Meditation

“The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self.

Our task must be to free ourselves; by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

 Albert Einstein, 1954

 

Meditation can move us closer to promoting compassion within ourselves and those that we touch.

Through meditation we become more responsible.  This responsibility lies in the balance we discover by unlocking the synergy of our mind….. our heart….. and our inner spirit. We propose that through a continued and ongoing dedication to a personal meditation practice, great strides are possible for ourselves, our relationships, our family, and our society.  It allows us to subdue the self.  It allows us to “just let go”.  In doing so, a remarkable thing happens.  We do not cease to be.  We do not lose control.  We do not lose self; instead we liberate it.  We find a beautiful place of peace, harmony, and balance.  We now frame the self within a much purer form of loving and nurturing energy.  We begin to see a clearer picture of the world and our place in it.  We learn the art of alchemy in converting passion into compassion.  Our decision making process then incorporates a powerful and far reaching wisdom.  We are in tune within a rhythm of life, our surroundings, and those we touch.

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”

 Dalai Lama

A great soul once responded when asked the question, “What is the most important time?” 

The response went somewhat as follows, “The most important time is this present moment.  It is the only time that we will ever have control of.  It is what we do in this present moment that determines the direction of our lives.”

We can use this time wisely and responsibly or we can diminish its value.  Remember this; the value of this present moment is colored by our deepest feelings and subsequent thoughts and desires.  Any decision in life will have their imprint.

 

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

John Lennon

 

Ask yourself these questions:

Who am I?

Where am I going?

How will I get there?

Who am I?  Where am I going?  How will I get there?

These very important questions take on a very different response when we open our heart to discover its secrets.  Through the act of quieting the mind, we allow the content resting deep within the heart to awaken.  When we contemplate our awareness and again ask these same questions after cultivating the heart, our responses are altered and given a much deeper meaning and significance.

 


 

 

 “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”

Lao Tzu

 A “loving kindness” meditation

After a long day, including some difficult personal encounters we tend to build stress within our bodies and our mind.  Our mind keeps going over the situations reviewing the negative pictures and the emotions attached.

Take the time to brew yourself a cup of tea, preferably green or herbal, sit down in a comfortable and quiet setting, alone by yourself.   

Sip your tea and inhale, filling the lungs while lowering the diaphragm with breath, enjoying the beverage.  Review the day, the good and the bad.  Continue enjoying the tea and the review.  After a few minutes…..close the eyelids…..

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the exhale…..say the word “listen” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the exhale…..say the word “observe” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the exhale…..say the word “value” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the exhale…..say the word “embrace” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the inhale…..say the word “I”….. then say the word “love” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

“I…….Listen”

“I…….Observe”

“I…….Value”

“I…….Embrace”

“I…….Love

Repeat the above, quietly feeling the impression of each word, surrendering to the emotional impact of each word and each breath.

After a few rounds, just say the word, “I” on the inhale and “love” on the exhale, surrendering to the ebb and flow of the breath.  Start to let the breath find its own rhythm without any personal effort.  Allow the breath to breathe you.  Surrender to its mastery of the moment itself.  Now is when the meditation begins.  Now is when we listen to the breath…..we listen to the awakened heart.  Do not be concerned when you find the mind begin to wander.  This is normal.  It’s what the mind does.  Gently bring the attention of the mind back to the breath, back to the mantra.  The mind is like a young excited child.  Be loving, kind, and gentle with it.  The words on the inhale and the exhale help to still and calm our mind.  The relationship between our awareness and our breath is our goal.  This relationship unlocks the secrets of our heart.  It is only when we subdue the mind can we discover what the heart has to say.  It is as if the mind is a like a pond that has stones cast into it relentlessly.  It is only when the stones are stopped that the surface of the pond finds its calm.  It is then that we can see the beauty hidden beneath its surface.  The breath will guide us.  The heart beckons us upon our journey.  We just need to listen, then observe, then value, and finally surrender and embrace what we find.  In this moment we are open to the very magic of the heart.  Rediscover, in the solitude of your being, the very private and special tenderness that goes before no other soul.  Let this place and this moment embrace you with its wonder.  Let the Love and Grace found within your being expand to every cell, every breath, and every moment.  Breathe Love – Be Love.   Let it last as long as you will.

