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What are some techniques for finding freedom within ourselves?

I view spiritual practice as the freeing of awareness from identification with anything. That’s a spiritual practice. How that is done is through a wide variety of means. It can be done, for example, in the heart through a devotional practice. In other words, I can bring my mind through to love using some icon, or some being, or some person, and loving it so thoroughly that it frees the mind from all the rest of the stuff. Then I can go into that love so deeply, that I go into the formless love. I go through form into formlessness, and I come to that place of free awareness through love.


For example, I use mala prayer beads. This is a technique for reminding me that you and I are only relatively real. I’m keeping another plane of reality going simultaneously to remind me of the formlessness inherent in the form. In other words, I’m doing a practice while I’m talking to you.


Now the whole idea of a meditative practice is the process of very simply extricating awareness from the identification with thought and sensation.

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Does the Human Mind Need a Fresh Start?

Most people would agree, even without a degree in psychology, that many if not most problems are created by the mind. It’s impossible to be human without the functioning of the higher brain (the cerebral cortex), which is proportionately larger in Homo sapiens, and evolved with unusual swiftness into the state where it can process mathematics, philosophy, art and science. But we are trapped by the mind at the same time, as witness centuries of war on a vast scale down to daily episodes of domestic abuse in the home, or take a clinical view at the countless people suffering from depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental distress.

 

Medicine aims to relieve people of mental distress, with the goal of addressing a mood disorder like depression, for example, and returning the mind to a normal state. But this only highlights our confusion over what “normal” means, because there are plenty of ills created by people who would pass the test for normality. In our own minds was born the atom bomb, toxic chemicals, ecological depredation, authoritarian regimes, religious and racial prejudice, and so on. Normal still leaves the human mind ignorant of how to escape itself, which could be the true mark of Homo sapiens as a unique species.

 
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Jingle Bells – Be Here Now

Have you noticed that Christmas seems to be way too early every year? I was with a couple of my friends on Saturday night at a mall and we were remarking how eerie it was that everything was all decked out for Christmas already.


Everywhere we looked was tinsel, and glittery ornaments and holiday smells and there was music like Jingle Bells and other joyful happy holiday songs playing everywhere.


To be honest I love all of it.

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Have You Become a Mindful Snob?

This year, I’ve shared a little bit of my mindful journey with you. I’ve written about how often this journey has been less blissful, more uncomfortable. I’ve shared how the process has felt inauthentic when I’ve slid back into old habits: getting into my head, giving in to melancholy, and hanging on to longing. Those are three things I must hold at arm’s length because they’re not good for me. Today, though, I don’t want to talk about these little bumps in this mindful trek. Instead, I want to talk about how others play a role in our mindfulness.

 

Wait. What? Isn’t mindful living about connecting with oneself and tapping into our own superpower?

 

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Mindfulness and the Joy of Living

Life was created for the expansion of bliss. This may be hard to believe because most of the time this is not your experience. Your nature is joy and it is the expression and expansion of your nature that is the reason you are here. Enjoying life is to be in alignment with your nature and your purpose.


It basically comes down to love or fear. Your nature is love and when you are connected and grounded in your authentic nature you are able to enjoy life. You can flow with the expansion of life. You can accept change as the cause for more evolution. You can allow life to bring you all that uniquely supports your expression. You can connect to others and live authentically. In love there is total acceptance and allowing and trust.

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Mindfulness, Freedom and Limitations

The main limitations for any human being are that you experience the following limited beliefs:


I am my body


I am my thoughts


I am my feelings


I am my concepts and beliefs


I am this separate consciousness


The illusion that this is who you are veils and hides your authentic, essential Self and causes you to live in a limited state of dis-connection from your full intelligence and power. The ego, creates the experience of a separate “I”. Universal I becomes limited, separate I. You see everything as outside of yourself and you create false stories, you see things as separate from yourself and judge everything as good and bad. This separation cause you to feel fear, lack and limitation.

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Mindfulness and a Busy Mind

What have you put into your mind? What have you fed your mind for years? What vibrations have you filled your mind with? You can feel them now reflected in the state of your mind; at peace or at war, calm or agitated, a clear, calm lake or a monkey mind. It is what it is and so you must look at how to shift it into a mind that functions naturally, in a way that is always supporting your fullest expression and expanded state.


You have filled yourself with so many impressions, many that are vibrationally unsupportive and dense. The first step is to find a way to change your energy so that higher vibrational frequencies, more peaceful and aligned frequencies reflect within your mind.


