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Previous Comments By 'rickyknue'

The Act of Giving is the True Gift, by Author Unknown

FaceBook  On Feb 19, 2015 ricky wrote:

To begin, it is important to reflect on how personal the act of giving is, and that judgment has no place in this discussion. That said, the pressures of society on the act of acknowledging giving and elevating it to miraculous heights creates significant conflict for youngsters seeking to make a difference in this world, to make it a better place, to encourage love and support, and to celebrate day to day acts of kindness reflected in a smile that may have taken an enormous amount of courage to express. The act of giving is steeped in a philosophy of ‘do your work, share your fruits, then let go.’ The act of giving is demonstrated time and time again in the Sanskrit words for clear light and non-attachment: vairagya and aparigraha. In response to the phrases above “giving without strategizing” and “mindful giving”, there is a slight difference only in the word selection. Both concepts are born from a deep sense of encouragement and confidence. Both can be intensely felt and also taught. Both share the same focus-presence…being in the present moment. Both are readily accessible when we are ‘awake’, and when we live every moment in gratitude for the breath, for connection, for awareness, for this very moment, in love. Both are practice, not destination. Both can be expressed without money, and are available at any given moment, and impulse, with no worry or concern as to outcome, recognition, reward, award. Consider the ancient tree in the forest and the blessings it offers just for its existence: shelter and shade, place for occasional rest, interconnectedness above and below ground, roots developing new paths in solid rock, breath, cleansing, microbial interaction, support and structure for creatures great and small, bending from the external pressures of the elements and yet exhibiting an immense inner strength borne of place and time and oneness with what Is…we are this wonderful being reflecting and  See full.

To begin, it is important to reflect on how personal the act of giving is, and that judgment has no place in this discussion. That said, the pressures of society on the act of acknowledging giving and elevating it to miraculous heights creates significant conflict for youngsters seeking to make a difference in this world, to make it a better place, to encourage love and support, and to celebrate day to day acts of kindness reflected in a smile that may have taken an enormous amount of courage to express. The act of giving is steeped in a philosophy of ‘do your work, share your fruits, then let go.’ The act of giving is demonstrated time and time again in the Sanskrit words for clear light and non-attachment: vairagya and aparigraha. In response to the phrases above “giving without strategizing” and “mindful giving”, there is a slight difference only in the word selection. Both concepts are born from a deep sense of encouragement and confidence. Both can be intensely felt and also taught. Both share the same focus-presence…being in the present moment. Both are readily accessible when we are ‘awake’, and when we live every moment in gratitude for the breath, for connection, for awareness, for this very moment, in love. Both are practice, not destination. Both can be expressed without money, and are available at any given moment, and impulse, with no worry or concern as to outcome, recognition, reward, award. Consider the ancient tree in the forest and the blessings it offers just for its existence: shelter and shade, place for occasional rest, interconnectedness above and below ground, roots developing new paths in solid rock, breath, cleansing, microbial interaction, support and structure for creatures great and small, bending from the external pressures of the elements and yet exhibiting an immense inner strength borne of place and time and oneness with what Is…we are this wonderful being reflecting and transforming light-becoming light-and gifting the light to others around us. This is the ancient tree’s art and dance of giving, and it is ours…

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What to Remember When Waking, by David Whyte

FaceBook  On Dec 28, 2013 Ricky wrote:

So imagine when you wake.  Instead of relying on the alarm clock to frighten the more secret honest world away, begin to wake naturally by connecting to the biological circadian rhythm, especially in the first few moments of the very grey light of the northern hemispheric winter day off.  There is this glorious sense of gratefulness upon waking.  After a night of sleep, for most of us, we can wake slowly and become aware, albeit fleetingly, in that suspended state of wonder and thrill, hopefully within a cozy safe now physical space.  Dr. Deepak Chopra has been quoted “Either you're a person wondering if you have a soul, or you're a soul who knows that being a person isn't real.”  In the honest secret world the soul knows, the universe expands, the intuitive creates and reveals, all while the carbon unit rejuvenates.  Most of our glimpses of enlightenment poof into the atmosphere, though, as soon as we enter into this dream of experience, here.   The moments of waking are the mind, body, spirit connection that can be accessed in an extraordinary Savasana experience (the pose of rest after a yoga practice).  Occasionally my students (ages 14-19) will arise from Savasana and ask me if it’s okay to be joyful and feel light.  Of course, is my response, and when pressed to use words to describe what they mean, they have none.  The brilliant radiance from their true essence, however, reveals all.  Ah, bliss.  What a wonderful journey for them. I appreciate the phrase “To be human is to become visible while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.” While more elderly humans seem to know this, young people peek into this opportunity at times as well, and the wisdom that comes from connecting to what is hidden is not age dependent. Young people hunger for connection with what they experienced when they were little ones, and open. They want to talk about this. They delight in rememb  See full.

So imagine when you wake.  Instead of relying on the alarm clock to frighten the more secret honest world away, begin to wake naturally by connecting to the biological circadian rhythm, especially in the first few moments of the very grey light of the northern hemispheric winter day off.  There is this glorious sense of gratefulness upon waking.  After a night of sleep, for most of us, we can wake slowly and become aware, albeit fleetingly, in that suspended state of wonder and thrill, hopefully within a cozy safe now physical space. 

Dr. Deepak Chopra has been quoted “Either you're a person wondering if you have a soul, or you're a soul who knows that being a person isn't real.”  In the honest secret world the soul knows, the universe expands, the intuitive creates and reveals, all while the carbon unit rejuvenates.  Most of our glimpses of enlightenment poof into the atmosphere, though, as soon as we enter into this dream of experience, here.
 
The moments of waking are the mind, body, spirit connection that can be accessed in an extraordinary Savasana experience (the pose of rest after a yoga practice).  Occasionally my students (ages 14-19) will arise from Savasana and ask me if it’s okay to be joyful and feel light.  Of course, is my response, and when pressed to use words to describe what they mean, they have none.  The brilliant radiance from their true essence, however, reveals all.  Ah, bliss.  What a wonderful journey for them.

I appreciate the phrase “To be human is to become visible while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.” While more elderly humans seem to know this, young people peek into this opportunity at times as well, and the wisdom that comes from connecting to what is hidden is not age dependent. Young people hunger for connection with what they experienced when they were little ones, and open. They want to talk about this. They delight in remembering, and crave validation of their intuition. Many times they comment I haven't felt like this since I was five. They require silent quiet moments to connect again which can be hard to find in the world that is increasingly technologically distracting, and in many parts of the world, dangerous.   But, they need us to be there for them when they do ‘wake’.  Thank you for sharing the writing. I look forward to waking in the morning…one more time.
 

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Honor the Seed, by Jim Ewing

FaceBook  On Sep 3, 2013 Ricky wrote:

There is nothing like holding the arugula seeds from a late summer pod saved from the best tasting plant you have ever raised.  The cruciferous (cross-shaped) white flowers had been visited and pollinated by the most varied array of butterflies, parasitic wasps, honey-mason-carpenter-bumble-bees, and hover flies, ensuring a bumper crop of fertilized pods.  Hummingbirds even checked in.  Although the family ate many of the leaves, we left plenty, apparently, for the life processes of the arugula to be resilient in the face of the annual dance of survival.  Visualizing the next generation held within those numerous, tiny, round, dark seeds increases excitement beyond what I can express, and then contemplation arises as to how to hold these over for the optimal planting time early next spring.  My dad always said to wait to plant the garden until the snow was gone from the foothills (I live in the Pacific Northwest), and friends of mine tell me it’s too late to plant then. (Sometimes mid June)  I take measures to ensure each seed and the resulting tiny world that emerges from it is cared for if the weather turns before its maturity.  My dad didn’t know those tricks, such as starting indoors, or covering with plastic outside after transplanting.  He direct seeded, sometimes from held over seeds, sometimes from the local seed company.  I usually do this too.  And then there’s soil preparation, and the feeling of intense responsibility toward the tiny marvels to facilitate enhancing the soil thereby providing the most fertile place on the planet.  The procedures and process seem cold and calculated, yet much of soil prep and seed planting has to do with observation, awareness, love, tenderness, nurture, hard work, diligence, cycles of the moon and weather patterns, magnetic tuning and mineralization, and in the end is finally left up to the ancient wisdom of the seed.  As the rou  See full.

There is nothing like holding the arugula seeds from a late summer pod saved from the best tasting plant you have ever raised.  The cruciferous (cross-shaped) white flowers had been visited and pollinated by the most varied array of butterflies, parasitic wasps, honey-mason-carpenter-bumble-bees, and hover flies, ensuring a bumper crop of fertilized pods.  Hummingbirds even checked in.  Although the family ate many of the leaves, we left plenty, apparently, for the life processes of the arugula to be resilient in the face of the annual dance of survival.  Visualizing the next generation held within those numerous, tiny, round, dark seeds increases excitement beyond what I can express, and then contemplation arises as to how to hold these over for the optimal planting time early next spring.  My dad always said to wait to plant the garden until the snow was gone from the foothills (I live in the Pacific Northwest), and friends of mine tell me it’s too late to plant then. (Sometimes mid June)  I take measures to ensure each seed and the resulting tiny world that emerges from it is cared for if the weather turns before its maturity.  My dad didn’t know those tricks, such as starting indoors, or covering with plastic outside after transplanting.  He direct seeded, sometimes from held over seeds, sometimes from the local seed company.  I usually do this too.  And then there’s soil preparation, and the feeling of intense responsibility toward the tiny marvels to facilitate enhancing the soil thereby providing the most fertile place on the planet.  The procedures and process seem cold and calculated, yet much of soil prep and seed planting has to do with observation, awareness, love, tenderness, nurture, hard work, diligence, cycles of the moon and weather patterns, magnetic tuning and mineralization, and in the end is finally left up to the ancient wisdom of the seed.  As the round cotyledon leaves press through, they spread out to capture showers and sun, and eventually reveal the true serrated leaves of the arugula.  There is a tangible awe and inspiring sense of coexistence and even collaboration, of reciprocation, of the circle of life, of knowing what is real and honorable.  Vigorous health of this tiny entity, reproduced ten times from within the single fertilized flower and the resulting long narrow pod, demands I too be present every day in the garden; it is my pleasure and my reward at the same time to do so.  This presence continues to allow me to honor the seed, with each successive generation produced and cared for.    
In answer to the question ‘What does caring for society to the 7th generation mean to you?’ it is the deep commitment to leave this beautiful and brilliant existence in better shape and in a better space than when I arrived.  It may be why I continue to teach. Caring for society to the 7th generation means to think about the unintended consequences of making decisions for short term gain and personal/corporate greed…it means to be aware that we are interwoven, interconnected, and interdependent with each other, nature, and with all sentient beings…and ultimately it means we are responsible for our words and actions for a lot longer and with a much wider net than we could ever imagine.  How quickly we seem to be able to forget what may be unpleasant in terms of outcome or what we may be unwilling to be held accountable for.  Indigenous elders often mention the seventh generation in oral history when discussing next steps, especially in the face of inevitable change.  Caring for society to the 7th generation also demands mindfulness, presence, accountability, and willingness to learn from and listen to what is gut felt and inwardly true.  It takes extraordinary stillness and awareness to care for the society to the 7th generation as we breathe and act from moment to moment, as we ‘see’ with eyes and heart wide open to our potential and possibilities in our own ‘seed’.  The expansive growth and  enhancement of the relationship we have with ourselves, each other, and all other beings around us is ultimately why we are here at this time, and the less footprint on the earth and less damage we impose, even to one another's hearts, the more well-lived the life.    
 

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Why Not Be Ready?, by Tenzin Palmo

FaceBook  On Apr 12, 2013 Ricky wrote:

A beautiful way to look at this piece is the story of the resolve of a Holocaust survivor to do better.  Her story is told in the 2008 TEDtalk by Benjamin Zander (Classical music and shining eyes) about how after her parents were 'gone' and she and her little brother were on the train to Auschwietz.  She looked down and noticed her brother had no shoes, and she chided him for always forgetting everything and how stupid he was.  This ended up being the last thing she said to him because she never saw him again.  She said she vowed after she survived her ordeal in the concentration camp this...'I will never say anything that couldn't stand as the last thing I ever say.' 

 

Can You Love The One Who..., by Leah Pearlman

FaceBook  On Jan 31, 2013 Ricky wrote:
aj.   "Love yourself as you do other people!"  This is so well stated.  Thank you. 
 

Can You Love The One Who..., by Leah Pearlman

FaceBook  On Jan 29, 2013 Ricky wrote:
After reading the poem (thank you for the choice submission it is), and the brilliant responses, I see this series of questions a synopsis from an author who has been quietly reflecting on the inner struggles surrounding our collective definition of love and resistance to Love.  Should we continue living our present life under the impression that God is an entity outside us and not the Divine within, we will most certainly continue to resist being comfortable within our own selves, and therefore continue labeling emotions and actions good and bad, happy and sad, life-giving and life-sapping, up and down.  'Judge not, lest ye be judged'.  'Love your neighbor as yourself.'  'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'  I'm with Ganoba here, for sure. 

Life can either be liberating and freeing from all of this self-loathing, or it can be a self-imposed sentence of struggle and frustration and perceived defeats.  My experience reminds me that being aware of this personal tug of war is the practice.  After I have reacted to several of these episodes of negative self-talk a day with the question 'why do I do this all the time' which results in inner violence, being aware that I am doing this is the practice.  Then comes karuna, compassion for the human and the constant struggle, and then comes upeksha, equanimity, for all other beings struggling as well.

I again thank you for bringing these insights to us every week and providing an opportunity for all to reflect on what makes our journey collective and brilliant, always.       
 

Small Wonder, by Barbara Kingsolver

FaceBook  On Jan 20, 2013 Ricky wrote:
At the high school I teach, we are expected to assign meaningful finals at the end of each semester.  For my yoga classes, I ask them to respond to three writing prompts, create their own practice in writing and pictures, and then offer an inspirational quote.  I received this inspirational submission from a young man who is a freshman, and I received it one day after reading this article here.  Frankly, after you watch this you will realize why I have nothing else to add:  this is Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, responding to the inquiry, what is 'The Most Astounding Fact'.  I hope you have a little over three minutes to watch this.
Youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9D05ej8u-gU
or Vimeo:
http://www.vimeo.com/38101676
 

Social Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman

FaceBook  On Dec 31, 2012 Ricky wrote:

In this case, the author actually could escape, and did physically, although the encounter shook him up enough to remain with him for a long while. I get to experience life from a different perspective perhaps.  This emotional economy is present every day in every class I teach, and from which I cannot physically escape to provide much needed distance from this toxicity. From my standpoint as a teacher days are filled with moments of emotional energy drain and emotional energy resurgence.  Case in point:  A student in one of the classes I teach.  I have allowed her to harass me each day she attends.  Her words remind me of the ‘mean girls’ I encountered every day of school, seventh grade through senior year, when I lived in fear of walking down the hallway, and couldn’t figure out where to sit for lunch.  Frankly most students know her, and in this class have actually given her a wide berth, which only recently I have noticed.  Much of time she is by herself in class.  However, what I have also noticed lately is that it’s not just only what she says; it is how she says it.  Each encounter each day could be different had she said it the way she imagines it came out, rather than in the tone it actually did come out.  I did talk with her once in my office after one of her outbursts, and she let out a string of pent up rage sentences about how I didn’t like her, how I pick on her, how horrible I make her feel, how my silly rules don’t make sense and what is the big deal anyway…none of this matters or is important.  I unfortunately have yet to transcend this situation, since I usually avoid self-imposed conflict at all cost, but I am fully aware this is my pattern and how she becomes my ‘teacher’ every day.  She has a stable family home, and in other areas of the school is constantly surrounded by peers.  I suspect though because her language is so emot  See full.

In this case, the author actually could escape, and did physically, although the encounter shook him up enough to remain with him for a long while. I get to experience life from a different perspective perhaps.  This emotional economy is present every day in every class I teach, and from which I cannot physically escape to provide much needed distance from this toxicity. From my standpoint as a teacher days are filled with moments of emotional energy drain and emotional energy resurgence.  Case in point:  A student in one of the classes I teach.  I have allowed her to harass me each day she attends.  Her words remind me of the ‘mean girls’ I encountered every day of school, seventh grade through senior year, when I lived in fear of walking down the hallway, and couldn’t figure out where to sit for lunch.  Frankly most students know her, and in this class have actually given her a wide berth, which only recently I have noticed.  Much of time she is by herself in class.  However, what I have also noticed lately is that it’s not just only what she says; it is how she says it.  Each encounter each day could be different had she said it the way she imagines it came out, rather than in the tone it actually did come out.  I did talk with her once in my office after one of her outbursts, and she let out a string of pent up rage sentences about how I didn’t like her, how I pick on her, how horrible I make her feel, how my silly rules don’t make sense and what is the big deal anyway…none of this matters or is important.  I unfortunately have yet to transcend this situation, since I usually avoid self-imposed conflict at all cost, but I am fully aware this is my pattern and how she becomes my ‘teacher’ every day.  She has a stable family home, and in other areas of the school is constantly surrounded by peers.  I suspect though because her language is so emotionally charged that she may be unhappy, maybe lacking self confidence, and may not feel supported at some level, just like the security guard’s seemingly over-reaction could imply.  I don’t know.
What I have also learned is to somehow separate myself (the little s self) from identification with encounter, take a deep mindful breath at the belly, agni-the fire of life, and become aware of the inner turmoil bubbling, churning, and smoldering.  The longer belly exhale can fuel a flame that can burn this toxic rubbish up before it creates more setbacks in my life.  Desikachar speaks of this in “The Heart of Yoga”.   I rest at times in the recognition that awareness of the reaction within is the lesson to be learned this day, and the practice of igniting the ‘burn’ with awareness and breath can be enough for now.  
 

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Always Had It, Always Will, by Alan Cohen

FaceBook  On Dec 18, 2012 Ricky wrote:
First of all, kudos to each of the comments already submitted. A wonderful read for today to be sure!
Second, the article submission itself is a profound and insightful piece.  Welcome to high school teaching.  Teachers are put on the spot every minute (sans the cushion and the painting and actually the rapt attention!)  And, lastly, I am reminded of a particular statement (paraphrased) from steps about affective listening; do not focus on the speaker, but on what's being said-the words themselves.

We each have words of wisdom to share.  In many ways, it's our purpose to share what we learn from our unrepeatable experiences that help shape who we are, which is a one of a kind.  We are to make our time here meaningful and to help leave this glorious experience in an enhanced way focusing on service for others.  We share insights as a manner of everyday conversation in the effort to inspire others into actions that are reflective of the care we can show for fellow human beings, the environment, and even the every day to do list, and our friends endure this all the time!  We share, sending the vibrations of the spoken or written word out, and then need to put down the burden we self-impose about how it is to be received.  What a wonderful anecdote by the driver to just be again focused on the task at hand and let go of the quotable and brilliant insight!  It makes me smile.


    
 

10 Principles of The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron

FaceBook  On Dec 4, 2012 Ricky wrote:

For my whole life my mom has been the driving force behind how I have viewed creativity.  She on many occasions uses what I do on a regular basis as an opportunity to praise my efforts, yet at the same time minimize her own.  This has always left me feeling uncomfortable, and frustrated, because I have seen her efforts toward living a tough life with brilliant creativity.  It has been a struggle for the past few years to remain upbeat at each encounter with her while she consistently denegrates herself in an effort to build me up.  And, this toxic interchange has helped me be focused and think outside the box she has placed the definition of creativity in with my own children, who live with incredible creativity.  Recently I have helped her redefine her personal definition of creativity to drop the implied societal focus on 'artsiness' to how eloquently she writes down her passionate pleas when advocating for community matters, how wonderful her traditional meals taste, and how wholeheartedly she lives when she opens her home to stray and abused dogs. This is how I have changed my definition of creativity in recent years.  In fact, I can't imagine not approaching each moment any other way now.  Creativity is the pinnacle of the art of letting ego 'prakriti' go, and connecting deeply to the most inner divine 'purusha'.  It is applied in every breath we witness, and can be found in every present moment we share.  It celebrates free will.  It reflects deep love.  It is a beacon of pure clear light inspiring more acts of creativity.  It is witness to the manifestation of why we are here.  It becomes a glimmer of hope during desperate times.  It affords healing within crisis.  It resists the anticipation of duplication.  It is singular in the materialization of optimistic desire.  Creativity is not only how life has evolved, it is how we have returned to  See full.

