"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about progressively opening your heart and calming your mind enough to engage Life directly, to be more fully Present in a kind, clear, and helpful way."

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call! Musings on Life and Practice by a long time student of meditation.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Be Still and Know

As the holiday season continues, I looked back at a few Posts of Christmas Past to get some perspective and, hopefully, alleviate any tendency to incarnate as the Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge this year.  This post, written the day after Christmas three years ago, was a helpful reminder of what the Real Deal is.  I hope you find it helpful as well. 
One Love, Lance
Originally Posted, December 26, 2013   

“Be still.  Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity.
When there is silence one finds the anchor of the universe within oneself”
― Lao Tzu

“Space and silence are two aspects of the same thing. The same no-thing. They are externalization of inner space and inner silence, which is stillness: the infinitely creative womb of all existence.”
― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment 



In the midst of the holiday season  scurry, often adrift in a sea of   noise and activity, I was especially aware of how precious each morning's meditation was to me this past week.  (I'd forgotten that many folks leave their televisions on, running in the background.  Sigh.)

Flowing through days and evenings full of visitations and gatherings and meals and excited flurries of paper-ripping, my meditation cushion seemed like an oasis.

Touching Stillness, even for a few brief moments, is like sipping clear, crisp, spring water on a steamy summer day.  Paradoxically, it's also like feeling the warm glow of a fireplace, snuggling at home on a snowy evening peering through the window at the moon.  In Stillness, the Presence emerges.  In a silent whisper, it sings of the Ineffable, that space where the fundamentally mysterious and completely ordinary meet to form the fabric of Life itself.  

Although I use a variety of meditation techniques, I've found that the foundation of Practice for me these days is to simply Sit Still for a period of time, allowing my attention to rest lightly on the actual experience of breathing.   Also aware of the other ongoing sensations of body/mind and the space that holds them, I simply sit upright with the experience of what  Zen teacher Norman Fischer calls "the basic feeling of being alive."

More often than not these days, this serves to bring me into deeper contact with the ordinary magic of the present moment. 
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Friday, December 16, 2016

For Unto Us a Child is Born

Exactly three years ago today, Keaton Izzy entered this incarnation.  As miraculous today as she was then, she is a on-going reminder of the Preciousness of Life.  As Christmas 2016 approaches,  with three more Grandchildren aboard for this Amazing Ride, I thought that I would again share Your Courtesy Wake Up Call: For Unto Us a Child is Born.  
One Love,
Lance 
December 16, 2016

"Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles. Eyes that see thousands of colors, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings. "
--- Thich Nhat Hahn

"Every child born is a living Buddha.  Some of them only get to be a living Buddha for a moment, because nobody believes it."
 ---Stephan Gaskin in Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin

Originally scheduled for a Christmas Day debut, Granddaughter Keaton arrived in the wee hours of Monday morning, in plenty of  time to avoid head to head competition with Baby Jesus.  

Sporting all ten fingers and toes, sparkling with Buddhanature, her birth, like all births, is another obvious Affirmation of the Miraculous.  As she peered from Betsy's face to mine following the sound of our voices later that day, I could feel her Presence as pure, unadulterated Life Force.  

Touched by the Great Mystery once again,  I felt a deep joy -- and a deep sadness.

Even as a child, the Christmas season always brought with it a certain sadness.  Something seemed more than slightly askew.   The messages of "peace on earth" and "goodwill to all", the prevailing story line proclaiming this to be a special time of mirth and merriment,  didn't resonate with what I was experiencing.  I imagined it was just the chaos and uncertainty of my own childhood that left me feeling somehow "out of the loop".  As the years have rolled by,  I have thought that less and less.
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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Good Vibrations

“Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand 
like curious children before the Great Mystery into which we were born.”
― Albert Einstein

"Attention is energy.  What you pay attention to you get more of."
-- Stephen Gaskin


As a kid I was extremely curious. I think we all were--although many of us were quickly conditioned to stifle it and "get with the program. " Somewhat clueless themselves, many parents and schoolteachers couldn't deal with our incessant questioning.  It scared them.

