A Meditation Awareness While Drinking Water


 

I had a lot of private feedback about the last blog post on Diet As Spiritual Practice in addition to the marvelous comments posted here. It seems like that post hit a chord. Some of you were asking about how I learned to become so in tune with my body. You said that you don’t pick up the signals of the body the way I talked about in that post.

One thing to keep in mind is that I have developed a close relationship with my body over time. This closeness didn’t just happen, it has deepened over the years. I really believe in investing in a relationship, because one of the great values that I hold strongly to, is that I can make a difference in my life.

 

When I was very young I couldn’t stand pain in the body. Someone said to me, “Get used to it. That’s how life is.” I just couldn’t accept this statement, that life would throw pain to me at random and there was nothing I could do about it. It was pain avoidance that got me started in observing how my actions affected my experience of my body. I feel like my body speaks to me all the time, the thing is that I have to learn to listen to the body. This practice of listening and adjusting my behavior based on the feedback I am getting, also translates to every other area of my life, including my sitting meditation. It is a life skill!

 

So lets talk about how to start listening to the body’s signals. Today notice when you feel thirsty. What does thirsty feel like? I notice the dryness in my lips, mouth and throat. There is discomfort in my skin and internal organs but that is harder to describe and a much more subtle signal to pick up.

glass-water-32Then as I take a little sip of water at a time, I see the changes start to happen immediately as the dryness gets washed away. It’s like I can almost feel the cells in my body becoming more turgid as the water gets absorbed in the body because I feel more alert, refreshed.

Notice the feeling in the body that tells you how much to drink, that you have had enough.  As the water works its way through the body you might not notice it, but when it is time to eliminate the waste, notice what that feels like.

Now look back from the times you drank  water during the day, even if you can only remember one time when you consciously did it, to now that it has been eliminated.

What impact did this water have on you? What adjustments need to be made for a better experience? Even if I don’t feel I have the answers clearly, I might experiment by changing the temperature of the water, the quantity I drink, the quality of the water, my mood when I was drinking and any other factors I can think of that might affect the experience.

Do you see how the practice of observing the body signals can translate to other areas? Don’t you feel more aware of the power of choice, not just in drinking water but in so many other moments in life? Do you see the same conscious way of observing ourselves as we drink water, is the same way that we observe ourselves in sitting meditation? Training yourself to consciously engage is a marvelous life skill. Consciously drinking water is a fairly safe practice ground. What do you think? Have I given you a good starting point?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Diet As Spiritual Practice


 

Happy new year everyone! I often feel when I write here, that we are sitting down for a cup of tea and having a lovely chat as we catch up on what is happening in our lives. I hope you feel that closeness too.

 

 

Traditionally at the start of a new year I set resolutions. But this year I didn’t set new ones since I feel my intentions from last year are still very relevant. I’m going to continue to give a lot of focus on my physical health. The better my body feels then the easier it is to focus on spiritual growth. In fact I use the same tools of observation that I develop from my sitting meditation, the same connection with the inner and outer guides, to help me to craft a diet that works best for me.

 

I’ve been experimenting with my diet to see if I could find ways to boost my feeling of health and well-being. I’ve found that my body is not the same all the time so it’s needs change. When I go to buy my groceries I pay attention to my body so that I can get cues on the supplies I need to better support the body. Of course I’m also paying attention to the signals I feel as I look at the various grocery items. Sometimes an idea pops into my mind, something that I wouldn’t have thought of before. Another way of saying this is that I stay open to the guidance that may come to me about what I need to pick up.

 

 

Even in the preparation of the food I look for guidance and inspiration. The way I choose to prepare the food depends on what the body needs and what would make it most accessible for the body at that time. I don’t have a fixed way of preparing food. So for example sometimes I go for making smoothies, sometimes I make various raw spreads, sometimes I choose to cook my food. It all depends on the state of health of my body. Of course such a choice comes from observing the effect on my body of various forms of food preparations.

