inHabitude

Yoga & Meditation Teacher (RYT 200) and Endurance Cyclist

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Hello. Can you suggest any short mantras to help me with my anxiety and low confidence that i can use anywhere but particularly in work situations?

Anonymous

Metta or Loving-Kindness meditation is what I would recommend. It helped me deal with difficult work environments and people many times. Here’s a link to a short post I wrote about it: http://inhabitude.org/post/7831518828/metta-meditation

Today I find myself struggling with understanding the idea of how we are in fact being selfless and not identifying with the ego if we base our actions on hopes of "good karma" bringing us to a happier existence in the next life or even in this life... it seems that if you act with compassion only to further your own agenda, is that not still selfishness to some degree? Are there any Buddhist teachings that touch on this? Thank you for your thoughts.

Anonymous

I think your dilemma is due to your definition of karma. Culturally people speak about karma as some cosmic bank account that we make deposits and withdrawals from based on our behavior. Too many shenanigans, we overdraw the account, and the universe comes to collect on what we owe. While it may make for good comedies, it’s flawed.

Karma is simply cause and effect. Hold a big rock over your foot and let it go. Feel that? Yep, that’s karma. The universe didn’t conspire against you. God’s not punishing you for eating too much chocolate. It’s simply the result of your own actions and lack of common sense.

Karma, the effects of our choices, can be positive, negative, or neutral. You go out of your way to help someone, you get the pay off of feeling like a decent human being. The universe does not owe you anything for your generosity. If you go around screwing people over, sooner or later it will probably catch up with you. Still karma. Cause and effect.

If you don’t like the results you’re getting from your life, change your choices. Garbage in, garbage out. Wholesome stuff in, wholesome stuff out. We choose to be decent people and take responsibility for our own actions, because it feels good, promotes psycho-social wellness, and helps others.

We’re all inter-connected. By being the best human being we can be and helping others to achieve their own happiness, we raise the quality of life for all of us. So, yes, it’s partially selfish to be good to others, but it’s also incredibly selfless. We use the ego to transcend the ego. Hope that helps.

You’re right. I still do cheese and nonfat Greek yogurt. I cut out milk a couple months ago and do almond or soy milk only. I’ve been doing really low sugar for a while. If I can have one piece of dark chocolate after dinner, I’m good to go and skip the late night eating. I’ve been doing carb cycling for the past four weeks to break up the monotony and weight loss plateau. Low carb days haven’t been that bad actually. I’ve been off most wheat for several months. I still have whole grain wheat sparingly, but use more granola or quinoa instead. It’s been about making small changes slowly over time and being consistent. Haven’t done anything drastic quickly. I’m down 50 lbs in 19 months. Little further to go.

Hello! Thank you for your constant widsom and good vibes across my Tumblr feed! I read a lot about "letting go of attachments" in meditation and Buddhism literature. How does this translate into attachments to say, your wife or your kids? How could you not feel attached to them?

the-high-resolution

Thanks. There is a difference in love and attachment. We often we think we love something or someone, when in reality we are attached to them. We must love in such a way that those we love feel free. We don’t love them for what they can do for us or a need they satisfy in our lives. We love them just for who they are without expecting anything in return. We don’t twist or pull them to fit our image of who they are. It allows a spaciousness and a freedom to exist between you that allows both of you to be and to become.

Reply to a private question

I want you to know that what you’re going through is completely normal, especially at 15. It will get better. Then it will get worse. Then better… for the rest of your life. Emotions can have a life of their own. They are not you. They come and eventually they go. Don’t push them away or cling to them.

The person you were a year ago is gone. In fact the person you were yesterday is gone. We die every night and are reborn every morning. You can’t go back to being the person you were a year ago.

You’re wiser now. You’ve had some good experiences this year along with the difficult ones. The good news is that no matter how off track or out of sync you may feel at this moment, you can always begin again. You can always start over. You can change the channel. You can choose a different path. You don’t have to be a victim of how you feel or what happens around you.

This day is a wonderful day. Isn’t it a great day to start over? Open the windows. Go outside. Laugh. Scream. Cry. Fall in love all over again. Live.

