Dedicating the Merit of our Practice

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(Read the original on elephant journal)

The other day, I stood alone in the temple in front of an altar full of a stunningly beautiful and potent mandala of crystals, Tibetan singing bowls, and Buddhas.

As I breathed with my palms together in prayer in front of my heart and wished that the journey my family and I are about to embark upon be safe, peaceful, and joyous, for one brief second my mind was clear and radiant.

I realized that this wish for myself and the two beings closest to me (my husband and daughter) was simultaneously a wish for all beings without exception. The pure and simple aspiration, “May the journey of all beings be safe, peaceful, healthy, and happy” welled up from that indescribable source that lies within each of us and is ever surrounding us all.

Dedicating the merit is fundamental to all meditation. It is absolutely essential and not to be overlooked. Here is an example of a dedication of merit you can recite at the end of your practice:

May the earth be wholesome everywhere
The world blessed with prosperity
May the poor and destitute find wealth
And the stooping animals be freed

May every being ailing with illness
Find relief at once from suffering
May all the sickness that afflict the living
Be instantly and permanently healed

May those who go in dread, have no more fear,
May captives be unchained and set free,
And may the weak now become strong,
May living beings help each other in kindness.

May travelers upon the road,
Find happiness no matter where they go,
And may they gain, without hardship,
The goals on which their hearts are set.

From the songs of birds and the sighing of trees,
From the shafts of light and from the sky itself,
May living beings, each and every one,
Perceive the constant sound of Dharma.

~ Shantideva

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Love is a Field.

I open the door.

I see a sauna, empty space, hot air. Steam.

I step inside. I am going on a trip within.

I sit. I am alone and not alone.

The aromas of lavender, white sage, and eucalyptus spiral around me in wisps of smoke.

Sweat pours from my pores. I am here. There is nowhere else to go.

I wonder about going on a dark retreat for a few days. What would happen?

What would I see in the pitch black?

What voices, what wind chimes would I hear?

I drink the tea. I eat the mushroom.

My consciousness expands and contracts, beating like my heart, filling and emptying like my lungs.

Whirling in wondrous ways.

I am not sweating anymore, I am flying. I can go anywhere.

I open the door to the treehouse. Here lies the meditation shrine room. Inside, a great thangka sparkles from the wall. White Tara smiles down upon us. There are 10 Tibetan bowls of various sizes. Huge crystals beam their clear light at my heart–center. There are Buddhas and more Buddhas. There is Jesus and Ganesh. There are my parents, grandparents, ancestors, my brothers and sisters, and friends. There are my kitties and dogs and even beloved childhood hamsters.

There is my partner. There is our daughter, and her daughter, and her daughter’s daughter. There are gorgeous bouquets of tropical flowers, growing impossibly out of the stones on the ground. There is music—all my favorite songs.

There is love in the room. Love, patience, peace, and presence. There is gratitude for every person, animal, thing, and feeling in the space.

Love is a field, not a form.

The doorway to love is never closed. The master key is within our heart.

There is joy here and sorrow, and everything is alright—even when it’s not.

“Let’s not commit to a future together.

The future is so unknown, and we are so fluid, and tired of pretending 

that we know.

Our thoughts and feelings are ever-changing, uncontrollable, like a wild ocean of love.

~ Jeff Foster

Continue reading…

8 Simple Heart Opening Tips

Anahata chakra, the heart center, is the fourth energy point, located at the center of the seven main chakras in yogic philosophy. It unites the three lower chakras with the three upper points.

Anahata means “unstruck” in Sanskrit. Its color is green, its element is air, and its sense is touch. The core issues at this point are related to love, friendship, kindness, generosity, gratitude, and compassion. The challenges here include ill will, envy, jealousy, selfishness, greed, and pity. Grief is the experience of love lost, the inevitable shadow side of the heart.

At present, pretty much every single one of us on the planet could benefit from opening and healing our heart chakra. May these suggestions be of benefit.

