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#286 Few tricks to tame our ego Sept. 15 19

          Few motherhood tricks to tame our ego

Ego is critical to survive but it should not be also the main cause of our emotional roller coaster.

Our ego takes everything personally whether the causes are right or wrong.

Like an iceberg, our ego is submerged deep into our preconscious mind but its power is such that our day-to-day mental & physical behavior is almost totally under its control.

Like a coin, the ego has 2 sides. The good and bad sides are entangled and, like a coin,  one cannot exist w/o the other one.

To enumerate all beneficial values of our good ego is not the purpose of this talk.

However being over protective and a relentless fighter, our ego is also our worse enemy.

How to overcome our “bad ego”? We cannot because, like for the coin, it is impossible to remove one side w/o removing the other one.

Here are few motherhood tricks to tame the hidden face of our ego.

Ask yourself the following questions:

      “Is it my ego thinking or doing this and why?  

       Are x, y, z objective reality or ego-made fiction?

    I maybe useful but Am I indispensable?

Practice letting go from acceptance & forgiveness

“Forgiveness and letting go are the attributes of the strong.” said Mahatma Gandhi

Let go the following:

1) Trying to control things we cannot, 2) Believing that we are always right. 3) Having a mind set and judgments for everything, 4) Having more and more of this and that, 5) Identifying ourselves with your achievements, 6) Accepting that events, people and things  are what they are and not what you want them to be.

The most powerful tool to learn to let go is to practice acceptance and forgiveness.

We have to learn to forgive the people who hurt us and most importantly we have to learn to forgive ourselves too. Without the later, the former is impossible

Do not resist, fight and suppress your emotions.

Battling them make our fighting ego happier…but makes you worse. Counter intuitive

Learn to say no to the things that don’t add value in your life.

 “Too many people spend money they don’t have, to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.”

Surrender your need for ongoing ego-based self-identification.

We are not our jobs, our material possessions, our achievements, our thoughts/emotions.

Once you let your ego controlling your identification you you will never be serene because as soon as you lose one of the things that you identify with, the rest will fall like dominos and you will lose your happiness. Beside, you will look to more stuff to have and to control.

Consider a selfless act such as giving without the expectation to receive.

Practice empathy & gratitude.

“It’s not happy people who are thankful; it’s thankful people who are happy.”

Grateful people feel more empathy and compassion and feel more alive than those who don’t.

Conclusion:

Learning to let go of your negative ego is very easy in theory, however can be very difficult to execute in the moment. When I am facing negative events I always tune to my thoughts to check if my ego is online. If so, click on pause. Nothing to lose here, but a whole to win.”

Thank you

#285: TRIGGERS of our EMOTIONAL PAIN Sept 8 19

                                                         The triggers of our emotional pain                                                                               A Zen perspective

In a non-specific order, here is a very short list of our painful triggers.

The most powerful are stress, regrets, anger, guilt, grieving, shame, anxiety (fear, worries), sadness, desire, (craving), hatred, hopelessness, illusion and chronic fatigue.

Maybe less dramatic are: frustration, loneliness, boredom, impatience and jealousy. …And so on.

How often do we feel them on regular basis? 

Probably all the time, at various degrees and frequency.

In fact, according to the Buddhist philosophy the 3 main causes of suffering are desire, hatred and ignorance better called illusion of Reality.

I call them triggers because they initiate our emotional turmoil but do not feed it.

They are not the ones which fuel and enhance the duration and severity of this pain.

” The trigger does not kill, only the person pulling it does” says the N.R.A. This very smart quote can also be applied to the genesis of our painful emotional roller coaster.

Most of our emotional triggers causing pain are external but for 100% of them the resulting pain is mind-made generated.

How we perceive and react to x, y, z, are the oil or the water that we pour on the fire.

How to deal when facing a trigger?

The goal is to control duration, intensity and frequency of these painful episodes since triggers will always be there that we like it or not until our physical death.

The common attitude is to resist and to fight against our struggles in order to overcome, fix or eliminate them.

Our reflex behavior is automatic because generated by our pre-conscious ego which always lays the role of a fighter and defender.

The energy that we are generating to resist and fight against our struggles can be phenomenal and only adds more fuel to our suffering, making life more miserable.

Is it possible to transform this suffering into healing?

Mindfulness is paying attention / being aware to our experience moment to moment, w/o analysis, w/o judgment and w/o decision making. It offers an effective antidote to suffering.

By focusing in a mindful way on your current struggle and its origin you will learn, progressively, to accept it rather than to resist against it.