For my whole life my mom has been the driving force behind how I have viewed creativity.  She on many occasions uses what I do on a regular basis as an opportunity to praise my efforts, yet at the same time minimize her own.  This has always left me feeling uncomfortable, and frustrated, because I have seen her efforts toward living a tough life with brilliant creativity.  It has been a struggle for the past few years to remain upbeat at each encounter with her while she consistently denegrates herself in an effort to build me up.  And, this toxic interchange has helped me be focused and think outside the box she has placed the definition of creativity in with my own children, who live with incredible creativity.  Recently I have helped her redefine her personal definition of creativity to drop the implied societal focus on 'artsiness' to how eloquently she writes down her passionate pleas when advocating for community matters, how wonderful her traditional meals taste, and how wholeheartedly she lives when she opens her home to stray and abused dogs.
This is how I have changed my definition of creativity in recent years.  In fact, I can't imagine not approaching each moment any other way now.  Creativity is the pinnacle of the art of letting ego 'prakriti' go, and connecting deeply to the most inner divine 'purusha'.  It is applied in every breath we witness, and can be found in every present moment we share.  It celebrates free will.  It reflects deep love.  It is a beacon of pure clear light inspiring more acts of creativity.  It is witness to the manifestation of why we are here.  It becomes a glimmer of hope during desperate times.  It affords healing within crisis.  It resists the anticipation of duplication.  It is singular in the materialization of optimistic desire.  Creativity is not only how life has evolved, it is how we have returned to the most simplified core of enlightenment-recognizing we have been here before-‘seeing’ the extraordinary in the ordinary as Derek Ludwig put it so eloquently, until we no longer see a difference.  It is the confidence with which we move about facing the ‘mundane’ tasks of the day inspired to make a difference and being open to uncommon possibilities.  It is encouraging the baby steps taken and slowing down enough to smell the roses.  It is self-expression, but not the little s self, the divine big S self!  It is ‘knowing’ why we are here and revealing purpose and passion.

Albert Einstein:  There are two ways to look at the world.  One as if nothing is a miracle, and the other as if everything is a miracle.  Creativity is the expression of the most miraculous in every moment, the focus in every step, the awareness in every breath, the love in every encounter with every thing and every one.  Creativity is life processes of various inputs and outputs, and the way we can affect change our whole lives.  Creativity is the expression of our uniqueness, coupled with responsibility.  It is a reflection of our understanding we are all in this together!  
 

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The Challenge of Gift-Giving, by Nitin Paranjape

FaceBook  On Nov 23, 2012 Ricky wrote:

In the current month’s issue of Yoga Journal, at the beginning of the magazine, several of the contributors were asked “What is the most loving gift you’ve ever received?”  I will quote a couple here. “A friend who knows me well gave me a book of art by a contemporary artist I absolutely love...  When someone is in tune with you like that and takes notice of the details of who you are, it can make the gift very special.” “There have been moments when a friend has taken the time to share their presence with me, to really slow down, make eye contact, and listen to what I needed to talk about.  That kind of presence is the most precious thing you can give.” I find when I give gifts, I am actually paying it forward.  I have been blessed and enriched by someone else so significantly that I am guided to affect someone else’s life in the same way.  Several different thoughts come to mind.  One is, do your work, and then let it go (the Gita).  The ‘work’ here is not perhaps the definition of work we have been conditioned to accept.  The ‘work’ here is perhaps ‘purpose’, or ‘passion’, and the ‘letting go’ applies to the tyranny of expectation from the assumption the author states as to the reason for giving… to “raise good feelings about me in the receiver’s heart and mind.” Creating something from my heart is the only focus I have when I feel the urge to give.  Whether it is in a lesson I offer my high school students, or how I interact with my family members and friends, how I address the needs of the homeless or others who cross my path who may have personal ‘wounds’, or how I acknowledge the generosity of community shared with me by my adult yoga students. My floral design students receive an assignment around Mother’s Day, which I refer to as Significant Female in My  See full.

In the current month’s issue of Yoga Journal, at the beginning of the magazine, several of the contributors were asked “What is the most loving gift you’ve ever received?”  I will quote a couple here.

“A friend who knows me well gave me a book of art by a contemporary artist I absolutely love...  When someone is in tune with you like that and takes notice of the details of who you are, it can make the gift very special.”

“There have been moments when a friend has taken the time to share their presence with me, to really slow down, make eye contact, and listen to what I needed to talk about.  That kind of presence is the most precious thing you can give.”

I find when I give gifts, I am actually paying it forward.  I have been blessed and enriched by someone else so significantly that I am guided to affect someone else’s life in the same way.  Several different thoughts come to mind.  One is, do your work, and then let it go (the Gita).  The ‘work’ here is not perhaps the definition of work we have been conditioned to accept.  The ‘work’ here is perhaps ‘purpose’, or ‘passion’, and the ‘letting go’ applies to the tyranny of expectation from the assumption the author states as to the reason for giving… to “raise good feelings about me in the receiver’s heart and mind.”

Creating something from my heart is the only focus I have when I feel the urge to give.  Whether it is in a lesson I offer my high school students, or how I interact with my family members and friends, how I address the needs of the homeless or others who cross my path who may have personal ‘wounds’, or how I acknowledge the generosity of community shared with me by my adult yoga students.

My floral design students receive an assignment around Mother’s Day, which I refer to as Significant Female in My Life Day.  The assignment is to choose five flowers whose meanings send a message of how each student views their significant female, just as flowers of a bouquet were chosen in previous centuries to carry actual messages.  Then, they design a hand drawn colored picture of their bouquet to cut out and place on the front of a card.  Inside the cover they list the name of each flower and its meaning.  Then they place a personal message on the opposite page, and on the back they stamp ‘Hand Made By ______________’ and their name.  They get to be as creative as they would like, with scrap booking materials, stamps, embossing stamps, card stocks, markers, color pencils, calligraphy pens, typed font selections for messages and meanings, special paper, and on and on.  After Significant Female in My Life Day, when they return to class, they are invited to submit a reflection about how the card was received, and how they personally felt giving it.  Sometimes students give these to significant males in their lives.  Every year these reflections bring me joy and tears.  How do I not then turn around with this incredible sense of gratitude and pay it forward?!

At our family gatherings, my mother has made it perfectly and legitimately clear that as she ages she has absolutely no need for gifts, so stop it!  However, I usually find something significant to share with her each year her birthday, Mother’s Day, and the holidays come around.  The focus and time spent on creating her gift brings me enormous peace that she is still around so I can continue to tell her how I love her in many different ways.  I am no longer affected by her mild protests anymore.  The gifts range from selecting and planting a large 10 gallon pot of a variety of vegetables and herbs for her to harvest from during the growing season, to a card like the assignment given to my floral students, to a handmade crocheted scarf of alpaca yarn, to an audio book I have found especially inspirational, to a CD mix of favorite songs or inspirational TED talks and KarmaTube selections.  I can’t remember the last time I bought a Hallmark card.  I love to take pictures and create my own.

With available technology, I enjoy texting my grown single sons and husband early in the morning with a quote or saying and to connect with them before they wake up.  It's checking in, thinking of them, and it's also being fully present and focused with the power of words.  It can change my mood immediately.

The gift I find the most touching is time spent with a homeless person/s.  Depending on their needs that day, I may take their clothes home to wash them and bring them back, I may drive them somewhere for services, put them up in a local hotel for a night of complete rest and order food service for them, or listen to them share their story and sit with them at the local co op while eating a sandwich and drinking coconut water with them.  There are many moments when I wonder who really is getting the most out of this interaction! 

We each have people in our lives whose sweet attention and care help mold who we are and how we find our purpose.  I am lifted up to continue to pay it forward.  I am blessed by a community of adult yoga students who are so supportive and emit such significant vibrational light I get to then share this with others in my life.  Sometimes the best way to thank someone else is to share the gift of love they offer you with someone else.  This is the world I prefer to live in.  
 
  
 

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The Call, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

FaceBook  On Nov 20, 2012 Ricky wrote:
Timing is everything.  Although I have read this over and over, it seems nothing in my current hectic and disappointing life could resonate with the topic, the seed questions for reflection, and the reading itself seemed as far off as the stars present in the dawn sky.  And then after reading the passage one more time, sitting quietly and in stillness this morning, a wave of contentment and a sense of gratitude enveloped my being from the inside out.  I just want express thanks to all of you who have allowed the focus of this passage to be revealed in your efforts through servicespace and to then offer each of us such a rich bombardment of coconuts for wakefulness. 
 

Gaining Mental Power, by Swami Sivananda

FaceBook  On Oct 12, 2012 Ricky wrote:

A trilingual student, first language Polish, told me in English, ‘We are born to be real, not to be perfect.’  How wise the young ones are.    When I indulge in self-demoralizing cyclical thinking, and share this with my husband, he is quick to remind me that just the awareness of this way of thinking is a huge step.  I realize I am dull and unaware.  The author states ‘the worldly-minded individual falls prey to all sorts of thoughts’, and my experience of this horror that is a dream is that when I am aware of the thoughts, as a witness to the thoughts, there is a sense of ah, there you are again.  Who really is thinking these thoughts?      Thinking, planning, acting, and reacting are human traits I believe.  We have great capacity to embrace and uplift others and sentient beings around the world by facing the parts of our thoughts that cause us and others pain, and replacing these thoughts with a deeper connection to the cave of the heart.  Here resides the Big Mind, the universal intelligence, and the Love we externally seek.  We are asleep during this lifetime when we do not correlate a connection between fear and uncontrolled thinking.  We may not even know that thinking is vibrational, just as our cell structures, and the air which we breathe.  When this is in place, this understanding of our vibrational essence, a shift can begin to occur.  We approach our thoughts with clarity.   I have come to realize that this is why fundamental religion has such a hold on us as a global population.  We are told we need to somehow look outside ourselves for guidance and redemption from our evil ways, or we will not reap the rewards of some other perfect place.  We connect to this earth suit we move around in, and are under the impression this is all there is, right now.  In this way we are asked to postpone the joy of peacefulness and  See full.

A trilingual student, first language Polish, told me in English, ‘We are born to be real, not to be perfect.’  How wise the young ones are. 
 
When I indulge in self-demoralizing cyclical thinking, and share this with my husband, he is quick to remind me that just the awareness of this way of thinking is a huge step.  I realize I am dull and unaware.  The author states ‘the worldly-minded individual falls prey to all sorts of thoughts’, and my experience of this horror that is a dream is that when I am aware of the thoughts, as a witness to the thoughts, there is a sense of ah, there you are again.  Who really is thinking these thoughts?   
 
Thinking, planning, acting, and reacting are human traits I believe.  We have great capacity to embrace and uplift others and sentient beings around the world by facing the parts of our thoughts that cause us and others pain, and replacing these thoughts with a deeper connection to the cave of the heart.  Here resides the Big Mind, the universal intelligence, and the Love we externally seek.  We are asleep during this lifetime when we do not correlate a connection between fear and uncontrolled thinking.  We may not even know that thinking is vibrational, just as our cell structures, and the air which we breathe.  When this is in place, this understanding of our vibrational essence, a shift can begin to occur.  We approach our thoughts with clarity.
 
I have come to realize that this is why fundamental religion has such a hold on us as a global population.  We are told we need to somehow look outside ourselves for guidance and redemption from our evil ways, or we will not reap the rewards of some other perfect place.  We connect to this earth suit we move around in, and are under the impression this is all there is, right now.  In this way we are asked to postpone the joy of peacefulness and stillness from racing thoughts and citti-vritti until after we die.  The dualistic way of looking at our actions and others actions and our misinterpretation of the inner thought process tends to guide us into thinking we are not adequate within ourselves, that we have no real purpose, that someone else has the breaks we would like, and we suffer in the ‘what ifs’, the ‘why me’s’, and a tormented inner realm of anxiousness, resulting regrets, and utter sadness. 
 
Marianne Williamson’s famous quote reveals the true nature of ourselves. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”


While this is always a practice for me, especially after an episode of unreality such as believing I have any control, I must say that the Yoga sutras description of the first two limbs of yoga, yamas and niyamas, come to mind quite regularly.  The golden rule is another one.  And let’s not forget the ten commandments.  I have realized these are all interpretations of wise quieted students who were gifted in understanding the deepest whispers of the Big Mind-the expansive consciousness-and who were guided to share these.
 
Telling someone to just let go of thinking sometimes causes stress and constriction within that ego, and they can again think cyclically that they are not good enough, or start blaming others for their circumstances, and even act out.  However, asking them to quiet themselves, breathe before speaking, walking away gently from a potentially toxic exchange, gathering supportive uplifting people around them, and reading and listening to inspirational words are strategies on how to perhaps ease the suffering caused by this thinking.
 

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The Way of the Farmer, by Masanobu Fukuoka

FaceBook  On Oct 7, 2012 Ricky wrote:

Many species take time to rear their young and care for them and feed them and teach them how to go out into nature and sustain themselves before setting them on their way, and many even develop extended family units to facilitate this…i.e. whales, lions, elephants, wolves, dolphins, crows.  We humans, in industrialized civilization, send mixed messages to our children.  Instead of helping them to understand where their food comes from (sustenance), we now substitute the ritual of gathering , preparing , and eating the meal together with an overscheduled after school regime of sports and activities in the name of getting ahead and then gather at the pizza place or McDonald’s as a way of nourishing the body.  YIKES!  We are presently raising a generation on fast food, completely disconnected from nature and how she operates, and the result is expanding the implied need for intervention by way of the health care system.    Big box stores and big corporations continue to thrive in the name of capitalism and progress and are entitled with help from many highly placed former executives and lawyers in governmental jobs to justify a right to greed, all in the name of the American dream-prosperity, and at all cost.   I teach agriculture education.  Here urban and rural students learn about agriculture through classes such as animal science, horticulture, floriculture, agriculture science, farm business management, agriculture issues, and also shop.    Some would like to be farmers even though most arable land is owned by big farms around where I live.  What I have noticed during agriculture teacher education is that land grant universities where teachers are certified to teach don’t enjoy as much governmental support as in the past, so grants and funding support from big agriculture, big corporations, and special interest groups have been used, and in my opinion have skewed some of the research i  See full.

Many species take time to rear their young and care for them and feed them and teach them how to go out into nature and sustain themselves before setting them on their way, and many even develop extended family units to facilitate this…i.e. whales, lions, elephants, wolves, dolphins, crows.  We humans, in industrialized civilization, send mixed messages to our children.  Instead of helping them to understand where their food comes from (sustenance), we now substitute the ritual of gathering , preparing , and eating the meal together with an overscheduled after school regime of sports and activities in the name of getting ahead and then gather at the pizza place or McDonald’s as a way of nourishing the body.  YIKES!  We are presently raising a generation on fast food, completely disconnected from nature and how she operates, and the result is expanding the implied need for intervention by way of the health care system. 
 
Big box stores and big corporations continue to thrive in the name of capitalism and progress and are entitled with help from many highly placed former executives and lawyers in governmental jobs to justify a right to greed, all in the name of the American dream-prosperity, and at all cost.
 
I teach agriculture education.  Here urban and rural students learn about agriculture through classes such as animal science, horticulture, floriculture, agriculture science, farm business management, agriculture issues, and also shop.    Some would like to be farmers even though most arable land is owned by big farms around where I live.  What I have noticed during agriculture teacher education is that land grant universities where teachers are certified to teach don’t enjoy as much governmental support as in the past, so grants and funding support from big agriculture, big corporations, and special interest groups have been used, and in my opinion have skewed some of the research in favor of bigger is better, more efficient, and more mechanized.  This means teachers coming out of education preparation have a focus on accelerating the natural life cycle of plants and animals rather than nurturing their health is the way to teach youngsters.  We are losing the intuitive nature of sharing love of soil and farming to corporations who supply both seed and pest intervention poison, on a scheduled spray regime, also supplied by the corporations.  Recently, though, one behemoth is taking come significant heat!   Monsanto’s attempt to condemn the scientific evaluation of the results of a recent French study conducted on the link between genetically modified engineered seeds and cancer in rats has actually helped stir the debate about the wisdom of patenting life.  I think this and the proposition 37 fight in California that requires labels to include genetically modified food on packaging and in produce in the United States finally helps begin another shift in thinking.  And with this in mind, my hope is that we continue toward Mr. Fukuoka’s way of the farmer…smaller, more connected, simple, with an emphasis on allowing rather than manipulating nature to care for the seed, and us.  The planet requires it, as do all its inhabitants, no matter the species.
 
What is also sad is my culture’s view of a farmer, that it is hard thankless backbreaking work, and doesn’t pay enough to get you anywhere in the definition of success as an American.  Jason, a homeless 26 year old I met a couple weeks ago with a baby on the way, told me what he really loves to do is work in the soil, and when I asked him why he wasn’t doing it, he said his family discouraged him from following this path because it wasn’t lucrative enough, he had much more ‘potential’ than that, and thus did not financially support his education and/or pursuit of this passion.  Being disconnected from his passion was one cog in the wheel that disengaged after he graduated from high school which has set him on a path with a series of choices and events that brought him to the place he is now…homeless.  I see this so often recently how students and graduates suffer under the guidance of well-intentioned but culturalized thought focused on greed and more and according to Mr. Fukuoka, ‘Fast rather than slow, more rather than less’.  
 
On another vein, after I read the passage, ‘but it’s alright not to understand’, I heard the news report of Earth’s Chorus as recorded by NASA from the Van Allen rings around the earth and found this link.  http://soundcloud.com/carlfranzen/earth-chorus-emfisis I taped it on a voice recorder and shared it at the beginning of the high school yoga class.  They were utterly mesmerized by the music, and I asked them how it is possible to be somewhat fearful about the future and what it holds for them when the earth is singing with such joy, encouraging us to dance!  To once again rejoice in a simpler way of living.  Studying the environment through conservation and preservation can begin this awakening.  In the presence of soil, sun, water, and warmth the seed is nourished, and not only the plants thrive but also the farmer who works the land, by hand, with bare feet even.  Several books that have been of great insight to me are ‘Ancient Mysteries, Modern Vision’ by Phillip Callahan, ‘Civic Agriculture’ by Thomas Lyson, and ‘Micro Eco-Farming’, by Barbara Adams to mention just a few.   A quote from Rumi’s God in the Stew poem; ‘…Anyone who steps into an orchard, walks inside the orchard keeper.’  To me, this is how farming and even the act of rediscovering nature according to Mr. Fukuoka can be…such a deeply connecting spiritual experience.  And it remains a strong priority if we are going to heal anytime soon.
 

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Living from the Heart, by Rick Jarow

FaceBook  On Sep 29, 2012 Ricky wrote:

I have come to realize I can’t live any other way, than from the heart.  Nothing else has meaning.  We are all connected as One.  The Four Immeasurables, the Four Qualities of the Heart, are a most outstanding guide for this way of living.  The four are Maitri, friendliness; Karuna, compassion; Mudita, delighting in the joy of others; and Upeksha, practicing equanimity.  In some circles, the heart is center for the Big Mind.  The Heartmath Institute (highlighted in the documentary ‘I AM’) shares that the heart is the energetic center of us, and has more radiant vibration than any other area.  This would make sense on a physiological plane, but when you live from the heart, you recognize it from a deep connection with the emotional, mental, intuitive, and spiritual plane as well.   Every day I wake up with gratitude for another opportunity to share my life with all others around me.  And there are a lot of others around me.  The teenagers I share my life with exhibit all types of behavior.  I have begun to change from addressing the behavior to addressing the energy imbalance many of these behaviors exhibit.  I have the privilege of teaching yoga in high school as a PE elective, and one student asked to be able to join the class several days after the semester started.  I invited her in.  She did not connect.  She distracted all others around her, including me.  After a couple days, she was tardy to class, and I asked where she had been.  She said she was talking to the basketball PE teacher about transferring back into his class.  I said, go, you need to do that.  And she left.  I emailed the basketball teacher, who was not thrilled with having her return to his class.  I caught her the next day in the hallway, and asked what was going on.  She said she had talked with him because she thought I didn’t like her.  I smiled and said  See full.

I have come to realize I can’t live any other way, than from the heart.  Nothing else has meaning.  We are all connected as One.  The Four Immeasurables, the Four Qualities of the Heart, are a most outstanding guide for this way of living.  The four are Maitri, friendliness; Karuna, compassion; Mudita, delighting in the joy of others; and Upeksha, practicing equanimity.  In some circles, the heart is center for the Big Mind.  The Heartmath Institute (highlighted in the documentary ‘I AM’) shares that the heart is the energetic center of us, and has more radiant vibration than any other area.  This would make sense on a physiological plane, but when you live from the heart, you recognize it from a deep connection with the emotional, mental, intuitive, and spiritual plane as well.
 
