Tag Archives: mindfulness

Mar 15 – Two Types of Ancestors

Sister Annabel Laity – author at the Plum Village Shop plumvillage.shop

In her book, Mindfulness – Walking with Jesus and Buddha (c) 2021, Sister Annabel Laity identifies the two types of ancestors:

“Our blood ancestors are not the only source of our lives. We also have spiritual ancestors who transmit to us the spiritual direction that our life takes … Our blood ancestors are one of our roots, and our spiritual ancestors are no less important a root … Mindful of our blood and our spiritual ancestors, we shall see their qualities that we want to continue, and we shall also see their shortcomings. We cannot reject our ancestors, because of their mistaken ways. Who are we, who are by no means perfect, to do that? … We accept all our ancestors as they are, and we feel well because, by accepting them, we are accepting ourselves.pp. 116-117

Today’s senryu: Two Types of Ancestors

Dearest sister and

crazy old uncle Friedrich,

did God really die?


Nietzsche dismissed Schopenhauer and Christianity and Buddhism as pessimistic and nihilistic, but, according to Benjamin A. Elman, “[w]hen understood on its own terms, Buddhism cannot be dismissed as pessimistic or nihilistic“. Moreover, answers which Nietzsche assembled to the questions he was asking, not only generally but also in Zarathustra, put him “very close to some basic doctrines found in Buddhism”. An example is when Zarathustra says that “the soul is only a word for something about the body“. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thus_Spoke_Zarathustra

Feb 2 – Changing from the Inside Out – Black Zen

Stacey & Jasmine Johnson @ https://www.blackzen.co/#about-us

There are many wonderful black bodhisattvas you may not know yet. For example, the two delightful young women shown above who share their meditation experience and wisdom on their website: https://www.blackzen.co/

Check out their 124 podcast recordings on how “consistent meditation application can lead to ridiculously positive impact” in your life.

You might start with Episode #124 which identifies their Top 10 Podcasts Most Likely to Help You Grow. Here’s their top 10 list but don’t forget to listen to their reasons for why they created the list and how each podcast can help you.

  1. Episode #15 – Life is the ultimate treasure hunt
  2. Episode #14 – The power of silence
  3. Episode #52 – What positions do you play
  4. Episode #43 – Radical responsibility
  5. Episode #51 – Packing your code
  6. Episode #29 – Pushing past pain
  7. Episode #45 – How to move pass survival mode
  8. Episode #21 – False assumptions
  9. Episode #97 – The two words to avoid
  10. Episode #50 – Your secret sidekick

Today’s senryu: Changing from the Inside Out

don’t judge book covers

see the heart-mind dwells inside

inside you and me

Jan 31 – It’s all in your state of mind

Why pay attention to what’s in your mind? Why become more acquainted with your thoughts? Why practice Mindfulness?

Here’s a response from a poet for whom little is known yet his words from 1905 still inspire today.

Thinking by Walter D. Wintle

“If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don’t,
If you like to win, but you think you can’t
It is almost certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost
For out of the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow’s will
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are
You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the man WHO THINKS HE CAN!”
― Walter D. Wintlehttps://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/mindfulness

For a brief inspirational video see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZnxUdke3TQ

I would love to hear a nongender rendition someday.

Jan 30 – Reposting: Benefits of Mindfulness

There are many benefits to the practice of Mindfulness. The excerpts below come from a more comprehensive article, if you’re interested. Check it out here:(https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/benefits-of-mindfulness.htm). Hopefully this brief introduction will encourage you.

“Practices for Improving Emotional and Physical Well-Being

Closeup of young woman in tank top, chin tilted slightly up, eyes closed, warm light passing through gauzy drapes behind her

Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Professor emeritus Jon Kabat-Zinn helped to bring the practice of mindfulness meditation into mainstream medicine and demonstrated that practicing mindfulness can bring improvements in both physical and psychological symptoms as well as positive changes in health, attitudes, and behaviors.

Mindfulness improves well-being. 

Mindfulness improves physical health. 

Mindfulness improves mental health. In recent years, psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness meditation as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems, including depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, couples’ conflicts, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Mindfulness techniques

There is more than one way to practice mindfulness, but the goal of any mindfulness technique is to achieve a state of alert, focused relaxation by deliberately paying attention to thoughts and sensations without judgment. This allows the mind to refocus on the present moment. All mindfulness techniques are a form of meditation.

