Category Archives: dharma

A Mindful Lunch

Whole green beans in a carton.

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I just finished eating my lunch and well it was interesting, insightful, and odd to say the least. This was my first mindful meal and I thought not only would I record this for my reflection but I would share it. I also want to ask what your experience in mindfulness has been? If you have not done this maybe give it a try. Let me know how it goes. 

I sat down at my desk with my lunch like I do most days. My computer was on and typically I work while eating. Today for the smallest moment I thought I will be more spiritual about this meal and read a dharma book during my lunch. I clicked on my nook app, pulled up my current book, and proceeded to eat a fork full of green beans while reading the first sentence. That is when it hit me. Just two days ago in my FP class (a dharma / meditation class) when we broke off into discussion groups this exact topic came up. We sat there talking about being mindful and one person in my group mentioned being out to lunch and a person eating while playing games on his phone. She used this as an example of how we busy our minds. The other person in the group said she is often not mindful while eating and tends to eat while working. So as I sat with my phone in hand, book app opened, reading and eating it hit me that I should practice mindful eating. 

So I set my phone down. Move my plate in front of me. I was at this point excited that it dawned on me to do this and happy for this little growth moment. I picked up a fork full of food and take my first bite. My mind in a panick I start thinking thoughts. Great idea what do I do now. Chew chew chew. Hey I should write this day down. It might be useful. Do I do mindful house cleaning? Maybe I could start doing that as well. I could put head phones on and listen to The Joyful Path of Good Fortune. Oh wait, that is not mindful. I will just clean. Oh wait with all these thoughts I am not being mindful now. Come back. Chew chew. Panic again what am I suppose to think about. Humor comes up. Oh this is crazy. Why can’t I just sit and eat in this moment. Then I begin to think do the people in my class eat in the moment. Wow this is hard. I don’t like sitting here doing nothing. Chew Chew. Taste the green bean. Taste the water. Breathe ok I am doing it. Panic, good god how long is this lunch! Oh it has only been two minutes. TWO MINUTES!!! No wonder Monks are typically skinny, they must hate meal times. This is horrible. I have tasted the food now what do I do. I cannot not just sit here  re tasting. Is that a stereo type saying Monks are typically skinny? Is that politically correct? Would it be considered insulting? Oh there I go again thinking. Chew Chew. Oh this really is horrible. I started looking at things. I am then reading the label on the water bottle. Errr. Chew Chew. Taste the green bean. Maybe I need something more interesting than green beans. Maybe dessert or coffee instead of beans and water. Chew Chew. I should ………….

Then as I bring myself back to the moment and with a bit of gentle humor  I am telling myself this is crazy. I can eat in peace. I am not a … opps don’t say it that is not nice. Chew Chew. The green bean is salty and no longer hot. Just warm and juicy. String beans are juicy?! Who knew? I also noticed that the taste is really good. Thank you farmer for planting and working to bring me this. I pick up another bite and notice the plastic fork. Thank you inventor of plastic, canner, label maker, factory worker. Thank you Deann for teaching me this lesson of seeing all the hands that have had a part in feeding me. Thanks Deborah and Nicole for specifically talking about lunch so it would stick with me. Breathing, eating, grateful ! Breathing, eating, I am grateful. Of course the time ticked slow, my mind still wandered, and I had to continue to bring it back but all in all I felt good. I noticed for those brief seconds that the world moved together just so I could eat. From the plowed field, to  the desk where I was sitting, and even to the government ( I complained about daily) that employees me and the veterans who need my services. We really are one. 

It was brief but it was there I felt it. That calm peaceful second. I will not lie I was so happy to eat the last bite and know it was over. Hahaha! I think I will try this again tomorrow. I might even try tonight at dinner. Well maybe not that soon but lunch tomorrow for sure!

Peace and Flowers

Tracie

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Drive Thru Window for Enlightenment

Tonight during my meditation class  I asked my teacher a question about equanimity. She smiled and explaining that an entire course could be devoted to my question. I half jokingly asked if it could be summed up. Her response gave me this blog topic and a lot to think about. She said, “that Buddhism was not a drive thru window with quick fix answers and I needed to meditate and practice patience”.

