Please feel free to read this blog and join in. I hope you will write something inspirational, inspiring, spiritual, controversial, amusing, engaging or just plain run of the mill. But please don't be brusque, churlish or licentious.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mindful Practice 13

Mindfulness is a practice.  And awareness is an experience.  It's kind of like putting a jigsaw puzzle together.  The pieces of the puzzle represent bits of mindful practices and once the puzzle is put together you have the big picture - an experience of total awareness.

Practicing mindfulness in various situations develops a larger, wider, and deeper consciousness.  For example, start out practicing being mindful while walking, and then mindful biking, and then mindful eating, and on and on. Eventually the practice comes together as one mindful life.

All the practices up to this point have focused on single exercises.  Now it's time to begin fitting the pieces together into the big picture.

 If you have been practicing mindfulness in many aspects of your life you are probably ready to take the next big step - becoming aware of being mindful.  For example, let's say you are doing yoga and you are mindful of your posture, your breathing, the stretch in your hamstring and groin, energy flowing through your body, the light in the room, the sounds next door, and sweat beading up on your forehead.  With all of that going on, you can step back into your consciousness and observe the one who is being mindful.  This is a different and larger consciousness experience than being mindful of many different events.

It should be said, however, that it is almost impossible to be aware of mindfulness in a situation like doing yoga because of the varied number of experiences happening simultaneously.  In the beginning it is easier to be aware of being mindful in less complicated situations. For instance, you can be aware of being mindful of your breathing. However, it is not advisable to try being aware of being mindful while driving or other situations that could put you in danger.  It's best to start out slow and take simple tasks.

For your first aware of mindful experience sit in a chair and focus on an object like a picture, a vase, another person - something that is not moving.  As you focus on the object allow mindfulness to widen.  Notice the feelings in your body, your breathing, your buttocks in the chair, feet on the floor, and so on.  Continue to widen your mindfulness to light in the room, sounds, and any smells that may be present and thoughts you may be having.  Sit for a minute in this "bubble of mindfulness."

Soften your gaze and relax your breathing.  And then ask the question, "who is mindful?"   This is the key question to unlocking awareness.  Visualize awareness expanding out into the universe.  Notice the feeling of your presence sitting in the chair being mindful of objects and feelings. You are now aware of being mindful - a totally new and consciousness expanding experience.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mindful Practice 12

Cultivating mindfulness is a big part of yoga yet how many of us are integrating mindfulness into our yoga practice?  Besides increasing strength, flexibility, balance, range of motion, lung volume and spiritual well being, yoga can expand our consciousness.

In the truest sense of the word, traditional yoga, as taught by Patanjali Maharashi, has the main goal of reaching samadhi - total freedom from the mechanical mind.  A person who has reached samadhi is fully conscious of his own state of pure clarity at the highest level and the mind becomes a faithful servant.

Yoga, when practiced in the traditional sense, not only employs body exercises but also awareness of the environment, yourself, the breath, the senses, and the ability to focus the mind. Yoga is a good way to practice mindfulness because while you are moving through poses (asanas) and holding poses you can also learn to be aware of your thinking, your breathing, the body's subtle aches and pains, as well as the surroundings (light, temperature, sounds, etc.).  In other words, don't become absorbed.  Allow your consciousness to expand. 

The next time you do yoga see if you can go into a state of awareness without judging yourself and others.  Move through asanas with total mindfulness.  Expand your consciousness.  You may discover a whole new experience.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mindful Practice 11

The weather is warm and the humidity low.
The sky is clear and the sun is bright.
My mind is full of things that delight.

Everything is balmy and nothing seems right.
The smoke in the air makes everything dark.
My mind is dull and all is stark.

In which scenario do you live your life?
Wake up and smell the coffee if it's the second one.
You can become aware of all the beauty under the sun.

Just open your eyes and open your heart.
Be mindful of the present, not the past.
For this very moment will always last.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mindful Practice 10

Sex is a very intimate subject and can provoke all kinds of emotions when it is discussed.  So beware - don't read any further if you are squeamish reading about sex.

The Kama Sutra, an ancient Hindu sex manual dating back two thousand years considers sex a natural act between two consenting adults.  Sensually sexual pleasures were as much a part of life for Hindus as breathing and eating.  For them vastu (matter) and shakti (cosmic energy) come together when a man and a woman compatibly unite in sexual harmony.  With this remarkable sexual union of man and woman, prana (life force) is greatly enhanced for both participants. 

