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The Real Guru is the Divinity Within

J and I had the honor of meditating with/learning from Sri Shivarudra Balayogi Maharaj the other evening. Great thanks to Yoga of Sausalito for hosting the evening in their very comfortable/warm/welcoming studio. And great thanks to Sri Shivarudra Balayogi Maharaj (and those who assist him on his mission) for sharing his peaceful energy and timeless wisdom. And the music and chanting were Wonderful!

This is the beautiful message I am carrying forth from the experience:

Practice, practice, practice!

Dedication, Discipline, and Patience will yield the results you desire.

You are secure and regular, daily meditation practice will teach you, remind you, of this.

The real guru is the Divinity Within (the silent wisdom) which is experienced as inspiration.

Creative Pathfinder- Learnings, Weeks 21-26

I embarked on the Creative Pathfinder journey on September 3, 2010 – eight months ago! And I’ve so enjoyed the experience – every step on the “path” I’m finding/creating. I’ve said it before, but need to say it again: Mark McGuinness is smart, and wise, and insightful, and Creative, and most generous to share this course for Free. It’s worth a lot. I’ve benefited a great deal in these eight months of examining myself and learning methods and practices to increase my productivity and success.

Lesson 21
Topic = What Motivates Us?
Insights

The funny thing is, the work is usually quite enjoyable when you get going and intrinsic motivation takes over. But to get you going in the first place place, you sometimes need the extrinsic motivation of ‘deadline magic’.
-Mark McGuinness

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Lesson 22
Topic = Rejection and Criticism
Insights

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Lesson 23
Topic = Difficult People

People are much more complex than the labels we stick on them.
-Mark McGuinness

Insights

In Aikido, Harmony, and the Business of Living (Zanshin Press), Richard Moon calls the practice of being fully present and fully aware “Feel Where You Are.” If you are to truly listen, engage, and empathize with someone challenging you then you yourself must be completely aware of your situation and aware of their situation and all the subtle signals. One who is fully in the present cannot be caught off guard. “Feeling where you are,” says Moon, “refines awareness into attention.
-Garr Reynolds

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Lesson 24
Topic = Fun and Informative Presentations
Insights

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Lesson 25
Topic = Managing Creatives
Insights

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Lesson 26
Topic = Measuring Success
Insights

Maybe you want to save the world, or at least part of it. Or maybe you want to delight and amaze it, which is just as valid. But if you don’t make it a priority, you risk falling short.
-Mark McGuinness

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The Journal Archives – Solid And Supple

October 2, 1997:
In this entry I quote The Astrologer’s Manual by Landis Knight Green:
In Buddhist and Hindu Philosophy the conscious sense of purpose is called dharma, the law for living and developing one’s own character through fulfilling the right duties.  A person’s entire horoscope is a key to understanding and defining these duties; however, it is the Sun that dictates the exact nature or heart of this conscious and mature relatedness.  The planets which form aspects to the sun show exactly how this is carried out.  Naturally, this refers mainly to a person who has developed self-awareness to a degree where he can determine many of the conditions of his present, as well as future, life.  In the I Ching, he is called a “Superior Man.”  Astrology, as it is being discussed here, would have little meaning for someone who is not assiduously seeking the truth about his being.

The solar individual is enlightened to the degree that he can utilize, direct, and project his energies and his will precisely there that life has the greatest meaning and value.
-L.K. Green

The conscious person (solar self) is even more receptive (lunar self) so that he can continue to learn the laws of life that make his survival easier while he develops himself spiritually.

October 5, 1997:
I want to ponder what is happening w/ my existence and how to react to it.  And, more importantly I think, what I want to happen and how to work towards that.  I feel like my life is 90%  (mas o menos) me struggling against the tide.

What are the lessons I need to learn?

In The Wisdom of Insecurity by Allen Watts, he talks about how we are all searching for comfort and stability, but that those things are illusions, so we are really just fighting off life.  Is that true?  To a certain extent I believe it is, but where is that line between building a solid foundation and being able to sway and bend with the wind.  If only I could solve maybe one mystery, maybe I’d get some confidence which would give me more energy to keep striving.