1. Love your parents.

The Buddha’s teachings are quite clear on this point:

“Even if one should carry about one’s mother on one shoulder and one’s father on the other, and so doing should live a hundred years…Moreover, if one should set them up as supreme rulers, having absolute rule over the wide earth abounding in the seven treasures—not even by this could one repay one’s parents. And why! Bhikkhus, parents do a lot for their children: they bring them up, provide them with food, introduce them to the world. ~ Anguttara Nikaya

For some, love for our parents comes naturally. We can easily send them metta (loving-kindness), wishing that they may be safe, happy, healthy, peaceful, and free. If you do not feel this immense love for your mother and father, work with forgiveness. Being able to truly love and care for these special beings is a foundation of healing for our wounded hearts.

2. Cherish the temple of your body.

Self-care is quite the buzz word of late. In the rush of life, caring about others, about work, about politics, about attainment of possessions and status can overshadow the essential importance of authentically loving ourselves. Loving the self means being mindful of what we are putting into our bodies and minds. It also means loving our shape and size in this moment and knowing our skin and our faces are beautiful, unique, and worthy of our love.

3. Do what you love; love what you do.

It’s a cliche for a reason—when we act from the heart and do the work that our heart feels most passionate about, we are happiest and most productive. Of course, what we love naturally changes and fluctuates over time.

A personal example: During my 10-year career as a schoolteacher, I felt great love for my students and loved sharing my knowledge of the world, language, and literature with them. Over the years, that love faded away and was replaced by anger at the oppressive system of traditional classrooms. I no longer loved what I did, so I found something else to do—something that feeds my love for writing, yoga, and helping others. The evolution is ever in process. Check in with your heart each day, do what you love, and let your inner light shine forth!

Keep reading

 

Where is the Middle Way?

 

What we have here is a lack of union.

Extremes have become ultra polarized to the point of absurdity
The polar ice caps melting can’t be denied
Science isn’t a matter of belief
humanity is KILLING OUR MOTHER EARTH

The government isn’t meant to be a two-party system and politics shouldn’t be what is has become: corporation ruled corrupt GREED

Martin Luther King, Jr said: “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” YET WE MUST CHOOSE LOVE OVER HATE

This is a dangerous time. Watch your step. Mind the gap. But, please. KEEP WORKING FOR THE GOOD

Are you on the edge? The left or the right? Can you see outside your narrow, conditioned point of view? No. TAKE A GIANT LEAP BACK

Be moderate. Take the Middle Path: ever the goal, ever the practice. Discovery of balance, presence, awareness. I must choose love over hate. I must recognize both goddess and god and remember that all of live is simply energy moving within and without us and all beings, whether we call it divine or buddhanature or the holyspirit, or not

This is a potent time. GIVE LOVE. BE LOVE. BREATHE LOVE.

5 Simple Ways to Infuse Our Daily Lives with Love

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Wake Up with Love

It’s a new day. It’s a blessing to be alive. Listen to the sounds. Listen to your breath. Do a  bit of stretching and moving. Mindfully brush your teeth (and/or swish coconut oil), brew a cup of tea, enjoy some fresh fruit. Sit quietly with gratitude for a moment before diving into your daily tasks.

Blessed Be the Food

Sit with your plate before you. Place your palms over the food. Thank you, sun, moon, rain, wind, and soil. Thank you, farmers, distributors, market sellers, cooks and servers. Thank you self, friends and family for sharing this meal. Eat slowly, taste fully, with appreciation. This style of mindful eating leads naturally to a desire for wholesome, natural, local and delicious foods.

Find Your Balance

“Do not hurry; do not rest.” ~ Goethe

Listen to your intuition. It is a day for much action and productivity? Is it a day for reflection and rejuvenation? Are you more alert and energetic in the mornings, afternoons or evenings? It’s okay to feel however you feel. Notice, accept and embrace the flavor of the moment.

Do Gazing Meditation

At the sky; into the eyes of your dog, partner, baby, best friend; at the leaves on the trees; at a flower; at the river flowing. Spend a few moments gazing into nature. The sky is always there. Even if it’s not blue today, gaze upward, feel small and touch the sky with your heart.

Give Love

Look within and ask yourself: “Do I need to give love to myself and/or others today?” Soon enough it will be mutual, boundless exchange. Write a sweet note to an old or new friend… or to yourself in your journal. Have a meaningful conversation. Pick a bouquet of wildflowers to give someone. Smile and make eye contact with a stranger. Prepare food with love. Speak with love. Write emails with love. Breathe love.

 

Revolutionize Your Relationship…

… to relationship.

