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Archive for August, 2012

Nourish Your Life

August 27, 2012 7 comments

This is my fourteenth post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

N= Nourish Your Life: I have noticed, that most people tend to focus on what we “have” to do in our lives, rather than the things that we “want” to do. Therefore a great deal of time and energy is spent on the mundane aspects of life, rather than on the things that bring us happiness and joy.

This can lead to the mentality of just “phoning it in”, or “going through the motions” when it comes to life. In order to prevent this, I have found it helpful to make sure that I set aside time each day for things that I want to do, things that nourish my life and bring me happiness, so that the mundane things don’t start taking over. I have basically tried to make the things I want to do, part of the things that I have to do, so that the things that bring me happiness don’t get pushed aside when life gets busy or hectic.

I have found that setting aside time for reading, writing, meditating, and spending time with friends and family, helps to keep me balanced and sane. These things bring me a sense of peace and joy in my life, and if I let them go when things get busy, my life quickly seems chaotic and unbalanced.

In addition to just enjoying life more and being happier, I have also found that by making time for the things that I enjoy doing, I can better focus on work and other tasks that I have to do, because I am more mentally and emotionally fresh, than I would otherwise be. Read more…

Mindful Living

August 20, 2012 5 comments

This is my thirteenth post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

Used with permission from Bramstone Photography (c) 2005, via Photopin.com and Flickr Creative Commons. http://www.flickr.com/photos/badboy69/2333409688/

M= Mindful Living: Mindful living (mindfulness) and living in the now really go hand-in-hand, and while many people may view them as being the same, and even use the terms interchangeably (myself included at times) I think there are some important differences. While living in the now, and mindfulness, both involve rooting your thoughts and emotions in the present, mindfulness involves much more focused attention on your physical sensations and emotional states moment-by-moment. For example, if I have a major deadline looming at work, living in the now would involve not allowing that deadline to become a stressor, and instead direct my focus and energy on remaining calm while working diligently on the project in a focused manner (all I can do is what I can do right now, if it can’t be done until tomorrow, then don’t worry about it). Mindfulness takes this a step further by directing your attention to your physical states, sensations, and emotions. Is my breath becoming rapid and shallow, am I starting to feel anxious, do my hands fill cold and clammy, are my head or neck muscles becoming tense?

Mindfulness requires a sort of constantly flowing, moment-by-moment examination of life, it requires you to direct your full attention on this very moment, the right here, right now. This can be difficult, because in today’s fast-paced technological world, we are constantly being bombarded with ringing cellphones, text messages, email alerts, television chatter, etc. This causes us to pay more attention to the external world, than we do on our own thoughts, sensations, and emotions. Mindfulness practice is extremely important, because it forces us to slow down, and keep our emotions and physical responses in check during stressful situations. Mindfulness also, allows us to really drink in and enjoy peaceful, relaxing, and joyous moments. Basically, instead of letting the “monkey mind” bounce our thoughts and emotions around like pinballs in the game of life, mindfulness forces us to slow down and truly “experience” life in all of the wonderful detail available to us. Read more…

Living in the Now

August 13, 2012 18 comments

This is my twelfth post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

My son enjoying a ride at the Oklahoma State Fair

L= Living in the Now: I was debating on whether or not to write a specific post on living in the now, because in a way it seemed like a cop-out, given that “Living in the Now”, is the name of this blog. However, it is a topic/subject that has become an integral part of my spiritual path, which is the reason that I chose to name by blog Living in the Now, so I guess it is about time that I wrote a specific post on the subject! 😀

As some of you may have already read in the About the Author section, my life used to always revolve around the next goal, or the next step in my life. I always thought that at the next stage in my life, or after the completion of my next goal, I would be truly happy. If only I could ace the next test or class, get married, get into law school, graduate from law school, find a good job, have a child, etc., I would surely be happy. However, each stage or step in my “master plan”, only brought temporary or momentary happiness, so I would once again firmly set my sights on the next goal or stage. Many people view this type of attitude as being a positive aspect of a “driven” or competitive person, and without a doubt if I wasn’t a naturally driven (stubborn) and fiercely competitive person, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. It would have been extremely easy for me to have become discouraged or given up during my undergraduate studies when I would work the night shift at a 7-eleven, go straight to my classes (1/2 asleep, headache, feeling nauseated), come home and study for 3-4 hours, sleep for 5-6 hours, and do it all over again. So perhaps having an ultimate goal and dream in mind helped me keep my nose to the proverbial grindstone, and push through. However, no matter how many scholastic and work related awards and accolades I achieved, even after getting into law school and landing a scholarship, I wasn’t happy, I was mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted, and I wasn’t always a pleasure to be around, as my wife can attest to.

