Buddhism, Healing, Meditation, Mindfulness

Brief Practice – Grateful Brain

The Covid Daze – I am so aware of the strains it has placed on myself and my world. I am a little short on joyous and grateful states of mind and short on enthusiasm. Apparently, this is a pretty common reaction from such an event and is actually a perfectly reasonable response to trauma. A malaise state. but I am feeling a little done with it personally.

Mind Clouds

Throughout these “times” I have continued to check in and sit with a group of Insight Meditators – on line. They have been my anchor point to return to practice again and again. “Just Begin Again” being my motto for 2021.

Sitting with Mission Dharma this week the teacher Howie Cohen shared his wife’s technique for gratefulness. She is using the phrase “I get to” instead of “I have to”. I get to go to work. I get to clean the house. Etc. I tried “I get to pay my taxes” and it brought the benefits I receive from the tax system to my mind!

It is an insightful short practice to interject into the day here and there. Reframing the lens the mind is viewing through. Creates the added benefit of giving a positive spin to something that needs to be done. I found it helpful with my “ Malaise”. Doing it with a compassion for self is even better. These have been strange days indeed.



The Covid. Is There something I should be doing?

On The British TV series The Crown a young Queen Elizabeth learns that what she must do most often is – nothing. That waiting for the right moment is what needs to be done and sometimes that moment just does not happen.

The COVID and ensuing crisis have given me a great sense of urgency. I feel I must be alert and at ready. My parasympathetic nervous system has become frayed by this as what I mostly need to do is – nothing.

Busy Brain Churning

Really – I tell myself there is not much to do BUT Be Sage, Be Kind and Be Calm. Still in the swirl of thoughts and emotions I am overly vigilant. I think that ties into my last post on Epigenetics. There is a part of me that was born vigilant and it is pretty certain This COVID means business. This part of my wiring isn’t going to take much downtime right now. What I do is transfer that need to do something to small daily tasks. Everything seems more urgent than it really is.

The other day though, the vigilance just cut out. It stopped and I lay on the spare bed relaxed. In fact oddly relaxed. No racing thoughts, no chatter, No desire to check on the state of affairs. I just lay there in a state of calm. I became more aware that I have been engaged in this over functioning behaviour. It seemed to lessen with the awareness.

Just prior to this in a few of my meditations I had begun to see that part of myself that is deeply wired to watch for threats. Constantly looking for threats – I have very little trust. I think some version of this survival focussed mind has been running since birth.

The Journey

The learning never stops. COVID is the new teacher.

🌸 May you find peace – May you be sage.

Epigenetics, Mindfulness

Epigenetics and Meditation

Recently I become aware of the field of epigenetics and research that shows that trauma is passed down into DNA from mother to baby and how excessive stress alters the DNA of adults. This gives clues to so many family puzzles.

Babellz Art File

My parents were both traumatized in infancy. They developed some pretty complex coping mechanisms for a life that was hard – their coping behaviours impacted myself and my siblings. I think many children of trauma know this multigenerational kind of story. The bible verse Numbers 14:18 references this. The sins of the father are visited upon the children and grandchildren. Perhaps it was not an actual sin though – but a catastrophe like war or famine that began the story. Many people get stuck blaming their parents but those parents were most likely responding to a multigenerational trauma that got handed to them. I have come to understand that my parents were doing the best with what they were given. Sometimes what is given though falls far short of Best Practice!

Compassion with boundaries is what is needed to move forward out of deep family injuries. Boundaries being the key word – one needs to heal the self and then perhaps help the family.

Babellz Art File
The love of a dog!

In the studies on epigenetics what I found most fascinating was that both meditation and yoga can alter the stressed DNA of a person and put it back into a balanced state. A person can heal themselves and move beyond family injury. Spending the time to watch thoughts, allowing them to be and, letting them pass – can alter DNA response! I find that piece of information so amazing and – encouraging.

🌸 Peace.

