Impermanence. It’s a bitch. Or is it? 


Impermanence. It’s a bitch. Or is it? 


 Blog post to follow. Stay tuned. #thepersistenceofvanishingthings #impermanent #impermanence #meditation #meditation #mindfulness #mindset #havefun #righthererightnow #blackandwhitephoto #blackandwhitephotography #blackandwhitephotography #chicago #chicagomeditation

Advertisements

Notice Ceasing


We all notice right away when the shit hits the fan.

IMG_0304

I ask you though…

When was the last time you noticed tension or aggravation fading away?

Today try this practice.

Anytime today when you notice feeling unhappy about something, some situation, interaction, physical, mental or emotional experience… try observing the feelings you have in the body, the heart or in the mind and just watch. Can you also notice when it begins to fade away?

Doing this helps us deal with stress more easily. And, is a great reminder that whatever is going on is not permanent because we can observe that fact directly for ourselves.

Which we can easily enough forget. But the truth is EVERYTHING comes and goes.

Try it out and let me know how it goes for you. Wishing you all peace and happiness dear ones.

Hillary

IMG_0847-2

 

Spreading Peace and Happiness: One Way to Pause


We had an absolutely gorgeous community meditation this morning.

 Curiously, as we began, a furious rainstorm poured down all over the roof, the windows, the outside of the apartment. As we ended our meditation with a loving kindness practice, extending compassion to all beings, slowly the rain stopped, the clouds cleared away, and the sun emerged radiant.

It was a beautiful metaphor and perfect for the teachings we were considering today.


Storms are inevitable, not only in the weather outside, but inside our own hearts and minds. 

But we can learn not to get sucked into the storm, not to get sucked into the vortex of suffering.

We can recognize the storm by its very nature as impermanent.

While at the same time, being generous with ourselves, and compassionate. Every great faith tradition knows this. Sometimes it’s time to cry or laugh or any of the other the vast array of human emotions. And then, it will be time to let those emotions go, gently, and as we are ready to do so.

Through formal practice we can learn to observe the emotional weather, the mental weather, notice how it comes it goes with greater and greater ease over time.

Through formal practice we can open our hearts and be compassionate for ourselves. If we cannot be compassionate to ourselves how can we possibly be compassionate towards others?

So what to do when we are feeling distressed or pressed in the moment?

We can take three full deep breaths.

We can use the physical sensation of our breathing to reconnect for our own self, cultivating stability of heart and mind, in the present moment and connection to all living beings also breathing with us.

Let’s try this now, why don’t we?

Sit or stand wherever you are.

Take three slow deliberate breaths, allowing each one to be slightly longer and deeper than the previous one.

Let your  exhalation be slower and longer and more luxurious than each inhalation before it. Feel the stretch of the lungs, the muscles of the ribs, the expansion of the belly.

And on the third, last breath, as the lungs fill completely, hold the breath for just a few moments, as long as it’s comfortable. And then slowly, slowly let the breath exit the body.

Feel better?


This practice allows the prefrontal cortex to be activated and it allows the amygdala, the ancient part of the brain, which only knows  only two things; how to panic about not enough or feel under attack, to chill out and calm down.

Going through our day this way as well as we can, remembering to practice with the breath, can help reduce our stress by keeping us present.

Of course that practice is even further supported with a regular meditation practice which is more formal in nature.

And, going through the day this way each of us is able to leave the world a little bit better than the way we found it, a little bit more peaceful, a little bit happier. And that my friends, is no small thing.

Thank you for stopping by. Namaste.

Feel free to get in touch with us with any questions. 

What time is it?


We are so glad you asked. 

Still just this: 

 

Whatever is happening right now, I want you to pause. Presumably you’re reading this posting on this website. Okay. Very nice. Now try this. Right here and now. 

Take your hands off the keyboard, or the mouse or the device. And just let your hands rest in your lap. Or perhaps on a desktop. It doesn’t matter.  

 Just breathe. Feel yourself breathing. Feel the stretch of the body around the lungs. Feel the belly expand and contract, just like a little balloon.

  
Very nice. Now go back to work and see if you can bring your awareness with you. Because what time is it?

Well now you know the answer that one don’t you?

Like this? Join our one minute meditation challenge. 

And thanks so much for stopping by. My all find peace and happiness. 

 

All is Change…


…Just look at the weather!

Yesterday was nearly 80 and today is about half that. It’s 48 here in the Windy city.

IMG_8752-0

And what do we do? We complain.

Maybe yesterday some said, “Oh, it’s too hot!” And today, some will say, “Holy cow, it’s too cold!” We joke and say well, this is Chicago after all, give it five minutes, the weather will change. Funny thing is, where ever I’ve lived, that’s what people say. But we like to dramatize the weather. We talk as if the weather was personally out to mess us up, individually. Given what we know about global climate change, I’d say, it seems rather more the other way around.

But, here’s the thing; in terms of our personal suffering on account of things which change on a moment to moment basis:everything is like this. When we complain, we only make things worse for ourselves.

Suffering arises when we resist what is. Whether it’s the weather or sickness, old age, even death. None of these things can we stop. We all go through them.

What helps alleviate this unhappiness is learning to practice mindfulness that shows us the true nature of reality: the constant flow and change that is the very essence of all things including ourselves.