 

 

I notice that food combinations really make a difference, some vegetables go well together and some not so much. Spices also have an effect, what spices I select, their quality and when they are added to the food. Some vegetables and fruits give me more of a boost than others. I am always testing things out to see their effect.

 

For example,  sometimes I notice that I get more from eating fruits individually, as a snack in between meals, than as a fruit salad or together with other foods.

 

 

The liquids I consume changes a lot too.  These days I’ve reduced the amount of tea I drink which is a little surprising. Usually in the winter time I like the hot drinks. Instead I’m drinking more room temperature water, smaller quantities but more frequent intervals. I find this gives me a better feeling of hydration. That brings me to timing, really noticing the impact of what I drink and when I drink it. I prefer to drink between meals rather than during the meal, unless the meal is very dry. I find I digest faster and feel the lift, the energy of the food more when I do this.

 

 

I like to eat slowly since I usually love what I’m eating. So I like to savor the tastes and textures. It’s also very interesting to see how the experience of the food changes from the tip of the tongue, as it goes down the throat and the whole digestive process, all the way to elimination. Here is a marvelous video showing the process of digestion.

 

Because I eat slowly I can better feel the stomach filling up, and I can gauge the most comfortable degree of fullness for me. If I get too full, I feel stuffed up, digestion is slow and I feel sluggish and out of sorts until the stomach becomes freer. If I’m not full enough then I feel kind of hollow, a sense of incompleteness. I can feel the gas in my stomach, which bubbles up as the food is eaten. At that point I’m usually full.

 

As much as I enjoy the taste of some foods, the driving force in my choice of food is how much it enhances my feeling of health and well-being. So the whole food preparation process is an integral part of my spiritual practice. You are familiar with my quest to expand my awareness, to make more conscious choices, to gain greater insight on navigating this human experience and I approach my diet from this point of view, as very much a spiritual practice. It is in fact a marvelous and practical way to grow the experience of witness consciousness.

I wish you the best of health in 2013!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adventures in consciousness


Life is so unpredictable. I’ve had a very eventful time since I last posted! It started off with saying to myself, “How can I understand better that life is an event in the consciousness?” You can guess what happened next, right? It seemed as if there were challenges galore in every sphere; physical, mental and emotional!

It took a lot of self-discipline to continue to put aside some moments to consider how these situations could help me to go deeper in understanding my nature as consciousness. I had to use a lot of self talk. I reminded myself to look at the challenges my body was facing from the vast space of who I am. Once I started to do that many new ideas stated to flow. New sources of information for how to treat with my situation popped out for me and as I got engaged with the new, almost without my noticing my body started to feel better.

Then I wondered if I could use the same approach for my emotional challenge. I found my disturbed emotions did not allow me to use my intellect to sort through the situation. I could see that the type of thoughts were unhealthy but it was so difficult to change them. Then I remembered a strategy I had tried successfully before. I decided to stop putting so much forceful energy into trying to change the situation. I decided to become interested in what was happening with me, to see it as an experience in the consciousness, just like I would become interested if I were site seeing while on vacation. I marveled at the power of these emotions. No matter how interesting something is, it is always changing so I told myself to notice all I can, while I have the opportunity to do so. I noticed how planetary movements change, how nature is ever changing and I am part of that ever changing nature too. Hold on a minute! Only the external experiences change, there is a part of me that is unchanging and that’s my real nature.

This week I was also feeling stressed because I felt I could not use my intellect the way I once could; to recall, to process, to articulate, to deal with day to day situations. Before this I had been consciously using my right brain more, to be more creative, more intuitive. Now I felt lost not being able to access my left brain when I needed to. Then I got a good tip from a friend. He said to take one idea and see how far that idea will take you.

That’s when I remembered that the roller coaster started from striving to better understand how consciousness could be the unchanging foundation of existence. I started to look at my experiences from that perspective. The processing of what was happening with me became lots easier.

