Tag Archives: reading

be the change: how meditation can transform you and the world

the other day i received the book be the change: how meditation can transform you and the world from the great people at FSB associates, who occasionally send me books to review. usually i spend quite a bit of time reading the book and writing a review but since i’m busy with NaNoWriMo this month, i’ll take them up on their generous offer and post an article written by the authors of the book. many thanks, and – enjoy! if you like the book, please consider buying it for yourself or for someone for christmas.

3 mini meditations to help you through your day (or night)
by ed and deb shapiro,
authors of be the change: how meditation can transform you and the world

what stops you from sleeping through the night? is it when things are not going your way or they look topsy-turvy and you just want to scream; when your life appears chaotic and you are not sure if you are coming or going; or when it feels like everything is piled on your shoulders?

life should be an exciting and outrageous adventure. isn’t it a wonder how a spider weaves a web or a bee makes a hive? did you ever notice the small, everyday miracles, like the fact that you can breathe in and out? but how many of us get to experience this miracle? sometimes life just feels too awful. we want to feel good, we want to be happy, in fact happiness is our birthright. but so often there are just too many difficulties to deal with. and although we may know that meditation chills us out, if we are feeling stressed or irritable then it just doesn’t seem so appealing.

so here are three mini-meditations, moments to just stop and breathe and remember why you are here. a moment to check yourself out, to look within, and to find what is really meaningful to you. you can get it together even when you think it is all falling apart.

mini-meditations can be done on a train, walking down the street, at an airport, standing at a bus stop, in an elevator, while sitting in the bathroom (often the only place you can be alone!). silently count your out-breath up to ten times, or walk with awareness of each step for up to ten steps. or relax each part of your body, then silently repeat “soft belly” for five breaths.

if you are at work, then use your lunch hour to find a quiet spot, perhaps in a park, or even in the office if everyone else has gone out. if you are traveling then use that time to consciously breathe, letting your awareness follow your breath from your nose tip to your belly and back out again. if you are driving or operating machinery and feel you are getting tense, then stop for a moment, breathe into your belly and silently repeat “soft belly, soft belly.” focus on any part of the body that is feeling tight and breathe into it, until you relax and let go. silently repeat “soft shoulders” or “soft neck” and so on.

as you walk down the street or ride in an elevator, practice a mini-loving kindness by silently wishing everyone be well, wishing that everyone be happy. in the office you can spend a few moments repeating the names of everyone you work with and wishing them happiness. on your way home from work reflect on your day and generate loving thoughts to all those you met. when you send out relaxing and loving thoughts it relaxes the space around you and often any chaotic or disturbing energies will dissipate. what you put out comes back to you ten fold

1. mini breath meditation

sit comfortably with your back straight. take a deep breath and let it go. begin to silently count at the end of each out breath: inhale . . . exhale . . . count one, inhale . . . exhale . . . two, inhale . . . exhale . . . three. then start at one again. just three breaths and back to one. simply following each breath in and silently counting. so simple. do this as many times as you want, eyes open or closed, breathing normally.

2. mini walking meditation

you can do this walking along a country lane, a city street, in the office or the garden. you can walk slowly, normal or fast, whatever feels right. as you walk become aware of your walking, of the movement of your body and the rise and fall of your feet. become aware of your breath and see if you can bring both your breathing and your walking together. just walk and breathe with awareness for a few minutes.

3. instant letting go

find a quiet place to sit, have a straight back, and take a deep breath and let it go. then quietly repeat to yourself: “my body is at ease and relaxed . . . my heartbeat is normal . . . my mind is calm and peaceful . . . my heart is open and loving.” keep repeating this until you have let go of the tension and are at peace. then take a deep breath and have a smile on your face!

©2009 ed and deb shapiro, author of be the change: how meditation can transform you and the world

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author bio

ed and deb shapiro, authors of be the change: how meditation can transform you and the world, are the award-winning authors of fifteen books on meditation, personal development, and social action. they are featured bloggers for the huffingtonpost.com and for care2.com, teach meditation workshops worldwide, work as corporate coaches and consultants, and are the creators and writers of the daily chill our inspirational text messages on sprint cell phones. the shapiros’ books include your body speaks your mind, winner of the 2007 visionary book award; voices from the heart with contributors such as president gorbachev, his holiness the dalai lama, and bishop tutu; and meditation: the four-step course to calmness and clarity. ed, from new york, trained in india with paramahamsa satyananda, with sri swami satchidananda, and with chögyam trungpa rinpoche. deb, from london, trained with tai situ rinpoche. the shapiros have taught meditation and personal development for more than twenty-five years. they currently reside in boulder, colorado.

september buddhist carnival – the delusion edition

buddhism, impermanence and natureone of the first pieces of information i came across this morning, before breakfast yet, was the the stock market disaster today. a bit of nervousness wanted to creep in. how good to remember that the fears that can be aroused by such events are made of illusion, and that the stability that we all so yearn for can and will never exist. all we have is the moment. and the moment right here and now is glorious: breathtaking late-summer weather, a handful of local plums in my belly, a house filled with peace and quiet.

welcome, then, friends, to the monthly buddhist carnival. let’s make it a day to celebrate serenity and simplicity.

