness?  Is it superficial or is there recognition and acknowledgment of thinking whenever it arises. Is there recognition of sound, feeling (all of the senses) whether pleasant or unpleasant as those arise?  Can you remember in the midst of any aversion that begins to arise that it is only nature happening and not personal?  Neither are your reactions–that’s just nature happening too.

These are just a few of my personal thoughts and experiences on these subjects for any reader’s discernment or consideration.  

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Universal Intelligence? Universal Soul? Sati Knowing?

lotus may 2018Let me start with the words “Universal Intelligence” — two words.  Concepts.  Assigned meanings.  What meaning? Well, synchronistic guidance received in meaningful timing that is too unmistakable, too precise to be considered accidental.

Is this the Universal Soul communicating with this soul? or the “Knowing” that I’ve heard called Sati?  But that word, Sati, may not be the right word for this.  Unsure.  Anway…

Applying more than these few words, in order to define this type of magic, isn’t all that useful anyway.  Besides, this type of going-on is likely not to be that unusual really.  It’s probably a stimulated manifestation based on intention.  Yet, in this lifetime, it seems always to be connected to spiritual goals which to me lends it a higher conceptual name.  The precise name is not useful really for a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, as Shakespeare said.

This divine magic has been experienced like being directly guided and supported as if by a master teacher or some overseer of my life who knows exactly what is being learned, and how it applies to my evolution.

Its as if there is some wise being making sure that what is needed is provided in exactly the right timing to apply to the next lesson.  It’s not easy to put into words.  Its happened time and again–too many times to recount.

Yet, here’s the most recent example that stimulated me to write about it in this blog post today . . .

Within days of reading about a particular (somewhat complicated) spiritual teaching and meditation method, the book material was being contemplated.  Next thing, with barely any conscious awareness of how I got to the website, there before me I found myself looking at pages of audio teachings from numerous teachers on a host of varied subjects.

Randomly, I clicked on one of the hundreds of links and found myself listening to the identical teaching that I’d just read about in the book, explaining it further! It was of great benefit to me.  Prior to the random click, there was no hint externally that the audio would further explain the written material.  Yet, it was no accident!

This type of event has occurred often enough for me to release any doubt whatsoever of some divine force guiding the internal and external experiences of my life.

Meditation Haiku Poem Present Moment Practice

I’ve been watching an HBO show that’s been on AMAZON PRIME.  I view it on my TV set using my ROKU device.  It’s called IN TREATMENT.  In the moment of a recent episode, the shrink asked the young man, “What are you thinking?”  The youth replied, “White noise”.

I had to laugh at that one.  The laughter of recognition I suppose.  My own mind registered that.  Not thinking anything really.  Yet not being mindful either.  I ‘m most aware of that white noise when the decision is made to write.  Like now.  It’s a rain filled, raw, cold day here in North Carolina.  Write, I said.

All levels of me self-agreed to write something.  A blog.  Here I am.  What have I got? White noise just like the kid on the program.

Lately, I’ve thought to try my hand at writing short little Japanese Mindfulness Poems called Haiku which are Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, traditionally evoking images of the natural world.  Cutting written language, relatable to anyone and maybe paradoxical in some way.

Sounds easy.  Not so much.  You’d think the white noise would help but the instant that pressure is felt to come up with even one word, the mind is suddenly filled with nonsense and resistance. No no, not always, listen . . .

I really like the idea of clipping out a moment that is a pure now moment – a reflection of whatever catches the attention of the psyche.

The other day I sat down on the sidewalk in front of my apartment to experience a moment or two of sunshine.  Looking down at the ground before me, there is one pear tree flower all by itself in the dirt–alone and separated from the tree and other flowers on the branch from which it blossomed.

What struck me is that even though it was alone there, its center filaments seemed to still be reaching up toward the sun, the light.

Spring flower in dirt

Alone, apart from its branch, tree

Looks up to the light

My Haiku poem.  Is it legit?  Well, I guess they’re not really required to rhyme to qualify.  Here are a few from one of the supposed greatest Haiku Poets, Basho:

An old silent pond…
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.

Autumn moonlight—
a worm digs silently
into the chestnut.

In the twilight rain
these brilliant-hued hibiscus –
A lovely sunset.

The translations from Japanese to English do not follow the 5, 7, 5 syllable rule.   Anyway, none of those rhyme but they do describe the moment in time, a now.  Seems a good use of spare time to use Haiku poem writing endeavors to help a person remain aware of their now, mindfulness.  I guess you know what I mean, reader, right?