By doing so, we create habituation and tolerance rather than ongoing battle and misery.

It is important to stress the fact that acceptance of suffering does not mean to surrender or to be weak.  It does not mean either to be masochistic. The point is not to enjoy pain but to control it.

Control of any negative event cannot be achieved w/o acceptance unless one can fix immediately and efficiently the trigger……which is very rare.

Accepting is saying: “ Okay I am angry.” No question, no fight just acceptance and self-compassion.

Conclusion:

It is OK to fight for something which is legitimate and that you may win but fighting continuously against our negative feelings is totally counter productive and, in fact, pretty detrimental.

 It is like “squeezing a burning coal sitting in your hand” as the Buddha used to repeat.

These is also this  advice given by our little dog:

 “ Dad, you will never control your tail while spinning after it. Do the same with your emotions.”

Thanks you

#284 Sky gazing: a wonderful meditation practice Sept 1 19

   Meditation: sky gazing

There is a Tibetan meditation practice called Sky Gazing that the Dalai Lama is practicing daily regardless of the weather.

It is considered as one of the highest forms of mindfulness meditation because it is helping us to discover our state of pure consciousness or awareness liberated from our conceptual, judgmental thinking, emotional turmoil and the illusion of being just a material entity.

Research done in psychology has also shown that when we are using our 5 senses in communicating with nature, we improve our serenity by reducing stress, removing conceptual thinking and making us more aware of our interconnectedness with everything in the universe.

For example, being one with a clear blue sky, even for few seconds or minutes is the closest experience of what is this natural state of pure awareness or non analytical consciousness looks like.

How to do it?

Sky gazing can be done during the day or night, when the sky is blue or even over casted.

Practice only for few minutes.

Assume a comfortable meditative posture outside either sitting or lying down.

Look outward at the sky w/o staring specifically at something.

Observe it as it is w/o any analytic thinking, w/o judgment, w/o decision. Just let go thoughts and feelings.

To rest your eyes, close them once a while and visualize what you are watching. The effect is the same.

What will be your experience?

You will discover the stillness, quietness, emptiness, limitless and everlasting of the sky.

You will experience the interconnection between the sky as proxy of the universe and you.

This “spiritual experience” will unlock the door in the discovery of your True Self because both – universe and you – are identical forming a single entity.

No more boundaries. No more conceptual mind. Your material self is fading away at least temporally.

How can it be?

 As Zen said, you realize that your mind-body is part of the universe and the universe is part of your

mind-body. You are not anymore a perceived transient material self-entity, unique, independent and separate.

Some technical points.

Blue sky during the day and sky full of stars at night are obviously the optimal scrivener but….

…even when the sky is cloudy or even over casted, sky gazing will always be beneficial despite being more challenging.

Clouds are also to good metaphor. They move and change shape all the time. 

Everything is transient.

Thank you

#283 Becoming a mind watcher August 18th 19

                                    Becoming a Mind watcher

Beside controlling our body and using its cognitive skills, our mind is a fantastic movie maker, producing around 90,000 films every days made of thoughts and emotions in different space-times, various scenarios and actor. We are inside the screen, trapped in this mind-made ongoing fictional worlds. Enough to become almost insane for many. 

However we can get rid of almost all this mental insanity hidden in your preconscious mind where past and future are the dominant playgrounds.

Just by being a simple witness of your ongoing thought & emotions should do the trick.
How to do it? It requires practice.
Simply sit silently, watch and witness your thoughts/emotions passing before you. Just witnessing, not interfering that is not analyzing and not judging, because the moment you enter in a cognitive element, you have lost your status of being the pure witness. Like in Court, the witness does not judge.

The moment your inner voice says “this is good, this is bad, why, how, when, where, whom”, I want, I don’t want you have already jumped onto the cognitive and emotional slippery slope, like being a hamster in its wheel.

It takes daily practice to create a gap between the thinker i.e. the victim of the mind tricks instead of being  the witness of the tricks.

Once the gap is there, you are in for a great surprise: you are not driven anymore by your mind, you are the witness, a watcher of it.

And this process of watching your usual ruler (mind) becomes is the magic of real spirituality.

As you become more and more deeply rooted in witnessing, thoughts start to shrink, even evaporate, at least temporarily.

At this point your mind becomes still and silent. This is one of the characteristics of an

“Empty mind” as Zen calls it.

In fact, learning to watch the stampede of our thoughts while focusing on our breathing or on any other focusing targets is the primary goal of mindfulness meditation.

