Letting Go!… It Sounds Easy Enough….Right?


dandilion The other day, while giving a little instruction to a meditation student of mine…well she also happens to be my wife,  a way of illustrating one of the goals in meditation, came about.   I was attempting to describe the process of letting go.  Letting go of what, you ask?  Well, I continued on, that during meditation, we attempt to keep our mind focused on something observable, moment to moment.  In this case, it is the breath, the natural breath going in and out of the nose, you know, respiration.  So, while doing this exercise, this meditation, the mind will wander.  It will follow the various thoughts and sensory experiences that it deems important.  As this wandering occurs, it is our job to recognize this, as objectively (with a smile and a no big deal) as possible and then re-focus our attention back on the breath.   It sounds easy enough, right?  Well, I encourage all human beings to start their practice with very low (actually with none) expectations.

little girl holding balloonsSo, here is where the descriptive came along.  I told her that these thoughts and sensory stimulation are very much like balloons.  They are only as strong as the importance we give to them.  So picture those everyday thoughts going through your mind.  Imagine, each of the thoughts as a balloon.  Now picture each balloon (helium filled) that you give importance to, becomes attached to your body.  Now imagine those balloons pulling you in every direction, the stress, the tension!!!!

baloonsOk,  picture yourself, during meditation, as a thought comes up, you follow it (give it importance) and immediately this balloon is pulling you.  At first, you may not even recognize you have followed that thought.  Several minutes, heck, hours might pass and the awareness of following that thought may not be realized.  Yet,  at that moment you do recognize your mind has gone elsewhere,  anywhere but focused on your breath, and the moment of clarity arises and you observe that thought, smile and then let it go.  Let go of that balloon!  Let go of that tension!  Let go of that stress.  Just let it go, off into the air, off into the universe.  No longer attached, no longer holding onto it, just letting it go.  Then as it floats away, you focus your attention back on the breath.  The return of what is now, what is present, what is the moment.  How liberating!

Balloon in handWill that thought come up again?  Yes.  Will your mind follow it….give it importance.  Well, most likely.  But now you have started training that fickle mind of yours, that these thoughts…these sensory experiences are very much like balloons!  Most of these thoughts and experiences are a part of a large grouping of balloons!  So you let go, one at a time and bring that focus back to the breath, back to the moment!  The tension is still there, but you give it just a little less importance (by letting go of that observed balloon), and ultimately working to lighten the load, as you continue retraining this needy mind of yours.

Eventually you will find that it isn’t the balloon that is causing the tension, it isn’t the thought or the sensory experience that is causing the stress.  It is the importance you give to that thought, that experience, that is the source of your stress.  You choose to give it importance, by holding onto it.Stones

As you practice, you experience letting go of the balloons and awareness of the mind wandering, becomes more natural.  You will slowly notice a change in the habit pattern of the mind.  A transformation from the old habit of holding on, to a new liberating habit of letting go.  Letting go of those typical daily tensions.  Letting go of those self-inflicted stresses.  Ultimately, taking responsiblity for the misery in your life and eventually finding true peace….true happiness, in all things…in all experiences.  For now you have experienced the true nature of letting go of attachment.  An enlightening experience for all !!!

BE HAPPY MY FRIENDS……BE HAPPY!!!

How Heavy Do You Travel?


Summer_rentalHow Heavy Do You Travel?

Have you ever seen that Corona commercial, where the couple is sitting on a pair of chaise lounges, enjoying a nice, relaxing day at the beach, with nothing but a chair and an ice cold corona with lime.  Cue the family walking by, lugging all sort of beach stuff around, the guy looking stressed and disorganized.  I’ve always found that commercial amusing. Well, its a fitting segway for today’s little muse.

I was having a discussion not too long ago, with someone about, well, stress.  You see, she had a plethora of things going on in her life  and was struggling with it all.  Through this journey, I have come to see life a little differently and went on to describe my observation.  The point I expressed went something like this.  This body of ours is like a piece of luggage.  Throughout life, we pack all of the things we mentally give importance to, and hold onto throughout our lives.  So you might say, its a mind full of baggage.