Basic mindfulness meditation – Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and return to your focus on breath or mantra.

Body sensations – Notice subtle body sensations such as an itch or tingling without judgment and let them pass. Notice each part of your body in succession from head to toe.

Sensory – Notice sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. Name them “sight,” “sound,” “smell,” “taste,” or “touch” without judgment and let them go.

Emotions – Allow emotions to be present without judgment. Practice a steady and relaxed naming of emotions: “joy,” “anger,” “frustration.” Accept the presence of the emotions without judgment and let them go.

Getting started

Mindfulness meditation builds upon concentration practices. Here’s how it works:

Go with the flow. In mindfulness meditation, once you establish concentration, you observe the flow of inner thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations without judging them as good or bad.

Pay attention. You also notice external sensations such as sounds, sights, and touch that make up your moment-to-moment experience. The challenge is not to latch onto a particular idea, emotion, or sensation, or to get caught in thinking about the past or the future. Instead, you watch what comes and goes in your mind and discover which mental habits produce a feeling of well-being or suffering.

Stay with it. At times, this process may not seem relaxing at all, but over time it provides a key to greater happiness and self-awareness as you become comfortable with a wider and wider range of your experiences.

Practice acceptance

Above all, mindfulness practice involves accepting whatever arises in your awareness at each moment. It involves being kind and forgiving toward yourself.

Some tips to keep in mind:

Gently redirect. If your mind wanders into planning, daydreaming, or criticism, notice where it has gone and gently redirect it to sensations in the present.

Try and try again. If you miss your intended meditation session, simply start again.

By practicing accepting your experience during meditation, it becomes easier to accept whatever comes your way during the rest of your day.

Cultivate mindfulness informally

In addition to formal meditation, you can also cultivate mindfulness informally by focusing your attention on your moment-to-moment sensations during everyday activities. This is done by single-tasking—doing one thing at a time and giving it your full attention. As you floss your teeth, pet the dog, or eat an apple, slow down the process and be fully present as it unfolds and involves all of your senses.

Invest in yourself

The effects of mindfulness meditation tend to be dose-related — the more you do, the more effect it usually has. Most people find that it takes at least 20 minutes for the mind to begin to settle, so this is a reasonable way to start. If you’re ready for a more serious commitment, Jon Kabat-Zinn recommends 45 minutes of meditation at least six days a week. But you can get started by practicing the techniques described here for shorter periods.

Adapted with permission from Positive Psychology: Harnessing the Power of Happiness, Personal Strength, and Mindfulnessa special health report published by Harvard Health Publishing.

Last updated: December 5, 2022

Jan 3 – Contemplation – Mindfulness by Another Name

Richard Rohr on Contemplative Prayer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geXe_zXE3PQ)

This week I am focusing on mindfulness aka contemplation or meditation. Today, I focus on Richard Rohr‘s 90-minute video offering a Christian perspective of contemplation. Here are the top 10 key highlights for me:

  1. the quicker we let go of ego and move beyond a positive self-image, the quicker we realize that we are spiritual beings learning how to be fully human
  2. religion is both the best and worst thing in the world if we never transform beyond our ego
  3. Christianity is simply learning how to lose graciously; a Christian is someone who has met one
  4. We shouldn’t say prayers; rather we should be one
  5. it’s right relationship over correct performance
  6. move beyond limousine liberal imaging
  7. how you do anything (in the present moment) is how you do everything
  8. the first half of any contemplative sit is seeing our own “garbage” and hopefully the second half is letting it go to reconnect with present moment awareness
  9. to observe is far more effective than attacking
  10. the most radical thing we can do is contemplation

Finally, I especially appreciated Rohr’s summation that we should not confuse meeting attendance or group membership with transformation. The bigger picture of contemplation is not to get hung up on posture, process or programs. Contemplation is about reconnecting with our higher power and recognizing our relationship with everyone and everything.