The small flower all alone there just seemed to say to me, “Look, I know that I no longer am connected to the life force upon the earth that sustained me (the tree) and I’m aware that I will soon just become the earth itself, whithering away here.  And I know my family of flowers on the branch above me–they are all looking down upon me aware of my fate, but I can still be nourished by the light, the sun.  The filaments, the anther, the stamen of me are still reaching up to the light even in my death here and in my departure, the ground here before you where I lay is bringing you some joy and beauty before I disappear completely. ” Looking at the singular flower was my meditation.

After writing those last words my head turned toward the window where I see the tree with all their beautiful white blossoms knowing that soon they will all fall upon the ground as the green leaves push them off their branches.  They too will end up in the dirt and on the sidewalk.  But they will return next spring to do it all again.  There is no death, only transition into yet another phase.

 

 

Winter Solstice December 21, 2017 REFLECTIONS and MEDITATION

‘I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.’

 –Hafiz, Sufi Poet

Light can enter one’s life through working with difficulty but this newsletter isn’t a downer; hopefully, it’s just the opposite. And the intention, as always, is to inspire, inform and involve engagement with Spirit. I wanted to start with this:  One often hears quoted, it is the crack (or break) of the heart through which the light enters.

To sit with the difficulty without causing suffering to self or to others is to honor the dark and the light in one’s life.

These seem to me to be good meditative contemplations for the shortest day and longest night.  I wanted to write about it today as we enter what I like to call “the great stopping of momentum, the great balance of light and dark–the great silence, the big quiet.”

 Sitting with the difficulties of life, even the difficulties of daily meditation can open us to more light entering our consciousness so that we can benefit ourselves, others and the world.  Let me explain what I mean.

I’m talking about not turning away but rather really bearing the pain, whether physical, emotional, mental or spiritual, without creating further pain for self or another in any way.   Not running from it, suppressing it or becoming angry or frustrated with darkness.  That’s an example of balancing the light and dark in one’s life.  We can be reminded of this type of yin-yang balance during the time of the Winter Solstice.

It isn’t easy to really be with troubles without adding more suffering.  In The Arrow Sutra, the Buddha teaches about how we embellish the pain or difficulty (shooting the second arrow), instead of observing what is actually present:  which is the arising and passing of feelings. So instead of turning away from emotions, turn towards them and watch them pass just the way they have arisen.  In this way, we allow the light of awareness to enter and wisdom to arise.

Practice in Meditation

A simple meditation today, the Winter Solstice, can help us work with balancing light and dark/ease and difficulty.  Here’s what I mean.  Sometimes, we resist emotions or thoughts or discomfort in the body or sleepiness or restlessness during meditation and in doing so, we shoot a second arrow, so-to-speak, and create a story around even these simple experiences in meditation.

OR we may come to the sitting with already-formed goals, intentions or ideas about how the meditation time is going to be experienced.  “I am going to be in a bliss state the whole time, or go floating into the heaven of the cosmos.”  When in actuality, we may feel sleepy, restless or have thoughts of regret or other emotional difficulties arise.

Meditation is a practice for life.  And life is full of darkness as well as light– full of difficulties as well as it’s opposite, freedom,  peace/ease.  Think of yin-yang.

Our world needs people who can stand in the fire or tolerate the difficulty, keep a cool head, not over-react, deal with harsh and hard situations with clarity and wisdom.  Meditation practice trains us to do this. 

The ideal

We don’t quit or run or try to escape –nor do we control or intend any type of outcome when we meditate.  We may have an intention for our meditation practice which is alright but many times if we just allow, and experience, observe, see the mind working while being interested yet not being too controlling, too tense nor too relaxed but  just allowing ourselves to move through the states without judging ourselves as “bad meditators” and without becoming frustrated … if we can uphold these ideals, I think  we can develop the ability to balance the light and dark in our lives too.   Yeah, I know this is an awkwardly phrased paragraph, but you know what I mean, right?

The Winter Solstice is a reminder of all of this . . .