I think the turnaround for me came after I ran into an old high school friend, who commented on how much I had achieved, and how happy I must be. I remember warmly smiling, and feeling a bit smug that i had in fact accomplished pretty much every goal that I had set for myself all the way back in middle school; however, I distinctly remember feeling an empty hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach. Sure, I had accomplished a lot of goals, and received numerous recognitions for my achievements, but I felt empty, I wasn’t happy, and I knew it, and there was no hiding from that fact. For the first time, I realized that I was desperately seeking the “something”, that Baruti mentioned in his guest piece last week, “Knowledge and Experience of Self“, but that I had been searching for it in all the wrong places. Read more…

Knowledge and Experience of Self

August 6, 2012 9 comments

This is the eleventh post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

This week is a little break from the norm, as this piece is written by my good friend and Masonic brother, Baruti KMT-Sisouvong. Baruti is truly one of the most enlightened, yet humble, people that I have ever met (he has even met Oprah), and his insights have never failed to inspire me, so I jumped at the chance to have him write a guest piece, because I know that his words will surely uplift and inspire others.

Used with permission from Flickr Creative Commons (Via Photo Pin.com). Artist: Sigfrid Lundberg

K = Knowledge and Experience of Self is the Greatest Gift One can give to one’s self, Family, Friends, Community, and the World.

In our very material society, there seems little consideration given to the underlying unity of all diversity. In a world that prizes the “toys” of the physical world the non-physical substrate, or self, is most often ignored. Unfortunately, the very act of ignoring this fundamental aspect of being a human, as articulated by philosophers, mystics, and sages throughout recorded human history, takes us further away from the very knowledge and experience which may prove of great benefit to all concerned.

In many of the texts and traditions of the many life-systems and/or religions the world over, and throughout time, we learn of an underlying or over-arching “something” which seems to be guiding the ship of human existence. Much like the rudder of an enormous sea worthy vessel, this “something” is unseen when we examine the surface of life alone; yet, this guiding force is ever-present. A simple dive below surface reality to the depths thereof reveals the silent and active presence of this “something.” Some traditions refer to this “something” as “The Source of All,” “God,” “The Field,” “The Force,” etc. In the grand scheme of things, the names employed to designate this “something” matters little. What seems to matter most is that this “something” has predominated human awareness and conscious activity from, seemingly, time immemorial.

As we consider this same “something” in relation to ourselves, it may dawn on us that the life each of us leads is based upon: 1) our knowledge, or lack thereof, of our self, 2) the world within which we find our self, and 3) how best to interact within and move through said world. In considering these three elements of lived reality, a few questions may arise. For example: “How have I come to be in this place?”, “In what ways am I creating my lived reality?”, “Am I making a contribution to others?, If so, what is it?”, “What is my experience of Life?” “Am I having a good time, overall?”  “If not, do I have the capacity to change my experience?” “If so, where do I begin?” Seeking to answer such questions, and many, many more like them will surely lead one to the doorstep of a new beginning. I submit to you, that seeking knowledge and experience of Self is a good place to begin your journey of conscious betterment.

Practically speaking, the question then arises “How does one gain knowledge of Self so as to imbue all that one thinks, speaks, and does with said knowledge?” There are many methods. Some are: deep study of the essence of modern and ancient teachings, prayer, the inner or sacred aspect of many martial arts, walking in a place where one is conscious of and absorbs the beauty of the One responsible for that into which humans are born, etc. In short, to reach that “something,” one may engage any activity which leads one to a space of no thought, thus allowing them to know the same and act from this fundamental basis. For my wife and I, we meditate. Specifically, we employ the ancient technique of transcending the relative world so as to experience the underlying unity of all physical phenomena; in some teachings it is, sometimes, referred to as “seeing the face of God.” As for our chosen technique, in this modern age, it is called “Transcendental Meditation” or TM for brevity.

While I cannot say, I have seen an actual “face” of the Divine, what I am able to report is that as I continue to experience the place, or space, of no thought and no sound, which has now become an ever-present presence, life is lived with great effect.  In short, since learning this particular technique from a Certified Teacher of Transcendental Meditation on 25 April 2008, my life has become better in innumerable ways. My thinking is clearer, my speech is more precise, and the ability to see into the essence of a situation is almost instantaneous, and many of my desires are fulfilled before they can be fully visualized or vocalized. Strange? Perhaps. Yet, since my wife has had similar experiences, these things have become commonplace for both of us. Additionally, I am more mindful of my thoughts and their effect on my speech and actions, and life’s serendipitous moments have increased to almost seem constant. In short, as a result of consistently transcending the relative world to experience the deepest aspect of my being, that “something,” I bring to all activity the knowledge and experience of Self.  With the knowledge and experience that there is something more and that this “something” is that underlying unity pervading all diversity, and is nothing but my self, for me, life becomes more spontaneously purposeful; in essence a greatly enhanced lived reality. Despite appearances to the contrary, each human has that spark, that Light, that “something” within; we must simply seek, locate, and employ It. The knowledge and experience of this “something” as existing within me and YOU has been a most profound reward of my/our seeking and is worthy of sharing; it may be said to be a Gift which will return dividends beyond measure. Read more…

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