Mindfully seeing

“The best way to capture moments

is to pay attention.

This is how we cultivate mindfulness.”

~Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

This week I decided to try to get back to the basics of my mindfulness practice.  When I first started learning about being mindful I would take time to really look at things up close and see all the little things about them. I tried to keep my attention on the object and discover as much as I could about it, is it smooth? bumpy? soft? scratchy? colorful? alive?…… just trying to mindfully seeing the world, one piece at a time.  At one point I took my camera and took a ton of pictures of one object, seeing it through the camera lens made me pay even more attention to it.  This week I did that same exercise.  I’d like to share some of the photos I took.  These are all objects you might see in day to day life, I just got up close and personal with them.  I’m only sharing one photo from each object I looked at instead of a ton of one item, I thought it’d be fun to see if you can guess what each object is?  **answers can be found at the bottom of this post

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I challenge you to go out in your world today and pay attention to the world around you, one piece at a time.

What did you see today?

 

I hope you liked this version of Mindfulness Monday.

**The photos above are of a Dust mop, a plastic bowl on my kitchen counter, the shutters in my living room, the metal grating on my front door (like a super duper screen door, but with heavy metal), and the refection of the pool shining on my ceiling dancing with the shadow of the fencing.  (I have to say the last one isn’t nearly as interesting as it is when you see it literally dancing on the ceiling.)

All photos are the sole property of W. Holcombe.  Please do not use without permission.

 

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Mindfulness Mondays: worry

“Do not lose yourself in the past. Do not lose yourself in the future. Do not get caught in your anger, worries or fears.Come back to the present moment, and touch life deeply. This is mindfulness.”

Thich Njat Hanh

“The day you stop worrying will be the first day of your new life; anxiety takes you in circles, trust in yourself and become free.”

Leon Brown

“Don’t believe every worried thought you have. Worried thoughts are notoriously inaccurate.”

Renee Jain

As Wendy indicated, I will drop by from time to time to do the Mindfulness Monday post.

Finding mindfulness quotes concerning worry was an excellent therapeutic exercise.

As an added bonus because I really like the idea:

Worry is a misuse of your imagination.”

Curiano

Image: © Lorraine (Please do not use without permission)

I don’t mean to….(fighting depression)

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I don’t mean to stay away.

I don’t mean to make you worry.

I walk around in a daze lately, and can’t see through the fog.

I feel like I’m lost in the dark and the only lights I see are from the flames of hell.

I can’t tell  you why.

There is no real reason.

Sometimes I feel like I’m a pawn in someone else’s game.  I can see two demons hunched over a game board, we are the pieces they move.  We have no control over how the game is played; we can only hope they play fairly, but we all know that demons never play fair.

How can I feel so level headed and focused at one point and so out of control and totally depressed at the next.  What changed?

Sometimes the answer is “nothing”.  Other times, the answer is more complicated, but the thing is, it’s really not about what has happened on the outside, it’s all about what’s going on on the inside.

Right now I could actually write a huge list of things that have changed in my life, but none of them explain the extreme changes in my emotional state.

I’m not “letting things get to me”, nor am I “too sensitive”.  I’m falling apart from the inside out, and it has nothing to do with anything I am doing to myself.

Damn! Does that sound as stupid to any of you as it does to me?

I get so pissed off when someone tells me that they wish I didn’t let things get to me so much, or that they wish I wasn’t so sensitive….yeah well…yadayadayada.  I guess, it is all on me, isn’t it?  But then again…is it?  If it were up to me I sure wouldn’t allow things to “get to me”, and I wouldn’t be overly “sensitive”.  Heck, if it were up to me I’d be pretty friggin’ stoic sometimes, but I’m not, I simply can’t be like that.  I feel things, very deeply sometimes, I actually envy people who can “bury it” or “put walls up”, I can’t do that.  I’ve tried, oh how I’ve tried.  I really do envy those people…..sometimes…like now…not always.

Lately, all I want to do is eat, sleep, and cry.   In reality I’m not sleeping enough, but I’m spending a lot of time trying to; I’m eating too much, the weight gain proves it, and I’m either crying or pissed most of the time!  But I’m trying really, really hard not to be like that.  Heck, I don’t even know why I’m crying, and I sure can’t tell you what I’m so mad about.  Here’s the kicker, something will happen that doesn’t bother me at all and then the exact same thing can happen again and suddenly I’m so pissed I can’t think straight, or I’m crying so hard I can’t see.  What changed there?  So…is that all on me?  or is it out of my control?   More importantly, is this something that is just happening because of outside circumstances and will blow over, or does my medication need to be adjusted?  Honestly, I have no clue.  (I think it’s probably the later, or maybe a little bit of both?

