Lighten Up (Humor; Real Peace/September 2012)
REAL PEACE IN TIMES OF STRESS / HUMOR
An attitude of humor, says CAROLYN ROSE GIMIAN, cuts through seriousness and stress and makes life cheerful and light.
Anyone who meditates knows about it. Natural funniness is the term that
Chögyam Trungpa used. It’s not making fun or mocking. It’s natural
cheerfulness, light touch, appreciation, and joy. Sometimes in the
meditation hall, someone giggles, amazed by a toe wiggling in front of
them. You pick up the giggle and soon everyone is laughing, trying not
to laugh, laughter exploding. How naughty. Back to the breath.
meditation in your own little home: Sitting might seem self-serious,
then you lighten up and you see or hear or sense something delightful
and unexpected. Wind moves the curtains and rattles the blinds. Look out
the window. A robin skittering across the yard stops to listen for
worms. A squirrel chatters at you from the woodpile. And yellow
dandelions are ruining your green lawn. Oh, wow! Take a sip of morning
coffee. Back to the breath. Unexpected smile.
then, there’s the rest of the day, the complications of life: child,
boss, husband, or wife. Bills, car out of gas, late for work, neighbor
hates your weeds coming under the fence. The taxes are due. Big argument
with your world. Little skirmish with the washing-machine repairman or
laugh at it. Can’t make fun of it. Can’t get rid of it. It’s our
precious life, our oh-so-precious life. In the midst of clouds, the sun
peeks through. Big sky! What a surprise. We could wish for that much in
our grimy little reality.
Toast is burning. Where
are my glasses, honey? Are you coming home for dinner? I have such a
busy day. No, I can’t pick up the cleaning. Will you please call the
bank today? You
drop your cup and the shards go everywhere. Everything stops for a
moment. Nobody’s hurt. Sweep it up. What were we arguing about? Natural
funniness. Just what is!
what Chögyam Trungpa says: “Humor is an appreciative gesture. That is,
things don’t seem to be as heavy as we think they are, but they seem to
be floating above the ground, and seemingly hilarious, funny, swift, and
lucid. At the same time, humor is not particularly casual or haphazard.
It comes from delight and it comes from celebration. A sense of humor
from that point of view is very transparent; at the same time, it is
very definite. It has its own background and sanity.”
We are so lucky that this uncompromising yet kind world gives us
opportunities for a fresh glimpse. With all the stress, speed, and
anxiety of modern life, we’re so lucky that some things never change.
Moon and stars, rain and snow, a gap between every thought. Phew—it’s
possible to relax, to smile in the space between things, to see the
simple humor of it, at least for one breath, just as it is.
Carolyn Rose Gimian has edited many of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s books, including his Collected Works and Smile at Fear.
Deep Relaxation (Body; Real Peace/September 2012)
REAL PEACE IN TIMES OF STRESS / BODY
Soften the shoulders, rest the eyes, feel the breath—SISTER CHAN KHONG on how to release the stress in our bodies.
and spirit support each other; we cannot be relaxed and happy when our
bodies are tense. Mindful awareness is like a ray of light that scans
our body and brings relaxation to each part. If you have thirty minutes,
you can use it to scan your whole body in deep relaxation. But if you
only have five or ten minutes, you can still experience release.
In the sutra called Mindfulness Immersed in the Body,
the Buddha advises us to visit every part of our body, bringing mindful
awareness to it. To begin, find a place to lie down. If you don’t have
room to lie down, sit and lean against the wall, stretching out your
legs. It’s fine if you fall asleep. When you resume your daily
activities, you will do so with more energy and freshness.
your arms alongside your body, close your eyes. Be aware of the air as
it goes in and out of your lungs. Dwell peacefully in your in-breath and
out-breath. Bring your attention to your abdomen, about two inches
below your navel. As you breathe in gently, your abdomen rises. As you
breathe out gently, your abdomen falls. Put your hand on your belly and
feel it rise and fall.
in, send love and care to your head and brain. Breathing out, release
the tension in your head and brain. Breathing in, calm the tension in
your neck and shoulders. Breathing out, release the tension in your neck
and shoulders. Shoulders carry so many responsibilities. Let the
tension in them flow into the earth, leaving your shoulders light.
Breathing in, calm your legs from your hips to the tips of your toes.
Breathing out, release the tension in your legs. Your legs and feet
carry you around the planet. Thank them for being there. Breathing in,
calm every cell in your heart. Breathing out, smile to your heart. Your
heart works day and night. When we are stressed, our heart suffers.
Support your heart by letting go of strong emotions.
love to your liver. Breathing in, calm every cell of your liver.