I spent the next few day thinking and questioning whether  I was practicing in a fast food way? If I answer this with honesty then I would have to say yes. A few years ago I placed an order for one mala, a large Buddha statue, 4 dharma books, a cushion, oh don’t forget my order of Buddhist terminology, an empowerment, and throw in some sangha friends. I pulled up paid the fees of a supporting member and donated to a few charities, I then looked in my bag of Buddhism to make sure the order was correct and everything was there. Umm excuse me I think you left out my enlightenment.  Hello! I don’t see enlightenment in the bag it should have come with my dharma meal!  

I know it seems a bit funny but isn’t that the American way. Isn’t “Have it your way” a slogan that sums up this country. I grew up thinking I could make changes to suit myself but still receive the benefits as if nothing changed. I can see that mentality when I reflect back on my practice. I have skipped a day or week of meditation. I have flipped on Young and the Restless instead of opening a dharma book. I have practiced kindness on those I already like while continuing my distaste for the people I didn’t care for. I also walk along with indifference to a backdrop of people in the world that I don’t even see. I justified the glass of wine, the occasional steak, the lack of patience with the kids, and my lacking compassion for family and friends when they are feeling ill or financially strapped. Yet I become baffled when enlightenment evades me. I get discouraged when each virtuous act is not met with praise. I have even become bored when clarity did not happen after the shortest of meditations.

So why do I give less and expect more? Why do I put meditation off for another day? Why do I continue to put my needs over the entire worlds day after day? Buddha left his family behind and devoted his life to ending suffering. He sat under one Bodhi tree for 49 days straight in meditation to awaken. I sit for 45 minutes and peek at the meditation timer to see if I am almost done.  Maybe I expect more than I give because I live in a country where feeling good and instant gratification have a higher value than accountability and responsibility. I put meditation off because I have an unrealistic view on my control over death. I feel as if I still have time. When in reality I have no knowledge of how much time I have. I cherish myself more because that is all I have ever done and all that I know.

How do I make the changes needed and engage fully in Buddhism. Patience and perseverance are imperative. I need to become mindful and practice kindness. I must stop looking for the shortcuts. Recognize and rejoice the time I have put in, shown up, studied, and meditated. Then study dharma, meditate on dharma, apply dharma and repeat over and over and over.

**I am getting there one breathe at a time. **

Peace and Flowers

Tracie

A Shout Out To A Couple Of My Spiritual Guides!

The term ‘Guru’ is a Sanskrit word that means ‘Spiritual Guide’. A Spiritual Guide can be eastern, western, male, female, ordained or lay. Our Spiritual Guide is any Spiritual Teacher who leads us into correct paths to liberation and enlightenment by giving teachings and showing a good example.

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso~ Modern Buddhism, p. 207

This Thanksgiving weekend as I sit and reflect back it dawns on me what a special gift I have been given. I am grateful for many things but for the purpose of this post I would like to give thanks and a shout out to my sons, Brian 11 and Alex 10. They are my little spiritual guides bringing to life my Lamrim meditations and teachings. Here are some examples of my spiritual guides at work.

They make it possible for me to receive dharma teachings that lead to liberation and enlightenment.

Today the three of us spent a good part of the day at the Dharmapala Kadampa Buddhist Center. I arrived expecting to teach a Dharma for kids class followed by the three of us attending a mala making class. When no children showed up for class I asked the boys if they wanted to join in on the Introduction to Meditation class being offered at the same time. They said yes and away we went. They did wonderful with the meditation, participated in the class discussion, and seemed to really enjoy both the meditation and mala making class. Their willingness, great behavior, and enthusiasm make it possible to attend classes.

Alex teaches me how precious and rare our human life is and spiritual practice is important.

The other day we all got into my van to go out to dinner. The Prayers for Meditation cd was in and playing. Alex was sitting in the back seat singing away. He did not ask me to put on his favorite pop station. He was content and happy singing the prayers. This makes me recall the line; practicing dharma and not wasting our human life on meaningless activities, from the first Lamrim meditation.

Our dog had surgery this week and when we brought her home I could see the pain and worry on his face. Alex loves our dog and hates to see her suffer in any way. He continually expresses his wish for her to have a human rebirth so she too can reach enlightenment. The love and sincerity of his wish reminds me how rare and special this human life is.

On Thanksgiving as we all stated the many things we were grateful for Alex said he was grateful he was a Buddhist. I can’t help but see in his statement the reliance and understanding of going for refuge.

