Zen Blog

This blog collects various internet feeds aimed towards information, experience and technique exchange in support of our shared spiritual journey.....

”Namaste - may the light in me, honor the light in you…”

10 Guided Meditations from the Powerful Women of the Mindfulness Movement

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we gathered mindfulness practices from some of the powerful women of the mindfulness movement featured in the magazine. Here they share their deep practice with you so you can be inspired not only to sit and practice, but also to rise and act.

1) A 10-Minute Meditation to Cultivate Embodied Awareness

Sebene Selassie

Mindfulness Teacher, Author, and Speaker

“Mindfulness presents the opportunity for us to be more fully present for ourselves, our loved ones, and the earth.”

1. Take a moment to find a comfortable position. You don’t need to be in a particular posture. You can be standing, sitting, or even lying down. The most important thing is that you feel relaxed and alert. Make sure that you have some openness in the front of your body. You can roll your shoulders up and back. Or if you’re lying down, just allow your shoulders to really relax into the floor. You want to have some uprightness or length in your spine without being rigid or stiff. And you want to invite a softness into the face, the jaw, the shoulders, and the belly. This balanced posture of being both relaxed and alert, being both soft and open, is the beginning of our embodied awareness. 


2. Notice how the body is feeling in this moment. You don’t need to change anything about the mind, your thoughts, the heart, your emotions, the body, or any sensations. Just simply allow what’s happening to be in your awareness. How does your body feel right now? 


3. Feel what’s going on physically or mentally. What sensations are you experiencing? Where may there be tightness or tension in the body? And where is there ease or relaxation? Just notice what’s here. As you continue to settle into this embodied awareness, you can close your eyes if you’d like, or keep them open as you continue to rest your awareness on the body. 


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Meditation Month 2021: Breathe & Experience

Week 2 of Guo Gu’s guided meditation videos

With Guo GuMar 08, 2021

Welcome back for week two of Tricycle Meditation Month, our annual challenge to sit all 31 days of March.

If you’re just joining us, our Meditation Month teacher Guo Gu is leading a series of four free guided meditation videos. Guo Gu is the founder of and teacher at the Tallahassee Chan Center and the Sheng Yen Associate Professor of Chinese Buddhism at Florida State University. Each Monday, we’re releasing a new video, which builds on the previous week’s lesson.

This week, we will continue to explore the sensations in the body, using what Guo Gu calls somatic integration. After a week of practicing the progressive relaxation meditation, you may have begun to notice how the breath influences the body and how the sensations of the body influence the breath. In this video, Guo Gu asks us to focus on our awareness of these sensations and simply experience them as they unfold. He also shares some tips for settling a scattered mind and keeping track of the breath to help us as we continue to develop our meditative awareness.

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Taking and Sending in Difficult Times

When a society is orderly, a fool alone cannot disturb it; when a society is chaotic, a sage alone cannot bring it to order.
—The Book of Leadership and Strategy

Where we are
As I write this, over 500,000 people in the US have died from COVID-19. Although vaccines now offer a light at the end of the tunnel, millions of people in this country are still facing uncertainty, isolation, and hardship—some through mistaken beliefs, some through personal choices, many through the force of circumstances beyond their control.

Even with a new administration in office, ideological, political, and economic forces continue to shred the fabric of our society. When these factors are combined with the challenges of widespread pollution and its effect on the planet’s climate, we have at best a temporary respite from the troubles of our times.

What to do?
For me, the answer to this question is hard to put into words, but it seems to have something to do with fulfilling a responsibility, a responsibility that comes out of my training in the bodhisattva path. This path has always resonated with me and it has provided me with guidance and direction in some very difficult situations.

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Buddha Buzz Weekly: After Arson, Buddhist Temple Sees Outpouring of Support

Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.

