Please give a listen to talks from my teacher, Master Ji Ru (Shifu) on how to develop a more peaceful life for yourself and everyone else too!
I think the Buddha had a very special understanding of what life is. He made it very simple: just bring your mind back to this moment. Don’t let the mind go any further than this. Then your mind will be very clear. When the mind is always in meditation, you can handle hardship, more than you know.
See what you see now. Do not try to see the future. In order to see clearly what you see now, you must clear the mind of distractions. In this country, we are taught how to think, but not how to stop relying on thinking. When you stop relying on thinking, there is no worry or fear, and there are no problems. The mind is the object, and the object is very clear when the mind stops depending on thinking. Learn to abide in conditions, not to abide in your wishes.~ Master Ji Ru (Shifu)
body and mind, breath, Buddhism, Chan, Compassion, dharma, enlightenment, happiness, job, karma, loving kindness, meditation, meditation center, Metta, mind and body, mindfulness, multi-tasking, multitasking, Peace, practice, qigong, retreat, sitting meditation, stress-management, stress-reduction, taiji, wisdom, work, world tai chi day, world tai chi day calm chicago, world tai chi day chicago
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This article appeared online back in March and my bad for not finding it sooner. One thing about meditation, is it doesn’t make me feel much like surfing the web a lot. But it’s important to see what people are up to in your own field… SO…
1. Hooray to all the well-known who are bringing attention to wonderful things like meditation practice.
2. On the other hand, Danger Will Robinson! Caution anyhow. Sometimes, those good intentions lead to a over-reduction of practices to simplicity in-extremis.
Of course, if we make stress-reduction practices seem too difficult no one will want to do them. Still, it behooves us to describe things with a bit depth and offer additional direction that will truly help guide those seeking more than the quick fix-of-the-week and then onto something else.
I’m just saying. Here is the article as I found it online. The link above will take you directly Oprah’s website which is full of info on every subject under the sun.
Find a quiet, comfortable spot where you won’t be interrupted. Sit in your favorite chair, on a porch swing, on a rock by a river. Lie back in a warm bath, if you’d like, or on a blanket on the grass. If your eyes are open, focus softly on whatever is a few feet in front of you, your gaze, if you’re sitting, slightly down. The idea is to just be still for a few minutes. Be with yourself.
Try to concentrate on your breath—breathing in and breathing out (nothing special, don’t change the way you breathe). You might even want to say those words to yourself at first: “Breathing in, breathing out.” After a while, let the words go. When you find your mind wandering, notice the thoughts—don’t judge them—and let them go. Do this by coming back to your breath.
That’s meditation—simply being there with yourself for a few minutes every day, getting to know your own mind.
Under the article, there’s a place for readers to respond. Awesome, right?
Here is what one reader said, that prompted me to write this blog entry, that you are now reading:
Can it be that simple? I am secretly depressed and have been for years, can I really help myself be meditating in this way for a few minutes a day? I’ve tried it before. Perhaps I didn’t try for long enough…
I decided, uncharacteristically to write back. I just felt that this reader was sounding like they were out there, feeling kinda bad, because like, “I tried it and if it’s that simple how come I don’t feel better yet,” or something like that. I don’t want to put words into the mouth (or pen) of reader Harris 497.
Harris497, The answer to your question, “can it be that simple?” is both yes and no. As a meditation teacher, I’d say that yes, in the beginning, when you first have the seed of an idea to try sitting meditation, it is that easy. Sit down, focus on the breath and when thoughts come along, don’t hold on to them, don’t judge any aspect of your experience and let everything go. Just sit. Just breath. And just be aware that you are sitting there breathing.
On the other hand, as a set of instructions for really developing a daily meditation practice that can seriously help you reduce your suffering, it won’t get you very far.
I don’t know where you live so I can’t make any direct recommendations but in general I suggest this: find a good meditation teacher where ever you do live. If you’re in the Chicago area I could make suggestions. A good guide is an important part of having long term success for establishing real peace of mind.
There are lots of teachers out there. Find one. Some wonderful and some, not so much. Be careful. Choose mindfully and don’t get taken in by any hype. Make a selection that feels right to you.
If you’d like to discuss this, I can be reached through my site and I’m happy to offer what I can. http://www.calmchicago.org We’re located in Chicago in Chinatown. I know of teachers, who know other teachers, around the country, so if you are not local, maybe I Can help you make some connections. Wishing you all the best in your quest.
PS. Let’s look at this one line for a sec…
That’s meditation—simply being there with yourself for a few minutes every day, getting to know your own mind.