Every day I wake up with gratitude for another opportunity to share my life with all others around me.  And there are a lot of others around me.  The teenagers I share my life with exhibit all types of behavior.  I have begun to change from addressing the behavior to addressing the energy imbalance many of these behaviors exhibit.  I have the privilege of teaching yoga in high school as a PE elective, and one student asked to be able to join the class several days after the semester started.  I invited her in.  She did not connect.  She distracted all others around her, including me.  After a couple days, she was tardy to class, and I asked where she had been.  She said she was talking to the basketball PE teacher about transferring back into his class.  I said, go, you need to do that.  And she left.  I emailed the basketball teacher, who was not thrilled with having her return to his class.  I caught her the next day in the hallway, and asked what was going on.  She said she had talked with him because she thought I didn’t like her.  I smiled and said, What’s not to like?  She started to tear up, as I did.  I said she was welcome back any time she wanted, just as long as she was committed to practicing the art of yoga, and to let go of the art of conversation, at least during class.  She smiled, and has been with me a year and a half now (three semesters).  She is gentle, kind, and smiles a lot, and does this around campus.  She says yoga has changed her life.  Her favorite quality is Mudita, delighting in the joy of others, which I watch her do.  And she has changed my life.
 
The students who are in my care nurture me and teach me much more than I can offer them.  When the behavior drops, the heart can open and be free.  One of the conversations I have with them is about bullying.  We discuss the ramifications of bullying, and I am always so relieved when the students who are actively bullied share about how they feel.  After a while, I ask them what they think is going on with the bully to feel that they need to bully.  Usually the students sit in stunned silence.  Then I give them information about how bullying affects the nervous system, the digestive system, the tearing down of emotional health, in both victim and perpetrator.    We discuss Karuna, compassion, and there continue to be skeptical and quizzical looks.  So, I let them know that I understand how this next statement will be hard to hear, but I say ‘It seems very little is done to mitigate the circumstances and the suffering of the person who bullies’, which is a great lead in to Upeksha, equanimity.  I always discuss with them that bullying is never okay, but perhaps there is something missing in that way of living that kindness and wholeheartedness can help ease.   Students report during their four years of high school that many times the person who picked on them eventually becomes a friend.
 
Living from the heart opens possibility.  If I notice there are a series of events that are coming together like a perfect storm to slow my shopping agenda to town, I am ready to meet the homeless person(s), the long lost friend, the parent of a student, witness an act of random kindness, see a beautiful sunset, watch a moonrise, have an excellent conversation with a cashier, and remember ‘the art of possibility’ (Ben Zander) which lives within the heart.  Nope, can’t imagine living any other way.    
 

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The Rich Experience of A Quiet Mind, by John Coleman

FaceBook  On Sep 16, 2012 Ricky wrote:

This Quiet Mind is essential for the change you want to see in the world, the change you can be.  As I read down the passage, paragraph by paragraph, insight after insight, I was reminded that attentiveness is awareness, and being aware is a practice.   I remember my first meditation class.  I was very fortunate to be in the presence of a wise young teacher who guided us through a quieting practice that asked only that we be attentive to the patterns of thought and what arose for us physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually with those thoughts.  We were reminded that thinking is human.  Quiet mind does not imply ‘no thinking’.  Quiet mind meant being at ease with thoughts swirling and twirling, and actively releasing attachment to these thoughts.   For over a half century of my life, meditation as a term was defined as an ancient form of religious practice that I was taught to avoid because of the eternal ramifications.  Now, of course, I realize meditation as the amazing calm that flows when I am at peace with everything and anything going on around me and within me.  I know nothing is outside me.  I am That…and there is much peace in this quieting, allowing, and releasing.  This has been the journey toward experiencing what is real.   This experience of calm and quiet does not indicate at all that my life is rosy and perfect in the eyes of my culture.  I am also deeply affected by the suffering of others.  However, being able to focus instantly and to be fully present with the suffering has been the practice.  Listening within and awareness through attentiveness gives grace and space to experience this life one breath after the other, mindfully and deeply.  Susi  Hately Aldous  wrote  “Where attention goes, energy flows, and awareness grows.”  Living moment by moment, and remembering this as practice, is helpful in d  See full.

This Quiet Mind is essential for the change you want to see in the world, the change you can be.  As I read down the passage, paragraph by paragraph, insight after insight, I was reminded that attentiveness is awareness, and being aware is a practice.
 
I remember my first meditation class.  I was very fortunate to be in the presence of a wise young teacher who guided us through a quieting practice that asked only that we be attentive to the patterns of thought and what arose for us physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually with those thoughts.  We were reminded that thinking is human.  Quiet mind does not imply ‘no thinking’.  Quiet mind meant being at ease with thoughts swirling and twirling, and actively releasing attachment to these thoughts.
 
For over a half century of my life, meditation as a term was defined as an ancient form of religious practice that I was taught to avoid because of the eternal ramifications.  Now, of course, I realize meditation as the amazing calm that flows when I am at peace with everything and anything going on around me and within me.  I know nothing is outside me.  I am That…and there is much peace in this quieting, allowing, and releasing.  This has been the journey toward experiencing what is real.
 
This experience of calm and quiet does not indicate at all that my life is rosy and perfect in the eyes of my culture.  I am also deeply affected by the suffering of others.  However, being able to focus instantly and to be fully present with the suffering has been the practice.  Listening within and awareness through attentiveness gives grace and space to experience this life one breath after the other, mindfully and deeply.  Susi  Hately Aldous  wrote  “Where attention goes, energy flows, and awareness grows.”  Living moment by moment, and remembering this as practice, is helpful in developing skills to focus.  This second half of a century for me is developing clarity through a daily yoga practice.  I also have the honor of guiding others, especially young ones, to thrive in the ‘rich experience of knowing a quiet mind’, as the author states.  Yes, this knowing is present within each of us, within the Big Mind at the heart center, and within the intuitive center of the Third Eye, and even better, within each cell of our body and the Light we vibrationally emit by our presence at this time in this moment.
 

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A Walk in the Rain, by Jeff Foster

FaceBook  On Jul 24, 2012 Ricky wrote:
To Mr. Hilderbrandt:  Thank you so much for expressing your reflection here.  You use the word one-ness, and express a desire to experience this more.  Take time to google Oneness Blessing, and you will find likeminded people who are gathering near your location to experience this one-ness you speak about. Join them.  Your connection experience there during an incredibly difficult time in our human history helps bring perspective.  Again, thank you. 
 

A Walk in the Rain, by Jeff Foster

FaceBook  On Jul 8, 2012 Ricky wrote:

When you change your language, your choice of words, your focus, you are able to articulate the ideas that arise in this article.  As we change our view of our presence here from ‘it’s all about me’ in isolation and ‘things happen because of forces outside myself’ and ‘how can I get into heaven’, to ‘we are here all together on this global island, completely interconnected and interdependent’, we can begin to change the way we move about, change how we think, act with conviction on the premise of the article that reinforces everything is peacefulness, and in its place, it’s all okay.    When we focus on what we can get materialistically and fundamentally, dwell on how little the world seems to offer, how unfair and unrelenting the pressures and definitions of success are, how we are immobile and ineffective in the face of poverty, famine, and abuse, we search outside of our deepest heart and Big Mind and get caught up in political rhetoric and acts of unkindness and greed, big and small.  We gather our arms in, harboring our hearts and clinging to the fear of scarceness.   I learned a new phrase recently, and have enjoyed applying it.  Wabi-sabi.  According to a reading I have done recently, when people of Japanese decent are asked the definition, they find words difficult to articulate this sense.  While the western view of this is how to simplify your life and love what is imperfect in the world and yourself, I appreciate the non dualistic view of wabi-sabi…how the ordinary is really extraordinary.  There is a rejoicing of heart and soul in the beetle crawling across the gravel, the bird song, the butterfly flitting, branches of deciduous trees in the winter, the difference in warmth between a sun baked road and the adjoining patch of grass, wrinkles and other signs of aging, the gentle wave action near the shore, and as the article describes-the indiscr  See full.

When you change your language, your choice of words, your focus, you are able to articulate the ideas that arise in this article.  As we change our view of our presence here from ‘it’s all about me’ in isolation and ‘things happen because of forces outside myself’ and ‘how can I get into heaven’, to ‘we are here all together on this global island, completely interconnected and interdependent’, we can begin to change the way we move about, change how we think, act with conviction on the premise of the article that reinforces everything is peacefulness, and in its place, it’s all okay. 
 
When we focus on what we can get materialistically and fundamentally, dwell on how little the world seems to offer, how unfair and unrelenting the pressures and definitions of success are, how we are immobile and ineffective in the face of poverty, famine, and abuse, we search outside of our deepest heart and Big Mind and get caught up in political rhetoric and acts of unkindness and greed, big and small.  We gather our arms in, harboring our hearts and clinging to the fear of scarceness.
 
I learned a new phrase recently, and have enjoyed applying it.  Wabi-sabi.  According to a reading I have done recently, when people of Japanese decent are asked the definition, they find words difficult to articulate this sense.  While the western view of this is how to simplify your life and love what is imperfect in the world and yourself, I appreciate the non dualistic view of wabi-sabi…how the ordinary is really extraordinary.  There is a rejoicing of heart and soul in the beetle crawling across the gravel, the bird song, the butterfly flitting, branches of deciduous trees in the winter, the difference in warmth between a sun baked road and the adjoining patch of grass, wrinkles and other signs of aging, the gentle wave action near the shore, and as the article describes-the indiscriminent nature of drenching rain-no favorites/victims whatsoever in the amount of soaking.
 
Scientists may point out that the physiological and biological reaction of the writer to this rain really was a connection with the uplifting nature of negative ions produced in the action of the rain.  Negative ion activity counteracts the deleterious effects of our industrial evolutionary technological feats, using electromagnetic waves such as in video games, cell phones, microwaves ovens, as well as television which produce an overabundance of positive ions and which wreak havoc on our immune systems. The action of rain is not dissimilar to the negative ionic benefits of being near waterfalls, ocean waves, river currents, babbling creeks, or taking a walk in the deep forest, standing near an ancient tree, breathing deeply, or expanding our arms out in rushing wind, a gentle breeze, or even dropping the shoes and socks off the feet and walking barefoot on the earth.  Interestingly, this scientific understanding does not diminish the powerful affects of when we connect with this magnificent body we have been blessed with during this lifetime.  As Rumi suggests (paraphrased), look around…be present…none of this is outside you…Step within the orchard, and you step within the orchardist.  Radiance Sutra #57… “with a steady gaze, melt into the field of space embracing form, and at once, be at one with the creator, who is looking through your eyes, loving creation.”
 
In answer to the question prompt, have you had an experience of coming in touch with ‘an all-pervading feeling that everything was okay with the world’?, I can say yes, and often.  Each and every time I move about in nature, whether on an exotic beach, in my backyard, in a park, or teaching outdoors I experience this.  Even quieting the space within my home, listening to slack key guitar music, reading, or listening to stories from indigenous people about Mother Earth, Father Sky, environmental identification, people expressing themselves in their native tongue, being fully present with another person and especially children, I am there.  This is when I am present with grace and utterly unconditionally free in Love.
 
In conclusion, I wrote this at the beginning of June during a very sudden and unexpected intense rain event on the high school campus I teach at, witnessing this in response to a ‘walk in the rain’!
“Question:  When does ordinary become extraordinary?  Answer:  When living fully in the moment.
Yesterday afternoon’s typical and ordinary June shower moving through about 3:15 became extraordinary on at least two counts. 
First, a miles-wide rain event seemed to defy gravity, and although falling straight down the drops instantly exploded up with both ‘feet’, again and again seeking to reach skyward, quickly turning the campus and our valley into swift rivers of liquid sunshine within a couple of heart beats.
Second, outside the southwest door of New Main foyer, one of my students and her comrade abandoned ordinary high school conformity by immediately and repeatedly grounding with both feet and exploding up to reach skyward; squealing, whirling, and twirling within this drenching downpour, wide grins upon wet upturned faces and palms.
Ordinary inconvenience morphed into unfettered extraordinary joy, letting go, and being fully present in the moment.
A visual for the day before graduation, 2012 forever etched onto my heart.  Extraordinary.”  
 

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Looking With Head, Heart, and Hands, by Jane Rosen

FaceBook  On Jun 26, 2012 Ricky wrote:

Part of Rumi's quote, "none of this is outside you" comes to mind, vividly.  To follow up on many of the previous reflections here, stillness and quieting are important components to really seeing.  For me, it is cultivating daily, and especially in difficult relational situations, what is true for me:  the most exquisite interconnectedness on this precious orb. A person wrote to me recently that the trouble with me is that I don't really see her.  Disturbing as that is to me, when I quiet myself, and set aside ego, who I see is not the person who wrote that, but the essence within.  Until our language with each other shifts to it's less about me and more about us, what she expressed will remain true for her. I remember the first time I 'heard' the quote about being placed on this earth to be in dominion over the plants and the animals on earth and in the sea, and not connecting completely with it because already at a tender age of five I knew deep within that we can not exercise control over what seems to be a part of us.  Now that I have been privileged to live longer than five, I understand deeply this to be true...   The story of the raven is beautifully written and shared.  Seeing is an act without expectation, judgment, nor assumption.  While it is wonderful to live being able to use our five senses, it is by trusting many of the other senses that our existence is enriched here.  Many times the head (the thinking brain) steps in to dismiss what our body is telling us in those quiet seeing moments, and many times this action of rationalization overrides our experience in that moment.  The thinking brain makes judgments, has strong opinions (who really is thinking here?), and makes decisions for us based on our very limited experience in this life.  What may actually help is stepping back for a moment, pausing for that magnificent inhale, allowing the exhale to fully relea  See full.

Part of Rumi's quote, "none of this is outside you" comes to mind, vividly.  To follow up on many of the previous reflections here, stillness and quieting are important components to really seeing.  For me, it is cultivating daily, and especially in difficult relational situations, what is true for me:  the most exquisite interconnectedness on this precious orb. A person wrote to me recently that the trouble with me is that I don't really see her.  Disturbing as that is to me, when I quiet myself, and set aside ego, who I see is not the person who wrote that, but the essence within.  Until our language with each other shifts to it's less about me and more about us, what she expressed will remain true for her.

I remember the first time I 'heard' the quote about being placed on this earth to be in dominion over the plants and the animals on earth and in the sea, and not connecting completely with it because already at a tender age of five I knew deep within that we can not exercise control over what seems to be a part of us.  Now that I have been privileged to live longer than five, I understand deeply this to be true...
 
The story of the raven is beautifully written and shared.  Seeing is an act without expectation, judgment, nor assumption.  While it is wonderful to live being able to use our five senses, it is by trusting many of the other senses that our existence is enriched here.  Many times the head (the thinking brain) steps in to dismiss what our body is telling us in those quiet seeing moments, and many times this action of rationalization overrides our experience in that moment.  The thinking brain makes judgments, has strong opinions (who really is thinking here?), and makes decisions for us based on our very limited experience in this life.  What may actually help is stepping back for a moment, pausing for that magnificent inhale, allowing the exhale to fully release, and begin to allow the senses of the ages that lie deep within our DNA to surface and live from that deep inner knowing about how none of this is outside us.  Witness this radiant energetic expression of seeing arise.  Let go of reaction, and embrace action.

Each of us is blessed with gifts of all sorts.  And, we have the remarkable ability to learn, and apply.  Many of us lack the confidence to do so, and thus miss out at times on seeing opportunities.  Many of us have eyes, and do not see.  Many of us have hands and do not see.  Many of us have fully functioning bodies and do not see.  We admire how people who are blind or have bodies that are not to the standard we expect rise above these conditions to inspire us and overwhelm us with their gifts.  

I know when I really see.  I tear up.  I also have given up apologizing for this action, and am grateful that my body helps remind me that I have seen.



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Response Vs. Reaction, by Adyashanti

FaceBook  On Jun 15, 2012 Ricky wrote:
To the most recent post:   It becomes our joy in life to be with those who, in your definition, can't wake up to behold they are already there, awake
 

For an Addict, by John O'Donohue

FaceBook  On May 27, 2012 Ricky wrote:
In response to the last seed question for reflection, what does the true intimacy of love that waits to take you home mean to you, Dr. Brene Brown speaks of this in her book "The Gifts of Imperfection", and within it discusses the power of vulnerability.  In her TED talk (the power of vulnerability) she shares research based concepts on the steps taken by those of us who numb ourselves through addiction in order to survive this world of broken dreams, and broken hearts, and in that action of addiction and numbing, we find out we don't numb 'some' things, we numb everything.  That means we lose out on the joys of our lives as well as guarding our hearts from loss and pain...we lose out on the true intimacy of Love.  

Instinctively the moth is drawn to the flame.  We may have trouble with this, but truly we as the human being have a choice about the flame.  It takes courage, perseverance, and a strong awareness and connection that we are much more than biology.  Our 'flame' of addiction may have to do with not wanting to feel hurt, or not wanting to experience love if it indeed may also set us up for rejection.  Yet, if we don't feel these, we are not feeling the rest of our lives...realizing we are worthy of love, the laughter of children, the natural world, warm relationships, wide open whole heart, and sharing the deepest kindest part of us with everyone else who is also experiencing to some degree the contrast between protecting the heart and sharing the heart.        
 

The Mystery of Love, by Kent Nerburn

FaceBook  On May 2, 2012 Ricky wrote:
www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

The above ted talk by brene brown, author of the book The Gifts of Imperfection could be helpful on understanding this sense of belonging on the physical plane.  However, as long as we are confused with and set conditions on 'Love', which frankly is on the spiritual plane, we will continue to suffer by our own thinking brain unfulfilled expectations. 
 

Response Vs. Reaction, by Adyashanti

FaceBook  On May 1, 2012 Ricky wrote:

When we take the time to become aware of our personal samskaras (habits, ruts) in our thinking patterns, when we quiet ourselves to allow thoughts to arise and flow and tune in deeply to the physiological responses, and when we humble our ego (little s self) to share with others our struggles concerning ‘knowing’ the difference between ego manifestation of a 'problem' and our need to fix it, and the bigger picture awareness of the infinite having a finite experience, we will more readily recognize the 'reaction' to someone or something and the 'response'. Discernment is an important concept here. Just 'who' is thinking and reacting, or responding?  In this technology driven evolutionary age dealing with processing enormous amounts of bits of data information and constant inundation of trivia and major events of news and someone else’s interpretation of these, we are mired down by the sheer weight of what to do about it, and then we can only react based on how we were culturally conditioned. Imagine years ago as the history of our human experience unfolded by dualistic struggles, and the stories and legends and myths about this happened, and then that happened in retaliation, and then this happened in righteous indignation, and so on...there continue to exist in this present day even cultures on this beautiful planet whose language has no word for war.  This is profound to me, and always immediately halts my cyclical thinking.  We can change! On a personal note, just this weekend I spent time in a workshop with a student of Adyashanti's. The irony of this statement is not lost on me at all, and the serendipitous nature of this would not be lost on you, dear reader, either, if you knew where I live and under what circumstances this workshop took place. This student of Adyashanti’s teachings through meditation practice are profound in recognizing self talk, and includes discerning t  See full.

When we take the time to become aware of our personal samskaras (habits, ruts) in our thinking patterns, when we quiet ourselves to allow thoughts to arise and flow and tune in deeply to the physiological responses, and when we humble our ego (little s self) to share with others our struggles concerning ‘knowing’ the difference between ego manifestation of a 'problem' and our need to fix it, and the bigger picture awareness of the infinite having a finite experience, we will more readily recognize the 'reaction' to someone or something and the 'response'.

Discernment is an important concept here. Just 'who' is thinking and reacting, or responding?  In this technology driven evolutionary age dealing with processing enormous amounts of bits of data information and constant inundation of trivia and major events of news and someone else’s interpretation of these, we are mired down by the sheer weight of what to do about it, and then we can only react based on how we were culturally conditioned.

Imagine years ago as the history of our human experience unfolded by dualistic struggles, and the stories and legends and myths about this happened, and then that happened in retaliation, and then this happened in righteous indignation, and so on...there continue to exist in this present day even cultures on this beautiful planet whose language has no word for war.  This is profound to me, and always immediately halts my cyclical thinking.  We can change!