Even with all I know about mental illness, (from my experiences with bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression) I still feel like it’s my fault.  I never feel like that about another person’s battles with mental illness, why do I hold myself to a different standard?  Is it simply because I’m often told, “I wish you didn’t let things get to you so much”, or is it because I think this is a part of me that I should be able to control.  I don’t have a lot in my life that I feel I have control over, surely I can control how I react to things.  Isn’t that what I’ve been practicing mindfulness for?  Simply accepting the way things are and not wishing it to be different.  Well honey, I do wish it were different right now, but I am trying hard to accept that it just is the way it is, and I know for certain that things will change.  Nothing stays the same, everything changes, I can always take solace in this, unless I’m deep in depression, then I think, “Yes, things change, it could get so much worse!”  Aaahhhh….No!  I can’t get caught in the future trap!  You know that trap, the one in your mind that predicts a future…good or bad, watch out! it’s a trap!  Chances are that the future you prophesied will not turn out the way your mind told you it would; staying in the present is the only way to really deal with life’s challenges, it’s it?  I KNOW these things.  Why then, is it so very hard?

I will try to take it moment by moment and be kind to myself.

I’ll try not to stay away.

I don’t want you to worry.

 

one moment at a time, I’ll get through this

 

*photo taken at Tumacacori National Park by W. Holcombe.  Please do not use without permission.  All rights reserved.

Mindfulness Monday – Judging

After writing this it dawned on me that judging is not always negative. However, in this post, please assume all references to judging are meant negatively.

I found myself judging people recently.  I touched on this a couple of weeks ago when I posted on Kindness.  I realized just how much people judge others.  I don’t think many of us mean to, it just happens.  There is something, someone does, that simply doesn’t mesh with what you believe in, and, let’s face it, gossiping is so easy.  Often I find myself not having anything in common with someone I’m forced to talk with except for out dislike of someone else, this often leads to gossip, does that happen to you guys?

In Buddhism, one of the Eight Fold Path is “Samma vaca: Right speech: No lying, criticism, condemning, gossip, harsh language. Right
Speech involves abstaining from lying, gossiping, or hurtful talk.”   I find this very hard to follow.  In further teachings, one is taught that you much have Right thought: This goes one step further than Right Speech, you don’t simply not talk ill of someone, you don’t even have that thought.  Now that is something to aspire to!  If I have to do that one to obtain Enlightenment, I probably won’t be getting there any time soon.

In Christianity, the Bible states in Matthew 7:1 “1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”  (there are several other mentions of judging people, but the all pretty much repeat what Matthew has said here or they have expounded on it.  You can find out more here. 

In Islam, Allah said : “O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other.”, among other verses that condemn judging others.

If being non-judgmental is taught by so many religions, why is it common practice amongst almost everyone one?  Heck, most religions judge other religions and their followers.  I don’t know if it’s even possible to go through life never judging anyone, but wouldn’t it be a much better place if we could.  I doubt I’ll ever get there, but I am going to try my best to not gossip; well, I might bitch a little to Stuart just so I won’t hold explode, but other than that, I will try…I can’t promise, but I’m going to try.

(I mean how could you not judge someone who signs a car financing agreement without looking at how much the car cost?  She’s either stupid, or lying.  Since moving to Tucson I’m listening to this kind of thing a lot, I’m judging, and it’s stressing me out big time!  I’d go so far as to say, it’s making me sick.  What am I going to do?  The judging seems to be automatic, that guilt is causing enough stress, add to that the stress of feeling like I shouldn’t talk about it, I’m wound up tight as a tick!  (if you aren’t from the South, you can find out what they means here.  Suffice to say, pretty darn stressed)

Don’t judge yourself by your past. You don’t live there anymore.  ~Unknown

The world would be a happier, more peaceful place if we all tried to understand instead of judging, paused before reacting, and gave each other the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming the worst.  ~Lori Deschene

Please don’t judge people. You don’t know what it took someone to get out of bed, look and feel as presentable as possible and face the day. You never truly know the daily struggles of others.   ~Karen Salmansohn

 

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Aqua Caliente by Wendy Holcombe    Hmmm, I’m judging these oranges to be beautiful.  Funny how an adjective that change the meaning of a word, isn’t it?

Mindfulness Monday – Kindness

water scene2“Three things in human life are important:

the first is to be kind;

the second is to be kind;

and the third is to be kind.”

~ Henry James

 

What does it mean to be kind?  Often kindness is confused with compassion, but there is a difference.  Kindness is simply being friendly to a person whether they are suffering of not.  Compassion is reaching out to someone who is suffering. 

When I read Toni Bernhard’s book, How to Wake Up, (and later an article she wrote about kindness) I was touched by what she calls “friendliness practice”.

She describes it like this, “As I turn the front doorknob to leave my house, I consciously resolve to maintain an attitude of friendliness toward all the strangers I see…If I’m waiting in line, I look at each person around me and silently say to each one: ‘May you enjoy this day’; or ‘I hope you have fun today.’”

I have tried to do this practice and have found that it lifts my heart, simply sending loving kindness to those around me fills me with joy.  

I find it so fulfilling to see the joy on a stranger’s face when I am nice to them, whether it’s a complement or simply saying having a small conversation, kindness can make your day so much more joyful.

