Using time well

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In a week when the newspaper front pages in Ireland and England devote as much time to celebrity gossip and the gyrations of Miley Cyrus at VMA Awards as they do to atrocities and human suffering in Syria and Iraq, it is probably good to reflect on how we can live more consciously. One element of this is where we choose to place our attention and devote our time:

If they say we should get together. Say why?

It’s not that you don’t love them any more.
You’re trying to remember something too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project. It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store, nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven’t seen in ten years appears at the door,
don’t start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.

Naomi Shihab Nye, The Art of Disappearing

photo crusier

Everything arises freshly

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Since every element of reality — each being, each moment in time, each experience — is different from every other, this means that everything always arises freshly and uniquely as just what it is. The fact that all things arise freshly and uniquely in each moment means that they are inherently self-liberated, free of all the concepts we have about them — which are based on past conditioning. Similarly, the living, breathing process that we are is always free from all the concepts or beliefs we have about it. Letting our experience be helps us make an important shift — into that unbounded, all-encompassing space of pure being, which alone can let be. In the moment, the small, bounded, dualistic ego falls away. Letting the relative be as it is, then, reveals the absolute.

John Welwood, Double Visiion

The slow pace of creation

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Slowing how we think and feel and take in the world is directly related to being centered. The wisdom traditions all have some form of meditation and prayer that is aimed at slowing us into this center, where the very pace of creation breathes…..At the pace of creation, all things breathe the same way….So, when we slow and open and center ourselves, we breathe in unison with all of life, and breathing this way we draw strength from all of life.  At the pace of creation, the beginning enters us and we are new.

Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

photo josh hallett

Recognizing your experience

Looking Outside

Here’s a definition of mindfulness: it’s a strengthening of your concentration so that you can be more precise and clear in recognizing your experience. It’s also a strengthening of your equanimity — your ability to be relaxed and open in the face of your experience. The concentration part of mindfulness is a little like drinking a cup of coffee; it kind of wakes you up. It’s like the straight spine of arousal or awareness. The equanimity part is like the relaxed limbs of the body. The spine is straight, and the limbs are relaxed. This relaxation part is a receptivity and acceptance to things as they are. It’s a kind of “friendly audience” to your own experience; a sort of “Hello. Wow! OK.” attitude — a gentle, matter-of-fact awareness of your experience, rather than a reactive pulling back.  All mindfulness practices cultivate both of those, the concentration and the equanimity, so that you can be clearer, more precise and more relaxed in the face of whatever is happening to you —whether it’s loud noises coming in from a jackhammer running in the next building, or a pain in your knee, or your emotions about your spouse.

Polly Young-Eisendrath