Especially this last bit, “getting to know your own mind.” Getting to know your own mind means, we learn how the mind works and we do this by long careful practice of observing the tiny, micron slices of experience, of action that are the processes through which or by which the mind operates. And that, while not rocket science, in that anyone can learn to do it, is not something that simply happens with a few minutes of even daily sitting and breathing. It takes determination, patience and guidance and that’s just for starters. It’s an amazing, life changing journey that can be a huge benefit to yourself and to all around you and I wish everyone would do it. It’s changed my life! And I see how it benefits others and makes all of life more peaceful, it does take time and attention. And kindness, compassion to ourselves. One of the great amazing things is, that as we go through the process, the whole world becomes more peaceful. How awesome is that?!
breath, Chan, Chicago, Compassion, dharma, enlightenment, happiness, mind and body, practice, qigong, retreat, sitting meditation, stress-management, stress-reduction, tai chi, taiji, world tai chi day, world tai chi day calm chicago, world tai chi day chicago, Yang tai chi, Yang Taiji
Tai chi and qigong are ways of getting in close touch with your breath, cultivating a healthy awareness of it.
When we know what’s up with the breath, we have a pretty good idea of how the rest of the body and mind are doing.
When the breath suffers so does the rest of us. But when we gently pay attention to the breath, making it stronger, our bodies and minds become stronger and healthier too.
So, World Tai Chi & Qigong Day? Sounds like a slam dunk to me.
1. Calm Chicago has new beginner classes Saturday and Sunday! Pick your new class time!
2. Taiji (tai chi) is great zero-impact exercise for all ages. It helps fight chronic diseases, high blood pressure, stress-related illness and is great preventative medicine.
3. Taiji (tai chi) can be an awesome part of your resolution for a healthier more mindful, peaceful you this year. With taiji you build up a stronger body/breath and mind all while enjoying simple to learn movements that feel good from the very beginning.
body, breath, Buddhism, Chan, Chicago, christmas, Compassion, dharma, enlightenment, gift giving, happiness, karma, loving kindness, meditation, Metta, mindfulness, Peace, practice, qigong, retreat, sitting meditation, tai chi, taiji, wisdom, zen
My father, Irving Gompers Isaacs, World War II veteran and retired rag-man, if he lives long enough to make it to Feb 13, 2011, will be 91 years old. His face is pink. His eyes grow more dim and puffy with each passing day. His face is round like the moon, a fact emphasized by his nearly total lack of hair. He has Alzheimer’s disease.
Together we’ve shared a lifetime of struggle. The usual things you’d expect. Some, maybe not so much. We’ve lived through your basic family discord. For him, and those of us who care for him and love him, life has become in many ways, very simple. Some of those things have to do with the kind of basic human functions we usually associate with the beginning of life. Potty training. OK. You get it. In the interest of everyone’s dignity, I’ll say no more.
He’s happy to hold my mother’s hand. He likes a really good hug. Despite his advanced age and deteriorating mental condition he’s got the grip of a steel worker. And, he can still do crazy complex math equations like nobody’s business. When I visit he says, he grabs my hand or hugs me hard and says, “I’m not letting go.” And I know what he means.
In his eyes, I see a strange mix of holding on and at the same time, a letting go occurring slowly, involuntarily, inexorably. Against his will we’re sliding away from him and he from us. Sometimes, he’s embarrassed about it. He covers well with those he doesn’t know so well.
With me, he looks at my dog and asks, “What’s his name?”
“Oh, yeah. Tiger.”
Count 1 – 2 – 3 …
“He’s a good dog. What’s his name?”
Other time he merely squints at us and says, “Glad to see you.” His face crinkles. He looks for my mom who may not be in the room to explain who these strangers are. She does a very nice Nancy Reagan.
“Oh look, dear,” she says. “Look! It’s Matt here to see you.” His face hangs for a moment uncertain. Neurons fire somewhere.
“Oh yes!” He says, his voice full of confidence real or feigned. He puts on a good show.
Through the slush puddle my father’s mind has become, certain things rise to the top. Basic human connections. Simple expressions of love. And this is what strikes me as I write this column, thinking about what I might have to offer here about making the holidays mindful. Joyful. Meaningful.
This year, let’s try to let go of how it was. How we wished it should be but maybe – never quite was. How it should be. How it might be if only this, that or the other thing was different. We can try to let go of what everyone around us says they want. Family squabbles over who cooks what or who gave what to whom, or sent a thank you card or failed to do so. These things have more to do with our confused sense of a permanent self and little else. At the end of the (holi)day, we have bigger fish to fry. (If you’ll pardon the expression.) Other greens to cook.
I have to say that sometimes, in the interest of trying to have a happy holiday, we get lost in being responsible for how everyone else feels. Or how we think they might feel. Or how we think they might possibly want to feel. (We do this naturally. After all, this kind of thing is our every day habit.) In the end, honestly, what do we get? Holiday comfort and joy? Or suffering?