2020, Buddhism, Contemplation, Meditation, Mindfulness

On being – slowed

I lived for a time on a small island in the Salish Sea. I was so used to being in the “busy” city of Vancouver that I would get in my car and drive around the Island a few times just to do something. I’d take the ferry to the next Island and back just for a feeling of busy . I am doing the likes of that again. While trying hard to react and respond with sanity to first The Covid situation and now deep smoke from the disastrous fires along The West Coast of North America … some days working on projects in my little yard, townhouse and on my self, are just not enough. I get in my car and drive around the neighborhood for no good reason. I am in many ways – back on the Island

Babellz Art
Smoke at The Lake 2020

Apparently the neural pathways laid down in childhood stay there for life. My family were not sitting still folks. It was go go go. Lots of car trips, people, parties along with a good dose of parental relationship chaos sprinkled in. The family method to cope with any stressor was to kick into action. A favourite of my father’s was to throw the four kids into a car with The Wife and head down Interstate 5 to California for fun. Just Go was the motto.

I am grateful for much of what the current situation is teaching me but gawd it is not easy. The greatest gains seem to come from stillness and reflection and not action. A complete reversal of my life long strategy. At times I wonder if we are in a chapter of the Bible’s Revelations, experiencing the end of a Kalpa or if I myself will just be taken out by this virus. My mind can run amok pretty easily with it all. .,

I am grateful to the Teachers of Calm who put themselves on Apps like Insight Timer for so many to access. I am also deeply grateful to Sanghas like Insight Meditation Scottsdale.

🌸 Peace


Practicing with Assistance

Not much writing happening of late – on my part. I have been working to maintain my practice and my centre. The Covid and ensuing Social Situations have made me unsettled – to say the least.

I have been sitting with my Scottsdale Sangha via Zoom weekly. I am also very grateful to the many teachers on The Insight Timer App who I connect with pretty much daily.

Lately I have spent a few hours at a time working through a series of these meditations and guided visualization. I am working to strengthen my core spirit and ground so I can engage with the world from clarity of mind and soul.

In case you’d like to sink into a few hours of this kind of meditation. I made a playlist of one of my own sessions to share with you. You can find it on my Insight Timer Site. Access to basic Insight Timer is free.

🌸 May you have Peace, May you be Safe.

Meditation, Mindfulness

Sangha – in These Times

I dwell in both Arizona and British Columbia. I was summoned back to Canada my birth country in March along with many other people to shelter in place from The Covid – since then my movements have been pretty contained. Like most of the rest of the world. I miss my easy ramblings.

You would think being restricted to home would be the perfect situation to practice meditation but the push back inside me to not practice has been tremendous. I have rebuilt a deck, shredded an enormous amount of documents, gardened a lot, ate a lot – but sitting has been really hard.

I have been joining my Meditation group from Scottsdale Arizona Monday nights and I have done 2 weekend Vipassana retreats led by Howie Cohen – via Zoom. This has been fabulous but my daily practice has been spotty. Just when it would be most supportive – I let this intense restlessness interrupt.

Last night Genevieve Tregor who leads the Scottsdale Sangha spoke directly to this. Like she magically could read my state! She shared she was feeling it – other’s in the Sangha did too. She suggested that agitation masks emotion we may want to look deeper into. A fellow practitioner pointed out that a walking meditation is helpful for the agitated body. Other ideas were discussed. What stayed with me was that I was in the company of folks having similar reactions to The Covid situation. Sangha is an immense support – in times like these. Just touching base with like minds has encouraged me and once more, as I suggested in my last post, I Begin Again.


Begin Again

Listening to Insight Timer presenter Joseph Goldstein recently – I heard him say “simply begin again”.

He was discussing how during mindfulness meditation we inevitably get caught in a flow of associated thoughts. His instruction was to give ourselves a gentle reminder to just return to the breath and begin again when we became aware that we have drifted. Not to struggle with why or to beat ourselves up for losing focus. Just simply begin again.

What I also gleaned from it was to use this phrase to bring myself back to my daily practice when I get distracted from my meditation for several weeks. Busy-ness still takes over my routine along with some jumpy emotions and I appreciate this reminder to just returning when I realize I have lost practice.

Based in Vispassana – I appreciate Joseph’s teaching.

I turn to Insight Timer for some assistance in my meditation practice – a lot. It has many free offerings but I have chosen to subscribe to support such a generous and enlightening meditation tool. Along with Joseph I have found several other great teachers to help my practice grow.

Peace ⭐️


Oregon Insight

In beautiful Oregon, on a road trip, I came across a still warm summer lake touching the cooling autumn sky. It was releasing wisps of steamy cloud into the air.