On a personal note, just this weekend I spent time in a workshop with a student of Adyashanti's. The irony of this statement is not lost on me at all, and the serendipitous nature of this would not be lost on you, dear reader, either, if you knew where I live and under what circumstances this workshop took place. This student of Adyashanti’s teachings through meditation practice are profound in recognizing self talk, and includes discerning toward allowing and listening to the thoughts ebb and flow without manipulating them  At this moment in time this practice allows me to gift to you the recognition of Oneness with all that is in existence by arms outstretched before me from my heart and palms up, head bowed.  Dualistic thoughts (good versus evil, black versus white, love versus hate, peace versus war) arise from an implication and conditioned indoctrination of significant division and separateness based on superficial manifestations of ego truth.  This way of witnessing our existence seems at odds with the teachings of the universe about interconnectedness, wholeness, and even the story of Indra’s net of existence-a teaching that when one tugs on this infinite exquisitely bejeweled series of threads by an action significantly affects every other intersection, where another blessed being resides.  We do not exist in isolation. 

I have heard it said that your actions are your karma and my reactions are my karma.  I choose calm response.
 

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Why Can't We Tolerate Emptiness?, by Natasha Dem

FaceBook  On Apr 24, 2012 Ricky wrote:
As I become more aware of my earthly age, I increasingly recognize the significant influence of others' lessons and teachings on me concerning how I had come to view and interpret my own life, culture, values, and purpose.  The lessons and teachings over time have been the root of deep dissatisfaction.  
Four years ago I participated in my first 'spiritually focused' yoga practice and savasana, and experienced an emptiness when the mind truly rested and clearly revealed the "I".  The expansive clarity and stillness, oneness and wholeness, provided an immediate and instant recognition of being.  
As I write this I struggle for the words to express this, and then realize this is the 'unnameable nothingness' referred to in the writing.  Slowly the conflicting messages of outside influences have sloughed off and peeled away, along with all the mind chatter (chitti vrtti).  There remains a calm that rides on breath awareness, and provides the emptiness where my purpose (svadharma) resides.  The teacher within me is hard pressed to stay still, though, and the desire that has bubbled up from this space of emptiness is undeniable...and I rest in the wisdom of that desire.
In the 'being' that arises from emptiness, inspiration abounds, the deep inner knowing provides rest, and the creativity of how to approach an increasingly hectic chaotic life and live authentically within it blesses me every day.        
 

Song of the Soul, by Kahlil Gibran

FaceBook  On Apr 7, 2012 Ricky wrote:

A friend of mine is dying.  His wife posts on the caring bridge site every so often, and over the past 11 months has chronicled the diagnosis, the doctor visits, the nurses, the treatments, the prognosis, the medication, the educated guess, the hospice, the technology, the pain, and now the final moments…   His is a legacy of teacher.  While I write this I am not referring to his chosen profession, although that is teacher as well.  His teaching legacy is how he shares his heart.  He champions the unusual.  He honors the underdog.  He encourages the unfathomable.  He listens to the unseen.   He leads us on this journey toward the inevitable outcome of each birth in a way that allows the rest of us to give back to him and search our own hearts for the words and actions that will remind him of his legacy of teacher.  Say it now.    In most societies, and especially in the United States, the process of life and its end as we know it is being masked by our perceived ‘ability’ to have control of it somehow.  We are led to believe that the relentless pursuit of the American dream defines us in the following ways:  the perfect family unit, the perfect education, the perfect love life, the perfect career, the perfect insurance, the perfect skin, the perfect weight, the perfect length of time, the perfect clothes, the perfect house, the perfect church life, the perfect partner, the perfect children, the perfect outlook, the perfect path, the perfect choices…in other words, the perfect life.  If the perfect life does not occur for us, that somehow reveals failure.   What I am reminded of during these last days with my friend is the Infinite desiring a finite experience is not looking for perfection.  The being who fills my heart has much to offer in guiding me gently and calmly through my imperfect life as I (the carbon unit, the little s self) see it. This now  See full.

A friend of mine is dying.  His wife posts on the caring bridge site every so often, and over the past 11 months has chronicled the diagnosis, the doctor visits, the nurses, the treatments, the prognosis, the medication, the educated guess, the hospice, the technology, the pain, and now the final moments…
 
His is a legacy of teacher.  While I write this I am not referring to his chosen profession, although that is teacher as well.  His teaching legacy is how he shares his heart.  He champions the unusual.  He honors the underdog.  He encourages the unfathomable.  He listens to the unseen.
 
He leads us on this journey toward the inevitable outcome of each birth in a way that allows the rest of us to give back to him and search our own hearts for the words and actions that will remind him of his legacy of teacher.  Say it now. 
 
In most societies, and especially in the United States, the process of life and its end as we know it is being masked by our perceived ‘ability’ to have control of it somehow.  We are led to believe that the relentless pursuit of the American dream defines us in the following ways:  the perfect family unit, the perfect education, the perfect love life, the perfect career, the perfect insurance, the perfect skin, the perfect weight, the perfect length of time, the perfect clothes, the perfect house, the perfect church life, the perfect partner, the perfect children, the perfect outlook, the perfect path, the perfect choices…in other words, the perfect life.  If the perfect life does not occur for us, that somehow reveals failure.
 
What I am reminded of during these last days with my friend is the Infinite desiring a finite experience is not looking for perfection.  The being who fills my heart has much to offer in guiding me gently and calmly through my imperfect life as I (the carbon unit, the little s self) see it.

This now leads me to the premise of the Song of the Soul.  Language limits our human definition of ‘song’ as evidenced by Kahlil Gibran’s poem.  In my friend’s case, after he retired he wanted to make music (one definition of ‘song’), and is regretting his lack of time left to make it.  According to the poem, our song is also often quieted by ego (…in fear of harsh ears).  Thankfully, in the middle of the poem, the song of the soul is ‘understood by love’.  In answer to the last question 'What human dares sing in voice the song of God?'  I dare say each life lived does...
 
This is the legacy my friend leaves.  Unconditional love.  His heart continues the song of the soul.  His heart has been expressed in many different ways to many different sentient beings along the way over many decades and in many capacities.  His legacy shows us that every moment is the song of the soul.  The song arises in a hug, a smile, a word, a gesture, a kindness, a listening ear, a pause, a quieting, a deeksha, an encouragement, a resonate laugh, a series of lyrical literary notes, a hum of vibrational connection, a presence…all these together reveal a life well lived, and brilliantly sung.      
 

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Living Lessons of Biomimicry, by Janine Benyus

FaceBook  On Mar 19, 2012 Ricky wrote:

A main reason we are not a part of the genius that surrounds us is culturally we have been encouraged to have ‘dominion’ over the earth and all its inhabitants, rather than live with the earth and all its inhabitants. We have the power to break away from that view by spending time in nature, appreciating the art and creativity of the universe.  It is in a stillness and an inborn desire to find out how the universe accomplishes all it does with such patience and longsuffering when we begin to discover our place within that setting.  The author refers to the tension between control and learning, which has a lot to do with our confusion as to who we really are-ego and divine.   Frankly this desire for more understanding for me heightened while learning sustainable farming techniques and how interconnected the activities of the soil web were with plant processes (primary decomposers, tertiary decomposers, nitrogen fixers) to nurse plants, plant communities, interdependence, and biodiversity.  We as humans tend to muck it up by insisting on organizing this impressive chaos with monoculture mentality, synthetic inputs and genetic modifications.  And, the patterns nature offers!  http://www.world-mysteries.com/sci_17.htm is a great introduction to the fabonacci number series phenomenon of shell spirals, pine needle arrangements, tree branch placement, daisy petals, sunflowers, and on and on!   Books I recommend from the Bioneers Series, Nature’s Operating Instructions, and Ecological Literacy, are invaluable in their oral history accounts and how to share the wonders of nature with children.  The author here (Janine Benyus) is the first story in Nature’s Operating Instructions.  She writes on pages 8-9, “One of the many gifts of biomimicry is that you enter into deep conversation with organisms, and this student-elder dialogue absolutely fills you with awe.  Seeing nature as model, m  See full.

A main reason we are not a part of the genius that surrounds us is culturally we have been encouraged to have ‘dominion’ over the earth and all its inhabitants, rather than live with the earth and all its inhabitants. We have the power to break away from that view by spending time in nature, appreciating the art and creativity of the universe.  It is in a stillness and an inborn desire to find out how the universe accomplishes all it does with such patience and longsuffering when we begin to discover our place within that setting.  The author refers to the tension between control and learning, which has a lot to do with our confusion as to who we really are-ego and divine.  

Frankly this desire for more understanding for me heightened while learning sustainable farming techniques and how interconnected the activities of the soil web were with plant processes (primary decomposers, tertiary decomposers, nitrogen fixers) to nurse plants, plant communities, interdependence, and biodiversity.  We as humans tend to muck it up by insisting on organizing this impressive chaos with monoculture mentality, synthetic inputs and genetic modifications.  And, the patterns nature offers!  http://www.world-mysteries.com/sci_17.htm is a great introduction to the fabonacci number series phenomenon of shell spirals, pine needle arrangements, tree branch placement, daisy petals, sunflowers, and on and on!
 
Books I recommend from the Bioneers Series, Nature’s Operating Instructions, and Ecological Literacy, are invaluable in their oral history accounts and how to share the wonders of nature with children.  The author here (Janine Benyus) is the first story in Nature’s Operating Instructions.  She writes on pages 8-9, “One of the many gifts of biomimicry is that you enter into deep conversation with organisms, and this student-elder dialogue absolutely fills you with awe.  Seeing nature as model, measure, and mentor changes the very way you view and value the natural world.  Instead of seeing nature as warehouse, you begin to see her as teacher.  Instead of valuing what you can extract from her, you value what you can learn from her…I’ve been on a quest to find people who are living in that fertile commingling place, the estuary between biology and human systems design.”  

Our children need us to wake up and begin to honor the incredible experience of nature and all the wonders she reveals when we slow down enough to share with her, not extract from her…she is, after all, now theirs to learn from.   
 

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Making Friends with the Present Moment, by Alan Zulch

FaceBook  On Mar 5, 2012 Ricky wrote:
I’ll begin with a quote from Richard Bach: ‘ You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self.’  After the first yoga practice I ever participated in, while the poses were frustrating and I was upset to find that the body no longer moved as I thought it was supposed to, I realized I was ‘home’.  As I remember this right now, I feel the same inner excitement and emotion connected with it.  What I experienced that day was the joy and peace of the present moment.  In this present moment, there is no fear.  In this present moment, there is the connection with this deep inner voice, deep inner knowing, what is true.  We experience at once the great expanse and the full extent of the breath.  There are few words.  In this present moment there is freedom from negative self talk, self doubt, shoulds, coulds, woulds…what is left is ‘yes’.
This does not mean we move through life in some sort of fog of isolation, no longer being fierce in our convictions…it just means we recognize this sense of the bigger picture, and can help others around us remain calm when the dream of the life we create in this experience conjures up unknowns and sends us on some elaborate treasure hunt outside ourselves.  This is friendship.
And, finally, it feels so wonderful to be able to set down the burden of ego.  Letting go of the dualism we ‘know’ because of years of culturalization sets our hearts free to love completely…this is a huge step for the inner learning creature…the creativity that arises from this Love constantly surprises and amazes me, bringing me again to the present moment.  I am smiling as I write this.  And so I hope it is for you!   
 
 

The Secret of Work, by Swami Vivekananda

FaceBook  On Feb 24, 2012 Ricky wrote:
When I conditionally love on the plane of ego existence, there is sorrow, disbelief, loneliness, grief.  When I get a glimpse of Love on the expansive universal plane of Indra's net, there is calming bliss.  When steeped in expectations from the fruits of my actions, I am miserable with anticipation and stuck outside santosha, contentment.  When actively practicing setting the fruits of my actions free without grasping onto results, aparigraha, through the expression of my chosen work, I am open, approachable, softened, peaceful, love-filled.  A paraphrased passage in the Bible speaks about not being of the world with all it's trappings.  Right now is exactly when I want to be, steeped in the world, to share experiences with other blessed beings within this finite snapshot of existence.  Love without expectation brings pure joy, and that joy set free to share with another...the continuous ride upon the mobius strip.    
 

What I Learned In Africa, by Henning Mankell

FaceBook  On Feb 18, 2012 Ricky wrote:

What an amazing insight, not only with the observation about western culture and it’s incessant white noise, but about the art of listening, and the application of the African parable two ears, one mouth.  I teach teens in a public high school.  They are quick to connect with each other by BFF and gossip via technology-texting-(we used to write notes on paper in class).  In one of the classes I teach students are learning about the world of work, real life applications of skills learned in the classroom, and I decided they needed to learn how to listen.  On the first day, even before I outline the expectations of the class, they fill out a survey about how they listen by their personal investment to peers, adults in authority, their guardians, and then strangers.  They also recount the best conversation they have had within that past week, identifying the finer points of body language, and how they felt afterwards.  Then we move on to partner listening training.  My focus is modeled after Rosa Say’s management technique of the Daily Five Minutes, where managers actively seek out their employees and get to know them better (family life, struggles, joys, gripes) by offering them five minutes of uninterrupted listening to better be able to meet the needs of their employees and find out patterns of behavior and understanding in the company. In the classroom, I have modified this to these steps.  Each day the students are expected to seek out another person in the room at the beginning of class.  In a large high school, many students will never meet everyone, always in tight groups of safety.  First, the students must turn their chairs to face each other, feet flat on the floor, knees facing each other, sitting upright at the edge of the chair.  To me, this is offering the speaker your heart.  Students need to fully turn to each other to begin the process.  Next, students are to give each other  See full.

What an amazing insight, not only with the observation about western culture and it’s incessant white noise, but about the art of listening, and the application of the African parable two ears, one mouth. 
I teach teens in a public high school.  They are quick to connect with each other by BFF and gossip via technology-texting-(we used to write notes on paper in class).  In one of the classes I teach students are learning about the world of work, real life applications of skills learned in the classroom, and I decided they needed to learn how to listen.  On the first day, even before I outline the expectations of the class, they fill out a survey about how they listen by their personal investment to peers, adults in authority, their guardians, and then strangers.  They also recount the best conversation they have had within that past week, identifying the finer points of body language, and how they felt afterwards.  Then we move on to partner listening training.  My focus is modeled after Rosa Say’s management technique of the Daily Five Minutes, where managers actively seek out their employees and get to know them better (family life, struggles, joys, gripes) by offering them five minutes of uninterrupted listening to better be able to meet the needs of their employees and find out patterns of behavior and understanding in the company.
In the classroom, I have modified this to these steps.  Each day the students are expected to seek out another person in the room at the beginning of class.  In a large high school, many students will never meet everyone, always in tight groups of safety.  First, the students must turn their chairs to face each other, feet flat on the floor, knees facing each other, sitting upright at the edge of the chair.  To me, this is offering the speaker your heart.  Students need to fully turn to each other to begin the process.  Next, students are to give each other eye contact.  This is offering the speaker your soul, your true self, the part of you that deeply connects the two together.  By now, the class is squirming and there is a plethora of uncomfortable smirks, and even some scowls.  We press on.  They are handed a list of probable topics for prompts in case the next four minutes do have the uncomfortable silence…remember, the students are learning this technique.  For the next four minutes, one person is designated the speaker, the other the listener.  The only direction for the speaker is the list of probable topics and can talk about anything, but the listener is directed to close the mouth, open both ears wide, maintain eye contact, nod encouragement if necessary, and practice listening with an empty mind.  After the four minutes, I prompt the group to switch focus for one minute, and now the listener recaps what they have heard, as the speaker maintains eye contact, posture, and nods encouragement.  Teens will be teens, so at times there is a small discussion, but they are also learning to remain comfortable in their skin, and become active listeners.  Then roles are reversed.  I know it seems counterintuitive to have a timer on this, but what I have found is even the most timid participant makes it through the process, and there is much more ease within the classroom.
For me, practically, I am ensuring that the students will be able to be comfortable in the front of the room by the end of the several months we are together to present a final project, because ideally they know each other or at least have listened to each other.  Beyond that, the students are encouraged to acknowledge each other outside the class room with eye contact and a smile.  This is huge in a large comprehensive diverse high school.  However, on a much deeper level, my hope is that they begin to trust the process, and develop strategies to remain calm, and realize that we only have this unique moment, ‘now’, and that the ‘now’ is the most powerful teacher there is.  In western society there are very few role models for youngsters to emulate calm, so teaching the skill of listening, being present in the moment, and understanding you don’t need to solve everything, you just need to be there, is for me a focus I will continue to offer.  Animals live the present moment even if they don’t listen as humans can, so we can take that and enhance our relationships with each other by including listening with an empty mind, without blurting whatever comes to mind, without needing to tell our own story, and with an understanding that listening is a great way to learn about and experience life.
 

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Seeing is an Act, by Jeanne de Salzmann

FaceBook  On Jan 31, 2012 Ricky wrote:
We are ‘…a star with no name’ according to Rumi.  It is in the awareness of knowing we don’t know that expands the mind.  It is the conscious act of shaking off culture’s determinism and its need to explain with scientific certainty everything that remains a mystery.  It is the wisdom of ‘seeing’ our samskaras, our patterns of thought, and allowing the plasticity of the brain to change, to reroute these signals, to a new expansive and holistic way of moving through our daily lives that allows us that moment of clarity, so thrilling and full of insight.  ‘Seeing’ is experiencing with the heart.  Remembering who we really are…living in the present both the role of ego and the infinite Self…exhilarating, fleeting, moments. 
 
 

Seekers of Ultimate Mystery, by Fr. Thomas Keating

FaceBook  On Jan 9, 2012 Ricky wrote:

I just finished watching IAM, the DOC, by Tom Shaydac, for the second time when I read this passage.  I would suggest this is a film that needs to be seen by many more people than have seen his earlier works, such as Bruce Almighty, Liar Liar, The Nutty Professor, Ace Ventura-Pet Detective.  In this documentary he reveals that while he is mindlessly going through his life and being steeped in the extremely competitive nature of Hollywood, he suffers a significant trauma, and through the rehabilitation process, ‘wakes up’ and begins to ask the big questions, similar to those listed in the highlighted paragraph at the end of the reading.  He interviews many scientists, religious figures, and writers and thinkers of our time, and the answer begins to evolve for him.  We are hardwired to be cooperative, not competitive.  We are hardwired to love exponentially, not to hate.  We are hardwired to share and think of what’s best for everyone and everything, not be dominant and exploitative.  Through this journey, he finds the answer of the deep connection and interconnection our life here represents, and how significant we each are in our ability to affect the world around us and within us.  Our very existence here is part of a dance, a celebration, a responsibility, and a continued mystery.The young culture I live in consistently contradicts the conviction of cultivating being over doing, and this message is deeply engrained in the lives of the students I teach.  The students feel pressure about good grades, and miss out on the evolution of the learning process.  They are expected to be the best in the class or in the school to go on to college and beyond, to be a doctor, lawyer, or CEO, all the while enduring the message that who they really are is never good enough.  They are expected to know what they want to ‘do’ with the rest of their lives early upon entering school.  There is im  See full.

I just finished watching IAM, the DOC, by Tom Shaydac, for the second time when I read this passage.  I would suggest this is a film that needs to be seen by many more people than have seen his earlier works, such as Bruce Almighty, Liar Liar, The Nutty Professor, Ace Ventura-Pet Detective.  In this documentary he reveals that while he is mindlessly going through his life and being steeped in the extremely competitive nature of Hollywood, he suffers a significant trauma, and through the rehabilitation process, ‘wakes up’ and begins to ask the big questions, similar to those listed in the highlighted paragraph at the end of the reading.  He interviews many scientists, religious figures, and writers and thinkers of our time, and the answer begins to evolve for him.  We are hardwired to be cooperative, not competitive.  We are hardwired to love exponentially, not to hate.  We are hardwired to share and think of what’s best for everyone and everything, not be dominant and exploitative.  Through this journey, he finds the answer of the deep connection and interconnection our life here represents, and how significant we each are in our ability to affect the world around us and within us.  Our very existence here is part of a dance, a celebration, a responsibility, and a continued mystery.

