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@ Calm serenity is the human base-line emotional state – Alfred’s progress

Please see (1) to know about Alfred.

“I have not sent you much lately but it is not because I have neglected my meditation practice. I am still at it for about an hour a day and continue to reap the rewards. Here is a short essay that, I think, encapsulates where I am at currently.

The Purpose of Meditation
Because of the strong interest I have developed in meditation I had begun to read about it. Some of what I read has been rewarding in that others have expressed insights that I had arrived at independently. This makes me feel that I am on a good path. However, much of the literature is contradictory and can create confusion. For example some practitioners of mindfulness meditation insist that you should be in a sitting posture and your eyes should be open. Others say any posture that is effective can be used and the eyes can be shut. Confusion sows doubt and doubt erodes successful effort. So, for now, I have stopped reading and am following my own path.

My path
What keeps me most focused is always bringing back to mind the purpose of my meditation. This purpose was always there but, with practice has clarified. I believe that the calm serenity I often achieve through meditation is the human base-line emotional state. When the business of life overwhelms us this tranquility is superimposed upon by agitation, excitement and stress. I also believe that emotional honesty and wisdom are best accessed from the tranquil base-line state. This fairly simple premise is the purpose of my mediation and by keeping it in mind I can redirect my attention appropriately when I stray.”

(1) Alfred

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@ Meditation enables me to ignore the demands of my ‘Self’ – Alfred

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Self

“Most often when we use the word self (2) we attach good feelings to it.  Sense of self, self-assured, self-actualization and a host of other “self” ideas all impress us with the importance of self.  However, there is another self within us that is less noble.

Last night I had an early morning dream where a person I love deceived and betrayed me.  After waking I was upset, my mind was clouded with ill will even though my rational mind kept telling me no actual betrayal had occurred.  It was difficult for me to find tranquility in my morning meditation but, finally, I was able to shed these bad feelings.  That was my “self” feeding me bad thoughts (3).  This self is busy all day reminding us of past mistakes, upcoming appointments, relationship difficulties and problems that need to be resolved. This self is a worry wart and has no compunction about stretching the truth or even lying to you if it suits its need.

Meditation has enabled me to ignore the demands of my self for a bit each morning.  And when my “self” is shut down, the peace and clarity which is always there in the background wells up and fills me with love and gratitude. Gone are worry, anger, jealousy, remorse and self-doubt. An added benefit is that, as the day progresses, I am more able to ignore my “self” (4) and to better able to judge the veracity of its often dubious  proclamations.”

(1) Alfred
His previous posts
(2) My related page –‘One living self and infinite dead selves’: I change every day, mentally and physically, to some minute degree. Yesterday’s version of me disappeared, never to be seen again, as good as dead. My only living self is the one pulsing with life, at this very moment. More….
(3) My related page – ‘Thoughts are like ….’: Birds in the sky, Clouds, Trains arriving at a train station, Uninvited guests, Imaginary demons, Delusions, Plants in the garden, Images on the screen, Balloons without air …..More….
(4) My related page – ‘My shopping cart pulls to one side’: Sometimes I pick a shopping cart that pulls to one side. I make periodic adjustments to prevent any mishaps.  I realized that my mind also tends to make biased and wrong judgments. I adjust my mind like I adjust my shopping cart and avoid mishaps. More….

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@ “Thoughts are like dead leaves blowing in the wind” – Alfred’s progress

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Practices

I had begun to worry about some aches and pains in my neck and hips and so I met with Elisa Cotroneo, a yoga teacher and somatic movement specialist. She was great and gave me some good advice on modifying my morning routine. I have begun to implement these changes and am already feeling an improvement. I have continued to develop the asana which I made up and am finding ever deeper relaxation from its practice.

Regarding your suggestion about extending the sitting meditation
It is interesting because I have begun to do that as a sort of natural progression.  When I find an asana (yoga posture) that makes me particularly tranquil, I will stop counting and continue the pose for some time.  I think these extended time frames are usually only 10-15 minutes now because that is about how long my total meditation time has increased.

Ideas

The Tree Metaphor
When meditating try to experience all those things a tree experiences- the touch of a breeze, sunshine, bird song, roots reaching into the earth, branches to the sky, the weight of being. Avoid all those human overlays such as anger, anticipation, and regret.

Thoughts  vs Ideas
Because we cannot just turn our minds off (and it would be dangerous if we did) I have begun to differentiate between thoughts and ideas as I meditate. My definition of a thought is that it is a fragment of an idea. Thoughts come and go, some good, some bad, like dead leaves blowing in the wind. An idea is a whole thing. It can stand alone like a large smooth rock on the ground. It can be looked at from different sides. The glue that holds an idea together is intuition. Here is an example of an idea – that the tranquility experienced from meditation is a baseline. To achieve tranquility is simply opening a door to a new space. The exploration of that space is what counts. When I meditate I concentrate on that idea (as well as my breath, my body sensations and my state of mindfulness). Keeping that idea in focus allows me to ward off distracting thoughts and achieve tranquility more efficiently.