Today:
I am very happy, and grateful, to report that there is little struggle in my life these days.  Still plenty of challenges, yes, but I have learned (by much trial and error) that struggling against them is a waste of energy and serves no purpose.  I do a lot of “swaying and bending with the wind” while at the same time making that foundation ever more solid and stable.  I don’t think there is “a line” between the two.

Through meditation, mindfulness, reflection, observation, exploration, study, and practice, I have come to see that the foundation is our infinite soul and the more we are aware of it and honor/care for it, the more it will keep us steady in the worst of storms and serve as firm ground for our personal evolution.

I’m beginning to believe that the insecurity Alan Watts is referring to is a result of our clinging to and grasping (things, people, events, expectations, etc), not wanting to accept the inevitable changes of life.  But, with a strong foundation, supple body/mind/energy/spirit, and awareness of the infinitely fluid rhythm of life, we can begin to embrace it in all it’s magically mysterious glory.  So that’s what I’m going for these days, thirteen and a half years later.

November 3, 1997:
Life seems so short to me sometimes, oftentimes, so I want to jump in and swim and be carried by the stream – without checking to see how cold the water is or if there’s a big rapid or waterfall ahead or a rock or branch in my path.  I get bruised a lot.  Cuts and scrapes are inevitable, cracking my head open kinda sucks, for awhile.  If only I could figure out how to really apply this metaphor to my life.  Just because the water is warm when you jump in doesn’t mean it stays that way.  Life is not static.  I’m not sitting in tide pools very often (I don’t like pollywogs sucking on my toes.)  And how do I know if there’s a strong current up ahead – I can only see about 2 feet in front of me.  And, even if there is , is it worth the risk if I really want to get there and there’s no way around?  These are questions I can’t answer so I usually/sometimes decide that the only way to know is to find out.

Today:
Life is not short!  At the same time, though, each moment is passing, replaced by a new one.  The more richly we experience our Now, the more satisfying our life will be.  That river metaphor is a bit muddy but I do think that we all must find a balance, that works for us, of being safe and grounded and diving into the rough waters and getting banged up a bit.

I’m feeling pretty good about my balance these days.

January 4, 1998:
I’ve been feeling that I’ve been sacrificing and avoiding focusing on my inner reality and my future goals and dreams and my healthy.  Well, I would like those to be my new focuses – I believe they are way more important to true peace and balance than the exterior realities (distractions and diversions a lot of the time) and they have been sorely neglected for a long time now.  If the Universe is listening, I say a little prayer to be thankful for all I have and to ask for the strength to make these changes in my life and stick to my goals.

Today:
Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Eve Meditation – Removing the Layers

I had the pleasure of hearing Rick Hanson speak at Spirit Rock a few months back. It was an afternoon to honor volunteers and donors and he spoke about gratitude. I found his particular blend of spiritual development and understanding how the mind works interesting. And I also felt an affinity for the positive, calm, and light energy he puts forth. Visiting his website, I discovered he hosts a weekly meditation group in my home town. That was great news as I’ve been looking for a group that is closer, and more intimate, than Spirit Rock Monday nights. I love going out there and will definitely continue experiencing and learning there. But having a group I can participate in that is only a 5-10 minute drive (or a 10-15 minute walk) means less resistance. And the smaller size of Rick’s group is more conducive to getting to know people. The 1:1 sharing we do each week is a particularly nice way to connect with, and be of service to, others, and I know I will be writing more about those exchanges as their value is always tangible.

What I have begun to notice is that I feel better in the days after I attend and I miss its positive effects on the weeks I don’t attend. November and December have been challenging months for me, with some old and deeply embedded insecurities rearing their heads, demanding to be seen and reckoned with. So it was perfect timing for me to find the group. As it happens in life, when we are open and awake to it, what I needed found me!