The young culture I live in consistently contradicts the conviction of cultivating being over doing, and this message is deeply engrained in the lives of the students I teach.  The students feel pressure about good grades, and miss out on the evolution of the learning process.  They are expected to be the best in the class or in the school to go on to college and beyond, to be a doctor, lawyer, or CEO, all the while enduring the message that who they really are is never good enough.  They are expected to know what they want to ‘do’ with the rest of their lives early upon entering school.  There is implied a real need to claw your way to the top by whatever means necessary, and if you don’t reach the top, you have failed in some way.  What they have been led to believe by current society is that their value is measured by the doing.  In fact, most students I meet are completely disconnected to the ultimate mystery, and the ones who arrive in my yoga classes are now suicidal, depressed, anxious, disillusioned, frustrated, hurting, and desperately seeking the answers that deep down they have a sixth sense about; and they continue to endure being bombarded by mixed messages.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s important to have focus.  But the focus I help students connect to has to do with being the best they can be, even when that best shifts from moment to moment.  When students begin to ease up, they begin to experience joy.  We discuss the Toltec ideals of being impeccable with your word, not making any assumptions, not taking things personally, and always doing your best, which changes.  We also focus on being the change we wish to see, and they are reminded every day that they can have enormous affect on the world around them just by how they think, how they care about others, and how they cooperate.

If I can make a plea to any adult reading this, I implore you to help guide the little ones around you to begin to connect to the ultimate mystery, to listen to the whispering of their deepest inner self, to act on what they know to be true and to help them release the strangled hold society has on them that their worth is wrapped up in the title they hope to achieve.  Please remind them with your actions and your words that they are exquisite just the way they are.  They will respond, I promise.

 

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How Randomness Rules Our Lives, by Leonard Mlodinow

FaceBook  On Dec 30, 2011 Ricky wrote:

We may see it as randomness, but this is why all the greatest writers and orators, and elders of the ages state that while we may set out to live our lives with the best intentions and hopes for a favorable outcome, it is the constant buffeting, changing, challenging, poking, prodding, upheavals and so on and our responses to these that begins to lay out the life we do end up living.  Pema Chodron:  "To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest."  Personally, I love birds and watching their activities, and this visual never fails to remind me of what being thrown out of the nest looks like!  “The winds of grace are always blowing.  All we need to do is set our sails.”  Ramakrishna.  Go with it, and understand deeply that this existence is the infinite experiencing the finite.  It's not easy, it just is.   The reading seems like an especially appropriate posting for this time of the year.  The story told is from a horrific time in the continuum of existence for the human race.  My own parents made decisions based on the outcome of that era, and immigrated to America for a better life for the family they wanted to start.  The memories of the war for both of them shaped how they think, what they say, how they view life, how they define themselves, and how they live.  My father died almost 30 years ago.  My mom has since stated many times that we would not have struggled so much had we stayed in Germany, to which I usually state I am thankful for every day I live here, for my upbringing, for the opportunities, for the experiences, even the most difficult, negative, and challenging ones, and I remind her that I am grateful that the decision was made to come here.  She is always surprised by my response.   Thoughtful planning and reflection also goes hand in hand with the newness of the beginning of t  See full.

We may see it as randomness, but this is why all the greatest writers and orators, and elders of the ages state that while we may set out to live our lives with the best intentions and hopes for a favorable outcome, it is the constant buffeting, changing, challenging, poking, prodding, upheavals and so on and our responses to these that begins to lay out the life we do end up living.  Pema Chodron:  "To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest."  Personally, I love birds and watching their activities, and this visual never fails to remind me of what being thrown out of the nest looks like!  “The winds of grace are always blowing.  All we need to do is set our sails.”  Ramakrishna.  Go with it, and understand deeply that this existence is the infinite experiencing the finite.  It's not easy, it just is. 

 

The reading seems like an especially appropriate posting for this time of the year.  The story told is from a horrific time in the continuum of existence for the human race.  My own parents made decisions based on the outcome of that era, and immigrated to America for a better life for the family they wanted to start.  The memories of the war for both of them shaped how they think, what they say, how they view life, how they define themselves, and how they live.  My father died almost 30 years ago.  My mom has since stated many times that we would not have struggled so much had we stayed in Germany, to which I usually state I am thankful for every day I live here, for my upbringing, for the opportunities, for the experiences, even the most difficult, negative, and challenging ones, and I remind her that I am grateful that the decision was made to come here.  She is always surprised by my response. 

 

Thoughtful planning and reflection also goes hand in hand with the newness of the beginning of the next year.  Setting resolutions is big business for fitness centers, life coaches, sporting good stores, self help book sales, storage companies, health food stores, health magazines, and juicers, just to mention a few.  When we set resolutions, we are under the impression we either have an enormous capacity to change overnight, or since it is the new year, we are required to give something up, add something, change something because we are not enough as we are, implying we have a do over this next year.  How about looking at it this way.  The New Year isn’t a do-over:  it’s an opportunity to take your next step.  When you change a small habit, you teach yourself that you can change anything.  (paraphrased from “Whole Living”, February 2012, page 89)

 

I work with teens.  Students during the second decade of the 2000s are dealing with changes beyond what we could have imagined in our lives when we were growing up.  I believe my job has become to help them find some answers, to listen to their frustrations, to offer some hope in the face of changing schools in the middle of the school year or moving between one parent and another every other week, sexual verbal and emotional abuse by parent, guardian, or partner, lack of food, clothing and stability, illness caused by weakened immune systems, and even homelessness.  I remind them the only thing they can change is their outlook on the situation, and that clarity arrives with each mindful breath.  Being fully present and clear of thought can help guide each choice along the way.  And finally, “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path.  Your own path you make with every step you take.  That’s why it’s your path.”  Joseph Campbell 

 

Praises and anticipation for 2012-the year of the shift.  

 

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Make Your Life Into a Giving, by Jaggi Vasudeva

FaceBook  On Dec 24, 2011 Ricky wrote:

Much of the suffering in the world occurs as a result of the perceptions that we are not enough as we are, we do not have enough, we need more than someone else, we are judged by how much we have, or how little we have, and that having equals happiness.  At times, we are also judged by what we have and how we don’t give it away.  So contrived.I feel a bit awkward in expressing this, but here goes.  In the Bhagavad Gita, in the story of Krishna and Arjuna, Chapter Four:  20-22, we learn about the suffering that occurs when we are attached to the outcome of our actions-we are attached to rewards for the result of our actions-our good deeds.  This implies that the action itself is not enough.  This implies that we don’t ‘do’ anything without being tied to and judged by the result.  The proverb “It is better to give than to receive” confuses the real intent of just give.  The Buddha became enlightened and shared this wonder with others.  Mother Teresa was the embodiment of giving.  Gandhi and Christ gave their lives.  Literature and written oral history are filled with the stories of the ultimate sacrifice.  These all lived knowing that the life we experience here is just part of the journey, and were not attached to this life.  They lived within our cultural morays, but also lived with the universal inner truth that when we live out our experiences here expecting nothing for gain, we are responding to the responsibility for our actions, and letting go of the attachment to the fruits of our actions. When I first began the yogic journey, the limbs of yoga fascinated me, and the yama (first limb) aparigraha-non attachment, has been the most intriguing.  In the reading this week, especially timed for the holidays and the practice of gift giving as advertised in stores and on the airwaves, there can be an implication of giving and taking, expectations, and judgments.&nb  See full.

Much of the suffering in the world occurs as a result of the perceptions that we are not enough as we are, we do not have enough, we need more than someone else, we are judged by how much we have, or how little we have, and that having equals happiness.  At times, we are also judged by what we have and how we don’t give it away.  So contrived.

I feel a bit awkward in expressing this, but here goes.  In the Bhagavad Gita, in the story of Krishna and Arjuna, Chapter Four:  20-22, we learn about the suffering that occurs when we are attached to the outcome of our actions-we are attached to rewards for the result of our actions-our good deeds.  This implies that the action itself is not enough.  This implies that we don’t ‘do’ anything without being tied to and judged by the result.  The proverb “It is better to give than to receive” confuses the real intent of just give.  The Buddha became enlightened and shared this wonder with others.  Mother Teresa was the embodiment of giving.  Gandhi and Christ gave their lives.  Literature and written oral history are filled with the stories of the ultimate sacrifice.  These all lived knowing that the life we experience here is just part of the journey, and were not attached to this life.  They lived within our cultural morays, but also lived with the universal inner truth that when we live out our experiences here expecting nothing for gain, we are responding to the responsibility for our actions, and letting go of the attachment to the fruits of our actions.

When I first began the yogic journey, the limbs of yoga fascinated me, and the yama (first limb) aparigraha-non attachment, has been the most intriguing.  In the reading this week, especially timed for the holidays and the practice of gift giving as advertised in stores and on the airwaves, there can be an implication of giving and taking, expectations, and judgments.  While this is the human experience, the Self-the Watcher has a different lesson for us.  We are not separate.  We do not exist independent of others or of the earth that sustains us or of the plants, animals, and minerals within this existence that we share this experience with.  This lesson is so expansive we who live within the thinking mind have a hard time wrapping our thoughts around this.  We are here to share.  We are here for the relationships we experience.  We are here to give of our ‘gifts’, our life’s purpose.

How can we cultivate giving as a way of being?  When we are nourished, as the old woman was nourished, by the lives of the ants and how we care for them, giving of what we have, then we are connected to the act of being.  Eckhart Tolle says, ‘You are here to assist the unfolding of the universe-this is how important you are!’  Thich Nhat Hanh: “People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” And, “The source of love is deep in us and we can help others realize a lot of happiness. One word, one action, one thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring that person joy.”  Aristotle:  “Friendship is one soul occupying two bodies.”  Howard Thurman:  “Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  Sylvia Rosetti:  "Genuine kindness is no ordinary act, but a gift of rare beauty."  Gandhi: “I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides.  I honor the place in you of light, love, truth, peace, and wisdom.  I honor the place in you where, when you are in that place and I am in that place, there’s only one of us.”  Christ:  "My brothers, what use is it for a man to say he has faith when he does nothing to show it? Can that faith save him? Suppose a brother or a sister is in rags with not enough food for the day, and one of you says, 'Good luck to you, keep yourselves warm, and have plenty to eat', but does nothing to supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So with faith; if it does not lead to action, it is in itself a lifeless thing."  An Islam tale:  A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation.  The traveler left, rejoicing his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman. "I've been thinking," he said, "I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious:  Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone .”  Namaste…   

 

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Everyday Creativity, by Ruth Richards

FaceBook  On Dec 10, 2011 Ricky wrote:

There is no better way to move through the day than to be purposeful.   When we label frustration for a delay or an inconvenience, and close ourselves in, we miss out on the ebb and flow of this amazing experience here.  By being intentional about the way we live gratefully in each breath, we are fully present to each serendipitous moment, and the revelation of the resulting encounter and/or event unfolds with ease and wonder…even when we are late or in a hurry.   Being creative about how we move through the day reveals a lot about how we think.  Our patterns of priority take shape.  A particular colleague routinely wants to connect with you on your way to your desk or next destination.  There are several scenarios.  You could push by under the guise of being on a mission.  You could time your movement past them when they are discussing with another, and keep your eyes averted.  You could most likely take a different route.  There are many others, but you could also build time into your journey and breathe with them.  Frankly, I choose building time. There is, in this life, one truism…we are here for relationships.  We build the foundation of our lives on the relationships we develop and nurture.  These relationships reveal interconnectedness and reflections of who and what we feel is important at every turn.  This understanding of interconnectedness shapes our view of the world around us.  It is diverse and can include how we view nature and natural events, wildlife, common occurrences, friends, family, strangers, the circadian rhythm, our job related encounters, the choices we make, the schedule we keep and maybe even treasure, the changes that occur where we have no control, the control we think we have, and the limits we put on ourselves when living closed off under the guise of being too busy.    If our understanding of interconnectedness is li  See full.

There is no better way to move through the day than to be purposeful.   When we label frustration for a delay or an inconvenience, and close ourselves in, we miss out on the ebb and flow of this amazing experience here.  By being intentional about the way we live gratefully in each breath, we are fully present to each serendipitous moment, and the revelation of the resulting encounter and/or event unfolds with ease and wonder…even when we are late or in a hurry. 

 

Being creative about how we move through the day reveals a lot about how we think.  Our patterns of priority take shape.  A particular colleague routinely wants to connect with you on your way to your desk or next destination.  There are several scenarios.  You could push by under the guise of being on a mission.  You could time your movement past them when they are discussing with another, and keep your eyes averted.  You could most likely take a different route.  There are many others, but you could also build time into your journey and breathe with them.  Frankly, I choose building time.

 

There is, in this life, one truism…we are here for relationships.  We build the foundation of our lives on the relationships we develop and nurture.  These relationships reveal interconnectedness and reflections of who and what we feel is important at every turn.  This understanding of interconnectedness shapes our view of the world around us.  It is diverse and can include how we view nature and natural events, wildlife, common occurrences, friends, family, strangers, the circadian rhythm, our job related encounters, the choices we make, the schedule we keep and maybe even treasure, the changes that occur where we have no control, the control we think we have, and the limits we put on ourselves when living closed off under the guise of being too busy.   

 

If our understanding of interconnectedness is limited, so is the creativity with which we move through our existence.  To live a rich and fulfilling life is to see each moment with fresh eyes.  I love the idea of shoshin-a Japanese term for beginner’s mind.  Shoshin frankly helps guide me through my day, my yoga practice, my life’s work, the mundane, the new beginnings, the old routines.   Our lives are anything but common and typical.  Our lives can be lived revealing the expansiveness of the universe.  Our way of looking out from the safety of the carbon unit we inhabit has the profound ability to create joy and reveal wonder in every breath we take.  This is quite a practice, to be sure.  But just as anything else that is hard and needs attention, so does this notion of living inspired and with a genuine sense of imagination.

 

So, in my anything but mundane, routine, schedule of avocation as a high school teacher, I arrive two hours early and plan quietly, so I can be present for the conversations that will arise, the beautiful and ever changing sunrise, for the inevitable people encounters, for the typical challenges.  I also offer my gift of time in several other venues throughout the week, and in fulfilling this I am privy to spectacular views of the mountain in sunset and moonrise, conversations with the homeless, the V formation of the comorants and the trumpeter swans on their way home, the raccoons scrounging on the deck, and the peaceful countenances of my yoga students as we leave practice to go home to sleep peacefully.  I also am fully present for the deep connection within the starred eyes of students who do not commonly share eye contact, for grateful exchanges with students not known for revealing inner truth, and for the wondrous experience of raising my own two children remembering I am enough, and that our time together is golden, bright, and shimmering!

 

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A Spiritual Conspiracy, by Author Unknown

FaceBook  On Nov 30, 2011 Ricky wrote:

To Diana,

A practice pointed out to me this week, asI had the same sentiment about family as you, is called tonglen.  I hesitate to express much more about this practice because I am so new to it, but please research it.  It has turned into a most profound practice, and fits right in with the theme of the essay this week.  Perhaps there are others reading this thread who can give a succinct explanation of this, and the practice is amazing.

 

A Spiritual Conspiracy, by Author Unknown

FaceBook  On Nov 25, 2011 Ricky wrote:

I am sitting here, in front of my computer screen, remembering just 20 minutes ago running into one of my teen students at my favorite food co op, and getting and giving a marvelous hug, and here I am reading this delightful, uplifting essay...my life is truly blessed.  Can't wait to share this with my students...and my family.  I feel as though someone gets me, and the validation is heart felt.

Thank you, to whomever took the time and effort to birth this beautiful inspirational piece.  I am so grateful.  In Hawaiian, Mahalo is the word for thank you.  However, the true meaning of this wonderful word can be "May you be in Divine Breath"...Mahalo! 

 

Pilgrimage to Nonviolence, by Martin Luther King, Jr.

FaceBook  On Nov 13, 2011 Ricky wrote:

As soon as we believe we are separate from others, we judge.  This leads to violence of heart, spirit, or even on the physical plane.  Nonviolence drops judgment away, and as we practice the understanding that we are all One, there is a healing that occurs more complete than we ever had imagined.  And this healing begins with us...

 

Giving Somebody Your Heart, by Anonymous

FaceBook  On Oct 8, 2011 Ricky wrote:

In response to a prompt of ‘have you experienced a poignant moment when you gave somebody the real you’, I can’t imagine a day going by without many of these poignant moments.  What are we here for if not to make life less difficult for someone else?  (not my quote) I do have some most memorable moments.  Each of these moments occurred when I purposefully arranged my schedule to build in down time…allows me to be much more at ease and calm.  Walking meditation and connecting with the homeless, one at a time.  Walking across campus with an empty mind, with the only thought of maintaining eye contact with each teen who looks up, and then smile to acknowledge.  Letting go of the constant distracters in daily life like TV pundits and changing the reality of one student at a time with a moment of listening, engaging, sharing, and encouraging.  Readily picking up the ringing phone even in the midst of a deadline to connect with a colleague in a time of despair or joy.  Being open to the endless possibilities of serendipitous moments; in other words, exercising choices, one breath at a time. This does not mean that there aren’t times of isolation, meditation, and still quiet moments during the day of work, chores, organizing, and care taking.  It just means relationships, connections, and knowing our lives have meaning help us inspire and empower those around us, or with whom we have random moments of contact with.   Yes, it does involve a tremendous amount of risk-taking on our parts, and a determined level of confidence…especially for those of us with very little self-esteem.  However, giving somebody your heart is exactly what is necessary to practice over and over, letting go of any thought of the outcome or consequence.  It is the ultimate practice.  The Tao, #9, translated by Stephen Mitchell, ends with ‘…Do Your Work, and Step Away.   See full.

In response to a prompt of ‘have you experienced a poignant moment when you gave somebody the real you’, I can’t imagine a day going by without many of these poignant moments.  What are we here for if not to make life less difficult for someone else?  (not my quote)

 

I do have some most memorable moments.  Each of these moments occurred when I purposefully arranged my schedule to build in down time…allows me to be much more at ease and calm.  Walking meditation and connecting with the homeless, one at a time.  Walking across campus with an empty mind, with the only thought of maintaining eye contact with each teen who looks up, and then smile to acknowledge.  Letting go of the constant distracters in daily life like TV pundits and changing the reality of one student at a time with a moment of listening, engaging, sharing, and encouraging.  Readily picking up the ringing phone even in the midst of a deadline to connect with a colleague in a time of despair or joy.  Being open to the endless possibilities of serendipitous moments; in other words, exercising choices, one breath at a time.

 

This does not mean that there aren’t times of isolation, meditation, and still quiet moments during the day of work, chores, organizing, and care taking.  It just means relationships, connections, and knowing our lives have meaning help us inspire and empower those around us, or with whom we have random moments of contact with. 

 

Yes, it does involve a tremendous amount of risk-taking on our parts, and a determined level of confidence…especially for those of us with very little self-esteem.  However, giving somebody your heart is exactly what is necessary to practice over and over, letting go of any thought of the outcome or consequence.  It is the ultimate practice.  The Tao, #9, translated by Stephen Mitchell, ends with ‘…Do Your Work, and Step Away.  The Only Path to Serenity.’  The Gita time and time again quotes Krishna remarking to Arjuna he has no claim to the outcome.  The Sutras mention aparigraha as a yama, which can translate to non-grasping and non-attachment; non-identification.  Giving your heart away is a great place to start a practice of loving unconditionally, even if being shown unconditional love in relationships has not been your experience.

 

This is how to live.  Unclenching your heart and giving it away is our response to understanding that there is only Love in the universe, and that Love is the ultimate expression of who and what we really are-the jewels in Indra’s net, the finite experience of the infinite, the Divine within.  This Love is what we ‘see’ as the same in each of us, and how we show and share this Love is as diverse as our experiences reveal about ourselves and our journey.   We come to understand sharing this Love as being our responsibility and what we are accountable for during our time here, in this present state. 

 

One of my favorite songs I will leave you with here:  Give It Away chorus lyrics by Gaither Vocal Band-‘If you want more happy than your heart will hold, if you want to stand taller if the truth were told, take whatever you have, and give it away.  If you want less lonely and a lot more fun, and deep satisfaction when the day is done, then throw your heart wide open and give it away.’  Thank you for letting me share here.

 

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A Blessing for One Who is Exhausted, by John O'Donohue

FaceBook  On Sep 23, 2011 Ricky wrote:

And once again to Matt.

I understand deeply that we move about our lives, especially when we identify ourselves as being a person, we hope that we are seen by others, that we are heard by others, and that what we say matters.