I remember stumbling across a broken camera in an alley when I was about ten years old.  I took it home and immediately took it apart.  

Then, I wondered why the heck the world was upside down when I viewed it through the single lens I extracted from that camera! After fooling around for awhile with the various lenses I then collected, I figured out how to right the image and make it larger.  I made a telescope.  I then made a log of the motion of Venus as it passed over the rooftop of the building across the alley. 

Later that same year, I discovered that an electric car I'd received as a Christmas gift made static on the radio's speakers whenever its path took it close to the radio.  Again curious, I took the car apart and discovered that the sparking of its electric motor created radio waves! Before all was said and done, I had cobbled together a homemade keying device and learned morse code so that I could send messages through space using these invisible waves of energy.   

This early interest in invisible waves of energy continued.  

In junior high school I became a ham radio operator -- and a musician.  Sound waves, radio waves, light waves.  They all fascinated me.  The idea that these waves operated at different frequencies, at different rates of vibration became clear to me. I learned how to tune my guitar.  I learned how to tune my homemade transmitter to deliver maximum power at a particular frequency.  When the electronic attributes of a circuit hit a point where the rate of vibrations synched up perfectly, Shazam!  With the same amount of power that it took to light up a 75w light bulb, invisible radio waves could radiate from my wire antenna near Chicago, reflect off the freakin' ionosphere, bounce back to earth and back to the ionosphere a few times -- to be heard in Antarctica!  How cool is that?

Good Vibrations

By the time the Hippies were happening in Haight Ashbury a handful of years later, even at a distance, I was quite inclined to believe in the term "the vibes."  I didn't find it odd at all to believe that there was a dimension of experience that involved invisible energies.  I'd been experimenting and playing with invisible energies for years.  Experimenting with mind-altering drugs was just an extension of my own curiosity about the nature of reality.  I was soon exploring yoga and meditation practice as well. 

In the course of the next few years, with the support of a number of friends/kindred spirits (we actually formed a short-lived "commune" in the early 70's), I learned that one didn't have to do drugs to be in touch with a subtle dimension of experience where other energies were at play. If we pay attention, "the vibes" are as perceptible as the wind on our skin.  Then, I came to see that, just like in music and radio, there were certain principles at work. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Wing and a Prayer

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake 
is to be continually thrown out of the nest.”
― Pema Chödrön


``Do not be afraid," the Voice called to him. ``Hang on to the wind and trust!"
-- from "Tale of the Jumping Mouse", 
in Seven Arrows by Hyemeyohsts Storm

Back in 1970, my kid brother David, who was in many ways my Guru long before I knew much about gurus and the Practice, sent me a handwritten copy of the "Tale of the Jumping Mouse".  A denizen of Haight-Ashbury for years, David had come across it before it appeared in Hyemeyohsts Storm's book, Seven Arrows.) 

I was transfixed.  

"Tale of the Jumping Mouse" was one of those stories.  It resonated deeply with the Heart of the Matter for me.  Stirred to the core, my heart chakra opened through a torrent of tears.  (Those were the days, huh.)

An allegory, "Tale of the Jumping Mouse" traces the journey of a simple mouse who heard something one day, a faint roaring sound that the others didn't appear to hear amidst the scramble of their day to day existence.   His Essential Curiosity stirred, this mouse summoned up the courage to take the Grand Leap to discover the Source of the sound.  He left the confines of his normal life to discover a world of great beauty and wonder.  

With the help and guidance of other creatures, through repeated acts of courage and the willingness to serve others again and again, Mouse developed his Medicine as Jumping Mouse.  In the end, (or perhaps, the beginning), the Jumping Mouse became Eagle.  

Years ago, I read of a society in the South Pacific where the children were taught to fly in their dreams as the main spiritual practice. Psychologist Carl Jung believed that flying dreams symbolized the basic human desire for liberation.  Although, I probably personally identify more with Jonathan Livingstone Seagull (another spiritual allegory of the early 1970's) than with an Eagle, it seems that the symbol of flight captures something essential about the Spiritual Path.  It certainly did for me.

So what does Sitting have to do with Flying?