“Practice” by Thich Nhat Hanh

Practice until you see yourself in the cruellest person on Earth, in the child starving, in the political prisoner. Continue until you recognize yourself in everyone in the supermarket, on the street corner, in a concentration camp, on a leaf, in a dewdrop. Meditate until you see yourself in a speck of dust in a distant galaxy. See and listen with the whole of your being.

If you are fully present, the rain of Dharma will water the deepest seeds in your consciousness, and tomorrow, while you are washing the dishes or looking at the blue sky, that seed will spring forth, and love and understanding will appear as a beautiful flower.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh ~

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Luxury……by Andrea Avari Stevens

For a moment, consider the luxury of not trying to figure things out.

Andrea Avari Stevens

10 Things Highly Intuitive People Do Differently by Carolyn Gregoire (Carolyn.Gregoire@huffingtonpost.com)

Intuition is challenging to define, despite the huge role it plays in our everyday lives. Steve Jobs called it, for instance, “more powerful than intellect.” But however we put it into words, we all, well, intuitively know just what it is.

Pretty much everyone has experienced a gut feeling — that unconscious reasoning that propels us to do something without telling us why or how. But the nature of intuition has long eluded us, and has inspired centuries’ worth of research and inquiry in the fields of philosophy and psychology.

“I define intuition as the subtle knowing without ever having any idea why you know it,” Sophy Burnham, bestselling author of The Art of Intuition, tells The Huffington Post. “It’s different from thinking, it’s different from logic or analysis … It’s a knowing without knowing.”

Our intuition is always there, whether we’re aware of it or not. As HuffPost President and Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington puts it in her upcoming book Thrive:

Even when we’re not at a fork in the road, wondering what to do and trying to hear that inner voice, our intuition is always there, always reading the situation, always trying to steer us the right way. But can we hear it? Are we paying attention? Are we living a life that keeps the pathway to our intuition unblocked? Feeding and nurturing our intuition, and living a life in which we can make use of its wisdom, is one key way to thrive, at work and in life.

Cognitive science is beginning to demystify the strong but sometimes inexplicable presence of unconscious reasoning in our lives and thought. Often dismissed as unscientific because of its connections to the psychic and paranormal, intuition isn’t just a bunch of hoo-ha about our “Spidey senses” — the U.S. military is even investigating the power of intuition, which has helped troops to make quick judgments during combat that ended up saving lives.

“There is a growing body of anecdotal evidence, combined with solid research efforts, that suggests intuition is a critical aspect of how we humans interact with our environment and how, ultimately, we make many of our decisions,” Ivy Estabrooke, a program manager at the Office of Naval Research, told the New York Times in 2012.

Here are 10 things that people in touch with their intuition do differently.

They listen to that inner voice.

introspection

“It’s very easy to dismiss intuition,” says Burnham. “But it’s a great gift that needs to be noticed.”

The No. 1 thing that distinguishes intuitive people is that they listen to, rather than ignore, the guidance of their intuitions and gut feelings.

“Everybody is connected to their intuition, but some people don’t pay attention to it as intuition,” Burnham say. “I have yet to meet a successful businessman that didn’t say, ‘I don’t know why I did that, it was just a hunch.'”

In order to make our best decisions, we need a balance of intuition — which serves to bridge the gap between instinct and reasoning — and rational thinking, according to Francis Cholle, author of The Intuitive Compass. But the cultural bias against following one’s instinct or intuition often leads to disregarding our hunches — to our own detriment.

“We don’t have to reject scientific logic in order to benefit from instinct,” says Cholle. “We can honor and call upon all of these tools, and we can seek balance. And by seeking this balance we will finally bring all of the resources of our brain into action.”

They take time for solitude.

intuition

If you want to get in touch with your intuition, a little time alone may be the most effective way. Just as solitude can help give rise to creative thinking, it can also help us connect to our deepest inner wisdom.

Intuitive people are often introverted, according to Burnham. But whether you’re an introvert or not, taking time for solitude can help you engage in deeper thought and reconnect with yourself.