Microsoft PowerPoint - Emotional Baggage PosterThese are the things that define our “self”. (yes the image is one sided, but you get the picture.)

Yet, it is our essence, our soul, whatever word you want to give it… that energy that nourishes and gives life to the “self”, who carries the burden of dragging that luggage along life’s path. To take it one step further, it is also this same energy that has the ability to choose what and what not to pack in this piece of luggage. To choose just how heavy to travel.

I left for a work trip to Las Vegas this past week. The trip out was, well let’s say, not smooth. The first leg was to Phoenix, AZ. While waiting in the terminal, a major storm came through, and this of course delayed the flight. As I waited, I observed many of the conversations going on, as well as the faces of those sitting around me. The drama, the despair, the outright depression being passed throughout those weary halls of the terminal. Many of the discussions going on, could have been deemed a duel of the greater hardships going on in their lives and the acute nature of how inconvenienced they were by this terrible disaster of a wait.

big baggage

As the afternoon turned to evening, the plane for which we were to board was found to have mechanical issues. Oh my, now the drama, despair and depression had turned into down right chaos, as if armageddon was upon us. The faces of terror created a new landscape for the zombie apocolypse and its subsequent transformation of normal human beings into a frantic crowd of flesh eating zombies preparing for attack on those whose unfortunate job it was to keep the peace for the airline. I had visions of the lovely airline desk attendant turning into a giant, bone crushing, Ogre as she was continually attacked by these brain sucking zombies.

Irrationality was being spewed, all around. The duels of hardship were becoming so lengthy and orated with such detail. The spectrum of drama touching all range of social interaction with life…. such misery! All, undoubtedly, in the quest for reaffirmation of this misery and sympathy for its plight. Ah, such a funny animal, human kind. Always in the quest for happiness, yet we fill this luggage of ours with such misery, and we hold onto it.Just like a closet full of old clothes and treasures”.

closet  So, cleaning out one’s closet to get rid of those old clothes, those great “treasures”,  takes great effort.   To let loose of those material things is a drama in itself, one might say a great tragedy!  Yet once gone, it is gone, likely never to be thought of again.

Was it the scenario of being held over late that caused this misery to unfold for all of these wandering, weary travelers?  I would say not.  I would say it was just an opportunity to unzip, open up and show each other the baggage they carry around with them. To compare and contrast, to compete, to justify and affirm, to search for favor, and to ultimately give purpose to that oh so precious self.  lugging

This whole experience opened up an opportunity for me to take an objective look at myself. To survey the baggage contained, in this great piece of luggage so graciously bestowed upon me, in this life of mine. You see, I came to realize, just like a piece of luggage, I choose what baggage I keep in the luggage. When preparing for life, just like preparing for a trip, I choose what thoughts to hold onto, just like I choose what items I “need” for my trip. In life, each experience elicits a particular flow of thoughts. The thoughts for which I give importance, that I hold onto, are the thoughts that become my baggage. Those I do not hold onto, that I do not give importance to, pass by and don’t weigh down my luggage. Sometimes I give importance to certain thoughts, and have the ability to let them go.  Just like packing for a trip and thinking I need four pairs of shoes, then coming to the realization that I would rather travel lighter and pack two.

So, really, it is my baggage that defines me.  For, the only difference between me and the brain sucking zombies that came out in that fateful night in June, is the baggage of my mind that I drag around in this luggage of a body, through those weary halls of the airport terminal.

baloons

I have learned to let go and not give importance to those thoughts that flow through my mind.  Don’t get me wrong, the thoughts are there, but I choose not to hold onto them.  I choose not to give them importance.  I choose not to pack so heavy and ultimately, I choose not to give in to that misery.

I wish you all the greatest of happiness in your lives and the ability to lighten your load, to not pack so heavy, to let go of some of that baggage. May you and all living things be peaceful,  be happy and….well…just be!

Wisdom in the Midst of a Loved One Lost


lossI was reminded today, of a conversation I had long ago, with a very wise individual I had the pleasure of knowing.  It was not too long after my father had passed.  The conversation had such an effect on the way I looked at his passing and life in general, that I thought I would share.

