A Little Kindness…

heartlit

I had no idea what to write for this month’s BeZine theme: Metta. Metta is also known as loving-kindness. It’s a practice often found in Buddhism, but also in other religions. It builds empathy and compassion for self, others, and the world around us. I was going to talk about random acts of kindness and senseless beauty, and while it’s a subject I adore, it didn’t seem quite right. As I was thinking about what to write and searching for some inspiration, the perfect story presented itself.  I’d like to share it with all of you because to me, it sums up what the idea of loving-kindness is all about. Enjoy, be inspired (and maybe have a kleenex handy 😉 ).

http://www.littlethings.com/tara-wood-mr-dan/

heartflame

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The Day Begins With You

Be still
This month’s theme over at The BeZine is about rituals for peace, healing and unity.  Throughout the years, I have taken part in rites for each and all of those things (within the Christian, Wiccan and Buddhist faiths), but this month I wanted to share something simple and personal that might feel a little more accessible to anyone.

Historically, the Zen tradition is overflowing with rituals to bring inner and outer peace, healing and unity.  Between being mindful of each breath, each action (or inaction) to sharing a mantra with a gathering of others, or creating and destroying sand mandalas to affirm the impermanent nature of the universe, there are many rites with many purposes.

Finding your own ritual and personalizing it is one of the most important steps to making it work for you, so that you’ll continue doing it. For example, many people meditate after waking, but I have incorporated my shower and coffee into mine. I personalized it for what works best for me.

I have a ritual every morning, where I wake up, shower and then meditate with my coffee for around 20 minutes. As I shower, I am mindful and grateful for the clean, hot water that I can enjoy, knowing that so many others in the world do not have such luxury. I am mindful not to waste more water than I absolutely need, because I try to stay aware of my ecological impact upon the planet.

I prepare my coffee, again being grateful that I can. I pay attention to the liquid as I add it, the pouring of it into the cup and enjoying the scent from the steam. Paying attention to the tiniest of details can give one a better appreciation of everything about life, and indeed, make it a much richer experience.  It can bring you peace, and when you pay attention to how you fit with everything else around you, it can also grant a feeling of unity with the world. Pay attention to the world as it wakes up around you, with you; the heat and light of the rising sun, the songs of birds, the occasional barking dog, the scent of flowers, dew-laden grass and morning fog.

While sipping the coffee, appreciating the warmth of the cup in my hands, I quietly give thanks for another day stretching before me to fill with purpose. Being grateful for each day is a wonderful way to find peace and happiness. How you begin your day sets the tone for what follows and is an important cornerstone to staying centered. If you don’t like what happened yesterday, then realize that today is a brand new chance to start all over again. While you meditate (or simply sit in silence with your coffee or tea, quieting your mind) remind yourself that you are lucky and blessed to have another chance to live your best life. Today simply is. What you do with it, if it’s going to be a good day, is up to you.🙂

Posted in Awareness, Gratitude, Health, Inspiration, Peace, Present, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Zen | 4 Comments

~ Last Call ~

This month’s theme at the BeZine is the Environment/Environmental Justice. On the 24th of September, we will be celebrating with 100 Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC) to raise awareness and come together for this important cause. I hope you can join us!

moho_braccatus

Image borrowed from Wikipedia (Public Domain) “Adult and Juvenile Moho Braccatus”, also called The Kauaʻi ʻōʻō Bird.

A sweet, cheerful song no longer heard,

The species who sang it, now gone.

EXTINCT now labels this beautiful bird.

The O’o Bird’s sad story is done.

We’ve burnt all the trees and drained all the lakes,

Chasing the money, whatever it takes.

We’ve polluted the rivers and trashed all the seas,

Butchered the elephants, poisoned the bees.

We’ve strip-mined the mountains,

Fracked the stone, deep below.

Buried black tons of sludge

With that “clean” nuclear glow.

We keep building cities,

Crowding animals out,

Pour concrete slabs to dam rivers,

And then whine about drought.

We’ve been warned about Warming,

Money calls it a ‘hoax’.