More than $83,000 raised for vandalized Los Angeles Buddhist temple

This week, Buddha Buzz reports on some news that signals compassion and solidarity with the Asian American Buddhist community in wake the rising number of hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. More than $83,240 has been raised for L.A. Little Tokyo’s Higashi Honganji, a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temple that was vandalized late last week. According to Religion News Service, the temple’s GoFundMe page was set up by Nikkei Progressives, a volunteer organization advocating for immigrant rights, Muslims, and Japanese American issues. On Thursday, February 25, a person set fire to the chochin lantern stands, knocked over two metal lanterns at the stairs leading up to the temple, and shattered a glass panel in front of the foyer after throwing a rock toward the temple’s entrance, head minister Rev. Noriaki Ito said in a statement. After news of the vandalism made headlines, the temple received calls and messages from all over the US as well as from Japan. According to Ito, the widespread interest was probably due to growing visibility of the racist incidents Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been experiencing since the COVID-19 pandemic began. “We will work to repair the damage and to restore the temple,” Ito said. “But we need to repair the damage to ourselves as well. Like many others in our AAPI community and beyond, we feel hurt and saddened and even angered by the recent attacks on those of Asian and Pacific Islander descent.” 

Myanmar Death Toll Climbs; Women Fight Back 

​​​​​At least 18 people were killed when pro-military security forces fired on protesters in cities across Myanmar last Sunday, the bloodiest day since the start of the mass demonstrations against the military coup, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA). The U.N. Human Rights Office said it had received “credible information” that at least 18 people were killed and more than 30 were wounded, in the highest single-day death toll since the military takeover and ousting of the democratically-elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Women in Myanmar are at the forefront of the protest movement, sending a powerful rebuke to the generals who ousted a female civilian leader and reimposed a patriarchal order that has suppressed women for half a century, according to reporting from the New York Times. Despite the threat of violence, women, representing striking unions of teachers, garment workers, and medical workers—all sectors dominated by women—have come together for daily marches. The youngest are often on the front lines, where the security forces appear to have singled them out. On Wednesday three young women were fatally shot and killed.  

Women and girls have courageously and selflessly put their bodies on the front lines—and also their bras. According to a Facebook page about Burmese Protest Memes, women opposing the coup have begun to create barriers of bras, panties, and longyi (sarong-like cloths) in front of homes and on streets. Most soldiers, according to the meme’s explanation, believe that if a man comes into contact with a woman’s underwear or longyi (particularly if the woman wore them while menstruating), that he will lose his phoun (also transliterated as hpone)—his honor, prestige, or power. These superstitions about women’s underwear are helping protesters skirt Myanmar’s junta, the Japan Times reported. “When the community hang[s] the longyi above the rope, [police and soldiers] can’t go in the streets, they can’t cross it, and they have to take it down,” activist Thinzar Shunlei Yi said. Some protestors, playfully raising the stakes of the superstition, have pasted images of junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing’s face on the longyi.

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Being in Body Time 

The following has been adapted from Willa Blythe Baker’s Dharma Talk, The Art of Somatic Mindfulness. In this series, Willa explains how we can develop awareness through careful attention to the body. In the following talk, she explores the concept of time in meditation and how we can move beyond the present moment to a more expansive—and embodied—understanding of time. 

Our sense of time is linear and bounded. We check our watches and count the days. Time is something to be quantified and measured. We set our timers and will ourselves not to look at minutes ticking away.

In some mystical traditions, there exists a different kind of time. The Aranda people [also known as Arrernte, Arunta, or Arrarnta] of Australia describe a time out of time, or the Dreamtime. This is the time in which ancestors live eternally. There’s a similar idea in Buddhism: in the practice of refuge, we call on our spiritual ancestors to be present, beyond space and time.

Buddhists also have the notion of a timeless time. Twelfth-century Tibetan meditation master Longchenpa called this the “fourth time,” the past being the first time, the present the second time, and the future the third time. The fourth time is a time beyond time or a time out of time. The timeless time doesn’t lean on the past or the future. It is an absolute nowness that is unbounded and radically present.

The radical present is not something that we create. It is always happening, spontaneously. Even when we’re ruminating on the past or anticipating the future, there is an unfolding in the present that is always happening—even when we’re missing it, when we’re distracted by our thoughts about the past or the future.

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