Breathing out, smile to your liver. Our liver works silently day and
night, but we rarely pay attention to it. To better support your liver,
commit to being aware of what you eat and drink. Send love to your
lungs. Smile to your lungs. It’s so wonderful to be able to breathe in
fully. Send love to your kidneys. They work so hard and silently for
your well-being. Send love to your eyes. How wonderful that they allow
you to see forms and colors, your loved ones, and the beauty of the
love and thanks to any other part of your body that feels achy, tight,
tired, or neglected. Then take a moment with your hands on your abdomen.
Breathe in, feeling your breath through your whole body. Breathe out,
feeling your whole body relax. Body and mind are completely at ease.
Slowly, open your eyes and sit up gently.
Sister Chan Khong’s forthcoming book is Deep Relaxation: Practices for Coming Home to Your Body, which will be released in November.
Let It Slide (Parenting; Real Peace/September 2012)
REAL PEACE IN TIMES OF STRESS / PARENTING
Let it Slide
Tens of times a day, DIANA WINSTON’s two-year-old daughter helps her practice letting go.
the park, my daughter is climbing the ladder to the top of the slide. I
think this is a great idea. I love slides; I’ve always loved slides.
But my two year old isn’t really a slider. She’s more of a hanger. She
loves to swing from monkey bars, which sometimes makes me nervous. “Go
for the slide!” I shout. She gets to the top, pauses dramatically, and
says, “The slide is hot. I want a snack.” My heart sinks. Slides are
great. What’s her problem?
my practice kicks in. Diana, this is not about you. This is about her.
Take a breath, feel your body, notice the hot feeling of disappointment
over this truly tiny moment arising in your chest. Breathe and let it
go. It’s just a slide. Let her be who she is. Don’t resist.
is the practice of non-contention—surrendering to things exactly as
they are. I do it tens of times a day with my daughter because it helps
me meet each moment with clarity and let go when the moment isn’t what I
want or expect it to be. I’ve been astounded how many expectations I
carry about my child—who she should be (a slider not a hanger), what she
should wear (not that blue elephant t-shirt for the fifth day in a
row), what she should or shouldn’t be doing at any given moment (not
hanging on my leg), and especially, what she should be feeling
(shouldn’t she be cheerful most of the time?).
If I don’t practice non-contention, I suffer, fret, struggle, complain, and basically ruin my day. If I do do
it, I grieve briefly but my mind is at peace. I let go of what are
merely ideas about the way things should be and open to the truth of
things as they are.
is difficult, especially when dealing with a child’s strong emotions. I
discovered in her infancy the challenge of tolerating my daughter’s
anger. I’d do anything rather than feel the pain of her pain. After a
while of my husband pointing out to me how quickly I was trying to
distract her or give in to her, I now use my daughter’s wildly
uncensored anger as a practice moment. What’s happening inside me? Can I not react out of fear and aversion? Can I let her be exactly as she is?
practice isn’t about being a doormat. It doesn’t mean that if your
child is doing something hurtful to herself or another person, or
something against your rules or philosophy, that you say, “Ah, yes, I
will be with this moment exactly as it is.” The wise discrimination that
comes through mindfulness is needed here. You have to discern on the
spot whether to let go or act. However, I’ve discovered that when I act
with a mind of noncontention, it’s usually far more effective than the
automatic responses that come from anxiety or anger.
Today my daughter grabbed the blue elephant shirt again. “How about a different shirt today?” I pleaded.
“But you have so many other cute shirts.”
I want my elephant shirt.” So after a minute or two of stress,
struggle, and thinking things needed to be different, I breathed and let
go into things as they were. Yup, this is it. This is life.
Diana Winston is the director of mindfulness education at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center and co-author of Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness.
Stress Relief for the Constantly Connected (Technology; Real Peace/September 2012)
Stress Relief for the Constantly Connected
Life vs. screens: who’s really in control? LORI DESCHENE on how to make sure you’re the one in charge.
easy to feel overwhelmed in our internet-enabled, always-on world. From
friends and family to colleagues and acquaintances, there’s always
someone emailing, tweeting, or texting—and everything can seem so
urgent. If you feel stressed by the pressure to keep up with the stream,
you may find it helpful to set some communication boundaries, for
yourself and others. These tips may help.
was a time when we collectively understood that reaching an answering
machine meant no one was home. We also accepted that we would receive a
call back at some unknown time, when that person returned.
most of us anticipate far speedier replies these days, it’s up to each
of us to set expectations for when and how we’ll respond. That might
mean setting up an email auto-responder explaining that you only check
your account at specific times each week. Or it might entail writing in
your social media profiles that you don’t check messages on those sites.
You may also want to request that your friends and coworkers compile
their requests to send all at once, instead of sending many short emails
throughout the day.
you set boundaries for how you receive communication— and expectations
for when you’ll respond—it will be easier to relax when you disconnect.
