Quick Pleasure or Lasting Bliss?

Quick Pleasure or Lasting Bliss?

“The purpose is to transcend pain and suffering.”

What is meditation? What is the message of Jesus? What is the message of Buddha? Their message is that there is a zone within us; a zone where there is peace and tremendous joy. When you touch this joy, you know that it’s internal and you know that it’s real. In this zone, the pain of the body goes away; the pain of the mind goes away, and you experience existence in its most natural state.

While you’re having sex, or when you drink alcohol, use drugs, or take part in whatever it is that you do to escape, you are basically connecting with that zone. That’s when the peace comes. You don’t smoke to be happy, you smoke to forget the pain of the body, or you drink alcohol to forget the pain of the body. Now for me, any “sudden jerk” in trying to connect with that zone–that inner zone–without a systematic process is just like smoking and drinking and having sex.  It’s like walking into someone’s house and seeing them drinking and being blissful, being happy, and then walking into someone else’s house and they are crazily jumping and dancing and speaking in different tongues. It’s the same thing. They’re experiencing some kind of joy, but once they step out of that experience they can’t carry forward that experience, so they feel depressed and sad.

This is where systematic practice is required to help you understand what mindfulness is, what meditation is, and how to gradually get into it. Life is a very long phenomenon; it’s not like you just live for 10 days. It only takes a few years to get to the point of experiencing this bliss. All we need is to develop the narrative. We need to develop the conversations. People should start talking about the scientific way of exploring the inner life and they should get into the practice of naturally touching those internal zones. In all my years of meditation I have never done anything crazy. I’ve never danced, no drama, never have psyched myself up. Once in a while I used to connect and feel all this is good, but then I quickly stepped away from this knowing that those feelings weren’t the “real thing”–They were not permanent. 

For me, I wanted to be in this zone permanently. I didn’t want to just start something accidentally. I wanted to be able to find that zone again. If you approach meditation gradually you might not experience tremendous energy and crazy things happening all of a sudden, but gradually you will experience it and enjoy it. It’s a better idea to experience gradual enlightenment because you need to know the path, you need to know how you got to that zone so that you can go back to it at will. 

Ultimately, what is the purpose? The purpose is to transcend pain and suffering. Do you want to go beyond pain and suffering for one moment and fall back into it? I mean it’s like this: Do you want to go beyond your pain and suffering completely and experience tremendous blessing one moment and then fall back into the body consciousness where the pain is still there, or do you want to gradually reduce the pain of the body, and gradually reduce the pain of the mind by connecting with that zone again and again, by going deeper into meditation? The pain of the mind reduces by understanding it, by watching the thoughts. In that understanding you grow. This is why I say the best meditation   without any doubt comes from the middle path.

When you touch the inner zone through external means such as sex or alcohol, it’s only momentary, and as soon as “the high” is gone, you’re right back to where you were, only feeling worse, because you’re not experiencing that bliss anymore.  The middle path is simply integrating quiet, meditative time into each and every day. Be mindful throughout the day, and watch your thoughts. There won’t be any “sudden light”, but the light will gradually get brighter and brighter until every day of life is full of bliss and you can live from that inner zone without external stimulation.

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Meditation is like a Diet for your Mind

Meditation is like a Diet for your Mind

When I meet people here and there and the conversation always turns to meditation (usually prompted by “what have you been doing lately?”), I’m often asked questions like “What is meditation? What do you do while you’re sitting? What do you think about while you’re meditating?” 

It’s kind of hard to explain meditation, because we’ve not been exposed to such inward spiritual things in our society, and most of the time “being quiet” is imposed as a sort of punishment.

The best way I can think of to explain it is by using the term “Self Control”. We’ve heard that term all our lives. What does it mean? Well, it means to resist temptations of the body, like eating too many chocolate cookies, drinking too much alcohol, or mental self control, by not doing things we know aren’t right such as spreading malicious gossip or perpetuating negative thought processes when they arise.