“You have to be able to have a little bit of solitude; a little bit of silence,” she says. “In the middle of craziness … you can’t recognize [intuition] above all of the noise of everyday life.”

They create.

solitude

“Creativity does its best work when it functions intuitively,” writes researcher and author Carla Woolf.

In fact, creative people are highly intuitive, explains Burnham, and just as you can increase your creativity through practice, you can boost your intuition. In fact, practicing one may build up the other.

They practice mindfulness.

Meditation and other mindfulness practices can be an excellent way to tap into your intuition. As the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute explains, “Mindfulness can help you filter out mental chatter, weigh your options objectively, tune into your intuition and ultimately make a decision that you can stand behind completely.”

Mindfulness can also connect you to your intuition by boosting self-knowledge. A 2013 study published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science showed that mindfulness — defined as “paying attention to one’s current experience in a non-judgmental way” — may help us to better understand our own personalities. And as Arianna Huffington notes in Thrive, increased intuition, compassion, creativity and peace are all wonderful side effects of meditating.

They observe everything.

look out window

“The first thing to do is notice — keep a little journal, and notice when odd things happen,” Burnham says. You’ll gain a keen sense for how often coincidences, surprising connections and on-the-dot intuitions occur in your daily life — in other words, you’ll start to tap into your intuition.

They listen to their bodies.

Intuitive people learn to tune into their bodies and heed their “gut feelings.”

If you’ve ever started feeling sick to your stomach when you knew something was wrong but couldn’t put your finger on what, you understand that intuitions can cause a physical sensation in the body. Our gut feelings are called gut feelings for a reason — research suggests that emotion and intuition are very much rooted in the “second brain” in the gut.

They connect deeply with others.

empathy

Mind reading may seem like the stuff of fantasy and pseudo-science, but it’s actually something we do everyday. It’s called empathic accuracy, a term in psychology that refers to the “seemingly magical ability to map someone’s mental terrain from their words, emotions and body language,” according to Psychology Today.

“When you see a spider crawling up someone’s leg, you feel a creepy sensation,”Marcia Reynolds writes in Psychology Today. “Similarly, when you observe someone reach out to a friend and they are pushed away, your brain registers the sensation of rejection. When you watch your team win or a couple embrace on television, you feel their emotions as if you are there. Social emotions like guilt, shame, pride, embarrassment, disgust and lust can all be experienced by watching others.”

Tuning into your own emotions, and spending time both observing and listening to others face-to-face can help boost your powers of empathy, says Reynolds.

They pay attention to their dreams.

dreaming

Burnham recommends paying attention to your dreams as a way to get in touch with your mind’s unconscious thinking processes. Both dreams and intuition spring from the unconscious, so you can begin to tap into this part of your mind by paying attention to your dreams.

“At night, when you’re dreaming, you’re receiving information from the unconscious or intuitive part of your brain,” says Burnham. “If you’re attuned to your dreams, you can get a lot of information about how to live your life.”

They enjoy plenty of down time.

dream studies

Few things stifle intuition as easily as constant busyness, multitasking, connectivity to digital devices and stress and burnout. According to Huffington, we always have an intuitive sense about the people in our lives — on a deep level, we know the good ones from the “flatterers and dissemblers” — but we’re not always awake enough to our intuition to acknowledge the difference to ourselves. The problem is that we’re simply too busy.

“We always get warnings from our heart and our intuition when they appear,” she writes in Thrive. “But we are often too busy to notice.”

They mindfully let go of negative emotions.

Strong emotions — particularly negative ones — can cloud our intuition. Many of us know that we feel out of sorts or “not ourselves” when we’re upset, and it may be because we’re disconnected from our intuition.

“When you are very depressed, you may find your intuition fails,” says Burnham. “When you’re angry or in a heightened emotional state … your intuition [can] fail you completely.”

The evidence isn’t just anecdotal: A 2013 study published in the journal Psychological Science showed that being in a positive mood boosted the ability to make intuitive judgments in a word game.

