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Tibetan Buddhist Master Monk Explains How Meditation Is Not What Most People Think It Is

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While people have been practicing meditation for thousands of years, it has recently been gaining increasing popularity in the mainstream as science continues to shed light in its many health benefits. From decreasing stress and anxiety to rebuilding the brain, it truly is a panacea for mental and physical well-being.

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An eight week study conducted by Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), for example, determined that meditation literally rebuilds the brain’s grey matter in just eight weeks. It’s the very first study to document that meditation produces changes in grey matter over time.

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In another study, researchers led by Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the W.M. Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior, teamed up with a number of monks and volunteers. The Dalai Lama even dispatched eight of his most accomplished practitioners to Davidson’s lab to have them hooked up for EEG testing and brain scanning. These monks come from traditions of meditation for an estimated 10,000 to 50,000 hours, over time periods of 15 to 40 years. The monks were fitted with a net of 256 electrical sensors and asked to meditate for short periods. Davidson was particularly interested in measuring gamma waves, the highest frequency and most important known electrical brain impulses. The results showed that the electrodes picked up much greater activation of fast moving and unusually powerful gamma waves in the monks. You can read more about this here.

One aspect of meditation that needs to be addressed more, however, is the fact that it’s a state of mind. There are those out there who can achieve similar brain wavelengths by putting themselves in the same ‘state of mind’ as a ‘master meditator.’ This proves that there is no one way to do it, and that it’s possible to achieve alternate states of consciousness as well as reap the other benefits associated with meditation without doing it a certain way or the ‘right’ way.

Similarly, it does not have to take hours and does not need to be done sitting alone in a quiet space. One can be engaged in meditation while walking, for example, or while preparing for sleep. Throughout the day, one can resist judging their thoughts, letting them flow until they are no more, or just be in a constant state of peace and self awareness, and this would still be meditation. Contrary to popular belief, there is more than one way to meditate.

“You will have to understand one of the most fundamental things about meditation: that no technique leads to meditation. The old so-called techniques and the new scientific biofeedback techniques are the same as far as meditation is concerned. Meditation is not a byproduct of any technique. Meditation happens beyond mind. No technique can go beyond mind.”

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– Osho

That being said, sitting down in a specific way for a specific period of time is also meditation, and a much deeper form of meditation, but not everybody is ready for that, and not everybody has to do that to experience the benefits that meditation offers.

The intention behind the meditation is also important to consider, as it can ultimately influence how it’s practiced, and how you are taught to do it.

Mingyur Rinpoch, a Tibetan Buddhist master monk, explains this further in the below video.

 

 

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Consciousness

Blue Moon In Taurus: Surprises & Obstacles

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We are having a Full Moon in Taurus on October 31st for the majority of the world, and in the early hours of November 1st in New Zealand and some Australian time zones. It will appear the brightest on the night of the 30th for most of the Americas, and on the night of the 31st elsewhere. This is the peak of the Lunar cycle that began with  New Moon In Libra on October 16th/17th, as some of the themes of that lunation are still in effect.

This is the second Full Moon of October for the majority of the world, making it a calendar ‘Blue Moon’.  Although it is not super rare, it is still something that only happens every 2-3 years or every 30 Full Moons on average. We associate Blue Moons with rare occurrences and happenings, hence the phrase ‘once in a Blue Moon’. I personally find this to have some truth to it  and I would expect this to be the case for this one considering the planetary configurations.

The energies of a Full Moon are strongest in the days surrounding it yet its astrological configurations also play a part over the following two weeks. You may start to see its themes slowly build up after the New Moon prior.

Full Moons are a period in which we feel a push-pull between two opposing signs, in this case being the Moon in Taurus and the Sun in Scorpio. It can play out as either a conflict, an integration, or some sort of dynamic playing out between the energies of both signs. The Moon reflects the expression of feeling and emotion while the Sun reflects the expression of ego and conscious self.

We may feel this opposition happening individually within us and/or we can also experience it play out around us with some people (or circumstances) expressing the Taurus side and others expressing the Scorpio side. In some cases, Full Moons can also reflect/trigger some sort of change or release.