The Karma Sutra has been a practical guide for sexual intercourse for thousands of years and for millions of people.  It discusses love making, various types of embraces, kissing, oral sex, and 64 sexual positions.  For most people that would seem to be enough, but it is possible to go further, much further, in the enjoyment of love making.

Mindful Love Making (MLM) goes beyond the Kama Sutra and allows sexual partners to explore, even deeper, the joys of intimate love making.  No toys, no special embraces, or hundreds of different positions are needed.  The only thing required is mindfulness and allowing nature to guide the way.

In the human brain there is a region called the homunculus located in the cerebral cortex.  This region is responsible for receiving information from various sensory nerves of the body.  The largest and most sensitive areas of the homunculus are those that receive information from the fingers, lips, nipples, and genitals.  During love making these are the areas (the pleasure buttons) on which a mindful lover focuses.   Just remember the acronym FLNG (Fingers, Lips, Nipples, Genitalia).

 Lips kissing lips, sucking nipples, licking genitals, genitals on genitals, fingers on genitals, genitals on lips, and any combination thereof will guarantee supreme erogenous pleasure.  Being mindful, taking it slow and easy, and allowing time to explore as many pleasure buttons as possible is the key to the spice of love making.  Foreplay - getting there, is what creates passion which soon builds to a crescendo and finally to an impending orgasm making sex more fun and pleasurable than plain old penile insertion alone.  And isn't it the fullest sexual pleasure possible we are seeking for ourselves and our partner?

When both the female and male are sexually aroused toward a climax the brain releases oxytocin, a hormone that quickly precipitates into a full-blown orgasm lasting a glorious twenty seconds for the female and about six seconds for the male.  The female's clitoris becomes erect and pulsating waves encircle the vaginal wall.  The pulsating vagina activates every system in her brain creating shear joy and enormous pleasure that will last for hours and sometimes even days.

  In the male, the penis becomes engorged with blood enlarging to twice or more its normal size. The head of the penis (glans) is the same in origin (embryologically) as the clitoris.  Both are abundantly supplied with nerve endings and are highly sensitive.   With continuous rubbing of the glans, nerve impulses stimulate the prostate gland, seminal vesicles and vasdeferens.  These rubbery glands and tubes squeeze semen into the urethra of the penis.  This is the beginning of the orgasm for the male.  And then rrhythmic muscle contractions at the base of the penis squirts semen out of the penis while nerve impulses travel up the spine. This is ejaculation.  Although orgasm and ejaculation occur almost simultaneously they are not the same thing.  They are separate entities. But who cares?  It feels good.

In essence, if you want the ultimate experience in love making, practice MLM.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mindful Practice 9

Getting up early in the morning, hurriedly getting dressed, downing some coffee and maybe a bite to eat, you jump in the car and race off to work.  You don't have time to spare but half-way there you get in a traffic jam.  Horns are honking, cars aren't moving, time's a wasting, and you are going to be late for work.  "What am I going to tell the boss?"  you think.  "I've already been late twice this year" you scream.  You can feel your blood pressure rise and your palms are sweaty.

 Here are three techniques you can use to help reduce stress that may crop up in your life from time to time:

1. Mindfully come into the present moment. Become fully aware of everything around you, right now. When your mind wanders bring it back to what's happening right nowBe fully present with what is.

2. Place the heels of your hands gently on your closed eyes with your fingers on your head.  Take in a deep breath and hold it for five seconds.  When you breathe out make a humming sound so that you can feel vibrations in your chest.  Do two more breaths.  This practice is called the Oculocardiac reflex.  It stimulates the vagus nerve and switches on the parasympathetic nervous system - the relaxing part of the autonomic nervous system.

3. Take in a deep breath.  Wrap your arms around yourself and hug tightly while breathing out.  Squeeze!  Slowly release the hug and take a deep breath in, spreading your arms apart as if you are going to fly.  Visualize clean, pure oxygen pouring into every pore and cell of your body.  Do this hugging practice a few more times until you have flushed all the toxins and stress out of your body.

Warning!  Do not practice exercises 2 and 3 while driving or operating heavy machinery.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mindful Practice 8

By now you know being mindful is not easy.  It requires a great deal of effort in the beginning but as you practice it gets easier.  Meditation plays a big role in becoming mindful because, for one thing, it acclimates the mind to being in the moment.  Meditation is not only important for learning how to stay in the moment it is also important for recognizing judging thoughts.   For example, you are meditating and a thought suddenly appears, "Betty is a good friend."  And then another thought appears. "But she needs to lose some weight."  The first thought was generic and the second thought was judging.