Today’s senryu: A Rose Is a Rose …

no navel-gazing

let your ego go and then

reconnect with love


Jan 2 – Meditation Is Free(ing)

If you’re looking for something new to help you focus and feel more peaceful this year, then consider mindfulness meditation. You don’t have to adopt a new religion to do this. Contemplation is something found across religions and secular psychological traditions and there are many simple ways to learn about this calming practice.

For example, check out the free daily teaching from Tricycle Magazine this month; find more information below.

Today’s senryu: Meditation Is Free(ing)

no navel-gazing,

simply calming down to live

this present moment

Check out this free teaching from Tricycle Magazine

Cole’s Book Review for: We Walk the Path Together

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I’ve been re-reading and re-enjoying a book written by Brian J. Pierce, OP called We Walk the Path Together (Learning from Thich Nhat Hanh & Meister Eckhart) © 2005, Orbis Books.  In preparation for a discussion with a Washington University Professor Emeritus, I have selected the sentences or phrases from each chapter that most “spoke to me.”  I thought my selections might encourage you to read the book and share your sentence/phrase selection.  I hope you join me on this mindful journey.

Introduction  Author Brian Pierce kicks off his book with a quote from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s book Going Home, Jesus and Buddha as Brothers © 1999, Riverhead Books:  “If you love French cooking, it does not mean that you are forbidden to love Chinese cooking….you love the apple…but no one prevents you from also loving the mango.”  Pierce adds “The apple and the mango, Jesus and the Buddha.  So different, yet so much common ground between them….Meister Eckhart and Thich Nhat Hanh (their respective disciples) invite us into the dialogue.” p. xv.

Chapter 1 Magnanimity (Learning the Art of Dialogue) “Pope John Paul II wrote the following words, stressing that dialogue is another word for love: ‘We are all brothers and sisters and, as pilgrims on this earth, although on different paths, we are all on our way to the common Homeland which God, through ways known only to him, does not cease to indicate to us. The main road of mission is sincere dialogue’ p.13

Chapter 2 Mindfulness and the Eternal Now (Present Moment, Moment of Peace) “From the point of view of the Christian mystical tradition, eternity is not a future time out there in heaven….’What is today? Asks Eckhart, a question to which he gives his own answer, ‘Eternity’” p.21

Chapter 3 The Breath of the Holy Spirit (Learning to Breathe Again) “There is no doubt that the East is helping the West recover the simple art of breathing – that most basic of human actions, the one that will not let us escape from the present moment.  We cannot breathe yesterday or tomorrow. We can only breathe in the here and now.” p.35 “The breath symbolizes the living, divine Reality present in each of us and in all creation.” p.37 “We breathe in the gift, and we breathe it out again, through loving-kindness and service.” p39

Chapter 4 The Water and the Waves (Water-soaked Ground) “if what Eckhart and (Nhat Hanh) say is true – namely, that the drop of water or the wave ‘become the ocean’ – then what happens next? Do we just disappear? What happens when we merge into God? Eckhart smiles at the earnestness with which we ask the question, and then with the wit of a true master of wisdom, he replies: So, you want to know what happens with the drop of water? ‘It finds God; and the finding of herself and the finding of God is one and the same act.’” p.57  “The author of the Chinese Tao Te Ching has a similar insight:

There was something formless and perfect before the universe was born. It is serene. Empty. Solitary. Unchanging. Infinite. Eternally present. It is the mother of the universe. For lack of a better name, I call it Tao. It flows through all things, inside and out, and returns to the origin of all things.” p.58

Chapter 5 Jesus and God (“Coming Home”) “For Christians, the question inevitably arises: Then how do we get back home to God? For (Nhat Hanh) the answer is quite simple: through the practice of mindfulness. We Christians can find much to imitate in this teaching, for only through mindful spiritual practice does the Trinity move from the theology books to becoming a reality in our lives. p.84 “from T.S. Eliot’s The Four Quartets: ‘What we call the beginning is often the end, and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from….we shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time.’” p.85

Chapter 6 Christ (The Amazing Grace of God) “the reality of our true nature is that we are historical and eternal beings, human and divine, wave and water, heaven and earth. Or, in the image that St. Paul uses: ‘We hold the treasure of divine life within the earthen vessel of our humanity’ (Cor.4:7)…Says Eckhart, ‘The soul is created as if at the junction of time and eternity” p. 97 “from the well-known song ‘Morning Has Broken’: Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning. Born of the one light Eden saw play! Praise with elation, praise every morning, God’s re-creation of the new day.’” p.102 “It is heartening for both Buddhists and Christians to know that, in the absence of our respective teachers, the body of their teachings lives on, guiding us toward truth and life.” p.109

