Friday, December 15, 2017

Self-Judgment and Truth

"Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moon's location. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger, right?"
 - Zen parable

The Zen parable of truth, the finger pointing at the moon, informs us that although someone points to the moon to show us the truth of its luminosity, the finger pointing is not the moon itself.

The Face of Truth awakens us.
       The Eye of Truth feeds us.  
              The Heart of Truth builds us. 

As practitioners of yoga and mindfulness we rely on teachers to point us in the right direction to develop our potential. When we judge our performance in the studio, our self-critical evaluations get in the way of progress. If we set the judgment aside, stay in the moment regardless of posture, and don't compare with someone next to us, we begin to gain clarity in mind, body, and spirit. 

The body flows, yet the mind needs convincing,
to remain present and discover more about one's self.

We practice so that a greater awareness of self and existence can happen. The practice helps us connect more directly to our personal truth (the finger pointing) in any given moment and once we connect to that truth we begin to act in the spirit of our true nature (the moon).  

Words, teachers, and wisdom can only point. When we point and discuss the different pointers, we miss the experience.  

Discover what's true for you on the yoga mat, when practicing mindfulness, or while sitting on the meditation cushion. Consider what's true for you also when walking your life's path. 

Find truths in the moment. Are you peaceful? Are you present? Ask this question as many times as it takes. Feel brave enough to live it. Feel open enough to share it. 

At times the challenge to see the truth and to commit to living it can feel uncomfortable. The more we search within ourselves, the easier the discovery that living with absolute truth provides freedom and a less stressful life.  

Once we conquer our judgments, we can sharing our wisdom in the outside world.  

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Creativity, Failure and the X Company

X is a moonshot factory at Alphabet, a parent company of Google.The people who work there develop wild answers to crucial problems. The group claims they arose like a think-tank panel combined with the instincts of an improv troupe.

Leader of X, Astro Teller, likes to relate a tale about a firm that has to get a monkey to stand on top of a 10-foot pedestal and recite passages from Shakespeare.

"Where would you begin?" he asks.

To show off early progress to bosses and investors, many people would start by building the pedestal.

"That's the worst possible choice," Teller says. "You can always build the pedestal. All of the risk and learning comes from the task of training the monkey."

Teller promotes the idea of ways to, "Do the hardest thing first."  Most people want to get the easy done and receive rewards. "Fail fast. Fail often," becomes the X motto. Each X idea must adhere to a three-part formula. First it must address the problem. Then propose a radical solution. Finally, it must employ a feasible technology. Any idea can be a moonshot.

At  Company X, they encourage and require investigation into the absurd. X has looked into space elevators and tried to design projects that involve hover boards with magnetic levitation. They work to make affordable fuel from sea water. X has succeeded in building self-driving cars, drones that deliver packages, and contact lenses that measure glucose levels in a diabetic person's tears.

Teller develops a unique emotional climate where people feel excited to risk despite the failure rate. They fail their way to success.

The company thrives on failure bonuses. Not a bad incentive, Teller explains. He has seen too many projects hang around for years in  no man's land, taking up time, staff, and resources.

It costs less to reward employees who can say, "We tried our best, and this did not work out."  X employees gather to hear testimonials, not only about failed experiments but also about failed relationships and personal tragedies. They find it a successful and emotional event.

Employees learn to love failing their way to success.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Let Imagination and Laughter Rule

"Only the birds are able to throw off their shadow. The shadow always stays behind on earth. Our imagination flies. We are its shadow on the earth."
 - Vladimir Nabokov

"I have woven a parachute out of everything broken," William Stafford writes to show us possibilities when aspects of life break down. David Carradine pushes us into another way when he says, 'There is an alternative. There's always a third way, and it's not a combination of the other two ways. It's a different way."

Always find the message, regardless of an error. Make Belives into a new way to believe.
Someone might even change the spelling of Goodness and develop it without a double O. 

Let your imagination move beyond the rules.

"Do you ever make silly mistakes?  It's one of my creative activities." - Len Deighton

Find errors today and turn them around into possibilities. Let imagination and laughter rule.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Have a Playful Day

"In Japan we have the phrase Shoshin, which means, "beginner's mind." The goal of practice is always to keep our beginner's mind. Our "original mind" includes everything within itself. It is always rich and sufficient within itself. This does not mean s closed mind, but an empty mind and a ready mind. If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything. it is open to everything in the beginner's mind there are many possibilities.
 -Shunryu Suzuki

"Inside my empty bottle I was constructing a lighthouse while others were making ships."
- Leonard Cohen

Attract and capture moments with an image. Then respond with words. 

Basho said, "Do not let a hair's breadth separate you from the subject."   

What stories do the branches have to tell of osprey and peregrine falcons who roosted there?  Did mythical creatures once flap and flip into the sea?  Move your mind into fantasy and fun.

Describe beyond the ordinary and obvious. Do you see a fried egg?  Is it in the middle of a mixture of caramel and persimmon about to become a muffin?

Squint to see a crab slicing through the apricot honey.

Imaginate. Investigate. 

Set your playfulness and curiosity free. 
         A heart shines from a tree.

"We are perceivers. We are an awareness. We are not objects. We are boundless."
 - Don Juan Mateus

Swish of a tail
A heart springs.
for the breeze.

Find your flight feathers.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Explorations to Expressions

All artists face that question: how to live and express a meaningful life. How does one manage the true giving of one's gift?

Masters of antiquity resorted to radical ways of using language to communicate their teachings. They sought endless ways to pursue a pointed answer.

