The preoccupation with watching and letting go in meditation can easily continue the separation of our small mental stream from the great body of awareness of who we really are. The mental activity of watching and letting go can keep us entertained with the busyness of our ego while keeping us from deeper levels of meditation. It is in deeper meditation where we discover the love of our core self and a vast inner universe. In other words, meditation is much more than merely watching and letting go. No wonder many people give up on daily sitting. The endless thoughts, tiredness, boredom that seem to be waiting for us each time we sit are not much reward to continue a meditation practice.
Mindfully watching and letting go can lead to devaluing our thoughts, feelings, the story of our life. When we are told the life passing by our inner screen is only distraction, only clouds covering the large sky of awareness, we can downgrade important parts of who we are. The thoughts and feelings we are watching and hoping will disappear can lose their life force. We can forget there is purpose. In our detached observing and our desire to let everything go, we can be detaching and letting go instead of embracing life. The thoughts, feelings, and story filling our awareness are expressions of our life energy. These are our thoughts, our feelings which we are told are interrupting the clarity of meditation. If we are only watching and letting go we can be separating ourselves from the power, the life juice which our thoughts and feelings come from and are made of. Instead of feeling bigger, we can be left feeling small and unsuccessful. Many people try and quit meditation. They feel it maybe great for others but for me, thinking about not thinking seems like a waste of time and effort.
Watching and letting go of our mental activity by itself can be just an exercise of more mental activity. It can be an unending adventure of the ego watching and trying to let go of itself. Instead of trying to get our grasping ego to let go of itself, there is a loving presence, the love of our natural awareness, inviting us deeper within. The hope and power of meditation is to widen the river of our mental world to the ocean of being that is who we really are. Sitting and waiting for glimpses of clear viewing in the midst of a busy mental stream is not the same as clear being, experiencing awareness as a great body of peaceful presence.
The path to the great love of our core being begins with valuing and embracing the thought and feeling passing in our meditation. Instead of merely watching and letting go, we can embrace our mental stream. When we embrace the stream of thoughts, we are right away including our heart essence. Meditation is this embrace, feeling the presence of our heart in our awareness. This presence is underneath, in, and all around the inner voice, the stream of thought. As our awareness includes the greater presence we find inside, the engine of our mind slows down, the busy voice of our ego calms. Our experience of heart strengthens. We are no longer waiting for a break in the clouds, a clearing in our thoughts. Meditation is feeling the body of presence in our heart. Our meditation is bigger than the thought and feeling floating down our inner river. Meditation is the daily connection with the part of us that is much greater.
With practice, no matter what or how much thought and feeling come and go, we are identifying with something more, a brilliant stillness, the gentle vastness, the awe that is within us. Meditation is changing our identification from the narrow focus on thought and feeling. Meditation is sitting with something greater than today’s page in this chapter of our life story. Meditation is remembering the expansive peace in our heart which is so much more than the ups and downs on any page of our personal story. Meditation is directly receiving our heart essence. Our mental activity lessens as the inner well of our lightness of being is experienced. The strength of the busy mental activity decreases as the awareness of our inner silence grows. We are beginning to experience our core self, our no self with by its magnitude heals the unnecessary habit of always thinking. We can learn to be, heartfully present.
If we are going to take the time to meditate lets not just sit here watching and letting go.
More than needing to be mindful, lets be heart full. More than finding a few centering words, we can receive directly the quietude inside which carries us. There are realms of complete acceptance, an intimacy of soul and spirit to discover in deeper meditation.
As the culture of meditation grows and spreads it is important that we guide one another to the true garden, the real fruit which meditation offers. Sacred emptiness waits for us. This emptiness fulfills the part of us, our personality, that is seemingly always struggling. This sanctuary of emptiness heals the part of us that wants more, needs to be busy, that can’t have enough no matter how much we have. There is a home inside of each of us. Its walls, roof, and floor are a diamond light of unlimited emptiness. This home speaks directly to our materialism, greed, anger, and mistrust. Sacredness and holiness are words with meaning as we connect to the very real wordless encounter of a loving emptiness which is full of warm presence.
