Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Non-striving, part 2

... if you sit down to meditate and you think, "I am going to get relaxed, or get enlightened, or control my pain, or become a better person," then you have introduced an idea into your mind of where you should be, and along with it comes the notion that you are not okay right now. "If I were only more calm, or more intelligent, or a harder worker, or more this or more that, if only my heart were healthier or my knee were better, then I would be okay. But right now, I am not okay."

This attitude undermines the cultivation of mindfulness which involves simply paying attention to whatever is happening. If you are tense, then just pay attention to the tension. If you are in pain, then be with the pain as best you can. If you are criticizing yourself, then observe the activity of the judging mind. Just watch. Remember, we are simply allowing anything and everything that we experience from moment to moment to be here, because it already is.

Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabbat-Zinn PhD, pg 37

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Non-striving, part 1

Almost everything we do we do for a purpose, to get something or somewhere. But in meditation this attitude can be a real obstacle. That is because meditation is different from all other human activities. Although it takes a lot of work and energy of a certain kind, ultimately meditation is a non-doing. It has not goal other than for you to be yourself. The irony is that you already are. This sounds paradoxical and a little crazy. Yet this paradox and craziness may be pointing you toward a new way of seeing yourself, one in which you are trying less and being more. This comes from intentionally cultivating the attitude of non-striving.

Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabbat-Zinn PhD, pg 37

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Trust, part 2

It is impossible to become like somebody else. Your only hope is to become more fully yourself. That is the reason for practicing meditation in the first place. Teachers and book and tapes can only be guides, signposts. It is important to be open and receptive to what you can learn from other sources, but ultimately you still have to live your own life, every moment of it. In practicing mindfulness, you are practicing taking responsibility for being yourself and learning to listen to and trust your own being. The more you cultivate this trust in your own being, the easier you will find it will be to trust other people more and to see their basic goodness as well.

Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabbat-Zinn PhD, pg 36

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Trust, part 1

Developing a basic trust in yourself and your feelings is an integral part of meditation training. It is far better to trust in your intuition and your own authority, even if you make some "mistakes" along the way, than always to look outside of yourself for guidance. If at any time something doesn't feel right to you, why not honor your feelings? Why should you discount them or write them off as invalid because some authority or some group of people think or say differently? ...

Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabbat-Zinn PhD, pg 36

Friday, May 20, 2011

Beginner's Mind

To see the richness of the present moment, we need to cultivate what has been called "beginner's mind", a mind that is willing to see everything as if for the first time.
You might try to cultivate your own beginner's mind in your daily life as an experiment. The next time you see somebody who is familiar, ask yourself if you are seeing this person with fresh eyes, as he or she really is, or if you are only seeing the reflection of your own thoughts about this person. Try it with your children, your spouse, your friends and co-workers, with your dog or cat if you have one. Try it with problems when they arise. Try it when you are outdoors in nature. Are you able to see the sky, the stars, the trees and the water and the stones, and really see them as they are right now with a clear and uncluttered mind? Or are you actually only seeing them through the veil of your own thoughts and opinions?

Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabbat-Zinn PhD, pg 36

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Patience, part 2

Patience can be a particularly helpful quality to invoke when the mind is agitated. It can help us to accept this wandering tendency of the mind while reminding us that we don't have to get caught up in its travels. Practicing patience reminds us that we don't have to fill up our moments with activity and with more thinking in order for them to be rich. In fact it helps us to remember that quite the opposite is true. To be patient is simply to be completely open to each moment, accepting it in its fullness, knowing that, like the butterfly, things can only unfold in their own time.

Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabbat-Zinn PhD, pg 35

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Patience, part 1

Patience is a form of wisdom. It demonstrates that we understand and accept the fact that sometimes things must unfold in their own time. A child may try to help a butterfly to emerge by breaking open its chrysalis. Usually the butterfly doesn't benefit from this. Any adult knows that the butterfly can only emerge in its own time, that the process cannot be hurried.
In the same way, we cultivate patience toward our own mind and bodies when practicing mindfulness. We intentionally remind ourselves that there is no need to be impatient with ourselves because we find the mind judging all the time, or because we are tense or agitated or frightened or because we have been practicing for some time and nothing positive seems to have happened. We give ourselves room to have these experiences. Why? Because we are having them anyway!
When they come up, they are our reality, they are part of our life unfolding in this moment. So we treat ourselves as well as we would treat the butterfly. Why rush through some moments to get to other, "better" ones? After all, each one is your life in that moment.

Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabbat-Zinn PhD, pg 34

Friday, May 13, 2011

Non-judging, part 2

This habit of categorizing and judging our experience locks us into mechanical reactions that we are not even aware of and that often have no objective basis at all. These judgments tend to dominate our minds, making it difficult for us ever to find any peace within ourselves. Its as if the mind were a yo-yo, going up and down on the string of our own judging thoughts all day long. If you doubt this description of your mind, just observe how much you are preoccupied with liking and disliking, say during a ten-minute period as you go about your business.
If we are to find a more effective way of handling the stress in our lives, the first thing we will need to do is to be aware of these automatic judgments so that we can see through our own prejudices and fears and liberate ourselves from their tyranny.

Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabbat-Zinn PhD, pg 34

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Non-judging, part 1

Mindfulness is cultivated by assuming the stance of an impartial witness to your own experience. To do this requires that you become aware of the constant stream of judging and reacting to inner and outer experiences that we are all normally caught up in, and learn to step back from it. When we begin practicing paying attention to the activity of our own mind, it is common to discover and to be surprised by the fact that we are constantly generating judgments about our experience. Almost everything we see is labeled and categorized by the mind. We react to everything we experience in terms of what we think its value is to us. Some things, people, and events are judged as "good" because they make us feel good for some reason. Others are equally quickly condemned as "bad" because they make us feel bad. The rest is categorized as "neutral" because we don't think it has much relevance. Neutral things, people, and events are almost completely tuned out of our consciousness. We usually find them the most boring to give attention to.

Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabbat-Zinn PhD, pg 33

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Meditation, general introduction

People have used meditation for thousands of years in their quest for inner harmony. All the major religions, including Buddhism, Isla, Hinduism, and Christianity, use it in their teachings to help attain spiritual enlightenment. Meditation improves concentration, increases self-awareness, and enables us to combat stress by helping us to relax and cope. It even helps us to get on better with others. Many people who meditate improve their physical and mental well-being, and some have been able to conquer depression or addictions to drugs, caffeine, or alcohol.

A Guide to Meditation, Lorraine Turner, pg 4

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Attitudinal Foundation of Mindfulness Practice

The attitude that we bring to the practice of mindfulness will to a large extent determine its long-term value to us. This is why consciously cultivating certain attitudes can be very helpful in getting the most out of the process of meditation. Your intentions set the stage for what is possible. They remind you from moment to moment why you are practicing in the first place. Keeping particular attitudes in mind is actually part of the training itself, a way of directing and channeling your energies so that they can be most effectively brought to bear in the work of growing and healing.

Seven major attitudinal factors constitute the major pillars of mindfulness practice as taught in the stress clinic:

  1. non-judging
  2. patience
  3. beginner's mind
  4. trust
  5. non-striving
  6. acceptance
  7. and letting go

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Danna & Richard Faulds coming to Breathe Studio June 12th!

The Art of Inner Listening: Yoga and Writing as Doorways to the Soul
3:00pm-6:00pmDanna and Richard Faulds

Poet Danna Faulds discovered years ago that her best writing arose organically from her yoga practice. Grounded in breath and connected to body, messages surfaced in her awareness that weren’t accessible at other times. Yoga teacher Richard Faulds discovered the transformative power of this inner flow in meditation.  In this 3-hour workshop, Richard will guide you in movement, breathing, easy yoga stretches, and relaxation practices that open the doorway to the essence of your being. Danna will lead simple writing exercises that bring your inner wisdom to light and help reveal the next step on your life journey. No experience with yoga or writing is needed. Please dress for ease of movement and bring a journal or notebook and pen.

Poems From the Heart of Yoga: An Evening of Poetry and Stories
7:30-8:30 PM
Danna Faulds will share published and unpublished poems along with stories from her writing practice.

Danna Faulds is a long-term practitioner of Kripalu Yoga and a poet whose writing has inspired a broad audience interested in the opportunities life provides for healing, growth, and awakening. Danna is the author of five books of poetry: Go In and In, One Soul, Prayers to the Infinite, From Root to Bloom, and Limitless. She is finishing a memoir titled Into the Heart of Yoga.

Richard Faulds, MA, JD, has practiced yoga and meditation for more than 30 years in close association with Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. A former President and Board Chair of Kripalu, he is the author of Kripalu Yoga: A Guide to Practice On and Off the Mat, and three other books on the Kripalu tradition.


New approach to learning

To cultivate mindfulness awareness requires an entirely new way of looking at the process of learning. Since thinking that we know what we need and where we want to get are so ingrained in our minds, we can easily get caught up in trying to control things to make them turn out "our way", the way we want them to. But attitude is antithetical to the work of awareness and healing. Awareness requires only that we pay attention and see things as they are. It doesnt require that we change anything. And healing requires receptivity and acceptance, a tuning to connectedness and wholeness. None of this can be forced, just as you cannot force yourself to go to sleep. You have to create the right conditions for falling asleep and then you have to let go. The same is true for relaxation. It cannot be achieved through force of will. That kind of effort will only produce tension and frustration.

Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabbat-Zinn PhD, pg 32

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


It does not mean "rehearsal" or a perfecting of some skill so that we can put it to use at some other time. In the meditative context practice means "being in the present on purpose". The means and the end of meditation are really the same. We are not trying to get somewhere else, only working at being where we already are and being here fully. Our meditation practice may very well deepen over the years, but actually we are not practicing for this to happen. Our journey toward greater health is really a natural progression. Awareness, insight, and indeed health as well, ripen on their own if we are willing to pay attention in the moment and remember that we have only moments to live.

Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabbat-Zinn PhD, pg 29-30