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Mantras & Prayers from “My Healing Space”

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I’ve had a request for the mantra and prayer I used at the “My Healing Space” workshop on Wednesday, and it seems like a good idea to publish them here for everyone. I will do the same each month.

The Mantra – from the Upanishads

ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः
Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya
Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih

Meaning:
1: Om, Lead us from Unreality (of Transitory Existence) to the Reality (of the Eternal Self),
2: Lead us from the Darkness (of Ignorance) to the Light (of Spiritual Knowledge),
3: Lead us from the Fear of Death to the Knowledge of Immortality.
4: Om Peace, Peace, Peace.

The Zen Prayer – from “Zen Prayers for repairing your life” by Tai Sheridan 

“For Now”

I open myself

to being alert

in the present moment

and to being

completely alive

and responsive

to whatever happens

 

I am ready

to stop avoiding

my experiences

and internal states

of thought emotion

sensation and intuition

as they occur

 

I am ready

to slow down

so that I can

be centered

within myself

and live close

to the bone

 

I am ready

to give up

acting as if

past memory

and future wishes

are a satisfying substitute

for right now

 

I open myself

to being alert

in the present moment

and to being

completely alive

and responsive

to whatever happens

 

 

Precious Moment

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I found this blog post from a couple of years ago. I still often refer to “bathing a Baby Buddha” when I am talking about mindfulness. As we move into Autumn,  it seems apt to repost…

I have found myself being surprised by the date. October already? It’s a common theme and topic of conversation, how quickly the months seem to fly by. We are intrinsically linked to the flow of the seasons and still gauge the passing of time by seasonal milestones. The passing of time can also feel more quickly paced at certain times than at others. Time can reflect achievements, goals and challenges, deadlines missed and tasks yet undone and we often dwell on the past or constantly plan or worry about the future..

The practice of Yoga allows us to be more present in the moment – something which is nowadays often called Mindfulness. More important than the ticking by of seconds, hours and weeks, is what is occurring RIGHT NOW. Indeed, the only thing we can be absolutely certain of is what is happening right now. More than that, it’s about developing awareness, focusing in and being mindful of what is occurring, with our breath, in our bodies, in our minds. Off the mat, it is about being fully present in our lives. It may not be possible all of the time, but the awareness that comes from practising yoga can give more meaning and depth to our experience of each moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh  comments beautifully about this in the following verse about Washing the Dishes:

Washing the dishes

is like bathing a baby Buddha.

The profane is the sacred.

Everyday mind is Buddha’s mind.

“To my mind, the idea that doing dishes is unpleasant can occur to us only when we are not doing them. Once we are standing in front of the sink with our sleeves rolled up and our hands in warm water, it is really not bad at all… Each thought, each action in the sunlight of awareness becomes sacred. In this light, no boundary exists between the sacred and the profane. It may take a bit longer to do the dishes, but we can live fully, happily, in every moment…If I am incapable of washing dishes joyfully, if I want to finish them quickly so I can go and have dessert and a cup of tea, I will be equally incapable of doing these things joyfully. With the cup in my hands, I will be thinking about what to do next, and the fragrance and the flavourof the tea, together with the pleasure of drinking it, will be lost. I will always be dragged into the future, never able to live in the present moment. The time of dishwashing is as important as the time of meditation. That is why the everyday mind is called the Buddha’s mind.” THICH NHAT HANH

Everything Is Waiting For You

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I only recently heard this poem when I listened to David Whyte’s TEDx talk on the conversational nature of reality. The poem has been around for some time, so I am surprised I hadn’t encountered it. However, the poem really spoke to me, so here it is…

 

Your great mistake is to act the drama

as if you were alone. As if life

were a progressive and cunning crime

with no witness to the tiny hidden

transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny

the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,

even you, at times, have felt the grand array;

the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding

out your solo voice You must note

the way the soap dish enables you,

or the window latch grants you freedom.

Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.

The stairs are your mentor of things

to come, the doors have always been there

to frighten you and invite you,

and the tiny speaker in the phone

is your dream-ladder to divinity.