But ALL the life on this planet

Pays the price of those ‘jokes’.

What will it take to change Mankind’s ways?

Can the world survive human beings’ greedy thrall?

Perhaps, like that bird, we’re in our last days…

And the Earth can recover once we’ve sung our last call.

~ C.L.R. ~ © 2016

 

Posted in Animal Rights, Animals, Awareness, Ecology, Environment, Food For Thought, Future, Life, Past Present and Future, Poetry, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Life on Life’s Terms

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” ~ John Lennon

The theme at the BeZine this month is Hope: Great Expectations and Secret Desires. I had plans for this post to be something extra special and was hoping to impart some hard-learned wisdom about the nature of expectations and desires.  But…I’ve started and stopped, edited and deleted so many times now that I’m just going to try and keep it short and to the point. I’m not succinct by nature, and I don’t know if I ever will be. I can practice and aspire to it, but perhaps wordiness is just a part of who I am.🙂

Expectation LaoTzu

Image from Buzzle.com

In Zen practices, we learn that Attachment is the root of all suffering, and expectations and desires come from what’s called the “wanting mind”.  The “wanting mind” is part of our Ego, so it’s extra clever at making us attached to things of this world (including people). Expectations and desires are ways of being ‘attached’ to a certain outcome. You are better off trying to let them go, since no one can control the future…Life is what happens, remember?

I don’t think that most people are even aware of their own expectations until they become disappointed by them, and even then, many won’t realize that the reason they are disappointed is because of expectations – they will instead seek someone or something else to blame. So, awareness of your own expectations (whether they are self-expectations or expectations of other people) is the first, crucial step in letting them go.

Both expectations and desires are natural, human qualities. They’re normal, they happen, even when you try hard to get rid of them.  The main bad thing about expectations is that you set yourself up to be disappointed, because you don’t appreciate the present moment – you are partially in the future, trying to predict or control an outcome of something (or someone). Being present in the moment allows you to accept life as it is, as it unfolds…”Life on Life’s terms”, so to speak; no stress or worry, no anxiety about what you want or wish it to be, but simple acceptance of what it is.

Expectations

Image from Pinterest.com

If I could choose one thing for you to take away from this post, it would be to work on becoming more aware of and recognizing your own expectations and desires, and then let them go. You might write them all down on slips of paper and then burn them, releasing them in the process, or practice breathing in acceptance of things as they are, right now, and breathing out attachment to what you want it to be, letting it exit your body so that your mind may be clearer.  It takes practice, but you will be happier and calmer for doing it.

I’ll leave you with a thought-provoking and common sense video regarding happiness and expectations.  I’ll go so far as to say that I expect you might even enjoy it.😉

Posted in Awareness, Buddhism, Food For Thought, Frustration, Life, Past Present and Future, Peace, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Zen | 2 Comments

~ Regarding Faith ~

This month’s issue of the BeZine is up and what a splendid collection of inspiration it is shaping up to be! Our theme this month is “Faith in things seen and unseen”. Below is my humble contribution.

Kahlil Gibran Faith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~ Regarding Faith ~

I have seen both angels and demons

in people.

I have blessed and cursed the gilt cross,

(and borne the guilt of that loss)

that symbol at the top

of the steeple.

 

I have witnessed the whispers of a faith so broken

that I could have sworn

the candle had gone out…

blasphemies unspoken, extinguished, forlorn,

doused by doubt.

Then flickering, then flaring to life

once more.

Hesitant to blindly leap

through Hope’s open door,

(it is a tale of patient observation).

 

To define the schism of a soul;

that of wanting to believe,

but in fear

of giving up

control.

Faith begins

pure white,

the color of the hottest flame

within.

Cast aside your fear

and embrace

the life you’re in!

(And your unique place in it).

 

Black, white, the infinite shades of grey,

all linger and swirl in the inner world,

with faith as an empty, clean, blank slate,

despite differences in how we pray,

or meditate,

there is only One

and we are all connected.

As for Faith…

it can continually die and be

resurrected.

 

What I know

is that

The Universe will continue,

whether we believe in it or not.

