Meditation has a lot of benefits.
If you've meditated regularly, you've most likely experienced some of these benefits, like a feeling of calm, inner peace, increased creativity and energy, or greater clarity and focus.
What most people don't realize is that meditation also has the benefit of making the world a better place. Let me share here some wisdom for Thich Nhat Hanh, a world-renowned Buddhist monk and activist. (If you didn't know this, he was nominated by Martin Luther King, Jr., to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.)
You see, meditation and mindfulness bring you to a greater state of awareness, both into who you are and what is happening in the world around you. When you walk in the world in a state of mindfulness, you can't ignore what's around you.
Ferguson, the Middle East, the Ukraine. Homelessness, economic inequality, racism, lgbt injustice.
Mindfulness is the kind of spirituality that doesn't help you escape the world, but it brings you deeper into it. The point is not to bring us to despair, but mindfulness brings each one of us eventually to a point where we ask ourselves: What is mine to do? How am I being called to show up to make this world a better place?
With this in mind, here's your coaching assignment for the week:
Sometimes it only takes one small act to change the world.
I'd love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below.
Special Note: I'm doing a tele-seminar on Wed, Dec 10, 2014, at 12pm called "Gay Men's Meditation: A Mindful Approach to the Stress and Rush of the Holiday Season." If you know of anyone who might be interested in attending, I'd appreciating you sharing this link. Thank you!
In the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, this week's spiritual tip is focused on Gratitude. To make it extra special, I decided to make a short video on "How to Create Your Own Gratitude Jar."
I saw a Facebook post about this a few weeks ago and thought because it was such a brilliant idea, that I'd pass it on to you.
Click on the video below to see me walk you through step-by-step for creating your own Gratitude Jar.
Here are the ingredients to create your own Gratitude Jar:
Once you have all these in place, the idea is to write down one thing that you're grateful for on to a piece of paper and then put the paper in the jar. I encourage you to do this at least once a day (and you can do more if you want!).
The cool thing is that you can start this anytime (like today) and read them after you've built up a bunch of notes. After a week or two, or a month, or even a year, then you take the time to empty the jar and remind yourself of all the great things that are in your life. Some people read them at the end of a month, during Thanksgiving or the holidays. Plus, you can share this activity with the special someone(s) in your life.
The Gratitude Jar is a spiritual practice that invites you to celebrate and appreciate the people and experiences in your life right now. Gratitude opens you to a greater sense of ease, expansion and joy because you become more aware of the blessings in your life.
I'd love to hear what you think about this spiritual practice. Leave a comment and tell me your thoughts. With Gratitude, Joselito
I must admit that sometimes when I experience emotional pain, I find myself wanting to move towards the quick fix. How can I quickly dismiss the heavy emotions I feel watching world news? How can I let go of my own anger when it arises?
I’ve experienced that pain persists when I ignore it, or when I attempt a “spiritual bypass” by easily proclaiming that there is a (hidden) blessing within my experiences. What do I miss when I simply say, “Well, it is what it is,” or “It all happens for some reason.”
You see, there’s wisdom in giving room to the feelings of pain, sorrow and anger, and to bring compassion and an ever-widening heart space for whatever bubbles up.
Claudia Horwitz, a spiritual activist, has some wise words to this point: “The problem comes when we react out of our emotional response and rush toward the quick fix when we might be greatly aided by resting in our discomfort and unknowing. Our spiritual challenge is to make space for this confusion and to have faith in whatever clarity will follow” (Horwitz, 80).
Here is where I find meditation so helpful. When I quiet my mind, I create the breathing space to notice the thoughts that move through my mind. I cultivate my own awareness of what thoughts choose to linger, and others that simply move away. I contemplate a greater observation of my reality and those around me.
For Alice Walker, author and activist, “this involved, during meditation, learning to breathe in the pain I was feeling, not to attempt to avoid or flee it. It involved making my heart bigger and bigger just to be able to hold it all” (Walker, 194).
In the state of being still, I gain a greater awareness, understanding and knowledge of life as I see it. In the stillness, I have a greater ability to intentionally expand my heart-space for compassion for all the troubles in the world that I experience and that I witness. And in the stillness, I can hear more clearly the call in my heart that guides me to move in compassionate action and service to others.
If you found this post helpful or if it brings up more questions, leave a comment below. I'd love to hear what you think.
Horwitz, Claudia. Fall 2003. Spiritual Activism: From Confusion to Liberation. The Reconstructionist 68: no 1, 77-81.
Walker, Alice. “This Was Not an Area of Large Plantations: Suffering Too Insignifcant for the Majority to See.” In Dharma, Color, and Culture: New Voices in Western Buddhism, edited by Hilda Gutierrez Baldoquin. 189-200. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press, 2004.
This post is excerpted from my homework assignment for my class “Mysticism and Social Change” offered at Starr King School for the Ministry, part of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.
Joselito is a spiritual life coach helping people create a purposeful, spiritual path to career and financial freedom.
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