Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Start Your Week Skillfuly

The original intent of the Sabbath was to have a day of rest from endless toil. In this day and age for most of us the labor we do is not as physically hard as it was for the people in the time of Moses. However since we have embraced multi-tasking our mental states continue at a backbreaking pace. It is our minds that toil endlessly. For our minds there seems to be no day of rest. Thus it is really advisable to set aside a couple of hours at the end of the week to regroup with yourself before you rush off into another round of multi-tasking your way through another week.

In September I will be offering a group on Sunday evenings that does just this. The following is a preview of things we will be doing. You needn’t wait until September to begin. This guidance is yours now and it’s free! Why not put it to use?

The following are two guided meditations you can do with yourself. In the first we put the cares of the past week to bed. Find a quiet and comfortable place for your body. Take three long deep cleansing breaths. Allow your breathing to return to normal and focus on your breath as it appears to you. You may find yourself focusing on the rising and falling of your chest, or the air as it enters and leaves your nostrils, or any place in between. Drink in this air as if it were a healing elixir because it is. Feel it permeate all parts of your body relaxing and nourishing them. Stay with this focus as long as you can until a thought arises about something in the past or future.

If the thought is from the past look at it as if it were a child you are responsible for taking care of. Pick it up and say, “You occurred so many hours (days, years) ago. Now it’s time for bed.” Then gently tuck it into bed. Next, proceed to review your past week looking for events, issues, or feelings that call out for your attention. Pick them up one by one and tuck them into bed. (Not your own bed of course. You don’t want to sleep with them. Put them in the bed of time passed.)

If your first thought was of the future pick it up and say “I see you now but such and such a time (when you will be able to take action regarding it) is the appropriate time for me to give attention to you. Until then, patience my friend.  You will just have to wait. I know you can do this.” And with that you place it in a container of your imagining. Make this container really nice, something you will enjoy seeing as you go through the next week. Then proceed to search your mind for future events, concerns, issues that are calling out for your attention. Repeat this process for each one of them, taking your time with each one. When you are done close the container. If it doesn’t have a lid as for baskets and bowls, cover it with a beautiful cloth. Having done this it is crucial you be impeccable with your word. If you told a thought you would give it attention at such and such a time you must do so otherwise these thoughts will keep popping out of their container. The clarity and firmness of your intent is what keeps them safely inside until the appropriate time.

It is best to do both meditations, past and future, though the order in which you do them doesn’t matter. Between these two meditations you can take a break but then restart with the breathing exercise. Your week is now laid out and organized. Thoughts from the past will not be haunting you. Concerns of the future will not be claiming your attention before you are able to deal with them. Your mind will indeed have obtained a measure of rest. And the rest of your week will be a lot easier.  

For Giving

I’m all for giving. Giving is an expression of gratitude and thus we get a taste of the elixir of gratitude when we give. Forgiving is also a way of giving, a gift you give yourself. With forgiveness the negative mind states of holding a grudge drop away and in their place is the bliss of freedom. My teacher taught me this little phrase to remember the mechanics of forgiveness: like thee, like me.

Forgiveness occurs when we recognize another person’s negative trait within ourselves. Instantly animosity vanishes. Instantly the negative trait vanishes. How is this possible? It occurs because we have stopped projecting our own negative traits outward. We have stopped seeing them in others. We have stopped being annoyed at seeing our own negativity upon the screen of an other. Forgiveness is the end of projection. It’s as if you pulled the plug of a movie projector. All the images vanish into nothingness. All negativity vanishes into nothingness. It can vanish so quickly because it was only an illusion.

We can sit in the movie theater of our lives and say “correct thinking indicates that my life is an illusion”. This of course has no effect whatsoever. The images keep playing. But when we experience that we ourselves are the movie projector the show stops. Even when we find that little bit of film inside us that corresponds to what we thought originated outside of us, we are suddenly blessed by a freedom from that little bit of suffering.

When you find yourself wanting to forgive or are unable to forgive stop looking outside yourself. Stop thinking about that annoying person. Look inside yourself and remember: like thee, like me.