When I am there, sitting in silence with the group, it is definitely a challenge to relax and Let Go, and especially to calm my mind down. But is is So worth the effort. I remind myself, every time I meditate, that even if I have just a minute or two, here and there, of being fully present, Awake and Aware, that is beautiful and that will have a profoundly positive effect on my life.

Because it is all about this moment. This is where Wisdom and Grace, Love and Potential are.

So, the moments I am able to connect with all of that, as fleeting as they may be, are full of power. That is what matters – the quality of the moment. There’s no need to worry about the quantity.

As with all practices, the more we do it, the more natural it becomes. It can still be challenging, and there may still be resistance to cut through, but once we are really Here again, it begins feeling familiar, like an old friend, a familiar place. And in that comfort we are able to begin taking off the layers of our Being – what we put on to go out into the world and protect ourselves from all that we fear. In Here, in this moment, as our True Self, it is warm and safe and so we don’t need all the layers. Taking them off is a slow and tentative process. The more we remove, the more naked and exposed we feel. But that is why it is so beautiful to do this as our personal practice. Because we know we are safe Here. We know it’s just our infinite self and our connection to the Universal Source of Goodness. When we are really present, we can begin to know our Self and feel that interconnection, and that knowing brings a feeling of safety. So let’s start Here, removing one layer at a time.

If you can imagine it, it is real. You are connected to what already exists.

-Rick Hanson

Creative Pathfinder – Learnings, Weeks 5 – 8

Four more weeks of The Creative Pathfinder Course full of valuable lessons on nurturing our creative talents and successfully bringing them forth into the world. See this post for context and week 1-4 lessons.

Note: As my study and practice of meditation and consciousness continues (see my last post, or previous posts on meditation), I see more and more overlap between the wisdom of those life elements and healthy, successful creative work.

Lesson 5
Topic = Information Processing

Insights

This is how I’m seeing the flow of energy:

Experience->Process->Produce->Share

The more you do this, the more you will realise how much human beings make themselves happy, sad, anxious, or plain miserable over their interpretation of events, rather than the events themselves.

-Mark McGuinness

And, as one of my favorite wisdom teachers says:

Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.

-Wayne Dyer

As you draw the mind map, you will start to see relationships and patterns emerge as if by themselves, which will help you order the material later on.

-Mark McGuinness

This is how I’m seeing the Insight Flow

Learn->Practice->Pause->Insight!->Use It:

As I was writing about this lesson, this guidance (from an Insightful teacher! – see my last post on the SAND conference) synchronistically came to me:

Often our best ideas come, not when we are struggling to solve the problem, but when we are doing something completely different. When the mind is free and relaxed. So if you are struggling with something right now, take five minutes off. Give yourself a break. Do something completely different.

-Peter Russell

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Lesson 6
Topic = Free Flowing Creative Energy

Insights

Remembering why you are doing it and why it is worth the effort are great motivators as is envisioning the future we are creating.

Just as others can inspire us to good work, we can inspire ourselves.

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Lesson 7
Topic = Maximum Creativity and Productivity

Insights

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Lesson 8
Topic = Career Goals/Life Vision

Insights

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My favorite takeaway from this series:
Happiness + Contribution = Success
-Ask yourself ‘What work do I love doing the most?’ and ‘Where do I contribute the most value?’
-Focus your efforts on the overlap between the two.

Thanks again, Mark!

Mindfulness and Lovingkindness

I volunteered for a daylong at Spirit Rock this past weekend. It was my first time volunteering there, first daylong, first time doing walking meditation, and first time practicing lovingkindness. A lot of firsts in one day! I am so grateful for Spirit Rock and the opportunity to assist in exchange for participating in classes/events.

The day was led by Donald Rothberg and our morning session focused on mindfulness. There was some instruction on the basics of getting comfortable in your posture, tuning in to your breathing, and bringing your awareness back to the present, which is where mindfulness occurs. And in the second half of the day we learned about the practice of lovingkindness, phrases to personalize and silently repeat, and the different groups to direct this positivity towards. Both sessions alternated between sitting and walking meditations, and questions and guidance.

