Archive for the 'presence' Category

Positive Mind Shifts: Subtle Smiling and Laughing in my head

Lately, I’ve been practicing how I could subtlety shift my state of mind throughout the day.

Since we are working and living the realm of form almost 90% of the time, and most of that time seems to be strife with “stuff,” the negative build-up starts to mount and soon I start to feel a bit overwhelmed. So here are somethings I do to shift my state of mind:

1) Laugh in your head.

Sometimes I am cracking up, or quitely giggling in my head, when I am walking around, checking mail, looking around, etc.  The mind supposedly can only hold one thought at a time, so instead of worry, and constant anxiety,  I just laugh in my head for no reason, especially in the morning when everyone is asleep. It can be as soft or as loud as you want in your head.  I notice that once I start laughing in my head, my face and my jaw starts to relax a little, and I can feel a subtle smile.

Dr. Mark Stibich from About.com says that Smiling actually produces endorphins, natural pain killers, and seratonin.Smiling is like a drug!

2) Subtle Smiling

Whether I am naturally smiling from the above exercise, or “fake” a subtle smile the body starts to follow. Now, a broad extreme smile is great for stretching the face. Do whatever extreme funny positive  facial expressions. When I do it the mind seems to pickup any slight negativity, and lets me know it by bringing up negative thoughts. Keeping it lighthearted, fun, for about 1 minute or longer, when start relax the body, and any anxiety will lessen with it.

Think of a statue of a Buddha. Check out its subtle smile. In a “just sitting” class, I started producing this slight smile and I was suddenly able to breathe better, and as a result I could feel my brain relax, shifting and “expanding.” When I combine that with an awareness of  heart and my heart region and chest start to expand, and my lungs start to relax and I am able to breathe deeply.  Subtle smiling and bringing awareness to different part of the body seems to expand those areas as well. Imagine what it can do if the awareness is placed on the entire body with smiling!

BTW: Check this article from Scientific American on a study/experiement that suggests that when a person’s Seratonin levels are low,  their perception of what is fair is altered.  No Fair! My Seratonin Levels are Low!
To me this suggests kind of the Mind-Body loop. Imagine how much help smiling, even just a little, could do!

Tiger Woods – Pointing the finger at himself. A great leap towards his own enlightenment

I just saw a news clip of a Buddhist monk talking about how Tiger Woods should have gone to church (and since he is Buddhist, a Buddhist Church of course), and if he had gone, he would not be doing this sin and that. Yikes,  that monk was on fire. I’m not so sure where this monk is getting his sense of sin.Maybe I missed that lecture myself since I don’t attend the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temple.

I mean yeah, Tiger Woods cheated, and hurt a lot of friends, family, and fans, but in the end the one who is really suffering? He is. And judging from the transcript of his speech (I don’t need to see the video) its pretty clear that he knows that he made a huge mistake. We can label his actions as stupid, or what not, but the bottom line is this  – he knows he created his own suffering, and he knows that his actions made others suffer as well. Endless suffering like a virus.

Now, is there really sin in Buddhism? Not Really. Yeah, you can be the cause of bad happenings, and it can spiral downward, or you can do good things and it will spiral upward. There are no laws, per say, but pointers to keeping the mind in right livelihood. But sins suggest that a lightening bolt, or someone judging you when your life is over. There is no judgement day, or someone banning you to hell. You live with the suffering everyday Now,  not some future event. This kind of sin seems ripe for pointing a finger at other people, and in essence trying to control them to be a certain way. In the end, perhaps Tiger Woods was unconsciously playing with fire and wanted to be caught.Perhaps he knew he was not in alignment with his own “stillness.”

I don’t know the answer, but it seems that his mistakes have forced himself to point the finger at himself. Instead of being responsible for just himself, I think he has a deeper understanding that he is deeply interconnected to the world, and that he must take responsibility for…well, everything.

In the end, he is human. And enlightenment cannot be achieve without mistakes. And sometimes, the bigger mistake the better the teacher the mistake is.

I’m cheering Tiger and his family on to keep exploring his/their spiritual side. His Apology is a great example of soemone willing to work on himself. Yeah, there are lawsuits coming I’m sure, but life is suffering, and life is a great teacher that pushes us to find stillness in the midst of all the suffering.

If anything I am learning from Tiger’s apology. He’s a great example of someone with all the fame, money, opportunities, and access, but none of those things (form) ever amount to being aligned with his love of everyone and his being.

I think things are spiraling up for Tiger. Now, if I can only get into watching golf…


Feeling a Wave of Funk..But that’s OK.

At the time, of this writing, I am not sure why, but I’ve just been in a funk.
Actually my mind can come up with lots of reasons, but when it comes down to it here’s what I am observing:

1) I’ve been asking WHY way to much…even though I know there is no end to the Whys, and faster than google can do a search my mind can come up with all sorts of negative thoughts. Such as, “Why am I not doing the work that I want to?”…or “What is my passion? Ahh!! I need to do something! Maybe its because”….Well it goes on and on…Endless suffering…Stuck in the past.

2) Succumbing to old & not so useful perceptions, or even worse adopting other people’s new perceptions of who or where I should be.

3) Perceptions of what might happen…or Stuck in the dreaded future! For example, I work Short sales Often they will nix out certain items and I have to argue against them when we negotiate. Its a pretty painful process, possibly because I make it painful, I really don’t like arguing, and even though I couch the arguement to make it work their way they sometimes don’t agree even if they benefit. It makes no sense, but I realize that is a “should” – or an attachment to what I want to be right – more suffering.

4) Survival. I think the core for any of these things that make us suffer is our Mind/Body’s feeling that our basic survival is under threat. But to put things into perspective, I am always floored to hear that Eckhart Tolle basically left London, and went to California and Canada. Finally, settling in Canada of which he was homeless for about 2 years (In the COLD!). He had friends, I’m sure but at the core, he was by himself. I doubt he felt alone though. I’d say as much we feel like we are losing things, property, homes, possessions we must sell, and when you are down to nothing, but what you can carry, we still have access to the now, we still have our one purpose below the material purpose of form – and that is to find and know our internal joy – no one can take that away.

I suppose the trick is too be joyful, or have access to joy (which is always), even when the world is seemingly crashing down. Its a relief even to hear that even the Buddha suffered, other wise would he not even teach, since the “goal” would be to end suffering for others. The Buddha is all about the middle way, neither happy or sad, or knowing that both is suffering itself, and letting suffering and all contradictions pass through – knowing that amongst all the emotional rollercoasters, and the crashing world, there is still, the stillness of our “you-niverse.”

peace and stillness;)




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