I lost my father not too long after high school.  We had a super tight relationship and I was devastated.  I remember experiencing some of the very deep miserable feelings one has during a time such as this.  One day a very wise friend sat down with me to talk, (i remember this like it was yesterday) really just about things, not necessarily my father.  We were talking about what my plans were for the future, how baseball was going, i was about to transfer schools and we talked about that a bit, and it went on for a while.  Then out of the blue…he stopped, closed his eyes, and said very calmly, “have you noticed during this entire conversation you haven’t said one positive thing?”  I was kind of taken back by this, but it was true and he continued, “you have all these wonderful things going on and in your life, and all I’ve heard was how you are worried, how you are scared, how they cause you problems and misery, how you are not too sure about this or that.”  I sat there silent for a few seconds and started to cry, and of course after a bit, then the conversation about my father ensued and it went on for a little while.  Then again out of the blue, he closed his eyes and said very calmly, “have you noticed during this entire conversation you haven’t said one thing about your father?”  I was confused and again taken back, and he continued, “everything you spoke of was how it affected you, how this has burdened you, how you don’t know what you are going to do, how it’s not fair to you.”  Of course he was right again.

Then he said to me, ” you have an awesome opportunity here, a great and beautiful opportunity.  Your father, although physically gone, lives in you, lives through you, and is given energy by you, whether it be positive or negative.”  I sat thinking and probably looking a bit confused. Then he went on, “every moment you sit feeling sorry for your self, every moment you are negative about the beautiful life you have… well, that flows through you to him, he feels your misery.  Yet, every moment you go out into the world, live your life, enjoy every moment, do your best, have success, work through difficulties, the energy flows the other way.  His energy flows through you, to enjoy the good times, and give you strength to work through the tough times.  To one day watch your children grow.  To see you live a happy life. To see your light shine and live through the love you spread to those around you.  This is your beautiful opportunity, to live a beautiful life, so that he may live through you and your beautiful life…”

Man, such powerful words, such true words.  So, I say to you, if you are going through this sort of time, you have an opportunity here.  A beautiful opportunity.  Make the most of it, not only for yourself, but for all of those around you that you love, and of course, for that loved one that lives within you…that lives through you.

I wish much happiness and peace to you all.

28 Day Meditation Challenge


Hello out there, to all of you engaged in the experiment and to those not as well!  Someone passed along a Facebook link to a 28 Day Meditation Challenge.  So many folks spend so much time making an effort to better their bodies through some sort of physical exercise challenge (especially during this time of the year) , how about putting some energy towards a mental exercise challenge.  Give it a try, it can”t hurt!  If you have any questions about meditation, feel free to contact me or leave a response on this post.  The link is as follows.

http://www.facebook.com/#!/28DayMeditationChallenge

Much Peace and Happiness to you all.

So you wanna know about meditation….eh??


ImageLast week I wrote about an experience I had during meditation, and of course this produced a couple of messages asking about meditation.  What technique I practiced?  How does one get the same experience I described?  Is there one meditation better than the other?  We human beings are such funny animals, often confused with the concept of simplicity and have this funny little way of creating complexity out of it.

When I first started my quest for meditation, I had many of the same questions and spent so much time analyzing the different practices, different sitting positions, different sitting areas, you name it…I analyzed it!  Of course, I eventually realized that this is my nature, but that discussion is for another day!  Well, finallly after going through all of the analization process, I picked a particular discipline and dove in! (I’m not going to get into specifics, as to not lay influence, one must find their own path.  If you truly would like to know, send me a message and I will happily go into it further.)  I will say, it was one of the most difficult things that I have done in my life, but of course one of , if not the most important as well!  As I have mentioned before, it is the most important tool that I have, as I meander through this river of life!