I feel so much more stable now, so much so that I noticed in writing this out I didn’t mention any of the stories, the details of what my challenges were. It’s as if the stories have become vague in my mind. The lessons are so sharply in focus that they capture my attention. I feel like I just came back from an adventure :).

I hope you enjoy the events happening in your consciousness today.

Seeing Life as a Journey in Consciousness Evolution


It’s been a while since I posted here on the blog and like any unused muscle, writing is a little rusty. Since we last spoke I’ve participated in a marvelous 40 days retreat on “Making the Shift – A Practical guide to Consciousness Evolution” and followed up with a weekend retreat on “Be the Change”. So I’ve had lots of inspiration, now comes the best part; the processing and practice.

In the next little while, I plan to go back to the inspirations from these retreats. I know that writing about the experiences will bring clarity and deeper understanding which I can take into my practice. I hope that together we can explore our moments of inspiration and support each other in our growth.

Today one of the ideas I’m contemplating is that life is a journey in consciousness evolution. How can this idea impact my daily life?

This morning as I was going through my collection of photos I found this beautiful one. I don’t know what kind of flower it is, but that not knowing does not affect my enjoyment of it’s beauty.

As I observed the photograph more closely I noticed there are many flowers in different stages of blooming; some are buds, some just opening, some in full bloom and some nearing the end of their flowering. No matter what stage they are in, all together they create great beauty.

For me this is a model of how I can approach my world. Seeing myself and those around me in different stages of consciousness evolution, knowing that we are all growing. There is much I don’t know about the people and circumstances around me, but I will strive to see the beauty and goodness that is there. Have a wonderful day everyone. It’s great to feel connected with you once more!

Setting & Fulfilling Intentions


We’re approaching March 25 when I plan to join Blue Star international’s  forty day sacred period. I have thought about what my intentions will be as I enter  these highly charged days. To come up with my intentions, I thought of my dreams for myself and then wondered about what is currently preventing me from achieving those dreams. That process makes it clearer for me to see what I would like to focus on. To motivate myself I have short-term and long-term intentions. The short terms ones are easier and faster to achieve. This is important for me, because I need the momentum to help me to tackle the more challenging aspects of my dreams.

anankkml / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I know myself well enough to know that I will make consistent efforts. So another important aspect is to look out for the signs of progress. Every day there is something to celebrate, even if it is that I kept the intention in my mind. In this way I keep open and keep my inner world optimistic. Every step counts!

I have one intention that is particularly challenging. So to start with, I am focusing on being able to embrace it as a possibility. This is the toughest part for me, knowing that, I am more patient and gentle with myself. This photo will be my inspiration. Each step takes one across the stream.

This is the process I follow in setting intentions. How about you, what helps you to set and fulfill your intentions?

This is my 200th post on this blog. My intention when I started was to share how I bring spirituality in daily living. I hoped the conversations would be simple, inspiring and bring more awareness  about the process of personal growth. Thank you to everyone who have supported me in the journey so far, special gratitude to those who stop by and join the conversation. To the quiet ones who read and contemplate the postings, I feel your presence too, thank you for the energy you contribute. Sometimes it feels like we are sitting together, sharing a cup of tea and having a wonderful chat!

Expansion of Consciousness – Spring story of two birds


We’ve been talking about ways to expand the consciousness and the last time we talked about how someone we admire could be a catalyst for our growth. Today it feels like spring is in the air and I see a bird on the tree outside my window. This brings to mind the story of the two birds from the Mundaka Upanishad.

In my mind the story unfolds …. There are two birds who live on the same tree, one at the very top and the other on a lower branch. The lower one looks up in admiration of the other one, thinking the other radiates so much peace and contentment. The one on the lower branch spends it’s day busy looking for food tasting both bitter and sweet fruits. When it comes home it’s stomach is full but it still is not as happy as the other bird seems to be. It thought, “Oh that other bird looks so serene”. Everyday he would think about that other bird at the top of the tree and one day he resolved to get closer to that bird. When he got home at the end of the day he hopped closer and closer to that other bird, drawn irresistibly by the radiance of the other. The closer he got, the more delight he felt, he just couldn’t stop. The most amazing thing happens as he reaches the top branch, he realizes that bird at the top is none other than himself!

