Friday, September 17, 2010

Random Thoughts Volume II

Sometimes people ask me how to meditate. They think I am the office Dalai Lama. The simplest way to meditate is to pay attention to your own breath. This can be done any time and any place. It requires no special posture or mantra. If you feel "scattered" or stressed and you want to center yourself, simply pay attention your breath as you breathe in and breathe out. If you do this I guarantee that you will become calm and focused. It's not magic but it does work.

Grandparents Day at my granddaughter's school was fun. I sat at a little table on a little chair. After some classroom activities I walked in single file to the cafeteria where I ate fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and chocolate milk with approximately 100 First graders.

The Alzheimer's Walk I participated in with my extended family was also successful. Together we raised several thousand dollars for Alzheimer's research.

Today's recommended classical music: Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons".

"If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there".
-George Harrison

"The journey is the destination".
-Zen Saying

Most people are future oriented or living in the past. We daydream through our lives and think "someday" or we romanticize our past and imagine that it was better than it really was. If you really want to live be where you are now and enjoy the ride. These are the good old days. At some point in the future you will look back on these days with longing. The past, good or bad, is behind you. The future is not guaranteed. Yes, it is a good thing to put money in your 401K and prepare for the future but don't put all your energy and hope in the future. Live now and enjoy now. Seize the day. The journey really is the destination.

My granddaughter called me last night and asked me if I wanted to come over to her house and see her SpongeBob Squarepants collection. I'm not sure why she wasn't in bed. I had to decline but I promised her she could come over to my house this weekend and spend the night.

Buddha says that all life is suffering. Well, I don't completely agree with him. Certainly some suffering is part of life. What I would say is that life is hard. It's tough to be a child and it's tough to be an adult. One of the ironies of Buddhist teaching is the idea that life is suffering. This doesn't seem true when compared to the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness awakens us to the subtle and perfect moments of our lives. If life is suffering, how can there be so many perfect moments? Perfect moments like a telephone call from my six year old granddaughter wanting me to play with her SpongeBob Squarepants collection? If one is awake to the perfect moments of life, suffering will seem greatly minimized. If you fail to see the joy in life, all you will notice is the pain.

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to confront only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived".

"Only that day dawns to which we are awake".

Both of these quotes are from the book entitled Walden by Henry David Thoreau. I believe this book is an essential part of any one's education. I have read hundreds of books and this is one of the best. Thoreau lived from 1817-1862 but still has much to say to modern men and women about how to live. His deepest conviction was "To affect the quality of the day". He believed this was the "highest of arts". As you go through your day today ask yourself,
"Am I awake now"?

"You can't stop the waves but you can learn to surf".

I have never actually surfed but I know enough about it to understand that it's not really about strength or agility as much as it's about balance. Balance is important in life. Balance gives us stability. The waves of life are never ending and they come in a variety of sizes. Some of them are small and they may even be refreshing. Others can knock us down if we are not prepared for them. We can be prepared by having firm footing and balance. Maintaining a calm mind, while being awake and aware, will give us the balance and stability we need so we are not swept off our feet by the waves of life. You can't stop the waves, and sometimes one can feel surrounded by them. When that happens get on your surfboard and ride them out.

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