You are seen today, you are heard, and what you have said matters, Matt.  You have instantly become my teacher for this day.  You have taught me so much, I am grateful.  You have reminded me again that in my life as I attempt to ease suffering in others, the only change I can make is personal.  This will help me greatly as I move through the day, greeting and sharing my day with the 125 students I work with, each hoping I remember their name.  Thank you again, Matt.

 

A Blessing for One Who is Exhausted, by John O'Donohue

FaceBook  On Sep 23, 2011 Ricky wrote:

To Mark Tittle:

Oh my goodness, I believe the author's meaning in reference to vexed in spirit meant to give the soul who is exhausted permission to let go of the guilt that comes from trying to care for oneself in the midst of much pain and suffering...to give oneself permission for self care mindfully and by offering grace to oneself in the exhausting time.

Many of us who become exhausted are riddled by so much self judgment when we can't offer more to loved ones who are dealing with their own situation that we are not available to give our best, even though we have good intentions.  Sometimes we need time and permission to rest and renew, regain our own sense of giving.  Remember, Jesus took time in the wilderness as well.

Please with patient with us, those of us who need self care.  We are here for you, always.

 

Living With a Rebel Within, by Dzogchen Ponlop

FaceBook  On Sep 19, 2011 Ricky wrote:

I first read this after an exhausting week.  It is such a refreshing perspective.  And, for me, the language used and this perspective gave me a light heart.  For the rest of the weekend, I was struck by language and perspective.  It allowed me to look at political rhetoric and discourse as people responding to the rebel within…from the essay “While we're locked away in our dream, it sees the potential for freedom. So it provokes, arouses, prods and instigates until we're inspired to take action.”  I submit that everyone, even those who are ‘asleep’, are responding to the rebel within, and the responses take on very different and interesting looks. During these past few years of active self study ‘svadhyaya’, I have focused on visualizing Purusha, Big S Self, the Divine within with reverence and deep respect.  However, at the same time, it has been difficult to reconcile this respectful stoicism with what I also know which is the dance of joy and freedom this revelation offers…a certain upwelling of rejoicing we can share with others…a sense of beauty and wonder and aliveness… The rebel within me has been fully present for a long time.  To my way of reflection, I have referred to it as a red flag.  During my lifetime, this red flag has been hoisted by the rebel on numerous occasions, but by far the most significant is my inability to fully embrace the idea of heaven and hell as places where disconnected souls go…and how we are all condemned to sinful nature when we arrive here.  While the red flag is hoisted, I am immediately struck by how many ‘mentors’ dodge pointed questions about these things based on perspectives formed during the provoking, arousing, prodding, and instigation of the rebel in their own lives.  The red flag comes down each time uncertainty is replaced with grace and empathy, and connecting to the sense th  See full.

I first read this after an exhausting week.  It is such a refreshing perspective.  And, for me, the language used and this perspective gave me a light heart.  For the rest of the weekend, I was struck by language and perspective.  It allowed me to look at political rhetoric and discourse as people responding to the rebel within…from the essay “While we're locked away in our dream, it sees the potential for freedom. So it provokes, arouses, prods and instigates until we're inspired to take action.”  I submit that everyone, even those who are ‘asleep’, are responding to the rebel within, and the responses take on very different and interesting looks.

 

During these past few years of active self study ‘svadhyaya’, I have focused on visualizing Purusha, Big S Self, the Divine within with reverence and deep respect.  However, at the same time, it has been difficult to reconcile this respectful stoicism with what I also know which is the dance of joy and freedom this revelation offers…a certain upwelling of rejoicing we can share with others…a sense of beauty and wonder and aliveness…

 

The rebel within me has been fully present for a long time.  To my way of reflection, I have referred to it as a red flag.  During my lifetime, this red flag has been hoisted by the rebel on numerous occasions, but by far the most significant is my inability to fully embrace the idea of heaven and hell as places where disconnected souls go…and how we are all condemned to sinful nature when we arrive here.  While the red flag is hoisted, I am immediately struck by how many ‘mentors’ dodge pointed questions about these things based on perspectives formed during the provoking, arousing, prodding, and instigation of the rebel in their own lives.  The red flag comes down each time uncertainty is replaced with grace and empathy, and connecting to the sense that we all have our own experiences, interpret them in our own way, and can move gently through our lives here.

 

Again, I love the perspective.  I watch teens struggle with this rebel, and what they know to be present within their experiences, and wrestle with this knowledge while attempting to fit into the click or crowd without being found out.  It is their pregnant silence I respond to when we delve into their exploration of the deeply rooted and insistent quiet voice within.  I have gained such a wonderful uplifting look at my own experience through reading this perspective.   

 

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Three Universal Human Processes, by Angeles Arrien

FaceBook  On Sep 13, 2011 Ricky wrote:

I am uncomfortable with the last statement:“The mark of a healthy person is someone who is comfortable with themselves, comfortable if they were to just hang out with one other person, and comfortable in a group or team.”  Learning these processes is the work of a lifetime.  Just the awareness of being uncomfortable gives us the opportunity for this growth (as stated in an earlier comment submission).  We are not always unhealthy in the absence of the skills necessary to carry out these three processes.  It is in the ‘aha’ of facing the idea we have different levels of comfort within ourselves that provides the opportunity to know when we can expand out and reveal who we are while working in a group perhaps, and then too know that we are not going to die when faced with revealing our true selves to just one other.  If when we become aware and have no one to guide this newness, lacking confidence of listening and recognizing our inner guide, sometimes we do give up and become unhealthy.  There is a distinct level of confidence gained in learning strategies to work through this new consciousness…this character development.  This confidence signals to me that I am worthy as an individual-ok in my own skin-but also realizing that I am not separate-I have something to share with another and something to receive as well.  The tyranny of judgment and expectation looms large in the infant stages of this awareness, and we need to recognize that our human journey is enhanced by choosing our one-on-ones and group work wisely.  This is how the awareness of my comfort level with self, relationships, and community has helped me grow.   See full.

I am uncomfortable with the last statement:

“The mark of a healthy person is someone who is comfortable with themselves, comfortable if they were to just hang out with one other person, and comfortable in a group or team.”  Learning these processes is the work of a lifetime.  Just the awareness of being uncomfortable gives us the opportunity for this growth (as stated in an earlier comment submission).  We are not always unhealthy in the absence of the skills necessary to carry out these three processes.  It is in the ‘aha’ of facing the idea we have different levels of comfort within ourselves that provides the opportunity to know when we can expand out and reveal who we are while working in a group perhaps, and then too know that we are not going to die when faced with revealing our true selves to just one other.  If when we become aware and have no one to guide this newness, lacking confidence of listening and recognizing our inner guide, sometimes we do give up and become unhealthy.  There is a distinct level of confidence gained in learning strategies to work through this new consciousness…this character development.  This confidence signals to me that I am worthy as an individual-ok in my own skin-but also realizing that I am not separate-I have something to share with another and something to receive as well.  The tyranny of judgment and expectation looms large in the infant stages of this awareness, and we need to recognize that our human journey is enhanced by choosing our one-on-ones and group work wisely.  This is how the awareness of my comfort level with self, relationships, and community has helped me grow.

 

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Difference Between Eah and Oh!, by Jerry Wennstrom

FaceBook  On Sep 3, 2011 Ricky wrote:

Oh my goodness!  To have the opportunity to read and respond!   These thoughtfully written passages just get better and better!Holding others in a space of reverence to me means being fully aware and alive in this present moment.  The richest experience of life I have found is within the split second of breath and in between two thoughts.  Full presence on my part offers a universal expansiveness of space and time to hold the encounter within the palms of my hands, and within my heart, the seat of compassion, empathy, and serenity.  I may not ‘do’ much at the time, but ‘being’ present and truly seeing into the eyes of another plucks the unstruck strings of the heart, the anahata.  A year ago, a dear teacher of mine, Anand, offered an activity at a workshop I attended.  He had us face a partner, whom we had never met or spoken with, and look deeply within each other’s eyes, unblinkingly, for a long period of time.  We were arms length away from each other, with our hands on each other’s shoulders.  He guided us, reminded us of breath awareness, and asked us to visualize from our hearts.  For me, this was excruciatingly uncomfortable, scary, and profoundly upsetting.  I am a very guarded person in public, and do not want to be exposed emotionally in any way, ever.  However, this of course is exactly what it takes to hold others reverently.  By allowing another to experience one’s heart, healing begins.  Through this eye contact, by acknowledging Divine presence within each other, we connect with the understanding, the knowing, we are here, right now, together, at this moment, and never separate. I have been forever changed by this activity in the workshop.  I am filled with gratitude for this new day, and look for the opportunities to hold others in reverence.  As we move through our lives, these encounters truly become blessed events. &n  See full.

Oh my goodness!  To have the opportunity to read and respond!   These thoughtfully written passages just get better and better!

Holding others in a space of reverence to me means being fully aware and alive in this present moment.  The richest experience of life I have found is within the split second of breath and in between two thoughts.  Full presence on my part offers a universal expansiveness of space and time to hold the encounter within the palms of my hands, and within my heart, the seat of compassion, empathy, and serenity.  I may not ‘do’ much at the time, but ‘being’ present and truly seeing into the eyes of another plucks the unstruck strings of the heart, the anahata. 

A year ago, a dear teacher of mine, Anand, offered an activity at a workshop I attended.  He had us face a partner, whom we had never met or spoken with, and look deeply within each other’s eyes, unblinkingly, for a long period of time.  We were arms length away from each other, with our hands on each other’s shoulders.  He guided us, reminded us of breath awareness, and asked us to visualize from our hearts.  For me, this was excruciatingly uncomfortable, scary, and profoundly upsetting.  I am a very guarded person in public, and do not want to be exposed emotionally in any way, ever.  However, this of course is exactly what it takes to hold others reverently.  By allowing another to experience one’s heart, healing begins.  Through this eye contact, by acknowledging Divine presence within each other, we connect with the understanding, the knowing, we are here, right now, together, at this moment, and never separate.

I have been forever changed by this activity in the workshop.  I am filled with gratitude for this new day, and look for the opportunities to hold others in reverence.  As we move through our lives, these encounters truly become blessed events.  We send out calming energetic vibrations from our heart center…this is the change we can be a part of…this is how each of us can affect the world.

 

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I Am Nothing, by Paul Buchheit

FaceBook  On Aug 28, 2011 Ricky wrote:

I would like to share how I help teens apply this.  Labeling is a way for preteens and teens to try to make sense of what is happening around and within them.  It is a survival skill, based on a notion that if the world and everyone and everything in it can be placed in logical containers, it becomes manageable.  Based on this assumption, statements arise within thought and/or deed.  She’s smart, he’s athletic, my teacher doesn’t like me, my stepmom doesn’t understand me, I’m fat, I’m not interested, I don’t matter, it doesn’t matter, we don’t matter, I can’t change, I can’t affect anything, I am a nobody, I’m different, no one cares…and, since all these things are true then, I don’t have to interact; I don’t have to excel; I don’t have to be held accountable or take responsibility; I can be left alone; as long as I am gossiping and talking, I don’t need to know about the other side of the story; since you exist in this little container labeled ‘loser’, ‘queer’, ‘stupid’, ‘jock’, ‘math whiz’, ‘science geek’, ‘hick’, ‘health nut’, ‘gangster’, ‘gay’, ‘goth’, ‘weak’, ‘white’, ‘black’, ‘brown’, ‘red’, ‘yellow’, ‘rich’, ‘poor’, ‘slow’, ‘gutless’, ‘homely’, ‘homeless’, ‘filthy’, ‘smelly’, ‘blind’, ‘deaf’, ‘smoker’, or ‘freak’,  I don’t have to relate to you… The idea that we are separate and therefore unaffected by others usually compounds teen depression and anxiety, especially when they come to realize that deep down, others carry wounds of words and labels too.  Sometimes they pick up  See full.

I would like to share how I help teens apply this.  Labeling is a way for preteens and teens to try to make sense of what is happening around and within them.  It is a survival skill, based on a notion that if the world and everyone and everything in it can be placed in logical containers, it becomes manageable.  Based on this assumption, statements arise within thought and/or deed.  She’s smart, he’s athletic, my teacher doesn’t like me, my stepmom doesn’t understand me, I’m fat, I’m not interested, I don’t matter, it doesn’t matter, we don’t matter, I can’t change, I can’t affect anything, I am a nobody, I’m different, no one cares…and, since all these things are true then, I don’t have to interact; I don’t have to excel; I don’t have to be held accountable or take responsibility; I can be left alone; as long as I am gossiping and talking, I don’t need to know about the other side of the story; since you exist in this little container labeled ‘loser’, ‘queer’, ‘stupid’, ‘jock’, ‘math whiz’, ‘science geek’, ‘hick’, ‘health nut’, ‘gangster’, ‘gay’, ‘goth’, ‘weak’, ‘white’, ‘black’, ‘brown’, ‘red’, ‘yellow’, ‘rich’, ‘poor’, ‘slow’, ‘gutless’, ‘homely’, ‘homeless’, ‘filthy’, ‘smelly’, ‘blind’, ‘deaf’, ‘smoker’, or ‘freak’,  I don’t have to relate to you…

The idea that we are separate and therefore unaffected by others usually compounds teen depression and anxiety, especially when they come to realize that deep down, others carry wounds of words and labels too.  Sometimes they pick up a label insensitively hurled in their direction and justify carrying this burden because they are insecure along their personal journey, and the label helps define their experience at that moment-scarring them for life even. 

The power of words, and the tenacity with which we cling to these words, results at times in a lonely and suffering existence.  Sometimes we believe our own negative self-talk and insist on labeling ourselves with our thought patterns.  The writer’s conclusion of ‘I am nothing’ is quite powerful.  Frankly, we are at the same time nothing and everything, small and not small, empty and expansive, experientially finite and infinite.  As teacher, I get to help my students, these teens, realize this and begin to reach out and connect to others in the most significant and life changing ways.  To help them negotiate through these years with ease and empathetic understanding is my extreme privilege and honor.  This is how I too let go of the labels pushed on me.  And I love it. 

 

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You Are Not a Prisoner, by Andrew Cohen

FaceBook  On Aug 21, 2011 Ricky wrote:

When we begin the practice of meditation, of allowing quiet into our lives, the conditioned mind has some hurdles to leap.  Hurdles for imagery here represent current culturalization, current thought, current activity, current belief system, etc.  These hurdles can be viewed as set in stone, foundational, impenetrable, a force to be resisted.  The conditioned experience we find ourselves in 2011 helps erect these hurdles, these walls of societal construct.  The hurdles are created and influenced by strong and deep patterns of embedded thought, and provide a sense of security with which the ego, the little ‘s’ self, can identify. Upon further meditative practice, of gentle compassion toward the ego and its insecurities, these same hurdles can be viewed as temporary, movable, fluid, transparent, even illusionary.  As we begin to put down and let go of the security blanket of the conditioned mind and examine the true construction of these hurdles before us, we realize that fear of self-examination, of apparent unknown, is what holds us within the impenetrable walls.  We are fearful of peeling back the layers of embedded and thus familiar patterned thought.  Prisoners of personal construct.   Frankly, it is the practice of giving ourselves permission to slow down in this hectic global time, to just be instead of always doing.  When we slow down, we provide an opportunity for this finite vessel to connect with its most expansive and enlightened inhabitant…Divinity within.  Here we break out and arrive home.  Herein lies our freedom.  And when we continue this practice of meditation, the peace and ease with which we can move about in our daily lives helps others see possibilities within their own experiences.  This is what happens when we let go of fear and ego identity, and we intrinsically connect with limitlessness.  We trust deep gut intuition-unlimited knowing.  Ha  See full.

When we begin the practice of meditation, of allowing quiet into our lives, the conditioned mind has some hurdles to leap.  Hurdles for imagery here represent current culturalization, current thought, current activity, current belief system, etc.  These hurdles can be viewed as set in stone, foundational, impenetrable, a force to be resisted.  The conditioned experience we find ourselves in 2011 helps erect these hurdles, these walls of societal construct.  The hurdles are created and influenced by strong and deep patterns of embedded thought, and provide a sense of security with which the ego, the little ‘s’ self, can identify.

 

Upon further meditative practice, of gentle compassion toward the ego and its insecurities, these same hurdles can be viewed as temporary, movable, fluid, transparent, even illusionary.  As we begin to put down and let go of the security blanket of the conditioned mind and examine the true construction of these hurdles before us, we realize that fear of self-examination, of apparent unknown, is what holds us within the impenetrable walls.  We are fearful of peeling back the layers of embedded and thus familiar patterned thought.  Prisoners of personal construct. 

 

Frankly, it is the practice of giving ourselves permission to slow down in this hectic global time, to just be instead of always doing.  When we slow down, we provide an opportunity for this finite vessel to connect with its most expansive and enlightened inhabitant…Divinity within.  Here we break out and arrive home.  Herein lies our freedom.  And when we continue this practice of meditation, the peace and ease with which we can move about in our daily lives helps others see possibilities within their own experiences.  This is what happens when we let go of fear and ego identity, and we intrinsically connect with limitlessness.  We trust deep gut intuition-unlimited knowing.  Hawaiians have a word Palena ‘ole-without boundaries-the act of realizing spaciousness, authentic abundance, unlimited capacity.  An expansive heart that is no longer confined within a prison of personal construct can love and be loved unconditionally.     

 

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How Generosity Blossoms Into Meditation, by Sharon Salzberg

FaceBook  On Aug 11, 2011 Ricky wrote:

Perhaps I could share an example of a more obscure way to share generosity.  Be generous with your time.  To do this, when working through the list of things to be accomplished by the time you return home, leave at least one/half hour earlier.  This will help you be more at ease during the errands.  Then, just as you begin, reflect for a moment to prepare for being present and open to the person-the 'teacher'-you are about to come in contact with, and be the 'student'- be receptive.  Stop.  Give complete eye contact with the person you encounter, and truly listen to their story, if there is a story to be told.  You will be forever changed by seeing someone using all your senses.  The stillness you offer in the ease with which you open your heart will help them notice Love reflected back, like a still lake or a mirror.  Make a plan to do this every day you move about your life.  The opportunities to be generous with your time can be as plentiful as each full deep breath. 

This tiny experiment may be impractical by nature, but then why else are we really here, if not to interact, be present, and give to one another of our own abundance...time, in this case.  Slow down and pause.  This can help you reach a mindful meditative state.

 

How Generosity Blossoms Into Meditation, by Sharon Salzberg

FaceBook  On Aug 9, 2011 Ricky wrote:

Generosity…giving…creating space…Each of us is enough and can show generosity in our own wonderful way.  From the depths of this realization, through the Light within our hearts, springs this generosity.  We connect with this Light by becoming still through meditation.  This stillness is not just physical, per se.  This stillness arrives when we slow our ‘doing’ so that we can listen to the whisper of our heart’s desire.  From this calm space within us, and the trust we cultivate from quieting our human selves, we recognize how interconnected and interwoven this existence is.  Each of us has gifts we have been given, the desire to live our lives sharing these gifts, and it is through this desire we recognize how interconnected and interwoven this existence is.  These gifts cultivate responsibility.  Some examples of these gifts can be the expression of the Truth (satya) through language by speaking or writing, perhaps inspiring others through action and example, or even always being there-to be counted on by family and friends-with a wellspring of energy and open arms.  Another example can be showing compassion and empathy toward others, as well as ourselves, creating a circle of Love from which generosity rises.  Generosity can be expressed through actual giving; of time, of physical or emotional rest, of food, of money, of shelter, of unique and well as ‘mundane’ skills…This is the Divine intention of sharing our heart’s desire, our deepest expression of love through the generous giving of who we really are and why we are here at all.      See full.

Generosity…giving…creating space…

Each of us is enough and can show generosity in our own wonderful way.  From the depths of this realization, through the Light within our hearts, springs this generosity.  We connect with this Light by becoming still through meditation.  This stillness is not just physical, per se.  This stillness arrives when we slow our ‘doing’ so that we can listen to the whisper of our heart’s desire.  From this calm space within us, and the trust we cultivate from quieting our human selves, we recognize how interconnected and interwoven this existence is.  Each of us has gifts we have been given, the desire to live our lives sharing these gifts, and it is through this desire we recognize how interconnected and interwoven this existence is.  These gifts cultivate responsibility. 