At this moment and, unfortunately, for a short duration, you are experiencing enlightenment or better said awakening.

This is the moment we become, for the first time, a free human being, liberated from

our inner prison called mind.

Thank you

August

#282 ZEN CHAT with a WAVE August 3 -19

             Zen chat with a wave

It was Monday July the 8th 2018. Fully awake at ~3 am and with a fantastic weather outside, I decided to dress-up and walk to the lake 10min. away.

Seating on a bench and in a mindful way, I used my 5 senses to experience the serenity and beauty of the surrounding nature. Reality at its best. No wandering mind, no dream, no past, no future, just in the moment.

The lake was quiet . A little breeze was creating small waves finishing gently on the shore.

I decided to focus intensively on these little waves and, after a while, I was chatting with them.

Hello little waves, how are you?

One of them, just born, replied: we are okay she said.

You must be sad I said.

Why replied the little wave.

For one your life is so short: you come to life, do a quick rolling and then die on the shore.

Humans go thru the same cycle she replied. Yes, your life span is longer than ours, but so what!

Look at the quality of human life. It is full of unhappiness, dissatisfaction and other negative feelings. All are driven by ongoing desire, hatred, illusion and mind-set. Waves are just waves, living in the moment. We are not driven by mind-made traps like humans because our mind is clear like water.

Okay, I said, but you are very tiny.

Yes. Right now we are small but sometimes we are bigger. You call us tsunami when we are gigantic or ripple when we are very small.

Do you have any purpose on this planet, I asked curiously.

Just being a nice wave she replied. Sometimes we make humans happy when they surf on us and when seagulls rest on the top. Beside, we clean the shores all around the world when we are big and during tides.

Humans are always dreaming about doing this and that. You want, don’t want. When we cannot, they suffer. Very sad.

By the way, we never understood why you live in 3 space-times such as past, present and future.

Waves live in the present because it is the only one when we are alive. The others ones are man-made concepts. Past and future are only NOW in your mind when you think about.

Little wave, it looks like you are expressing some serenity. Can you elaborate? I asked

She replied: Maybe the best answers are:

I am never alone and I will never die because, even if I am a tiny wave for few min, I am also always part of the infinite lake or ocean, which never die. I will become a new wave soon. This is very comforting emotionally.  Sort of immortality.

Beside, we accept impermanence as part of the life cycle whereas humans don’t realize that everything is transient.

What do you mean? I asked:

You think that each of you is a permanent, unique, independent, separate self-entity, quite the opposite of us. This is in your preconscious mind where fear of dying is alive if I may say.

So, what can we do to achieve your serenity? 

Be like me. Your idea of happiness is the main reason of your unhappiness and….. Before she finished her sentence, the little wave past away, becoming the lake again. She was serene my little wave.

#281 Daily practice of quantum Zen July 27th 19

Daily practice of “quantum Zen”

Quantum physic studies the very very tiny physical particles.

In the same way “quantum Zen” physic looks at the tiny tiny components of on-the-go Zen practice as opposed to its mega components such as formal sitting, walking meditations, koans and monthly one-on one interview between student and teacher.

Tiny components of daily Zen practice pop-up as soon as we wake up and as soon as we fall asleep.

Here is a non-inclusive list of 10 on-the- go quantum Zen practice.

1) Do one thing at a time, slowly, completely and in a mindful way. Its means:

Bring your mind where your body is and what you do, even during routine or boring stuff that our mind hates. It prefers wandering in the past and future with its cohorts of dreams and good and bad feelings

Examples of this short mindful practice are infinite: peeling potatoes, eating, walking, being under the shower, peeing, listening, talking, touching, etc…

2) Do less stuff rather than trying to do too many things.

3) Designate protected time for certain exercises such as:

Use your 5 senses, one at a time, to pay attention & experience surrounding reality of the moment. The rest is pure mind-made fiction. This is a great skill to learn to put your mind in stand-by.     

Do short breathing meditation in any positions and anywhere.

Shut off your cell phone for at least 10 sec….hopefully more, unless special circumstances.

4) Stop judging all the time about anything …unless requested. Nobody cares anyway.

5) Once a while forgive yourself about what you did, do or think.

If you cannot do it for yourself, how can you forgive others? This part of compassion.

6) Once a while check your thoughts.

You don’t have to believe all of them.

So, just say hello to the useless / irrelevant ones and drop them in the recycling bin.

You will avoid mental pollution.