Mindfulness is not a new concept to me, in fact, cultivating it every day, every moment is my goal. I have been aware of the power of being present for quite a few years and that awareness is evolving into more and more of an active practice versus just a passive realization. In other words, I read ‘Be Here Now’ by Ram Das, and many other books of spirituality, eastern philosophy, etc, which taught mindfulness, back in my twenties, but continued to be somewhere besides here and now almost every moment. Really just within the past three to four years have these teachings started to dawn on me in a new, deeper way. I am gradually putting all of this wisdom (thousands of years worth) into practice. And that is the key to so much in life – doing the work, the practice.

I enjoyed Donald’s patient and lighthearted approach and the affirmative effect of all these people coming together to learn about slowing down, tuning in, and being present. It was nice to be a part of that and to have the time and space to dedicate to it.

Walking meditation is interesting. It’s a nice chance to stretch your legs and get outside. It requires concentration in different ways. I found, as did others in the class, that balance was trickier the more I slowed down. The positive effect was that being challenged to find balance brought my thinking and feeling back to now. And as is often the case with physical, tangible lessons, it made a lasting impression:

You need to be present in order to be balanced.

The afternoon was harder for me. I’ve found through observing my natural daily rhythms and patterns (and thank-you to Mark McGuinness’s Creative Pathfinder course for the prompting), that as the afternoon progresses, my concentration diminishes. And lovingkindess requires another level of concentration beyond mindfulness (which we still need to be practicing.) It was well worth the effort and very rewarding, though. Again, to give myself permission to sit quietly and cultivate positive, loving, patient, and kind feelings towards myself and towards the people, and creatures, of my world – if we all did this on a regular basis the world would be a nicer place. So much negativity could be dissipated by taking the time slow down and be kind and loving.

Donald provided some suggested phrases and this is how I personalized them:

May I/he/she/they be safe, secure, and comfortable.

May I/he/she/they be happy, healthy, strong, and vibrant.

May I/he/she/they live with ease and grace.

And May positive energy flow to and from me/him/her/them.

Thank-you, Donald, for your generous teachings.

What I find most interesting is that the following day was a hard one and three days later I am just starting to feel lightness and awareness return. I didn’t recognize what was happening on Sunday, just that my energy (physical/mental/emotional) was quite low. It was hot and Saturday had been a long day (and also hot) – that’s what I attributed it to. But on Monday I began to examine my thoughts and feelings and recognize that they were primarily self judgement, insecurity, doubt, and worry and in the past or future. At some point it hit me that I was being challenged in the very areas we had practiced on Saturday: being present (not caught up in analyzing the past or worrying about/imagining the future) and being loving and kind, starting with ones self. Hmmm…

The only way to really learn is by Doing and the most powerful learning, and growth, comes through the biggest challenges. So, little by little, moment by moment, I have been able to see the opportunity in this challenge of focus. And there is a gift there, too: I have the choice of what to focus my attention (thoughts/feelings/energy) on at each moment. Starting with mindfulness, the more I am fully present, in the here and now, the more I can recognize and release negative thoughts/feelings/energy and cultivate positive and productive thoughts/feelings/energy, including lovingkindness towards myself and the world around me.

I spent some time with ‘Be Here Now’ last night and like this description of mindfulness meditation:

The southern Buddhists (Theravadin) practice a form of meditation called Satipatthana Vipassana (Application of Mindfulness). It starts with the simple exercise of Bare Attention. All that you do is register thoughts, states, etc. in the present. This process slows down the transition from the receptive to the active phase of the cognitive process. You don’t think about your thoughts. You merely note them. This produces “peaceful penetration.” You transcend conceptual thought.

So I will start there (for a week is Ram Dass’s recommendation) and once I’ve gotten good at Bare Attention, I will move on to the next level of the practice.

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