To the person asking about meditation before or after exercise: I've always found it helpful to stretch before exercise to loosen everything, stretch after to decrease soreness then at the end of the day before I wish to go to bed I meditate because I'll be more likely to be able to focus when my body is tired and I want to go to sleep. I picture scrubbing a floor as my symbol for clearing my mind :) hope this helps anyone!

strawberrystormsinateacup

Thanks for sharing. Meditation definitely helps to unwind before you crash.

Less than $5 a day to prep a double recipe for my wife and I. Some days I have 2 or 3 juices as a meal replacement, but it’s still less than eating out for breakfast and lunch.

Just a reminder

ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS are accepted but may not be answered if they don’t pertain to the blog or of a personal nature that deserve a private reply.

I always reply to non-anonymous questions. If you would like a private reply, just ask, but remember I can’t reply privately to anonymous questions.

Ask me anything

I desperately want to start juicing, but I'm a college student with little to no income. Is there a way to juice on a budget?

fuqauffe-deactivated20131016

You don’t have to buy an expensive juicer. My first juicer was less than $75 and lasted a while before I sold it and upgraded. You would need some type of juicer or blender to get started processing the juice. A juicer would extract the pulp from the juice, while the blender would mix them together. Maybe try craigslist, garage sales, or local flea markets for a good used juicer or blender. Just clean it real good with vinegar water. If nothing else works, just eat as many whole raw fruits and veggies as you can.

How to deal with friendships you’ve outgrown:

My reply to a question I received:

First, I would say that different people come and go in our lives at different times, some stay for a while but others are only in our lives for a short time. It doesn’t make any of those relationships less valuable in teaching us, supporting us, or shaping us. We have to be prepared to let them go when the time comes, and that doesn’t diminish their significance in our lives.

There are other people who you may not have the option of leaving behind at this point. They may be too close to you. That’s ok. You don’t have to agree with everyone on everything to be friends with them. Friendship doesn’t mean an endorsement of poor decisions on their part. It’s an exercise in love and compassion.

When dealing with difficult people, cultivating compassion for them can go a long way in helping you to relate to them differently and in a healthier way. Try to see them as people who also suffer and struggle in many ways. Practice lovingkindness meditation for them and watch how your relationship to them improves.

Blessings

Hello there! :) I've recently discovered Tumblr and your blog here - it's brilliant, you help people a lot. I feel glad for witnessing such generosity. I have also been living through body, mind and spirit for eighteen years of my life. As much as I can say, it is a real spectacle, of course. Since I'm approaching to the crossroad of my life, it would be very nice, I think, if you could share your perspectives on concentration and discipline. I truly need it. Thank you.

Anonymous

Thanks. 

Concentration is the art of paying attention. What we nurture with attention and time grows and flourishes, whether wholesome or unwholesome, so we must choose wisely how we use our attention. I would caution that concentration is a means to an end and not an end in itself. Every discipline requires a measure of concentration to practice it, but concentration is not the end goal of any discipline. It just gets the wheels moving, greases the gears, and keeps correcting the course.

I think that is related to discipline. I’ve come to find that discipline is not so much forcing yourself into a particular mode of doing some activity, but instead it is learning to say no to all the other things that simply waste your time and deplete your energy. By withdrawing, abstaining, or letting go of some things, we discover that we are able to say ‘yes’ to so many others. Discipline is learning with time and patience which to say ‘no’ to and not feeling bad about it. 

I have become very skilled at being able to forgive and not hold hostility in my heart. However, do you have any advice on how to avoid regressing back to a person? My kindness is my greatest strength and also my greatest weakness. I'm not sure where I should draw a line, or if a line should be drawn at all.

Anonymous

Keep forgiving. Keep opening your heart. Forgiveness isn’t a one time act. It’s a conscious choice repeated over and over again. Forgiveness means never putting the person out of your heart. It doesn’t excuse what they did or give them permission to repeat it. It just means you choose to let it go and forgive for your own sake. That empowers you. It doesn’t make you weak. It may mean that you are vulnerable because you choose not to close your heart and shut others out of your life, but you just keep on loving.

