For the last two months on Thursday evenings I’ve been offering teachings on meditation. These teachings have been loosely based on Pema Chodron’s brief, easy to read and highly understandable book called How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends With Your Mind. I especially like Pema Chodron’s making friends with your mind approach to meditation. It’s so down-to-earth and real.
The most inspiring short video about practice I’ve seen this year is from Brother David Steindl-Rast’s Gratefulness.org. The video is less than 6-minutes. And it’s filled with beautiful landscapes and shots of people doing the ordinary yet amazing things people do to make their ordinary lives. The video invites us to take up the here and now practice of gratitude. It asks, “Do you think this is just another day in your life?” Then answers, “It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you. Today! It’s a gift.”
May Everyone You Meet Today Be Blessed By Your Presence!
So, because I love the beauty of the images and the sentiments and the practice Brother David shares in this video, I offer it as a gift to you. I hope you’ll take a few quiet moments today or tomorrow and watch.
“Please open your heart to all life’s blessings and let them flow through you.” ~David Steindl-Rast
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Have a wonderful week!
Where do thoughts come from? Where do they go when they’re spent? If you want to know, you can settle down quietly and look inside yourself to see. What you’ll eventually see is as open and as peaceful as the sky.
Given my role as a Zen priest, if I do harm to another person these days that harm generally springs from either something I’ve said, or from how I’ve said it. Or, the harm might also arise from something I’ve left unsaid because I didn’t have the courage, compassion, or wisdom to say it when it could have made a beneficial difference. For this reason, Right Speech is a central focuses in my practice. I try to be as absolutely harmless with my speech as I’m able.
Books Behind Bars is an ongoing project of the Prison Mindfulness Institute in Deerfield, Massachusetts. I’m happy to say that Books Behind Bars is now one of Sweeping Heart Zen’s ongoing community service activities.
What we’re learning in Buddhist practice, and in Buddhist meditation specifically, is to let go of our attachments and our aversions, our likes, dislikes, and biases so we can rest and relax in now. The pure potential of being in every moment is now. Fortunately, we have unrestricted access to now. That’s fortunate because now is the most instructive teacher we could ever have.
One out of one hundred Americans is currently behind bars. At our April 2018 meeting, the Sweeping Heart Zen Board voted unanimously to send ongoing financial support to the Prison Mindfulness Institute. Support for PMI and its programs to relieve suffering is now part of Sweeping Heart Zen’s ongoing community service work. At the present time then we’ve added our support for PMI to the monthly support we provide to The Grace Center and Action, Inc. in Gloucester.
Okay, I love the point, so I borrowed the “Buddhism Schmuddhism,” thing from Lama Surya Das. His point? The point? Don’t bother becoming a Buddhist, or becoming anything at all, for that matter. Just wake up to the way things are now, to the way you are now. Wake up to your life. Grow your inner goodness. Be the wide open knowing at your center. Fall in love with and share your gifts. Live who you truly are. Not tomorrow, not last week, live right now.
Though I was thirteen when the song Me and Bobby McGee came out, as I listened to Janice Joplin sing, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose…” those words touched my heart and blew my mind and I still love that lyric to this day. Then I loved the rebelliousness of the lyric. Now I feel and think that having “nothing left to lose” is just another way to say “Awakened.” And those who have nothing left to lose are capable of what we need more of today, which is Awakened Action.
Diane Constantino is a member of the Sweeping Heart Zen sangha and a fluency specialist at The Center for Stuttering Therapy at Boston University. In her inaugural guest post here at sweepingheartzen.org, Diane writes about how she and her profession use mindfulness-based therapies to help people who stutter free themselves from the clutches of “shenpa.” What’s shenpa? Most of us face some version of it everyday. Diane skillfully fills us in on the nuts and bolts of mindfulness and shenpa below.