Some examples of these gifts can be the expression of the Truth (satya) through language by speaking or writing, perhaps inspiring others through action and example, or even always being there-to be counted on by family and friends-with a wellspring of energy and open arms.  Another example can be showing compassion and empathy toward others, as well as ourselves, creating a circle of Love from which generosity rises.  Generosity can be expressed through actual giving; of time, of physical or emotional rest, of food, of money, of shelter, of unique and well as ‘mundane’ skills…

This is the Divine intention of sharing our heart’s desire, our deepest expression of love through the generous giving of who we really are and why we are here at all.   

 

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Unlocking a New Sphere of Reality, by Jacques Lusseyran

FaceBook  On Aug 3, 2011 Ricky wrote:

This is in response to n/a...A quote from the Dalai Lama:  If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.  This can mean show kindness and empathy to others as well as yourself.  So, first of all, view your activities and your decisions in a way that stays away from judgment.  Do not judge yourself or others.Second, begin to spend time finding ways to give back.  In other words, try not to focus so much on what you don't have; just begin to give what you do have.  Example:  When you are feeling out of touch and lonely-spend time with people who have been abandoned by society through very little fault of their own.  The elderly, the disadvantaged, the disabled, the disenfranchised.  Give exactly what you believe you lack...develop friendships by being a friend. Third, decide today that nurturing your soul is of great importance.  This takes a few moments several times a day.  When you feel that you are not enough, that you are lonely, that your thoughts are filled with rage, or sadness, or frustration, focus on breathing in deeply, and then slowly letting the breath go out.  Whatever was going on in your self talk comes to a halt.  It can immediately come back, but take a moment and celebrate that for a split second, you let go of that type of thinking and you found calm for a moment.  During these moments of stillness, you will gain clarity...clear thinking.  You will learn that the only change you will be able to make is the change within you.  You will begin to see your value, and you will start to connect to your gifts, your passions, your true desires, which may have nothing to do with acquiring more money.Finally, with this shift in thinking, you will notice that you will have many more moments throughout the day in which you sense being calm.  When we do this, we connect to our essence.  Paul William  See full.

This is in response to n/a...

A quote from the Dalai Lama:  If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.  This can mean show kindness and empathy to others as well as yourself.  So, first of all, view your activities and your decisions in a way that stays away from judgment.  Do not judge yourself or others.

Second, begin to spend time finding ways to give back.  In other words, try not to focus so much on what you don't have; just begin to give what you do have.  Example:  When you are feeling out of touch and lonely-spend time with people who have been abandoned by society through very little fault of their own.  The elderly, the disadvantaged, the disabled, the disenfranchised.  Give exactly what you believe you lack...develop friendships by being a friend. 

Third, decide today that nurturing your soul is of great importance.  This takes a few moments several times a day.  When you feel that you are not enough, that you are lonely, that your thoughts are filled with rage, or sadness, or frustration, focus on breathing in deeply, and then slowly letting the breath go out.  Whatever was going on in your self talk comes to a halt.  It can immediately come back, but take a moment and celebrate that for a split second, you let go of that type of thinking and you found calm for a moment.  During these moments of stillness, you will gain clarity...clear thinking.  You will learn that the only change you will be able to make is the change within you.  You will begin to see your value, and you will start to connect to your gifts, your passions, your true desires, which may have nothing to do with acquiring more money.

Finally, with this shift in thinking, you will notice that you will have many more moments throughout the day in which you sense being calm.  When we do this, we connect to our essence.  Paul Williams wrote "You are a source of warmth and light.  Children who are cold or lonely or unsure come to you for comfort, and you always have comfort to give.  Even at your moments of greatest doubt, when you feel totally closed down to the world and to yourself, the life still burns in you, and your essence remains pure and powerful and untouched." 

n/a, this is essence of love.  Be kind to yourself and others.  Break out of the thinking that has gotten you to writing your comment here today.  We are all pulling for you.  Connect to what we offer you today.  We love you.  You are enough, just as you are.  Godspeed.

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Unlocking a New Sphere of Reality, by Jacques Lusseyran

FaceBook  On Aug 1, 2011 Ricky wrote:

This reading sent me off on my greatest adventure this morning…trusting many other senses beyond the ‘five’ I have as a human being, many beyond today’s accepted educational scope and culturalization in the United States.  The reason I call this an adventure is only recently I have allowed myself to trust, tune into, and connect with the additional sensations around and within me.  I am intrigued by written and spoken language; translation, interpretation, and definition.  For me, by interpretation, ‘pressure’, as it is referred to in the reading, means a change in vibration…perhaps denser, perhaps airier, perhaps atmospheric, perhaps sedimentary, perhaps auditory, perhaps even enigmatic-Love.  For me it describes how the hair on the back of the neck rises up when I perceive a scary unknown in the dark.  It explains the goosebumps on my arms and the general overpowering sense of warmth when I am listening to a serendipitous story.  This now helps with my understanding of reality.  ‘Pressure’ defined as a change in vibration helps explain how sometimes I perceive a black cloud around someone, and conversely can instantly watch the change in energy to happy abandon just before the smile reaches the face.  It explains attitudinal shifts during the various cycles of the moon, and the seasons.  ‘Pressure’ can guide us on our connections with nature during activities such as hikes, swims, walks, play, and most certainly when taking our shoes and socks off as we ground and center ourselves (earthing) after air travel.  It can also give us with wide open arms the sense of wonder we experience in the melody of bird song, the kaleidoscope of colors in the sky, the giggle of a child, the softness of a loving touch, the emotional response to music...       ‘Press  See full.

This reading sent me off on my greatest adventure this morning…trusting many other senses beyond the ‘five’ I have as a human being, many beyond today’s accepted educational scope and culturalization in the United States.  The reason I call this an adventure is only recently I have allowed myself to trust, tune into, and connect with the additional sensations around and within me. 

I am intrigued by written and spoken language; translation, interpretation, and definition.  For me, by interpretation, ‘pressure’, as it is referred to in the reading, means a change in vibration…perhaps denser, perhaps airier, perhaps atmospheric, perhaps sedimentary, perhaps auditory, perhaps even enigmatic-Love.  For me it describes how the hair on the back of the neck rises up when I perceive a scary unknown in the dark.  It explains the goosebumps on my arms and the general overpowering sense of warmth when I am listening to a serendipitous story.  This now helps with my understanding of reality.  ‘Pressure’ defined as a change in vibration helps explain how sometimes I perceive a black cloud around someone, and conversely can instantly watch the change in energy to happy abandon just before the smile reaches the face.  It explains attitudinal shifts during the various cycles of the moon, and the seasons.  ‘Pressure’ can guide us on our connections with nature during activities such as hikes, swims, walks, play, and most certainly when taking our shoes and socks off as we ground and center ourselves (earthing) after air travel.  It can also give us with wide open arms the sense of wonder we experience in the melody of bird song, the kaleidoscope of colors in the sky, the giggle of a child, the softness of a loving touch, the emotional response to music...       

‘Pressure’ in complex sensations can also shed light on our gifts…why we are here, what we have to offer, our passions, our desires.  When we are truly attentive to vibrational signals from the heart, the universe, and begin to listen closely to internal wisdom, the more we can ‘see’.  This is the great adventure I have been on.  I awake each morning with a sense of wonder and gratitude for the day’s offering; presence in this body and at this time.  I experience this precious and impermanent existence most fully when I slow down, mindfully moving, breathing, and opening up to endless possibility.  When I note subtle changes within myself and in relationship to interactions of all kinds, and enjoy the vibrational shifts, I am most alert and alive, dwelling in this earth suit.  What an adventure!        

 

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A Blessing for One Who is Exhausted, by John O'Donohue

FaceBook  On Jul 27, 2011 Ricky wrote:

I would like to respond to you, Brandi.  We are to be compassionate with others who are in pain, and also with ourselves.  We can be the change we want to see (Gandhi), and frankly that is the only change we can make.  Ourselves.  We need to be healthy, though, in order to be the best we can be for others...as in the poem, 'Be excessively gentle with yourself.' 

We all care deeply about you, and honor the work you are doing in your fast paced world...please remember to be gentle with yourself.

Much love,

 

 

A Blessing for One Who is Exhausted, by John O'Donohue

FaceBook  On Jul 26, 2011 Ricky wrote:

I have already shared this poem with dear friends who are in the depths of cancer treatment.  In analyzing John O'Donohue's work, I am impressed with his sensitivity to the human condition of living outside of ourselves, somewhat unconscious, moving in a way that is rushed and frankly deeply troubled, with very little focus on stillness and quiet healing.  While most of his writings based on his background focuses on calling on a power (God) outside of us, this work reveals a deep understanding of how much bigger our existence on this planet truly is.

Many interpret the 'still time' he refers to as being overcome by debilitating disease, injury, or grief.  Why wait for something tragic to happen?  The practice of meditation, yoga inner work, and prayer are all ways to become still enough to get back to Oneself.  The reading last week on relaxation and this reading go hand in hand with a focus of slowing down and listening with intention, rather than waiting for 'life' to get your attention!

Honoring the healing nature of tears is something missing in our culture... when really the healing of tears and the stillness rest offers is exactly what we need physiologically-we are programmed to feel.  Honoring this is fully connecting to the infinite existence of our true Self during this time of learning.  We only find this peace when we let go...aparigraha.

Thank you so much for these readings. 

 

Make Death Your Ally, by Duane Elgin

FaceBook  On Jul 13, 2011 Ricky wrote:

Dear 'Gulrez,'  you have affected my life deeply after reading your comment submission.  I will call my mom right away.  Thank you so much for your heart felt thoughts and beautiful writing.

 

Make Death Your Ally, by Duane Elgin

FaceBook  On Jul 10, 2011 Ricky wrote:

As I continue to age, I notice a shift in consciousness.  When young, my mom helped instill in me a fear of everything.  I did not have this fear earlier, but can remember this nagging tug at how awful life really is from about age 5 on under her tutelage...I am now aware she received this indoctrination early in her life too.  The difference now is that she is still fearful, and my fear has changed to something else.  My fear has turned to a sense of deep inner peace as I connect to the quiet realization that there is so much more than this experience, and that this moment is to be experienced with every sense, even those beyond the scientifically accepted five senses.  This is not to say that I don't feel fear, but now I internally welcome the lesson that rises up from the awareness of that fear, and welcome the next breath, becoming fully present once more. I sat with my dear laborador when he took his last breath about three years ago in the side yard.  I was brought immediately to the moment, to the beautiful serenity after his spirit flew, leaving behind the struggles and pain he had recently been dealing with.  It was my extreme honor to care after his earthsuit left behind, being fully content and at peace.  I miss his earthsuit more than I can ever express, but am fully at peace knowing the spirit that experienced life here with me has arrived in another earthsuit of some sort, to experience the finite once again.  I now look at wildlife and nature around my home in a whole new way, and also have looked into the eyes of the children I work with and connected with the spirit I share with them.  It helps me slow down.  It reminds me of the fact that Love is the only thing...if it is indeed a thing...only Love. 

 

The Mystery of Love, by Kent Nerburn

FaceBook  On Jul 4, 2011 Ricky wrote:

Once we connect to the notion that all there is is Love, and rest in that stunning realization, the world takes on a brighter hue and fuller tone.  We ‘see’ more.  Sunrises and sunsets are glowing.  Bird songs are musical beyond comprehension.  We have a deep connection to the life giving force of Mother Nature.   We are open to and at peace with others.  We tend to stand taller.  We tend to open the heart center, and roll shoulders back and down.  We tend to breathe deeper.  We tend to be at ease, fully present, in a calm state.  We tend to think more with the heart, with our center, and stay longer out of the head.  We listen deeply and intently in each conversation.  Our gratitude surrounds us with Light; a deep glow shines from within.  Each breath is full and fulfilling.  And we let it be. Once we connect to the notion that all there is is Love, and rest in that stunning realization that we are exactly where we are supposed to be, doing what we are supposed to be doing, and that we are enough in that endeavor, it seems everything embraces and nurtures and supports us…we become Love.  The mysterious part of this whole process can be how long it may take.  We can witness this in a small child, and on the death bed.  We can examine a life well lived and enlightened, and a life squandered by ignorance.  We move more intuitively through the day.  We can see how connecting to our passion brings serenity to our own countenance in our youth, or in mid life, or toward the end of this life.  This connection/union/yoking/trust…Love…lets go of judgment, competition, blame, guilt, expectation…and brings peace, always peace.      See full.

Once we connect to the notion that all there is is Love, and rest in that stunning realization, the world takes on a brighter hue and fuller tone.  We ‘see’ more.  Sunrises and sunsets are glowing.  Bird songs are musical beyond comprehension.  We have a deep connection to the life giving force of Mother Nature.   We are open to and at peace with others.  We tend to stand taller.  We tend to open the heart center, and roll shoulders back and down.  We tend to breathe deeper.  We tend to be at ease, fully present, in a calm state.  We tend to think more with the heart, with our center, and stay longer out of the head.  We listen deeply and intently in each conversation.  Our gratitude surrounds us with Light; a deep glow shines from within.  Each breath is full and fulfilling.  And we let it be.

 

Once we connect to the notion that all there is is Love, and rest in that stunning realization that we are exactly where we are supposed to be, doing what we are supposed to be doing, and that we are enough in that endeavor, it seems everything embraces and nurtures and supports us…we become Love.  The mysterious part of this whole process can be how long it may take.  We can witness this in a small child, and on the death bed.  We can examine a life well lived and enlightened, and a life squandered by ignorance.  We move more intuitively through the day.  We can see how connecting to our passion brings serenity to our own countenance in our youth, or in mid life, or toward the end of this life.

 

This connection/union/yoking/trust…Love…lets go of judgment, competition, blame, guilt, expectation…and brings peace, always peace.  

 

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Rest and Be Taken, by Adyashanti

FaceBook  On Jun 27, 2011 Ricky wrote:

The Essence, the Light, the Fire that can be said to be Me, Self, Consciousness, is always watchful, always moving, always present, always everywhere or nowhere.  The vessel, the earth suit, that houses this Divine, needs rest, sustainance, stillness, and breath to fully appreciate the experience of being alive at this moment, and this moment, and this moment...

 

Liking Is for Cowards. Go for What Hurts., by Jonathan Franzen

FaceBook  On Jun 19, 2011 Ricky wrote:

What I experienced just this past week was a personal twist to this story.  I found that when stressed at work about work or even about impending changes at work with personnel and location, even the slightest perceived miscommunication set me off into a self-destructive internal dialogue.  I actually internalized all actions around me must have been happening just to me.  I closed myself off to others, isolated myself so I could wallow, and avoided coming into contact with any of my support system because I didn't want to be confronted with logic and wisdom!Finally, I got quiet and still.  The definition of courage by Dr. Brene Brown came to mind.  She states that the original definition of courage from the Latin root cor, heart, was "To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart."  During that very intimate quiet reflective time, then, two conversations with dear friends from long ago came to mind.  The first was from my pastor who stated after listening to me express fear in the unknown concerning my career, "Apparently you are under the impression you actually have some sort of control in this matter."  (in other words to me this means let it go)  The second was from my master yoga teacher after I asked her why we suffer so about next steps and by other people who have our futures in their hands. (you see, this is always my practice)  She said, "My goodness, you have fallen into ignorance and believe you are a person."  (reminding me of the impermanence of all this)I can't say that all is well, but I do know that how I treat other people around me includes using my 'cor', my heart, and again connecting to a deep sense of love for others as well as myself, embracing the journey I am presently on wrapped in this earthsuit.  I feel as though I somehow began following a wellworn path and  See full.

What I experienced just this past week was a personal twist to this story.  I found that when stressed at work about work or even about impending changes at work with personnel and location, even the slightest perceived miscommunication set me off into a self-destructive internal dialogue.  I actually internalized all actions around me must have been happening just to me.  I closed myself off to others, isolated myself so I could wallow, and avoided coming into contact with any of my support system because I didn't want to be confronted with logic and wisdom!

Finally, I got quiet and still.  The definition of courage by Dr. Brene Brown came to mind.  She states that the original definition of courage from the Latin root cor, heart, was "To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart."  During that very intimate quiet reflective time, then, two conversations with dear friends from long ago came to mind.  The first was from my pastor who stated after listening to me express fear in the unknown concerning my career, "Apparently you are under the impression you actually have some sort of control in this matter."  (in other words to me this means let it go)  The second was from my master yoga teacher after I asked her why we suffer so about next steps and by other people who have our futures in their hands. (you see, this is always my practice)  She said, "My goodness, you have fallen into ignorance and believe you are a person."  (reminding me of the impermanence of all this)

I can't say that all is well, but I do know that how I treat other people around me includes using my 'cor', my heart, and again connecting to a deep sense of love for others as well as myself, embracing the journey I am presently on wrapped in this earthsuit.  I feel as though I somehow began following a wellworn path and am now stepping out on my own, allowing santosha-contentment...one breath at a time.  

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Balancing Vision and Routine, by Bhikkhu Bodhi

FaceBook  On Jun 13, 2011 Ricky wrote:

My vision has over the years changed and morphed with each role I have played.  My vision has always been to help others, but the way the vision has played out has been from daughter to new wife to new mother to coach to landscape designer to teacher and so on.  In these different roles there have been opportunities to express the vision, and at the same time stressors on the amount of time and effort to be able to do so.  The intensity of the routines to make this happen have also changed.  But until the past two years, never did the routine include taking time for myself to be still enough to be my best.  So, always the vision, but never the 100% presence to understand I am enough and can trust I am on the path of purpose.  This has changed with my current focus as teacher and wife and mom.Currently we are in the period of time where students are graduating or moving through the grades or stages of education.  There is a mixed message about success, and many students are disheartened and defeated by it's narrow definition.  Aspire to the standard of excellence we have outlined for you, and you will be successful...fall short, and you are doomed.  Earn lots of scholarship money and reflect appropriately back to your educational institution, and you will receive accolades.  Be a doctor, lawyer, CEO, physicist, (and so on) and you will have access to the most important careers-the ones that count.  Many students are equally amazing in the vision they have for themselves, without such a narrow focus of success.  They have learned how to reach fruition of these goals by allowing their lives to unfold in the presence of being kind, helpful, and empathetic humans to others around them.  With patience, persistence, and support from others who remind them how precious they are, just as they are, they are able to move forward on their own terms and su  See full.

My vision has over the years changed and morphed with each role I have played.  My vision has always been to help others, but the way the vision has played out has been from daughter to new wife to new mother to coach to landscape designer to teacher and so on.  In these different roles there have been opportunities to express the vision, and at the same time stressors on the amount of time and effort to be able to do so.  The intensity of the routines to make this happen have also changed.  But until the past two years, never did the routine include taking time for myself to be still enough to be my best.  So, always the vision, but never the 100% presence to understand I am enough and can trust I am on the path of purpose.  This has changed with my current focus as teacher and wife and mom.

Currently we are in the period of time where students are graduating or moving through the grades or stages of education.  There is a mixed message about success, and many students are disheartened and defeated by it's narrow definition.  Aspire to the standard of excellence we have outlined for you, and you will be successful...fall short, and you are doomed.  Earn lots of scholarship money and reflect appropriately back to your educational institution, and you will receive accolades.  Be a doctor, lawyer, CEO, physicist, (and so on) and you will have access to the most important careers-the ones that count.  Many students are equally amazing in the vision they have for themselves, without such a narrow focus of success.  They have learned how to reach fruition of these goals by allowing their lives to unfold in the presence of being kind, helpful, and empathetic humans to others around them.  With patience, persistence, and support from others who remind them how precious they are, just as they are, they are able to move forward on their own terms and survive all the competition and economic forecast.  They find the niche, the purpose, by becoming still and listening.  This is not to say the students who measure up to the standards of success from society's standpoint don't also find their niches.  The tyranny of expectations and the suffering caused by competition tend to reduce creativity and contentment where we are right now at this moment.  The universe is definitively large enough to handle all that we dream of for ourselves and others.

It is thrilling to spend time with students who have looked with clarity at the marble stone that is their life and see with chiseled focus their lives take form while remembering how their purpose is for the higher good in this life.  Each one is a significant and overwhelming masterpiece. 