“you do not need many things”

we always start this carnival with a poem. today, let’s hear zen master ryokan taigu, courtesy of the zen frog:

my house is buried in the deepest recess of the forest
every year, ivy vines grow longer than the year before.
undisturbed by the affairs of the world i live at ease,
woodmen’s singing rarely reaching me through the trees.
while the sun stays in the sky, i mend my torn clothes
and facing the moon, i read holy texts aloud to myself.
let me drop a word of advice for believers of my faith.
to enjoy life’s immensity, you do not need many things.

buddhist economics

echoing these sentiments, anatman relates today’s events to the thoughts of p.a. payutto, thailand’s foremost buddhist scholar:

“every time an economic decision is made, karma is made, and the process of fruition is immediately set in motion, for better or for worse, for the individual, for society and the environment.”

anatman then goes on:

so said the ven p a payutto in his book, buddhist economics: a middle way for the market place.

it may have taken the process decades to come to fruition, but the collapse of lehman brothers appears to indicate that the greed and excess once celebrated by michael douglas’s character in the 1987 film wall street are finally bringing the world’s financial markets to their knees. (…)

through all the years of excess, consumption was the mantra, until we are confronted with not only ecological but also economic collapse. tellingly, ven payutto observed in his book: “…non-production can be a useful economic activity. a person who produces very little in materialistic terms may, at the same time, consume much less of the world’s resources and lead a life that is beneficial to the world around him.

the inner way

a time, then, to turn to – diamonds. the diamond sutra is about “wisdom that cuts through illusion”, sharp like a diamond. i have always liked the image of a diamond, a metaphor that can reflect many ideas, and perhaps like wisdom, can encompass just as vast a multitude. i also imagine a diamond as something deep, hidden, innermost. perhaps you will enjoy as much as i did my good friend carol’s little quiz post on the diamond sutra. and perhaps you will not be as silly as i was when i first “failed” the quiz but rather do what carol encourages in the little video that follows: study the sutra in the inner way.

study and delusion

what does it mean to study a text in the inner way? there is much to contemplate on this topic – the christian practice of lectio divina comes to mind – and i’d also like to present what jim mooney has to offer in his post, resistance is fertile:

i tend to read at a cognitive level. i focus on understanding what is being taught and how it fits in with other teachings. i don’t always then go on to the next step of asking myself, “how do i feel about what i am reading?” tapping into my feelings like this is very difficult for me personally.yet, we can get a lot out of watching our feelings as we read dharma. in particular, uncomfortable feelings are the beginnings of delusions arising in our mind. delusions are distorted ways of looking at ourself, other people, and the world around us.

… our delusions are completely worthless with one exception – they make great “fertilizer.” to grow our minds of patience, love, compassion, and the like, we need fertilizer – situations that challenge our minds of patience, love and compassion.

… and …

other articles submitted to this carnival were by balanced existence who talks about the fundamentals of suffering in buddhism, the three poisons (or doshas): greed (raga), hatred (dvesa) and delusion. or moha (hmm – delusion and illusion really seems to be the topic today).

then there are grace from face to the sun, who discusses why and how to meditate (and who has some really nice images on her blog); someone with the interesting name of fetish self who explores – guess what – illusion and evolution (with frequent references to ken wilber); and nicholas powiull. he, too, writes on illusion – the illusion of individuality.

as usual, i’m presenting this buddhist carnival in two parts. this entry is already way longer than i wanted it to be. oh well. you’ll find part 2 some time in the next week, by september 22 at the latest. in the meantime, if you have or know of a good post on buddhism, please submit it here, or, if you have a hard time connecting to blog carnival (it’s been a bit wonky lately), just drop me a line.

thank you for the image, giant ginkgo

learning to listen

people in vancouver's downtown eastsidetoday i’m guest blogging over at alex’s blog, our evolution, about a profound experience i had some years ago that allowed me to transcend my little judgments and and truly listen to the essence of what is said. you’d think that as a counsellor, that should be second nature to me – and i hope it is – when it comes to listening to clients. when it comes to reading books, well that is – or was – a different story. so why don’t you trundle on over and visit alex and hear what happened that summer morning in a short but unforgettable conversation among the drunks and hookers in the downtown eastside. oh, and by the way, the image you’ll see on that post is of the iona community, an ecumenical christian community in scotland that meant a lot to bruce, the guy i’m talking about in that article.

 (image by patrick doheney)