Meditation is so much more than watching and letting go. Life is much more than observing, letting go of grasping, and trying to control the events and characters of our story. Meditation takes down the veil, lightens the filter, uncovering our essence and true being. Meditation is devotion, understanding, humility, and joy. Meditation is true whenever our heart is involved. We are discovering consciousness. Meditation is washing away everything occupying the Divinity of awareness. This daily bath of our awareness is important if we are to stay in touch with our unworldly self, our true self, our innocence, and life’s beauty. Lets tell everyone hesitant to try or about to give up on meditation, the magical life of your heart and deep joy depend upon it. Meditation, absorbing the essence of our heart, frees our mind. Meditation brings forward the richness of consciousness, inner worlds beyond our imagination, and perhaps most important, the simplicity of this moment of love.
We invite you to join us in the exploration of meditation and consciousness at Silent Stay Retreat Home & Hermitage near Napa, California and Assisi, Italy.
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If you are like most people in the “human race,” you are so busy running through the paces of your day that you are not sure which minutes would rate as being most important. And even if you knew how to differentiate them from the other precious minutes of the day, how would you find the time to make the most of them?
Research shows that your mind is the most open and receptive to receiving information during the first and last five minutes of every day, when transitioning between consciousness and subconsciousness — while in alpha state.
Ironically, Americans report experiencing more stress than ever before, yet almost 70 percent still start the day with a blaring buzzer. There’s even a spike in heart attacks from the alarm on Monday mornings, which sends stressed out people right over the edge into cardiac arrest.  Needless to say, it is neurologically stressful to start your day in a physiological state of alarm.
Sleep deprivation is affecting millions of people every night,
Insomnia is affecting millions of people every night and is a leading cause of health issues like obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Sleep is the new sex — Sleeping pills now lead the list of most commonly prescribed medications by physicians. Yet, most Americans still tuck themselves in at night with the negative news on TV, or with the stimulating glare from their electronic devices. If you don’t want your subconscious mind to have you tossing and turning all night, then it is best to steer clear of the negative noise and e-energy before bedtime.
It’s time for some good news!
Instead of bookending your day with blaring buzzers and negative news, you can easily and enjoyably maximize your alpha minutes to create the life of your dreams. Here are three easy options for you:
Don’t just do something! Just lie there!
Resist the temptation to race out of bed as soon as you open your eyes in the morning. And at night, when you lay yourself down to sleep, “just say no” to turning on your electronic device and checking your email. Instead, infuse these magical moments with inspiration, and envision fulfilling your goals and dreams. Take advantage of these invaluable times to program your subconscious with positive thoughts, gratitude, visualization and affirmations. Bookending your day with meaningful inspiration is the easiest way to influence everything in between.
Get on a new thought track.
Studies show that your mind’s neurotransmitters are like train tracks, and thought patterns are formed like well-traveled train routes. To create new positive thought patterns, the initial positive thought is crucial to “laying down new tracks,” creating new positive thought routes and letting “grass grow” on the old thought tracks. And, while in alpha state, when your mind is the most open, take advantage of this optimal time to get new the thoughts rolling in the right direction on a new train of thought.
Start your day with a dress rehearsal.
Imagine yourself participating positively in your day during your morning meditation. See yourself successfully completing your tasks, accomplishing your daily goals and using your gifts for good, in the same way an elite athlete or Broadway performer prepares for an event or performance. Your subconscious believes the images and feelings you send it in your visualizations and can’t differentiate between your inner reality and “real world” out there. Having starred in Broadway musicals for 15 years, I personally experienced the benefits of visualizing my performance before every show.
Dream on your way to dreamland.
Visualize completing goals you are working to accomplish just before you fall asleep. You’ll give your subconscious six to eight hours to work on them while you are sound asleep. Allowing your subconscious to work for you while you sleep can give you that extra advantage you’ve been dreaming of for years!
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1. John Kounios et al., “The Prepared Mind: Neural Activity Prior to Problem Presentation Predicts Solution by Sudden Insight,” Psychological Science 17 (2006): 882-980; Mark Jung-Beeman et al., “Neural Activity Observed in People Solving Verbal Problems with Insight,” Public Library of Science – Biology 2 (2004) 500-10
2. Bora Zivkovic; Scientific American – http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/a-blog-around-the-clock/2011/11/03/spring-forward-fall-back-should-you-watch-out-tomorrow-morning/
3. Shankar A, Syamala S, Kalidindi S (2010) Insufficient Rest or Sleep and Its Relation to Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes and Obesity in a National, Multiethnic Sample. PLoS ONE 5(11): e14189. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014189
4. International Narcotics Control Board. Psychotropic Substances: Statistics for 2008; Assessments of Annual Medical and Scientific Requirements for Substances in Schedules II, III and IV of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971. New York: United Nations, 2010.
