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Oct 10, 2011

I am larger and better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness."

- Walt Whitman

 

This meditation uses words, images, and feelings to evoke a lovingkindness and friendliness toward oneself and others. With each recitation of the phrases, we are expressing an intention, planting the seeds of loving wishes over and over in our heart.

With a loving heart as the background, all that we attempt, all that we encounter will open and flow more easily. You can begin the practice of lovingkindness by meditating for fifteen or twenty minutes in a quiet place. Let yourself sit in a comfortable fashion. Let your body rest and be relaxed. Let your heart be soft. Let go of any plans or preoccupations.

Begin with yourself. Breathe gently, and recite inwardly the following traditional phrases directed toward our own well-being. You being with yourself because without loving yourself it is almost impossible to love others.

May I be filled with lovingkindness.

May I be safe from inner and outer dangers.

May I be well in body and mind.

May I be at ease and happy.

 

 

As you repeat these phrases, picture yourself as you are now, and hold that image in a heart of lovingkindness. Or perhaps you will find it easier to picture yourself as a young and beloved child. Adjust the words and images in any way you wish. Create the exact phrases that best open your heart of kindness. Repeat these phrases over and over again, letting the feelings permeate your body and mind. Practice this meditation for a number of weeks, until the sense of lovingkindness for yourself grows.

Be aware that this meditation may at times feel mechanical or awkward. It can also bring up feelings contrary to lovingkindness, feelings of irritation and anger. If this happens, it is especially important to be patient and kind toward yourself, allowing whatever arises to be received in a spirit of friendliness and kind affection. When you feel you have established some stronger sense of lovingkindness for yourself, you can then expand your meditation to include others. After focusing on yourself for five or ten minutes, choose a benefactor, someone in your life who has loved and truly cared for you. Picture this person and carefully recite the same phrases:

May you be filled with lovingkindness.

May you be safe from inner and outer dangers.

May you be well in body and mind.

May you be at ease and happy.

 

 

Let the image and feelings you have for your benefactor support the meditation. Whether the image or feelings are clear or not does not matter. In meditation they will be subject to change. Simply continue to plant the seeds of loving wishes, repeating the phrases gently no matter what arises.

Expressing gratitude to our benefactors is a natural form of love. In fact, some people find lovingkindness for themselves so hard, they begin their practice with a benefactor. This too is fine. The rule in lovingkindness practice is to follow the way that most easily opens your heart.

 

When lovingkindness for your benefactor has developed, you can gradually begin to include other people in your meditation. Picturing each beloved person, recite inwardly the same phrases, evoking a sense of lovingkindness for each person in turn.

After this you can include others: Spend some time wishing well to a wider circle of friends. Then gradually extend your meditation to picture and include community members, neighbors, people everywhere, animals, all beings, the whole earth.

Finally, include the difficult people in your life, even your enemies, wishing that they too may be filled with lovingkindness and peace. This will take practice. But as your heart opens, first to loved ones and friends, you will find that in the end you won't want to close it anymore.

 

Lovingkindness can be practiced anywhere. You can use this meditation in traffic jams, in buses, and on airplanes. As you silently practice this meditation among people, you will come to feel a wonderful connection with them - the power of lovingkindness. It will calm your mind and keep you connected to your heart.

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Posted: Oct 10, 2011 9:26pm
Oct 10, 2011
“Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.”
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Posted: Oct 10, 2011 11:40am
Aug 25, 2010

Please put your attention on the breath for a few moments. Find patience and acceptance in your heart for your own difficulties, your own mistakes, …for all the things that you think about yourself which you might not like. Find the acceptance and the patience to endure that in your heart. Let the patience and acceptance grow so that they fill you from head to toe, a feeling of ease. And with that love arises and you can surround yourself and embrace yourself with love. Pick out one person who is present here and accept that person fully. And with the acceptance have patience for that person. No demand. No pressure. No wanting. Just acceptance. Fill that person with that acceptance, with that non demanding patience , and then surround him or her with love. And now extend that to everyone here. Accept everyone the way they are and have that non demanding patience for each person. No pressure. Nothing you want. Everything is. Everyone is. And then surround everyone with love. Now think of your parents. Fill them with your acceptance. Non demanding patience. Surround them with your love. Now think of those people who are closest to you. Those you might live with. Patience and acceptance. Lovingness. Embrace them with those. Fill them with those. Nothing else works. Now think of your good friends. Accept them exactly the way they are. Do not wish them to become other. Let patience with them arise, which is non demanding, and non judgmental. Fill them with that and then embrace them with your love. Now think of neighbors, acquaintances, relatives, people at work. Accept them exactly as you know them. Fill them with that acceptance, with that non demanding patience and non judgmental attitude, and then embrace them with your love . Now think of anyone whom you find difficult. Accept that person exactly the way he or she is. With non demanding patience. Fill him or her with that acceptance and patience. Then embrace him or her with love. Now have a look inside to see if there is anyone or anything that you dislike, whatever it maybe, whoever is may be, small or large, and then accept that the way it just is, or accept the person or the ideas or the situation. Just accept it and have patience with whatever it is. Reach out with that acceptance and patience to the person or situation involved. And now imagine that your acceptance and your patience is like a rose colored cloud coming from your heart and going far and wide, giving people joy and peace by seeing this lovely patience and acceptance that comes to them on this rose colored cloud which can reach very far. First to people around here and then further and further afield. Bringing patience and acceptance and love onto this planet, into this universe. Now put your attention back on yourself and feel yourself filled with patience, acceptance, and love. Let that be your inner being. The warmth of the love. The peacefulness of the patience and acceptance with yourself. May all beings have patience with each other.