Upon completion of this meditation, revisit the problems of the day with this affirmation:  “I let go….. I listen….. I love….. I forgive…..  My heart – My love, extends to all that I meet in loving kindness.” 

 What do we hear when opening our heart?

…..Listen to the silence.

What do we see when opening our heart?

…..Observe the stillness. 

What do we find when opening our heart?

…..Value the fullness of this moment.

What do we do when opening our heart?

…..Embrace this moment with the compassion of loving kindness.

Listen to the silence of a loving heart, observe the stillness of a loving heart, value the fullness of a loving heart, and then, embrace this special moment in time with compassionate courage, generosity, and humility born from loving kindness.

 I listen, I observe, I value, I embrace…….I am…….I love…….In thee, I am…….In thee, I love.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

Proverbs 4:23

The act of meditation has not the goal of gaining anything.  The purpose of meditation is to surrender, to release, to “let go”; to just listen and observe.  We then value and embrace what remains.

What do we find when we still our mind?

…..Love

 

“Our knowledge of God is perfected by gratitude: we are thankful and rejoice in the experience of the truth that He is love.”

Thomas Merton

When do you recall ever having taken the time to explore the depths of your own heart?

Will the discovery of the secrets lying dormant within your heart alter the direction of your life’s journey?  Have you ever wondered which fork in the road to take?  Have you done all the necessary preparation to make the choice valid?

May we extend this invitation to self examination.  

We are all given gifts at birth.  Discover them for yourself and their ultimate power for personal transformation.  Explore how their cultivation can add meaning to your life and the lives of those you touch.

“I always begin my prayer in silence, for it is in the silence of the heart that God speaks.  God is the friend of silence–we need to listen to God because it is not what we say but what He says to us and through us that matters.”

Mother Teresa


 

Practicing Mindfulness in Simple Tea Meditation by Path of Cha – pathofcha.com

PRACTICING MINDFULNESS IN SIMPLE TEA MEDITATION

Posted by Path of Cha on 

 
 
Many though there be,
Who with words or even hands
Know the Way of Tea.
Few there are or none at all,
Who can serve it from the heart.

— Sen no Rikyu

 

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN TEA AND MEDITATION 

When we speak of tea and meditation, the two words are almost inseparable. Many centuries ago when tea culture was being spread in the far east, it was not uncommon for Buddhist monks in Tibet to drink large quantities of pu-erh, and Zen monks in Japan to do the same with matcha in order to stay awake during long meditation hours. The small amounts of caffeine in the tea would provide just the right amounts of energy and tranquility.

Chanoyu, the Japanese tea ceremony, is inseparable from Zen meditation as it was greatly influenced by the Zen Buddhist monk Sen no Rikyu. He put emphasis on the concept of “ichigo ichie”, meaning “one time, one meeting”. This means that the current moment is fleeting and will never happen again. With this in mind, we are able to appreciate the beauty and impermanence of most experiences.

To learn more about the Japanese tea ceremony check out or article Simplicity and Seasonality in Japanese Tea Ceremony

Following the teachings which were once laid out by Sen no Rikyu, nowadays there exist many different tea schools in Japan where you can learn the proper way of brewing tea while at the same time practicing mindfulness and meditation.

These schools, however, often times have a strict and precise form of conduct. Not all of us are able to follow all the rules, and not all of us have the ability to study under a tea master.

This does not mean that we cannot practice mindfulness and tea meditation at our own pace in our homes.

The meditation is simple, and everyone can practice as long as they wish.