  • blackwhitecupcake said:: what about all the psychological aspects that take part in the formation of “self”.Your answer made me realize that the way we experience reality depends on our past experiences, how we were brought up and the image we have of ourselves.

  • Lyndon:: Our past definitely shapes our experience of reality, but the idea of past is just another mental formation. It doesn't exist outside of the storehouse of our memory anymore than the future. So we don't have to be held hostage to it or bound by it. We can choose differently any time. We don't have to keep replaying the same old footage, reliving the same tired old dramas. We can see them for what they are, let go, and move on. There is only the present moment, as we perceive it.

Who am “I”?

My reply to a question I received, “what is self?”.

The question is the answer so to speak. “Who am I?” It’s one we keep asking deep into practice.

We typically identify self with form. We think of ourselves as solid things, but we are human “beings” not human things. Our bodies are alive and constantly in a state of change. At the atomic level there is constant energy that we perceive to be a solid state. Our bodies are a verb not a noun, and they are constantly “verbing” all the time.

Whenever consciousness touches form, sensations arise, whether physical or mental. Whenever there are sensations, there is always our perception of the sensation as positive, negative, or neutral. We create new formations based on our perception of the sensations, ie thoughts about the sensation or reactions to them. Our consciousness touches those formations and the whole cycle repeats itself, sometimes hundreds of times in a moment. It’s how we experience reality, and somewhere in that rapidly repeating cycle we perceive that there is a sense of self. That is known as the “five aggregates” of existence.

In meditation when we step back from mental formations (opinions and reactions), we can just watch our sensations without judging them. You can’t stop them, but you can watch them, come and go… arise and pass away. Now, who is watching? Who is the witness? Who am “I”? Have fun with that one.

Meditation: When, Where, and How?

Anonymous: Hey I’m kinda new to mediating and I really want to get serious about and would just to know if have any tips for such as posture, place, time and etc.. I would really appreciate. One love

Sure. You can practice anywhere, anytime, in any posture, but there are some conditions that may help you calm down and be more centered. Thich Nhat Hanh talks about stopping, calming, resting, and healing, which I find very helpful. 

Just find a quiet place where you can be alone. You don’t need a special altar or cushion to practice. You may find it easier in the beginning to practice in a place with less distractions. 

You may want to experiment with different times of day to see what works for you. Not everyone is a morning person, but there is usually more alertness and focus in the mornings. Others who are night owls may have no problem practicing late at night before bed without becoming too sleepy. You may be able to steel away for a few minutes during the day to a park or chapel somewhere. Do whatever works for you.

Consistency will be more helpful than longevity. You don’t have to set new world meditation records. Even 5 minutes everyday can be very helpful and give you a practice that doesn’t frustrate you and that you can build upon.

You can practice walking meditation, sitting, or even lying down, though lying down is likely to cause sleepiness if you’re practicing late at night. In seated meditation just find a comfortable cross-legged seated position. Don’t worry about full lotus position, which is difficult for most of us. You can sit half lotus, simple cross-legged, or whatever is comfortable for you.

It’s important to sit upright with your spine upright but not rigid. Even if you need to sit in a chair because of back problems, sit toward the front of the seat with your back off the chair but upright. 

You can cup your hands in front of you or just lay them on your thighs. If you grab your knees, it may tend to lean you forward and put a strain on your back. If you keep your hands near your hips, you may notice you lean back. A good trick is when you sit down just to rock your torso around in all directions then settle in the center that feels right for you and let your hands fall naturally on your thighs.

You can sit with your eyes open or closed. It’s up to you. You may find it less distracting in the beginning to sit with eyes closed, unless it’s late at night and you feel sleepy. If you sit with eyes open, just let your gaze fall down and out in front of you a few feet, sort of out past the tip of the nose somewhere. Find a focal point and just rest your gaze there. Not straining, not spaced out. Just resting.

There are several posts on the meditation page of the blog that have instructions for different types of practice that you may find helpful.

Namaste

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