This is version 1. It probably won’t go much more detailed than this.
I haven’t posted in awhile, but I thought I would share something I’m reading which I find quite beneficial concerning meditation. This was written by Roy Eugene Davis, an actual follower of Paramahansa Yogananda. He writes about the benefits or delightful side effects of meditation.
• Mental transformations and thinking processes become more organized as the result of meditative calmness and the influence of refined states of consciousness.
• The body’s immune system is strengthened and physiological functions are encouraged to be more balanced and efficient.
• Biologic aging processes are slowed. Older, long-term meditators are mentally and physically younger than their calendar years might suggest.
• Stress symptoms are reduced. The nervous system is refreshed and enlivened, allowing awareness to be more easily processed through it.
• Regenerative energies are awakened. These, directed by innate intelligence, vitalize the body, empower the mind, and have restorative and healing influences.
• Intellectual skills are improved, causing delusions and illusions to be dispelled. Intuition awakens, allowing us to directly know whatever we desire to know and to experience a vivid sense of unerring inner guidance.
• Appreciation for living is enhanced.
• Creativity is stimulated.
• Innate spiritual qualities awaken, enabling us to be more insightful, and functionally skillful.
• Rapid, more satisfying, authentic spiritual growth is nurtured because body, mind, and awareness is beneficially influenced by refined superconscious states.
The full booklet can be downloaded as a pdf: An Easy Guide to Meditation
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
It’s nearly 1 PM. I’ve been filling up on chai, like most fill up on coffee – no breakfast, no lunch as of yet. I’ve been bustling around trying to get somewhat organized in preparation for a trip. My organizational skills have simply slumped since menopause. Right now, though, I am trying to take some time to relax and be in the moment.
The upcoming trip shall certainly give me time to be in the moment. The location is in the mountains. We are expected to observe silence for the most part. There will be hiking, meditation, yoga, and only vegetarian food cooked according to strict ayurvedic principles. There will be no cell phone reception and only one spot with internet capability. Therefore, blogging on a daily basis will more than likely not happen.
Right now I am thankful for this particular moment and will attempt to live only in the moment as much as possible for the continuations of the day.
I’m really not interested in getting the worm, mainly because I’m vegetarian; but I’m interested in getting better health and getting an earlier start. I read so many self-help books. However, reading and practicing their teachings are two different things. In an effort to cultivate better habits, I’ve slowly been making changes. In August I began a daily practice of yoga. This could be anywhere from twenty minutes to over an hour a day of yoga asanas. My original goal was to begin on August 1st and surpass my previous non-interrupted daily practice of 120 days straight. I’m now at 200 days. Yay! – A subdued yay, as I don’t want to jinx it. Every day is still a challenge.
I’m now ready for the next challenge in what I hope will be a series of a cultivation of good habits. That is rising much earlier. Even though technically, we are approaching spring and days are getting longer, it seems that days are getting shorter. Maybe that is partly age with respect to me, but still I’ve heard people complain about time flying at a much faster rate than ever before. I could certainly use a head start on the day….a couple of extra hours. It is also said that the most successful people are early risers. Bad news for all those worms like me who have been slithering deep into the covers. Cold mornings and the gravitational pull of warm covers have been my excuse for too long.
In the wee hours of the morning before sunrise, the ether is mostly free of all the artificial electromagnetic forces that start when most people rise. Yogis say that this is the most auspicious and beneficial time for meditation I know this to be true from experience. The solar energy is rising. Meditation at this time is like catching a wave. It’s a clear time with fewer distractions both physically and ethereally. There is nothing to compare with the peace and quietude before sunrise. Catching this wave is like a surfer’s high that can get you through the day. Like anything, good habits first require a choice, then practice and more practice, and more practice, just like the yoga effort. Practice makes perfect.
Today, I’m thankful I tossed off the covers and met the day before sunrise. It was gloomy. I didn’t actually see the sunrise, but with practice I should have plenty of opportunities to see beautiful sunrises. I experienced a calming peace this morning, and right before noon, I feel like I’ve already had a full day, and still have energy.