It is okay to have judging thoughts as long as you recognize them as such.  Let's say you are sitting in a waiting room at the doctor's office and you have been waiting for a long time.  You hear the doctor talking to another patient in the adjoining room.  You think, "why is he talking to her when he knows I was here first.  I've been waiting here for over forty minutes.  He is a no good son of a _ _ _ _ _ for treating me like this."

One thing you could do is get very angry and leave.  The other thing you could do is recognize the thought as a judgment.  In the first case nothing would be gained and in the second case the negative feeling would disappear.  Once you recognize negative thoughts for what they are - nothing but negative energy, they disappear almost immediately.  You cannot be your thoughts if your are mindful, therefore you cannot be negative or angry.

Include in your sitting meditation practice some thought awareness.  Just let your thoughts come and go without trying to control them and simply recognize them..  There may be times in your meditation where there are no thoughts at all and that is great.  As you get deeper into meditation the gaps (no thoughts) between thoughts will widen but what you want to be aware of are the thoughts on both sides of the gaps.  Are they generic thoughts or are they judging thoughts?

By recognizing thoughts they become distant from the "you" - the witness of the thoughts.  Thoughts become objects and you can observe them without becoming emotionally involved.  You want to see them for what they are - subtle and temporary forms of energy.  By becoming the observer of your thoughts you can identify them better and easier than when you become emotionally involved with them.   

By becoming aware of your thoughts during meditation you can become aware of them when you are not formally meditating such as when you are carrying on a conversation, walking, talking, teaching, resting, watching television, participating in sports, watching sports, and so on.  As your thought awareness grows you should see your mindfulness grow too.  Thoughts that normally provoked anger, despair, jealousy, anxiety, and other negative emotions will become temporary objects of energy passing by.  You will become more mindful.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mindfulness Practice 7

What is your modus operandi when you sit down to eat?  Do you devour your food as quickly as possible, read, carry on a conversation, watch television, or do you taste each morsel as though it was your last?  If you answered "taste each morsel as though it was your last" congratulations, you are a mindful eater. If you didn't answer yes, you might want to explore a new way of eating that can enlighten your senses.

Slowly taking the food on your utensil to your mouth, smelling its aroma, savoring it as you place it in your mouth and allowing your taste buds to explore the delicate flavors of each piece of food is an art that has been lost in our hurried, modern life style of today.  Bhukti is enjoying the senses to their fullest.  In the case of eating there can be great pleasure in seeing, smelling, tasting as well as touching and hearing.  All five senses may be engaged in the process of dining on a delicious meal.

Not only may all five senses be involved in eating but the internal satisfaction of having eaten a good meal and the feeling of  satiation can be one of heavenly delight.  Food having been eaten mindfully and then digested slowly in the viscera is beyond description.  Thirty percent of the our blood is needed for adequate digestion.  Blood rushing into the gastrointestinal tract and absorbing  vital nutrients is a process that should be allowed to occur without disturbance. All too often, though, we are in a rush to get up and get going.

Rushing to get through eating and rushing to get somewhere afterwards can cause all kinds of problems in the body due to poor digestion and over consumption.  This can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, acid reflux, heart burn, mental disease, cancer, and Barrett's esophagus http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2064544/Why-eating-quickly-fast-track-early-grave.html.

So, the next time you sit down to eat a meal why don't you do it mindfully?  Take a few seconds to look at your food.  Observe its colors and textures.  If you have some finger food on your plate feel it as though your are feeling it for the first time. Close your eyes and smell the aroma that is drifting into your nostrils.  Be aware of saliva building up in your mouth and the urge to eat right now.  As you take some food toward your mouth do it slowly and purposefully.  Enjoy this miraculous moment of dining on fine cuisine.  Think, "this could be my last meal.  I will enjoy it to the fullest."

When you place the first piece of food in your mouth, chew it slowly.  Stay conscious and start tuning in to bhukti.  Turn on all of your senses and enjoy every bite, every chew, and every swallow.  Mindful eating is a sensual and enlightening experience.  Bon appetite.   


Monday, April 8, 2013

Mindful Practice 6

Mindfulness is the process of being in the present moment without judging.  The wandering mind is one of the major obstacles to mindfulness.  It is not the nature of the mind to stay in the present moment 

Judging is the other major obstacle to mindfulness.  "I need to judge in order to compare myself with others so I can stay on top of things - be better - feel superior - look good."  In mindfulness, judging means comparing others to yourself or with someone else.  "Have you seen all of the junk piled up in their house?  I don't see how they can live like that.  I could never let my house be so messy."  "Look at her, she is as big as an elephant.  Doesn't she have any pride in herself?  What a slob."