Taurus is an Earth sign ruled by Venus. It is associated with values, worth, the material world, sensuality, money, food/substances, security, beauty, art, and nature. It is physically oriented, practical, thorough, and realistic. It is like a rock; slow, grounded, and solid. Negatively, Taurus energy can be lazy, habitual, greedy, possessive, stubborn, materialistic, overly self-indulgent, and very slow.

Scorpio is a Water sign traditionally ruled by Mars and associated with Pluto. It is about power, transformation, intensity, sexuality, passion, regeneration, hidden matters, depth, as well as shared or owed resources and money. It is emotionally oriented, intuitive, primal, complex, calculated, mysterious, and is associated with shadows and the unconscious. Negatively Scorpio energy can be vengeful, manipulative, compulsive, obsessive, and fearful.

Full Moon Conjunct Uranus

This Full Moon is aligned with Uranus which brings a whole other dynamic to the equation which can also override some of the Taurean themes of stability, routine, and rigidity. Uranus is unpredictable and can bring surprises, shake ups, breakthroughs, sudden happenings, rebellion, and sometimes even accidents.

It is revolutionary, innovative, scientific, metaphysical, non-conforming, awakening, insightful, exciting, and bring new experiences. Uranus is associated with originality, freedom, change, and revolution. It can also reflect losses and separations.

The unusualness of Uranian energy coincides well with ‘Blue Moon’ themes and can be viewed as a planetary representation of a Blue Moon experience. The Uranian themes mentioned here may also be in conflict with the Scorpio themes/energies mentioned in the previous section.

Taurus Ruler Venus in Libra, Opposite Chiron 

Venus, the ruler of this Full Moon, is in its other home sign Libra at this time. When placed here there can be an emphasis on balance, equality, harmony, diplomacy, compromising, beauty, and art when it comes to love, relationships, social matters, values,  pleasures, finances, and aesthetics.

It is moving towards an opposition to Chiron in Aries, which is strongest on November 1st. Our wounds, pain, blockages, or negative patterns can come up in/through our social or romantic interactions. Imbalances or complications around integration can also play out in our relationships. Insecurities around beauty, appearance, likeability, or attractiveness, may be triggered. Issues around values or finances may be a theme as well.

The best way to utilize this period is to reflect on these areas from a personal development and self-growth perspective. Whatever comes up at this time can be trying to show us something about ourselves, or others, that can be improved upon.

Mercury Going Direct Soon, Mars Near End of Retrograde, Jupiter Conjunct Pluto

Mercury has been retrograde since October 13th/14th, in Scorpio and Libra, which will be ending on November 3rd/4th. It will slowly begin to move forward again over the following days and gradually pick up speed throughout much of November. From November 6th onward into the subsequent weeks, we can begin to have more clarity and a better sense of how to proceed in certain areas of our lives that have been affected by the retrograde.

As Mercury transitions its motion, it will be in  Libra and in a square with Saturn while close to the benefic star Spica. This echoes similar themes and energies of the previous New Moon. This can reflect obstacles, complications, restrictions, struggles, and emphasizes the stopped energy of a stationary Mercury. However its conjunction with Spica can also reflect fortunate circumstances as well, which can be coinciding with the Saturnian energy mentioned.

Mars in Aries is in its final two weeks of being retrograde which began in the 2nd week of September. It will go stationary direct on November 13th/14th. At this time and on the days before and after, we can expect Mars energies to be really strong in some ways. Anger, aggression, passion, or sexual expression, can be amplified.

We may feel like we have to take some sort of action, but potentially can be faced with things preventing that due to the stationary position. We may also feel a build up of pent up energy that may need to get released over the following weeks, reflective of Mars gradually picking up speed in forward motion.

As Mars is in its stationary and transitioning phase, Jupiter will make its final conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn. This energy will be present from November 5th-19th and peak from November 10th-16th. It can be a time of revealing hidden matters, shadows, and darkness. Jupiter’s expansiveness can affect Pluto themes and energies such as fear, abuse, revenge, power dynamics, transformation, destruction, death, rebirth, sexual desire, or obsessions. For some people, this can manifest as financial benefit.

I recently did a video talking about the upcoming US election and mentioned how this energy ties into it. You can watch it below.

