You are Not Your Thoughts

You are Not Your Thoughts

"You are the awareness of your thoughts. You are not your thoughts. You can let your thoughts happen. Just know that the real you is the awareness."

~ RuPaul

Both the Protagonist and the Antagonist

Doris Payne lived large. She traveled abroad. She stayed in luxury hotels. She hung out with interesting characters. But she funded all her adventures by fencing the diamonds she lifted from high-end jewelers around the world. She was a remarkably successful thief with an impressive criminal career that spanned decades. But time, age, and technology finally caught up with her in recent years.   

Different from the Real Experience

Germaine Koh, Knitwork, 1992, Unravelled used garments reknit into growing object. View of process at Galerie B-312, February 2012. Photo: Gordon Hicks

"Observe other people as they’re acting out their interpretation of an experience or telling you about something that happened in their life. You can tell the difference between what actually happened to them and how they’re interpreting it. Their interpretation isn’t wrong, necessarily—it’s just different from the real experience."

~ Phillip Moffitt, from Emotional Chaos to Clarity

A Trained Mind

"What I find most rewarding is how well Search Inside Yourself has worked for ordinary folks in a corporate setting right here in a modern society. If Search Inside Yourself had worked this well for people from traditionally meditative cultures doing intensive retreats in zendos or something, nobody would be too surprised. But these are ordinary Americans working in a high-stress environment with real lives and families and everything, and still, they can change their lives in just twenty hours of classroom time spread over seven weeks."

~ Chade-Meng Tan

Listen to Music, Hear Your Thoughts

Listen to Music, Hear Your Thoughts

By default, most of us have developed a stunning and sophisticated repertoire for blocking out the world around us. We allocate the bulk of our attention inwardly toward the stories playing out in our minds.

No Idea

“To know how good you are at something requires the same skills as it does to be good at that thing. Which means, if you’re absolutely hopeless at something, you lack exactly the skills that you need to know that you’re absolutely hopeless at it. And this is a profound discovery, that most people who have absolutely no idea what they’re doing have absolutely no idea that they have no idea what they’re doing. It explains a great deal of life.”

~ John Cleese

British writer, actor and tall person John Cleese discusses the importance of creating boundaries to foster creativity (Creativity World Forum).

If You Take the Time

"In the course of the play, what I learn — and it's why I view it as a Zen play — is that if you take the time, which often old age and disease forces you to do, you slow down and take the time, you begin to see things differently. Things that might on the surface look mediocre, but that in fact, when you pierce them and delve down into them, are beautiful."

~ Jane Fonda, discussing 33 Variations with Susan Stamberg, Morning Edition, Mar. 1, 2011

Where Work and Play Merge

From Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art by Stephen Nachmanovitch:

We have all observed the intense absorption of children in play, that wide-eyed concentration in which both the child and the world vanish, and there is only the play. Grown-ups involved in work they love also can experience such moments. It is possible to become what you are doing; these times come when pouf!—out you go, and there is only the work. The intensity of your focused concentration and involvement maintains and augments itself, your physical needs decrease, your gaze narrows, your sense of time stops. You feel alert and alive; effort becomes effortless. You lose yourself in your own voice, in the handling of your tools, in your feelings for the rules. Absorbed in the pure fascination of the game of that particular medium, you forget time and place and who you are. The noun of self becomes a verb. This flashpoint of creation in the present moment is where work and play merge.

Buddhists call this state of absorbed, selfless, absolute concentration samadhi. Samadhi is best known to be attainable through the practice of meditation, thought there is also walking samadhi , cooking samadhi, sandcastle-building samadhi, writing samadhi, fighting samadhi, lovemaking samadhi, flute-playing samadhi. When the self-clinging personality somehow drops away, we are both entranced and alert at the same time.

Babies of our own and other species seem to be often, if not usually, in a state of samadhi, and also have the unique property of putting everyone around them into a state of samadhi as well. Happy, relaxed, unmindful of self, concentrated, the baby envelops us in her own state of divine delight and expansiveness. Even when a baby is squalling and miserable, and making everyone else miserable too, she is whole and thorough about it, and is generating her own special atmosphere of squalling samadhi and misery-making samadhi

…One of the great ways of emptying the self, along with meditation, dance, love, and play, is tuning a musical instrument. In tuning an instrument we are forced to obliterate outside noises and distractions: As the sound gets closer and closer to the pure vibration we are trying for, as the pitch moves up and down over a smaller and smaller range, we find body and mind progressively dropping away. We enter more and more deeply into the sound. We enter into a kind of trance state. This intensified listening is deep play—total immersion in the game. And once we pick up that instrument to play, our friends the audience will enter into a similar state of mind more readily in proportion to the care we have given to that process of tuning. What we discover, mysteriously, is that in tuning the instrument we tune the spirit.

An even simpler samadhi exercise is this: Look at whatever is in front of you and say, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” to it, like Molly Bloom’s life-affirming, love-affirming mantra at the end of Ulysses. The universe of possibilities becomes visibly, tangibly larger, over a period of mere moments. When you say, “No, No, No,” the world gets smaller and heavier. Try it both ways and verify the truth of this very simple method. Look at water lilies or other highly vascular flowering plants. When the sun comes out, the flowers unfold before your eyes; when the sun goes away, they close. What the sun’s radiation and the lilies say to each other, translated through the biophysical language of chlorophyll, sugar, protein, and water, is “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

The Monastery Will Come to Each of Us

The Monastery Will Come to Each of Us

"Most people have neither the time nor the inclination to do intensive formal meditation practice. Why should they? Isn’t there enough physical and emotional discomfort in ordinary life? Why intentionally seek it out?

But the monastery will come to each of us when we have to confront our fears, losses, compulsions and anxieties, or process the aftermath of trauma. The monastery comes to us in the form of emotional crisis, illness or injury, a phobia or a failed relationship. The question is whether we will be in a position to recognize and use it as such."

~ Shinzen Young