So, there IS something other than our minds and our bodies–it’s our SELF. It’s the force that is directing our minds and bodies when we have “self” control. The only way we can have self control is to be in the present moment. There’s no way to control your sugar cravings tomorrow or yesterday–it’s only good for right now. Think about it, and it really makes a lot of sense.

Meditation is simply a diet for your mind. You sit still for a while and don’t think about anything. Yep, nothing-nada-zilch. If (when) your mind starts off on a thought spree, reel it back it, just like you’d slam the fridge door shut right before you grab the ice cream.

As in dieting, it takes time to see the effects of meditation. You don’t lose weight right after eating a healthy meal, but if you keep eating healthy over a period of time, you’ll definitely see the results in the mirror. You won’t feel results after one meditation, but if you persist, just like in dieting, you will experience results like less stress, more creativity, and just an overall happier outlook on life.Come on people, it’s time to put our minds on a diet!

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How to Add Meditation to Your Day

How to Add Meditation to Your Day

We make time for things we want to do

So, are you ready to start meditating but unsure how to work it into your busy schedule?

I’ve been there–corporate job, two kids, husband, daily commute–sometimes insanely long (1-1/2 hours one way) and most of the time we were building a house and probably living in a camper to boot.  Exercise routines were always part of my daily activities, but meditation wasn’t a part of my life during those years, and it is clear to me now that it sure would have helped! 

Fast forward to today. Retired from corporate life now, but still as busy or busier than ever with the Inner-Revolution, but my mind is set that meditation is a priority in my daily schedule.  Four hours a day are dedicated to sitting quietly, watching my thoughts.  If I had a job, I’d still meditate for four hours a day.  We make time for things we want to do, right?  You’ve just got to tell yourself that meditation is something you want to incorporate into your life and make time for.  Where did I find the time? 

I’ve always been an 8 hours of sleep per night kind of gal.  Any less than that and I wasn’t much fun to be around the next day.  Turns out that meditation is a sort of conscious rest, so it substitutes for some of your sleep–really!  It works.  I now sleep for 5-1/2 hours at night and feel great.  That means that I picked up a whopping 2-1/2 hours for meditating just from cutting down on sleep time. 

At the time I began meditating I had already given up tv.  People were more surprised that I gave up tv than when I got a divorce–go figure!  Although I didn’t watch tv, Facebook, the black hole of Pinterest, and YouTube had replaced channel surfing (YouTube does have tons of good educational material though). I picked up another hour or so just giving up spending too much time each day piddling around on unnecessary social media. There’s probably some other time waster you can recognize in your daily routine; be honest with yourself!

You don’t have to meditate for four hours either.  If you’re just wanting to learn how to deal with stress, anger, or relax more, 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night will work wonders.  To do this, all you’ve got to do is get up 30 minutes early and stay up 30 minutes later–pretty much a no-brainer.  If you want to meditate more, you’ll have to adjust your schedule.  Consistency is the key. 

I get up at 5:00 am and meditate from 5-6, then I meditate from 8-9. (During the summer I get up at 4:00 and sit from 4-6 so I can spend more time outside :-)) I then sit for an hour after lunch, and again from 9-10. This schedule could easily be adapted to a work schedule by getting up 2 hours earlier (it is possible, just takes getting used to) rather than the 8-9 session, and juggling the mid-day session. It could even be broken up into 2-30 minute sessions. 

Why do I sit four hours?  Because there is a part of me that will live forever. It’s the “me” part–that spark of aliveness. I want to get to know this part of me and I want to know what life is really like.  Avi teaches that life is totally different from what we know it as, and that if you sit and watch your thoughts enough, you will have a definite physical experience of realizing the Truth about who you really are and about life that cannot be questioned or denied. That’s what Jesus called being “born again”. That’s what Buddha was teaching. That’s what Avi is talking about. That’s what I’m seeking.

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Beginner’s Guide to Meditation

Beginner’s Guide to Meditation

“Meditation exists within us–we’ve just got to find it”

Meditation is probably the simplest of daily routines we can pick up that can tremendously increase our physical and mental wellbeing. At the most basic level, meditation is a process of consciously watching our thoughts, emotions, feelings and desires, to understand them better. This is why sitting quiet is a very important component of meditation.