That’s not to say that intuitive people never get upset — but your intuition will fare better if you’re able to mindfully accept and let go of negative emotions for the most part, rather than suppressing or dwelling on them.

Offer Your Depression……….by Susan Piver

Offer Your Depression

BY SUSAN PIVER | APRIL 14, 2015

Once I was in a meeting with a publisher to discuss a book I was writing (for which he had paid a tidy sum). He hated it. He hated me. We did not understand each other at all. I came to the meeting having thoughtfully considered his perspective, prepared to defend the points I was passionate about and compromise where possible. He came to the meeting with only two words for me: The first one was “fuck” and the second one was “you.” “Fuck you” is what he said to me. Game over.

I was devastated, reeling, crushed. It was like inviting someone over to meet your newborn (in this case, my book) and having them pick her up out of the crib and throw her on the ground. I left the building sobbing, enraged, certain my life was over, with only my ever-diminishing bank account to keep me company. I hadn’t taken ten steps out of the building when I bumped into my friend Michael. Michael is a deeply practiced and wise practitioner in my Shambhala Buddhist lineage, someone I turn to unhesitatingly for advice and insight into the dharma. He also used to work in publishing and would understand exactly what had just happened. He also didn’t even live in New York City (where this all took place). That he happened to cross my path at that moment was absurdly lucky.

We sat down in a restaurant, and I said, “My meditation practice must be so weak if one person saying two words can knock me down so thoroughly.”

He said, “So you think not getting upset is the sign of a strong practice?” I hoped it was. “It isn’t,” he said. “What matters is how directly and immediately you can bring your attention to what you feel. That is the sign of a strong practice.”

Depending on the quality of the depression, sometimes I can actually do this.

Small depressions offer the perfect opportunities to try. These are the depressions that don’t prevent you from living life as much as they color your experience in a darker shade. They may be situational, the result of not getting into the school of your choice, having an argument with a friend, or screwing up a job interview. Or maybe you’re just kind of constitutionally morose. What helps is to simply turn toward your feeling and, yes, feel it. Allow it. Lean into it, as Pema Chödrön says, without—and this is the key to the whole thing—attaching a narrative story line to it. In other words, feel the feeling and let the story go. When the story wants to come back (“I feel this way because it is her fault,” “I was raised by nincompoops,” “I always attract the wrong person”), let it go and return attention to what you feel, which means what you feel in your body. Place your attention on the sensations (hot, cold, tight, diffuse, in the shoulders, belly, elsewhere) and feel into them, discern their qualities. Become very, very precise about your exploration. This seems to introduce the process of metabolization, a way for you to digest what you are experiencing and convert it to energy.

Medium-sized depressions are not addressed by simply creating room to feel them. That is only the beginning. These depressions could be for any reason or no reason at all. Maybe you were born with a depressive nature. Maybe you don’t like yourself. Maybe you have inner issues that continually create obstacles for you, and you don’t know how to change them. This is the kind of depression that is always hanging around; it lives alongside you. Feeling it is a good start but more is required—making a friendly relationship with it is necessary. Here, making friends doesn’t mean having fun together. It doesn’t even mean liking each other. It means creating space to hang out and to become curious about this strange friend. Our friends like it when we take a warm interest in them without an agenda (in fact, this could be the definition of friendship: warm interest without agenda); our depression likes this, too. We could actually become loving, open, and accommodating toward it and in just this way, develop some agency within our depression rather than being defeated by it. As we do so, we find that we are able to meet others in their depressions and, bit by bit, shift our attention away from ourselves and on to them. Far from making you a goody-goody in yoga pants, this makes you powerful—and feeling powerful is the opposite of feeling depressed. So, surprise, the secret antidote for depression is opening to it and watching it transform into a fount of kindness.

Large depressions also benefit from precision and openness, but something more seems to be needed yet again. These are the kinds of depressions that arise when a parent or child dies or when you learn that you or someone you love is terminally ill. Everything is permanently different, there is no way around it, and there never will be. Or, absent a clear cause, you could be in the midst of a lifelong depressive state that seems to have no beginning, middle, or end. Then what?

