Tag Archives: buddhist

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Greatest Teaching on Love and Mindfulness

p_davis-5562.jpg

The first time I was exposed to well-known Buddhist monk, peace activist, and author Thich Nhat Hanh, who visited Boston over the weekend, was when I read his book, Miracle of Mindfulness in a college course on Buddhism. I still recall one of our homework assignments for the class. We had to wash the dishes…which was awesome for my roommates. I’d pulled dish duty. A monk said so.

But, the assignment wasn’t to wash the dishes the way any of us typically wash the dishes, dashing off a chore so that we can move on to something better. Instead, the assignment required us to wash the dishes while being fully present and mindful. Never mind what happens next. We were learning through real-life practice that the powerful moment–the only one over which we have any guarantee or influence–is the one happening now. Don’t wait until later to be compassionate or kind, attentive and aware. A mind does not get stronger that way. It stays distracted and anxious about what comes next… And after that?… And then what?

On Sunday, in Copley Square, I was again reminded how miraculous mindfulness can be. I went with the expectation that I’d sit quietly, among hundreds of other people, in the presence of a revered Zen master, but didn’t anticipate much more. I knew it would feel meaningful and maybe solemn. I imagined we’d hear car horns or passing Duck Tours as we meditated. Quack, quack! I hoped he’d speak a little bit. Hopefully, we could hear and understand him. I momentarily wondered if it was unsafe to congregate in an open and vulnerable public space doing something spiritual, possibly viewed as religious. After all, we were in front of a church, among hundreds of Buddhists, yards from the Boston Marathon finish line, where two bombs went off five months ago to the date.

Trinity Church’s Reverend Dr. William Rich acknowledged this fact as he introduced Thich Nhat Hanh, who was now sitting under the hot sun clad in a knit hat and multiple layers of robes and meditations shawls. Wasn’t he melting? It struck me that it couldn’t be a coincidence, this event to sit in peace and healing near an area subjected to so much suffering a short time ago. The week before had also marked the anniversary of 9/11, the reverend noted. We were still at war and now considering military action in Syria. The day before marked the Jewish holiday of atoning for sins, Yom Kippur. In any number of ways, no matter who you were, the message of the day was clear. We are here to be together in peace. We’re here to practice greater awareness and compassion because the world needs both right now.

Small and centered, the 85-year-old Vietnamese monk in a knitted hat.

Following his introduction, Thich Nhat Hanh did something surprising to some. He said nothing. He didn’t even open his eyes. Instead, he sat silently and meditated, signaling for a typically pulsing cross-section of the city to join him. I don’t recall car horns. Definitely no quacking. A few small children giggled or cried briefly in the crowd, but mostly, it was very quiet.

When he eventually spoke, about 25-minutes later, the famous monk said only this: Breathing in, I am aware of my breath. Breathing out, I am aware of my breath, a simple mantra to set the stage for a talk that would succinctly and poetically teach a diverse group what it means to be mindful and how it creates peace. Next, he said: Breathing in, I enjoy breathing in. Breathing out, I enjoy breathing out.

The mantras and teachings gained momentum from there. We breathed in and out qualities of a mountain’s solidity and stability, water’s stillness and reflection, a flower’s freshness and beauty, and space. Breathing in, I have the element of space within me. Breathing out, I feel free… Space: free. Nothing was too heady. No one was left out. It was the most simple yet moving talk I’ve ever witnessed on meditation or Buddhism. If I was exposed to this teacher first in college, I was now getting schooled in a whole new way.

Then, the talk dovetailed into territory I would not have predicted for an 85-year-old celibate monk: love. It could have easily represented love for a family member or friend, but to hear a monk use the word darling in three different types of mantras suggested romantic love, and it made everyone smile. Darling, I am here. Darling, I know you are here. Darling, I know that you suffer, and I am here for you.  

“The most precious thing you can offer your loved one is your presence,” he said. “To be present means to be there. How can you love, if you are not there?” His voice was gentle, but the message reverberated. Love (romantic or otherwise) doesn’t work if we’re distracted or hiding– behind suffering, the TV, iPhone, alcohol, who knows. We all have our means of avoiding reality, some healthier than others. To love means to understand suffering, our own and our darling’s.

He linked the two segments of the talk seamlessly– the meditation, breathing, and mantras– with his thoughts on love. We practice meditation so that we can restore our presence and feel more stable, free, fresh, and beautiful. “You cannot buy it in a market,” the adorable monk cautioned in his sing-song accent, of the level of presence needed for true love. “You have to produce it yourself.”

Somewhere along the way, my tear ducts started producing an abundance of water. I was overwhelmed. It was too beautiful maybe, the day, his words, the fact that my present moment looked, felt, and sounded the way it did, and I was sharing it with hundreds of other people, some of whom must have been having a similar experience. Their suffering was all around, their love, too. I felt a hand on my arm, which startled me. It was a kind woman offering a tissue. I could hear others nearby also weeping. Monks and nuns were chanting now, singing the name of Avalokiteshvara, the saint of compassion, and a cello played. Damn cello, gets me every time. Vast blue sky space stretched overhead, and the ground on which we sat felt solid and stable. We were being restored.

The Buddhist monks and nuns chanting… also the cello. Sniff.

Life will always contain suffering, and it will offer opportunities to cultivate compassion, grow love, and strengthen our minds through presence and practice. Copley Square will always be the place where we went after the marathon to leave flowers, candles, sneakers, and letters. It’s where people cried and prayed  Often, they felt hopeless. Today, a proper memorial resides in the same spot, on the periphery of where Thich Nhat Hanh’s meditation event occurred. The earth, there, hugging the edge of the space where so many people sat in peace and thought about love.

I still hurry through the dishes most of the time, and while writing this post, I wolfed down an apple and peanut butter so fast, I barely tasted either of them. My spoon scrapped the bottom of the bowl, and I thought, heyyy, who ate my snack? But, then, a teacher or moment reminds me of the miracle of mindfulness and skill of being present. How I can always practice, beginning simply with breathing in and breathing out. And, sometimes, the expectations in my mind are blown away by the real-life experience.

 

Originally published on my website, Om Gal.

Do you want to become a Buddhist – or the Buddha?

path

 Do not become the Buddhist – become the Buddha.

There. It is right there. I searched for it, chased it, tried to catch it and pin-point it since last night. Since the conversation about following a path.

I couldn’t see why. I couldn’t see why I would need to follow a path to myself. I am here after all, already here. Everything that I am — me, God, Buddha, everything. What path? What path is needed to take me to what I am?

But then, I thought, to realize it, to feel oneself, to find oneself among the noise, among the constant, overwhelming, imposing and dizzying hubbub of the mind — maybe there is a path there. Maybe there is something that has to be done, worked on, achieved, to see clearly. So what would I do? What did I do? What was the first step on my path? It was looking for someone who could help. It was to look outside. To look to others.

That was my first step on the path, on the journey to becoming a Buddhist, a student, a spiritual seeker.

Ceasing to look to others for help was the first step on the path to becoming myself.

Because it was myself I wanted to find. Not the Buddha. Not the enlightenment experienced, envisioned and described by others — but myself. I did not want to become a Buddhist. I did not want to become the follower of Buddha, or Christ or anyone else at all. I wanted to become myself and, to become myself, I had to follow myself.

And it was in that moment, in that very first moment of making the choice to follow myself, my own path, my own way, that my journey was finished for I reached my destination.

It did not require esoteric practices, twenty years of meditation, chanting, praying. All it took was the choice to be me. All it took for me to be me, was for me to listen to myself, to look into myself, to follow myself. Because I was already there.

All I needed to do

was to trust myself.

Deepak Chopra: Why Did Buddha Get Enlightened Under the Bodhi Tree?

As the story goes, Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree and meditated. For a long time. As a result, the Bodhi tree later became now known as the Tree of Enlightenment or the Tree of Knowledge. What happened in the time he spent under the tree?

In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak poetically describes what Buddha may have seen and explores what we can learn from this experience – including interdependent origin, impermanence, and more.

What do you imagine Buddha’s time under the Bodhi tree might have looked like? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and check out Deepak’s book, Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment!

Everything Is

the-key

 “You have to be out there, prominent, visible. You have to speak to people.” My husband told me this one hot afternoon over tea. We sat at the patio of our favorite cafe. The big umbrellas and huge sycamores spread their respective canopies over our heads. They stopped the sun, but not the heat. It was a lazy, slow and quiet afternoon and we were talking about marketing my sticks.

“You have to be out there, speaking, teaching” he said.

Teaching. This was not the first time we had this conversation and, not for the first time, I said: no. No teaching.

You see, I never wanted to be a teacher. During my early Buddhist years there was the subtle competition among students for the best understanding, the best posture, the best silence. The best meditation. Every student hoped, not very secretly, to be the chosen one. The one who will become an heir to the dharma. The one who will become the successor. I later moved on from Zen into other realms and everything changed — but that one thing did not. The desire to become a teacher among my fellow practitioners remained.

Except for me.

I saw nothing attractive in the teaching business, quite the opposite — the prospect scared me. Why? Because of the responsibility it carried. Because every time I spoke an advice, even a small, inconsequential one, I felt the weight of my words influencing the one who asked, nudging their perspective even if just a little bit, realigning their actions. And it was too much. It was too much to handle. For me.

Ha … you know … this is not what I was going to write. I was going to write about how I feel that there is no need for me to teach others because I can see who you are, all of you. I can see the perfection of you and I know that, sooner or later, you will see it as well. I was going to talk about what is simply being and, ultimately, being perfect but …

It is not all crap, exactly … but that is not the reason why I never wanted to be a teacher. Why I don’t want to be a teacher. The reason is that it terrifies me when my dog obeys my commands, let alone a human. It mortifies me that another creature, a free, autonomous creature puts its life in my hands and obeys me unquestioningly, absolutely. Even if it is only a little dog.

I cannot handle the responsibility of influencing others. So … I pretend that it’s my sticks doing it instead?

Huh, what a strange post this is…

The Coolest Meditator In The World

The Dalai Lama @ The Vancouver Peace SummitHe turned 78 last Saturday and still says he meditates for three hours every day, starting at 4 am. He says he is just a simple monk and that kindness is his religion, calling for love and compassion to promote world peace.

When we met with the Dalai Lama he was standing on his veranda overlooking the beautiful Himalayan Mountain range, smiling and waving for us to come. We went to bow as is the tradition but he lifted us, took our hands, and said: “We are all equal here.”

We really didn’t know what to expect as he walked us into his sitting room. We imagined this spiritual leader to millions would be a serene Buddha-like figure sitting on a throne, yet he sat between us on his couch, still holding our hands, for forty-five minutes. He was the most ordinary person we ever hung out with. The world’s greatest meditator was simple and unassuming, he felt like our best friend, and he laughed a lot.

Ed and Deb Shapiro with the Dalai LamaJust by sitting with the Dalai Lama we realized the effect of his years of meditation, as his very presence emanated all those qualities that meditators seek, such as inner peace, loving kindness, authenticity, and mindful awareness. This is particularly seen in his devotion to ahimsa, non-injury, and his policy of non-violence, which is why he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

Research, such as that conducted by neuroscientist Richie Davidson, a friend of the Dalai Lama’s, at Wisconsin University, and shared in our book Be The Change, proves how meditation actually develops the part of our brain that increases compassion and loving kindness. “By training the mind, we can actually change the brain toward greater contentment,” says Dr. Davidson in Be The Change. “There is certainly evidence to show that meditation practices designed to cultivate compassion and loving kindness change the brain in many positive ways.”

However, the mind desires endless entertainment and much prefers being distracted than facing the constant dramas racing around inside it. The idea of sitting still and watching our breath can appear boring, meaningless, even a time-waster, and not at all fun or creative. Yet meditation invites an undoing of what isn’t and a revealing of what is; we don’t become someone else, rather we become more who we really are, which is far from boring! It is about being fully present in this moment, no matter what we are doing: if washing the dishes, then let any thoughts and distractions dissolve into the soap bubbles; when eating, be aware of every bite, taste, and texture.