So you wanna know about meditation…eh???  It is very simple, in fact its the backbone of this experiement I have been talking about!  It is the objective observation of your point of focus, moment to moment.  No, really, its that simple, but as I mentioned above, we are very complex animals, whose minds, well,  just don’t like simplicity…or atleast fight it, tooth and nail!!  You see, meditation is the retraining of the ole noggin.  Well, the ole noggin, its kinda fond of those old habits of the mind (some refer to that as the ego) and isn’t real interested in this retraining!  So, well, its a gonna fight ya!   But rest assured, persistance and patience will prevail!  Just like a child, persistance and patience will always give better long term results!

So, the objective observation of your point of focus, moment to moment.  Hmm, what exactly does that mean?  There are many forms of meditation, in fact I am pretty sure most reading this post have engaged in some sort of meditation at one point or another.  There are those that do mantra (chants), those that focus on an object, those that focus on bodily sensations, those that focus on breath, those that focus on sound.  So, what do all of these have in common?  Well, there is a point of focus.  So, how about prayer?  How about physically working out?  How about playing a video game?  How about a crossword?  How about doing a painting?  How about working on a physics problem?  These are all things that one often becomes completely absorbed, completely focused in the moment, and in my opinion are all forms of meditation.

Now, the real tricky part, the objective observation, becoming third person, really…just being.  Where one is able to allow things (feelings, thoughts, fears, desires)  beyond that point of focus, to materialize, quikly observe them as they materialize, and be completely objective towards them, accept them for what they are and really allow them to eventually pass, all the time keeping the attention on that point of focus!

Yes, your mind will wander!  Yes, you will give more attention to those thoughts rushing through your head!  Yes you will react to that funny feeling in your leg, or that itch on your arm!  That is where the objectivity is most critical!  That is where going, okay, I lost focus on my point of focus for a bit, no big deal (get used to saying no big deal to yourself), and reset and begin your meditation again!  Little by little, with great patience and persistence, you will start to experience the beauty in retraining that ole noggin of yours!  For this is the immediate goal, retrain the mind to be focused, moment to moment!  Eventually you will observe your true nature, and it will be easier and easier to accept it for what it is, and when this happens you will see the retraining process become easier and easier.

So, why is it that I am retraining?  Do an experiment on yourself and I promise you will understand why!  Although our greatest asset in the creation of our masterpiece, the mind, it is also our primary source of misery, really our only source, our greatest enemy!  Throwing anchors of fear in the past and shooting arrows of desire to the future (or vise verse), not allowing us to experience the only true reality of what is going on moment to moment!  So picture each one of those anchors and arrows with a big rope attached and the other end hooked to you!  Yow-ch, sounds pretty painful!  The beauty of retraining the ole noggin, is that it gives us the opportunity to let go of those ropes, pop those hooks, accept those arrows and anchors for what they are, and just let go of those ropes that are attached to them with the power of objectivity, the power of…well…”no big deal”!  Understand, you will throw those anchors and shoot those arrows again!  But, now you have gathered this beautiful tool of meditation, of awareness, of retraining the ole noggin and maybe you won’t throw or shoot them as often, or maybe you will not hold onto the ropes as long as you once did!

This has been my observation of meditation.  I hope it helps in some way.   I wish you all strength, patience and persistence on your journey through this beautiful river of life, but most of all I wish you much peace and much happiness!

Mind of Peace..from…Peace of Mind !!


In honor of the International Day of Peace, I thought a post on Peace and the Mind would be aprapos.  So often on this journey of mine, the term “Peace of Mind” has come up.  Whether it be in conversation with others on the path, or reading a book, while writing, or just a little conversation I have with me, myself and I,…. “Peace of Mind” was a pretty hot topic.  For isn’t that the goal?  I once thought that, until I found that place and experienced something totally unexpected.