 

STEPS TO MINDFULLY PRACTICING TEA MEDITATION

 

  • Preparing the tea. Remember, everything should be done with complete mindfulness. Mindfulness means living each moment as if it is the last.
    It is good to clear your mind before starting the tea meditation. So, in reality, the tea meditation begins before we even pick up the tea leaves, before we boil the tea kettle.
    Clearing your mind is important so while you’re enjoying the tea you are not thinking of anything that may be bothering you or things you have to take care of during the day. You are dedicating a time only for yourself and the tea, and at this moment nothing else matters.
    It is important to pick a quality loose leaf tea which is pure and fresh. When boiling the water, make sure it is not contaminated, preferably filtered or bottled. 

  • Find a space to enjoy your tea. This could be any space, but dedicating it to the experience is essential. Many like to do their tea mediation in the same spot every time as with time it gets enriched with the energy of the meditation.For this same reason in Japan, small tea huts were dedicated precisely for the enjoyment of tea. These spaces were by no means big.

    Before the tea huts were entered, the guests would prepare themselves by taking off their shoes, washing their hands, and leaving all “outside” thoughts behind. Nothing else would go on in the tea huts except for the pure enjoyment of tea and the company of your guests. 

  • Take time to appreciate the tea. Connect with it. Imagine where it came from. Is it an oolong from Taiwan’s foggy mountain peaks? A pu-erh which has been patiently waiting in Yunnan’s soil for this moment over the past decade? Maybe a gyokuro from one of Fukuoka’s vibrant green tea gardens? Take time to acknowledge the steps that tea took to get to you. The work that went into the growth and the processing, as well as all the people involved. Don’t forget to acknowledge your own hard work for allowing you to be where you are now, enjoying this cup of tea. Give thanks.
  • Drinking the tea. This might be seen as the moment of culmination, but it does not exist without all the other steps you take. Without mindfulness how many subtle scents and tastes get unnoticed? The tea has a lot to offer.
    Be aware of your movements, your thoughts, the ways that you feel. Acknowledge it and let it go. Each moment is fleeting.
    Even if you follow the same steps to re-brewing this same tea tomorrow, it will never be the same. Appreciate this moment of drinking tea as if it is the only one you get. 

 

Tea meditation is simple and requires no prior knowledge of meditation practices. All you need is your desire to be in the present moment.

The meditation can be practiced for as little or as long as you want, any time of the day. It is really all up to you!

There is a tendency amongst people to get up in the morning feeling rushed to get somewhere. Why not try getting up a little earlier and dedicating the time for this simple tea meditation?

 

THE BENEFITS OF TEA MEDIATION

Tea meditation has been practiced for many centuries and has many benefits for our well-being. Some of these benefits are:

  • stress reduction
  • drinking tea regularly contributes to proper hydration, improves focus and concentration and helps to maintain a positive mood throughout the day (you can read our article on the health benefits of tea)
  • feeling of inner peace
  • the practice of gratitude which in itself brings happiness
  • the ability to be and enjoy the present moment
  • if you are practicing with friends or family, it brings a deeper connection to the people around you 

Drink tea and be happy!

The steps listed are only suggestions on how you can practice your tea meditation. Everyone has their own preferences and habits when it comes to the meditation. Is there any particular way in which you practice your tea meditation? Let us know in the comments below!

This article was inspired by the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.

 

To learn more about some of the benefits of practicing mindfulness check out this article by the iNLP Center.

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Fasting to Raise Vibration, Expand Consciousness … by Aspasia & openhandweb.org

Fasting to Raise Vibration, Expand Consciousness AND THRIVE!


Today we’re beginning a new forum thread in our Conscious Cafe exploring the power of fasting to raise vibration, expand consciousness and positively thrive in your life. In this lead post, I’m focussing on understanding the nature of fasting and how it relates to spiritual growth. Do feel free to ask questions and share.