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Flow of Money, by David Korten

FaceBook  On Jun 5, 2011 Ricky wrote:

An interesting concept related to this question of money can be offered in three Sanskrit (the ancient language of yoga) words:  avidya, abhinivesa, and aparigraha.  Avidya-not knowing, abhinivesa-fear of death, and aparigraha-non grasping.  Avidya, not knowing, or ‘ignorance’ of who we really are tends to cause suffering and grasping onto everything, constricting our thinking, our movements, our emotions, our freedom.  It is in this state we experience abhinivesa-fear of death.  We cling tightly to desire and identity, and the amount of money we can get or use or flaunt, or hoard.  We are never quite sure there is enough.  We are afraid.  Many of us in western culture have it great; can find the next meal, can care for our loved ones in some way when illness strikes, have a roof over our heads.  However, the need for money and all the ‘luxury’ it can buy also separates us, isolates us, forces us to lock our doors, work at a job that is unfulfilling because it pays well, turn the other way when we see someone in need.  Fear.  Always fear.  Not the way I would like to live.  When we are deeply connected to our spiritual self, we know how magnificent we really are and how we came to be here and what our purpose is, the sharing of our gifts.  When we are liberated from clinging to what happens next and begin to move through this life one mindful inhale after the other, we get to apply and live aparigraha-non grasping, non possessiveness.  We let go of abhinivesa, our fear of death, little by little.  We let go of our fear of not having enough.  We let go of identity of status, and focus on relationships with others, our environment, and those beings we share this space with.  This is what my relationship to money has become.  I see possibilities at every turn on how to share it.  I love the quote by St. Augustine; “Determine what God has giv  See full.

An interesting concept related to this question of money can be offered in three Sanskrit (the ancient language of yoga) words:  avidya, abhinivesa, and aparigraha.  Avidya-not knowing, abhinivesa-fear of death, and aparigraha-non grasping.  Avidya, not knowing, or ‘ignorance’ of who we really are tends to cause suffering and grasping onto everything, constricting our thinking, our movements, our emotions, our freedom.  It is in this state we experience abhinivesa-fear of death.  We cling tightly to desire and identity, and the amount of money we can get or use or flaunt, or hoard.  We are never quite sure there is enough.  We are afraid.  Many of us in western culture have it great; can find the next meal, can care for our loved ones in some way when illness strikes, have a roof over our heads.  However, the need for money and all the ‘luxury’ it can buy also separates us, isolates us, forces us to lock our doors, work at a job that is unfulfilling because it pays well, turn the other way when we see someone in need.  Fear.  Always fear.  Not the way I would like to live.  When we are deeply connected to our spiritual self, we know how magnificent we really are and how we came to be here and what our purpose is, the sharing of our gifts.  When we are liberated from clinging to what happens next and begin to move through this life one mindful inhale after the other, we get to apply and live aparigraha-non grasping, non possessiveness.  We let go of abhinivesa, our fear of death, little by little.  We let go of our fear of not having enough.  We let go of identity of status, and focus on relationships with others, our environment, and those beings we share this space with.  This is what my relationship to money has become.  I see possibilities at every turn on how to share it.  I love the quote by St. Augustine; “Determine what God has given you, and take from it what you need; the remainder is needed by others.” 

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Live the Questions Now, by Rainer Maria Rilke

FaceBook  On May 30, 2011 Ricky wrote:

Since I work with teens in a public school setting, I am most excited when they even have questions.  I'm not referring to the questions about the schedule or the class content; I am talking about questions of existence and how they may see themselves fit here in this lifetime.  If I had not been living the questions, I would not be able to help them share their questions and grow based on their ability now to still and be open for the answers.  It truly is a blessed existence, and sharing my journey of living the questions with these precious beings is blissful.   

 

Paradox of Noise, by Gunilla Norris

FaceBook  On May 22, 2011 Ricky wrote:

Paradoxes.  Seemingly diametrically opposed or absurd statements that actually may be true.   Lately, according to this reading, it is exactly that 'deeper level of being, that loves paradoxes', where I have been living recently.  The reality I connect to while enjoying this concept is found in Gunilla Norris’ last statement:  ‘Through our willingness to be the one we are, we become one with everything.’   I love the time spent stilling myself and watching the thoughts.  Many times I find myself giggling.  I love the opportunity to take time for myself without guilt to get in touch with all the mind-stuff, referred to in Sanskrit as citta-vrtti.  This is the part of me that makes me human…this function of the mind to be constantly in motion and expressing itself.  I love the idea of thinking nothing of the thinking.  And not knowing the knowing.  And practicing non judgment…just observing what is.   I teach high school.  There is such an audible din everywhere you turn, and if one can view this as a whole-as a bee swarm-instead of each of its separate parts-bee roles, judgment reduces.  And, in the yoga practice, sitting in stillness and leading these precious ones into yet another opportunity of quieting for a while, brings the greatest joy and insights.   There is much to learn about our inner beauty and gifts.  It’s amazing how much deep understanding is available in the time spent in a comfortable state of stillness.  Listening to and experiencing the internal noise , noticing the ebb and flow of thought, and connecting to the ‘roar of existence’ is a practice needed more around the world.    See full.

Paradoxes.  Seemingly diametrically opposed or absurd statements that actually may be true.

 

Lately, according to this reading, it is exactly that 'deeper level of being, that loves paradoxes', where I have been living recently.  The reality I connect to while enjoying this concept is found in Gunilla Norris’ last statement:  ‘Through our willingness to be the one we are, we become one with everything.’

 

I love the time spent stilling myself and watching the thoughts.  Many times I find myself giggling.  I love the opportunity to take time for myself without guilt to get in touch with all the mind-stuff, referred to in Sanskrit as citta-vrtti.  This is the part of me that makes me human…this function of the mind to be constantly in motion and expressing itself.  I love the idea of thinking nothing of the thinking.  And not knowing the knowing.  And practicing non judgment…just observing what is.

 

I teach high school.  There is such an audible din everywhere you turn, and if one can view this as a whole-as a bee swarm-instead of each of its separate parts-bee roles, judgment reduces.  And, in the yoga practice, sitting in stillness and leading these precious ones into yet another opportunity of quieting for a while, brings the greatest joy and insights.

 

There is much to learn about our inner beauty and gifts.  It’s amazing how much deep understanding is available in the time spent in a comfortable state of stillness.  Listening to and experiencing the internal noise , noticing the ebb and flow of thought, and connecting to the ‘roar of existence’ is a practice needed more around the world.

 

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New Atoms Doing the Same Dance, by Richard Feynman

FaceBook  On May 15, 2011 Ricky wrote:

A dance…and science.  Are they mutually exclusive?  According to Einstein’s reflections, and Thoreau’s writings, and Christ’s teachings, we are interconnected, no matter what spin your thinking brain may put on it.   There is an open channel to the story of life, and we experience it through our physiological system, our emotional and mental system, and our spiritual system.  These are not separate as some may lead us to believe.  The life here according to Dr. Weiss can be explained in this way:  ‘We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.’  And we are vibrational.  In the Yoga Sutras, we come together in likemindedness and joy to connect with this vibration.  Jesus stated that wherever two or more gather, He is in the midst.  For me this means two or more spiritual entities.  What a connection.  According to Rumi, in the ‘Mystery of the Moment’:  “To the mind there is such a thing as news, whereas to the inner knowing, it is all in the middle of its happening.  To doubters, this is a pain.  To believers, it’s gospel.  To the lover and the visionary, it is life as it’s being lived.”    How I tune into this open channel is through a myriad of revelations and happenings every moment of every day…the simple life.  Removing shoes and moving slowly through the meadow, mindful of each footfall.  Resting on a sun warmed rock, looking up, embraced by and connected with the earth and the puffy white clouds billowing in the deepest blue sky.  Sensory responses such as goosebumps, hair on the back of the neck, rapid heart beat, vibrational movements within personal space, to unseen happenings.  A Sanskrit mantra.  The spoken word, no matter the language.  An indigenous story.  Releasing stress with nega  See full.

A dance…and science.  Are they mutually exclusive?  According to Einstein’s reflections, and Thoreau’s writings, and Christ’s teachings, we are interconnected, no matter what spin your thinking brain may put on it.

 

There is an open channel to the story of life, and we experience it through our physiological system, our emotional and mental system, and our spiritual system.  These are not separate as some may lead us to believe.  The life here according to Dr. Weiss can be explained in this way:  ‘We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.’  And we are vibrational.  In the Yoga Sutras, we come together in likemindedness and joy to connect with this vibration.  Jesus stated that wherever two or more gather, He is in the midst.  For me this means two or more spiritual entities.  What a connection.  According to Rumi, in the ‘Mystery of the Moment’:  “To the mind there is such a thing as news, whereas to the inner knowing, it is all in the middle of its happening.  To doubters, this is a pain.  To believers, it’s gospel.  To the lover and the visionary, it is life as it’s being lived.” 

 

How I tune into this open channel is through a myriad of revelations and happenings every moment of every day…the simple life.  Removing shoes and moving slowly through the meadow, mindful of each footfall.  Resting on a sun warmed rock, looking up, embraced by and connected with the earth and the puffy white clouds billowing in the deepest blue sky.  Sensory responses such as goosebumps, hair on the back of the neck, rapid heart beat, vibrational movements within personal space, to unseen happenings.  A Sanskrit mantra.  The spoken word, no matter the language.  An indigenous story.  Releasing stress with negative ions near the ocean waves, splashing in a waterfall, being enveloped by fog, twirling in the rain.  The sight and sound of salmon jumping in the kelp bed.  A tree in full fragrant blossom, supporting a din of pollinators of every size, color, and hum.  Porpoises teaching and playing with offspring.  An eagle pair negotiating meal selections and parental duties.  Eating crunchy lettuce leaves straight from the soil, from a plant bathed in the sun’s energy, dripping with the sweetest liquid.  A singing bowl.  Listening to the positive affirming inspirational language of children.  Stilling the mind with each breath, listening to the beating heart, surrounded by bird songs and motorcycle OMs. Children spontaneously laughing in play.  Full and intense eye contact with a ‘stranger’ and resonating with the connection that results, touching joy.  Harmony expressed through song, drums, strums.  Deep heart connection in a hug.  Observing wildlife simply coming and going.  Quail herding the brood of 10.  Sunset.  Sunrise.  Moonset.  Moonrise.  Shooting stars.  Aurora borealis.  Effortless bird flight.  Fish schools.  A teen yoga practice.  An unexpected smile.  “Seeing color”.  A newborn, no matter the species.  Awareness through trusting the deep inner knowing, experiencing the ‘aha’ moment.  Watching sea otters frolic, harbor seals communicate through slapping the water, mo’o (lizards) and the halting gait.   Frog lullabies in spring rains.  Peace and complete happiness through calm reflection.  The lone tree, roots tightly gripping the side of the sheer cliff, sheltering and supporting the tiniest nest of a hummingbird and baby chicks.  A lake at once still and teaming with life.  Smelling rain before it arrives.  Jumping, completely weightless, into the warm ocean, welcomed by the turtle and the coral.  The purring cat.  The dog in downdog.  Whale songs while sitting on the beach.  A bell sound.  Delightful giggling at the antics of sand crabs.  The rush of energy after a task completed, or an exhilarating activity.  Drinking in the beauty and tranquility at the top of the peak, no matter the height or distance.  At an advanced age expressing the joy of my five year old self through spontaneous, rhythmic movement.  Warm healing hands, pressed together.  Being ever present and authentic.  The metaphor of Indra’s net in a spider’s web.  Laying down cultural and academic beliefs on separateness, and embracing the nurture of interconnectedness…filled with Love.     

 

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Full Effort is Full Victory, by Eknath Easwaran

FaceBook  On May 8, 2011 Ricky wrote:

To begin, there is so much more to us and our experience than the next news story, the gossip around town, who drives us nuts, what to wear today, what to do, where to shop, where our next vacation is, and all the activities surrounding the almighty dollar by getting ahead-being the best-competing and clawing our way to the top.  We are much more than our job description.  When we peel back all the layers of unconscious living, we rediscover our heart.  Within our heart we know what is true and necessary.  We are led to serve others for the higher good.  We are to connect to our passion, our Gifts, do our work, our action, and not be attached to the outcome.  Gandhi did exactly that.  When we are connected to what we know to be the truth about why we are here, we have tapped into the wellspring of boundless energy that is the Universe.  We wake each morning with purpose and vision.  We rest in the calm peace that comes with the deepest sense of gratitude.  Each encounter, each step, each conversation, each smile is heavenly and holistic.  We are guided by the Big S Self, our heart.  We express our Spirit which is Universal and connected to each Spirit within each heart, to everything around us, within us, and continue to nurture that with each breath.  While we are on this journey of our life, we are experiencing life and all it offers.  With this experience comes deeper understanding of what it is to ‘fail’, or make a ‘mistake’.  We may judge ourselves or others a ‘failure’ or by our ‘mistakes’, based on cultural norms and expectations, and when we do we suffer and cause suffering.  That can’t be what is true spiritually.  Each experience can offer Love, and we can live in Love in this effort.  The relationship we have with all sentient beings can be the expression of this Love.  Full effort is fully liv  See full.

To begin, there is so much more to us and our experience than the next news story, the gossip around town, who drives us nuts, what to wear today, what to do, where to shop, where our next vacation is, and all the activities surrounding the almighty dollar by getting ahead-being the best-competing and clawing our way to the top.  We are much more than our job description.  When we peel back all the layers of unconscious living, we rediscover our heart.  Within our heart we know what is true and necessary.  We are led to serve others for the higher good.  We are to connect to our passion, our Gifts, do our work, our action, and not be attached to the outcome.  Gandhi did exactly that.  When we are connected to what we know to be the truth about why we are here, we have tapped into the wellspring of boundless energy that is the Universe.  We wake each morning with purpose and vision.  We rest in the calm peace that comes with the deepest sense of gratitude.  Each encounter, each step, each conversation, each smile is heavenly and holistic.  We are guided by the Big S Self, our heart.  We express our Spirit which is Universal and connected to each Spirit within each heart, to everything around us, within us, and continue to nurture that with each breath.  While we are on this journey of our life, we are experiencing life and all it offers.  With this experience comes deeper understanding of what it is to ‘fail’, or make a ‘mistake’.  We may judge ourselves or others a ‘failure’ or by our ‘mistakes’, based on cultural norms and expectations, and when we do we suffer and cause suffering.  That can’t be what is true spiritually.  Each experience can offer Love, and we can live in Love in this effort.  The relationship we have with all sentient beings can be the expression of this Love.  Full effort is fully living.  Being present with the effort is life.  Putting down attachment to the outcome of such divine effort is the ultimate in moksha (liberation) and experiencing this deepest joy daily is ananda (bliss).  Therein lies full victory.        

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The Test for Meditation in Action, by Shinzen Young

FaceBook  On May 2, 2011 Ricky wrote:

As I move through the day on the high school campus, surrounded by the daily drama, angst, miscommunication, bullying, posturing, depression, and extraordinary focus on ‘doing’ rather than ‘being’, meditation in motion has become a ‘reality’ on how to personally cope with the exchange of energy.  With each step, with each breath, I am reminded and aware of the experience that lays before the Big S Self, and that all of this can be viewed as a ‘dream’, according to the Toltec tradition.  My mantra daily is I am enough for the students who need me today.  This way I do not get overwhelmed, overstimulated, overly saddened, and stressed.  Since practicing and teaching yoga over the past three years, I have connected to and experienced santosha-contentment with the Big S Self (no-self) by becoming aware with each mindful breath, and at my advanced age have been challenged to seek moksha-liberation on a more regular basis.  This in no way means I have reached some sense of enlightenment as pursued by the ancients, and I have enjoyed the journey immensely!  For me, I can’t imagine a day without mediation in motion (action).  Our words are powerful and right speech through observing silence is necessary.  Our actions are our responsibility, and right action is required.  Our dedication to service is the world’s hope, and becoming connected to our gifts for this service requires a quieting of the mind and deep listening with our hearts.  To be fully awake means to practice meditation in motion-action.  These are extraordinary times.  I intend to be present and experience them to their fullest.     See full.

As I move through the day on the high school campus, surrounded by the daily drama, angst, miscommunication, bullying, posturing, depression, and extraordinary focus on ‘doing’ rather than ‘being’, meditation in motion has become a ‘reality’ on how to personally cope with the exchange of energy.  With each step, with each breath, I am reminded and aware of the experience that lays before the Big S Self, and that all of this can be viewed as a ‘dream’, according to the Toltec tradition.  My mantra daily is I am enough for the students who need me today.  This way I do not get overwhelmed, overstimulated, overly saddened, and stressed.  Since practicing and teaching yoga over the past three years, I have connected to and experienced santosha-contentment with the Big S Self (no-self) by becoming aware with each mindful breath, and at my advanced age have been challenged to seek moksha-liberation on a more regular basis.  This in no way means I have reached some sense of enlightenment as pursued by the ancients, and I have enjoyed the journey immensely!  For me, I can’t imagine a day without mediation in motion (action).  Our words are powerful and right speech through observing silence is necessary.  Our actions are our responsibility, and right action is required.  Our dedication to service is the world’s hope, and becoming connected to our gifts for this service requires a quieting of the mind and deep listening with our hearts.  To be fully awake means to practice meditation in motion-action.  These are extraordinary times.  I intend to be present and experience them to their fullest.   

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Giving Within For-Give-Ness, by Michael Bernard Beckwith

FaceBook  On Apr 25, 2011 Ricky wrote:

Trusting the deepest inner truth is key to this concept of forgiveness.  While religion can be the path to God, it actually is the external mind manifestations of what is internal heart vibrational connection to all that is.  That said, forgiveness is an extention of dropping the ego and embracing the experience we refer to as life.  We all may be doing our best each day, and moving closer to the realization that in 'each experience the infinite is having a finite experience' (quote from one of my teachers).   Ego sets boundaries, creates judgments, perpetuates dualism-good vs evil, right vs wrong...Forgiveness is a tangible act of remembering we are much more than the vessel we inhabit during this lifetime and that kindness and acts of generosity are healing in light of the distraction of ego centered action.  When I was young and impressionable, involved in the activities of the church, I was constantly alarmed by the lack of Love shown between members of the church.  A common concept I heard within the gossip was hypocrisy.  Members were saying one thing within the church walls, and their actions in the community were broadcasting something quite different.  Forgiveness seemed like an act of pulling teeth.  As I have come to the present time of my journey, I realize we have tendencies to be 'confused by the idea we are a person' (quote from another of my teachers), someone who can be hurt and wounded by the actions of another.  The times I am most at peace is when in the midst of a conflict, my heart watches and marvels at the ego's struggle for righteousness and survival, realizing at that moment there is just experience, and no need for forgiveness...just Love.   

 

Before You Know What Kindness Really Is, by Naomi Shihab Nye

FaceBook  On Apr 18, 2011 Ricky wrote:

As I read and reread the passage, I am struck by the similarity between what I experience as an overwhelming sense of gratitude and this poetic experiential definition of kindness.  Both are expressed with an open heart.  Both give us pause to remember that right action transcends time.  Both can be exercised as a profoundly positive extension of our deeply personal 'story'.  Both are extraordinary expressions of the deepest truth we can know...that everything is love. 

 

A 9-Year-Old's Hidden Self, by Jacob Needleman

FaceBook  On Apr 10, 2011 Ricky wrote:

I am so grateful to have read such a precious story about a parent who really gets it...about who our 'teachers' are on this journey we refer to as our life...in this case, his daughter.  What most enchants me about this beautiful writing is that it touches what I know to be true in my deepest inner core-my soul-the Self.  At a very young age, as I looked out at the world around me and tried to make sense of it all by making observations and asking questions, I was greeted by 'unconscious' adult rhetoric by adults who had lost that connection to what is, in their own effort to make sense of everything.  As a youngster I believed the rhetoric.  Confused for a very long time (at least 50 of these years), and dealing with the consequences of not being true to what I know to be true about my life and others around me, only when I began to teach and practice yoga did I offer myself peace and grace.  His daughter was shown that peace and grace through the soul connection-the universe connection-the heart connection that occurred in this story.  And he was present enough to  recognize and reconnect to his deepest inner core, his inner child, as he focused not on what was being said, but what was real about the encounter.  I teach children, and know them to be much closer to the Self, and listen to them to connect each time they speak, look intently,  express themselves in dance, and their limitless artistic and problem solving talents.  I teach high school.  I am present every day for these moments described in the story.  The 'something' referred to in the story is the 'everything', and the 'only thing'.

Much love, Ricky

 

Believers in Small Graces, by Kent Nerbern

FaceBook  On Feb 8, 2011 Ricky wrote:

Possibly the most inspirational writing I have had the honor to read in quite a while, and it represents exactly the uplifting nature of the deep connection we all have to the Consciousness within us.  A dear friend has stated that in answer to the question "Why this then?" when asked what's the point of us being here now, "This is the infinite having a finite experience."  And this beautifully written passage captures this essence in holistic terms.  Thank you so much.