7) Stay in the present moment, good or bad, the only moment when you are alive

 This is the only one when concrete reality exists.

“Past you” is dead. “Future you” is not born.

We cannot be alive in 3 different space-times.

8) Do not be entertained by your mind as your second self-made Netflix. Enough addiction.

9) When you are victim of a strong negative emotion, just pay attention, acknowledge and accept it.This is a very difficult skill but it is the only way. Fighting it will make it worse.

10) Do not read too many smart books to achieve serenity.  

A donkey carrying smart books is still a donkey.

#279 How to use our 5 senses to practice on-the-go-mindfulness exercises. July 14th

             How to use our 5 senses to practice on-the-go mindfulness exercises

The practice of mindfulness meditation, regardless its quality, is cumulative as far its beneficial effects tat is how we perceive life and its content, how to experience the reality of the moment and how we are able to control our mind. Hoe often is more important than how.

The more we practice the better, regardless the quality and duration of our meditation are.

This is difficult to accept since we have learned, thru our Western education, that the more we practice on something the better we become at it.

The quality of our sitting is and will never be perfect even among the Masters simply because the mindis very powerful to escape from the focusing object that we are imposing on him.

Judging the quality of our mediation means quitting sooner or later.  

Beside weekly formal sitting and walking meditation, what can we do to increase the frequency of our mindfulness-based meditation practice?

Before going thru few examples, I would like to remind you of the 3 main functions of our mind/brain.

     1) Acting as a receiver of our immediate environment.

           Using its 5 senses acting as “radars”, our mind/brain is acting as a vey sensitive and powerful            receiver of the external world. He is collecting instantly, consciously or nor, zillions of data.

          Then he will t transform them into electric-chemical signals which will be computerized so            we an see, hear, smell, touch and taste. Based on the process, we are able to analyze, act and   experience reality of the moment. As far neuro research is concerned, we still have no clue why we can see colors whereas it is black inside, nor sounds when it is silence.

     2) Acting as the maker, manager and monitor of our 100 trillions cells in 78 organs 24/7

     3) Acting as a mental factory with 2 main functions:

             Cognitive: producing around 90,000 thoughts /day for analysis, deduction, judgment,  decision, memory, expectation, etc…

             Emotional:  contrary to our rational mind/brain, our emotional one always reacts immediately, around 100 times faster, in milliseconds.

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 outputs, which will take priority if you decide to use one of them

You may pick seeing, hearing, touching, tasting or smelling.

Depending of the circumstances you can also:

      Keep the same “receptor” or alternate with others during the same day.

      Duration may vary from less than 1 min. to several.

 These sensorial focus points are infinite. Here are few examples:

      Seeing: paying attention to one color i.e.  sky, clouds, the green of trees, the motion of the wind, etc

      Hearing: silence, birds, cars, wind, rain, your steps, music, your tooth brush  etc…

      Touching: the ground when walking, touching your skin, a page of a book, etc…

      Smelling: the air, the food, grass, etc.

      Tasting: drink, food, etc.

It is important to practice in a mindful way that is just paying attention to your chosen focus w/o being trapped in some sort of analytic process of your target.

Remember this:

Despite its enormous power of zillions bits, the mind/brain cannot deal with 2 thoughts at the same time. We don’t know why.

When you focus, for example, on the sound of the train on the tracks or on the taste of an apple, or the sound of the wind or the orange color of the sky at sun set, just do that andyour mind/brain cannot do other thing but to obey you that is to focus on what we are asking him to do. This is key to achieve awakening, one thought at a time on concrete reality.

#278 : Stop being miserable in advance July 6th 19

                  Stop being miserable in advance

Another way to say it would be:

 “We should not try to be our own news maker with a mind-made 24h news channel, full of negativity”.

It is well known among guru in media marketing that news content from the major broadcasting networks must be at least 75% to 80% bad news or drama to attract viewers.

The highest Nielsen audience, the more expensive commercials are.

Drama/bad news are the rules for high audience with the exception live sport networks.

The way we, consciously and nervously worry about zillions of bad news from the media or nor existing yet is strange if you think about it.  To the extreme it might even be considered masochistic.

By definition, this voluntary anxious feeling about something that hasn’t not yet happened is a powerful mental trap and pure delusion since the future and its concrete content do not yet exist.  How our mind is controlling us by generating positive and negative emotions involving the virtual reality of the future is fascinating

Unfortunately, this is what we are doing spontaneously most of the time without looking too much at its rationality. This is called, in Zen,  “day dream walking”

Why are we our own mind-made 24h bad news channel and why we are, too often, attracted to negativity and “feel bad” stuff?