Through mindfulness we learn to observe without judging and in this space we can find our freedom, our happiness.and the realization that we are all in this together. We can experience this in every breath. So when you are feeling tossed about by change or feeling small and alone, pausing to breathe can restore our balance and connection to all things.

This is simple but not easy. So we have classes, like Meditation Happy Hour and free 2nd Saturday Mindfulness groups. Give it a try. We’d love to see you here.

And for today…don’t like something weather or otherwise? Try taking a breath and just saying, I consent or This too. It allows us to soften to the moment and accept what is. I picked those up from Tara Brach’s amazing book, True Refuge, which I totally recommend.

Remember, you got this! Make today amazing loves!

IMG_8820

A Light exists in Spring


A Light exists in Spring… 
by Emily Dickinson

Listen Online

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period-
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay-

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.


“A Light exists in Spring…” by Emily Dickinson. Public Domain. (buy now)

Thank goodness once again for The Writers Almanac and Garrison Keillor

Just Keep the Gift Moving

I find lately, more and more in my own life that doing this throughout the day really helps me see that all these moments of attention help me feel the net of life all around me. I feel more connected. Happier. Better able to deal with whatever comes along. And I think it’s making me feel less afraid and more generous, more able to love, more able to put down the mask of self protection that I’ve been hauling around.


Mindfulness fundamentally is about being. About how we are in the right here and now. Seeing what’s true for us in the moment. Allowing it to be as it is. Investigating gently. Maybe we might mentally ask ourselves, so what’s up? There’s a recognition that whatever it is, it doesn’t define us and it ain’t permanent. So if the moment feels unpleasant, it can be sort of reassuring to know that this will change. If it feels pleasant, it can help us feel grateful for a little slice of loveliness. Neutral stuff, doesn’t even cause a blip. 

The little plant doesn't complain about where it grows. It just does the best it can where it lands. It grows naturally into what it will be. (Photo Hillary Johnson 2014)
The little plant doesn’t complain about where it grows. It just does the best it can where it lands. It grows naturally into what it will be.
(Photo Hillary Johnson 2014)

All we have to do is pause and breathe. 

This breath, then the next one. Take three in a row now. Let them be slow and deliberate. Feel the stretch of the muscles and tendons as the lungs expand. Then feel them relax as you exhale.

Better?

I find lately, more and more in my own life that doing this throughout the day really helps me see that all these moments of attention help me feel the net of life all around me. I feel more connected. Happier. Better able to deal with whatever comes along. And I think it’s making me feel less afraid and more generous, more able to love, more able to put down the mask of self protection that I’ve been hauling around.

brene               AMANDAPALMER

I’ve been reading pretty much everything Brené Brown has ever written and Amanda Palmer’s, The Art of Asking. Yesterday, suddenly it hit me. Hard. I used to know, used to feel, that what Brené Brown and Amanda have been saying was true for me too. But it’s been squished out of me and over time, I’ve forgotten what asking, what vulnerability feel like. How to do that, be that way. Boldly open. Trusting life. As I’ve been reading her book, I’ve been remembering all the times where I asked and got exactly what I wanted at the time. I remember now that feeling of wanting to connect connect connect with people, the share an experience, to trust love to win in the end. And holy shit, am I ever feeling done with feeling fearful. I mean, right?

What a time, energy, creativity suck it is. And the thing is, that some of what squished all that trust out of me were well-intentioned prods by my parents. They were just trying to protect me. And I get that. Totally get that. But…

As a step-parent I get that it’s never very clear, or as least not often very clear regarding that class of things I call Things Best Said Under Extremely Difficult Conditions and when you see your kid suffering or doing something that makes you want to run in and scoop them up like when they were very tiny and shout, No! That’s crazy and dangerous or you’ll get hurt. Or something like that. But, maybe all we do is create fear and instal the same layers of not always helpful self protection and lack of trust and vulnerability that makes life so freaking wonderful and scary but totally awesome. (And just for the record, I’m not suggesting that we all just throw caution to the wind or anything crazy. I’m just recognizing that even sometimes good intentions can cause results we don’t expect. All the more reason to be mindful and then of course, let go of any expectations in terms of results.)

When we let go of expectations, then we’re really open to be delightfully surprised.

Leaping with joy

For a while, after I really started practicing meditation and studying and trying to bring mindfulness into all the corners of my life, I went through a hard, hard phase. It felt like in order to “do this right” (don’t even get me started! Oh God, so much judgement in that phrase!) I had to step away from all kinds of things which make life fun. But holy cow, being mindful doesn’t mean that at all. We can have fun and cool new sneakers for spring. We can be in love. We can have great sex. All kinds of things.

The trouble comes when we do any of these things on auto-pilot, in which case we’re not really enjoying them anyway. Or when we take refuge in them, thinking that all that impermanent, external stuff is gong to make us really happy. It won’t.

The trick it to live fully I think. Embracing the whole “catastrophe” we can directly experience the truth. We’re all in this together.

Life IS movement.

The only rule is to keep the gift moving. Share the love however we can.

Small things matter. It all matters. A smile can change someone’s day. Just because we can’t see it the ripple effect, we know it is endless. We are infinite.

Love to you all, fellow travelers.

Let’s keep the gift moving together. And, as always, let me know what you think. What’s feeling true for you? What are your struggles. How to make it through. We can help catch each other through talking and seeing and holding the space.

IMG_6943