On most days except for Sunday, it was ritual for Sally at break of first light, hoe in hand, bonnet on her head wearing her usual long flowing faded and threadbare dress, to make her way towards the riverbank where the garden lay. People knew this to be fact even though it was rare for anyone to be up so early as to witness it. It was part habit and part her connection to the earth that kept drawing her old bones out of a snug bed well past her prime. In earlier times her company in the more eagerly waking countryside would be the sounds of subtle rhythmic strikes of a metal hoe hitting the dirt from another adjacent garden echoing through the morning riverbank mist, or the familiar smell of leather against horseflesh as men readied their plows mingled in with the contrasting yet complimenting aromas of buttermilk biscuits baking in nearby ovens. This was the sweetness of farm life – those sounds and smells that were as much a part of the farm man or woman’s inner core as was the steady pace of dawn to dusk hard work. This sweetness lingered only faintly in memories, as those hearty individuals who rose before break of first sunlight to do such chores were no more. Sally who had outlasted her breed was an enigma in both dress and mannerisms from an era gone by. She moved and worked more slowly these days because of her age, as she dug at the soil with the sharp edge of her hoe loosening the dirt while befriending it and making it pliable for the plants. In this new age that turned its page overnight she worked with her hoe with the same diligence and contemplation of strokes as a monk counting rosary beads while chanting his mantra. In the background the houses and barns in the distance still slumbered silently.
In well-worn, ill-fitting hand me down shoes, Sally, with her distinctive walk shuffled out through the back porch screen door, past the wringer washer, past the clothes lines, making her way down the half mile hardened path to the plot of land she tended. Its black river dirt lined on each side with wet stiff morning grasses, knowing her weariness of step and as if out of respect, rose up in recognition to greet her and lighten her load at the same time. She began the cultivation season in crisp air that still smelt of winter, at first encounter biting and stinging her aged petrified dark skin through soft layers of cloth. She continued this pattern into the muggy, perspiration drenched summer mornings, and throughout the relieving coolness of autumn leaves dropping, only to end the trek when frost pinched the grains of soil tightly shut and no more harvest was to be had. It was only then that she took shelter inside through wintertime forsaking the garden, not to rest, but to spend the time on more womanly work indoors. Indoors or outdoors, it was the labor she knew from her slavery birth and the labor handed down to her from her dark skinned ancestry when freedom was just a word on paper still dripping of wet ink. Long after the ink had dried many still refused to read or acknowledge the ramifications behind the word. Whether free or not each job was a necessity and a responsibility Sally took to heart. She handled the pleasant ones and the unpleasant ones with the same determination and devotion, as both her lot in life and her blessing in life. Any yogi would have performed in the same fashion, with a loving commitment to the present moment and task at hand, not seeking reward or favor.
It would never have occurred to the two men who were like her own children, now old men themselves, to have bought her something such as a new pair of shoes to make her life a bit easier. It was not out of meanness of spirit or any such ill thought intentions. There were no intentions at all, just an ignorant negligence, or something not given any thought by two confirmed bachelors set in their ways unskilled in marital intimacy and brought up thinking with the side of the brain not really privy to a woman’s comfort. And, it would have never occurred to Sally to ask or expect such a thing. A hard life with minimal comforts was her archetype during this earthly existence. It was also just the family way and a part of the time and place to which she owed her existence. One was born understanding that money was always tight on a farm, and it was custom that farmers learned to horde what money they did have in preparation for tougher times. Money was saved and not to be squandered on luxuries. If a luxury was to be had it was more than likely some essential requirement from the man point of view rather than from the woman’s perspective. A man could easily justify a new tractor over the need for a washing machine for instance. Farm life in Appalachia was full of contradictions. A thousand kindnesses, involving hard work or time, could be paid to a neighbor or stranger with no thought of a return; but demonstrative affection towards one in the household, such as a gift of a new pair of shoes, could possibly blow the lid off a pressure cooker of well-subdued emotions. By the same token any family indiscretions were handled in like manner with a tight-lipped reserve incarcerating them within a Pandora’s box hidden away within the family catacombs. This was just the generational bequeath in families who spent lifetimes both knowing and preparing for a series of hard times.
This is not to be painted as a bleak picture with only tragic figures. It was quite the contrary. The pendulum for any family member swung in both directions as the law of physicality made it so. Any incarnation during Sally’s time period could ill afford to be dull. A rugged life could edge any dullness out of any existence. All families have their failings and matters to be hidden, as best they could be. There were many joys along the way as well – joys borne of natural human celebrations and joys eked out of the hardships. Sally, if only by perseverance, had early on earned her right in the family and shared these same joys.
While others were abandoning nature for newer ways, the earth was still the lifeblood for Sally. The soil was part of her elixir for a long life, as where the other elements that accompanied it. Fresh air gave new breath and life year after year to the land beneath her well-worn feet, while gentile rains quenched its thirst.