The fact is, we each own just one thing. Our actions. There are three kinds of actions. What we do, say and think. How often have you tried to make everyone happy and only ended up with a plate full of distress? There are times when no matter what, others may be dead set on grumbling, holiday or no holiday.
The truth is, the things we do have no direct relation to how others feel. (Because all those others? They own their feelings, thoughts and deeds, just as much as we do!) We often try to pin this kind of thing on each other but it’s just one of those habits, we’re best off relinquishing.
On top of our own personal circumstances, let’s face it. The world could use some genuine, mindful attention right now. This holiday season … instead of getting wrapped up in various passing family dramas. Let’s see if we can focus on the bigger picture.
When we quiet our minds, so much irrelevance falls away. We can let go of habitual holiday practices that don’t actually benefit anyone. Real happiness and peace comes from seeing clearly what is and being okay with that. We don’t have to struggle so much. Or grumble about the holidays.
So … to close, I’d like to share something my teacher wrote. Take it in. See what makes sense to you. So, what ever your spiritual tradition, what ever your faith… check it out …
Some people say Buddhism is pessimistic. Buddhism is not pessimistic. It is not optimistic. Buddhism is realistic. It asks us to remove the fog that clouds our thinking. When our minds are clear, we can see conditions clearly; and, when you see conditions clearly because you have mastered your mind, the struggle ends. Then, moving from moment to moment, you joyfully accept all conditions.
Problems are not bad or good. Problems are situations requiring a solution. Solutions that work come from clear minds. We are faced with very big problems at this point in our history. Pollution, poverty and war, for example, threaten all of us. These problems are increasing, not decreasing. Soon, scientists say, these problems will be out of our control. But, so far, our solutions have been lacking because our minds are not clear.
Having not mastered our minds, we are unable to see conditions clearly, and we continue to struggle. Now, time is running out. We have to learn how to see conditions clearly, through meditation and practice. We have to learn to master our minds. There is no other way.
~ Master Ji Ru (Shifu)
I send wishes for everyone’s peace and happiness. Let’s take a moment together. How can each of us give the greatest give of all this holiday season? That of seeing clearly, and acting in ways that allow each of us to move through life blamelessly. Let’s do our best to make the world a better place by making each action, thought, and word no matter how small, with a pure heart and the intention to be of benefit.
Buddhism, capitalism, Chan, Chicago, Compassion, dharma, do it yourself, enlightenment, environment, green, happiness, karma, loving kindness, meditation, Metta, mindfulness, Peace, save the planet, zen
It’s easy. All you need is things you already have.
One Part – brown sugar
It’s one thing to talk about global warming and saving the planet. But the truth is, it can feel so overwhelming to fix anything. But we must not get stuck in that feeling. And that’s why I love this idea.
The cold truth is, none of us needs to, or can, save the Whole Planet by ourselves. Clearly, this is a group effort. Remember the saying, Think Globally. Act Locally? That may really be a serious key to solving many problems we face on earth.
Rather than waiting for our respective governments to do anything, or for big businesses to fix it – we can, each of us, do small simple things that are pretty much FREE that make a difference.
And then what we get is a ripple effect. Except friendlier. What we can avoid is more storms like that one. Instead …
Each one of us, a tiny piece of a larger whole – acting more mindfully, trying something new, like this enzyme made from kitchen garbage, water and brown sugar.
What we get is a healthier body, household, community, planet.
And yes, the link has a great deal of Chinese in it…don’t let that throw you. There’s enough english and photos to make it pretty clear. And if you have questions – by all means, send them on. I’ll be looking into updating the text some to make the info even more accessible.
Drop us a line about how it goes.
body, breath, Buddhism, capitalism, Chan, Chicago, christmas, Compassion, dharma, enlightenment, gift giving, happiness, Imagine, job, karma, loving kindness, meditation, Metta, mindfulness, multi-tasking, multitasking, Peace, qigong, retreat, sitting meditation, stress-management, stress-reduction, tai chi, taiji, website, wisdom, zen
Calm Chicago is getting ready for a great new year. We hope to offer more programs for individuals, groups and corporations in the coming years. And so, we return to the Zen circle and the Yin and Yang symbol, to better express the underlying ideas of our practice and teachings. As we prepare, we thank our teachers and students and all the friends and family, who make the center possible.
We’ll do our best to enter 2011 clearly, calmly and to live blamelessly.
body, breath, Buddhism, Chan, Chicago, Compassion, enlightenment, exercise, happiness, loving kindness, meditation, Metta, mind body, mindfulness, multi-tasking, Peace, qigong, sitting meditation, stress-management, stress-reduction, tai chi, taiji, wisdom, zen
Starting in January 8, 2011, Calm Chicago will have new classes on the Southside. Our goal is to spread the peace of one mind, body and breath so you can be more fit, focused and peaceful.