Dreamlike Quality

Recently I found myself lost in the desire to be chosen. It was something that could be considered a once in a lifetime experience. I knew that there was little I could do to influence a decision that would be made outside myself. The decision would be made by others as to whether they wanted me as a participant. The only control that I had was if I allowed it to agitate me, and whether I became consumed by my desire. I found a way to calm myself, to see that in reality what I thought I wanted was just an illusion. That in real life whether I was chosen or not chosen, one was not better or worse than the other. I recalled my research into Dream Yoga, the Tibetan Buddhist practice.

According to this practice our dreams have just as much importance for our spiritual growth and enlightenment as our woken moments. And while I was definitely interested in being chosen to experience something that seemed desirable, I remembered to tell myself “this is a dream, I am dreaming, the world is illusory.” The illusion is that we think that when something in particular happens, it is some kind of milestone, where we have achieved something. Of course this never happens because once we have the achievement, it soon fades and becomes unimportant. The consequence of our achievement is that there are disappointing aspects that come with every experience, including winning a prize, or being successful. In our minds we create this false idea of how amazing things will be once we pass this goal, then as we pass the finish line we notice that it’s not all we thought it would be.

In the end I was chosen to participate. Now as I participate I try to recall that desire. Because day to day I am now part of that group, the chosen group. There are undesirable elements in belonging to this group. I work on remembering the sweet details, to maintain a feeling of gratitude. This group I am a part of is a great experience, it would have been fine if I had not been chosen but it is actually quite nice that I was chosen. In conclusion, reflecting on this has been useful because I realize that I have not been practicing, I need to continue to repeat to myself while participating in this group, as a way to wind down the excitement and agitation that I have been experiencing as result of my membership in this group : “this is a dream, I am dreaming, the world is illusory.”

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Mindfulness

Zombies are mindless. Finding mindfulness may be the cure.

Specter frightening a young woman by Utagawa Yoshiiku

Mindfulness has been studied and found to be successful in treating physical and emotional distress. Functional magnetic resonance imaging is a type of photography used to view images of the brain; it has shown that brain activity changes in subjects who have learned to meditate. The images show that the areas in the brain that are involved in rumination and depression become less active. This type of photography was used to evaluate the resilience of the subjects who practice meditation while they were not meditating. The studies showed that emotional stability improved for these people.

Being focussed on the moment is something that can come and go – you may slip away and become a zombie at times. When you become a zombie, you may become obsessed or unhappy and forget about the fullness of the moment again. You do not need to feel that you have failed. Being perpetually mindful is not the goal. The goal is to spend more of your life in a state of mindfulness.

To achieve the goal of spending more of your life in a state of mindfulness, you can learn mindfulness meditation. You can also practice mindfulness in simpler ways. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk explains how every activity that we do can be practiced with mindfulness.

“Washing the dishes

is like bathing a baby Buddha

the profane is the sacred.

everyday mind is Buddha’s mind.”

Quote from Present Moment Wonderful Moment: Mindfulness Verses for Daily Living by Thich Nhat Hanh

Slow down as you are washing the dishes, be aware of the dish, the water, and the movement of your hands. Be there in that moment while you are washing the dishes, instead of thinking of when you will be finished washing the dishes, and what you will do after.

Dream Yoga

Dream yoga comes out of Tibetan Buddhism, in which it is thought that we are most asleep in our ordinary life, and most awake during the night, or when sleeping. When we don’t exercise it, the mind can keep us asleep and in a state of suffering; keeping us oblivious to the connection, and peace that is found in awakening to the present moment. Yoga means to unite or yoke, and that is where we stop masking over things with labels, labels like good, bad, like and dislike. With dream yoga you can learn how to wake up in your ordinary life to how illusory the world we live in really is.

Stretching your mind is how it becomes more flexible. It can help you to transform emotions and thoughts that stifle you, freeing you to experience your true potential. With dream yoga you will be learning how to become lucid while you dream. This lucidity is experienced when you are having a dream and you become aware that you are dreaming, then you start to control the dream. One dream yoga exercise is to transform an object in your dream. It could be anything like a tree or a flower, now you transform it, it could change colour or size. This is how the mind strengthens and stretches, finding out that it is capable of transforming what you perceive as real. Without the lucidity in your dream you did not see that the tree was an illusion, when you transformed it you now became aware of how powerful your mind is.