  • of how the depth of our being which is radiant clear light can open up through staying with difficulties
  • of how our core mind, the primal mind, is radiant and clear in nature
  • of how just like the Tibetan Buddhist tradition speaks, a self-existing lamp of wisdom exists within each of us
  •  of how through the difficulties and darkness of life, we are able to access this kind of light or presence
  • of  how we go into the dark in order to be able to see the light
  • of how we are with the difficult in order that we may be able to have more ease

If in meditation we can embrace the unknowing or just allow rather than always trying to control – the unknowing will open up to knowing. Being with the difficult or darkness opens us to light as well as being regenerative and enabling wisdom.

Here is some poetry that expresses these ideas . . . 

“Some nights stay up till dawn,
as the moon sometimes does for the sun.
Be a full bucket pulled up the dark way
of a well, then lifted out into light.”
–Rumi
*****
Three times my life has opened.
Once, into darkness and rain.
Once, into what the body carries at all times within it and
starts to remember each time it enters the act of love.
Once, into the fire that holds all.
These three were not different.
You will recognize what I am saying or you will not.
But outside my window all day a maple has stepped
from her leaves like a woman in love with winter, dropping
the colored silks.

Neither are we different in what we know.
There is a door. It opens. Then it is closed. But a slip of
light stays, like a scrap of unreadable paper left on the floor,
or the one red leaf the snow releases in March.
–Jane Hirshfield

*****
If each day falls
Inside each night,
There exists a well
Where clarity is imprisoned.
We need to sit on the rim
Of the well of darkness
And fish for fallen light
With patience.
–Pablo Neruda


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Thoughts on Life: Resistance versus Acceptance – Fighting versus Flowing

it is what it isFIGHTING VERSUS FLOWING

RESISTANCE VERSUS ACCEPTANCE 

I was on the final 15 minutes of my hour spin bike workout, doing intervals.  There’s a point of non-resistance that has to be reached to get through those final intervals when the legs are burning and the level of fatigue makes you want to resist.  A coach once said, “Your legs should be burning–let ’em”.

There’s a point where you have to give up and surrender the battle to get the last few sets of intervals done successfully.

It’s acceptance.  The lungs are on fire and so are the legs and you’re pushing through to the end but if you fight this or resist it, you just can’t do it–you quit.

Today I thought about how this is just like life.  I mean, on the bike you accept it,  the “what is” of legs burning and the like and if you accept then the work is so much easier and you’re less likely to give up.  Or said another way what you ‘do’ give up is the resistance to ‘what is’–the burn or breathlessness or whatever.

When you give up the resistance and let the mind participate with the body, allowing the merging and accepting the fact that ‘yeah, it’s what it is, until it isn’t anymore’, THAT is so liberating, especially in those final moments.

Those hour long interval workouts are like the last moments of a race.  What really counts is what you do at the end when you have to dig deep and get to the finish line, especially when total exhaustion is so close.

When life becomes a crisis in some way and let’s face it, life presents challenges and if we deny this we are not living on this planet I think.  At those times do we surrender? Or do we fight it? Do we want to deny what’s happening and thereby struggle against it?

We make life harder for ourselves if we struggle.  I make the last 15 minutes of my workout harder if I struggle against.

This applies across the board or that’s my position in writing this.  No matter what life presents us with at any given time (and sometimes life is like those last 15 minutes of an hour long interval workout at the gym–rough!)…. point is that if we feel like we have to battle it or take a position of struggling against it, we find it’s all so much harder.

So many times in life we think something shouldn’t be what it is.

We deny reality or fight against how things ‘are’ and use all kinds of tactics to deny reality somehow.  It’s exhausting.

We can make this comparison with the Christian way of thinking about life being a struggle against a devil and having to fight the evil–this kind of mentality.

Another way of thinking is to simply not think–but what I really mean is allowing whatever ‘it is’ to be what ‘it is’ without the judgment.

Judgment is the christian way of dealing with life I think which comes from an idea of an ideal perfected state that we all must strive for but know we will never achieve (because they tell us that in their dogma), rather than the opposite which is giving up that fight and becoming free.

Does that mean that we don’t try to be better humans or that we stop doing our best?  That’s not what I’m saying.  

I’m talking about not beating one’s self up because of ‘what is’ or what isn’t during any given moment.  I’m writing here about not struggling against it or making the self wrong somehow in the process.

The last 15 minutes of intervals my legs burn and I’m breathless–it’s part of life at that moment and I accept that and don’t fight against it or resist it.

When anything in happens in life, I can draw from that ability to accept what is actually happening without judgment or without making myself or Life Itself wrong.  It is, after all, what is.

When my legs are burning, I don’t attach to the feeling–I let them burn.

