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…”

What Is Possible When We Allow Ourselves to Feel Discouraged?

I’m just plain tired. Wrung out. Depleted, defeated and discouraged.

After the past year, the feeling of turning on your phone and bracing yourself for the worst has become all too familiar. Headlines with the words: injustice, intolerance and other inhumanity have become the new normal. As we near the 1-year mark of the pandemic outbreak and navigate our new normal, it can be hard to witness it all and maintain a sense of hope.

To combat this feeling, I sit and follow my breath. I confront the fact that I am struggling and suffering, comfort myself and try my best to hold what I can with compassion and equanimity. But when the sense of utter deflation and overwhelming defeat sit so heavy on my heart, simply sitting with it can sometimes feel insufficient.

Or is it?

Awareness is Where a Revolution of the Heart is Born

Awareness is simple, but it’s not always that easy. We may meditate each day to increase our capacity for awareness and accept our life as it is, not as we hope it was. But we do not sit on the cushion to escape life—but to live more fully in it. The cushion is not just a refuge but a launching pad.

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Collection of thoughts for my dear departed son (mostly ... or maybe my internal thoughts on dealing with things?)

Poem: (Missing You Always): You never said I'm leaving,  You never said goodbye,  You were gone before we knew it, And only God knows why.  A million times I needed you, A million times I cried, If love alone could have saved you, You never would have died.  In life I loved you dearly, In death I love you still, In my heart I hold a place, That only you can fill.  It broke my heart to lose you, But you didn't go alone, As part of me went with you, The day God took y...
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Can Tech Work for the Greater Good?

In 1946, at the outset of the baby boom, readers of the “funnies”—what comic strips were often called back then—saw uber-cop Dick Tracy communicate for the first time with his squad using the “Two-Way Wrist Radio.” In the sixties, it became a wrist TV, and the cops communicated using an early form of FaceTime.

Does Social Media Make Us More Connected?

Like many children, I thought the wrist TV was super cool, and my friends and I even pretended we had one. We never dreamed that such a gadget could become a reality. Apparently, engineer Martin Cooper thought differently: The two-way wrist device inspired his invention of the mobile phone, which morphed into today’s smartphone, and ironically enough, wrist phones of all kinds. Now, almost everyone is Dick Tracy—connected to our squad and the rest of the world with a device at the end of our arms. The kid in me can’t help but feel this is wonderful, and in many ways it is. Social media, undoubtedly the most prominent use of the smart “phone,” enables all sorts of connections. Right now, you might be reading this on a smartphone. People can connect to work collectively on vital causes. Teams can collaborate and create in real time without their members having to be under the same roof. Social revolutions have even been spurred. And yet…

We underestimated how the gods who give us social media gradually, incrementally, insidiously inch our behavior in directions beneficial to their customers.

As the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma argues, the world the smartphone has wrought carries many dangers. In the opening minutes, Tim Kendall—former president of Pinterest and an early Facebook executive—says that while digital tech has brought us “many good things, we were naïve about the flip side.” That flip side is a potent combination of tech addiction and behavior modification, on a massive scale. The beeps, bloops, and blinks from our little box tap into the same “reward” system that can entice us to polish off a bag of potato chips or a pint of ice cream. Our phone is so vital to us, it’s become like a new appendage. (In his book Irresistible, Adam Alter reports that 46% of teens he surveyed would rather have a broken bone than a broken phone.) We underestimated how the gods who give us social media gradually, incrementally, insidiously inch our behavior in directions beneficial to their customers.

The Social Dilemma

But, wait, aren’t we their customers? Not so much. Facebook is like the amusement park in Westworld. Customers come to play, but they are in fact the product. Learning what we “like” and then influencing how we’ll act turns a profit for social media. In fact, the inventor of the Like button, Justin Rosenstein, admits in The Social Dilemma that he had no idea the gnarly places such a simple thing would take us to.

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Ammi’s Adventures: A Guided Meditation for Kids

Welcome to the world of Ammi—a mindfulness adventure series for young children. Ammi is a wise and gentle child who leads the way as we explore ourselves and one another through the natural world. Each story uses guided imagery to inspire inner connection and support emotional regulation. These simple meditations recognize the importance of imagination as a foundation for conscious creation in the world. They bridge the physical, the energetic, the emotional, and all the spaces in between. Whether in the home or classroom, you can engage in these special practices with children of all ages. Read them aloud together, listen to the guided meditation, and welcome the time to process and integrate the practice.

Ammi’s Adventures: Wind

Art by Courtney Mandryk

Hi! I’m Ammi. My name means “the whole world is inside of me,” and I think it’s true: I carry the whole world in my mind and heart and body. I know you do, too! I like to play games, explore, and discover what makes me, me. I’m so glad we’re together on this journey! 

Have you ever thought about the wind? It is amazing.

It can bring a sudden gust of cold and make us shiver with goosebumps popping on our skin. Or, it can bring a constant warm breeze that gently hugs us. 

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Where Science, Mindfulness, and Social Justice Intersect

Dr. Sará King has an idea she wants you to hear: well-being and social justice are the same thing. King is a neuroscientist, medical anthropologist, and meditation teacher. She founded MindHeart Consulting, where she brings together her work in neuroscience, mindfulness and social justice in a framework she calls The Science of Social Justice. 

Her work aims to give people a more full understanding of the effects of oppression and injustice by talking about how it manifests in our bodies and minds, in addition to societal systems. She says that because trauma affects our physiology, psychology, mental health, and relationships, understanding that the pain permeates so many parts of ourselves helps us heal. 

“I think what’s so beautiful is when you integrate science and mindfulness and social justice, suddenly people understand that they have an incredible amount of power to enact positive change on the system,” King says. “If [trauma] is coming from our nervous systems, then that means that it can be healed. There is hope.”

When you integrate science and mindfulness and social justice, suddenly people understand that they have an incredible amount of power to enact positive change on the system.

She has partnered with companies like Google and Nike, as well as multiple universities to facilitate trauma healing circles and meditations based on the Science of Social Justice. Recently, she collaborated with neurobiologist Dr. Dan Siegel and poet and musician Orlando Villarraga to create an installment at the Museum of Modern Art in New York called “The Art and Science of Hope and Justice.” 

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