Take Digital Breaks
year on March 23, millions of people did a collective digital detox. It
was the third annual National Day of Unplugging, created by an
organization called the Sabbath Manifesto. A digital detox is just what
it sounds like—a complete break from everything related to technology.
Those who took part reported feeling more present and focused in their
you don’t need to wait for a scheduled day to unplug and recharge your
mind; at any time you choose you can enjoy the benefits of powering down
your gadgets. During those days when you must stay connected,
prioritize maintaining a connection with yourself so that you stay in
touch with your needs. You may require regular breaks to stretch your
legs and ground yourself in the moment, or you may need to close
everything down once in awhile and take a few slow, mindful breaths.
When you schedule and take regular digital breaks, it’s much easier to maintain a sense of balance, mentally and physically.
Harness the Power of Pausing
we feel technology-related stress, it’s often because we’ve consciously
chosen to distract and overwhelm ourselves. Sometimes we pull out our
phones to avoid uncomfortable moments or sign on to social media sites
to feel acknowledged, connected, or validated. When you feel compelled
to check your email, post a status update, or otherwise engage online,
take a moment and check in with your true intentions and needs.
same concept also applies to work correspondence. You might be tempted
to monitor your email remotely in order to stay ahead, but this puts you
in a persistent state of high alert. In a recent study, British
psychologist and researcher Richard Balding found that obsessively
checking smartphones for email can lead to higher stress levels. The
most stressed participants regularly checked their phones, anticipating
new messages that weren’t actually there—what Balding termed “phantom
can dramatically increase your overall well-being by planning to stay
disconnected when you’re able, and pausing to check in with your true
intentions when you feel the need to go online.
you take the time to set and honor healthy boundaries for technology,
you’ll inevitably feel much more relaxed, focused, and balanced—and
consequently, less stressed.
Lori Deschene is the author of Tiny Buddha and founder of the popular website tinybuddha.com.
Going Outside (Nature; Real Peace/September 2012)
When life gets too busy, KATHLEEN DEAN MOORE remembers the childhood joy of nature.
many years, my life has been impossibly over-scheduled. I finally
resorted to computerized, categorized, color-coded to-do lists. I so
single-mindedly finished and deleted tasks from the list that the
consonants wore off the delete key on my laptop, leaving only e e e,
and then the whole delete button fell off the keyboard and bounced
under the radiator. My colleagues can gauge my stress levels by the
pitch of my voice; I live at a screeching e, an octave above middle c.
So I assumed I understood stress. But just to be sure, I looked it up. Stress is a noun meaning “adversity, pressure,” from estrece, “narrowness,” from the Latin strictus, “compressed,” from stringere, “draw tight.” But stress is
also a verb—“to place greater importance on.” The etymology surprised
me and made me wonder. Does stress come from compressing too much into
too narrow a life and then placing outsize importance on all those
assignments? Or put it this way: Is stress what happens when a person
fills her life too full of her self-important self?
yes and no. The millions of people who are grieving, who are thirsty,
who are unable to feed their children—they have not chosen their
challenges. My situation is different. What I experience is the ironic
stress of the privileged, which is stress nonetheless. And here’s the
thing: Once I figured out what stress might be for me, I realized what I
could do to reduce it.
should have known all along. When I fretted as a child, gnawing my
fingernails, my parents always sent me outside, giving me a gentle nudge
out the door as if I were a bad and beloved dog. I resented it, of
course. But what happened beyond the walls?
the branches of a willow tree, I lay on the grass and breathed the
willows’ smell, like dusty lemons. Dusky air, chirring with cicadas and
sweet with a breeze across peonies, warmed me like a blanket. Maybe time
itself paused to rest unget der the willow, or maybe I mistook its
motion for the sway of leafy branches, but I remember being surprised
when the wild, orange, Midwestern sunset descended. Fireflies floated
over the lawn. A star sank through the last purple stripes of the day,
and a dog barked far, far away in a night so dense with the scent of the
peonies that I might have been underwater. Sometime after, the porch
light flashed on—my mother, come to fetch me. “Can I stay here?” I
asked. She returned to the house and brought out a blanket. When she
turned off the porch light, the night flooded back in, warm and sweet
How could I have forgotten this?
could I have forgotten that the wild, damp world is an answer to
stress? The expanse of the natural world, the infinity of the night sky,
and the long reach of the winds dwarf human concerns. Here is where our
minds can unclench, our hearts can break open, and we can step outside
our narrowed lives into a world that is without limits in time or space
or beauty. The universe itself breathes in and out—the trees inhaling,
exhaling in the rhythm of day and night, and the Earth slowly rotating
into and out of the light, the green leaves shining.
Stress, n. antonym gratitude.
Kathleen Dean Moore , author of Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature and Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril, is a distinguished professor of philosophy at Oregon State University.
|<< Start < Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>|
|Results 82 - 90 of 1285||