bee happy * bee well * bee positive

Monday, July 23, 2012

Impermanence: agent of change

     Hi all,  in my last blog I had stated that I would talk about mindfulness in daily actions, but this week I have experienced 2 big events in my life and I feel like the subject of impermanence is really where I am sitting.
      For most people impermanence is associated with loss, but it is actually  just a big word for change. Change can be good, bad or neutral. Everything is changing around and within us every moment. Nothing stays the same, although some things change so slowly that the change is not immediately noticed. Rocks and children are good examples. Ask any parent about their child and they will tell you that although they seem the same from day to day, a quick look at a few holiday pictures will show you just how much they have grown. Rocks on the other hand never seem to change, but a close look at the Grand Canyon or the Cliffs of Dover proves that rocks do change, albeit slowly...very slowly.
     The truth is that all things appear, manifest and vanish
 in every instantaneous moment of the now, the only time that actually exists.  The me who just typed those words is already gone as the new me types these words. A continuation of that last moment me, but not the same me , because of the actions that I am taking writing this blog. The first me did not have the same memories that the second me has.
      To be mindful (I guess I am writing about mindfulness after all) is to only do one thing at a time, not too easy in our on-line, multitasking world. It also means being aware of the impermanent nature of our selves and our world in this moment. Everything is changing, now.
      This week change/impermanence came right up to me and said hello and goodbye. Hello because as some of you may know I have been very busy over the last few weeks setting up this blog and a web site. Both are published now and it is exciting  for me to have a means to share my voice with you. My passion is being expressed and I happily spend time working on the gift that these sites has given me. I am very mindful while I work on them because time slips away, so that there is only me, the computer, and my intention that those I am meant to reach, to share with, can now find me. It is ironic however that when I say hello, I am saying goodbye as well. The text goes out and I'm on to my next piece, letting go so it has a life of it's own.
    Not all change is so fluid, unfortunately. This week saw the death of my beloved pet, Zero. This is a painful loss. Zero was only 8 years old. He was fine one day, seemed under the weather the next and  just like that he was gone. It tore my heart out. He was a beautiful black Bombay cat, sleek and tall like a statue of Bast and  he had a little kink at the end of his tail, so when he laid it across his toes it curled. I tried to find a picture of him sitting like that for this blog then I remembered that whenever I attempted to take his picture he would always move (unless he was asleep).  You see he was always on the move, always changing and that had been a source of joy and pain during our time together. He often sat with me as I meditated and he will be sorely missed. I have 2 other cats, but the house is strangely quiet without Zero on the prowl.  Now I  understand what SARK meant in her book "Glad No Matter What" when she wrote  "...he will be dead for such a long time" about her father.
   Impermanence  or change is with us every moment., without it there would be no growth, no progress, no hope. The only thing in this world that doesn't change is the reality, the truth of impermanence/change.  I am joyous about finding my voice and sharing it with those who care to listen, and so empty without my kitty pal Zero. I can accept both. Mindfulness about change is all about acceptance of whatever changes occur.

   This week no new meditation technique, except to say...
                                   take time to appreciate the ones you love
                                   take time to love yourself,
                                   and don't worry too much about change
                                   just let it flow to you and through you
                                   and remember change is...  the one thing that never changes.

     blissings, amber

You can find my web pages at
 a more extensive MENDs blog is there, but I will continue to post MENDs tips here in the future as well,
 hope to see you...

Up next: well, so many topics, so hard to choose... it's a mystery, now

see you soon...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mantras: a mute button for my talking head.

       Do you have days when the talking heads in your mind seem to overwhelm you?  You know that little voice that says...oohh he's hot, or do these pants make me look fat, or any number of other wanted and unwanted thoughts that can tire you out and make you wish for a moments peace... from yourself?  I know I have and mantra is one of the easiest ways to quiet the mind and  it is flexible as well.

        The simplest mantra of all is to count your breath. Just sit comfortably, or lie down, lightly touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth (this helps manage the amount of saliva you produce) and as you breath in and out count to 20 (or 10) on the out breath.  Do this about 5 times and you will find about 10 minutes has passed...Congratulations you just meditated using a mantra!

        Counting is easy because we already know how to do it.  I often use this method when I can't quiet the talking heads enough to follow my breath.  I am not trying to stop my thoughts, I  am giving myself a stronger focal point to concentrate on, a concrete thought rather than something we normally pay little attention to.  When I notice I am thinking, I just go back to number 1 and start again.  I also have times when the counting slips away and there is silence or just my breath as well.  This is the stillness that is the fruit of practicing meditation.

          There are potentially as many mantras to choose from as there are words or even nonsense words and there are  quite a few that are well established from various religions. Most established mantras are sacred words and some have specific actions such as to cultivate compassion or for healing. You have probably heard some of them: AUM or OM a very old Sanskrit mantra  (popular with the hippies of the 60's), Om mani padme hum- a Tibetan mantra, or Om namah  shivaya which was prominent in the book "Eat Pray Love".

           I first learned to meditate by going to the Transcendental Meditation Center near my home.  I was taken to a small booth with a chair and dim lights. The TM instructor told me a word, a mantra chosen for me based on my answers to a questionnaire completed earlier.  I was told to close my eyes and repeat the word silently to myself and that I should do this for 20 minutes at which time they would let me know to stop and I should slowly open my eyes and allow myself to "awaken", although I had not been asleep. This is the general format most sitting meditation takes with only the specific method and time allotment as variables.

          I later found out that the mantra they had given me was based on a Hindu Goddess. At the time I thought nothing of the religious implication of the mantra, but as time has passed I realized that I did not want to "pray" to a God or Goddess I really do not believe in. I was not interested in repeating long motto type mantras such as "be the change you want to see in the world" Gandhi, either... too complicated.  So I experimented with positive words like peace, love abundance, bee, happy and others, but most had too many implications, giving the talking heads more fuel for the fire ( so not what I was after). Then I tried nonsense words... I strung a couple of  sounds together...hmmm better. Eventually I just turned back to counting when I wanted to use mantra.

         The beauty and flexibility of mantras is what makes them an ideal  and easy way to quiet our minds, creating a mute button for the audio of our talking heads. Do what feels natural for you.  There are many web sites where you can find , Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and various other spiritual beliefs mantras, or design your own using a word or saying that resonates with you.

             sit quietly and repeat your mantra

            Some people use prayer beads (more on those later) to keep track of how many repetitions they have done or you can time yourself, I have used both methods. Either way, a few moments spent meditating using a mantra can be like a vacation for your mind and that will have benefits for your health and well being as well.

blissings, amber

             Up next: more about mindfulness: lets drink tea or drive the car or...?
see you soon...

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