When I’m right on the edge of breathlessness, I let it be and don’t fight against the feeling.

If I grunt or groan or tense my muscles or make a face, it’s only making it harder to simply flow with ‘what is’ in that moment.  Life is like that.  Life ‘is’ and there’s a certain amount of being okay with it and not judging it but simply noticing it that is very freeing, liberating.

Someone thinks a lot during meditation time.  No need to fight that.  Simply notice it without assigning a meaning or beating self up in any way.

Someone feels angry.  I’m not saying to act the anger out and of course we shouldn’t totally repress it but one way to handle it is to notice it as simply being ‘what is’ in that moment.  Or maybe for the whole day the feeling is there.  In noticing it one is standing outside of it and this juxtaposition is causing separation from it emotionally.

Just like “the leg’s are burning, let ’em” that happen during my workout.  It is what is and nothing last forever!  ‘It is’ until it isn’t anymore and the less we can attach to it and the more we simply notice it without emotion or resistance, the realization comes clearly that nothing last forever.  That’s the nature of reality:  impermanence.

And impermanence is a blessing.

Acceptance of ‘what is’ in any moment is liberating and elevating.

Judgment of what is in any moment is attachment and suffering.

That’s one difference between Christianity and Buddhism although there are many good similarities as we all know.

Acceptance is surrender and surrender is Divine!

Just my two cents, hoping to have expressed this in a way that’s understandable.

Patterns of Thought, Neurons, Psychic Development and Spiritual Evolution

Neurons Gossip
Neurons Gossip

Patterns of Thought, Neurons, Psychic Development and Spiritual Evolution

How do all those things relate?  Patterns that I’m referring to have to do with what sometime’s I’ve heard called “gossipy neurons” or “ground consciousness” — either way, karmic repetition.  I really appreciate how the Dalai Lama of Tibet has joined Buddhists theory with scientific theory to understand the mind and how it works.

So patterns of thought and neurons that react to stimuli (see What the Bleep Do we Know?) — gossipy neurons!  I love that image of neurons gossiping and we could then see how and why the work of Byron Katie has been helpful to so many–i.e. question that thought and who would you be without it?

Neurons gossip — stimulus happens (some life event or experience) and then old dialogue begins accompanied by old pictures.

In my work as a psychic I’ve learned how to listen to observe to create a space for information to come through and I can’t have any neurons gossiping in the background when i do this.   I think meditation and working in those areas with the mind enables one to recognize when ground or karmic consciousness takes over or said another way, when the neurons start gossiping and firing and kicking up those old connections.

When we notice those neurons gossiping we can become aware and break those old patterned connections through intention–creating a new pathway, one that includes compassion and love instead.

I often point out how psychic development (I offer an Online Course) is an aid to our personal spiritual evolution.  This is yet another example!  Awareness rocks!

Peace, the Present and Morning Predictive Voice

December 1 2014 snow

I’ve had better days on the path.  Right now the desire is to write about peace.  When we remember that present conditions will not last indefinitely, it helps.  It surely does.

Peace is a state of perfect balance or still-point of well being in an ever changing world of causes and conditions that are in continual flux.

When we’re at peace, our outlook is positive and clear and our dreams seem as if they are within reach–a level of optimism accompanies it.

Life presents challenges.  We get triggered.  Disappointments happen.  People can be… well, no sense going there, right?  Like I said, it wasn’t the  best of days and sometimes the best of us have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and climb back up on the horse and keep going.  What horse? The horse of mindfulness.  I’ll explain in a moment.

I woke this morning with a warning of sorts. You know those moments between sleep and full waking consciousness, right? That’s the point at which I clearly heard (as if I was speaking to myself, as these things typically go)… I was saying to myself, “Don’t let anything anyone says today upset you.”  I argued with the voice a bit knowing who I would be seeing later in the day.  Then I promptly forgot about it.

I remember it after the fact.  It turned out I did start to become upset but went to the studio to finish an art project and then hit the gym to work it out that way.  There I was doing chin ups at the YMCA when that OMG moment hit.  I remembered the words that I heard that morning!  The person I went to see did say some things… suffice it to say, it did take me back a bit.

Then, if that wasn’t enough, I came home later to hear fowl mouthed roommate cursing into the air several times throughout the evening even with my door shut.