Modern research in psychology has not yet been able to find clear answers.

Maybe our 3.4 billion years of evolution with fear of danger, fight for survival and unpredictability has affected our genes responsible of this mental behavior.

Pragmatist people including Zen practitioners cannot be and should not be worried about every possible outcome in advance. Think about it:

Best scenario— If the news turns out to be better than expected, all this previous time of been worried was wasted with needless permanent anxiety and fear.

The present moment is contaminated by this hypothetical doom and gloom.

Worst scenario— If the bad news turned out to be true, we have been also  miserable in advance, sort of bad extra time before reality. Crazy.

Bad stuff is  bad enough when they arrived. Don’t give them more mental space.

Surely, there are better way to use the current moment even if this moment is perceived boring and dull.

A day that should not be spent in worrying about the days we may not exist.

Let the news come when it comes and don’t be anxious and worried in advance.

Instead, try to keep the mind to pay attention to the now, the only reality even if your mind is bordered. Being in Past and future are  mental entertainment.

#277 The Impossible task June 29th 19

   The impossible task

How often you are doing nothing or feel like it?

The answer is simple: almost never because, as far the go is concerned, doing nothing will be unacceptable, detrimental to our  social and self image. Our ego believes that we are important and indispensible then, “Doing nothing” is impossible, sort of personal and social failure. We base our identification with what we are doing, what we are thinking.

Look at your average day: From the time we wake up to the time we fall asleep we are running around like a hamster in its wheel. We have to achieve whatever.

Even when we have a rare free moment we are rushing to do something, somewhere : surfing the net, texting, emailing, reading a book, cooking, gardening, shopping, travelling, going to the movie, watching TV, etc.

We are “alcoholic doers” and if we do not do something we feel like being on standstill, frozen in a huge vacuum, sort of emptiness, usefulness or failure.

“I am, therefore I must do x ,y,  z, non stop in total automatic behavior.”  Zen calls that: “ Day sleep walking”

Our body and mind are restless and busy non-stop, wandering continuously: thoughts, worries, anger, planning, expectations, god and bad memories, analysis, judgment, etc.

We are complaining that we don’t have time but we automatically accumulate or create things to do all day long making the time shrinking.

Not only we are busy at doing one thing but, more and more, we must be “multi-taskers”.

We have to do zillion of things at the same time because we believe that we do not have enough time before the end of the day.

This is a vicious circle: More stuff to do = less time to do = less stuff done=more stress and anxiety.

Why are we resisting so much  against “doing nothing”?

To keep ourselves busy, to feel busy or to project being busy is part our ego self-image and socio-professional profile.

      We don’t want to be perceived by others and ourselves of perceiving being useless, inactive, lazy or failing. We want to be and to look productive. Doing nothing is simply not acceptable and ill perceived by self and by the society. Beside, we don’t want to be bored.

We don’t have the mental skills nor the courage for doing nothing because doing nothing goes against our ego  which perceives “doing nothing” as “I am not existing, I am lazy, I am useless”

Subconsciously we feel guilty of doing nothing with the fear of boredom.

Doing nothing is in fact doing something that is perceived by our ego-mind as meaningless, empty, useless and a waste of time.

The feeling of “doing nothing” is just an ego-generated perception, a pure reaction of a defense mechanism. This perception is crazy and detrimental for our emotional balance because of its negative image

What  “doing nothing” really means?

Doing nothing does not mean anything and should not carry any negative meaning. This is a mindset.

Doing noting is a weird concept, a contradiction of terms since doing nothing is, in fact, doing something called “nothing” whatever its means in your mind.

So, “doing nothing” is a delusive perception created by an ego-driven mind. It does not exist.

“I am,  therefore I do or should do this and that non stop.” 

Also, what you perceive as “nothing” can be “something” for someone else.

Doing nothing and doing something are identical, only the way our ego perceives and understands the words create this artificial difference.

It is up to us to choose the proper meaning.

Maybe doing nothing is doing something outside our mandatory daily duties and outside the routine, without any specific purposes, goals or achievements.  Does just breathing is doing nothing?

Does sitting still during meditation is doing nothing? Our ego wants to do “something, to be active and for many, sitting still is doing nothing. On the contrary, sitting still and focusing on breathing is doing a lot.

Next time if some is asking you “ How are you doing?” , reply “I am doing nothing”.

You will trigger surprise and concerns since you are supposing to be busy.