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Posted: Aug 25, 2010 8:39pm
Aug 23, 2010

The natural ease of walking can be used as a direct and simple way to bring centeredness and peace into our life. Walking becomes a meditation when we bring a careful and present attention to each step we take. Walking becomes a meditation when we feel ourselves fully here on the earth. To learn walking meditation, select a place to walk back and forth at a leisurely rate, fifteen to thirty paces in length. Stand at the end of this "walking path." Feel your feet on the floor, on the earth. Sense the environment around you. Be aware of yourself and your surroundings until you feel quiet and composed. Then begin to walk. Focus your attention on your body, feeling each step as you lift your foot and place it back on the earth. As you sense each step, return your foot to the earth with care. Walk upright in a relaxed and dignified fashion. When you get to the end of your path, pause briefly and then turn around, Stand and center yourself then and be aware of the first step as you begin again. You can walk at whatever speed keeps you most present. Walk with careful attention to each step for fifteen or twenty minutes. Usually when we walk we are distracted by a hundred other things. As you walk in meditation, try to let the thoughts and images that arise remain in the background. Even so, you will regularly get carried away by thoughts. When this happens, simply stop walking and be aware of the thoughts. Then quietly re-center yourself and take the next step. Keep coming back to your footsteps in this simple way. At times you may wish to do a period of walking meditation alone. On other days you might walk for ten or fifteen minutes before beginning a sitting meditation. After some practice you can learn to use walking meditation to calm and collect yourself, to become truly present in your body. You can extend this walking period in informal ways, when you go shopping, when you walk down the street or to and from your car. You can learn to enjoy walking for its own sake instead of combining it with the usual planning and thinking. In this simple way you can move through life wakefully, with your whole body, heart and mind together in harmony.

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Posted: Aug 23, 2010 12:32pm
Aug 6, 2010

As the leaves drop in the autumn and the snow flakes turn to snow, You too have special gifts to release and just let go, As the rain falls from the clouds and each river flows to sea, Inside your heart is love and the power to be free... As our Earth orbits the sun and gently dwells in outer-space, All troubles can dissolve to reveal your inner-grace, As the light explodes in glory at the start of each new morn, You too have life’s permission to refresh and feel reborn, As the never-ending cycle of birth, death, awake and sleep, Eternity hums her tune and beckons...‘Journey deep...’ As a child laughs with pure innocence and we peel back every layer, We find ourselves, beyond the noise, to be a mighty player, As the wind sings through the tress and the rocks stand bold and strong, You too can find beyond your thoughts, there’s really nothing wrong, As the rain soaks dried up lands and the lightening parts the sky, Sometimes it is fine to pause and rest, and feel no need to try, As great underwater worlds intensely sparkle, dance, and play, You too can choose to live beyond, the forceful Ego way, As the seed becomes the flower which then reaches for the Sun, Living from you heart can be discovery and fun, As the stars shine in the cosmos and bring wisdom to our skies, There truly is another world... so breathe and close eyes, Life...mystery...unfolding...endless loving flow, Peace is here for you, when you choose to, just let go...

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Posted: Aug 6, 2010 10:02am
Jul 9, 2010

Sit comfortably in a quiet spot. Close your eyes and start bringing attention to your breath. Just notice it, without trying to change it in any way. Notice if it changes naturally just because it's being noticed. Say this: May I be safe. May I be whole. May the earth be safe. May the earth be whole. May all people everywhere be safe and whole. May all creatures everywhere be safe and whole. May we feel our deep connection to the earth. May the earth feel honored and loved by us. Go back to noticing your breath. Feel your sitz bones sinking toward the floor. And imagine yourself growing roots through the floor, through the building, through the foundation of the building, into the rich soil of the earth. Sinking deeper and deeper. Now imagine your heart is radiating pure divine love. Love for the earth, for the dolphins, for the fish, for the teeny tiny ameaobas, for the delicate ferns, for the swelling, swaying oceans. Say this: I am sending light and love to all beings. I am sending light and love to the earth. May we unite and may we know that we are safe, whole, and connected. May we treat each other and the earth tenderly. May we treat each other and the earth as divine. Still your self, go back to your breath, noticing each wave in and out. Sense those roots you've sunk into the soil and feel yourself nurtured, like a plant, through the roots. And go back to your heart, still radiating all that crazy-beautiful earth-love. Breathe in and out a few more moments. Feel the roots, sated, coming back into your body. Feel your heart fluttering back to its normal, beating, loving state. See the earth glowing, shining a little bit extra from receiving your love. Say this: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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Posted: Jul 9, 2010 6:34am
Jun 12, 2010

Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.

