Heart Connection Meditation

(Photo composite by Sandra Jensen)

Connect through your heart to a heart that is greater than yours alone.

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Meditation for the new year

(Photo composite by Sandra Jensen)
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Why do we feel separate?

A short talk with David Crean.

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Interview: Body Resonance

A short film about Body Resonance.

With thanks to the participants and the film makers.

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Did you make new year resolutions for yourself this year?

It’s become something of a tradition to dream a self we would like to be and then set goals to achieve that. We wish to improve ourselves, become better… or at least different… than how we are. We vow to stop smoking, or get fitter, lose weight, learn how to play an instrument, spend more time with the kids. In short, we promise to be better.

Yet the beginning of February yields a litter of abandoned resolutions. And what do we do? We beat ourselves up for not being better. We yearn for some future state of success and happiness which is predicated on the presumption that who we are now is not good enough. You might have noticed yourself thinking, “if I can just get it right, if I can be the ‘right’ way, then I’ll be alright and everything will be ok.” Or conversely, “I’ve tried everything and still it’s not working!”

Trying harder is a typical response to failure; we resolve to try harder and then punish ourselves with the thought that we didn’t have enough willpower. And if we’re not busy pushing ourselves to be better, then we’re occupied with wanting others to be different so that we can feel better.

We live in a culture that is relentlessly demanding, a performance culture that insists we improve – growth being the measurement of wealth and therefore success. It’s overwhelming and easy to get worn down by this pressure and its mirage of success, easy even to trade our health and well-being in the pursuit of goal-oriented achievement.

If you recognize this scenario, ask yourself, ‘What am I trying to achieve?’

Before I began writing this piece, I unconsciously set myself the task to write something uplifting. When I sat down to write, I didn’t feel very uplifted. I found it difficult to write anything at all until I became aware that I had set myself an impossible task: to be the bringer of an uplifting message… even when I have no idea what you might find uplifting!

Put like that it sounds silly, doesn’t it? And yet isn’t that what we do when we set out to *be* better somehow, when we lose track of that depth that exists within each one of us? When we stop listening to the truth of what our heart is telling us.

This is the power of a thought: I couldn’t begin to write until I had  let go of my debilitating idea and accept that these words might not resonate with anyone.

A few days ago I was walking home. There was puddlejumpweba cold wind blowing and it was raining. I found myself holding my coat closed with my hands jammed into my pockets, my body hunched against the rain. I noticed my face had set into a grimace. I could feel tension rising in my body. I seemed to be protecting myself. “Against what?” I thought, “What is it that I am trying to bear? Why am I walking in this way, a man burdened by his life?”

I stood up straighter, felt my shoulders relax. Suddenly the rain felt bracing to me, even pleasant, instead of something to be fought against. The cool raindrops on my face became enjoyable sensations. My hunched posture then seemed absurd to me; it certainly wasn’t keeping me any dryer. I noticed a woman across the road, no doubt rushing home, all hunched over in much the same way I had been. A small boy trotted along beside her. He was all buttoned up in a shiny yellow mac, hood up. Mother and son splashed through the rain. The boy stepped into a puddle, then looked across at me with a smile that radiated his sheer joy of splashing puddles.

Many people think that joy and playfulness come after they have better relationships, more money – or whatever else you might imagine success to be – as a precondition. That boy hadn’t yet learned these things; he simply experienced his delight and was happy to share it with anyone who might witness.

I felt grateful to him for his uncomplicated pleasure. Happiness is not something we can actively seek; rather happiness ensues when we’re simply engaged with what is present without thought of trying to *be* anything.

My experience is that once you experience joy and feel light and playful, ease and abundance also follow. We all need to make space in our lives for a little puddle-jumping, doing something for no reason at all except for the fun of it.

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Slowing down

Life can sometimes feel overwhelming. Every moment of the day is filled with something that demands our attention: jobs, children, family, housework. We are bombarded with information every day – advice on how we should be, products we should buy to make us feel better or improve our lives. In the workplace efficiency has become such a common watchword that it has lost meaning – everyone is being asked to do more with less. And there seems no end in sight.

And how do we respond to all this busy-ness? By increasing our busyness. We fill our time with noise, with activity and plans, with problems and resentments, with victories and defeats, passions and memories. It seems almost as if we will do anything to avoid a quiet moment of silence. We plug in to our mobile phones or iPods, tv and computer screens to fill the empty space. We run because we are afraid of what will happen if we stop running; we don’t take the time to slow down and look inside for fear of what we might discover.

Occupied by so much activity – physical, mental and emotional – we become not so much human beings as human ‘doings’!KeepSilence_Rumi_web

And what lies underneath all the ‘doing’, beneath all the emotions and stream-of-consciousness thinking? What is there that underlies and supports our every moment of being? Mystics through the millennia have attempted to describe this; no words can really express what this ‘IS-ness’ is, yet all agree that it is both vast and empty. Even though this vast space is beyond any concept the mind might hold, still it is possible to ‘know’. After all, everyone has an experience of being ‘I’ – we all ‘know’ this.

We come into contact with that experience of simply being every time we slow down…

…. and drop into the silence of that vast empty space.

When we do so, we connect – and feel connected.

Only then do we stop running. And it is only when we stop running from ourselves that we recognise we will never ‘fix’ our lives – or the craziness of the world we have inherited and are continuing to create – at any superficial level. As Einstein famously said, “A problem cannot be solved at the level that it was created.”

When we slow down enough to feel whatever it is we are feeling, sadness may arise… or anger or any number of other emotions. When you allow that it is ok to feel any of these things, something happens. We feel more at peace, as if body and mind come together to rest, rather than being in constant conflict.

When we are at rest we recognise something much deeper, a spaciousness which seems to be empty and yet is also full of potential: a vast, silent empty/ fullness.

Make friends with that deep empty space that is our source, and everything seems to open up – we find our true selves, our authentic expression and the discovery of creative solutions to all our challenges.

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Incredible power of concentration

Miyoko Shida is a dancer. I find watching her in this solo performance both breathtaking and uplifting while at the same time deeply meditative. This is the ultimate balancing act that begins with a single feather; each step so apparently simple yet building to a complex whole. A truly graphic illustration of the inter-connectivity and delicate interdependence of everything.

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