"Mindfulness and Meditation allow us to open our hearts, relax our bodies, and clear our minds enough to experience the vast, mysterious, sacred reality of life directly. With Practice we come to know for ourselves that eternity is available in each moment.

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call:
Musings on Life and Practice
by a Longtime Student of Meditation

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Judge Not and ...

“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”
― J. Krishnamurti

“We sow the seeds of our future hells or happiness by the way
 we open or close our minds right now.
 ― Pema Chodron

I don't think there is any greater freedom than being Present -- engaging life as it is -- without the distortion caused by Judgment Mind.  

Growing up immersed in a society that is highly judgmental, most of us have been deeply conditioned to experience our lives in terms of good/bad, right/wrong, should be/shouldn't be.  
In fact, our ego sense, with its perceived separation and isolation from "the other" is maintained by emotion laden thoughts, opinions, and various mind states that emerge from this conditioning.  Even in its mild form of liking/disliking, Judgment Mind can generate thoughts and feelings that serve to separate us from the peaceful, calm, and caring Presence we have access to in every moment.  
If we are overly self-absorbed, distracted, stressed, moving too fast, it's easy to get lost in our conditioned reactions to the events in our lives.  Adrift in Judgment Mind, we loose Presence.  We get lost in the alternative reality we have created -- and forget that the world is really not as it appears to us at that moment.  This deeply ingrained process of evaluating what we experience as bad, wrong, condemnable is a strong and on-going element of our society's collective unconscious, and has had a deep and ongoing effect on most of us.  It appears as discontent, diatribe, enmity, blame, and self-blame.  If we aren't paying attention, it can and will dominate our lives, moment to moment.
Seeing For Yourself
One of the fruits of meditation is that we can see how that process works directly.  We can see for ourselves that Judgment Mind isn't only the thoughts going through our heads at the moment.  It's deeper than that.  It is embedded in the emotions we are experiencing.  It's embodied in the tightnesses and discomforts of our body.  It directly effects the quality of our consciousness, our state of mind.  
It is actually quite amazing to see for yourself how that plays out on the meditation cushion.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Mama Said There'll Be Days Like This

"Our thought now being no-thought, even our singing and dancing 
are the voice of the Dharma."
-- Hakuin-zenji, Song of Zazen
 "Mama said there'll be days like this
There'll be days like this mama said."
-- The Shirelles

For decades now, silent meditation and mindfulness practices have been the central focus of my spiritual life.  Yet, me being me, I've continued to explore a number of practices from a variety of traditions.  
In the early 70's, I was introduced to the Chant of Chenrezig by a friend of mine who had absorbed it as he pushed a huge prayer wheel with a group of Tibetan Buddhist practioners in Northern India months before.  Looking into his eyes, standing about five feet away, I could feel the energy of Om Mani Padme Hum as he related the experience.   Coming across the chant again in Ram Dass's spiritual classic Be Here Now a few months later, I filed it away for future reference.  

Later that year, I had the means and opportunity to Practice this chant a bit more deeply.  Unlike my friend who experienced it in India, my prayer wheel was the steering wheel of a canary yellow VW camper.  I was cruising along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado on Interstate 25 at the time.  Using the mile markers as visual reminders to re-focus, I chanted Om Mani Padme Hum for several hours.  At a certain point, I experienced a Shift.  I connected with the larger pool of energy and the Presence. Reality asserted itself.  
The Universe hummed along in harmony with the mantra as I drove down the road.

In the eternal now, this moment embraces that moment.  In the seamless whole of One Love, Time and the Timeless dance as One.  There is no separation.

Om Mani Padme Hum

Even Our Singing and Dancing
Over the years, I've practiced various other forms of mantra meditation.  I've chanted with Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, and Christians.  I've come to see quite clearly that words can ring with meaning and power well beyond their conceptual content.  Whether vibrating in sound or in silence, when we experience words we attune to, and resonate with, a  larger pool of energy and connection -- whether we realize it at the time or not.

And then -- although certain fundamentalist strains in many religious traditions may frown at the idea -- it gets even better for me when those words dance in the arms of music. Over the years, I've sung (and danced) bhajan and kirtan with the Hare Krishna's, Neem Karoli Baba's folks in Taos, NM, and a number of local Kirtan walahs.  I've drummed and sang with Native Americans.  OMMM'd with 10,000+ Hippies at Rainbow National Gatherings.  I've sang, danced and drummed with Sufi Universal Dances of Peace gatherings and with other Spiritual Circles.  In full confession, I've also danced freely at Dead shows and Raves (sometimes with, sometimes without medicinal herbs or concoctions in my system. LOL).  In all those times, places, and spaces I've often felt the Grand Connection to my fellow human beings in the embrace of Universal One Love. 
Yet A Different Tune
Ten years ago, when I was still blogging as weekly mindfulness practice, the Universe graced me with an unexpected, deeply healing, musical incantation just before I sat down at the laptop to begin.   Then, like now, I had recently returned from an unsuccessful attempt to help my older brother through a life crisis in Oklahoma.  It was a tough time in my life.
The source of this healing music wasn't one of the mystical spiritual traditions.  This music didn't come from one of compositions of New Age music that I sometimes use to inspire me or chill me out either.  Emerging spontaneously in my mind's memory lane theater were the voices of a quartet of young women from New Jersey. singing the refrain of a 1961 recording.  It just as well may have been a heavenly chorus of angels.
Instantaneously, a grin emerged on my mug.  My heart glowed. The quality of my consciousness became brighter and lighter.  The Mystical Magical Musical Chant that altered my state of mind was the from the Shirelle's:

"Mama said there'll be days like this
There'll be days like this mama said."

"Duh," I thought with a grin.  "Of course!  It's just Life being Life as it is.  I can live with that!"