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Zen Moments


This is my twenty-sixth (and final!) post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I have tried to post a point of reflection or insight that I used to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I attempted to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lent itself to interesting insights and growth, because I not only had several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but I also had several days to put any lessons and insights that I discovered to work in my every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I tried to write updates as the weekly topics came up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

My son Jason and I enjoying an OKC Thunder game!

My son Jason and I enjoying an OKC Thunder game!

Z= Zen Moments: Zen moments are moments, often unexpected, of mental and/or spiritual clarity and insight. Zen moments are the times in our life where clarity and insight breaks through the mental and spiritual clouds that can build up during every day life. These moments can happen at any time, but some of my most profound insights and experiences have occurred somewhat out of the blue after I have been ruminating on a seemingly endless topic for quite some time, or when I just take a random moment out of my day to relax, meditate, or reflect.

I have also experienced several of these moments out of the blue with my wife or son, where their laughter, a smile, or a simple hug blissfully places me smack-dab in the here and now, where I cannot help but relish in the beautiful simplicity of the moment. During these moments, the mental clutter and buzz of normal life fades away, and living in the now, is truly blissful.

Some may see moments such as these as a distraction, or even a possible anchor for attachment; because after all, bliss-hunting or bliss-seeking can easily lead one to fall into a never-ending trap of attachment, seeking, depression, and even addiction. However, these moments of clarity, insight, and general bliss, really help to keep me going on my spiritual path. Life isn’t about asceticism, where the one who gives up the most wins the most, the Buddha tried that method and failed miserably. Life should be embraced and enjoyed. Life should be blissful, peaceful, and serene. Read more…

Your Amazing Worth

March 25, 2013 2 comments

This is my twenty-fifth 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 Jason loves a good fire!

My son Jason loves a good fire!

Y= Your Amazing Worth: I’ve mentioned in several previous posts that most suffering is caused by ignorance and attachment. I also believe that suffering is caused when we don’t realize our own amazing worth. Now as a point of clarification, when I refer to “suffering”, I’m not necessarily only talking about mental anguish, I’m also referring to general unhappiness, the nagging feeling of being unsatisfied, or anything that gets in your way of being truly happy.

When we don’t realize our self-worth, we naturally search for happiness from external sources. Seeking happiness from external sources is guaranteed to constantly fail and lead to disappointment, because no one will ever be the perfect friend or the perfect partner, no job will always be perfect, possessions will eventually break or go out of style, etc. Therefore, when your happiness or feelings of well-being are tied to external sources you are setting yourself up for a vicious cycle of disappointment.

This is why the Buddha, in his Four Noble Truths, taught that suffering is caused by attachment (craving), and that in order to end suffering (dukkha), one must end attachments to material possessions and the external world in general. This is also why Jesus taught to reject materialism (Matthew 6:19), and that one cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24), you must choose to love God (and your true-self), or money (materialism), you cannot do both.

Every human being is an amazing creature, our bodies are made up of stardust, and we are animated by the divine spark of life from the Creator. The divine spark of life is what unites us with the Creator, and the rest of creation. We are each more precious than any gem, precious metal, or possession in the world. When we realize this fact, the draw of materialism begins to fall away, and the stresses and bumps in the road of life don’t appear to be so drastic.

Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and the stars mirrored in your own being.” – Rumi

In order to be truly happy, we must learn our true value, and live life to the fullest, live in the now, so that we can fully utilize all that is the mystery, the wonderful experience, of life. Read more…

X-Factors in Life

February 18, 2013 4 comments

This is my twenty-fourth 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.

(c) Shelby Hurst Photography 2010

(c) Shelby Hurst Photography 2010

X= X-Factors in Life: Life is full of X-Factors, which are circumstances and events that seem to arise out of nowhere, yet have the ability to dramatically change outcomes in our lives, for good or for ill. As discussed in the previous installment of this series, Welcoming Change, life is full of unexpected events, and twists and turns. X-Factors are the unexpected events in life, that present forks in the road of life. In order to realize when an X-Factor has presented itself, one must not be so attached to the ways things “seem to be”, or “should be”, that they lose sight of the way things truly are.

X-Factors may be something as simple as randomly meeting someone, whom if you would get to know could have a dramatic impact on your future career, spiritual path, and/or become a lifelong friend. An X-Factor may be a career opportunity, perhaps one that may seem negative at first (laid off, demotion at work, etc.), but ends up opening new doors and opportunities. Perhaps it is the end of a friendship or a relationship, where you rediscover your own strength and self-worth. In one of my own cases, perhaps it is a health issue, which reminds you to take better care of yourself physically.