We are conditioned to think that “relationship” means, above all, romance.

the One Soul mate life partner happier ever after thing

the love/marriage relationship on a pedestal above all else

We are conditioned to believe that Relationships can be sinked

(sunk)

can be compartmentalized into convenient boxes:

partner, kids, family, friends, acquaintances, pets, strangers

race/ethnicity

gender/sexual preference

My relationship with myself

When the reality is
we are nature and nature is us
we are the universe and the universe is us

Everything is relationship.

Nothing is not relationship.

Chakra 4th

Relationship is our problem, and without understanding relationship, merely to be active is to produce further confusion, further misery. Action is relationship: to be is to be related. Do what you will withdraw -to the mountains, sit in a forest – you cannot live in isolation. You can live only in relationship, and as long as relationship is not understood, there can be no right action. Right action comes in understanding relationship, which reveals the process of oneself. Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom; it is a field of affection, warmth, and love, therefore a field rich with flowers.
~J. Krishnamurti

Happy New Day

Life is

broken down into

made up of

years months weeks days hours minutes seconds

moments

The task goal point meaning of Life is to live each one of them
fully, openly, heartily

Moments are Life
This moment is living

This moment is what it is
And it is also in movement

The movement of the moment
flowing with grace
simultaneous embrace and let-go

Accepting the innate perfection of everysinglething,
while at the same time
choosing healing
(choosing yoga, breath, meditation, meaningful work, mindful consumption,  healthy lifestyles)

Above all,
loving
and choosing love.

buddha faces

To live is to love.
To love is to live.
You live that you may learn to love.
You love that you may learn to live in the eternal.

~Sivananda

Constructive Outrage

#reverb15 Day 8 of 21

What makes you feel outraged? Write about at least one constructive, compassionate thing you can do about it.

{Read the original on elephant}

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I’m sure most of us are outraged at the the rise in violent crime and mass shootings in public arenas such as schools, churches, theaters, universities and shopping malls, especially in the United States.

In his brilliant, yet disturbing New Yorker essay, “Thresholds of Violence,” Malcolm Gladwell reminds us, “Since Sandy Hook, there have been more than 140 school shootings in the United States.”

He compares the epidemic of school shootings with that of a “slow-motion, ever-evolving” riot.

If a riot evolves as it spreads, starting with the hotheaded rock thrower and ending with the upstanding citizen, then rioters are a profoundly heterogeneous group.

Gladwell cites the story of a young man who is caught amassing weaponry and creating bombs in a storage unit in his Minnesota hometown. He readily admits to planning to kill his family and classmates, even though, “They did nothing wrong. I just wanted as many victims as possible.”

He argues that the 1999 school shooting in Columbine, Colorado was a tipping point of sorts. The Columbine “mastermind”—Eric Harris—reportedly wanted to “kick-start a revolution.” In eight of the 12 major school shootings in the United States after Columbine, the shooters made explicit reference to the two Columbine killers.

Gladwell’s conclusion is chilling:

The problem is not that there is an endless supply of deeply disturbed young men who are willing to contemplate horrific acts. It’s worse. It’s that young men no longer need to be deeply disturbed to contemplate horrific acts.

I do not have any answers. I don’t like guns. I’ve never shot a gun, except a BB gun, and that’s despite the fact that I’m from Texas. When I was a kid, I wished all the guns would be dumped into the ocean, and I still do wish that there were no guns in existence.

So, I will defer to the esteemed writer and yoga teacher Mark Morford (whom I actually met, in person, when he led a retreat last month at the hotel/retreat center where I work, whose October column, “Shooting Up America: Guns are a National Disgrace,” is well worth a read. Here are a few of his spot-on lines:

Guns are death made physical, palpable in the hand. They are our basest, least sacred energies—hate, fear, paranoia—compressed into metal and explosives. No one holds or fires a gun without some fundamental understanding of this fact—that he could, if he so desired, kill anything he wanted, right now, in an instant—and that’s essentially all you’re supposed do with it.

Guns are the antithesis of love and compassion; they advance the human experiment not at all, and in fact, shatter and humiliate it with every pull of the trigger.

What can I do about gun violence that is constructive and compassionate?
I can cultivate the practice of being peaceful within and being a model of peace to the best of my ability—for my daughter, partner, friends, family, neighbors.