Although meditation is one of the most ancient sciences, it is more relevant today than ever before. Our lifestyles have become so mechanistic and stressful that finding a way to relax our minds and bodies is very important. Meditation helps us to reduce our stress levels significantly and handle our emotions better.

Stress is a direct consequence of uncontrolled thought process. When certain thoughts take over us fully and we are not able to find our inner silence, stress is a natural consequence. Meditation works directly to overcome stress by helping us to understand our thought processes better. The more we understand our thought process, the easier it becomes to be in control of it.

Meditation has absolutely nothing to do with sitting cross-legged, chanting some mantras or holding your breath for extended periods.  Your hands don’t have to be in any particular position. Meditation is a very natural process of sitting in a comfortable posture and allowing your mind and body to relax. Relaxation is the key to meditation. We can choose any posture that is comfortable for our meditation: You can sit on a chair or go underwater, it simply doesn’t matter; although it might be a little difficult to stay relaxed under water!

Pick a comfortable posture, but not so comfortable that it puts you to sleep. A posture that can help you to relax and at the same time stay alert is the best posture. You can lighten up the mood with some pleasant instrumental music. Assigning a designated place for meditation will work wonders in setting your biological clock to remember your daily meditations. The place itself will remind you of your meditation.

Choose a quiet place and set an alarm for the duration of your choice. To begin with, at least fifteen to thirty minutes is a good meditation duration. Sit comfortable, close your eyes, begin to watch your breath. Keep your focus on the breath flowing in and out, and watch your breath throughout the practice. With every breath, try to relax your mind and body a little more. It is amazing how much we can relax if we consciously try. That’s it, that is all meditation is – sitting quiet and keeping your focus on the breath. Meditation is within us–we’ve just got to find it!

The magic of meditation is actually not in the technique, it is in what happens to your mind while you are practicing a technique. The constantly noisy and chaotic mind will begin to settle down after few days of regular practice of meditation. This will significantly improve your clarity of perception, your ability to stay relaxed, and your ability to handle difficult life situations.

Meditation has a positive impact in many dimensions of our lives:

  • Helps us to understand ourselves better
  • Increases our self confidence
  • Helps us to stay calm and relaxed during certain stressful situations
  • Increases our ability to recollect things, which drastically improves our memory
  • Helps us to function in a more conscious way, avoiding unnecessary daily repetitions and mistakes.

There is no wrong way to meditate.  As long as you are sitting quietly, not falling asleep, and watching your thoughts, you are meditating and you will see results.  Additionally, meditation has absolutely nothing to do with religion; it is purely a scientific process. Science is all about observation and understanding what is happening around us. Similarly, meditation is all about observing and understanding what is happening within us. If external science has created such wonders, just imagine what this inner science can do for your life.

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Sit Down and be Quiet

Sit Down and be Quiet

How many times have you heard that in your life?  How many times have you told someone else those words?  It’s funny how the first 2-3 years of a child’s life we are teaching them to stand up and walk, and to talk.  The next 15 years are spent telling them to sit down and be quiet.  What a contradiction! If there was one piece of advice that could be considered the most important piece of advice for someone, it would have to be “sit down and be quiet”. 

The modern world has gotten crazy.  Constant external stimulation from the news media, social media, keeping our cell phones with us continuously …. When do we have time to just sit quiet and relax?  Avi’s blog post “What is Mysticism?” is a wonderful start to figuring out how to be quiet and to learn how to appreciate what we can’t see in life.  Quiet is where the magic is. 