I’m not sure I have discussed in previous posts,  that I have practiced meditation for quite some time.  Yes, this practice has been an integral part of this journey and a “super tool” that I have used to help float along this river of life.  Through this practice, I was able to experience a place where I was able to quiet the mind, and when I say quiet the mind, I mean total and utter silence, what I would certainly call “Peace of Mind.” (I am not going to go into a discussion on meditation, as that is for another day).  I remember thinking to myself, “Wow… man… that was the most amazing feeling I have ever experienced!”  I had been fortunate enough to get a small glimpse, experience a tiny taste, of the ultimate truth, my true nature!  “I certainly  must be doing something right,” I said to myself, ” going down the right path!”  You wouldn’t believe the flow of thoughts that ensued later that afternoon after that experience.  Then “BAM” it occurred to me, “there I go again,” the mind just going at it again, like a white water flow of craving and self-absorption.  I suppose the only difference was the acute nature in which I was able to observe the thoughts, and what they were.  Honestly, I will tell you that this observation was a much more important part of my lesson learned that day than the actual experience of a completely quiet mind. It was at that point I realized, I observed, I truly experienced, the true nature of the misery I bring upon myself.  It was the point at which I understood how unaware I was in my everyday existence to the flow of thoughts and subsequent “holding onto them” that elicited their corresponding reaction.  It was probably one of the most prolific experiences of my life, to actually observe the actual workings of this mind/matter phenomena!!  Needless to say, this moment  took my own personal experiment of self observation to a new level.

So, great, cool, good for me, I had a really amazing experience…..And?  Well…sure, I did, but the most important thing about the experience was the understanding that I got from it, it clicked!  It was during that moment of true awareness, that I understood not only the importance of that “Peace of Mind” moment, but  I also observed just how critically important the moments following, the time spent after that moment.  For it is this time that the opportunity for transformation takes place, for the re-training of your mind.  It was also at that point I really, well, believed, that I could truly transform my mind, break the habits that I have held onto for so long, alter the cycle!  With this realization, it became completely apparent to me that the same could be said for the inhabitants of this world.  You know, you can hear it a million times….”Change the world, by changing yourself..”, but until you experience the true nature of change within, it is a very hard concept to grasp.

So, the point is, when you experience those times when you are fortunate enough to get that small glimpse…that beautiful feeling,  of “Peace of Mind”, make the most of it, (and no it doesn’t have to be as acute as the one I experienced that day).   Whether it be a moment of silent prayer, or that sunrise on the beach…or maybe just observing the smile of a child, or painting a picture of a peach.  Understand that “Peace of Mind” is experienced when your mind is completely focused, focused on that moment.  You will feel it, you will know, it will likely send a feeling of comfortable warmth through your body, and you’ll feel like a little lightbulb shining on all those around you.  Then, do us all a favor and yourself as well, when that little moment is over.  Take a second, or two, or even a minute, or ten, and send good wishes of peace, to all the world over!  This is the process my friends, something all of us can do,  to create a “Mind of Peace” from “Peace of Mind”,  just take a minute or a few.  (okay, i’m no poet, but it was fun trying!)  Realize, that small moment you experience, opens that opportunity to change your position in the river, to alter your path, and that alteration is completely dependent upon the thoughts you choose to join you on your flow.  It may not be comepletly noticable at first, or maybe it will, but you have the power and most importantly you have the choice.  Much Peace to you all on this International Day of Peace and I wish you all much luck on your journey and much happiness each day through.

To Be…or not to Be….that is the….um..Choice!!