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Posted: Jun 12, 2010 6:09am
Jun 9, 2010

Everyone seeks peace and harmony, because this is what we lack in our lives. From time to time we all experience agitation, irritation, dishar­mony. And when we suffer from these miseries, we don't keep them to ourselves; we often distribute them to others as well. Unhappiness permeates the atmosphere around someone who is miserable, and those who come in contact with such a person also become affected. Certainly this is not a skillful way to live. We ought to live at peace with ourselves, and at peace with others. After all, human beings are social beings, having to live in society and deal with each other. But how are we to live peacefully? How are we to remain harmonious within, and maintain peace and harmony around us, so that others can also live peacefully and harmoniously? In order to be relieved of our misery, we have to know the basic reason for it, the cause of the suffering. If we investigate the problem, it becomes clear that whenever we start generating any negativity or impurity in the mind, we are bound to become unhappy. A negativity in the mind, a mental defilement or impurity, cannot coexist with peace and harmony. How do we start generating negativity? Again, by investigation, it becomes clear. We become unhappy when we find someone behaving in a way that we don't like, or when we find something happening which we don't like. Unwanted things happen and we create tension within. Wanted things do not happen, some obstacle comes in the way, and again we create tension within; we start tying knots within. And throughout life, unwanted things keep on happening, wanted things may or may not happen, and this process of reaction, of tying knots—Gordian knots—makes the entire mental and physical structure so tense, so full of negativity, that life becomes miserable. Now, one way to solve this problem is to arrange that nothing unwanted happens in life, that everything keeps on happening exactly as we desire. Either we must develop the power, or somebody else who will come to our aid must have the power, to see that unwanted things do not happen and that everything we want happens. But this is impossible. There is no one in the world whose desires are always fulfilled, in whose life everything happens according to his or her wishes, without anything unwanted happening. Things constantly occur that are contrary to our desires and wishes. So the question arises: how can we stop reacting blindly when confronted with things that we don't like? How can we stop creating tension and remain peaceful and harmonious? In India, as well as in other countries, wise saintly persons of the past studied this problem—the problem of human suffering—and found a solution: if something unwanted happens and you start to react by generating anger, fear or any negativity, then, as soon as possible, you should divert your attention to something else. For example, get up, take a glass of water, start drinking—your anger won't multiply; on the other hand, it'll begin to subside. Or start counting: one, two, three, four. Or start repeating a word, or a phrase, or some mantra, perhaps the name of a god or saintly person towards whom you have devotion; the mind is diverted, and to some extent you'll be free of the negativity, free of the anger. This solution was helpful; it worked. It still works. Responding like this, the mind feels free from agitation. However, the solution works only at the conscious level. In fact, by diverting the attention you push the negativity deep into the unconscious, and there you continue to generate and multiply the same defilement. On the surface there is a layer of peace and harmony, but in the depths of the mind there is a sleeping volcano of suppressed negativity which sooner or later may erupt in a violent explosion. Other explorers of inner truth went still further in their search and, by experiencing the reality of mind and matter within themselves, recognized that diverting the attention is only running away from the problem. Escape is no solution; you have to face the problem. Whenever negativity arises in the mind, just observe it, face it. As soon as you start to observe a mental impurity, it begins to lose its strength and slowly withers away. A good solution; it avoids both extremes—suppression and expression. Burying the negativity in the unconscious will not eradicate it, and allowing it to manifest as unwholesome physical or vocal actions will only create more problems. But if you just observe, then the defilement passes away and you are free of it. This sounds wonderful, but is it really practical? It's not easy to face one's own impurities. When anger arises, it so quickly overwhelms us that we don't even notice. Then, overpowered by anger, we perform physical or vocal actions which harm ourselves and others. Later, when the anger has passed, we start crying and repenting, begging pardon from this or that person or from God: “Oh, I made a mistake, please excuse me!” But the next time we are in a similar situation, we again react in the same way. This continual repenting doesn't help at all. The difficulty is that we are not aware when negativity starts. It begins deep in the unconscious mind, and by the time it reaches the conscious level it has gained so much strength that it overwhelms us, and we cannot observe it. Suppose that I employ a private secretary, so that whenever anger arises he says to me, “Look, anger is starting!” Since I cannot know when this anger will start, I'll need to hire three private secretaries for three shifts, around the clock! Let's say I can afford it, and anger begins to arise. At once my secretary tells me, “Oh look—anger has started!” The first thing I'll do is rebuke him: “You fool! You think you're paid to teach me?” I'm so overpowered by anger that good advice won't help. Suppose wisdom does prevail and I don't scold him. Instead, I say, “Thank you very much. Now I must sit down and observe my anger.” Yet, is it possible? As soon as I close my eyes and try to observe anger, the object of the anger immediately comes into my mind—the person or incident which initiated the anger. Then I'm not observing the anger itself; I'm merely observing the external stimulus of that emotion. This will only serve to multiply the anger, and is therefore no solution. It is very difficult to observe any abstract negativity, abstract emotion, divorced from the external object which originally caused it to arise. However, someone who reached the ultimate truth found a real solution. He discovered that whenever any impurity arises in the mind, physically two things start happening simultaneously. One is that the breath loses its normal rhythm. We start breathing harder whenever negativity comes into the mind. This is easy to observe. At a subtler level, a biochemical reaction starts in the body, resulting in some sensation. Every impurity will generate some sensation or the other within the body. This presents a practical solution. An ordinary person cannot observe abstract defilements of the mind—abstract fear, anger or passion. But with proper training and practice it is very easy to observe respiration and body sensations, both of which are directly related to mental defilements. Respiration and sensations will help in two ways. First, they will be like private secretaries. As soon as a negativity arises in the mind, the breath will lose its normality; it will start shouting, “Look, something has gone wrong!” And we cannot scold the breath; we have to accept the warning. Similarly, the sensations will tell us that something has gone wrong. Then, having been warned, we can start observing the respiration, start observing the sensations, and very quickly we find that the negativity passes away. This mental-physical phenomenon is like a coin with two sides. On one side are the thoughts and emotions arising in the mind, on the other side