We are all familiar with three dimensions:  a point, a line, and space.  Well, when we are still and quiet we can experience the fourth dimension.  That’s where all the stuff is that fills the space in between the dots and lines and shapes in our shallow three-dimensional world.  Stuff like memories, love, the “self”… things that can’t be smelled, touched, measured or even seen. This dimension is what we are missing in our lives today and people just won’t even slow down long enough to notice. There are a couple of videos on the Inner-Revolution YouTube channel concerning the fourth dimension; definitely worth checking out!  (Link below, but finish reading the post 🙂

“Sit down and be quiet” is really another definition for meditation, but that word scares a lot of people too.  Meditation isn’t anything fancy; it’s just sitting quietly to relax your body and to start training your mind to be still as well.  We are covered up in thoughts every minute of every day of our lives so we don’t even realize it as something abnormal, but it is.  The natural state of a human mind is quiet; to be useful when needed, and quiet when not.  A good way to describe our minds would be like a continuously running chainsaw that you could pick up and use when you needed it, but otherwise it’s still running.  Once you get a taste of “quiet mind” you’ll be trying to find the “off” switch on that saw every chance you get. 

“An idle mind is the devil’s workshop” is another saying I was plagued with as a child.  I can see the good intentions, but to torture a child with the belief that the devil is gonna get you if you’re not thinking about something all the time sure has its drawbacks. An idle mind is a wonderful thing!  Sure, we have to carry on our daily responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean that we have to keep our minds full-to-overflowing all the time. 

Sit down and be quiet.  Let the magic happen.

P.S. Here’s the link to the YouTube video on “Exploring the 4th Dimension – Memory” . https://youtu.be/n0Ec46EDRC4

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Body and Meditation

Body and Meditation

“What you are experiencing is not a body, but a boundary”

During meditation today, use your own body as your distraction. That means the space where you will move around during meditation is your own body. So, start with the breath. Just observe the breath. Be in that tiny zone of the breath. When you feel it is becoming difficult to be with the breath or your mind is trying to drift somewhere else, then move across your body; experience the sensations of your body. For a moment reflect on your legs—just the sensations of your legs—then slowly move up your body. Come back to the breath. Sometimes just reflect on your face: Okay. This is where I am sitting. This is my face.  Move around a little; feel the tiny sensations on your skin. You will experience a lot when you observe. Come back to the breath again. Use your body sensations as your distraction and your breath as your anchor.

Don’t move out into imagination, thinking or listening; just feel the body. The body is amazing, and the more you observe it, the more you realize that what you are experiencing is not a body, but a boundary. The body is a boundary between the inner and the outer. It is the boundary of sensations, and there is nothing else to the body apart from this boundary of sensations. This is why pain is the only way we experience our bodies. If you take away pain, physical pain, then we cannot experience our bodies at all.

Every sensation is pain, although what we have recognized as pain is a certain level of intensity. When somebody touches you gently, it is perceived by you as simply a touch. When somebody hits you with force, then it is pain. It is the same thing. When a mosquito just sits on you, it is just a small sensation, but when a mosquito bites you, then you recognize the sensation as pain. Pain is nothing but an intensified sensation, and the body is one field of pain. That pain is what you are trying to transcend through meditation. There is nothing else you need to realize more than your body is just a bundle of pain, sensations, and is external to you. Your body does not belong to you.

This is a beautiful way to meditate. It gives you enough space to move around, and you will also be able to see what you are trying to go beyond. When you think, Oh I want to experience enlightenment, I want to experience transcendence, you’re not sure what it is that you want to go beyond. Still, life is exquisite. There are gardens, sunshine, and beautiful things all around; life is a rich tapestry of colors and beauty. So why do you need to transcend all of this? You will know the reason why when you start observing your body. Life is beautiful all around you, but your body is painful. Your body is a constant pain, even now. Just close your eyes and reflect on your body. You will see how much pain there is. Just observe it: back pain, joint pain, skin problems, sinus issues…

This is a beautiful meditation. Be with the body for a few moments and then come back to the breath. Repeat.

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Watching the Breath–the Ultimate Meditation Anchor

Watching the Breath–the Ultimate Meditation Anchor

“Not everyone who has a body is an individual.”

An individual is an ocean; a vast, unimaginable ocean of life. An individual is aliveness; he is not what you see. A person is simply what he is.  You are simply what you are. There is a tremendous difference between the person that you see in the mirror and the person that you see within yourself. The person that you see in the mirror is just a form, a play of light and darkness. What you see there is a texture and a shape—that is it. What is not visible in the mirror is the aliveness through which even that contemplation is happening.