This can later be experienced in your waking life when you are confronted by an experience that arouses a negative feeling. Now you might remember that you have a powerful and flexible mind, and this can help you to transform the negative feeling into something less negative and possibly even something positive. Having lucidity in your waking life, allows you to see that your reactions to objects, events, and people are something that you can transform.

Let It Go Or Let It Be

As I explained in my last post, this year has led to my exploration of anger. Anger is a healthy emotion that provides clues about what is important to us.

Spiritual Spirals Author JulianaMariel http://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spiritual_Spirals.jpg

In “Five Habits of Mind That Are Obstacles to Waking Up” an essay written by Toni Bernhard which is found in the book All the Rage:Buddhist Wisdom on Anger and Acceptance, the author explains the five hindrances: sensory desire, ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, and doubt. These hindrances are the obstacles that keep us in suffering. The Buddha says to overcome the hindrances we are more successful when we treat them as guests in our mind. Try saying to yourself “I see you” in a friendly way when you experience any of the hindrances. This helps because when we try to shut them out and are unsuccessful, it arouses one of the hindrances, our doubt in ourselves. This is how the hindrances can be become circular, one leading to another.

Another piece of advice that Toni writes about in the essay is to stop telling ourselves to “let it go,” instead we can say “let it be.” Doing this can help because we will not be disappointed in ourselves for not being able to let something go. Maybe we can work on both of these things. Sometimes we might find that we are able to let it go. But when we are not able to let it go, a new way might be letting go of “letting it go” by letting it be.

Following a conflict I had at a family dinner with a family member I realized I needed to apologize. I apologized through a text message. I found myself preparing in my mind for the outcome of my apology. What if my apology was not accepted? What if my text message was not given a reply? I told myself I would feel ok about that. And then I told myself that I would feel ok about just feeling however I felt. It would be ok for me to feel sad that my apology was not accepted. What I knew was this was one of those things that I would be better of with letting it be.

Exploring Anger

This past year, I have experienced some conflicts at work and in my personal life. My conflicts have inspired me to learn more about anger. Anger is natural, and in my case, it came about as a combination of self-preservation and as a reaction to my ego being attacked. This lesson has made me aware of how I want to protect myself in order to be of service to the greater whole. To do that, I need to be aware of when I become defensive in order to protect myself, as opposed to protecting my ego. My practice is to learn how to protect myself without having conflicts where I harm others. It is a new practice for me.

In the essay titled “Blame Everything on One Thing,” found in the book All the Rage: Buddhist Wisdom on Anger and Acceptance, B. Alan Wallace writes about a traditional Buddhist maxim that is part of a mind-training practice. He explains that we can blame everything that angers us on one thing. That thing is self-centredness. In many cases, this can help us to experience less anger, and less suffering as a result. He is talking about being less self-centred and selfish; he expands that it would be foolish to take it too far. We must continue to take care of the things that provide us with safety, like a roof over our head, and what we need for survival, like food and water. This, of course, means I must still try to keep my job and I cannot give everything that I possess away to charity– just like the mother on a plane that is crashing, she must save herself before she can save her baby.

One day while on the bus, I was almost at my bus stop, and I stood ready to push open the door. The door requires a soft push on the bar which activates an opening mechanism. A man stood behind me. At the stop, he put his hand over my head and pushed as I was pushing. In this moment I felt angry. It felt insulting to my ego. Either he did not think I had the strength to open the door or he was impatient. Either way, it felt insulting. But it really had nothing to do with preserving my safety and security, and in the end, I let it be. It would be a waste for me to let this truly upset me.

We may expect that with practicing over time we will become better at blaming our self-centredness. This practice helps us to feel more connected with people around us. Instead of being self-centred, our concern is for the welfare of others. This reduces the conflict in our lives. Now instead of trying to take everything for ourselves, we are more interested in giving to those around us.

Proofread by Leona B. Hunt, BA, proofreader

http://www.leonahuntproofreading.com