Since coming down from the mountain there have been numerous challenges to my previous hermit lifestyle which (let’s face it) I still maintain to some extent to keep my sanity.  And I’m gradually learning not to let circumstances overwhelm me.  I have been able to respond in a low-key manor while still remaining true to my principles.

Why respond in a low-key manor?  because otherwise awareness is lost when drama ensues and without maintaining awareness or mindfulness (by being sucked into someone’s drama or my own past triggers) what happens is that peace flies out the window. And with it those dreams that seemed within reach drift farther away and well-being doesn’t seem so “well”, pardon the pun.

Am I just learning this stuff?  No, of course not.  Just applying it more consciously when life is more challenging.  Like I said, I’ve had better days but the voice this morning was right about not letting it upset me.

You know when I remembered the morning voice?  When I was thinking nothing at all because I was using all my might to pull my body up by my arms.  I was completely open and in the present moment, much as I was when first waking and like as I am when doing a psychic reading.

I will add one more thing and then will get to sleep (it’s getting late).  I realized my physical body reacts to triggers (like to day what other people say shouldn’t upset me–so sayeth the voice) when my emotions and mental faculties seem to be less reactive, the physical body felt like it took a couple of physical ‘hits’.  I could separate those out and found it interesting.  I don’t think I’ve been aware of it before–the physical body having memory and responding on it’s own apart from mental body and emotional body.  The physical body reactions seemed separate and more pronounced.

I always find it awe inspiring that some part of me or some energy of Divine Mind is a step ahead of me, knowing what’s about to happen and wiring back to me particular heads-up guidance.

When I heard a roommate’s foul mouth cursing loudly more than once this evening, I had to smile a little.  Remember the ‘morning-voice message’.  Okay, good buddy 10-4, message received (good ole’ CB radio talk).  Let there be Peace!

 

What ‘is’: Hold it, Dispel it or Accept It?

November 8 2014

Neither hold onto ‘what is’ nor try to get rid of ‘what is’ — Nature, Life, The Cosmos or whatever name you give the divine process will move it, change it, or dissolve it for you.

Yes, alright.  You read about The Secret and The Law of Attraction.  Fine.  Apply the techniques but in the meanwhile…. while you wait for the desired result, then what’s the approach?  That’s what I’m writing about here.

The snow photo above reminds me of states in life that we simply cannot do anything about.  That’s the first snow of the season that came last week in the mountains… which by now (a week later) is melted by a warming trend.   Trend is a good word I think.  Stock markets are associated with this word and so is the weather and in our own life there are energy trends as well which may (or may not) be personal karma or group karma or simply life itself.  Things come and go like thoughts during meditation and like snow that comes and then melts away.

It’s tough not to hold on to thoughts and not to dispel them which is what we are told to do in meditation and thus in life.  Thoughts are trendy–they come and go like the fashion trends do, and like stock market trends and like trends in the weather.

I’m thinking a lot about how when it would snow in the mountains and me living all alone up there and in the midst of a large snow that was coming down fast.  I’d start to feel that bit of panic– What if this keeps up?  Will I be snowed in?  When will it stop? If it keeps snowing at this rate….

I can get caught in that kind of thinking when I’m on the treadmill at the gym.  My goal is to hold a particular pace without stopping for a total of 30 minutes.  If I have one nano-second wherein a thought comes wherein I hold one like, What if I can’t hold this pace for 7 more minutes? This is getting tough!  Inevitably,  I cave-in and have to slow down to recover my breath.

If we could do more of just neither holding onto what arises nor trying to dispel it…. right?  I mean this is our whole practice in life, isn’t it?  We hear it called  ‘accepting what-is’.

It isn’t easy.  But like the snow melting, everything is impermanent and eventually dissolves, goes away, or changes form.  The nature of life itself is that nothing last forever–not the good, the bad or the ugly.

It isn’t easy in the meanwhile to meet whatever arises in our self and in our life spectrum and simply be open to it.  To have the courage and detachment to be open to it to discover what is beyond it or behind it without manipulation or opinion or any thought of anything whatsoever.

And then what happens?  We do it again in the next moment and the one right after that one.  We can have faith that the snow will stop and eventually melt, the 7 minutes will pass on the treadmill without heart failure and whatever trend, whatever contemptuous situation of disdain you are facing right now will eventually change and so will the bubbly blissful business as well.  One thing we can know is that everything changes and nothing stays the same for very long.

And that’s why we should neither try to hold or try to dispel anything that arises.  Just observe and be and above all else, maintain the sense of humor!