Busting Buddha’s Knees

October 12, 2012

It was not one of my finer moments. Eyeing the soft, dry grass, I knew it was a now-or-never moment to whip out the lawn mower for the final cut of the season.

In between phone calls, I raced around the house, collecting the extension cord and my tennis shoes for a quick jaunt around the yard with our electric mower. I read Buddha, power of slow, slow living, slow movementsomewhere that grass clippings act as a natural fertilizer so I opted to mow without the clipping basket, making the mowing experience a tad louder and messier.

That’s when my neighbor decided to say hello through the hedge. In my breathlessness, I waved her off, although I hadn’t seen her all summer.

“Things to do!” I shouted over the mower’s drone.

“That’s right,” she said flatly. “You never have time.”


How could this be? Did I really give my retired neighbor the feeling I never have time for a chat over the fence? Did she feel slighted because I wouldn’t turn off my mower and have a gab in the light of the setting sun?

Maybe she heard the ticking of the clock in my cranium. I was busy and gave her the feeling she wasn’t important.

Back at the task, I sloppily pushed the mower around for a few minutes until our tiny lawn had been slaughtered into a diminutive version of itself.

As I flew back into the house, I caught the extension cord on the pedestal where my Buddha statue placidly rests. He tumbled to the ground, leaving a dent in the wood floor and shattering his right knee.

It was a sign that I needed to slow down. Now.

In that moment, I knew what I had to do. I headed back outside and called out to my neighbor.

“Where have you been, my friend?” I asked her calmly. She smiled. A warm exchange ensued. She suddenly felt heard, important, loved. It made me smile from the inside out.

I’m sorry, Buddha, for shattering your knee in the process. But since my mom saw the Dalai Lama live last night, I hope you’ll forgive me.

It’s a lesson I hope I’ve learned for the last time.


“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” ~Aristotle

A few weeks ago I read a book by Google’s self-proclaimed Jolly Good Fellow, Chade-Meng Tan, aptly entitled Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace).

Before you groan, “Not another self-help book whose content I’ll forget the minute I click off here…” hear me out. This book is based on an actual mindfulness training course given internally at Google. That the author has a quirky sense of humor makes it all the more enjoyable to read his work. Plus it has lots of pictures that made me laugh.

But on to mindfulness! Do you want to feel a natural high? Then read on.

The most memorable exercise for me was the Just Like Me/Loving Kindness Exercise adapted from Buddhist meditation practice. The objective is to increase your compassion and kindness, which thereby raises your own happiness level and, most likely, that of others too. It goes something like this:

Get into a comfortable position (I found sitting cross-legged to work well because lying down inevitably put me to sleep). Take two minutes to breathe deeply and quiet your mind.

Now visualize someone in your life. Say to yourself: “This person has a body just like me. This person has a mind just like me. This person has feelings, emotions and thoughts, just like me. This person has felt disappointment, fear, hurt, pain and confusion, just like me.” You could go on for some time, saying various things you know you share with this person. Then you end it with “This person wishes to be happy, just like me.”

The Loving Kindness part of the meditation involves wishing the person well. For instance, “I wish this person to be free from pain, to experience joy, to be extremely happy. Because this person is a human being, just like me.”

End the session by resting your mind for one minute.

I have only done this exercise once, but I was ready to hug the world after I did it. The book is filled with powerful exercises like this one. And it does require that you search inside yourself for your own golden nugget. You know, that lovely jewel resting deep within that wants to shine.

My jewel is blue. What color is yours?

Life as a Meditation

June 18, 2012

For someone who’s often on the move, meditation is a hard thing for me to do. It’s no wonder the monks rest atop mountains to think, reflect and focus. It’s not easy down here on the ground for the rest of us!

The other day I was in exercise class, hoping that the teacher’s music would be inspiring to withstand an hour of power sweating. But before the music even began, I made the decision to find something inspiring in the kind of music she offered. So instead of relying on what I considered an external impulse for my happiness, I decided to be happy about whatever came. And you know what? I really liked it. It was an amazing mindshift from lack to abundance based on one decision.

It got me to thinking about meditation, mindfulness and gratitude, which are all rolled up into one neat ball of fuzzy compassion. What if we were to adopt a meditative spirit to everything we do?

The key is in harnessing your thoughts and really looking at them. If I had decided this particular teacher never provides great music (which I have been known to think in the past and yes! I was right. Funny how that works), I would have placed myself in the mindset to look for some way to be right about that too.

We can convince ourselves of anything, really. We can talk ourselves into and out of things as easily as putting on a pair of socks. But are we willing to look beneath what we are trying to convince ourselves ~to really see our ultimate truth?

Courtesy of http.//ldatd.on.ca

Taking on a meditative approach allows us to be open to what is really happening in the moment.

  • Feel the breeze on your hands and cheeks.
  • See the light slant through your window.
  • Hear the birds singing their song.
  • Taste your own courage…or fear.
  • Smell those roses.

Do all these things without judgement. They are neither good nor bad. They simply are. As you absorb them into your being, notice how your full acceptance sets you free. Without resistance you have entered the kingdom of your own self-made heaven.


The Power of Connection

September 29, 2010

Scientists have long agreed that people in community tend to live longer. In the Middle Ages the greatest punishment was to be rejected by the community, banished for eternity outside the city walls. The word excommunication really does mean just that: no longer in communication with others (or the Church, in the Catholic tradition).

If you follow Buddhist teachings, you will know that our greatest suffering comes from being disconnected from our true selves. We are, in a sense, excommunicated from the Source of All Things. So when I am in disharmony with others, I feel a deep disconnect from that Source.

It’s a jazzy feeling to be in deep communion with others because, in truth, we all stem from the same place. And while many of us live the Great Lie of being ‘outside’ the realm of our connection, we suffer as a result of this belief.

There is a reason why pure love feels the same for everyone. We are all one.

In his keynote speech last year at the Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment, Jim Carrey made a moving tribute to this connection. Since we all seem to believe celebrities more than even ourselves, take a look at what he has to say.

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Eileen Flanagan met via this blog. She kindly sent me her new release (available for pre-order now, out Spetember 17th) , The Wisdom to Know the difference: When To Make a Change and When to Let Go. It is a moving book with great insights about discernment and self-reflection. After all, how much of our time is spent worrying about that which we cannot change?

wisdomThe book offers real-life case studies of various people who have gone through life-altering experiences. While not all of us face the same challenges, we all face the same choice ~ to let go or hold on. Oftentimes it is not clear which path to take.

Eileen offers encouragement to seek out what is truly important to us. The second chapter, Knowing Yourself, resonated the most as it provides a framework for mindfulness. She quotes Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Nanh:

When you need to slow down and come back to yourself, you do not need to rush moe to your meditation cushion or to a meditation center in order to practice conscious breathing.

Or consciousness, for that matter. You can breathe consciously wherever you are.

Eileen goes on to say how parenting is an ‘extended course in mindfulness’ as young children constantly live in the ever present moment.

I highly recommend the book for its useful discourse about the choices we make and the challenges we seek. The wisdom in life is knowing the difference.