 

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into

the conversation. The kettle is singing

even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots

have left their arrogant aloofness and

seen the good in you at last. All the birds

and creatures of the world are unutterably

themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

 

– David Whyte from Everything is Waiting for You ©2003 Many Rivers Press

Mindfulness In a Cup

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Also appears on my mindfulness blog  Switching Off

photo by Sarahlizamoody on Flickr.com

I  have just completed the eight week MBCT (mindfulness based cognitive therapy) course. Over the weeks, the techniques of mindfulness are revealed in what feels like a gentle process of evolution. It was wonderful to see that evolution in myself and others as the weeks progressed. I’ve said it before, this mindfulness stuff works!

In the beginning – for those new to meditation – there was scepticism and the beginner’s frustration of “not doing”. And you could almost see the process of this unravelling – much to the surprise of the participants. “I feel better, but I don’t know why” . This is because there is no actual sense of process, or progress, or moving towards any particular goal. In mindfulness, there is no “end” in mind, only being with what is there. In the moment.

The miracle of mindfulness indeed.

One exercise that we did on the course was to write down everything that we did in one day. I chose a Tuesday because, curious to see where we were going with it (OK not quite in the moment) I chose my busiest day. Most people were finished their lists when I was still only at lunch time!

And then we were asked to go through our list and mark them with an N for nurturing, a D for draining or and M for those activities, nurturing or draining which we felt we had mastery over.

The word I think I used to describe what I revealed, was “startling”

Try it.

There was only one activity that just had an N next to it. There were many that had both Ns and Ds – as teaching can be both. There were quite a number of Ms, draining as some of the activities are, I think I’ve got Tuesdays down to a fine art. However, the one wholly nurturing activity – other than going to bed at night time – was making a cup of coffee in the morning before I left for work.

There are no answers provided in mindfulness training. Only questions and explorations. The lists, the Ns and Ds and Ms revealed all that was required. And what is required is always either a shift in behaviour, or a shift in thinking.

On the final day of the course we were all asked to bring in an object that spoke of our experience. People brought in beautiful, interesting and fascinating things. Things they had made, things that spoke to them of their experience, things they were wearing.

I brought in two objects – the first: a piece of sea washed pottery that I had beach combed. All to do with expression and activities I love and my unique sense of beauty and not being bothered whether others think differently.

And the second?.

…A coffee cup.

In the drink

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A note of advice: It is best not to attempt to clean a toilet, when your smart phone is in your top pocket!

Plop!

As the bubbles rose to the surface –  the yogic calm escaping in  stream of swear words- my  immediate panic was quickly replaced by a certain resignation. The phone was unlikely to survive.I went through the motions of rescuing the phone and hastily removing and drying the sim and laying the pieces out to dry on the boiler, whilst mentally and emotionally consigning the fragments to history. 

It is fairly common, we all know someone who’s done it. Or you may have done it yourself. I have just read a statistic that 19% of people have dropped their smartphone in a toilet at some point. ( wait a minute – Someone paid for this research? )I was suffering some kind of lurgy and attempting to do some work on the computer as well as summoning enough energy to do short bursts of housework in preparation for visitors. So my mind really wasn’t on the task. I was moving from one thing to the next , forgetting that I had just put my phone in the top pocket of my dungarees. So really, it was another lesson in mindfulness. Perhaps a lesson not to wear dungarees! 🙂

It was also a fantastic lesson in non-attachment. On  loads of levels. Firstly – why the hell did I need my phone in the toilet? It could have been safely left on the desk or table. What was going to happen in the five minutes (less) it took me to sweep a bog brush round the rim that required me to have my phone with me?

Then there was the acceptance of loss of what was on the phone. I managed to rescue the sim but everything else was gone including half my contacts. YES – it was backed up on the PC! But is was synced via a programme which only seems to want to work with the old phone it was synced to, which – to remind you-  is no longer with us!