As the Dalai Lama wrote in the foreword to our book:

I strongly recommend anyone interested in meditation not to simply read what these people have to say, but to try it out. If you like it and its useful to you, keep it up. Treat this book as you would a cookery book. You wouldn’t merely read recipes with approval, you’d try them out. Some you’d like and would use again. Like cookery, meditation only makes sense if you put it into effect.

A regular practice of meditation can produce discernible changes in the brain in a matter of just six to eight weeks. To feel the difference in yourself try the practice below.

Weed Pulling Meditation

Find a comfortable and upright place to sit. Take a few deep breaths, then watch the flow of your breath as it enters and leaves.

Now bring your focus to your heart, and as you breathe in feel as if your heart is opening and softening; as you breathe out, release any tension or resistance. Sit here for a few minutes.

Now visualize yourself walking in a beautiful but overgrown garden. All sorts of colorful flowers surround you, but among them are numerous weeds.

You find a place to sit amidst the plants and mindfully begin to remove the weeds. Each one represents a negative aspect of yourself or your life. Name it as you remove it, and watch it leave your mind as you discard it.

The more weeds you remove the lighter you feel, as if a weight is being removed from you. As you do this, the flowers are growing stronger and brighter.

Stay here as long as you like. You may not have time to pull up all the weeds, so before you leave promise that you will be back again to remove some more.

When you are ready, silently repeat three times, “May I be happy, may my mind be like a beautiful garden.” Take a deep breath and let it go. Then fill the rest of your day with kindness and smiles.

* * *

Listen to our weekly LIVE radio show every Tuesday at 8:00pm EST: Going Out Of Your Mind.

Join our Be The Change Meditate e-Conference that will uplift and inspire you. 30 eclectic meditation teachers, including Marianne Williamson, Congressman Tim Ryan, author of Mindful Nation, Sharon Salzberg, Robert Thurman, Gangaji, Joan Borysenko, Seane Corn, neuroscientist Richie Davidson who proves how meditation affects the brain, Roshi Joan Halifax, Tara Stiles, and us, Ed and Deb Shapiro, authors of the conference companion book, BE THE CHANGE: How Meditation Can Transform You and The World. Expect your life to never be the same again!

For more information: www.edanddebshapiro.com

photo by: Kris Krug

Take Refuge in the Buddha and Become Fearless

You're in Good HandsAs a teacher I’m often asked: What does it mean in Buddhist practice when you agree to “take refuge” in the Buddha? Does this mean I need to worship the Buddha? Or pray to the Buddha? Isn’t this setting up the Buddha as “other” or some kind of god?

Traditionally, there are three fundamental refuges are where we can find genuine safety and peace, a sanctuary for our awakening heart and mind, a place to rest our human vulnerability. In their shelter, we can face and awaken from the trance of fear.

The first of these is the Buddha, or our own awakened nature. The second is the dharma (the path or the way), and the third is the sangha (the community of aspirants).

In the formal practice of Taking Refuge, we recite three times: “I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the dharma, I take refuge in the sangha.” Yet, even though there is a formula, this is not an empty or mechanical ritual, but a practice meant to expand our understanding and intention.

With each repetition, we allow ourselves to open ever more deeply to the living experience behind the words. As we do, the practice leads to a profound deepening of our faith: The more fully we open to and inhabit each refuge, the more we trust our own heart and awareness. By taking refuge we learn to trust the unfolding of our lives.

The first step in this practice, taking refuge in the Buddha, may be approached on various levels, and we can choose the way most meaningful to our particular temperament. We might for instance take refuge in the historical Buddha, the human being who attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree 2500 years ago.

This doesn’t mean that we are worshipping the man who became enlightened, or setting him up as “other” or as “higher” than ourselves, but bowing and honoring the Buddha nature that already exists within us. For instance when the Buddha encountered Mara, he felt fear—the same painfully constricted throat, chest and belly, the same racing heart that we each experience when fear strikes our heart.