Thank You Alex

Brian sets the example of all living beings are our mothers and cherishing others is most important.

One day Brian asked if we would allow him to stop eating meat. One of his reasons stated was that he could not harm or eat another living being. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s contemplation for the meditation Advantages of Cherishing Others: The precious mind that cherishes all living beings protects both myself and others from suffering, brings happiness, and fulfills our wishes.

He has scooped up bugs and carried them outside instead of killing them for as long as I can remember. We even joke calling him the stink bug whisperer because of how often he carries them outside and never once gets sprayed. His compassion for all living things brings to my mind the realization that all beings are our mothers.

Two weeks ago I took Brian to a occupyroanoke meditation event. I did not realize it was not a guided meditation until the last-minute and had no time to prepare him. So I just whispered say a mantra or think about wishing peace. It was a 30 minute meditation and he did great. Walking back to the car I told him how I was wishing the 99% happiness and freedom from suffering. He explained that he too started out with that wish but felt like it was mean to leave the 1% out and so included them in his wish for happiness as well. I am humbled and inspired by his realization to cherish all beings.

Thank You Brian

Peace and Flowers

Tracie

Not Too Late To Meditate

It is never too late to start meditating. All ages experience many benefits from developing a meditation practice. If everyone had a sincere intent to learn and apply meditation what a peaceful loving world we would have.

I started practicing 11 years ago for a class that required a self meditation study. I was 35 years old and meditating for the first time in my life. I taught myself to do a basic counting technique and quickly realized that I wanted to learn more.

Married, with five children, and a full-time job, I decided to find a way to fit meditation into my hectic life. I began reading about the different methods of practice and the benefits they brought. I joined a meditation center and it wasn’t long before I started experiencing results. I noticed improvement in the areas of stress management, pain tolerance, and even my blood pressure.

As the years have passed my meditation practice has become an important part of who I am and who I want to become. It has not always been easy and there are still days that I look for excuses to avoid it. For those moments I have empowered myself with many encouraging tools. I joined a dharma class, keep a journal, purchased a cushion, meditation table, insight timer, candles, books and more books, guided meditation apps, and of course I have my sangha friends to cheer me on. My life has become enriched by my practice and I no longer can imagine me without it. My wish is for all ages to begin a practice and experience the benefits of meditation like I have. It is a journey well worth taking.

Peace and Flowers,
Tracie

Paralyzed While Active

I will give a brief mention about the background that brought me to this moment. Over the years I have told many people they should write books, blogs, articles, poetry, and basically whatever. Then I realized a couple months ago that it is me who wants to write.

I mulled this thought around for a few months. Thought of doing it secretly so the people I know would not read it. I decided against that and spoke the sentence out loud the day after I joined this site. I said very quietly to my husband that I was thinking of doing a blog. He said very little and I let it drop. The ball was rolling.

Now it is a week later. My blog is set. My introduction was posted after 3 days of worrying. I have topics listed and a million ideas spinning around my head. Tonight I write about none of them. I am lucky to be writing at all. I have a huge case of stage fright or whatever the coined term is for person who is afraid to write publicly.

Knowing this was the day to write my post I woke and immediately started cleaning. That was followed by fooling around with my nook. I read about a free Friday book and did not even bother getting it. I sat down with my Ipad next and bought a budget app. This is really funny because I don’t even budget my check book. All the while I am feeling the time ticking away and I was still bloggless. I laid down for a nap, ran an errand, took care of a minor household repair, read writing articles, went back to the budget app, Skyped with my daughter that lives in Texas, made a blog folder for the notes I will never look to, and ended it all with a flipping on of the television. Only to realize I was going to drop from technology exhaustion if I did not break away from this paralyzing activity.

What better way to share my stumbling path than to show on the very first post the stumble. No meditation was done today. Never once did I pick up a dharma book to read. I didn’t even have patience or peace for my kids. It is now midnight and time to right my day. I am going to thank you in advance for reading my first post. Kiss my kids while they sleep. Hop in bed with a book by Geshe Kesang Gyatso and fall asleep (the Dalai Lama did say this was the best form of meditation) to the words of loving kindness. Ending the day exactly how I should have started it.

Peace and Flowers

Tracie

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