5. Ullrich Wagner and Jan Born, “Sleep Inspires Insight,” Nature 427 (2004): 352-55.
And when her birthday rolled around on July 23, the Seton Hall nursing student from Belvidere, N.J., along with her friend Meghan Cox and boyfriend Evan Reed, ended up doing just that.
“I wanted to do something big to show that helping others has a contagious rewarding feeling that comes with it,” Sadlon told the Setonian. “I wanted to make a difference, even if for one day.”
The goodwill tour took 10 hours to complete and went through five cities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, according to USA TODAY.
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“I appreciate everyone who is spreading my story,” Sadlon told The Huffington Post in an email, “because I want it to inspire others in a positive light.”
Random acts on the 22-year-old’s list ranged from quick, easy tasks — like paying someone’s toll or putting away grocery carts — to gestures like donating blood and leaving inspirational notes on cars.
“When we were done, we were in the best mood you could ever imagine. And that’s what I wanted for my birthday,” Sadlon told USA TODAY. “Your birthday is supposed to be a happy day. That’s what I was. Making someone else smile makes you want to smile.”
Happy belated birthday, Hillary!
Amber’s friends’ expectations that she should be “over it” and “moving on” didn’t help one bit. In fact, it made her feel embarrassed that she was expending so emotional energy focusing on her grief. People’s comments like “Why are you still so sad? Come on, it’s time to move forward” made her think that she must be grieving wrong and for too long.
“My sister’s death still feels unreal,” Amber admitted to me somewhat hesitantly. “When I think about the day of her death, one moment she was alive, the next moment she was not. Now she was breathing, now she was not.” This transition, which took place in a heartbeat, marked the beginning of a long and tumultuous journey for Amber and her family. And they, like many of you, had no idea what to expect.
Grief ebbs and flows.
As we move through grief, we do not follow a predictable trajectory in which we feel better and better each day. The pathway is landscaped with peaks and valleys. Some days will be easier than others. Some days you will feel like you are riding a roller coaster of emotions and it’s not easy to see any end in sight. Be patient with yourself and trust that just as you experienced more and less intensity in the relationship when the person was alive, so it will be now that they have died.
Your heart is not on a time schedule.
There is no magical time when Amber’s grief will change. And it won’t help to rush it. At first she felt like she was living in a bubble with everything seeming surreal. As she began to come out of the numbness that initially surrounded her, she discovered that without nature’s anesthesia, the pain of facing the reality of the death actually intensified.
Today, as she approaches the marking of the first year since her sister’s death, Amber finds herself re-living in her mind all that happened last year at this time. “I wasn’t even consciously aware of the date, but I was in such a funk. Then I remembered this was the date of her last admission to the hospital. I sat down and cried and just wanted to be alone.” Amber and I discussed making a plan for the actual date of death and then we made an alternate back-up plan just to give her the flexibility to see how she actually feels when the day arrives.
Maintaining a connection.
Over the course of Amber’s lifetime, there will be those significant life passages when she will yearn for her sister to be with her. “I just wish I could tell her what is happening in my world today,” Amber confesses, “No one could understand the way she would.” So last June when she walked up to receive her diploma, Amber wore her sister’s favorite necklace around her neck. “I could really feel her pride in me and my tears were a bittersweet mixture of delight and pain.”
What can grievers anticipate as time goes by?
• Remember that grief is a process. It is unrealistic to think that you will be “done” grieving at some definitive point in time.
• It takes time for healing to happen. Although the pain of grief often comes upon us all at once in a crushing blow, the pain lessens gradually.
• You will find relief through expressing your feelings even many months and years after the death.
• You cannot get through this alone, so find ways to seek out support — the camaraderie and understanding of others will help to normalize your feelings. Of course, if your grief ever becomes so intense that you are feeling suicidal or that you can’t go on living, reach out for immediate support from a therapist or psychiatrist.
• It helps to continue to honor and maintain a loving connection to the memory of the person who died.
• There will come a time when you will go for an hour, a day or a week without crying.
• When you are hit by a tidal wave of emotions, the duration will gradually diminish.
• There will be more time between those tidal waves.