At a young age her feet rarely knew shoes. Shoes were a rarity for most children no matter what the tint of feet during the warmer and more tolerable temperatures of the year. Barefoot children, regardless of race, in one moment abandoned upbringing and played together with all the frivolity of lighthearted and like-minded souls with no comprehension of difference – a halo of innocence, which in a split second of a heartbeat could dissolve when triggered by some external force jolting them into prejudicial nastiness. Time clearly had no jurisdiction over such prejudices, as Sally’s grandchild Nell, while visiting Sally’s young stomping ground was embarrassed by such cruelty. While playing in the barn with hosts her same age she with playmates behind her climbed the ladder to the loft. One of her feet missing a rung landed in her white playmate Earl’s mouth, tainting him somehow for years to come. Such an accidental disaster was as if the plaque had struck. It was a story to this day, certain members of the family never forgot.
(This is a work in progress about a lady named Sally. I’m thankful to have met her, and to be able to write small pieces of her life.)
I remember as a babe on the porch swing my grandmother used to sing “Rock of Ages” cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee
Later, in my youth I crept into the woods where I sat solidly on a rock cliff nestled in its indentation
Strengthened by its enduring cushion
I grew to adulthood and left its shelter for awhile
Only to teeter on a shaky foundation
But eventually returned to merge into its strength and wisdom.
(Rocks are so much a part of my life. There is a rock on our trail we call our meditation rock, although there are many fantastic rock formations along the trail. We had visitors one day from Germany, England, Denmark and Sweden. We all sat on it at once to meditate. It looks like a heart. Rocks are of such importance to me. One of our big past times is to go out into the woods and collect rocks for our projects. This past summer we worked on rocking
one side of the house. We’ve really gone rock crazy, rock ponds, gardens, sidewalks, porches, fireplaces and even a rock floor in a section of the barn. My uncle commented one day after seeing the rock floor in the barn, “Are there any rocks left on Trough Creek?” (Trough Creek – where we live))
I’m so thankful that we are surrounded by nature and plentiful rocks.
Someone said they got tired of all the start-overs. I certainly understand that; but still it’s all in perception. Also, life would be truly short without all the start-overs. Technically every breath we take is in essence a start-over moment. Maybe re-thinking it is key. Every moment is a new moment to improve if need be on the last one. Hopefully, it’s a continual evolution rather than devolution. Even when it seems we take only one step forward and two steps back still it’s a learning experience. More often than not, especially in my own case, it takes several attempts at getting on the right track.
I have lots of improvements to make. My eating habits are not what they should be. I feel that going vegetarian two and a half years ago was the right path for me. Yet, still I’m far from a conscious eater. I consume too much bread and dairy and not enough fruit and raw vegetables. Today I vowed to eat both healthier and less. Another start over.
Still, with all the shuffle in moving both forward and backward, I can look back on where I was ten to fifteen years ago and see progress. Most commercial foods – that middle of the grocery store section – have no temptation for me at all. I have a life partner who shares my spiritual interests. I have practiced yoga and walking out in nature on a fairly regular basis. It’s when I forgo these last two that I feel the backward movement. Still with these changes there is so much more improvement to be made. Meditation needs to be worked on.
I feel my keys to improvement revolve around three D’s: Determination, Discipline and Devotion. I am working on those, slowly but surely. It’s all about practice, practice, practice. Then maybe in many years or many lifetimes, practice of the three D’s will lead me to the fourth D – the Divine.
I’m thankful for the chance to start over each day. Slowly, but surely, some of the better habits are starting to stick.
I decided to do a blog several days ago, but thought what is there of great importance to write, like probably so many people. Thursday’s Child for a title immediately came to me, but as the early bird gets the worm, that title was taken, thus “athursdayschild.” Thursday’s child, my original choice, has far to go has always been true for me. Late bloomer, a second choice, was already taken.
One of the first things I do in the morning is meditate. That is a hit and miss thing for me, but I’ve found that even trying makes a difference. Bodily functions, aches, pains (this week a cold), gets in the way along with what they call those monkey thoughts. But over the years I’ve found that persistent practice, as in anything, pays off. Even with those monkey thoughts an “ah ha” idea creeps in. In this case it was to actually begin the blog today and in what direction to take it.
I regularly keep a gratitude journal, which I actually refer to as a thankful journal. Life is mainly perception. Our thoughts control everything; therefore, in my mind it is better to have the thoughts of a half full glass rather than a half empty one. Being thankful is a lifestyle just as eating right or exercising is. Practice makes all the difference.
So, this blog is mainly to be about what I have to be thankful for.
I’m thankful that this morning I decided to dust off my juicer. I enjoyed a triple jolt of celery, carrot, and apple juice, along with grapes (all organic) for breakfast. The remains go into to the compost pile.
Anyone reading this is welcome to post something in comments that you are thankful for.