You spend much of your life at war with life. You are in the habit of always wanting life to change, to be different from what it is and you spend so much time fixing it. You separate yourself from others through judgment and criticism and not allowing others to authentically be themselves. And you live an in-authentic life that requires that your mind work overtime being something that is not who you really are in order to win approval, acceptance and love.

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Our Nature is Simplicity Itself

If we went beyond thinking, feeling, and sensing right now, what would remain?


I invite you to try this exercise for a moment. Close the eyes, relax, and see if you notice the still, silent center within you.


Notice the balance and equipoise.


Notice the stillness.

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Paradise Right Now—Really?!

Is it unrealistic or irresponsible to talk about paradise when sexual abuse, mass shootings, massive fires, and monster storms are occurring somewhere in the world on almost a daily basis? Does the existence of violence and hatred make peace on earth a lost cause? I don’t think so. Maybe this is exactly the time to look at the possibility of global harmony and balance. After all, paradise is not really external-world perfection as we have come to think of it. It arises instead from our own hearts, our own perceptions. In this week’s video blog, I talk about how paradise, and perfection, live within us at all times….


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Creative Mysticism

I’m offering you an invitation. It’s simple but defies simple explanation. It’s both a journey and a singular destination. It is immediate and timeless. It’s now and forever.  It’s science and spirit, energy and matter, particle and wave. It’s a resounding symphony and a faint whisper. It’s a dive and an ascension.  Creative Mysticism is an approach to living rooted in wholeness, where intellect, intuition and imagination coexist in service to something greater than the individual.  This is the launch of a blog that meets at the intersection of contemplation and creation. It will explore how we can grow through challenging times by learning to see wholeness through the fractures, and create lives of meaning and beauty regardless of circumstance. 

Let’s begin by pretending. Like we did when we were kids. When imagination was as much a part of us as breath. When questions were doorways instead of walls. Let’s imagine that we’re here to remember who we really are.  Let’s exhale with wordless wonder or the giddy excitement of noticing the steady stream of miracles in our midst – the flight of a butterfly, the way rain splats into a puddle, how the puddle reflects the skyline, and the way the skyline pulls our gaze beyond the clouds and into the incomprehensible vastness of the cosmos.  Let’s pretend we’re all waking up from a collective game of amnesia and are beginning to remember who we truly are.

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Mindfulness and Health

In essence, supporting your health is an act of gratitude and worship. You have been given this vehicle to express in the world and you must address the body’s requirements in a balanced fashion. Since you must eat, eat with mindfulness, eat with balance and eat what supports health. Since you must move, move and exercise with balance and grace. Since you may get sick and someday will die, do not become too attached to the body. The body allows you to be here, to evolve and know the essential self. You must kill to survive so always express gratitude and connect to what you eat mindfully. Allow the body to serve its purpose and support it in that.


Health also includes a healthy mind. Realize that every thought you think affects you and your state, including your body. You are ingesting what you take in through all of your senses and filling yourself up with whatever that is; beneficial or harmful. The beneficial will calm the mind and expand consciousness. The harmful will agitate you and create narrow vision.

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Embodied Spirit: Mindfulness of the Body

The Buddha taught that mindfulness of the body is a direct path to the realization of truth, to peace and freedom. This talk explores how we leave a present-centered awareness of our body, and the pathways of homecoming – a favorite from the 2010 archives.

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How Reality Is Made: The Play of Consciousness

It’s a peculiar part of being human that we have both a mind and consciousness but cannot tell them apart. The difference is that the mind is constantly in motion, producing sensations, thoughts, images, and feelings, while consciousness is the basic “stuff” of the mind, which remains unchanged no matter how active the mind is. By analogy, paintings are produced by endlessly combining colors in new ways, while “color” itself is unaffected. A painting can neither create nor destroy color.

 

This inability to know the difference between mind and consciousness has created a trap that we all fall into. We create something from the “stuff” of consciousness and then forget that we created it. The trap becomes obvious with something like a dictatorship, when an ordinary human being becomes a figure of total belief and worship. From outside the ideology, you can see the deception—the very people who feel powerless before the dictator in fact created him and then felt powerless before him. But similar deceptions in everyday life escape our notice, and in that way, we trap ourselves.

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Mindfulness and Relationships

Relationships can be approached from 2 directions; need or as two fulfilled people sharing life. In relationship there should be both support and space. Looking to another to fulfill you will never work because fulfillment is a personal, internal experience. Share life, but have a life, each your own. Relationship that smothers or binds another or covers another with expectations will suffocate the other in need. It becomes energetically stifling.