While learning to roll with the waves of life is an essential skill to learn, learning to harness the power of those waves, and use them to your benefit, can be an extremely useful skill. In some of the aforementioned examples, an X-Factor may present itself, yet if you were stuck in an artificial or negative view of the present, you may interpret them as useless/meaningless, or even as a wholly negative experience. However, if you have learned to harness X-Factors, even ones that appear negative at first, you can turn them into powerful life changing experiences. Read more…

Welcoming Change

January 28, 2013 9 comments

This is my twenty-third 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 Jase playing in the snow with his Uncle Shelby! (c) Shelby Hurst Photography 2012. http://www.shelbyhurstphotography.com/

My son Jase playing in the snow with his Uncle Shelby! (c) Shelby Hurst Photography 2012. http://www.shelbyhurstphotography.com/

W= Welcoming Change: Well the time has come to welcome in the new year, and with it a new year of opportunities, and a new year of changes. Already this year I have lost my grandfather and had a bout with the flu. However, I have also had positive changes, because I have started making significant progress towards living a healthier life, and in a few short weeks my wife and I should be finding out whether or not we will be having another little boy or a little girl in July!

While the changes thus far haven’t all been pleasant, changes are a part of life. Too often , we get comfortable in the status quo, and when any changes come our way we resist them. We even tend to resist changes that have the ability to affect positive changes. However, life is in a constant state of change and flux. Therefore, we can either learn to live in harmony with the flow of life (Wu Wei in Taoism), or we can continually oppose change in our life. The constant stream of life is like a river in constant motion. One can learn to flow with the stream of life, or one can oppose it, and just as a river will eventually wear down even the mightiest boulder, life will eventually wear down an individual that opposes its natural flow.

The great Tao flows everywhere.

All things are born from it, yet it doesn’t create them.

It pours itself into its work, yet it makes no claim.

It nourishes infinite worlds, yet it doesn’t hold on to them.

Since it is merged with all things and hidden in their hearts, it can be called humble.

Since all things vanish into it and it alone endures, it can be called great.

It isn’t aware of its greatness; thus it is truly great.

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 34 (Stephen Mitchell Translation)

 

If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to.

If you aren’t afraid of dying there is nothing you can’t achieve.

 

Trying to control the future is like trying to take the master carpenter’s place.

When you handle the master carpenter’s tools, chances are that you’ll cut your hand.

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 74 (Stephen Mitchell Translation) Read more…

Virtuous Living

December 17, 2012 2 comments

This is my twenty-second 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 Flickr Creative Commons, and Photopin.com: http://www.flickr.com/photos/36821100@N04/3896331106/(c) Aristocrats-hats 2009

Used with permission from Flickr Creative Commons, and Photopin.com: http://www.flickr.com/photos/36821100@N04/3896331106/
(c) Aristocrats-hats 2009

V= Virtuous Living:  Living a virtuous life, a life of high moral and ethical standards, seems to be a rarity in today’s fast paced, and often disconnected world. More often than not, we tend to commend people on their conquests, rather than on their morals and ethics. In many ways virtue goes against the flow of modern life, because it requires one to focus on the means, rather than just on the ends. Virtue requires one to take into account the feelings and needs of others, rather than focus solely on one’s own desires. Virtue also requires one to keep their word, and live in a manner that garners and deserves the trust of others.

Virtue is an essential element for anyone on the spiritual path,  because virtue embodies the concepts of unconditional love and charity that all religions teach. Virtue is also essential for anyone wanting to live a happy and fulfilled life, because one who lives a virtuous life will enjoy less internal conflict, and garner closer and more meaningful relationships with family members, friends, co-workers, and even strangers.

In order to practice virtue, you must first learn to control your mind, because the mind is the root of all thoughts and actions. You must learn to control your mind in a manner that will garner positive thoughts, and empathy towards others. While it would be nice to simply say that you only need to suppress unvirtuous thoughts, it can be more complicated than that. In order to cultivate virtue, you must undertake a good bit of introspection, and when unvirtuous thoughts come to the surface, you must be able to discover and deal with the root cause of those thoughts. At times it is also helpful to simply reflect on a situation before acting, so that you can undertake the most virtuous action possible.

To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.” -The Buddha Read more…

Unplugging from Technological Chaos

November 19, 2012 6 comments

This is my twenty-first 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.

Last sunrise before breaking camp!