A beautiful story, no? “Like two birds of golden plumage, inseparable companions, the individual self and the immortal Self are perched on the branches of the selfsame tree. The former tastes of the sweet and bitter fruits of the tree; the latter, tasting of neither, calmly observes.” (Mundaka Upanishad 3:1:1).

So during the day when I experience the ups and downs of life, bewildered, suffering, hungry for more; I think of this story, recognizing that I am identifying with the bird on the lower branch of the tree but reminding myself I am also that bird that sits in serenity at the top of the tree. I am that Self that exists beyond judgement of good and bad, that lives and acts in flow, inspired and carried in every moment by Grace.

Spiritual books are a great source of inspiration for expansion of consciousness, don’t you find?. Tell me about your favorite source of inspiration. It seems to me that everything I see outside reminds me of the sacred. How about you?

Expanded Consciousness – new territory to explore and inhabit


This year I said I was seeking an expanded consciousness. What does expanded consciousness mean? Consciousness comes from the word conscious. If I am conscious about something it means that I am aware of it. So expanded consciousness to me, means to become more aware. What do I need to become more aware of?

One way I use to find that answer, is take someone I really admire, a role model. Then I write about them in as much detail as I can. The writing is important because it helps me to be more conscious of what I like about the person. Then I take a particular situation in which I felt that person really excelled. I write about what knowledge, skills and attitudes in that person contributed to their success. The reason for doing this part is I feel this person’s example can become an inspiration for me to grow in this type of awareness. Not just to admire them from afar but to become like them, to make the world a better place by shining a light just like they do.

Now comes the really exciting part. I look to myself to see how much of that knowledge I already have, how I am currently using those same skills in my life, in what situations have I manifested those same attitudes. This exercise brings up the most surprising information about myself, that I have this same type of excellence inside me! I also see how I can grow it.

When I first started using this exercise it was hard to think about how I could possibly already have that type of knowledge, skills and attitudes. The key I found was to persist, to keep open and to believe that I would find the answer. For example I knew I didn’t have  exactly the same level of knowledge as the person I admired, but it didn’t mean that I knew nothing whatsoever. You see my mind would become paralyzed by thinking that other person had so much more than me. When I discovered that I already had some of that information, then I felt I wasn’t starting from scratch. I felt hopeful.

Then comes the next stage; during my day I consciously set out to acquire the new data I felt I needed by going to sources of information around me; people, books, internet etc. I observed myself with the intention of catching myself whenever I displayed those qualities that I admired in the other person. It was so uplifting. Then it became easier to cultivate a wonderful inner stance.

That excellence may not express itself in exactly the same way as the other person, but the intention for me, was to use them as a catalyst for my growth, not to become them. So you see by doing this exercise I have a concrete and enjoyable way of discovering new territory in myself that I can explore, and eventually inhabit.

Putting Aside The Mantra


I love this picture of a rose. I want to hang this picture on my wall. I gather all my materials together to frame the picture. Then I get my drill to put a stud in the wall. What do I do with my tools when the picture is hung? I no longer need my tools because I’ve fulfilled my intention of hanging the picture.

Likewise I’ve been repeating the mantra during sitting meditation and periodically during the day. I feel I want to remind myself of my original intention for repeating the mantra. I started off the year seeking an expanded consciousness, resolving to open myself to the boundless Grace of the universe that is reaching out to me. I wanted to give attention to that subtle pull that draws me to the deepest part of my Being.

The mantra is a tool I have been using to quiet my mind so that I can allow that inner pull to become stronger and stronger, drawing me to that inner sacred space, where I can connect with the Source of my being. When I was hanging the picture it was clear when the task was completed and I no longer needed the tools. How will I know when I no longer need the mantra? I will  pay attention to the quietness of the mind, to notice when I become filled with the inner silence, to rejoice in that dynamic, buoyant space. In such a space the mantra seems like noise, it becomes an intrusion.