By willingly meeting fear with his full attention, the Buddha discovered fearlessness — the open, clear awareness that recognizes the arising and passing of fear without contracting nor identifying with it. Taking refuge in the truth of his awakening can inspire us on our own path toward fearlessness.

At the same time, those who are devotional by nature might seek safety and refuge in the living spirit of the Buddha’s awakened heart and mind. Much like praying to Christ or the Divine Mother, we can take refuge in a Being or presence that cares about our suffering.

In taking this first refuge, I sometimes say, “I take refuge in the Beloved” and surrender into what I experience as the boundlessness of compassion. When I am feeling fear, I surrender it to the Beloved. By this, I am not trying to get rid of fear, but rather letting go into a refuge that is vast enough to hold my fear with love.

In the most fundamental way, taking refuge in the Buddha means taking refuge in our own potential for liberation. In order to embark on a spiritual path we need faith that our own heart and mind have the potential to awaken. The true power of Buddha’s story, the power that has kept it alive for all these centuries, rests in the fact that it demonstrates what is possible for each of us.

We so easily believe limiting stories about ourselves and forget that our very nature—our Buddha nature—is aware and loving. When we take refuge in the Buddha, we are taking refuge in the same capacity of awareness that awakened Siddhartha under the Bodhi Tree. We too can realize the blessing of freedom. We too can become fearless.

After taking refuge in the Beloved, I turn my attention inward, saying “I take refuge in this awakening heart mind.” Letting go of any notion that Buddha nature is something beyond or outside my awareness, I look towards the innate wakefulness of my being, the tender openness of my heart.

Minutes earlier, I might have been taking myself to be the rush of emotions and thoughts moving through my mind. But by intentionally taking refuge in awareness, that small identity dissolves, and with it, the trance of fear.

By directing our attention towards our deepest nature, by honoring the essence of our being, our own Buddha nature becomes to us more of a living reality. We are taking refuge in the truth of who we are.

Enjoy this talk on Taking Refuge:

For more information visit: www.tarabrach.com

photo by: MikeBehnken

Deepak Chopra: Is Sexual the Same as Spiritual Energy?

Sexuality tends to get a bad rep in spiritual practices, and vice versa. But are they all that different after all? In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra explores the connection these two energies share.

Sexual energy manifests itself as charm, attraction, love, infatuation, and intimacy. It is the merging of consciousness and the emergence of new life. Spiritual energy, the energy that comes from pure consciousness, is the creative energy of the universe. Without that energy we would not be alive and nothing would have life in it as life is the vitality of pure consciousness. But sexual energy is also the creative energy of the universe, and we would not survive without it. Therefore sexual energy and spiritual energy are the same.

Many wise traditions considers the peak moment of sexual energy the death of the ego. When somebody experiences intimacy and reaches orgasm, we feel vulnerable, intimate, we are defenseless, spontaneous, joyful, carefree and there is a sense of timelessness. These are the characteristics and true nature of our spirit. Living your life with this level of intimacy would allow to emerge the evolutionary impulse, the creative energy of the universe, which is your spirit.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below!

 

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and check out Deepak’s book, The Soul in Love!

The Kaiut Method: Yoga For People Who Hate Yoga (Part 1)

Francisco1-1024x682

By Kiri Westby, with Ed and Deb Shapiro, who all attended the yoga class described here.

Doing yoga with Francisco Kaiut is doing yoga from the inside out. In fact, to say the word “doing” is already too active, too aggressive, as it’s more of an un-doing.

I am someone who has never felt very comfortable in a modern yoga class. Plagued by an inner clamoring about how inflexible I am, convinced I am doing it wrong and actually hurting myself in the process, I am often too intimidated to ask for support. When I do get talked into going to yoga, I put on my tough face and prepare to be sore for the following week. So that is how I came into the Kaiut yoga classes in Boulder last winter, prepared for a truly uncomfortable experience. Instead, I found something refreshingly different and even liberating…and everyone in the crowded room felt it too.