~ © 2016 C.L.R.

Posted in Food For Thought, Life, Peace, Poetry, Writing, Zen | 2 Comments

Musings on Friendship

I’ve been thinking a lot about the meaning of the word “friend”. The theme of this month’s BeZine is “The Joys of Friendship” and I got to thinking about how that word has changed over the years and a few things about it that I have noticed.

Most people I know tend to separate their friends into categories. I know someone who classifies them as “A, B & C” friends; “A” friends are the closest, “B” friends the next closest and so on. The “A” friends include best friends and those in the “Circle of Trust”.

Others might say they have friends vs. acquaintances. Still others prefer to separate their “real life” friends from their “online/Facebook” friends (although I believe that friendships formed online can be just a strong, lasting and influential as those made in real life).

Why do we do this? Why do we categorize, classify and separate our friends?  I think, in part, it comes down to having to prioritize some people above others.  Friendship has often been compared to a garden, in that you have to “water” it, pull the “weeds” and otherwise “tend” to it in order for it to thrive. In other words, you have to devote time and energy to it. Otherwise, it wilts and fades, even dies. There are only so many hours in a day, and if you try to devote all your waking hours to your friends, then you neglect yourself and your own, personal “garden”. That has to be tended, too. I think real friends will understand this, and even encourage it.

Of course everyone has probably encountered “frenemies” (think of the saying “With friends like that, who needs enemies?”) or “fair-weather” friends.  A lot of times you don’t know if a person is a true friend until things get tough. That is the litmus test of a real friendship – if they will stand by you through good times AND bad, if you can count on them to be there for you when life throws you a curve-ball, then consider yourself lucky to have such a person in your life.

For those of you who have a hard time making human friends, don’t forget that sometimes animals can be the best of friends!  To me, they pretty much embody all of the qualities of a good friend: They listen, they care, they can empathize, provide you with joy and laughter, comfort you when you’re sick or sad, be there for you when you need someone to talk to…just because they can’t talk back, doesn’t mean they can’t communicate.

I have had many friendships over the course of my life so far. Some have been much closer than others. Some have stood the test of time, while others faded. Some who I thought would be there forever are no longer part of my life. Some come in and out of my life in cycles, and we pick up right where we left off, as if no time had passed at all.

In closing, I would like to share a bit of wisdom that I discovered a long time ago. The author is anonymous (which I find especially fitting) and it has given me something to ponder many times, at different points in my life. Maybe it will resonate with some of you, as well.🙂 Cherish your friends while you have them. Life is far too short not to.

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Books that changed my life

Ask a librarian, “What’s your favorite book?” and he or she is likely to cock an eyebrow and respond, “Is this a trick question?” Luckily, this month’s theme at the BeZine is “Books that changed our lives”.  For me, that’s a much easier question to answer.

A quick bit of background: I’ve always been a Type A personality. I used to worry about every, little detail and tried to plan for everything. I was always anxious about the future, dreaded unexpected problems and tried to control everything (and sadly, a lot of people) in my environment. It led to a constant state of stress, which affected my physical health and took a toll on my mental and emotional well-being, too.  Not long after I graduated college, I fell into a spiraling depression, hit rock bottom and it seemed like there was no way back to a life worth living.  And then a well-meaning friend gave me a book that quite literally changed my life. That book was “The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff.

Tao and Te

It started me on the path of Taoism and I never looked back. It was closely followed by “The Te of Piglet” and then “The Tao Te Ching” by Laozi (Lao Tzu).  I learned that we all have elements of each one of A.A. Milne’s lovable characters from the Hundred Acre Wood. It’s what we do (or don’t do) with each day that counts, and we only ever have one day at a time, so it’s worth making the best of each day. Worry and anxiety are a waste of energy.  The only thing we ever have control over is ourselves, and how we react to what life hands us each day.

taoteching

If you find yourself stressed and anxious, a Type A personality without the ability to let go of control and take what comes, I highly recommend reading all three books I mentioned. I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t regret it, and maybe they’ll change YOUR life, too! 🙂

Tao and Te2

 

 

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