Things To Consider

Do you feel like you need to make a radical change in an area of your life? Is there anything you need to liberate yourself from? How can you better tap into your authenticity? Is there anything that you want to experiment with? What has come up for you in recent weeks, especially from October 24th-26th? How should you take that into consideration in figuring out how you need to proceed? What are your true values and how do they differ or mesh with the values of others in your life? What are your relationships showing you about what needs to be improved upon?

These are just some examples of themes that could come up during this period; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out as well.  If you wish to do any sort of intentional release connected to what has come up at this Full Moon, it is best to do so anytime over the two weeks following when it is waning. The exact moment of this Full Moon is at 2:49pm Universal Time on October 31st. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

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Consciousness

Manifesting Your Vision Through “The Law of Attraction”

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The Law of Attraction is based on the principle that all matter is made up of pure energy, which is in a constant state of vibration and spin.

The LOA implies that thoughts and emotions are also energy, each having a unique energy signature. Every energetic frequency is in a constant state of attraction or repulsion with all others. With the recent emergence of quantum mechanics, this notion has been largely supported at a micro level.

The Law of Attraction states that “like attracts like,” and we are in a constant state of creating our reality through the energy we emit in the form of thoughts and emotion. We continuously interact with the fabric of reality (or quantum field), through thought and emotional energy, and whatever we focus on is likely to manifest. We are each creators of our own reality, and what we put out is what we will attract.

3 Things You Need to Know First

1. A key factor missing from the LOA is that we are creating on both a conscious and subconscious level. This accounts for the seeming contradiction between “opposites attract” and the major principle of LOA, “like attracts like.”

We are still attracting the part of the whole that has been splintered and repressed into the subconscious mind. Basically, the actively repressed traits within ourselves are still charged, and this suppressed energy is also a point of attraction. Until we acknowledge and integrate it, it will still play a role in the creation of our external reality.

2. Our belief systems alter our manifestation process. If you want to manifest $10,000 in one week, but your underlying beliefs are largely identified with a state of lack, you will only manifest more lack.

This is because Law of Attraction works with both thought and emotion, and if you try to think your way into something that you don’t believe, your emotional reaction will support your unconscious beliefs more than your conscious thoughts.

If you try to affirm, “I will be abundant,” but don’t believe it, those beliefs will surface via an emotional response that insinuates the opposite feeling. At that point, you are literally putting the gas and the breaks on at the same time, making manifestation very difficult.

One great tip to overcome this, as stated by Abraham Hicks, is to “start general, and then get specific” with your manifestation process. Start with what you can believe, and continue to expand as you see evidence of your manifestations taking place. This allows your thoughts and emotions to be in resonance rather than dissonance.

3. We are always manifesting according to our highest values. Renowned behavioural development specialist Dr. DeMartini (who was also featured in The Secret) discovered that we all have an inherent set of values that is largely governing our behaviour. DeMartini is quoted as saying, “All of our actions are strategies to align with our values as efficiently as possible,” along with, “all of our positive and negative emotions are feedback as to whether or not we are living in our highest values.” Essentially, the things we value the most filter our perception at a subconscious level. They are governing the way that we manifest, and the reasons we do.

This is why, for example, someone might set a new year’s resolution to lose weight and never achieve their goal. If one of their highest values is social connection, their unconscious will perceive that taking the time to exercise and eat right actually conflicts with the time they would rather be spending at social events with others.

The trick, then, is to change your perception by tying in how exercise and diet actually support your high value on social connection. For example, you might feel more confident meeting new people when you are healthy and strong. Or you can approach it from the other end by tying your value into your goal. In this case, you could try to engage your value of social connection by going to the gym or to nutrition classes with your close friends.

What You Need to Know During Active Manifestation

These are some useful tips if you are meditating on your vision, or practicing visualization.

Clear your mind. To speed up the process of manifestation, presence and focus are key. If your attention is scattered, your manifestation will be too. Write down on paper whatever is bothering you, and vow to leave it outside of your visualization. This will help you stay present.

Open your heart for the process. Connect with the feeling of gratitude as you begin. This can be done by writing a short gratitude list, or by thinking of people/events that you are truly grateful for.

According to the HeartMath Institute, “The heart generates an electromagnetic field roughly 60 times greater in amplitude than brainwaves do.” This field is measured by an electrocardiogram (ECG), and brainwaves were measured using an electroencephalogram (EEG) during these findings. The heart is a major point of attraction.