I saw a question posed today..”Why does God always think we can handle things that we don’t know if we are strong enough to?”  I suppose the most direct answer would be, to give one the opportunity to find the true strength within.  Through all my years of growing up Catholic, I always found it unfair that God was blamed for so much of the misery experienced by the inhabitants of the Earth.  I was always taught that God loved his children and that all I had to do was put my faith in his hands, and all things would work out.  So I could not comprehend why God would send something, some experience to me that would cause pain and misery?  What, is God some Jekyl and Hyde personality…maybe he’s a prankster? Of course not.  Although my particular way of thought and interpretation of God has changed over the years, the basic principles have not.  So why do challenges come our way?  Through my life, I have experienced various medical issues, and when they were in an acute state, I would often wonder why?  Why is this happening to me?  I have been a good kid, I go to church, for the most part I was good to others…so on and so forth.  Heck, I am sure there were times that I questioned God in a similar manner to the quote that initiated this post.  Yet what I have come to understand is that, there really is no reason, only an opportunity.  “Opportunity you say !!!?” Since embarking on this journey of self-realization I have come to discover, there is no rhyme or reason to the things we experience in life.  Yes, I know, I understand the concept of sin and its inevitable punishment, or the concept of Karma (highly misunderstood my most in my observation).  We humans are a funny animal, we are always looking elsewhere for reason, or more accurately put, blame, for the things we experience, (and the feelings they elicit) regardless of their nature.  Whether it is something we like, or more often, we do not like! (and trust me I have had plenty of both!)  The truth is, life is like a river that flows, that flows with things we experience with our senses.  Take a moment now and become the scientist, observe what you are experiencing now.  You are sitting at your computer or phone or whatever media device you have in front of you.  Maybe with a drink or snack by your side.  Maybe with the t.v. going in the background or some music.  You remember…we did this in kindergarten…heck pre-school…go to each specific sense..sight…smell…taste…touch…hear…and if you didn’t know this, there is a sixth and that is thought, and observe.  C’mon..give it a try…become third person, become the scientist and sit back and observe the senses and corresponding feelings and the  thoughts coming to fruition, man what a flow…right?  All kinds of stuff come up, “what’s this guy talking about?”…”I don’t have time for this”…”something smells good”..” i can’t believe that commercial”…”man I was supposed to call so and so”…and on and on.    This flow of thoughts, constant, like a river.  And as discussed in an earlier post, we’re just fishin with our pole of control, holding onto those thoughts.

Okay, so where am I going with this?  Well, this river of experience, you know, it just flows, kinda like the Mississippi.  Why did I get Crohns disease as a child? Why was I so lucky to be born to a saint of a mom?  Fact is, it doesn’t really matter, for it is what was presented to me.  Here is the point of this entire post!  “To Be…or Not To Be….(HAPPY)….that is the CHOICE!!!  You see folks, misery, as well as happiness, is a choice.  Ooh, I know, very hard to grasp when the river of life seems like raging rapids instead of a gurgling brook, but the truth is, the rapids are there!  Regardless of whether you respond with a frown or a smile, the rapids are there!   Also, trust me, no matter how much you think someone,  or something  caused those rapids to appear, the fact of the matter is, they are there!  and you will be going through them!  So, looking for the reason or the blame, is like trying to hold onto a rock and waiting for the rapids to subside.  You will be waiting for a long time.  Just like the Mississippi, there are spots with rapids and they will be rapids for a very…very…very long time.  As long as you hold onto that rock, well, you will most certainly be fighting those rapids.  On the other hand, you can let go of the rock and accept the fact that, hey, I have to traverse some rapids, not the first time, and certainly not the last.  Of course, once you let go of the rock, well, you again have the choice.  Ride the rapids with a smile or a frown.  Again, either way, you will be riding the rapids for a bit, you can do it with a frown, feeling miserable, feeling out of control and spending your time dwelling on your expectations. Looking for other rocks, clouding the one tool you do have, awareness, to help avoid some of the hidden dangers.    Or… you can do it with smile, Happy, accepting things as they are, letting the river take you along, with a much better faculty for the use of that special tool of awareness to help  avoid those same hidden dangers.

I will tell you, I was a miserable soul when I first started this journey long ago.  Always looking for rocks regardless of whether I was in the rapids or not.  Often plagued by my expectations for those around me and the world in general.  Then there was that moment, that beautiful moment of clarity, when I realized, when I observed that, it was me, I was the one responsible for my happiness (and of course my misery).  For, it was not the river, not the experience that brought me this happiness, this misery, but the way in which I chose to react to the river, to the experience.  What a feeling of fulfillment, what a feeling of peace, it sounds so simple, but it can be the most difficult thing to grasp, but I promise you (from a former miserable soul)..it is not impossible!!  Give yourself a little credit, hey, your making the effort, you wouldn’t be reading this in the first place if not!!   So, do yourself a favor, take advantage of those rapids, and see them as an Opportunity for self observation and find the path to true happiness…to true peace.  Start taking responsibility, for those smiles and those frowns.  Find the opportunity to flow along the river of life, and let go of the rocks and not miss out on the beauty it has to offer!  I wish much success on your experiment and an enjoyable ride down the river!