Well, I don’t know, but I can tell you what I do when I find myself having fallen off the deep end. I remember something that dharma teacher Reggie Ray said to a student during a month-long meditation retreat in the Colorado Rockies. We had been practicing for about two weeks when a young man asked how long he would have to sit there before his agitated, frightening, dark thoughts went away. I mean, even after sitting for five or six hours a day they were unchanged, and he was starting to freak out. What should he do with his thoughts and feelings? Reggie said, “Well, you could always offer them to the deities. They love the display.” At that moment, this seemed like a totally reasonable suggestion, and we all nodded and went on with the retreat.

After I returned home, I reflected on this suggestion with the additional insight that I actually didn’t know what it meant. However, that has not impinged on its helpful nature. In the intervening years, I’ve returned to this idea countless times. When I’m at my lowest and have no more ideas about what to do, I think, “Offer it,” and something shifts. Even if only for a moment, I feel lighter. It’s not a simple offloading into the ether; I intend my feelings as a devotional gift, a kind of mind-prasad. Even though I have no idea how my “gift” could be of any value, I offer it anyway . . . I know not to what or to whom. Maybe it’s the universe. My teacher. Myself. Whatever deity I am meditating on currently, whether peaceful or wrathful. I feel a sense of gratitude that my depression could somehow be turned to grist and that someone or something out there is loving the mere display. I think of the bodhisattvas Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri and Vajrapani seeing, not my emotional puniness or lack of courage, but something now shimmery and now thunderous, now bright and now faint. Bursts of blue or red or green. Fireworks.

I have suggested this tack to students of my own. Most of them don’t share an iconography with me so I ask them, who is your deity? I get all sorts of answers, from Jesus to the Great Mother to no one.

No problem. Offer your depression to that. This is the direction of joy.

Adapted from Susan Piver’s essay,“The Sadness in Bliss,” from “Darkness Before Dawn: Redefining the Journey Through Depression,” edited by Tami Simon, published by Sounds True.

Spring Thoughts by David Whyte

PILGRIM SOUL
We tend to focus on, and speak about the soul life of an individual in terms of spiritual comfort and deep nourishment, qualities which are a central, and abiding dynamic of its presence, but the equally unsettling and disturbing quality about this strange, often wild and courageous faculty of belonging inside us we have come to name ‘the soul’ is its ruthless, and almost tidal wish to find its own way to a full union with the world. The soul is a planner’s nightmare, the career counselor’s central surprise, the biographer’s conundrum, an internal abiding spring that is both a source and a continual unstoppable flow, an internal stranger at the door of our outer life about to break everything apart and leave; a pilgrim suddenly more in love with the horizon than its home; and most disturbingly, someone who is willing to fail, often spectacularly, at their own life rather than succeed drably, at someone else’s.
Spring Thoughts © David Whyte April 2015

Search the Darkness by Rumi

Search the Darkness
Sit with your friends, don’t go back to sleep.
Don’t sink like a fish to the bottom of the sea.
Surge like an ocean, don’t scatter yourself like a storm.
Life’s waters flow from darkness.
Search the darkness, don’t run from it.
Night travelers are full of light, and you are too:
don’t leave this companionship.
Be a wakeful candle in a golden dish,
don’t slip into the dirt like quicksilver.
The moon appears for night travelers,
be watchful when the moon is full.
~~Rumi

Thoughts about Incarnation……by Adyashanti

The incarnation is nothing more than a thought. A thousand incarnations are but a thousand thoughts. And this amazing miracle of a mirage we call the world reappears as it was before, but now you know. That’s why you usually have a good laugh, because you realize that all your struggles were made up. You conjured them up out of nothing—with a thought that was linked to another thought, that was then believed, that linked to another thought that was then believed. But never could it have been true, not for a second could it have actually existed. Not ever could you have actually suffered for a reason that was true—only through an imagination, good, bad, indifferent. The intricacies of spiritual philosophy and theologies are just a thought within Emptiness.
– Adyashanti

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