Posts Tagged ‘Living in the Moment’

Parenting with Mindfulness

August 28, 2013 10 comments

My sweet boys

My sweet boys

A few weeks ago I was up all night with my newborn John. I had an extremely busy day planned, and no matter what i tried, he refused to go to sleep. As the hours ticked away, I could feel myself grow increasingly frustrated. I really wasn’t in the mood for this, I really didn’t have time for this, I really needed sleep so that I could go to work and be productive… Then it hit me. This will pass, and very quickly. Too quickly…

Obviously John wasn’t feeling well, and he was depending on me for comfort and care. While we were apparently getting our signals mixed, he still needed me, and I needed to let go of being frustrated. While I don’t relish sleepless nights with newborns, it seems like just yesterday I was on the alternating night shift routine with my wife, so that we could watch and take care of our oldest son Jase… and Jase started school two weeks ago.

I remember with Jase I couldn’t wait for his next stage of development. I couldn’t wait until he slept all night, I couldn’t wait until he ate solid food, could crawl, walk, be potty-trained, etc. Looking back, most of my anticipation seemed to be driven by more than a dash of selfishness. Once he slept all night, so could I. When he could crawl and then walk, I wouldn’t have to carry him everywhere. Eating solid foods meant I wouldn’t have to constantly prepare and clean bottles. Once potty-trained, I no longer had to check and change diapers every few hours. To say that children grow up too quickly may seem like a cliche, but just looking back over the past 4-1/2 years of Jase’s life, I can tell that it is true.

It is easy to practice mindfulness (the practice of being fully present in each moment), during slow times, meditation, or while conducting a relaxing activity; however, I think that mindfulness is especially important when interacting with our children, no matter how young or old. By being fully present in the moment, we are fully present in life. By being fully present as a parent, we are fully present in our children’s life, which is the most important thing we can do, because only then can we fully interact with our children the way that parents should. Parenting can be tiring and frustrating, but it really is the most important job we have, because our children are mirrors that reflect the lessons and general environment that we provide for them. Our parenting also has a definite impact on the type of adults that our children will grow to be. Will they be impatient, and quick to anger, or will the be kind and understanding? Read more…

Make Today Meaningful

February 28, 2012 14 comments

Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.”- H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama

Too often I find myself falling into the “just get it over with” mentality trap. Usually this occurs on Mondays, or whenever I have a daunting project/task to accomplish. The problem with this mentality is that it pulls me out of living in the now, it causes me to not enjoy the present moment, and the wonderful experience of actually “living”.

When I fall into this mentality I basically go on auto pilot, which allows negative (counter-productive) thoughts and emotions to gain a foothold in my psyche. Once this begins to occur, it is easy to allow those negative thoughts and emotions to snowball into a myriad of negative mental states. Read more…

Be a Good Ancestor Today

My Son and I reading on my Nook Color

Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors

– Jonas Salk (Developer of the first Polio Vaccine)

Recently I have ran across several blogs, topics, books, podcasts, etc., promoting the message, “Be a Good Ancestor Today”. While it appears that the message originates from the above quote by Dr. Salk, the message has recently been popularized by the World Wildlife Fund, Dr. Judith Rich, Samantha Power, as well as various other authors and academics.

The central message of this theme/movement is that we must undertake actions that will ensure that future generations, our kids, grand-kids, etc., enjoy a healthy society and environment. While this might seem opposed to a “living in the now” mentality, it is not. While a living in the now mentality involves enjoying and fully experiencing each moment of life to the fullest (Zen Buddhism has excellent teachings on this), it certainly does not mean that we should undertake actions which are selfish, or harmful to others. To the contrary, we each have a duty to make sure that others are not harmed by our actions. We should always seek to help, but take care to never harm or negatively influence others. Future generations should look back on our life, and find it worthy of emulation. Read more…

Rolling With the Punches of Life

August 3, 2011 1 comment

It is inevitable that life will throw us curve-balls. Sometimes living in the now is painful because the present moment is not pleasant. However, it is important to not let the curve-balls of life bring us down more than necessary, we must learn to roll with the punches of life. Read more…

The Importance of Love, Compassion, and Kindness

During the first day of teachings that preceded the Kalachakra, H.H. The Dalai Lama, gave what amounted to a comparative religion lecture. One of the keys to his lecture was the fact that the attributes of love, compassion, and kindness are central tenants of every world religion. Every world religion teaches these attributes because they will not only have a positive influence on yourself and those around you in this life, but they will also benefit you in whatever awaits each of the death of our physical body.

Unfortunately, too often in our technological world, these attributes are lost, because most interaction occurs without any real face-to-face interaction with one another. This makes it is easy to become disconnected with the fact that the person on the other end of the phone line, or on the other side of the internet connection is a person, just like you. These disconnected interactions allows us to feel okay about treating someone poorly, or even in an outright hateful manner. Read more…

Basic Spirituality

When most people think of a “spiritual person” they usually think of some sort of New Age guru, a hippie, a or a die-hard fundamentalist of one creed or another. Unfortunately this imagery has turned many people off of spirituality, because they don’t want to be thought of as “that person”, or have to answer to a particular religious group or creed. In reality, “spirituality” is not the exclusive realm of any one religion, or any of the aforementioned stereotypical practitioners. There are truly spiritual people who go to church, mosque, synagogue, satsang, etc. at every opportunity, and there are those who never attend any formal religious function.

Oftentimes, so-called spiritual people, also make spirituality seem overly difficult and dogmatic. This is ironic because many self-styled spiritualists began their own personal spiritual path by leaving very rigid and dogmatic religious systems.

Without using any New Age or religious buzzwords, spirituality at its most basic level is about discovering who “you” truly are, which means discovering the divine (created by God) soul that resides in each of us, and bringing your thoughts and actions in-line with your true nature, which is love and joy. Read more…

You Really Can’t Take it With You

April 28, 2011 1 comment

“Nothing can be taken with us but the seeds of our life’s work and our spiritual knowledge” – H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama

One of the main ways to “rank” a society is to look at how much its citizens spend. Therefore, the more citizens spend on new clothes, homes, cars, electronic gadgets, etc. the stronger the economy and society are viewed to be. Therefore, in order to appear to be successful, or as somehow superior, you must always be a part of the newest trend, which cuases you to constantly accumulate more and more. This has led to a disposable consumer culture where you are encouraged to solely focus on the material world, and always desire the newest and greatest, or something bigger and more expensive. While this sort of mentality may be good for advertising and consumer product companies, it does not lead to a stable and happy society, or to stable and happy individuals.

The main problem with a disposable consumer culture on a societal level is that it can cause whole societies to have narcissistic qualities. Basically, as long as “we” (our country, society, or group) get what we want, then we don’t care who or what gets harmed in the process. For example, society “says” that the environment needs protecting, yet very few individuals are willing to cut back or make the necessary sacrifices to make a meaningful difference. Also, society “says” that human rights are important, yet governments around the world turn a blind eye to countries that exploit human rights, as long as it is economically or politically expedient to do so. Just to give one example of this hypocrisy, the U.S. has maintained a trade embargo against the nation of Cuba since 1960, and will continue to do so until the Cuban government moves towards “democratization and greater respect for human rights”; however, the U.S. has maintained constant relations with China, even though China is also a Communist country, whose government has proven time and time again to have far less respect for human rights than the Cuban government. Read more…

The Power of “Why?”

April 19, 2011 1 comment

Most people are familiar with the stage that children go through, where they ask endless questions, and every answer is followed by the question of “Why?”. Children go through this stage because it allows them to explore the world around them,  and make meaningful connections with the new knowledge they are gaining. As adults, we seem to stop asking “why?” and become comfortable with “it just is”. The “it just is” attitude can lead to stagnation in your personal and spiritual life, because instead of exploring yourself and the world around you, you become complacent and simply accept what you have been taught or conditioned to believe.

However, if you were accused of some sort of crime, I am relatively sure that you would not be so complacent, you would demand answers, proof, you would start asking “why?”. In the same way it is important to live your life by contemplating and asking “why?” about all matters in your life, including personal and spiritual matters. You must not only ask why, but you must explore the reasoning behind your response, then question your response, continue to repeat this process until you get to the root of your beliefs. Read more…

Enjoying the Small God Moments

April 12, 2011 1 comment

I do not claim to be any kind of spiritual teacher or guru, I am merely a seeker of truth. However, from time to time I have people who approach me for personal/spiritual advice. One of the questions that I am often asked is “where is God?”. Usually the individual says that they have been going to church, meditating, praying, studying scripture, etc. for x number of months or years, but that they have never really felt God, or at least they haven’t felt God in a long time.

Some of us are probably familiar with the “spiritual high” that is felt after some sort of church camp, spiritual retreat, meditation experience, etc. where you have such a profound experience that you literally feel as if you could reach out and touch God. Usually this feeling lasts for a few days, or maybe even a few weeks, until it slowly starts to fade away, leaving you yearning for another direct experience.

Others who have never had a spiritual high continually seek this magical and profound moment, and become disheartened when they have not experienced such an event. These people tent to jump around from spiritual practice to spiritual practice, and when the current practice does not quickly give them what they are looking for, they quickly move to another practice. Read more…

Coming to Terms with the Past in Order to Enjoy the Now.

When thinking about the past, most people tend to dwell on the negative, instead of focusing on the positive things in their past. For example, when I used to look back on my undergraduate days, instead of thinking about how I met my wife, achieved in school, had many pleasurable experiences, etc. In the past I tended to think about the rigors of balancing my education with having to work night shifts at a 7-Eleven to pay for my school and expenses. Until recently, when I thought about law school, instead of focusing on the achievement of a goal, having a child, and the good friends that I made, I tended to think about the long hours of studying and how much I hated the Socratic method when I was the one being called out for questioning in front of 100 people in a class room. I recently had a close friendship dissolve, and instead of focusing on the positive aspects, and what I learned from him, I catch myself focusing on the bad circumstances surrounding the dissolution of the friendship.

Focusing on the negative aspects of our past is detrimental to our spiritual progression, as well as our enjoyment of the now. By focusing on negative experiences in the past we are wasting our time and energy on things that cannot be changed, they are merely ghosts in the ether of time. While exploring our past, and coming to terms with it is an essential part of spiritual development, you should take care to only use your past in a constructive way. If you are constantly filled with regret or anger because of past decisions or experiences, you should  forgive yourself or whomever caused the pain, which will release the power the memory has over you. Use the past as a learning lesson on how you can be a better person today, and not repeat the mistakes which led to the painful memory to begin with. Read more…

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