So, in order to be mindful lay aside the wandering and judging mind.  Although it takes practice and effort to be mindful it is well worth the effort. The practice described below takes only a few minutes.  Do it once a week and a new groove will be layed down in your brain allowing you to get out of the old way of negative thinking.

Go to a mall, any mall, it doesn't make it difference, they are all basically the same.  Go where there is a lot of traffic.  Have a seat on one of the benches or chairs that are usually provided at an intersection where people are coming in and out of stores. Watch people as they pass by.  The task in this practice is to sit for 15 minutes and observe people walking by.  Stay in the moment and don't let your mind wander into the past or the future or into negative thoughts. 

As you watch try not to be judgmental.  If you find yourself thinking: needs, must, got to, should, too, has to, or ought; go back to observing without judging.

For example, if you think: "he needs a hair cut," "she must lose weight", "he has got to get a better pair of shoes", "she should go on a diet", "he is too skinny", "he has to help that child", "I ought to stop thinking this way", "I should be as pretty has she is;" then bring your mind back to observing - not judging.

So, the next time you visit a mall try this exercise.  It is a worthwhile practice that will prove beneficial to your mind, body, and soul.  Most of all, have fun doing it. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mindfulness Practice 5

We don't often equate mindfulness with sleeping but the role of being mindful to your breathing, your body, and mind play a crucial role in getting to sleep and staying there.  When you go to bed have you ever experienced the mind becoming more active with thoughts popping in and out?  If you have, it's because the energy from your motionless body begins to move into your brain. The brain becomes stimulated by the extra energy and begins thinking of things you haven't thought much of during the day.

When you get in bed become mindful of your body.  Start by being aware of your head on the pillow and other parts of your body touching the bed.  Notice any thoughts that happen to come up.  Allow yourself to relax with those thoughts and begin focusing on your breathing.  As you focus on your breathing become mindful of the movement of your chest and belly.  Notice the rhythmic movement of your body with the rhythmic flow of air in and out, in and out.  As thoughts appear, simply let them be and don't try to force them away.  Come back to the subtle movements of your belly and chest and the rhythm of your breathing.

Let you awareness expand out into the room becoming sensitive to the darkness, the temperature, sounds, and smells.  You might notice subtle sounds and vibrations inside your body coming from your stomach and your heart.  Become mindful of everything inside and outside of you.  Once you are tuned into being mindful of all these things, say silently to yourself,  "I will be mindful of my dreams."  Repeat the phrase as often as you like focusing on the word "mindful." 

When you wake up in the morning see if you can remember any of your dreams.  You might be in for a surprise.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mindfulness Practice 4

Interpersonal communication involves social interactions between two or more people.   It is a way we humans exchange ideas, opinions, concepts, feelings, beliefs, etc.  We not only  undertake the activity through dialogue but also through facial expressions and body movements.  The slightest change in voice tone and volume, facial expression and hand gestures can change the perception of a person's intent and message.  To understand completely what the other person is communicating to us we must be fully aware and in the moment. 

When carrying on a conversation have you ever found yourself thinking about what you are going to say next?  Or have you ever been interrupted by someone who couldn't wait for you to finish what you were saying?  Or while someone is talking to you have you ever thought to yourself, "She/he has a funny nose, is too fat, has a weird voice, has a droopy eye," etc.?  If you have, you are not alone. Most people have experienced these moments of communication breakdowns.  The breakdown is usually due to lack of receptive listening and sense of self on one or both sides of the isle.  

The practice of mindful listening involves receptive listening along with an innate sense of self.  Receptive listening is the ability to stay focused.  Sense of self is the ability to know who you are.  The first one is not difficult to understand.  Staying focused means not allowing your attention and thoughts to wander.  The second is a little more difficult to understand. 

Your self is that person you call "I" and "Me."  To know your self requires fully understanding why you do what you do.  There have been volumes written on the subject but in short the self is all your values and feelings.  The self is what makes up the total package of you.  It's what makes you "tick."  And most of all it includes that thing called the ego.  I discuss in detail how you can figure out your self in You Can Develop Pure Awareness.  I'm not touting my book necessarily but just saying if you want to look a little deeper into your psyche you can find out how in the book.  By the way, it's only 99 cents on e-book. 

So, if you stay focused on the person you are conversing with and you know the essence of your being (the self), you will pick up many subtle nuances that you have been missing all these years.  You will get more out of the conversation and learn things you never knew existed about the person as well as yourself.