#298 Why doing nothing is the one of the best thing to do Dec. 22 -19

                   Why Doing Nothing is one of the Best Things You Can Do

In a world filled with stressors and to-do lists, it is difficult finding time to just do absolutely nothing. When was the last time you did nothing?  

By nothing, I mean absolutely nothing — no meditation, no scrolling social media, no reading books or articles, no listening to podcasts, no watching movies, TV, or YouTube videos, no cell phone, , etc…

Stop your current rat race, doing x,y,z . Then just seat or lie down and look around like babies do. No thinking, no focusing. Just contemplate the surrounding and become a mirror with the feeling of having a pause

Even when we’re not working, many of us feel obliged to do something productive: going to the gym, running errands, going to a yoga class, or taking care of bills and other duties. We feel obliged to produce out of every nanosecond from our daily lives, feeling how important we are.

 And if we’re not busy running around like a hamster in its wheel, we feel stuck with guilt of being lazy, useless and selfish.  It’s sad.

Our Western equates busyness with being important, smart, useful and indispensable.

Without talking on the phone, texting, checking emails, or consuming books, podcasts, or articles, signals to the world that you are not important.

But buying into these myths can eat away at our sense of self and our overall quality of life.

And it certainly can destroy our health, both mental and physical.

It’s not surprising that rates of depression, anxiety, and stress are increasing, as the addiction to doingness in life seems to have no counterbalance,

Science shows the value of spending time in silence, in nature, and in not engaging in constant external stimulation. We need time doing ‘nothing’ to be our best selves and creative human beings.

The ‘doingness’ side of our nature needs a ‘doing less’ side to be in balance.

One of the reasons meditation in all forms, including mindfulness, has become so hot is because we are so stressed out and are under so much pressure.  So if you’re someone overwhelmed with doing things non-stop, the last thing you need is to add “doing nothing” to your to-do list, thereby piling on more pressure.  When you’re forcing yourself to do nothing, what I like to call ‘forced resting’, you put pressure on it and you miss the whole point.

Example: if I’m trying to get myself to fall asleep, it’s much harder to fall asleep. It’s the same thing if you force yourself in doing nothing.

Don’t try too hard at doing nothing because it is very difficult for our ego to accept. So go easy on yourself

That it’s not wrong to turn off your to-do list for a day, or even 2. You’re not a horrible person if you do it, even if it means putting all your obligations on hold whatever they areas long as they’re not urgent matters. If you cool down for a bit, the whole world won’t come crumbling down.

Remember this : we always have things we could be doing so and if you wait to turn-off your to-do list, you’ll never find a moment to do nothing.

People feel guilty of doing nothing or not being productive, they might think it’s selfish, but taking care of ourselves gives us the capacity to take care of other people.

To summarize here is recent discovery from neuro imaging:

It has been shown that when the brain is not focusing on something it switches to Default Neuronal Network (DNN)

All areas are active but in slow mode using less energy. It looks like, in some way, the brain is “rebooting” itself when there is no specific task to do.

Doing nothing is simply click on pause for 1 or 2 min., stay still, be in the moment and contemplate. 

#297 Is knowledge necessary to experience spirituality by Kris Dec 15th 19

IS KNOWLEDGE NECESSARY TO ACHIEVE & EXPERIENCE SPIRITUALITY?

The Bible states that, “Know the truth and it shall set you free.”

So how do we know the truth? It starts with removing our ignorance.

Our ignorance is really that we do not know who we really are. We think we are the body with a finite existence when we are really infinite creatures.

Because we have evolved from lower creatures (where survival is most important), the  five senses/body identification dominate us and we identify ourselves as a body and by extension our  mind. This is because we are externally focused where change is part of the natural order.

This is why Buddha stated in his first truth that “everything is change and transient in this world.”

However, all major religious texts also remind us that the “kingdom of heaven is within us.”

Hence our external focus is erroneous.

So the first step in this spiritual journey is to know what the “truth” is. This begins by studying, and hearing appropriate spiritual material.

However, even if one reads or hears many spiritual lectures, it has to be effective in the person.  Knowledge has to be assimilated. The common complaint is that I have been reading and listening to this material for many years and yet I do not feel any change in me.

This is because there are impediments for the absorption of this spiritual material in our mind. Thus the spiritual knowledge does not really improve our life. So what are these impediments in our mind?

They are a) ignorance of spiritual knowledge b) scattered mind c) impurities in mind.

For overcoming the ignorance of spiritual knowledge, one has read/hear the spiritual material and contemplate on it. Over a period of time, one’s understanding develops and this knowledge starts to become wisdom.

For overcoming scattered mind, regular practice of meditation is recommended. This practice over time, focuses the scattered mind.

Overcoming the last barrier of impurities of the mind is the hardest. This is because our mind has collected rust akin to a rusting needle which cannot be attracted to a magnet.

We have all spent a lifetime acquiring a whole gamut of false beliefs and prejudices that taint our clear thinking. Our eyes and ears have collected garbage akin to eating food from garbage cans-  things which are toxins to our system! In addition, our past conditioning and experience also taints our thinking.

However, as the rust is removed, the needle is immediately attracted to the magnet. Similarly our spiritual journey starts when we initiate removing this “rust”

The solution to cleaning the impurities in our mind is through selfless service and focusing on the welfare of others rather than our own. Thus our selfish impurities are reduced or mitigated.

A pure mind runs naturally to spiritual things.