are the respiration and sensations in the body. Any thoughts or emotions, any mental impurities that arise manifest themselves in the breath and the sensations of that moment. Thus, by observing the respiration or the sensations, we are in fact observing mental impurities. Instead of running away from the problem, we are facing reality as it is. As a result, we discover that these impurities lose their strength; they no longer overpower us as they did in the past. If we persist, they eventually disappear altogether and we begin to live a peaceful and happy life, a life increasingly free of negativities. In this way the technique of self-observation shows us reality in its two aspects, inner and outer. Previously we only looked outward, missing the inner truth. We always looked outside for the cause of our unhappiness; we always blamed and tried to change the reality outside. Being ignorant of the inner reality, we never understood that the cause of suffering lies within, in our own blind reactions toward pleasant and unpleasant sensations. Now, with training, we can see the other side of the coin. We can be aware of our breathing and also of what is happening inside. Whatever it is, breath or sensation, we learn just to observe it without losing our mental balance. We stop reacting and multiplying our misery. Instead, we allow the defilements to manifest and pass away. The more one practices this technique, the more quickly negativities will dissolve. Gradually the mind becomes free of defilements, becomes pure. A pure mind is always full of love—selfless love for all others, full of compassion for the failings and sufferings of others, full of joy at their success and happiness, full of equanimity in the face of any situation. When one reaches this stage, the entire pattern of one's life changes. It is no longer possible to do anything vocally or physically which will disturb the peace and happiness of others. Instead, a balanced mind not only becomes peaceful, but the surrounding atmosphere also becomes permeated with peace and harmony, and this will start affecting others, helping others too. By learning to remain balanced in the face of everything experienced inside, one develops detachment towards all that one encounters in external situations as well. However, this detachment is not escapism or indifference to the problems of the world. Those who regularly practice Vipassana become more sensitive to the sufferings of others, and do their utmost to relieve suffering in whatever way they can—not with any agitation, but with a mind full of love, compassion and equanimity. They learn holy indifference—how to be fully committed, fully involved in helping others, while at the same time maintaining balance of mind. In this way they remain peaceful and happy, while working for the peace and happiness of others. This is what the Buddha taught: an art of living. He never established or taught any religion, any “ism”. He never instructed those who came to him to practice any rites or rituals, any empty formalities. Instead, he taught them just to observe nature as it is, by observing the reality inside. Out of ignorance we keep reacting in ways which harm ourselves and others. But when wisdom arises—the wisdom of observing reality as it is—this habit of reacting falls away. When we cease to react blindly, then we are capable of real action—action proceeding from a balanced mind, a mind which sees and understands the truth. Such action can only be positive, creative, helpful to ourselves and to others. What is necessary, then, is to “know thyself”—advice which every wise person has given. We must know ourselves, not just intellectually in the realm of ideas and theories, and not just emotionally or devotionally, simply accepting blindly what we have heard or read. Such knowledge is not enough. Rather, we must know reality experientially. We must experience directly the reality of this mental-physical phenomenon. This alone is what will help us be free of our suffering. This direct experience of our own inner reality, this technique of self-observation, is what is called Vipassana meditation. In the language of India in the time of the Buddha, passana meant seeing in the ordinary way, with one's eyes open; but vipassana is observing things as they actually are, not just as they appear to be. Apparent truth has to be penetrated, until we reach the ultimate truth of the entire psycho-physical structure. When we experience this truth, then we learn to stop reacting blindly, to stop creating negativities—and naturally the old ones are gradually eradicated. We become liberated from misery and experience true happiness. There are three steps to the training given in a meditation course. First, one must abstain from any action, physical or vocal, which disturbs the peace and harmony of others. One cannot work to liberate oneself from impurities of the mind while at the same time continuing to perform deeds of body and speech which only multiply them. Therefore, a code of morality is the essential first step of the practice. One undertakes not to kill, not to steal, not to commit sexual misconduct, not to tell lies, and not to use intoxicants. By abstaining from such actions, one allows the mind to quiet down sufficiently in order to proceed further. The next step is to develop some mastery over this wild mind by training it to remain fixed on a single object, the breath. One tries to keep one's attention on the respiration for as long as possible. This is not a breathing exercise; one does not regulate the breath. Instead, one observes natural respiration as it is, as it comes in, as it goes out. In this way one further calms the mind so that it is no longer overpowered by intense negativities. At the same time, one is concentrating the mind, making it sharp and penetrating, capable of the work of insight. These first two steps, living a moral life, and controlling the mind, are very necessary and beneficial in themselves, but they will lead to suppression of negativities unless one takes the third step: purifying the mind of defilements by developing insight into one's own nature. This is Vipassana: experiencing one's own reality by the systematic and dispassionate observation within oneself of the ever-changing mind-matter phenomenon manifesting itself as sensations. This is the culmination of the teaching of the Buddha: self-purification by self-observation. It can be practiced by one and all. Everyone faces the problem of suffering. It is a universal malady which requires a universal remedy, not a sectarian one. When one suffers from anger, it's not Buddhist anger, Hindu anger, or Christian anger. Anger is anger. When one becomes agitated as a result of this anger, this agitation is not Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim. The malady is universal. The remedy must also be universal. Vipassana is such a remedy. No one will object to a code of living which respects the peace and harmony of others. No one will object to developing control over the mind. No one will object to developing insight into one's own nature, by which it is possible to free the mind of negativities. Vipassana is a universal path. Observing reality as it is by observing the truth inside—this is knowing oneself directly and experientially. As one practices, one keeps freeing oneself from the misery of mental impurities. From the gross, external, apparent truth, one penetrates to the ultimate truth of mind and matter. Then one transcends that, and experiences a truth which is beyond mind and matter, beyond time and space, beyond the conditioned field of relativity: the truth of total liberation from all defilements, all impurities, all suffering. Whatever name one gives this ultimate truth is irrelevant; it is the final goal of everyone. May you all experience this ultimate truth. May all people be free from misery. May they enjoy real peace, real harmony, real happiness. MAY ALL BEINGS BE HAPPY

