Last Sunday, my friends and I spoke about the gift of learning to observe ourselves impartially. We spoke of using the constantly changing flow of sensory feeling in the body — keeping it simple, just knowing pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral in the body. Breaking our experience down in this way — sunlight, pleasant, shadow, unpleasant – can help us glimpse the flowing, changing nature of our experience. But turning our attention to the moment-by-moment experience of the life of body can accomplish something much greater. It can help free us from an obsessive identification with a small, embattled self. It can be the key to living a much bigger life — a good life in the deepest sense.
Tracy Cochran, Pay Attention, for Goodness Sake
Of one thing I am pretty sure,’ he resumed, ‘that the same recipe Goethe gave for the enjoyment of life, applies equally to all work: “Do the thing that lies next you.” That is all our business. Hurried results are worse than none. We must force nothing, but be partakers of the divine patience…All haste implies weakness. Time is as cheap as space and matter.
George MacDonald (1824-1905), Scottish poet, novelist, and Minister, Robert Falconer
In meditation we’re learning from Nature rather than from society, so you have to train in terms of wilderness awareness: to learn from your bodily intelligence. Otherwise, if you’re trying to get your business-model, ‘get it done’ mind, to take you to samādhi (concentration or calm) it’s like riding an elephant as if you’re driving a taxi: you implant stress onto a natural process and that constricts your awareness.
In Auschwitz, we never knew from one moment to another what was going to happen….I couldn’t fight or flee, but I learned how to stay in a situation and make the best of what is. I still had choices. So, when we were stripped and shorn of our hair, Magda asked me, ‘How do I look?’ She looked like a mangy dog, but I told her: ‘Your eyes are so beautiful. I never noticed when you had all that hair.’ Every day, we could choose to pay attention to what we’d lost or what we still had.
Edith Eger , 1927 – Holocaust Survivor, The Choice: Embrace the Possible
All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. ….
Whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty.
Joy is not made to be a crumb.
Mary Oliver, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems