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…”

Mindful People May Be More Willing to Forgive

We all make mistakes. When it comes to our closest relationships, this can lead to hurt, anger, disappointment and even resentment. Forgiveness, or the ability to let go of hard feelings toward another person, is key to sustaining healthy relationships. To forgive we need to pause and see the situation from the other person’s point of view. This may be easier said than done when we feel slighted. Can mindfulness help?

What the Research Says About Mindfulness and Forgiveness

Scientists at Radboud University Nijmegan and their colleagues in the Netherlands conducted several studies to see if mindfulness, paying attention, on purpose with an open and accepting attitude, is related to forgiveness.

In the first study, 160 men and women, 72 of whom reported having a regular meditation practice, completed an online survey about their meditation practice, mindfulness, and their tendency to forgive. 36.1% of respondents had 1 to 5 years of meditation experience, 12.5% had between 6 and 10 years of practice, and the other 18.1% had been meditating for over 10 years.

As anticipated, people who meditated reported being more mindful, but contrary to expectation meditators weren’t necessarily more forgiving than non-meditators. It was a person’s mindful disposition, or tendency to be inherently mindful, that was most strongly linked to a forgiving attitude.

To understand why, the same researchers dug deeper into the links between meditation, mindfulness and forgiveness. They asked a different group of 87 college-aged students to answer questions about perspective taking and rumination in addition to those about mindfulness and forgiveness.

Continue reading
  0 Hits
  0 Comments
0 Hits
0 Comments

My Courageous Christian Spirit

The Bible and its message have been in my life as long as I can remember.

I have had the privilege of growing up in a Christian home. Being a true follower of Christ is not just a part of who I am but rather defines who I am. It is prominent and hopefully evident in my behavior, my convictions, and my decisions. I believe the Bible completely, and because of this, the Bible and its teachings play a role in every aspect of my life. In every situation I strive to fulfill my obligation as a born-again follower of Jesus Christ, which is to be a light and spread the message of love to everyone I encounter in all situations. The Bible and the wisdom it provides guide me when an opportunity for adventure arises, when I decide whether or not to try new things and explore the unknowns of life.

When most people are blessed enough to have the opportunity to experience a new adventure, many tend to freeze or panic. Unfamiliar scenarios often cause people not to seize the opportunity that is presented to them. However, the Bible teaches that we as Christians have nothing to fear. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” God always keeps his promises. One of His promises is that if we follow Him He will never leave us. This assurance is especially useful and comforting when I am forced to explore the unknown or do something that makes me uncomfortable. As a Christian, I know if I am doing God’s will, He will help me to accomplish my task, succeed at a new challenge, or have a successful adventure. For example, I would never consider myself a writer. Yet, when asked if I would be interested in writing an article, after consideration I saw this as an opportunity to express my love for God, to bear witness to the importance and impact of God, and show how He affects my life.

Whenever something new comes up, the first thing I do is pray to Jesus and ask for his will to be done in the situation. I pray he will guide me to do his will in everything I do. Sometimes I don’t feel led in a particular direction. Most of the time the answer does not come to me as quickly as I would like it to. In those situations, I go to my favorite reference book. Since the Bible is so important to me, I ask myself, “What does the Bible say about things like this?” The Bible is an instruction manual about how to live like Jesus and follow his will.

Every day people are faced with choices. Some choices are life-changing decisions, some are minor. Yet all choices show our character and standards. While some decisions seem insignificant, they all boil down to two options: live like Jesus or unlike Jesus. The better choice is to live like Jesus; even if you are not a Christian, living like Jesus will benefit you and the world you live in. When I begin to explore the unknown, I look at what I am going to be doing and I decide if it goes against the Bible. If it does, I leave it and don't look back, because I believe that is the right thing for a Christian to do. If it does not go against the Bible, I will then continue to explore, while keeping an eye out for things that would compromise my values and my faith. Before accepting the opportunity to go to a leadership camp for the first time, I considered that I would be interacting with a diverse group of people and determined that it would benefit me and help me grow as a leader and a courageous Christian.