Relationships serve as one of the strongest vehicles to bring into awareness all that is hidden. At the same time it allows you to connect to your essential self and feel the love there and focus and share that love with another. Love is always an internal experience, even though another can inspire your inner connection and allow you to get in touch with your inner love.

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Mindfulness and Addiction

When you don’t want to deal with something and you want to avoid it you move into behavior to distract yourself from it. That creates a habit or pattern that can become an addiction. Anything can become this distraction. The possibilities are limitless. You can distract yourself through work, social media, shopping, phone calls, as well as the addictions you commonly recognize; alcohol, drugs, pornography, food, gambling, sex.


Addiction disallows you to be present for life, to be completely engaged, to be open to feeling all that you must feel. Addiction is your solution to not wanting to feel something; the fear, anger sadness, shame.


When you don’t recognize, accept and feel these feelings, they become density. When you recognize, accept and feel them the energy of addiction dissipates and you are depriving the addiction of its energy. It is awareness that is the power that allows the energy of density to dissipate. Shining the light of awareness on your feelings can be difficult because you have constructed habitual patterns to avoid feeling. You fear you will be overwhelmed by emotion if you start feeling it all.

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Mindfulness and Money

Abundance is an aspect of consciousness. It is not created. It is uncovered or revealed or allowed. It already exists as an aspect of who you are. Fully expanded consciousness will automatically manifest abundance because abundance is its nature. If you purify yourself and expand your consciousness, abundance will manifest, effortlessly and naturally. In an expanded state you will intuitively know and believe that your abundance is assured because you are completely in touch with your true nature and then all of nature will conspire to create your abundance.

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Mindfulness and Sex

There is so much wrapped around the subject of sex; social norms, morality, religion, fear, addiction, habits, pleasure. It becomes almost impossible to strip all of that away and really look at what authentic expression, natural expression means. You need discrimination to look deeply and know who you authentically are. You are a unique expression and as unique expression no one will fit into the social, moral or religious mold exactly. One person will be more intellectual, another more emotional, another in the middle. Your uniqueness will affect sexual orientation and expression.


You have accumulated density and that also affects whether sex is approached from the standpoint of need, desire, craving and distraction or if it is approached from a balanced joyful expression within a structure that you find life supporting. Do you simply react to your craving and need or do you respond with discrimination to create what is fulfilling and life-supporting? There is value in approaching sex with awareness and mindfulness. There is a difference between pleasurable and beneficial and they create different long term results. Pleasure has value when merged with awareness and fulfillment. Pleasure can be a reflection of your inner bliss or a selfish act of disregard. Beneficial supports all life.

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Mindfulness and Stress

Stress happens when a system is out of balance. When something is too loose or too tight, when there is too much rest or too much activity or when there is too much attachment and resistance and not enough flow and allowing, stress is created. Stress can be physical, mental or emotional and is also part of what is called density; unresolved emotional content, experiences and conditioning. It is vibrational, dense and energetic at its core.

Stress causes you to experience overwhelm, anxiety, fear, anger, sadness, inability to cope with crises, relationship issues, medical problems, and job-related issues. When you look into the deepest level of why you accumulate stress you generally find that you are in resistance to life and you are in opposition to feeling certain emotions. Another main cause of stress is your conditioning that causes you to live in an inauthentic, created self, causing dis-connection from your true, authentic Self and dis-connection to people around you.

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How do you use boredom as a vehicle for awakening?

The beauty of a true spiritual journey is that it keeps unfolding from inside yourself, and if you just wait a little longer you’ll see how hungry you are for integrity inside yourself, for a certain quietness, for a certain clarity.

The tendency in our society is when there’s dis-ease, to grab another experience in order to reduce it.

I remember when I got into my cell in Burma. I spent the day in my cell, the first day of my two months, meditating righteously and getting my sleeping bag right and my food containers, and studying the spider at the window, and all the things you do. Then I realized I had months yet to go, and I was bored. I was really bored. Boredom became my object of meditation. I looked at boredom. Instead of the identification, “I’m bored,” I thought, “What is boredom? What does it feel like? What is it like? What does it mean to be bored?” Instead of, “Oh I’m bored.”

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The practice of “Be Here Now.”

As you study the way in which your mind works, the way in which a concentrated mind deals with the world, as opposed to a diffused mind, then you see the way in which this lack of being able to be at the office when you’re at the office, or at home when you’re at home, reduces your effectiveness in each of them.

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