Aspasia – Openhand Community Coordinator

Fast and see the strength of the Spirit reveal itself

Fasting is the first principle of medicine;
fast and see the strength of the Spirit reveal itself.

Rumi

It is that time of the year when a lot of people tend to embark on some type of ‘Spring cleanse’ protocol, either to feel lighter, or to feel more energetic or to deal with mild health issues. A couple of people I know are reporting on facebook about their journey with their chosen cleanse method sharing how much weight they have lost and how good they feel. Also, here on Openhandweb, ‘detox & rejuvenation fast’ was a hot topic back in 2007 when Open documented his 5-day cleanse regime. The topic was revisited again in 2013 and 2015 offering loads of info and graphic details on his 5-day protocol, which eliminated mucqoid plaque very effectively! Its really worth having a look here:

Open’s detox and rejuvenation fast

My personal experiences with some ‘cleansing’ diet protocols have included water fasting, intermittent fasting, mono-fruit cleanses, raw food detox, and juicing. Whilst exploring all these, I discovered that there are differences between a ‘detox’ diet, a ‘cleanse’ and a ‘fast’. For example, it is suggested that:

A ‘fast’: is the complete abstinence from food for 12 hours or more where only water is consumed – distilled or pure water strongly suggested and preferably in room temperature. Fasting is a natural dietary process that has existed in many cultures and traditions for millennia to treat health issues and to facilitate spiritual practice.

A ‘detox’: uses certain foods or/and herbal supplements to facilitate the natural process of elimination of toxins in the body (toxic substances from processed foods, pollutants, acidic foods etc) through the liver and kidneys. Often a detox is accompanied with enemas, tongue & nose cleanse, steam & saunas for more effectiveness.

A ‘cleanse’: involves the clearing and rebooting of the digestive system and detoxification organs in the body, while re-fuelling with optimum amount and quality of nutrients. Cleanse diets eliminate certain ‘trigger’ foods and add alkaline rich plant foods that regenerate the body cells.

“Back to the future” for Openhand, and I felt to invite attention and explorative discussion specifically to Fasting for better physical and mental health, for breaking addictions and for facilitating the unfolding and ‘burning’ of karmic processes. Fasting is an inherently natural response to food shortages, which we had to make back in the early days of humanity. We learnt to adapt as a way to survive, though I feel today fasting is a necessary response to ‘survive’ the effects of overconsumption, ingested pollutants and internalised toxicity in the environments we now live. Fasting as an ancient medical intervention in the modern world is becoming very popular and private medical health centres dedicated to fasting spring up all around the world. Scientific study on fasting protocols in humans is increasing and what many ancient cultures practised for centuries is now increasingly being backed up by research for its many health benefits and impressive physiological adaptations.

Autophagy – a natural process of the body to cleanse and repair itself

Autophagy is one of the key adaptations that take place during fasting – a natural process of the body to cleanse and repair itself – that does not happen when eating is involved. Autophagy (derived from Greek, meaning ‘eating oneself’) is basically a self-recycling process that breaks down and disintegrates cells to create new ones.

The Science section on The Telegraph online reported recently:

The researchers say fasting “flips a regenerative switch” which prompts stem cells to create brand new white blood cells, essentially regenerating the entire immune system. “It gives the ‘OK’ for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system,” said Prof Valter Longo, Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the University of California. “And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting.”

Dr Eric Berg ‘s video below on the physiological processes involved in Autophagy is simple, accessible and very informative, last about 4 minutes – have a look:

The amazing thing is that Autophagy is a process that takes place on the karmic level too. It is well documented in ‘spiritual’ circles that fasting ‘burns karma’. One often experiences increased sensitivity to energies and also deeper Samadhi states when combining fasting and meditation and as a result the surfacing of deep-seated emotional conditioning is accelerated.