• You will eventually be able to talk about your loved one without feeling an overwhelming sadness.
• You will find yourself laughing or enjoying yourself more often.
• You will be able to smile as you think of tender memories.
• You will begin to once again engage in activities that gave you pleasure in the past and develop new interests.
• You will begin to see and feel a possibility of hope for a meaningful life ahead.
Amber has found that letting go of how she “should” feel and finding people who are willing to accept her for how she does feel makes a big difference. Her participation in a grief support group has provided a consistent, safe place to express all her feelings with people who really care. Amber finds that for the most part, her grief is not as raw and constant as it was in the beginning, although there are certainly times when the feelings are quite intense. “I just have to be where I am at any given moment,” Amber recognizes. “Knowing that grief is a life-long process to be embraced and not feared has helped a lot.”
Fredda Wasserman, MA, MPH, LMFT, CT, is the Clinical Director of Adult Programs and Education at OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center, one of the nation’s most respected centers for grief support and education. Fredda presents workshops and seminars on end of life and grief for therapists, clergy, educators, and medical and mental health professionals at locations throughout the country. She is the co-author of Saying Goodbye to Someone You Love: Your Emotional Journey Through End of Life and Grief. Recognized as an expert in death, dying, and bereavement, Fredda has devoted her career to life’s final chapter.
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The family bonding moment gone terribly wrong was posted by Joey Gore who writes:
Our little bunny that we found in the garage. Fed him for a week and let him go. Unfortunately the hawk had other plans… 😦
While it appears to be genuine, we’re still hoping it’s fake like the famous ‘eagle snatching baby’ incident.
It’s probably not, though…
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was set up in 1988 by two UN agencies as a way to collect and disseminate the current best science on climate disruption. Since then, it has issued four assessment reports. Today, the IPCC began releasing its fifth assessment (known as the AR5). The first part is a “Summary for Policymakers.” You can find it here, but there are five things you really need to know about it.
1. The scientific work reported by the IPCC in the AR5 is the gold standard for getting a big-picture understanding of what’s happening to our climate. The report itself has 259 authors from 36 countries. They are scrupulous about quantifying the certainty of both findings and projections. This report is the best tool we have for making informed, rational decisions on how to deal with climate disruption.
2. There is a lot of bad news: Several effects of climate disruption have accelerated during the past decade, such as the loss of Arctic sea ice, the melting of big glaciers, and the rise of sea levels.
3. The human-made effects of climate disruption are not only in effect today, but they’re also speeding up. In fact, 12 of the warmest years in recorded history occurred during the last 15 years — and the IPCC report says it’s only going to get more intense.
4. Although global warming and climate disruption are the best-known consequences of carbon pollution, they’re not the only ones we should worry about. The oceans absorb carbon from the atmosphere and, as they do, become more acidic. This acidification is already killing coral reefs around the world. Ultimately, it could disrupt the entire marine food chain. Ours is a water planet — do we really want to risk killing our oceans?
5. OK, enough with the scary stuff. Here’s the single most important thing you need to know about the AR5: It’s not too late. We still have time to do something about climate disruption. The best estimate from the best science is that we can limit warming from human-caused carbon pollution to less than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit — if we act now. Bottom line: Our house is on fire. Rather than argue about how fast it’s burning, we need to start throwing buckets of water.
We’re going to need a lot of buckets. We’ll also need to be smart about how we use them.
Our top priority must be to reduce our dependence on dirty fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas, while boosting clean energy such as wind and solar. The proposed carbon pollution standards for new power plants that the Obama administration announced this week are aimed at our single biggest source of carbon pollution: coal. If you care about climate disruption, the most important thing you can do right now is voice your support for these protections, and get ready for an even more important fight next year to clean up pollution at existing power plants already in operation.
But President Obama also has some other big tools at his disposal: Rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, ending destructive oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and on public lands, stopping mountaintop-removal mining, curbing fossil fuel exports, and closing loopholes that exempt drilling and fracking for oil and gas from fundamental environmental protections. You can bet that the Sierra Club and our millions of members and supporters will work hard to see that he uses them. Just as importantly, we’ll also work to help build the clean-energy solutions that will take the place of those dirty fuels. Every wind turbine, every solar panel, every energy-efficient building is another step toward a clean-energy future.
The best climate scientists on the planet have sounded the alarm. Let’s get to work!
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