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Posted: Jun 9, 2010 12:42am
May 5, 2010

The purpose of the Conscious Meditation is to help you find what it is you would love to do, what it is that inspires you to be the greatest you can be.... to live your inspirations and achieve your dreams, hopes and goals in life. Before you start, make sure you have a pen and paper near you. You will need this at the end of the meditation. This meditation is designed to help you relax and teach you easy techniques to gain focus and clarity in your life. This is a conscious meditation, with your eyes open while you read the mediation, however, all of your senses should connect to the words while doing the conscious meditation.

Create a personal space where you can do your meditation on a regular basis, somewhere you know you won’t be disturbed by phones, people or other interruptions, somewhere you can feel safe and comfortable. Go to this space now and sit in a comfortable chair. It is best to sit when doing a longer meditation like this one because if you lie down you are likely to fall asleep and miss the experience.

Step One: Centering with Breath.
As you begin your journey to the beyond imagine you are entering a place of centeredness, a place you can become one with the universal energy field. An energy field that connects your inner being to something much greater than yourself, a higher intelligence. An infinite place of love and light!  Vibrations at a much higher frequency than you feel here on earth, a vibration where only love and light exist.

Imagine the golden warmth of the sun caressing your mind and your body becomes still. As you begin to feel more relaxed and comfortable you will now concentrate on your breath.
Take some deep breaths in though your nostrils, each time holding your breath for a short time. Imagine you are feeling lighter and more centered with each inhale, and all of your stress, busyness or worries are going out when you exhale through your mouth.
Inhale, hold.... 1 2 3 Hold, hold, hold, Exhale,
Inhale, hold.... 1 2 3 Hold, hold, hold, Exhale,
Inhale, hold.... 1 2 3 Hold, hold, hold, Exhale,
Continue to breathe in through your nostrils and out through your mouth, this is called a circular breath. Now imagine when you breathe in through your nose that you are breathing in from the bottom of your feet and up to the crown of your head. Then when you breathe out through your mouth imagine that your breath is going out from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. With the next breath, now imagine that you have a white aluminous bright light right around your body in the shape of a large egg. Continue this circular breathing in through your nostrils and out through your mouth and with each breath the light is getting brighter and brighter.