(To understand the deep spiritual state of “Samadhi”, watch this Openhand video)

With increased clarity, strength of Mind and expansive awareness, karmic conditioning is felt through and moved more rapidly. When I used to do 10-day retreats with 11-12 hour meditation practice, I would have one small meal at 11 am and the rest of the time I drank only water. The fasting intensified the already intense meditation practice and I experienced the rapid purging of conditionings through the mind (in dreams and mental energy), through the emotional body and also the physical (pain, tightness, flu symptoms). At the end of the 10 days, I would feel immense expansiveness, presence, lightness and peace.

Ways to Fast and the benefits

Fasting involves abstaining from food and drinking only – as clean as possible/ideally distilled – water for at least 12 hours. Fasting protocols include drinking only water for one or more days and Intermittent fasting modalities.

When water is only consumed, full rest is advised and exercise or other stressors better be avoided. Longer fasts may need medical attention, especially if people are on medication.

Intermittent fasting modalities include:

Eating one meal a day and fast the rest of the day.
Eating for 6 or 8 hours and fasting the rest of the time. For example, starting to eat at 11am in the morning and having a last meal at 5pm or starting at 10.00am and having the last meal at 6pm. The eating and fasting windows can be moved according to ones needs and routine.

My personal exploration

Personally, I have tried all of the above protocols and currently, I do intermittent fasting most of the time. If there is a day when my eating window becomes longer for whatever reason, then I will come back to the protocol again the next day. I find this way of long term fasting suitable for my needs and for feeling healthy, vibrant and full of energy. It’s also a way to meet cravings as and when they arise and to process corresponding challenging emotions.

I also have a diet, which is 100% plant based and mostly whole foods (*See note below about the difference I feel there is between being vegan and having a plant diet). As a result, the discomfort that often is experienced with fasting protocols like headaches, excessive tiredness, dizziness etc is very very mild. Experts have reported that the more animal based, processed, sugar/salt and oil based diet one has more withdrawal symptoms of feeling unwell and ill. Similarly with medications. Therefore, to embark on a fast, one may need to first start a cleansing or detox program eliminating ‘trigger’ foods and feeding the body with vibrant plants foods for while.

Wholefood, plant based diet for optimal health, longevity and mental well-being

Dr Klapper, is one of the many medical doctors who advocates a wholefood, plant based diet for optimal health, longevity and mental well-being. He is also the cofounder of a health clinic in the US that offers fasting therapy that can last from a few days to forty. Here is a brilliant informative video where he explains in detail some of the reasons to fast, benefits and how to do it – it’s unmissable…

NOTE: Veganism is an awakening.
I wholeheartedly feel and believe that animals are right-deserving subjects/persons just like all humans are. Rather than merely a diet or an individual food ethic, veganism is a stance, which aims at eradicating the myth that animals belong in the consumption narrative. Put differently, eating animals and their bodily excretions is a systemic issue and not one dependent on personal ethics (there are no “bad” people in my books!). Would not allowing a black person to drink from the white man’s fountain be an ethical question or a stance to Rightness/Justice/Harmony? To me, veganism involves an embodied inquiry and a collective/individual karmic clearing process for re-aligning with universal Harmony and Soul and for creating/expressing a New narrative and a New Paradigm of deep Freedom and Love.

Wise love,

Aspasia Heart

Community

Comments

Profile picture for user Open

Thanks for your informative article Aspasia, and for raising it in the Openhandweb awareness. Personally I’ve gained enormously over the years from periods of various types of cleansing and fasting. I find it of tremendous benefit to the integration and growth of the soul – and of course, cleansing and detoxing the body for physical rejuvenation. I too conduct intermittent fasting most of the time. I feel to add to that shortly.

In appreciation

Open OK Hand Sign

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10 Things You Should Know About Practicing Prayer and Meditation by media.beliefnet.com

Read more at https://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/galleries/10-things-you-should-know-about-practicing-prayer-and-meditation.aspx#Rzb6U7TdCucYhGI0.99

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