From the BlogMeet Ron

SEPT.8,2016 MINDFUL MEDITATION IN MANOA

SEPT.8,2016 MINDFUL MEDITATION IN MANOA
 
Honolulu folks –> Join us for meditation tonight, Thursday 9/8/16, at our place, 3241 Alani Drive, in Manoa, at the usual time: 6 to 7:30 PM. If you have a meditation cushion please bring; if not, no worries. The front door opens at 5:50.
 
*** NEWS FLASH –>> A small shed has arrived by boat, and Ven. Lekshe is asking anyone with some building experience, or even anyone willing to lend a hand, to contact her about helping to put the shed up on a platform already placed on the land on the North Shore (the future site of a meditation center). If interested please contact Ven. Lekshe at tsomo@sandiego.edu. Mahalo ****
 
 
Dear friends, 
 
In an article on the self-help movement in New York Magazine back in 2013, Kathryn Shultz observed “I know people who wouldn’t so much as walk through the self-help section of a bookstore without The Paris Review under one arm and a puzzled oh-I-thought-the-bathroom-was-over-here look on their face.” 
 
(Back when there were bookstores to hang out in).
 
Some of you reading this may have found appropriate advice at times in self-help literature, while some others may cringe at the mention of the topic. Some authors’ self-appointed gurudom and weak reasoning put some off, while others may be drawn to the maverick nature of certain claims in this literature. 
 
But here we are. And this is a very rich place to hang out for a few more minutes.
 
Many self-help authors now embrace mindfulness as part of the tools and skills they recommend their readers, and for good reason. By practicing mindfulness you can truly help yourself overcome anxiety, stress, lower you blood pressure and re-wire your brain to be more naturally caring and empathic.
 
Since you are still reading, you may be either personally involved in, or are contemplating, a meditation practice such as mindfulness. What is the difference, one could ask, between a mindfulness mind-set and a self-help one?
 
I’m getting there. 
 
Buddhism continues to hold significant influence on big time self-help authors, such as the late Wayne Dyer, but there is also a big time tension here. Mindfulness, as one aspect Buddhist practice, encourages the practitioner to relate to thoughts as arising and passing ephemera rather than as the solid stuff of a self that needs to be tweaked or transformed.
 
In her at times uncharitable critique of the self-help literature, Kathryn Shultz wrote “God knows we all need more help, but possibly we need less self.” 
 
To which contemporary Buddhist authors might add “touché.” 
 
Mindfulness meditation leaves the self-help mindset in the dust when it encourages a radical re-evaluation of this thing we are ostensibly setting out to improve – the self. Mindfulness “teachings” do this when they skillfully enlist the help of their Buddhist host philosophy. 
 
Of course, you don’t have to be a Buddhist to experience positive life-changing insights on this path of meditation. (I happen to identify as a non-affiliated one, but that’s just me).
 
A few clean, surgical incisions with the Buddhist “sword of wisdom” can shake up a very stuck system. And after all, stuck-ness is the raison d’etre of self-help, right?
 
Many of us find ourselves stuck in financial worry, feeling awful for being over-weight, under-loved in a relationship going nowhere, existentially depressed or lost in a millennial haze of desperate distractions. Maybe this is why we started meditating in the first place. 
 
Buddhist mindfulness practice leads, in an uncanny fashion, to remarkably clear insights into how we make up the very self we are trying to improve. When these insights take firm root in our day to day life, we tend to take the sometimes desperate drive to better our perceived predicaments with a hearty laugh.
 
If that just sounds crazy, then there is this.
 
Before reaching for the next self-help trending book in your news-feed, do the mindfulness thing. 
 
Pause.
 
Read one of my favorite two lines in all of Western poetry – from William Butler Yeats in his poem “The Circus Animals’ Desertion,” which ends:
 
 
I must lie down where all the ladders start 
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.
 
 
Just lie down in the perceived foul stuck-ness of your heart. Give up hope and fear. Don’t rush to pull yourself out.
 
If you can hang with this mindfully, patiently, softly … an extraordinary joy can sneak up on us.
 
As the contemporary Buddhist writer Susan Piver writes, it’s “the most rare kind of comfort … the comfort of coming into contact with the unconditioned.”
 
Just life as it is, moment by moment, released from any compulsion to make it conform to some notion we have in our head.
 
Ah, mindfulness!
 
 
Katina and I are here to help you with your meditation practice. 
 
Aloha,
 
Tom, Katina, Kupaianaha … and Uilalani in NYC  

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