The thought that enters your mind and says, I am, is an individual. In that sense, not everyone who has a body is an individual. But everybody who has asked this question, everybody who has contemplated on the thought, I am, is an individual. Hence, an individual does not take birth through the body. It is the body that takes birth through the body. An individual takes birth with this question, with this realization, and with this understanding.

Spirituality is a very human problem. It is not an existential problem. There are insects crawling around, and there are birds singing. Look at the vibrancy of aliveness all around you. There is no disturbance, there is no questioning, there is no seeking, and there is no trouble. They are all just going about their lives. You can even say that they are blissful, because bliss is a state of non-disturbance. The insects and the birds are simply being in the moment.

A bird flying in the sky has no religion, no name. It does not know where it has come from and it does not know where it is going. It does not have a philosophy, it does not have an ideology, it does not believe in heaven and hell, and it is not interested in redemption. Yet, look at the life that is gracing that bird. It is free in the vastness of the sky, utterly free, absolutely free. If a human being can experience that one single moment of freedom, then he will be changed forever. If he can be a bird in the sky for even one moment, then his troubles end. Even for a single moment if you can be absolutely free, utterly free, then you will know the tremendous value of individuality and you will know the tremendous force called an individual.

As of now, an individual is suffering. He is suffering his own knowledge, reasoning, questioning, and ideology. In a way, it is bound to happen though because an individual takes birth as an idea. You will have to understand: An individual is a beautiful quality that takes birth through a desire, which is an action. An individual is always born into a collective system, or a family. Grammatically, an individual is an adjective who takes birth through a desire, which is a verb, into a collective noun. So, an individual is nothing but an adjective trapped in a collective noun.

An individual is born into a family, but what is family to him? He does not understand family because all he knows is how to recognize another individual. He can see his father, his mother, and his brothers and sisters, but he cannot understand the idea of a family. It just seems elusive. Still, he tries to fit in; look at the trouble. An individual is trying to fit into a collective ideology, but it doesn’t make any sense to him.

An individual has to move from one collective ideology—his family, to another—the school. There, he learns certain things and abides by the rules of the school, but again his individuality is troubled. He begins to ask, What am I doing here? What is my purpose? Why am I in this school? From school, an individual moves into work, and even at work he is a part of a collective ideology, because organizations always have a common purpose that everybody is working towards.

So, an individual is automatically given all of these collective ideologies. He is given a country, he is given a religion, he is given a family, and he is given a place to work. Thus, throughout his life he remains confused about the most important thing: Who is he? That question leads an individual to spirituality. In fact, just ask yourself, Who am I? That question itself will make you spiritual.

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Inside the head of a meditator

Inside the head of a meditator

When you observe a person meditating, all looks calm and serene.  Well, looks can be deceiving!  Unless you are looking at an experienced, well-seasoned meditator, it’s most likely not all calm and serene in there. 

See, the purpose of meditation is to step away from the constant ramblings of the mind.  When we are going about our daily business, we let our mind do whatever it wants to and most of the time we’ll do what it tells us to.  For example, the mind says:  “Eat chocolate”.  You’re not hungry and you don’t even have any chocolate, but your mind is not going to quit saying “chocolate” until you actually find some and satisfy that craving.  Annoying, isn’t it?  Or, your mind wants to think about something that happened two years ago and it keeps bringing up the thought, like a continuous tape recording. 

Sometimes it’s difficult to suppress those thoughts while you’re awake and doing daily tasks, but still you can distract yourself with other doings.  Imagine sitting still with NO distractions.  Hmmmm.  That’s what meditation is.  You keep watching the thoughts in your mind until they finally get fed up and go away.  Thoughts travel in packs, too.  You let one come in and others will follow. 

Here’s how a meditation sitting might sound (from inside the head of a meditator):

“Relax, breathe deep, watch your breath.  Don’t let the mind wander.  In…. out…..in….out. Hmmm this feels nice. Relaxed, calm.  Uh, I think we’re almost out of coffee, gotta add that to the list.  I like coffee.  Do I get too much caffeine?  Be quiet, focus on the breath, but don’t forget to add coffee to the list. 