Continue reading
  6 Hits
  0 Comments
6 Hits
0 Comments

Sharon Salzberg: Connect with Kindness

It’s easy to feel separate from other people and forms of life. When experiencing the world dualistically, there’s a pervasive sense of “us” and “them,” or “self” and “other.” But no matter our belief system, actions, or status, we are all joined together in this world through strands of relationship and interconnection.

You can open up to the possibility of caring for others not just because you like them, admire them, or are indebted to them, but because your lives are inextricably linked.

By practicing loving-kindness meditation, you can learn to see the lives of others as related to your own. This doesn’t mean you must like everybody, or agree with everything they do. It means you can open up to the possibility of caring for others not just because you like them, admire them, or are indebted to them, but because your lives are inextricably linked.

Use this practice to recover your innermost knowledge of that linkage, dissolve barriers you have been upholding, and genuinely awaken to how connected we all are.

Begin with someone who has helped you; maybe they’ve been directly generous or kind, or have inspired you though you’ve never met them. When you think of them, they make you smile. Bring an image of the person to mind, or feel their presence as if they’re right in front of you. Say their name to yourself, and silently offer these phrases to them, focusing on one phrase at a time:May you live in safety. May you have mental happiness (peace, joy). May you have physical happiness (health, freedom from pain). May you live with ease.Don’t struggle to fabricate a feeling or sentiment. If your mind wanders, simply begin again.After a few minutes, move on to a friend. Start with a friend who’s doing well right now, then switch to someone who is experiencing difficulty, loss, pain, or unhappiness.Offer loving-kindness to a neutral person, who you don’t feel a strong liking or disliking for: a cashier at the supermarket, a bank teller, a dry cleaner. When you offer loving-kindness to a neutral person, you are offering it to them simply because they exist—you are not indebted to or challenged by them.Offer loving-kindness toward a person with whom you have difficulty. Start with someone mildly difficult, and slowly work toward someone who has hurt you more grievously. It’s common to feel resentment and anger, and it’s important not to judge yourself for that. Rather, recognize that anger burns within your heart and causes suffering, so out of the greatest respect and compassion for yourself, practice letting go and offering loving-kindness.Finish by offering loving-kindness to anyone who comes to mind—people, animals, those whom you like, those whom you don’t, in an adventurous expanse of your own power of kindness.
This article appeared in the August 2015 issue of Mindful magazine.
Original author: Sharon Salzberg
  5 Hits
  0 Comments
5 Hits
0 Comments

Seven Questions To Ask Yourself If You Want to Thrive

The way we frame a situation can either open or shut down our ability to meet it effectively, creatively, and sucessfully.

Let’s try an experiment. Ask yourself the following questions:  

“How can I prove I’m right?”

“How did I get stuck with these idiots?”

“Who’s to blame here?”

Continue reading
  7 Hits
  0 Comments
7 Hits
0 Comments

Seven Ways to Develop Your Sense of Agency

Leslie and Josh came to therapy to talk about their son’s problems in school. But it soon became apparent that they had a different problem altogether—one common to working parents.

Their daily routine included a dizzying array of activities and responsibilities that kept them constantly stressed. Getting their kids out the door to school was an ordeal, involving much haranguing and eating on the run. After working long hours, they arrived home to a laundry list of other duties. Constant interruptions from electronic devices made them feel on call to their workplaces and disengaged from each other. Though unhappy, they didn’t know what to do or how to make a change.

As an experienced child and family psychologist (Anthony) and a management psychologist who works with business leaders (Paul), we were struck by how common these concerns are. We hear the same thing over and over from the people who come to see us: They feel overwhelmed by life. They struggle to make choices and decisions. They often feel stuck, adrift, or thwarted.

For many of us, the pace of life has accelerated to a level where we can’t fully adapt. We exist in a buzz of worry that we’re not doing what we’re meant to do, and the anxiety we feel, in turn, makes it difficult to get things done, creating a spiral of inaction. What we need is more agency: the ability to cut through all of what pulls at us, find emotional and physical balance, think more clearly, and advocate for ourselves so we can take a course of action that makes sense. With agency, we can feel more in command of our lives.

In our new book, The Power of Agency, we outline seven steps to creating more personal agency, so that you can put yourself on a more powerful path—whether at work, in your relationships, or in life in general. Here is what we recommend.

Continue reading
  6 Hits
  0 Comments
6 Hits
0 Comments