The Kaiut approach to yoga is inclusive, specifically catered to your body and very personal. Ever wonder what it would be like to have your favorite Chiropractor in yoga class with you? Well, Francisco Kaiut is a trained Chiropractor with a background in cranial sacral, polarity therapy, Tibetan Buddhism, and Hatha Yoga. He has used his in-depth understanding of the body, as well as years of research and experience within traditional schools of yoga, to develop his unique approach, which we can only call Kaiut Yoga (and why not? He invented it!).

“Each person’s body is aging differently from the moment we are born.” Francisco explained. “Even in the womb we are favoring one side or the other. So we have to pay very close attention to each individual’s body, to see where they have developed rigidity over the years and where we need to focus our efforts.” Specializing in addressing complex injuries and chronic pain, students travel to Brazil from all over the world to learn this unique method of yoga and experience real healing.

For me, the enticing thing about Kaiut yoga is that its devotees are not typical über-athletes doing extreme exposes, but rather an assortment of folks from all walks of life, young or old, skinny or fat, who are suffering from chronic pain and discomfort in their bodies. “Finally!” I admitted, “I have found my people in the yoga world.”

In class, Francisco uses his more seasoned students to demonstrate preliminary positions, asking everyone to abandon their mats and come up close to see the form he wants you to begin with. But by the time he and his partner, co-founder Luciana Ross, have finished fine-tuning each person’s positioning, looking around the room one might think 50 different classes were taking place.

“We have to make the poses fit the person, and not the other way around. There is no one place where the leg or the arm has to be in order to garner the benefits,” Luciana explained. “It’s very important to constantly move around the room and connect with each student to attend to their unique needs. Each person should feel like they are giving their body exactly what it requires.”

Eco-Activist Zoë Tryon is a Kaiut Yoga devotee. She spoke with me about what makes this style unique. “I have been a student of yoga for over 20 years, trying many different modalities. What deeply impressed me, and created significant change for me when I found Kaiut yoga, was the truly holistic nature of the approach and the depth of knowledge that Francisco and Luciana have. They have an uncanny ability to read the body quickly and adapt the yoga specifically. I was able to heal physically but also release many of the emotional issues behind my physical problems.”

Stay tuned for part 2!

Photo credit: Francisco Kaiut

* * *

Join our Be The Change Meditate e-Conference with 30 eclectic meditation teachers, including Marianne Williamson, Congressman Tim Ryan, Sharon Salzberg, Robert Thurman, Gangaji, Joan Borysenko, Seane Corn, neuroscientist Richie Davidson, Roshi Joan Halifax, Tara Stiles, and us, Ed and Deb Shapiro, authors of the conference companion book, BE THE CHANGE. Expect your life to never be the same again!

Embrace the Beauty of Your Darkness

“The wound is the place where the light comes in” – Rumi

What to do when you’re not the happiest person you know? What about when you’re depressed, fearful, anxious, jealous, greedy or angry?

Yesterday, I was working with a client who appears to be a huge success in the outer world. She’s a coach and inspirational speaker. She jaunts around the country inspiring hundreds of people, has a strong, supportive, sexy relationship with a gorgeous man and frequently gets paid to travel to exotic locations to lead corporate retreats. Her family is loving and close. She has an enviable following on social media and garners lots of press and media coverage.

Inside…she’s shaken and feels like a fraud. She carries over $20,000 in credit card debt and has little savings or retirement fund. Her financial house is weak and therefore her confidence wavers. She’s constantly comparing herself to colleagues and can never live up to her own perfectionism.

This is her “Shadow”.

The shadow, a concept brought to light by famed Swiss psychologist Carl Jung – is the part of ourselves we don’t want to look at – qualities we deem unattractive, try to push away, overlook, sugarcoat or hide under the surface.

In the spiritual and yoga communities, the emphasis is often on positivity. Sometimes called spiritual bypassing – this is the tendency is to overlook or minimize our very real human flaws. We are encouraged to “meditate our way out of” difficult emotions or habits. The focus is on getting better, being happier, moving up and out of our current circumstance toward enlightenment, miracles, or bliss.