Step Two: Noise Control.
Now acknowledge all of the sounds and noises around you. These are the sounds that make your life interesting. Give thanks for the ability to hear all of these sounds. First of all concentrate on the sounds that are far away. These are the sounds that are not in your immediate vicinity. They could be outside or just in the next room or maybe streets away. It could be a car in the street, people talking in the next room. Tune into any nature sounds like birds, wind, the rustling of trees or the sound of water outside. Whatever they are, acknowledge the sounds and stay with them for a short while.                                                  

Now bring your attention back into your immediate surroundings and acknowledge the sounds close to you.  They may be machinery noises, music, the soft chatter of voices, perhaps you can hear your watch ticking or a creak in the walls. Stay with these sounds for a while.

Now quickly take your attention outside and then bring it inside again. Switch between the two sounds, near and far a few times until you can differentiate the difference and imagine yourself integrating with the sounds and allowing them to be there rather than attempting to block them out. Acknowledge these sounds and let your attention go beyond and above the sounds. Now go back to concentrating on your breathing.                                                          

Continue breathing in though your nostrils and out through your mouth letting any thoughts of busyness gently leave your mind. Imagine your thoughts are coming in through the left hand side of your mind and then let them go out through the right hand side. Don’t be annoyed that they are there, allow them to be there and go though the other side.

If any reminder thoughts arise, of things you need to do, thank them for coming into your consciousness and ask them to be filed and come back at a more appropriate time for you to deal with them.

Step Three: Relaxation Process.
Next, let’s consciously start to relax your facial muscles.  Tell your brow to relax, relax, relax, relax, then your eyebrows, relax, relax, now relax the muscles around your eyes, relax, relax. Next concentrate on the muscles around your mouth, relax, relax, and then let your shoulders drop, relax, relax, relax and feel all of the stress and tension of the day and past days leave you.  You are now feeling very relaxed and are still concentrating on your circular breathing and illuminated light right around your body.

With each breath ask your facial features to relax, starting with your forehead, ask your forehead to relax, relax, relax and feel the tension leaving your face. Now your eyebrows, relax and your cheeks, relax. Now ask your mouth and chin to relax, relax, relax. Consciously feel all of these muscles let go and relax. And finally, feel the muscles in your neck and shoulders let go and relax as any stress and tension leaves you.

Step Four: Getting in touch with your inner joy.
Now think of a time you had much love and gratitude in your life, a time when you felt peaceful and happy, a time of great joy. It could be as recent as yesterday or way in the past. Grasp that feeling and hold onto it. Embrace it, remember what it was like and intensify the feeling.

Visualize a warm golden light shining down on you and engulfing you. Envisage this warm light transforming into a beautiful light fluffy cloud. Enjoy the sensation of being surrounded by Light. This is your inner light shining through, it is your own guiding light.

As you bask in the illumination of this golden light your energy begins to feel lighter and lighter and you are feeling comfortable, relaxed and safe. You now float upwards to a sacred space of love, a space you feel safe and understood without question and without need of explanation. A place of unconditional love, a place you know and feel you are loved no matter what. This is a space that you feel great joy, a space where you can experience tears of love and inspiration and a sense of gratitude for being who you are.

Step Five – The mediation journey – the doors of life
As you travel through the 1st door of life, you see a perfect flower the flower is the color of rich golden yellow and it is against a back drop of a vibrant pink sunset as it passes into the night allowing the mystical moon to rise. Watch, as your flower gently closes. Surrounded in a lush abundant forest of tranquility, this beautiful flower is perfection itself and it mirrors the perfection in you. You are here because you are loved, and you are truly unique.
You deserve love no matter what you have or haven’t done and like the flower, you are perfect just the way you are.

As you travel along life’s journey you realize the greatest gift of life is life itself and the stars are there to be reached. Your dreams are to be lived as your inspiration for life takes you on many roads of light and dark. Many roads of experience and living, loving and learning, roads filled with joy, and happiness.

As you are floating through the 2nd door you are feeling lighter and lighter. With every breath you are feeling more and more relaxed, more and more peaceful. You now have a feeling of being balanced with your mind, body and spirit. It is here you can begin to understand the reasons behind your emotions and desires. The reasons for being who you are, a truly beautiful being. Here you realize that you do hold all of your answers to every question within your head and heart.

At the 3rd door of greatness you can connect strongly with your inner self. Your inner self deep inside you that is always there, always there loving and giving. Like two strangers you invite each other to a dance. The dance of togetherness, a dance of giving and receiving. The dance of unconditional love and acceptance of who you are. As this transformation evolves you can feel a softening of your senses, a more relaxed feeling of acceptance of your surroundings, and a knowingness of something great inside of you, a realization of your very own creation, the creation of yourself, a realization of your own greatness is unfolding.

Your dreams and hopes are beginning to formulate as you can feel a connectedness to yourself and a belonging, a feeling of never being alone, as your inner self is always with you guiding you along your journey, sparking your intuition and heartfelt feelings to help you with your questions and answers to your own life.

