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…”

A Guided Loving-Kindness Meditation with Sharon Salzberg

Loving-kindness doesn’t ask us to love every person we meet. Sharon Salzberg describes it as realizing how interconnected all of our lives are. In this state, we come to see how the things we love and the choices we make ripple outwards.

In this guided meditation, Sharon Salzberg leads us through a loving-kindness practice for connection and awareness.

A Loving-Kindness Meditation for Connection

1. Sit comfortably, or lie down if that’s better for you. You can close your eyes or leave them open. Let your attention settle into your body and start by taking a few deep breaths.

2. Allow your breath to be natural. We’re choosing, as an object of awareness, the silent repetition of certain phrases with ourselves as the first recipient. You can use any variation of the phrases: may I be safe, be happy, be healthy, live with ease.

Repeat these phrases over and over with enough space and silence to create a rhythm that’s pleasing to you.

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6 Things COVID-19 Can Teach Us About Ourselves

We like to declare war on the things that frighten us most. The War on Crime. The War on Cancer. The War on Drugs. The War on Terrorism. Etc.

And now, of course, we’re said to be involved in the great Battle Against COVID-19.

I wonder whether COVID-19 can be effectively resisted in this way. So far our most effective means of reducing suffering have been to stay home, be quiet, and spend time with those closest. Stillness has been our best defense. Concern for public health has compelled billions of people to reduce their mobility, reduce their incomes, and make many other sacrifices for the common good. 

Aggression, well, hasn’t been very useful at all.

I don’t think we can usefully employ a battle metaphor in this situation.

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What I’ve Learned From My Dog During a Pandemic

According to the United States Humane Society, nearly 70% of households have a pet. A lot of evidence has been put forth showing how beneficial pets are to our health and overall well-being—mentally, physically, and socially. This can be especially true during times of adversity. The unconditional love and loyalty of a family pet is wonderful and can help us manage difficult experiences. In fact, the positive experiences reported by many people in adverse circumstances has given rise to ongoing research projects exploring the impact of animal interaction with those experiencing personal adversity, such as PTSD, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.

My life changed four years ago when I adopted a Yellow Lab mix named Mac. He immediately filled my house with unbiased love and an overwhelming sense of caring. He has allowed me to grow in ways I never knew I could. Mac has been an incredible teacher of patience, unbridled fun, and authenticity. I know the importance of my own mental and emotional well-being, but like most of us, I often put my needs behind those I serve. A few weeks into this pandemic, I began noticing that Mac was reminding me of a few pretty valuable lessons.

Lesson One

The Importance of a Good Routine

A good routine provides us with structure and discipline in all areas of life. If I only have one interaction with an elite performer, such as an athlete, soldier, or CEO, I use it to talk about building a rock-solid routine. It can help us move toward our goals, free up precious time, stay motivated, and track our success. When we were kids, most of us had routines provided for us. We had a wake-up time, school schedules, dinner times, and most nights a bedtime. As much as we complained about those routines, they kept us on a productive path. 

The period of quarantine has allowed us to have amounts of time to fill that we probably aren’t used to having. If you’re like me, you’ve probably noticed that this time can quickly get away from you, or be filled in less than optimal ways (like scrolling through Instagram while gorging on chips, and watching dozens of YouTube videos about Big Cat documentaries). 

Having Mac has not allowed me to stray too far from our regular routine. Taking him out to do his business, going for walks, and feeding him can be something to set your watch by each day. I marvel at his nighttime routine. Before going to bed, he has to have a treat and one last bathroom trip. If either of those is delayed, he gets exceptionally fussy. As soon as his routine is complete, he goes straight to sleep. His routines are built into my routine, which has brought some normalcy to an incredibly abnormal situation. 

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Mindful Action: What Now? A Live Twitter Event

Sign Up and Join the COnversation — #mynewnormal

A Mindful Action Live Twitter Event

Find out how courage, leadership, compassion are showing up in this “new normal” as these extraordinary leaders — and mindfulness practitioners — get together and go Live on Twitter.

When you sign up you’ll get to submit questions for the conversation and we’ll send you a reminder email the day of the event. During the live event share your new normal using the #mynewnormal — Join the conversation May 13th at 4:30 pm ET.

sign up

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7 Ways to Ease Your Anxious Mind

[email protected] is a series of free guided meditations from some of our favorite mindfulness teachers. As they hunker down in their homes, they will be sending peace, calm, and love to you in your home. Tune in to our Facebook page every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 3 p.m. ET for live guided meditations.

In this video, Elisha Goldstein outlines seven simple things we can do in our everyday lives to cope with the stress and anxiety that arises in challenging times. 

7 Ways to Ease Your Anxious Mind

1. Slow down

When you slow your physical movements, you are also allowing your mind to slow down. You can do this by taking your time with everyday tasks like walking, washing the dishes, or showering.

2. Take the news and social media with a grain of salt

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by anxious thoughts when reading the headlines of the day. We can limit the spread of unnecessary fear and panic by looking past the headline and reading the entire article. Once that’s done, pause and notice whether it’s worth sharing a sensational headline on social media.

3. Build certainty into your day

Often mindfulness practices teach us to be okay with uncertainty, but it’s also okay to build in elements of certainty that your mind can count on. Try creating a new routine that fits the reality of your life right now. Use exercise, sleep, or meditation to ground yourself with healthy habits.

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