The image has stayed with me and I have begun to see it as an analogy of my mind meeting events in my life – creating thoughts. Thoughts that connect and set one another off – like the warm lake and cold sky dancing. My Mind dances with all the input it is receiving. It works hard to create meaning but it is way too often – just too much.

So – I have begun to use the image of steam from that moment at the autumn lake as a touchstone to focus. It tells my mind that it is okay to create and then just let go. To be like the steam from a cooling lake/sky dance – connected, in action yet unattached.

It has been a very useful little visual.

Peace 🌼

Contemplation, Meditation, Mindfulness

The Collective

As I write this it has been a rather distressing few weeks in the North American social order. Young adults seduced by poisoned internet chats running amok, killing their own people. A steady diet of nutrient deficient “Mind Kool Aid” (created by corporate greed) finally frying brains.

I sense increasing unsettled and anxious feelings in my self and others. The relentless doomsday talk about global warming, Trump, impending economic shifts – psycho killers running loose – all creating anxiety. Caught in some kind of web created by these influences I skipped my meditation practice for a few days – the anxiety grew. I watched mainstream news more. More jumpy feelings ensued. The point is that this chaos – it weighs heavy on my heart and I sense it in the recesses of my mind. It chats away back there – unsettling. I am concerned for my society and the planet. Yet the way things are reported makes me feel helpless. Crazy issues reported with few solutions.

Then I recalled the notion of each of us having a part to play in the the group mind.

Babellz Art

The belief held by some that we share mind – that there is a collective unconscious. While part of the mind is proprietary another part runs deeper and shares components with other people. We all contribute to it and are affected by it. I like this idea.

The Transcendental Meditation (TM) folks are big proponents of the idea. They believe that if many of us practice meditation it will benefit the whole community in a profound way. The Maharishi Effect. Prayer is often viewed as having a similar effect. I decided that I at least have the power to practice meditation and prayer. I Pray that it will be beneficial to more than just myself in some way. So this week I resolved to get back to a 30 minute basic mindfulness practice – every day. Talk about resistance! Still, I made myself sit in mindful practice – daily.

I noticed immediately that I am calmer at the end of my meditation and the day goes better. Clearer in thought – Perhaps this is beneficial to The Collective? It is definitely beneficial to me!

We are living in a complex system with rapid rates of change. Emergent phenomena arising from the system – in good and bad ways. Taking this 30 to 60 minutes a day to create some calm is something I just can not afford to skip.

What a difference it makes to my day. Perhaps it does more.

🌓 Peace


Vanaprastha into the Sixties

I pulled away from my work life in my Mid 50’s. I made art, was available to assist my family and began to pursue a daily meditation practice. I felt compelled to do this.

My husband passed away and I gave a bit of a try at dating but it did not really feel right. I understand that being in a solo state has afforded me valuable time for self-reflection, contemplation and personal growth. In relationships you grow – this Solo Practice is good too.

Ancient Hindu teachings have terms for 4 stages of life. I believe I have been practicing a modern version of Vanaprastha– stage 3 and that the concept is helpful to frame the time of life where you become aware that you have an expiry date.

The Ancient Hindu were direct about how to be in Vanaprastha. You were to go live simply in a nearby forest, contemplate and be available to teach others. Be a Sage for others while coming to terms with your own mortal nature.

Babellz Art
Gold Creek Stones

I think I am doing a North American, female, 21C – version of this. I live simply, I have been clearing my home of unnecessary items. I share my ideas and resources with my family and whoever else wants to discuss life with me. I meditate daily and get into nature as much as possible. This feels right for where I am at now.

I am definitely grieving my many loves and passions gone. I often feel a sweet sadness for things past that few people now share with me. The trick is to not get stuck in these states of emotion and mind. To realize that this time, this day has great value in it’s own right.

I actually feel deep gratitude throughout each day that my life is abundant enough for me to have time to meditate and contemplate. I still socialize with family and friends but I take considerable time each day to embrace my own soul. How lucky I am to have this opportunity!

This time of slow down, contemplation and rest – it just feels right.

Babellz Art
South Beach Stones

In a culture that understood we have stages of life – each as valid as the next I could answer people who ask questions about relationship and ambitions with – I am good. I am practicing Vanaprastha. Looking towards Moksha. Modern Cultures the world over should discuss this more. Clarifying that I am a spirit being – not a spirit doing with one word would be great!