However, there are times when I find myself automatically judging people I don’t even know.  For example, recently we were riding in a “questionable” part of town and were suddenly stuck because someone pulled out in front of everyone, just to go from one convenience store to another on the opposite side of the street.  The man was driving a new Cadillac that was all tricked out, and when he smiled you could see gold teeth.  We both automatically thought, drug dealer. We knew nothing about this man except what we saw on the outside, yet we found ourselves judging him.  This is something most of us do, and I’m sure I’ll do it again, but I’m trying to be kinder.  When I find myself having these judgments I’m trying to follow Toni’s example and silently say something kind to this person anyway.  Just as Toni said, I found that this action normally stops the judgment…but sometimes it doesn’t, it’s at those times I need to be kind to myself and continue to try my best.

 

“Kindness is within our power even when fondness is not.” ~ Samuel Johnson

 

I’m certain that no one is fond of everyone, but being kind to someone doesn’t mean we have to like the person.  In this day of political tensions, prejudice, racism….I know I have never been surrounded by so much hate.  The Buddha taught, “Hatred does not cease by hatred, only by non-hatred.”  We can “not hate” someone without liking them.  When you don’t hate it’s much easier to be kind.

It has pained me to find out that some of my ‘friends’ have such differing views than I have, many of these views are, in my opinion, unethical and morally wrong.  Because of the extreme differences in our views, and often the venom that I hear spoken by others voicing their opinions, I’m finding that I don’t really like many of these people any more, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be kind to them.  I try to find what we have in common, I think we all want to be happy and to stop suffering, when I look at someone in that light, I find it much easier to be kind.  I don’t have to agree with someone to be kind.  That doesn’t mean I’m okay with their views, it means I can be nice to them, that’s a lot more than I sometimes think I can do, but let’s face it, being kind to someone feels a whole lot better than hating them, hatred makes me feel really bad.

 

That brings me to this quote:

 “Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.” ~ Eric Hoffer

The more often you are kind, the more natural it will become.  Kindness becomes a habit and it grows within you, by being kind to others, you are in turn, kind to yourself. 

 

** I hope you enjoyed this different take on Mindfulness Monday, be sure to remember to be kind to yourself.

I highly recommend Toni Bernard’s books, especially “How To Be Sick; A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers”.  This book changed literally my life, and I refer back to it over and over.  If you, or someone you know, is dealing with chronic illness, do yourself a favor and check this book out.  (This is completely my opinion, no one asked me to post this, and I’m not being compensated for it.  I simply love this book.)

 

(image created by Wendy Holcombe using Autodesk Sketchbook, please to not use without permission)

 

Mindfulness Monday – Pain

water scene

painting by W. Holcombe 

“Pain can change you,

but that doesn’t mean

it has to be a bad change.

Take that pain and

turn it into wisdom.

~Dalai Lama

“To diminish the suffering of pain,

We need to make a crucial distinction

Between pain of pain,

And the pain we create

By our thoughts about the pain.

Fear, anger, guilt, loneliness and helplessness

Are all mental and emotional responses

That can intensify pain.”

~Howard Cutler

“Pain is not wrong.

reacting to pain as wrong initiates

the trance of unworthiness.

The moment we believe something is wrong,

our world shrinks and

we lose ourselves in the effort

to combat the pain.”

~Tara Brach

 

 

*painting by W. Holcombe.  All rights reserved. Please do not use without permission.

Mindful writing – sharing an article from Mindful magazine

I have a bad cold so today I’m changing things up a bit.  In lieu of Mindfulness Monday I’d like to share with you an article I read in Mindful magazine.  I found it very interesting and plan to put this practice to use.  So you may find me doing a lot more blog posts in the future, as I meditate while writing.

A Writing Practice For Those Who Like To Keep Doing by By  

I don’t want to copy the whole article here, it’s a short article, but it’s not proper to copy someone else’s work, so I’m going to give you the highlights. However, you really need to jump over and read the article to understand what this entails.  It’s fun!  go do it!

Shamash starts by saying: “I’m writing this article in a state of meditation. And there’s no editing required (for the first round, anyway). How am I accomplishing this? And how could you join in the fun?”

He gives us instructions on how to find out just how we can do it.  I’m listing just the highlight of each point, you will have to read the article to find out more.

  1.  Set a timer for 30 minutes.
  2. Keep your eyes closed. if you can touch type, if not, then write long hand with your eyes open 😉
  3. At the end of every sentence, stop for a full in-breath and out-breath.
  4. Begin with no clear aim.
  5. Try to find time to write regularly

He answers the question “What’s the point of journaling…..?”  Here are the benefits he says he enjoys as he writes:

 

  • “My body feels happy and relaxed.”
  • “My mind feels calm and peaceful.”
  • “I’ve gently entered into a meditative state without having to fully stop “doing stuff.””
  • “I’m doing something different, so it feels fun and exciting. And having fun is a really important value and experience for me.”

 

Go ahead, what are you waiting for, jump over to Mindful and find out more about mindful writing.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.