U= Unplugging from Technological Chaos: I am often amazed at the amount of general noise that is present in modern life. It seems that almost every moment of my life is filled with electronic noise that seems to be constantly vying for my undivided attention. My iPhone is constantly alive with various buzzes, dings, and chirps (The ringtone of which I have changed to crickets, to make it a bit less raucous), which notifies me of the arrival of emails, Facebook, Twitter, or text messages. Television programs are interrupted every 10 minutes or so with loud and flashy commercials, which all seem to try and convince me that I am either inadequate and am in need of fixing, or that I need to spend more money, and more often than not a combination of the two, all the while seemingly trying to throw me into a light and sound bombardment induced seizure. 😉

Because of the noise saturation and general hectic pace of modern life, the chaos caused therefrom can seem to just be a natural part of modern life. However, there is increasing evidence that the fast paced and noise polluted environment of modern urban and suburban life, is actually damaging to our health. Several studies have shown that noise pollution can cause our stress hormones, and other stress induced physical responses such as heightened blood pressure, to increase dramatically. As the stress responses increase, we can become constantly anxious, nervous, distracted, and even depressed.

In short, the chaos caused by the constant buzz of technology, can cause us to be physically and mentally unhealthy.

I think the extent of noise pollution, and the almost instant relaxation associated with unplugging from the constant buzz, became clearer to me during and after my recent trip to Colorado, where the remoteness of our camp meant very limited cell phone service. At first, the lack of technological connectivity seemed very odd and almost eery. How on earth was I going to manage without being able to constantly keep tab of my social media accounts and my email listservs?!

After a few days of withdrawal, I began to thoroughly enjoy the sense of connectivity with life that is so often hard to achieve with the constant buzz of modern life. Mindfulness was no longer something I had to necessarily strive for, or constantly remind myself to re-engage with, because without technology, my morning coffee and breakfast were enjoyed without interruption, the crunch of snow beneath my feet, and the bite of a cold wind and snow was fully felt, and the smells, sights, and sounds of the mountains were fully experienced. Read more…

Trusting Others

November 12, 2012 2 comments

This is my twentieth 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.

Sorry for the long overdue post, I have been on a rather long vacation in Colorado with no internet access. Although I was unable to post, I must admit that the lack of cell phone or internet access, meant that there were few distractions, which was very refreshing! Also, when I returned from my trip I was slammed at work, so I have been working like crazy to get caught back up… so enough about my lack of productivity… here we go!

My son wasn’t too sure about trusting me that the rope ladder was safe…

T- Trusting Others: All too often we tend to distrust people more than we should. Distrust of others seems to be something that develops in our pre-teen years, and naturally carries over into our adult lives. While there are certainly people that cannot be trusted, we must be careful to not cast all people as being unworthy of our trust. Mistrust of others can lead to myriad of negative attitudes and beliefs, which only serve to harm our own mental and emotional well-being, as well as the well-being of others.

You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment unless you trust enough.”  ~Frank Crane

I think we may safely trust a good deal more than we do.”  ~Henry David Thoreau

Developing close and meaningful relationships with others, both in our personal and professional lives, can be a vital component in living a happy and fulfilled life, and often the various relationships that we develop in our various walks of life, can help us in numerous and often unexpected ways.

In our professional lives, the relationships we develop can not only help us in surprising ways as our careers develop, and even change, but they make the work days much more enjoyable. Enjoying your work environment, and having personal relationships with those you work with, is very important since most of us un-retired folks spend the majority of our waking hours at work. I have worked at numerous jobs, and I can certainly say that the jobs where the employees liked one another, and enjoyed eachother’s company, were much more enjoyable, and much more productive places to work.

In our personal lives friendships can help us in the good times and the bad by lending us a helping hand, engaging in fellowship with us, and being a confidant when necessary. I can say that I am blessed to have good friends, who are like family to me, they have been there for the birth of my son, (in fact some of them beat my actual family to the hospital!), and all of the good times and the bad, always willing to lend a hand or raise a pint in celebration.

There comes a point in a relationship when you realize that you trust someone enough to let them keep their secrets.”  ~Robert Brault Read more…

Spending Time in Soothing Spaces

October 8, 2012 4 comments

This is my Nineteenth 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.

The Cigar Lounge- My absolute favorite room in the Guthrie Scottish Rite Temple

S= Soothing Spaces: The spaces that we live and interact in have a great deal of impact on our moods, emotions, and general well being. If we live or work in cluttered spaces, feelings of being overwhelmed or disorganized will likely result. In the same vein, if we live or work in bleak spaces, feelings of inadequacy, stress, and even hopelessness may result. On the other hand, pleasing spaces that are warm and inviting, or pleasing natural environments, can drastically boost our mood, as well as our mental and physical well being. I know that this may seem out of place in regards to my more insightful posts in this series, but making spaces tidy, warm, and inviting, can do so much to boost mental health and general well being, that it is worth taking some time to explore.