Moving forward is important, but we also need to honor the beauty of our darkness and not pathologize the troubling aspects of Self that may be holding us back. Taking the time to recognize the beauty of darkness allows for integration and reconciliation. We train our psyche to “own” those cut-off pieces of ourselves that we’d rather tuck away in a back closet. Instead of slapping a smile on and sitting in blissful (strained) silence – we learn to proudly integrate all the good, bad, and ugly parts of who we are.

Shadow Work: The ‘Fuck You’ Letter

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ~ Carl Jung

The quickest way to see your shadow is to notice what qualities you tend to criticize or gossip about in other people. Look carefully as these aren’t necessarily “bad” qualities, but often masquerade as traits that society applauds such as the tendency to overachieve, project positivity or be a “Supermom”.

Once you recognize the qualities you criticize in others, flip it to see how they show up in you.

While my client exuded an outer confidence and success, inwardly she was ashamed and confused by her finances. She was in denial. To bolster her wavering confidence, she criticized friends and colleagues for being materialistic and shallow. It took her years to acknowledge the sobering reality of her financial disillusionment and irresponsible spending.

A great way to start to own these qualities in yourself is to write a “Fuck You” letter. If you have someone you’re angry at or harboring resentment towards, write a letter addressed to this person and tell them what pisses you off and why.

“Dear ….., 
Fuck you for…..
Fuck you for….” 

Be as specific, graphic and thorough as possible. List out the exact qualities or incidents that irritate you.

[Caveat: This language is strong. I have found that it is useful to get this raw to access the primal, emotional core that is hurt or afraid. If you resist writing such a strong letter to someone you love (your lover, parent or child) – know that this is only 1 voice of your psyche – not the whole story, but one that needs to be heard.]

Once the letter is complete, go back to the beginning and replace their name with your name. As you read through your letter recognize where these qualities show up in yourself, even if to a lesser degree. For example, how have you abandoned, betrayed, or criticized yourself?

Practice Radical Self Forgiveness

Once you identify your shadow, you can move from judgment to understanding by practicing forgiving yourself. Allow yourself to be human and experience the full spectrum of emotions.

In yoga and Buddhism, this is known as karuna or compassion and is the foundation of self love and freedom. Soften your perception. Breathe deeply into the sides of your heart to expand. Consider how such unsavory traits were necessary in the past as a coping or defensive mechanism. Be kind and generous of Spirit.

Compassion for yourself blossoms, breeding compassion for others. Everyone wins.

Only when my client released her perfectionism and forgave herself could she turn her full attention to cleaning up her financial house. She was no longer at war within. She got honest with her boyfriend about her credit card debt and quit feeling like a fraud. The bridge between our inner and outer worlds leads to an unshakeable confidence. We actually like who we are when we know we can trust ourselves to keep it real.

Nurture Yourself 

Nurture yourself as you begin to uncover your shadow and open up. Give yourself permission to process emotions freely. You may notice that it gets harder before it gets easier. You are bringing up unprocessed, repressed material. As your shadow rises, cumulative feelings of shame, sadness, anger, and frustration may surface.

The irony (and beauty) is – you can turn this energy into fuel to fire for your passion and creativity. The energy you used to hold up a false self or hide out is now available to redirect.

Our vulnerability is the tender place where we have the most opportunity to crack open and experience deep unconditional love and authentic connection.

What are your shadow qualities? Please leave a comment below with a few of the shadow qualities you’ve identified.

Mine:

  • being late
  • being competitive and jealous
  • perfectionism leading to procrastination that holds me (and those around me) prisoner
photo by: Hamed Saber

Letting Go: The Mantra That Will Change Your Life

It has been a few years since this incident happened, but it still remains fresh in my memory from when I was traveling in the mystic land of the Himalayas in India. From the mystic teachers to the scenic beauty, everything was utterly gorgeous. We were on our way to the river Ganges and got stuck in traffic. I came out of the car to get some fresh air and saw a female monkey holding a dead baby monkey in her mouth. As torturous as it was to see the painful view, I just couldn’t resist to follow her for the next few moments. I saw she was holding to the baby monkey as if it was fully alive. She wouldn’t let it go, jumping from one branch of the tree to another.