Breathe in and out, focus on the breath…. Man, I’ve got so much to do, why am I sitting here breathing?  Oh yes, it’s to get rid of you – mind.  I want control of my life.  Now stop arguing with me so I can properly meditate.  Don’t forget coffee.

Breathe…… I miss mom and dad.  Wish I could have introduced them to meditation, I think mom would have been fascinated.  She probably wouldn’t have meditated, maybe would have just been fascinated with it.  Breathe one, breathe two ….. damn it’s hard not to think!  Focus, you can do it. “

At this point in time, probably 10 minutes or so into meditation, the mind will settle down if you just watch the thoughts and don’t get carried away with them.  So after a few minutes of quiet stillness in the head, here it goes again:

“It sure is cool this morning.  Reminds me of the camping trip to Colorado last year.  I didn’t get cold in the camper though.  Sure was a fun trip….. STOP!!!!   Not going to follow you into the vacation replay, mind!!”

I’ve shared this experience with Avi, and he says it’s very normal and that even experienced meditators have random thoughts to squelch during meditations.  They’ve just been practicing long enough to be able to step away from the thoughts much quicker.  It just takes time. 

I’m only one year into meditation and have been intensely (4 hours per day) meditating for 10 months now and I can say that the periods of absolute quiet, no thoughts in my head are simply “wow” and amazing.  It’s like a drink of water after a long hike on a hot summer day.  Right now I’m working my way through the brush and brambles to get to the cool drink of water!

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A day of silence

A day of silence

My spiritual journey began, in a serious way, about a year ago.  When I say serious, I mean meditating for several hours a day and studying with a spiritual teacher (Avi) for guidance.  I listen to his talks twice a day and am always on the lookout for ways to deepen my spiritual quest……


I can’t say that I talk a lot, but I do talk—I’m a woman!  Supposedly women speak two to three times more than men do. Maybe it’s because we’re more intelligent, hence we’ve got more to share— lol!  So, a couple of weeks ago we decided to have a day of silence. Yes.  Silence.  One whole day.

Most of it wasn’t that difficult. Since I have lived by myself so many years, I have no trouble being alone and not speaking.  I do converse with the dogs throughout the day, and when I’m with the chickens or the bees—yes, I’m talking.   I do have arguments and discussions with myself, but those are normally internal.  Occasionally words slip out, but mostly the discussion is within.  So, although it wasn’t difficult, it was still very different than a normal day.

 Several observations were made during the day:

I really talk a lot more than I thought I did. Several—SEVERAL—times during the day I found myself ready to open my mouth and spout out an observation I had or a thought that I wanted to share, and I had to remember—keep your mouth shut!

Most of the things said during a typical day are just not necessary. The world is too full of noise, and I discovered that I was contributing to my own noise.  By not speaking for one day I realized that most of what I was saying was just unnecessary babble. 

I found myself just ignoring other people around me because I couldn’t talk to them. Maybe that was my way of not tempting myself to speak, maybe I need to work on my nonverbal communication skills.  

I found it liberating! To be with someone and not have to come up with something to say—you know what I’m talking about!  It’s so nice just to be with someone and be quiet without that uncomfortable feeling of silence.  When everyone knows that it is a “quiet day”, it’s an amazing feeling of freedom. 

The one time during the day when I did have to say something was while someone was helping me take down a set of scaffolding and he was zigging with the walk board and I was zagging with him, so I had to whisper the words “keep it in the center” to avoid a possible injury. Other than that, no words were spoken all day long.

This exercise is supposed to help quiet the mind as well.  I can see where that would work if one were to practice silence on a regular basis, say one or two days a week.   If carefully planned, a day of silence per week would be totally do-able as long as the folks around you are okay with it.  I’ll be adding “less talking” to my repertoire of spiritual tools.

The wonderful song from the 70’s was right—“Silence is Golden”.

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