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…”

Welcoming the New Year with Mindfulness

As an old year ends and a new one begins, I like to find a few quiet moments for a simple practice that helps recognize this transition and honor all that has happened and all that awaits. I’d love to invite you to join me.

You might want to have a tissue or a journal handy. I find this practice brings so many emotions to the surface, making me teary and grateful and excited to be alive all at once. 

A Practice for Honoring The Transition to a New Year

Sit comfortably, relax your body, and close your eyes.Slowly, gently, breathe in through your nose, imagining that you are breathing in all of 2019 and what transpired for you, holding the whole year in your lungs for a couple of seconds.Survey your memories as they come in on your breath, catching glimpses of the year’s high and low moments.Allow yourself to feel the good, bad, disappointing, marvelous, wondrous, thanking everything that life brought to you this year.Let it all go. With a deep, long exhale, let it all go.Experience the tides of your breath a few times, in and out, and then rest, sensing the air coming in through your nostrils, and flowing out.Let your breath flow naturally, effortlessly.Next, imagine a field of snow, freshly fallen all around you, pure, expectant.Allow your heart to swell and your ears to attune: What is calling to you this year? Where does your heart long to go?Feel and sense deeply and when you are ready, let your eyes flutter open: Welcome to a new beginning.

Take some time to write down whatever came up for you during that meditation—the residue of moments are important, funny things you remember. Those are the things that stick with you. You have to cherish the good moments as they’re there. Know that the bad stuff passes. Like waves on the ocean, it’s the just the highs and lows that you remember.

Explore the February Issue

And welcome too to the love, hope, and laughter in the February issue of Mindful. Mindfulness icon Tara Brach teaches us how to find true self-compassion in the face of our restless anxieties. Ali, Atman, and Andrés of the Holistic Life Foundation bring us hope in the power of mindfulness to transform lives and communities. And Barry, Mindful’s beloved and Falstaffian founding editor, brings us laughter by sharing that none of us, alas, is the center of the universe

Wishing you a new year filled with deep breaths, wonderful beginnings, love, hope, and laughter.

Original author: Anne Alexander
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Breaking Generational Patterns of Suffering

By his own admission, Justin Michael Williams is used to being the “token black guy” in the meditation community. 

“My mission was never ever to be a meditation teacher,” he explains. “It just ended up being, ‘Ok, this practice has changed my life, let me share it.’”

As a musician, public speaker and soon-to-be author, Williams says he considers his practice to be “the glue that holds my whole life together.” 

But before meditation would bring his life together, everything had to fall apart. 

Bringing Meditation Home

William grew up in Pittsburg, California, in a neighbourhood plagued by gun violence. At home, he witnessed his mother survive domestic abuse.

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Three Ways to Refresh and Renew—No Resolutions Needed

The week leading up to the New Year can be a source of anxiety as we consider all the changes we should make to “better” ourselves. Rather than brainstorming ways to improve your life, practicing mindfulness helps you accept the life you already have—and embrace it for all that it is.

Here are three ways to feel refreshed and renewed, without the resolutions:

1) First, befriend your life as it is

It’s common to daydream about an idyllic and successful future (who amongst us hasn’t practiced their Oscar acceptance speech?) but spending too much time thinking about how things could be “one day” prevents us from appreciating how things are right now.

Learning to befriend all moments places us firmly in the life we are living, rather than the ideal life we are prone to imagine or strive towards. “The shift from aversion to befriending is the most radical shift any student of mindfulness can make,” says Willem Kuyken PhD, Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre. “Befriending involves being curious, friendly, and kind, and is a capacity that we can all develop toward ourselves and our experiences. It is available to all of us, and is the home where our hearts and minds dwell,” says Kuyken. Here, he offers a mindfulness practice to find meaning in every moment.

2) Then, add purpose to each new day

Finding a sense of purpose can feel like an intimidating task—but it doesn’t have to be. Tapping into purpose can be as simple as taking a moment to decide, “I’m going to say thank you more,” or “I’m going to call my sister today.”

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The Top 10 Mindfulness Articles of 2019

Throughout 2019, we shared stories, tips and ideas to help readers like you deepen your meditation practice, cut down on daily stress, and develop more mindful habits. By working with experts in the field and exploring the latest research, we always aim to provide you with the most up-to-date and authentic information on mindfulness today.

Here are the top mindfulness articles of 2019:

1) The Best Meditation Apps

Our phones are always with us, so we might as well put them to good use. Here are five free apps that can help you deepen your practice.

2) The Ultimate Guide to How to Meditate

Learning to meditate can be confusing—should you get a cushion? Count breaths? Listen to an audio recording? This introductory guide has the answers.

3) Learn the RAIN Meditation Practice

In this beloved practice, Tara Brach provides four steps to stop being so hard on ourselves, so we can cultivate self-compassion in our most challenging moments. 

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The Best Podcast Episodes of 2019

At Mindful, we love podcasts. From working with attention and focus, to mindful advice to parents, to our very own Point of View podcast, here are some of our favorite ones to listen to:

1) The Ezra Klein Show

Episode: “Your attention is being hijacked. Chris Bailey can help”

Productivity, for many, means trying to wring every last drop of work out of ourselves, day after day. And this desperate need to “keep busy” can also prevent us from mindfully directing our attention. But that’s precisely Chris Bailey’s mission: The author of Hyperfocus is on a mission to shift productivity culture toward, instead, “doing the right things…deliberately and with intention.” Bailey argues that taking a more mindful approach to work is how we can sustain our focus and creative juice in the long term.

2) On Being with Krista Tippett

Episode: “The Magic Shop of the Brain: Dr. James Doty”

Most people simply don’t appreciate “the power of their intention to change everything,” says James Doty, a neurosurgeon who also directs Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. He’s talking about the scarcely understood potential of the human brain, but also about the equally miraculous power of compassion arising from it. Doty—for whom learning present-moment awareness as a teenager was transformative— considers our brains’ suppleness (that is, neuroplasticity) to hold the key to wider social transformation: “Each of us,” he says, “has the ability to change how we emotionally respond to our life circumstance and create an environment where we ultimately can flourish and give those around us the opportunity to flourish.”

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