I came back to the car and shared the experience with the driver, who was native of the town. He explained that it’s very tough for a monkey to let go of her child. The realization that her child is no more doesn’t sink in for a very long time. It’s only after the bones start to come out of the rotten skin that the monkey finally releases the body. The driver wrapped the conversation by saying, “Tabhi toh yeh bandar hai” which means, “That’s why it’s a monkey” pointing out the lack of wisdom in the animal. I said nothing and delved deeper into my thoughts, analyzing the situation again and again.

The next morning, I had a few appointment calls with my clients. While talking to each client, one by one, I realized that we too are part of the monkey culture and tend to remain stuck in our own traps. The sacred chaos of our mind makes us feel comfortable about our troubles in life but we can’t run away from the truth for too long. The monkey was still able to let go of the baby monkey after realizing that it was dead. We have a stronger sense of self awareness and yet we find it next to impossible to accept when it’s time to let go of certain things.

Our human mind is in a much more beneficial position when it comes to dealing with problems in life, whereas an animal tends to evolve very slowly in its sense of awareness. As a human being, we have access to tons of wisdom and techniques that can create a Buddha mindset. You will find it tough to teach Gita to a holy cow roaming on the streets of India, but a human brain is capable of learning and understanding it so easily. Let us use this human factor to our advantage. I always wonder if the animal world is probably laughing at us and wondering who the real animal is. The one in the jungle enjoying nature and living every moment, or the so called ‘human’ being, who is always restless, reactive and upset about everything.

There is no one-size-fits-all, standard solution to letting go, but based upon my experiences with people, I have compiled a few suggestions and I hope that you will find them helpful as well:

The Power of Gratitude

We want to feel that we are too important for the world. The result is that we start taking ourselves too seriously. When we treat ourselves as sensitive dolls, everyone has the button to make us laugh and cry. We are at the mercy of circumstances everyday. One sure shot way to get out of this chaos is to be grateful every day, in every way. Being in gratitude helps us to take things in a different and easier way. It also sheds the unnecessary weight of ego on us.

Letting go is natural

The best thing about letting go is that it’s part of our natural cycle. When we decide to let go, the auric vibes around us support our intention. Letting go does not mean to bring in anything new. It means to live in a no-goal and no-expectation zone. Keep diving into the realms of silence and you will never have to make any effort to let go.

Gift of the Present

The major cause of stress is our attention lies in the past and future. We are always in a relentless tug of war between the memories of our past and the worries about our future but neither exist. The present is, thus, effortlessly ignored. The major cause of our stress is not being able to live in the present. Be fully in the present in all your actions. Know that 99% of situations won’t even bother you a bit after a few months or years. Use your energy and time to maximize the benefit from the present moment.

Detachment from identity

In ancient days, Gurus or Masters would change the name of their spiritual students in order to prevent them from clinging to their identity. The change of name helped students to let go of the bloated ego brought upon by the social status of name. My grandfather gave me the name Chandresh, which means, master of highest consciousness. He said I am giving him a spiritual name from day one which will remind him every moment about his Dharma toward the world.

Meditation to let go:

-Take few deep breathes.

 -For 5-10 minutes, simply watch the movement of your breath. Don’t make any efforts to change the pattern of your breathing. Simply keep watching it. Inhale and exhale gently.

 -Bring your awareness on the heart. Acknowledge the presence of heart. Acknowledge the presence of your loved ones and even those who you may hold grudge against.

 -While keeping the awareness on your heart, set your intention to let go and release everything from your consciousness.

 -For next 5-10 minutes, be an observer of all the action happening in your consciousness.

-Invite emptiness and be in present as much as possible.

-Spend some time releasing unconditional love and forgiveness to everyone.

Suggested mantra is ‘Om Shanti Namaha’ or ‘Soham’

Connect with Chandresh:

Facebook

Official website

Personal website

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...