Also, after  a few days of reverting to an old phone, it began to feel kind of liberating. In order to check my e-mails or Facebook or to Google some fact or other, I had to go upstairs and sit in front of the computer. Because I didn’s feel like spending my entire day in front of the computer ( although I do have those days!) I began to allow myself the space of letting go. Because the phone/toilet event coincided with me being ill, I wasn’t doing much work , or feeling very inclined to sit at the PC and – well – nothing happened! Some e-mails waited a couple of days to get answered, and I didn’t get round to liking very much on Facebook but nobody seemed to mind, if they noticed at all!

Thanks to a generous friend with a new smartphone I have a new/old smartphone and because it is sunny, I am lying on a blanket in the garden scribbling this post long-hand with a pencil before I drag myself upstairs to commit it to the ether. The new smartphone is by my side and occasionally it makes a small noise to alert me to the fact that I have received an e-mail.

I’ll check it… at some point.

Duvet Day

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We have had a busy time recently preparing our house for an important family gathering. Our house is Victorian and in need of a lot of TLC, so there has been a fair bit of decorating, as well as cleaning to be done. This past week has seen me holding layers of wallpaper on the end of a broom as my other half expertly papered an imperfect ceiling and hauling weighty sofas out of storage and in through the window, (massive bruise on right knee as a lasting reminder). Then,  steam cleaning said sofas, as well as various carpets and soft furnishings, dusting, polishing, hoovering, and then  making up spare beds.

 So Sunday is a duvet day, but not in the sense I might have preferred. A frothy coffee and a croissant in bed listening to Steve Wright’s Sunday Love songs might have hit the mark a little more closely but the impending arrival of thirteen of our nearest and dearest sets the agenda. 

 Wrestling with two super-king sized duvets, I am tying myself in the usual knots of finding and losing corners, trying to straighten out lumps and bumps and getting the bulk of the winter thickness duvet evenly spread inside the cover. It is never a task I look forward to and I find it time consuming and frustrating. And before you attack the comments field with the advice of turning the cover inside out etc. etc. Yup, been doing that for years. Arms not wide enough!

 As I am encased in the marshmallow folds of  one particularly recalcitrant quilt,  I remember my lessons in mindfulness. My mind, naturally is focusing on finishing the task as quickly as possible in order to move onto something I will find more engaging (like cleaning toilets! 😉 )  All that arises out of that mindset however, is frustration, boredom and negativity. Mindfulness gives us the opportunity to be in a state of present awareness by focusing fully on the task in hand. It is also about practising non-attachment, that is not judging whether the task is good, or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, boring or exciting. It is about approaching every task just as that, a job to be done in a state of mindful, present awareness.

 This way, every job gives us an opportunity for meditation. Here’s how…

 Breathe – focus on the breath – allow it to flow

Focus completely on the task in hand. Observe yourself doing it.

Breathe.

When the mind wanders, don’t judge it, just notice and bring your attention back to the breath and to the task in hand.

When frustration arises, again don’t judge it, just notice and bring your attention back to the breath and to the task in hand.

When you find yourself wishing the job was over so that you can do something more “interesting,” remind yourself that there is nothing more interesting that what is happening right now. All that is ever happening is what is happening right now.

When you find yourself thinking that you could be busy doing more “important,” things, remind yourself that there is nothing more important than what is happening right now.

When your mind tells you that nobody enjoys filling duvets/cleaning toilets/washing dishes/doing the laundry/picking up dog poo/whatever, and why should you be any different? Remind yourself that this is what the mind does, and come back to following the breath and to the task in hand.

When your mind tries to convince you that this mindfulness stuff is all bullshit anyway, remind yourself that this is what the mind does, and come back to following the breath and to the task in hand.

 Whatever the mind throws at you – Smile. Breathe. Focus. Repeat.

 This way, it isn’t necessary to find time and a clean floor to practice meditation (although it can help to create that space) Every action brings potential for meditation and focus, for bringing one’s awareness into the present moment.

 And you might end up with that clean floor anyway!

 Let me know how you get on!