Chapter 7 Suffering “The Buddhist journey out of suffering and into freedom is a the heart of the Christian Gospels as well….The Book of Deuteronomy records this admonition from God: ‘I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life that you and your descendants my live. (Deut. 30:19)” p.114 “Spirituality is not primarily about following rules, but about living a life that generates happiness and well-being for oneself and for others.” p.116 “No one possesses the truth. On the contrary, we are possessed by the truth. Truth is the Ground upon which every this and that stands.” p. 120 “A person must be willing to stop trying to solve life’s aches and pains by placing one’s trust in the gods of money, power, prestige, relationships, spiritual pleasure, and the like and plunge into the naked, silent Ground of God within.” p. 125

Chapter 8 Compassion Born from Suffering (Looking Deeply) “The discipline of meditation slows us down and trains us to look at the world with understanding and compassion.  The result? We begin to see the world around us as it truly is. p.129 “Compassion is love that is willing to run the risk of suffering with and for the beloved….the risky business of loving, of course, requires great patience The two words, compassion and patience both come from the Latin root patior, meaning “to suffer.” p.132 Love is not generic; we do not love in general. Love is always concrete. It always involves real people….the only way we have to love God is by loving this person right here and right now….The ‘perfect’ relationship is not one that is free from suffering, but one that is full of compassion.” p.134 “Suffering is part of loving; it just is. There is nothing romantic or heroic about it.” p.135

Chapter 9 The Tree of the Cross (The Cross: Path to Freedom) “The cross…is more of a path to follow that something we are encouraged to imitate” p.144 “a lived response to the great question of life and death and inner freedom.  Do we answer the question and speak the truth – ready to pay the consequences – or do we remain silent and immobile, paralyzed and enslaved by fear?” p.147 Jesus, like the Zen masters, leads his disciples along the path of dying to the self-sufficient ego….He calls us to die to the illusion that we are separate from God, that death has any ultimate power over us.” p.149 “The cross is the Christian version of the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths.” p.159 “All of us who have chosen a spiritual path have, at one time or another, fallen short of the goal. We are all human beings in process, learning day by day to be more human….We learn from the mistakes of the past, so that today we can say yes once again to the journey.” p. 161

Chapter 10 Love in Full Bloom (Equanimity: What Is, Is) “Equanimity is …the calm, peaceful acceptance of the way things are in the present moment…..’if life hands you lemons, then make lemonade’….equanimity teaches us to smile and to laugh at life. We learn to accept each other and every situation just as it is and, to the best of our ability to do so with a sense of humor.” p.168 “Through the practice of equanimity, we lose nothing. What we gain, though, in inner peace and tranquility, is immeasurable.” p.171 “To grow in love, says (Nhat Hanh), requires that we develop the spiritual capacity to rise above the fray of life, to be able to observe any given situation without being attached to either this side or that side.” p.175   

CONCLUSION A Journey and a Begging Bowl “Thomas Merton wrote a prayer ‘My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end…I know that …you will lead me by the right road.” p. 179 “As spiritual practitioners of the twenty-first century, we, like our ancestors, are on a journey, walking a path that unfolds in each and every step. The practice of mindfulness teaches us to savor each step, to live the present moment in all its fullness, aware that the kingdom is either now or never. p.181 “Master Eckhart once said that if he had to summarize the entire spiritual life into a single word or phrase, it would be ‘Thank you.’….The journey, though different and unique for each practitioner and each tradition, is one, and the great joy is the discovery that we walk the path together.” p. 183

This 202 page book includes a lengthy final Notes section that provides detailed references for all the sources cited throughout. Surely, my brief recap does not do justice to this excellent comparison of the Christian and Zen Buddhist traditions.  Clearly your key passages would be different than mine.

I welcome your thoughts on the book, and more importantly, on your spiritual path.  Have you found inspiration from multiple traditions?

ISBN: 1570756139