Sweeping Heart Zen has taken root in Gloucester in 2017. We’ve grown as a website and settled in as a center for meditation and Buddhist practice. Consequently, I think it’s a good time to write a post to (re)introduce SHZ to our growing community of members, readers, and friends. The Buddha described his teachings as, “…visible here and now, immediate…, to be experienced by the wise.” That is, he invited us to inspect, test, and experience his teachings firsthand. The Buddha did not offer his teachings as dogma. They’re not a catechism-like checklist of ideas to believe. On the contrary, the teachings are experiments in living to be tried and tested. One asks, “Do I grow in joy, peace, and contentment as I practice these teachings? Do the people close to me suffer less as I grow in this way of life?” Testing the merits of the teachings and the value of the techniques can be likened to mindfulness in action, to compassion in action. Consequently, the Sweeping Heart Zen Way is practical, experiential, broad minded, and nonsectarian.
In my last post I wrote that you, and I, and the earth that sustains us are so incredibly improbable as to be next to impossible. Furthermore, I wrote that what’s next to impossible is a miracle. Therefore I concluded, we and the earth are miracles. A reasonable corollary follows from this conclusion, my miraculous friend. It’s that since you are a miracle, even before you fix breakfast, everything you do is an extremely rare and wondrous event in the universe. You and everything about you is a wonder, a one of a kind thing. So, don’t hesitate to feel good about paying attention to what you do. When walking, just walk. When eating, relax, savor, just eat. Continue reading Perform a Miracle! When Walking, Just Walk
Surely planet Earth is a miracle. The Earth and it’s place in the universe still seems like a miracle despite centuries of scientific probing, conjecture and theory. Don’t worry, since I have little training in science, I don’t aim to get deeply scientific in this post. What I will do is use some jaw-dropping conclusions from science to remind us that you and I are miracles. Furthermore, I want to encourage you to remember to rest in the miracle you are.
“Develop a mind that is vast like space, where both pleasant and unpleasant experiences can appear and disappear without conflict, struggle or harm. Rest in a mind like vast sky.” ~The Buddha
In my last post, I talked about physical rest and bodily relaxation within the broad context of practice. I suggested that rest and relaxation are not optional. A skillful and accomplished yogis knows when, where, and how to rest. On the mat or meditation cushion? Yes. In all of life’s play, work, and relationships? Check. By the same token, the skilled yogis also knows that relaxation and rest must also be found in the sky-like, innate awareness she was born with. Relaxing in innate awareness is another key to making progress in life, in yoga or along the Buddhist path.
I walk to the Gloucester Unitarian Church 5-days a week to lead morning meditation. Last Tuesday, I got a late start, so anxiety quickened my pace. With my rushed steps, I added tension and stress to the walk. Of course, I made it to meditation on time, but I also decided to set out ten-minutes earlier for my walks. These extra ten-minutes give a boost to the quality of my day. No more rushing, a bit more relaxing. Part of the deep healing I need to do in my life involves noticing and letting go whenever I slip back into habit-stress and habit-struggle. The extra minutes give me time to walk slowly, to rest and relax, to let go along my way.
A shift in the quality of our attention, and in what we pay attention to, is at the heart of mindfulness practice. In part one of this post, I cleared up three misconceptions that could prevent someone beginning a mindfulness meditation practice from getting a sustainable start. This post will briefly review those misconceptions, then extend our discussion by focusing on the importance of developing the capacity for nonjudgmental attention in mindfulness practice.
Techniques to De-Escalate Anger, Verbal Violence, and Conflict
For the past two days I attended an Alternatives to Violence Project workshop in Cambridge. Four facilitators and twenty-one participants gathered for the AVP workshop at the Friends Meeting House. I think we all grew in the practices of speaking peace and non-violence. At least I know that is true for me.
Because there is a two-day training in non-violence this Friday and Saturday, and because I will attend the training along with other Sweeping Heart Zen sangha members, there will be no Early Morning Meditation on September 29th.
Our world’s buzzing with the mindfulness meme. If you check how “mindfulness” trends on Google, you’ll find that it’s now at an all time high. Ten years ago, people searched for “mindfulness” related content on the internet 75% less than they do now. This suggests people have a new and booming interest in developing their ability to pay attention. That’s because we want to be happy, healthy, and secure. We want peace and safety for ourselves and for others. But, is mindfulness on its own, without sustained compassion, enough to help us gain and strengthen these things?
I find nothing as calming as the feel of my body touching what the Buddha called the “earth element.” Of course, it’s the solid, steadfastness of the way earth element feels that I find so settling, so stilling . But what is earth element?