Be clear. The law of attraction is described as a law. This means it responds to everything, without exception. If you are mixed in your emotions or vision, it will slow the process. The clearer and more detailed you are, the faster your vision will come to life.

Engage your senses. Did you know that the brain can’t actually tell the difference between experience and visualization? This is why visualization is so useful for athletes. This principle applies directly to the LOA. What do you see, hear, smell, touch, and feel when you have arrived at your vision? Feel each sense distinctly, and don’t be afraid to sit with each one individually.

Engage emotion. This is how to charge your vision. Emotions are the driving force behind manifestation.

Align your intention with your values. Tie what you want to manifest into your highest values. More simply put, make sure you can see how your goals support the things that matter most to you in life. This will help you manifest congruently from both the conscious and subconscious mind.

Don’t be desperate. Try to imagine that you are gently requesting. If you are being needy or desperate in your request, you are coming directly from an emotional space of lack. The emotional feeling of lack will counteract your thought-energy, and you are more likely to stagnate.

What You Need to Know After

Take action. Taking action will create momentum, while also building evidence toward creating the belief that your manifestation is unfolding.

Act as if it has already happened. “I AM” is a creative, powerful phrase. If you conduct your behaviour as the person you have already become, you are more energetically aligned with your goal.

Be aware of your internal dialogue. Remember, you are in a constant state of attracting or repulsing what it is that you want to achieve. Your internal dialogue is always creating a point of attraction, along with the emotional reactions it produces. Be congruent!

Allow! You must fully release your vision in order for it to manifest. If you are too attached to it, your need for control can actually stunt the process. Faith and belief in the process are key. It can be helpful to think in terms of being at a restaurant. Once you’ve placed your order, you have to give it time to be cooked up and served to you!

We are all creators, and we all deserve to live an inspired life. The Law of Attraction is a beautiful tool that enables us to consciously put our creative powers to use! In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.”

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Consciousness

My Thoughts On “Spiritual Narcissism”

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Narcissism, in a nutshell, is self-absorption to the extent that it will adopt any set of rationale to protect the ego which often includes a degree of self-deception. Is this happening to many in spiritual trends?

  • Reflect On:

    There is authentic being, and then there is self-absorption which pretending to be authenticity, are we aware of the difference?

We humans often have a hard time finding middle ground. We may be drowning in lack of self-worth one moment, and trampling over other’s with our own self indulgence the next as we struggle to find balance. Narcissism is not simply about enjoying selfies in our social media-saturated world, it goes deeper than that.

It appears as liberation but is a trap that can ruin relationships, increase personal suffering, and keep a person from their true spiritual aspirations. Not surprisingly, increased mindfulness and compassion for this tricky human quirk is the best way to heal it.

What is Spiritual Narcissism?

The capacity to become overly self-indulgent is within all of us, and it becomes increasingly dangerous when we confuse it with spirituality. In many ways it is easy to see that all of humanity is dealing with a certain degree of self-absorption while we desecrate forests and oceans, causing plants and animals to go extinct on our material quests. In his famous book, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, Chogyam Trungpa gave a good foundation for westerners to navigate the pitfalls of our materialistic abundance.

Alt text here
The capacity to become overly self-indulgent is within all of us

We do not have to be ashamed of what we are. As sentient beings we have wonderful backgrounds. These backgrounds may not be particularly enlightened or peaceful or intelligent. Nevertheless, we have soil good enough to cultivate; we can plant anything in it. – Chögyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

There is a difference between ego-self and the deeper universal soul within us, differentiating the two is important. Sadly, we have spiritual philosophies and religions that have been constructed to feed the ego, inflate self-righteousness, and create division while giving justification for all manner of activities including killing, exploitation, and oppression. Ethical conduct, regardless of spirituality, requires honoring the other and the self as one with each deserving to be respected, heard, and seen with compassion.

No matter what the practice or teaching, ego loves to wait in ambush to appropriate spirituality for its own survival and gain. – Chögyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

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There is a difference between ego-self and the deeper universal soul within us

Finding the Antidote to Self-absorption

Narcissism, in a nutshell, is self-absorption to the extent that it will adopt any set of rationale to protect the ego which often includes a degree of self-deception. Ego is an important aspect of our selves, it is part of self-preservation but when it becomes out of balance it actually has the ability to destroy us and harm relationships.