So now I know when I need to use the mantra and when I can put the mantra aside. Next I want to explore what expanded consciousness means to me.

Two Ways of Dealing with Persistent Thoughts


We’ve been talking about looking at the categories of thought that occupy the mind during the day. We said we would try sitting for a short period, fifteen to twenty minutes repeating the mantra and observing what comes up in the mind.

Today I want to talk about the types of persistent thoughts that come up. This type of thought reveal areas of our lives that need attention, they tell us we have pressing issues to sort through. These thoughts are difficult to remove from the mind unless examined and analyzed.

While I am sitting in meditation I promise myself I will deal with the thoughts outside of the meditation. during the meditation I keep the focus on the mantra and the gaps between each mantra repetition.

Once I’m out of the meditation I keep my promise. I deal with these types of thoughts in two main ways.

The first way is to use my intellect to try to figure out a solution. For further information I may read inspirational books or works of fiction that address a similar situation. I may look to movies to give me another perspective of the situation. Sometimes museums that give historical context are helpful, because there are few really new situations in life, many others in history would have faced a similar situation.

Another important way of dealing with persistent troubling thoughts is to look for inner guidance from the Universal wisdom field. Wisdom thoughts are different from ordinary thoughts. They are simple and seem to resonate with a unique energy. When they first start to arise I take note of them and after the meditation I consider the new information. At first I was cautious in following such thoughts. Now I know when I follow the guidance given I feel uplifted, I feel open, expansive….

I have more experience now and I find it easier to distinguish wisdom thoughts from the rest. Now I can actively seek such guidance. I can see those wisdom thoughts coming outside of the sitting meditation too. They may arise in my mind or they may come from the many sources of information around me.

If I stay stuck with a difficult situation and I can’t seem to find my way, then I seek help from someone who has experience and has the capacity to support me in working through my challenge. One way or the other I am determined not to stay stuck and somehow a way always opens up.

What is your experience of dealing with persistent thoughts? How do you over come them? Share your success strategies so that we all can top up the options we have, when persistent troubling thoughts occupy our minds.

 

The Game of Identifying Thought Patterns


As we talked about last week, I decided to dedicate fifteen minutes a day to find out what occupies my mind. My intention was to repeat my mantra, and observe the types of thoughts that arise in the consciousness during that time, recognizing these thought habits also occupy my mind during the day, even though I am not so aware of them. I said last week I would focus only on data collection and leave the analysis for today.

If you tried the practice with me you too would have discovered that it was not so simple to do. It took a lot of discipline not to get caught up in the individual thoughts. It was very helpful to pull back to see what kind of thought pattern was emerging, to describe the group of thoughts. Some of the categories I gave to my thoughts were “idle chatter”, “self-criticism”, “self-doubt”, “worry”.

Once I got the hang of it, I could identify the group a thought belonged to much faster.  It was a great game. How fast and how accurately could I identify the type of thought arising? The side effect was interesting because the number of thoughts seemed to subside for themselves. I began to see the thought taking form and before it could become full-blown I knew the category it belonged to.

Before this approach when thoughts arose during my mantra repetition, an incredible avalanche of self chastisement would follow. This approach took away the self chastising and replaced it with glee as I recognized the type of thought pattern.

Without consciously trying, the habit of identifying thought patterns slipped into my consciousness all during the day. It was fun. I enjoyed this new game.

Here is another surprise, even though I haven’t tried as yet to change any of the thought patterns they seem to be weakening of their own accord. I think it has something to do with the fun. Fun has a sneaky way of displacing negative thoughts :). Before I felt a strong depressing effect caused by negative thoughts but this week I didn’t feel pulled down by them as I used to. In fact I feel very good. I feel ready to tackle these thought patterns and start the dismantling process.

How about you? What’s the past week been like for you? Join the conversation won’t you?