Feelings of growth and abundance are with you now as you are engulfed in the cooling peaceful color of green as you approach the 4th door. As you enter through this door you feel calm and in control. It is here you experience a heightened feeling of understanding from your heart center of what your purpose and mission in life is. What it is in your heart you would love to do. The answer to this question is the gift you give yourself. As your vision unfolds you are no longer afraid of where life leads. Your purposefulness and certainty knows what it is you want to be, do and have. Your inner heart knows what it is you aspire to.

Now that you are passing through the 5th door of life it takes you to a realization that you have traveled along the highway of life further than you thought. Step by step you have charted a course just like the comet, which darts across the splendidly bright starlit night. You realize it is soon gone and it is the ‘now’ that is important. It is the present, which holds the power. Right now at any time is the time of brilliance, the time, which holds the power for you and your life. It is the power of love.

At the 6th door you feel the lightness and heightened vibration of the vibrant color violet finely tuning your intuitive senses and instincts. By opening up to your intuition you will find amazing inspiration and inspiring thoughts that will give you the answers to your life. As you feel more relaxed and your energy is lighter you can begin to gain a clarity, knowingness and certainty of your life.

Step six – The inner connection.
As you burst through the 7th door of life into the brightness and illumination of the golden white light it is here that you feel an incredible peace, a peace that you are one with everything and everyone around you and one with yourself. Stay here for a while and ask your inner self for a message, ask for a message, which will support you on your personal journey to realize your inner most goals.

Step Seven – Homeward bound, back to earth.
Stay here for a while as you communicate with your inner self. When you feel or hear this message, thank yourself for the journey you are on and when you are ready, gently float back down though the seven doors of life, bringing the illumination of the golden white light with you. As you pass through the seven doors the message of inspiration from your inner self becomes clearer and clearer.

Step Eight – The moment of power, record your message, find your passion.
When you feel you are ready, slowly start to move your fingers and toes, then gently open your eyes, and before you become totally conscious write down or draw your message or the first thing that comes into your mind. Your message may be in the form of a sound, word, color vision or a feeling, just write down what it is without trying to edit or understand the message at this stage.  Now move your hands and feet and make sure you are totally alert before you stand up.

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Posted: May 5, 2010 12:40pm
May 2, 2010

The Big Band era is generally regarded as having occurred between the years 1935 and 1945. It was the only time in history that the popularity of jazz music eclipsed all other forms of music in the U.S. Rightly or wrongly the appearance of Benny Goodman and his big band at the Palomar in Los Angeles in August of 1935 is often referred to as the official start of the Swing era. While Benny Goodman undoubtedly had a great big band, it should be clear by now that his may not have been the "best" or even most original big band playing hot jazz music at the time. Just as Benny Goodman did not start, conceive, or bring to fruition the Big Band era on his own, so no one incident can be cited as its genesis. Rather many circumstances, incidents, conditions, and inventions seemed to all work together and should be taken into account when viewing its conception.

On the morning of "Black Thursday," October 24th, 1929, a great sell off on the New York Stock Exchange occurred triggering panic by investors. While the market bounced back a bit that afternoon, on the ensuing Monday and Tuesday it plummeted again and soon America was in the midst of the Great Depression. On December 11th, 1931 The New York Bank of the United States collapsed. These incidents helped bring to an end the prosperity, frivolity, and gaiety of the roaring 20's. Money began to get extremely tough to come by. The public was not able to afford to go out and see live music performed or buy records. Work was hard to find for everyone let alone musicians. Record sales were at an all time low. Many talented players worked the studios of radio networks and stations or were hidden in the confines of the few "sweet" dance orchestras able to stay afloat. Enter the free entertainment world of radio.

In the 1930s radio became a household appliance. It is estimated that by 1935, the number of homes with radios was nearly 23 million, the total audience around 91 million. This was the "Golden Age Of Radio" when shows like "The Shadow," "Amos & Andy," "Tarzan," "Fibber McGee And Molly," and "The Lone Ranger" were at peak popularity. Studio musicians made their money as background instrumentalists both for shows and commercials. Radio executives had learned in the 1920s that music shows were also successful. However, as far as nationally broadcast music shows in the years preceding 1934, dance and "sweet" bands still dominated the airwaves. The general public was still only dimly aware of the great black jazz orchestras. Benny Goodman's Let's Dance broadcasts, which aired regularly in 1934, were one of the first such weekly live radio broadcasts of hot jazz music to be aired by a national network on a steady, reoccurring basis.

Given the economic conditions of the time it may be surprising that during this period advances in recording technology, and in particular the microphone, were changing the way Americans could hear recorded music and radio broadcasts. The ribbon or "velocity" microphone was introduced by RCA in 1931, as the model 44A, and became one of the most widely used microphones in vocal recording. Many bands today hoping to achieve a more authentic "vintage" sound still use the 44A. Another advance in recording sound came in 1933 when RCA introduced the 77A, cardioid pattern, dual ribbon microphone. These advances in sound enabled subtle nuances in both playing and singing to be amplified for the first time and made for better live broadcasts. Up until these advances vocalists were required to get up and belt out a song with many of the subtleties in inflection and voice tone being lost.