Many spiritual practices seek to increase our ability to witness and bring mindful awareness to ego drives which allow us to master, instead of being enslaved by our ego. When ego gets too big it can be hard to swallow, yet spiritual liberation invites us to expand our sense of self beyond the ego, beyond time and space.

The goal is to find a balance between the inner experience and the outer reality. How do we embody healthy self-love without becoming an ego-maniac and hurting personal relationships? Meanwhile, self-loathing, and low self-esteem are also manifestations of ego out of balance. Selflessness can often be quite selfish, over-engagement can be as problematic as disengagement socially. Luckily we are here to find this balance through living fully, from making mistakes, and evolving our sense of self-awareness. Healthy self-awareness is the only antidote to self-absorption.

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How do we embody healthy self-love without becoming an ego-maniac?

The Story of Narcissus and Echo

One day Narcissus was walking in the woods when Echo, an Oread (mountain nymph) saw him, fell deeply in love, and followed him. Narcissus sensed he was being followed and shouted “Who’s there?”. Echo repeated “Who’s there?”. She eventually revealed her identity and attempted to embrace him. He stepped away and told her to leave him alone. She was heartbroken and spent the rest of her life in lonely glens until nothing but an echo sound remained of her. Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, learned of this story and decided to punish Narcissus. She lured him to a pool where he saw his own reflection. He didn’t realize it was only an image and fell in love with it. He eventually recognized that his love could not be reciprocated and committed suicide. -Wikipedia

Since intention is subjective, a person is often understood within their community by their actions or image. This becomes extra tricky in our age of social media and the materialism that has found it’s way into yoga, meditation, and spirituality. It is possible to put on a good act, to fool those around us and ourselves (temporarily).

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Narcissus mesmerized by his own reflection

We can have the latest yoga clothes, read the right books and hang out with all the “cool” people, but if our actions are not grounded in a deeper spiritual practice, basic consideration for others, and respect, it is still hollow. A common analogy is the guy who everyone likes but then goes home kicks his dog, or is rude and unaccountable to his wife.

Deep spirituality makes us more sensitive to the feeling of others, encouraging an open stance of courage where we can drop our protective shields and accept the vulnerability to be seen as we are. Narcissistic sensitivity, however, is focused solely on the subtle nuances one’s own internality, and resists looking at hard, uncomfortable truths that may upset the self image. One who is narcissistically sensitive is easily offended by the “coarseness” of others, seeks to make his environment change to align with the contours of his needs, and gets angry or offended when this does not happen. -The Allure of Narcissistic Spirituality, Huffington Post

How to Identify Narcissistic Behavior

The ability to identify narcissistic behavior in yourself and others is the best way to heal it. It is not your job to diagnose others or tell them they are narcissistic if they are not interested in hearing it or healing it. However, if you draw appropriate boundaries for them you will protect yourself and encourage them to become more mindful. This is a loving and compassionate way to handle narcissism.

Alt text hereThe ability to identify narcissistic behavior in yourself and others is the best way to heal it

It is always healthy to make boundaries and speak your truth in a loving and compassionate way. Whether the narcissist hears it or not is out of your control. Common responses from narcissists will include belittling your feelings, a hollow apology without effort to modify behavior, or ignoring you altogether. Basically, they will use any excuse they can in order to not look at it, or to make the situation your fault. This is your cue to make appropriate boundaries for yourself.

Within yourself be open and receptive when others tell you that you have been inconsiderate of them. Accepting constructive feedback from loved ones is a great way to keep a balance between internal needs and external relationships. This is also how we grow as individuals.

Common traits of narcissism courtesy of BPD Central.

  • Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
  • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
Alt text hereLearning to stop keeping all the love for ourselves

Evolving Unhealthy Patterns

Hopefully, this will help you navigate tough interpersonal relationships and also better yourself. It is a beautiful thing that psychology is allowing us to have terms to identify and evolve unhealthy patterns emotionally. As we learn to live in community, we learn many aspects of love. This is how we help ourselves and those around us grow!

I’m republishing,  for the CE audience, this piece I wrote for Uplift Connect.

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