Results
  • I took a long and stressful (busy traffic and bad weather) car trip helping my son move into a new apartment in Brooklyn. The rented van had extremely uncomfortable seats and we drove for over 7 hours. I used body awareness techniques I have learned from my asanas and ended the trip with no residual body stiffness.
  • I find myself striking up conversations with strangers or people who I hardly know more often.
  • Also, I think I am listening to other people better.

(1) Alfred

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Related posts: Alfred’s progress

@ Breathing in and breathing out as a continuum …Alfred’s progress

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“I am still keeping at it and expanding my practice every day. My core routine is 10 postures, each held for a minimum of 30 breaths. In between, I stretch in ways my body tells me to, some times rocking gently to loosen things up.

I always play soothing music or chanting; there are great chants on you tube. I was burning incense but have stopped because I find it a distraction.

Each day I discover new ways to attend to the present while meditating. Every day I feel a benefit; sometimes great, sometimes subtle.

Some ideas
  • We can be slaves to time. Being constantly aware of the clock and where you need to be an hour from now, robs you of the present. While meditating, do not fall into the trap of counting breaths, as if they are grocery list on which you are striking off items. Immerse yourself in each breath and adhere to your body’s natural relaxed breathing pattern. Time can become quite elastic when you are not measuring it in your mind. I suspect that the perfect present is infinite.
  • If you have trouble stilling noisy thoughts, try some mental exercises.
    • When you breath in, think of what it feels like to exhale and then, as you exhale think of the feeling of breathing in.
    • Think about the sound of wind on your face, of how sunshine smells and what the color green tastes like. Imagine that your body is floating or rotating slowly. Imagine you are slowly melting into the ground.
  • I realize as I try to attain complete tranquility while meditating, that the way I breathe can disrupt this goal. I have found at times a great rush of peace as I slowly exhale but, as I transition to breathing in, I am susceptible to errant thoughts. In order to avoid this undesirable distraction, I have begun to try to think of breathing in and breathing out as a continuum, rather than a transition. As I breath out and feel peace flow in, I concentrate on holding that feeling and I begin to breath in. I do not concentrate on the change of direction of my breath. This is helping me sustain and deepen the feeling of calmness over multiple breath cycles.
Benefits  I gained
  • I went to a social event where I knew nobody. I felt more relaxed than usual in this situation and felt like I was more focused on the person I was talking to at any given moment.
  • During the day when a worrisome thought clouds my mind, I am better at addressing it and filing it away where it belongs, rather than have it put me in a foul mood.
  • I am more easily amused.”
(1) Alfred

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@ Improvements in patience, judging people and pains – Alfred’s progress

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Meditation practices and experiences

When you count your breaths try not to say the numbers in your mind. You might try replacing one, two and three with red, green blue and as you mark each color in your mind try to visualize it. Or make up three syllables to replace the numbers: aaaa, raaa, hum for example.

When practicing meditation be extremely gentle and loving of yourself. Do not think badly of yourself if your mind strays, simply redirect. If you find a position or mental place that makes you feel good then allow yourself extra time there and try to go deeper into tranquility. When you are done, stretch like a cat in ways that feel good, scratch your scalp with your fingers and pat yourself quickly and firmly all over with your hands.

As a boy I had dreams that I could fly. It was not flying like superman, more like I had figured out the secret to undoing gravity. I would rise up above the sidewalk and slowly float down again; like a slow motion jump. At times I would get quite high up so that the town below me looked like scenery in a model railroad set. These dreams were always elating. I felt like the world was filled with many happy secrets and, maybe, I was able to figure them out. Sometimes I would awake, and in my half sleep, still believe in the possibility of levitating. This belief sometimes carried through the day. Meditation is beginning to create a similar feeling of elation in me. Although I am firmly planted in the “real” world, meditation gives me a glimpse of hidden possibilities and is restoring my belief in magic.

Changes I attribute to my daily meditation
  • Increased patience in traffic and with people
  • I am less likely to judge people in a bad way
  • The stretching has reduced some aches and pains I have had for a long time.

(1) Alfred

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@ Yoga thoughts – From Alfred

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I have not missed a day of meditation yet which tells you that I am valuing it. On some days I am left with ideas which I call “Yoga Thoughts” which I write down and am sharing with you now.

Yoga Thoughts
  • Breathing is an endless spiral, breathing in (taking), pause (stillness), breathing out (releasing), pause (calmness)
  • It is simple and at the same time it is complex
  • One of block to tranquility is excitedly thinking about what you are going to do next. Thinking about your next meal, your next conversation with someone you like, the upcoming trip to the beach, all these block you from the present. When you have these types of thoughts while meditating, you are valuing the future over the present, like a child who whines that they are bored on a long car trip. Being happy in the moment is the greatest show of gratitude and the only way to access grace.
  • It is not profound every time you fill your car with gas.
  • Our thoughts tether us. If you are afraid of flying, hold that thought.
(1) Alfred

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