Here are five steps that can be easily implemented to create soothing spaces:

1. Keep spaces tidy: This should go without saying, because as mentioned above, cluttered or dirty spaces can wreak havoc on our emotional well being. First, cluttered spaces cause our physical and visual senses to go into overdrive, because our minds instinctually seek order, so the more chaos and disorder that is present, the harder your mind has to work to make sense of the mess. Also, untidy spaces cause you to work harder and be less productive, because you have to search for items that you need.

2. Add Plants: Some of the people at my office swear that my office looks more like a greenhouse than an office. Studies have shown, that people who have plants in their work spaces are happier, more productive, more creative, and in general more satisfied with their jobs. There are a wide variety of indoor plants, that will grow in just about any lighting condition. To find a plant that works for your lighting environment, check out: This page from Gardening Know How.

3. Add Pleasing Scents: Science has proven that scents can dramatically effect our thoughts and emotions. By placing invigorating scents in our work spaces, we can become more mentally alert. Placing warm and inviting scents in our home is always a good idea (baking smells seem to always be popular, but may make you hungry). And incense is always appropriate for meditation or reflection spaces. Read more…

Reintegrating With Our True-Self

October 1, 2012 5 comments

This is my eighteenth 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 Flickr Creative Commons, and Photopin.com: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paullew/2852672177/

R= Reintegrating With Our True-Self: In Psychology reintegration involves the unification of the various subparts of the psyche into a balanced and harmonious state. According to most psychological models, the human psyche is composed of various conscious and unconscious subparts, all of which fight for control of our conscious awareness. If these various subparts are not explored and reintegrated into a balanced state, various forms of psychosis may result.

The Swiss psychologist Dr. Carl Jung (1875-1961), who founded the field of analytical psychology, believed that reintegration, which he referred to as “Individuation“, was an absolutely necessary process for every human being. According to Dr. Jung, we are each born with a sense of wholeness, or completeness; however, as we grow out of childhood, our sense of wholeness is lost, due to various repressed memories, life events, societal expectations, etc. Therefore, for Jung, the process of Individuation (reintegration), involved exploring, correcting, and unifying the various subparts of the psyche, so that we can regain our sense of wholeness, which is our true-self.

While the science of psychology is a relatively new field, the various religions and spiritual traditions have long dealt with the process of reintegration. Most of the world religions, especially the Abrahamic religions, have a creation story that involves a peaceful beginning at the dawn of creation; however, each of these stories also involves a story regarding the fall of man. In the Abrahamic religions, there is the story of Adam and Eve, who originally dwelt in the Garden of Eden; however, after eating the forbidden fruit of knowledge, they were cast out of the garden by God. The creation myths closely mirror Dr. Jung’s theory, where we are each born with a sense of wholeness, which is basically a psychological garden of Eden; however, as we grow and develop we are cast out of the proverbial garden, and separation occurs. Read more…

Question Everything In Order to Find Truth

September 17, 2012 8 comments

This is my seventeenth 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.

Q= Question Everything In Order to Find Truth: The only real way to find Truth is to question everything. This is true in our daily lives in the external world, as well as in our inner spiritual and psychological development. Questioning allows us to truly explore and examine a topic, a situation, our beliefs, and even our prejudices in a thorough manner, which can lead to surprising insights and positive changes.

In our external lives, we should always seek to question and verify the things that our political leaders, news sources, and especially social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) tells us. I can’t begin to even calculate the amount of misinformation, contextual exaggerations, and even outright lies and hoaxes that circulate on a weekly basis in digital news sources, and especially in social media sites like Facebook. What is really sad, and disheartening, is that almost all of this disinformation can be proven to be false, with a simple Google search; however, people are too eager to buy into the misinformation, to take a few seconds to verify the authenticity.

I have been especially saddened by the amount of disinformation being slung around in the current U.S. presidential race. While “truth” always appears to be a relative term in elections, truth seems to be a precious commodity in this election. Whether or not you like a candidate (or anyone in your regular life), if you have to start making stuff up, or relying on half-truths to justify your position, then your position stinks and needs to be reevaluated. Regardless of what side you are on, when a top presidential campaign aide defiantly states that, “we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers” – Neil Newhouse , which is in essence, “we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by truth”, you should have cause for pause.

Read more…

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