Making friends with yourself

I’ve been going again and again to watching this clip of Pema Chödrön talking about authentically engaging with ourselves and our experience.

 She says, when you seek out teachings:

You do want to hear something that is genuinely going to be of value in your life. And the approach of Buddhism, and the approach that all the Buddhist teachers have been drawn to personally, and then end up teaching, is about engaging in your life fully. And having an attitude of kindness toward yourself and all things that might arise in you, such as: your rage and your addictions and your grief and your loneliness and your resentment, and all these different things. Some attitude of kindness towards your humanity. And a way of working with it, which is acknowledging it completely and fully, for what it is. Very conscious of what is going on with yourself. But with an attitude of kindness. Trungpa Rinpoche used to call it ‘making friends with yourself.’

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Cute improves concentration

File this under S for SWEET!

In addition to making the heart all warm and fuzzy, have you heard that exposure to cute things has been studied and shown to improve concentration? This means if you’re looking to hone your attention, study for an exam, even engage in some practice that requires manual dexterity, you ought to warm up with exposure to sweetness!

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Open to nature, open to gratitude

File this one under B for BLISS!

Nature’s Beauty Inspires Gratitude is a must-see 20 min TEDx talk featuring the stunning filmwork of Louie Schwartzberg. It starts as simply jaw-dropping time lapse nature photography and builds into a compelling vision for why and how to be grateful when we open our eyes each morning.

On the bio page of his website — aptly named “Moving Art” — beside the picture of his peaceful smile and super-clear eyes, it reads:

As the only cinematographer in the world who has been shooting time-lapse 24/7 continuously for well over three decades, Schwartzberg is a visual artist breaking barriers, connecting with audiences, and telling stories that celebrate life and reveal the mysteries and wisdom of nature, people and places.

If you pay attention right around the 5 min 50 sec mark, you might audibly gasp, as I did. But you must watch this one all the way through. Then be grateful you did.

And for fans of non-narrative documentaries, in 1982 he provided additional cinematography for the film Koyaanisqatsi.

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Happy frolicking cows!

Yesterday I had a series of conversations with former strangers (by which I mean, once we’d chatted for a while they transformed into new friends). Inexplicably, and not brought up by me, the topic of vegetarian vs. meat eating kept surfacing. It surprised me because I had watched this video yesterday morning and couldn’t stop thinking about it all day long. It’s just delightful. A herd of cows are released into a field instead of being taken to the slaughterhouse. They jump and dance with joy. So sweet.

I’ve been vegetarian on and off in my life, always for reasons of compassion for other living beings. Quite simply, I believe it is terrible what human beings do to themselves and other animals in this world. Even still, these days I choose to eat a lazy version of ‘paleo’ because my body functions better this way. (Grains, in particular, are a terrible storm of inflammation for me.) And also, I eat meat because, when I reason it out, suffering is happening, it’s the very nature of things. Unavoidable. Samsara. That which is born, dies. I kill when I brush my teeth. I can’t drive down a summer road without killing thousands of insects, crushed against the windsheild. It breaks my heart, truly.

I bought chicken breasts again from that super-friendly guy at the market this morning. And I still can’t stop thinking about these lovely, happy frolicking cows. It makes me wonder about all the things I can and can’t control. And leads me to ask, how can I be more compassionate today, with myself and with others?

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Calm dot com

calmdotcomCalm.com is a super-chill site for helping you to relax. I’ve been using it to stay calm under pressure at work. It has wordless, meandering music interspersed with tracks of nature sounds. On my second monitor I’ve got the serene videos set to full-screen. So that to the side of whatever demanding job is at hand, I have calming visuals — slow motion water drops, rippling water, rain falling on green leaves, fields of wildflowers with buzzing insects. It’s lovely.

And, although I haven’t sampled them, there’s also guided and timed meditations available and an app for iPhone.

 

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Life is right now

This is one of my favourite short clips of Jon Kabat-Zin speaking on mindfulness.

The whole thing is worth a listen. Starting at about 3 mins, he says:

Even in very stressful situations, you can move in to the actuality of the situation and find ways to move with it, and regulate your own reactivity to it. So that in some very, very deep way, you are not running away, and you’re not pushing through anything, but allowing things to unfold as they do. That’s the heart of creativity. And that way, we get the most work done, with the least distraction and the least effort.

It’s an art form. And it takes a while to learn. It’s not something where you just hear me say this on the web, and the next thing, ‘oh, yeah, I’ll be mindful for the rest of my life.’ It’s one of the most difficult things in the world, if not the most difficult thing in the world for us human beings to do: is to be present in our own lives, and to be kind and less judgmental of ourselves.

That’s why it’s worth doing, it’s worth practising. But it’s not a ‘doing’ really, when all is said and done, it’s a way of being, and actually, a way of being awake and yourself.

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Woman mauled by bear, drives herself to safety — a page-turning Reddit AMA

Last week Reddit hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Allena Hansen, who in 2008 was savagely attacked by a bear while walking alone with her dogs on her ranch in Kern County, California. With her face torn apart and believing she would not likely survive, she drove herself 4 miles to a mountain fire station and was airlifted to UCLA Medical Center. She retells the story with gripping detail and a refreshing offhand humour — answering questions from and holding her own with curious Redditors.

After it had gnawed my head awhile, I decided to open my eyes and look at what was killing me. It’s expression was so bland and businesslike it enraged me so I managed to jab my thumb into its piggy little eye and it let go of my face long enough for me to yell for my dogs. Once the dogs came running, it was diverted long enough for me to get up and try to escape down the creekbed.

Allena has recently written a book about her experience, Chomp, Chomp, Chomp; How I Survived a Bear Attack and Other Harrowing Tales. She also has a Facebook page. Hopefully, the sale of her book and general publicity around her story will bring in enough money for her to cover her outstanding medical bills.

Apparently, the cosmetic and dental portions weren’t covered by her insurance, and a great amount of the damage was done to her face and mouth (WARNING this next quote is not for the faint of heart):

Basically what happened is that the bear charged, grabbed me by the ears and bit into my face. In doing so, it destroyed the bridge of my nose, tore off my ears, chewed out fourteen teeth and much of my upper gums and palate. It also ripped off my lips and tore apart my face and scalp.

Of course, as you would expect from someone with this much courage and moxy, Allena had already lived quite a life before the attack. Raised in the 60s, according to the description given with her book, she had a “stint as Playboy’s token intellectual bimbo.”

Why my morbid interest? Haven’t you ever wondered what it’s going to be like when you’re staring your own death in the face?

SIDENOTE

I also very much enjoyed and laughed heartily when I clicked through on the link contributed by /u/PasswordLost, who pipes up not too far into the Reddit thread, and tells Allena:

You made it to the end of this chart!

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.fi/2010/02/boyfriend-doesnt-have-ebola-probably.html

10: I am actively being mauled by a bear.

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