Layman Dongpo, Chinese essayist considered, "A dragon in the sea of letters," felt enlightened when writing:

The sound of the valley stream
is exactly his broad, long tongue.
The form of the mountain
is nothing other than his clear, pure body
Through the night,
the eighty-four thousand gathas.

He worked with words in the challenge to articulate the inexpressible. In these explorations he found ways to present insight.

Responses with direct and practical details pulsed into the esoteric questions.

Matsuo Basho, asked by his Zen teacher, "What is the reality prior to the greenness of moss?"
responded by staying in the moment. He wrote of an actual occurrence of silence broken by a splash.
                   The ancient pond
                    a frog leaps in

Capturing moments in movement wrangle the mind into the present.

Master Eihei Dogen was asked upon his return from China, "What did you realize?"

Dogen said, "Eyes horizontal, nose vertical.''

Gray feathers arise
   A flutter of blue bubbles
        Melted in the satin sea

Discover!  Stay with the details and obvious in each delicate moment.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Time for the Present

Take time to revel in the gift of now. Do what needs to be done.

Each day give yourself the present.

Don't plan it.  Don't wait for it.  Let it happen.

Write now!

Intensify your commitment to self-care.

Deepen your devotion to making yourself feel the best. Increase your artistry by providing yourself with everything you need to thrive.

Take time for the present.  Make it happen now.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Need Help with Change?

The idea of change evokes a clink of coins or the challenge of behavior alterations. What's difficult about it? 

Our minds and bodies never remain the same. We change our clothes, hair styles, life styles, cars, housing, friends and underwear . . . .

What doesn't change?  So, why do we resist it? Possibilities and experiences await.

Explore your notions of change. 

Take five year segments and think about recall what change created.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Writing Gathas

When birdsong is loud in the trees

I vow with all beings
to put down my work and to listen,
recreated as song.
                             - Robert Aiken 
              from The Dragon Who Never Sleeps

A gatha is a vow that expresses the interconnectedness and interdependence of an individual with nature.  

The first line sets up a situation in nature beginning with the word when or whenever.

When planting lilies in my garden

When I hear the sparrows sing
When I smell sea spray

The second line, "I vow with all beings" represents the basic commitment of the gatha. You might substitute another commitment or promise.

I promise to myself

I make a commitment to the earth
I pledge myself

The last two lines tell of the promise and begin with to.

to put aside worries

to stay focused
to engage with . . .

Gathas focus on everyday aspects of life and express how all beings and things connect.  The gatha form becomes meaningful way to express the interdependence felt when observing nature.

When I hear the Black Phoebe's call
I promise to us both
to remain in the moment
and sing of love

Arrange your gathas today to connect and express your interdependence with nature.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Imperfect Rules

'The saxophone is an imperfect instrument, especially the tenor and soprano, as far as intonation goes. The challenge is to sing on an imperfect instrument that is outside of your body." - Stan Getz

As human beings, we often feel the goal of life involves the race for "perfection."  It sounds like such a great achievement when charging toward quality and excellence serves us better.  

Nature provides beauty as designs with angles, colors, and fragrances. Birds reveal their differences in feathers.

All sport their imperfections.

“I hog the covers, and my second toe is longer than my big one. My hair has its own zip code...You don't love someone because they're perfect. You love them in spite of the fact that they're not.” - Jodi Picoult

Accept your perfect imperfections. 

It takes a good heart to discover the wonder that's hidden within them.

"Life is not always perfect. Like a road, it has many bends, ups and down, but that’s its beauty.” - Amit Ray

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Dance of Life Revived

Except for the point, the stillpoint,
There would be no dance
And there is only the dance. - T.S. Eliot

What does the stillpoint mean in your life? Is it a stop to change direction? Is it a resting place before the next surge of momentum?

Can you move from the frenzy of worrying to the place of stillness? Will you bow to your ego and laugh?

For high energy individuals, progress requires intensity.  You also need stillness, a form of meditation and ways to trick sprinter minds into observation and silence.  Then, intuitive juices will feel free to come out and dance.

You may need to cancel a day of rigid appointments and take time to stare at the clouds.  Notice what percolates into your thoughts without forcing anything.

Don't permit exhaustion or frustration to set in before you take a break.  That's not the best time to stop because of its conditioning effect.

Next time you're in the flow of activity. Stop. Even if you  believe you will lose the train of throught. Stop.  Look around. Move away from the frenzy.

Permit solitude to arrive in a variety of forms from silence in sounds, an absence of tastes and textures to a bombardment of newness in sensations. A change of direction helps to enable the momentum to arise anew.

You will return to the dance of life revived!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Move Into the Stillness

"The process of discovery is the endless spring of creativity, always bright, fresh and new, brimming with life. Engaging artless arts means to see into one's own heart and mind and to bring to life what is realized." 
 - John Daido Loori

The creative process requires a still point. We discover calm in the midst of chaos. Yet, this is not about shutting out the world.

Stillness involves a release of thoughts, their flow, and an openness for receptivity.

Sit and close the eyes.

Just listen without moving.

Don't focus on one sound or follow a sequence of sound. Stay open to listening.

Let the breathing become natural. Don't hold it or force it.

Take ten minutes to merge with the stillness.

Let the sounds percolate and let go of mental commentary.  

"Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice It will roll in ecstasy at your feet."  
- Franz Kafka

Imagine a hummingbird as a statue on a branch, its flurry of activity at rest.  

Identify each color and feather in detail.

We approach the time of year where rushes of activity appear endless. The frenzy entangles our actions.  

Consider this time of silence when you slow the breath, feel stillness, and relax. 

Notice that the space around you opens.  

Nothing will overwhelm when you pay attention to the rhythm of your breath.  

Move into the stillness.