When our mind is purified, it is automatically attracted to God

Thus in this spiritual journey,  one has to undertake several steps like improving our scattered mind ( meditation ) and eliminate/reduce its impurities ( selfless service)  than just gather spiritual knowledge  which may not register !

To summarize: Yes, knowledge is required coupled with other relevant practices to discover our true self!

#296 Testimony of Angeline

Embracing Distractions with Oakville Zen

In September, after Cathy spoke about her time with this Zen meditation group, Arnaud asked that more members consider submitting a talk about their experience with meditation.  When I first attended this group in March, I thought it was a silent group except for Arnaud’s insightful talks because we arrived and left quietly.  The group was comfortable but is even more so since others have talked about their experience. 

I began meditating in 2003, at the beginning and end of yoga classes.  Yoga itself is a moving meditation.  I was taught that yoga prepared the mind and body for the healing stillness of seated meditation, and that a compassionate mindset would make for a healthier, more beneficial practice.  Many teachers and writers in different mind/body practices seem to teach this common theme – Accepting what is now, with reverence.  

Mindfulness distractions vary.  Mental, physical or energetic.  Sometimes my mind whips along the surface of whirlpools thought.  A physical pain and an overwhelming emotion may erupt at the same time.  A noise may jump into my awareness accompanied by thoughts of who or what caused the sound and why.  A dog barking outside makes me wonder if there is a coyote nearby.  A father arguing in the hallway with a toddler makes me imagine what they feel and what family history is motivating their behaviours.  My mind spins off into stories.  If I try to silence or control all these messages from my mind, they multiply.

Like the baby Jack Jack from The Incredibles movie, duplicating himself every time he is caught.

The word control can be positive, implying discipline and organization.  For me, “control” has a restrictive, abusive association.

When I instead gently observe, name, and accept each distraction, it’s like diving deep into the calm below the current.  Patience, appreciation and care swing me back into gentle awareness of this breath.

Arnaud has talked before about self-love and embracing all aspects of self.

Through mindful study, I’ve learned to recognize the true nature of my mind. 

My vivid imagination and strong empathy used to create more frequent stories and emotions when I sat to meditate.  Every sound and sensation meant something symbolic and begged for attention.  Rather than fight to control or silence these instincts, I befriended them, and now see them as cooperative aspects of my ego. They help me round up and tame all other distractions through close inspection.  For example, when my back hurts I listen actively.

I use my natural tendencies to feel deeply and think creatively.

I imagine the pain is an impermanent object like a sandcastle, and each breath gently softens it like a wave would.  I don’t try to change what I feel.  I just use imagery to feel more deeply and breathe more consciously.  By three cycles of breath, most distractions fall quite in love with just breathing. 

When our group breaks to walk or stretch, the second meditation is often deeper and easier.  Tension falls away when I move.  My body is more comfortable. My mind is even more at rest than if I sat alone the whole time. 

Shared meditation seems to magnify the peaceful effect. 

Side by side and breath by breath, we’re working in unique ways to be fully present.

I dive deeper every time we meditate together. 

Thank you for welcoming me into this group and sharing this practice. 

Now I’m curious to hear from you.  What distraction did you find difficult at first, but has since helped you to be more mindful?

#295 3M Multi mini mindfulness exercises

                                    3M  Multi mini mindfulness exercises

This week talk is practical. How to practice mindfulness at any moment, any time, anywhere, on anything

Remember that the beneficial impacts of mindfulness are cumulative with practice even if it is not formal sitting meditation.

Focusing actively on anything is mindfulness practice in its spiritual sense as long as you stay away from any analytic process, judgment or decision. Otherwise, we are just thinking for the purpose of achieving a goal. Spiritual mindfulness has no practical objective but to observe.

When we pay attention for few sec. or min. on x, y, z and as described, we are creating a short in our bioelectrical circuits of our brain/mind. The torrential flow of thoughts (~100,000/day) is stopped because the mind/brain cannot deal with 2 thoughts at the same time and must focus on x, or y or z.

Mind and brain are one unit observing reality.

All 100 billions of neurons and trillions of connections are all focusing on a single object whatever it is.

After the theory, the practice.

Using one of our 5 senses is an excellent practical tool to practice mindfulness during the day because our mind/brain is extremely sensitive to its sensorial inputs, which will take priority if you decide touse one of them.

You may pick seeing, hearing, touching, tasting or smelling for few seconds, one or two minutes several times during the day, anywhere.

These sensorial focus points are infinite. Here are few examples for the fun of it:

 Paying attention in a mindfulness way to:

      Feeling the ground or counting the steps while walking in the house or outside.

     Listening to any sound at home such as the water in the shower,  in your cars or even noises  at work.

      Eating in a mindful way by moving or arms slowly, smelling, tasting, chewing and swallowing. 

      Watching something around you such as color, sky, moving clouds, trees, etc.

      Feeling the wind, the temperature.

     Touching something such as your skin by joining your hands your hands, touching your desk,the wheel of your car, your presto card, what you are wearing, etc.

      Smelling the air, the food, the grass, the train, your car,

      Tasting your coffee or any drinks.

     Using your non-dominant hand for short and easy tasks. You are rewiring your brain by enhancing your prefrontal concentration circuits.

      Feeling the fresh air entering through your nose.

No point to list more examples.

When practicing, remember this key factor. You are bringing your usual wandering and restless mind where your body and what he is doing.

Mind and body become one unit experiencing the concrete reality of the moment, the only existing one. No more dissociation between what you are doing automatically and what your mind is thinking in  its continuous and various  fictional space-times.

This is called awakening. You are making the miracle of just being, that is pure consciousness.