Advances in the discs that music was recorded on were being worked on and experimented with during the Great Depression as well. By the late 1930s a limited use of vinyl resin to replace shellac pointed the way to quieter records. Lacquer-coated aluminum discs also came into use in the recording process. These had a quieter surface and for the first time allowed immediate playback in the studio for auditioning purposes. This enabled both engineers and musicians the ability to instantly make adjustments of microphone or personnel placement, further refining their recordings. These advances in disc recording, being honed during the Great Depression, had significant impact on the quality of recorded music during the Big Band era. However in the early 1930s these advances were still in their infancy. Live radio broadcasts of music with the new microphones were nearly as good, quality-wise, (assuming the reception was clear) as personally owned recordings, and certainly much more affordable.

In 1933 Homer Capehart sold the Simplex record changer mechanism to the Wurlitzer Company. The jukebox was to become an important tool in the popularity and accessibility of big band swing music, and by the late 1930s one could find them located in speakeasies, ice cream parlors, and even drugstores. The jukebox was at least part of the reason record sales began to show a tremendous increase toward the end of the decade.

The disc jockey, a term not used until about 1940, was also to become a significant factor in getting music out to the public. At first the large U.S. radio networks were against the idea. In the early 1930s they sternly reiterated their policies in a memorandum discouraging the use of recordings in network broadcasts. But the records were already spinning on local programs. Los Angeles radio man Al Jarvis was playing records and talking about them on a successful program called "The World's Largest Make Believe Ballroom." Jarvis and his program were very popular on KFWB in the small Los Angeles radio market in the early 1930s. Originally a junior assistant at KFWB, Martin Block, who had moved to New York, borrowed the same concept during the breaks in the high profile Bruno-Hauptman trial on network radio and was met with great success in 1935. Although often controversial to the musician's union, to jazz writers, to music fans and to musicians themselves, these record jockeys, as they were called, were soon entertaining listeners with discs all over the country through the medium of radio.

While the youth of 30 years later could listen to thousands of stations catering to many genres of music; such was not the case nationally in the early 1930s. Hot jazz in a big band format was instead spreading in popularity through college age kids at Ivy League colleges like Yale. The Casa Loma Orchestra was a favorite of the kids there. In New York a new dance known as the Lindy Hop (named after Charles Lindbergh's famous Trans-Atlantic flight) was catching on with teens in ballrooms like the Alhambra, the Renaissance, and the Savoy where some of its most significant adaptations occurred. Kids from a new generation were searching for their own identity, searching for excitement, searching for something to call their own, and searching for the opposite sex. Jazz music through its evolution into swing and these new and energetic dances offered the whole package. Although the swing phenomena spread slowly and in small pockets at first, national publicity through radio and publications was about to assist in propelling jazz to the pinnacle of its popularity.

Benny Goodman's Let's Dance broadcasts first aired in December of 1934. His was the final of several music features of the night making it a late broadcast on the East Coast. Most high school and college students, who were more apt to like hot jazz music, needed to be up early for school and did not hear these broadcasts. The subsequent U.S. tour by Goodman ending in California in which Benny Goodman was booked following his Let's Dance broadcasts was largely unsuccessful until he hit the West Coast. The band was met with a tremendous amount of ambivalence and even scorn throughout the Midwest. The reason was the 3-hour time difference of his live broadcasts, between coasts, had enabled many of the youth out West to be tuned in nightly. They were ready and eager to greet and meet the band bringing them this new hot jazz music.

The tour culminated with Goodman's performance at the Palomar in L.A. Although Oakland turnouts were said to have been good and crowds enthusiastic, the band was not expecting what they were met with in Southern California. What seemed to be the end of the road for the Benny Goodman big band suddenly became the beginning of a new era in American music history when the kids that night, in the summer of 1935, heard the band launch into a hot jazz number and began crowding around the bandstand cheering and encouraging the group.

With the headlines talking about the success of the Benny Goodman big band in California, magazines like Down Beat and Metronome began to print more articles about the music. John Hammond, while known to most for his savvy in discovering artists like Count Basie and Billie Holiday, was writing about big bands in Down Beat as early as 1935. By 1936, when Benny Goodman was performing just blocks away from the magazine's Chicago offices, articles about the band filled its issues. Jazz in the form of big band swing was now beginning to sweep the nation.

Soon live radio remotes were regularly featuring this new swing music coast to coast as nearly all the major hotels in large cities had a "wire," as it was called, meaning a line installed for broadcast transmission. Jukeboxes were blaring, kids were dancing, record jockeys were spinning discs and talking about them and the Big Band era had arrived.

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Posted: May 2, 2010 10:27pm

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