Month: November 2020

The Life Cycles Of Cities

Cities are never static; they can transform in months, years, or centuries. This hour, TED speakers explore how today’s cities are informed by the past, and how they’ll need to evolve for the future. Guests include archaeologist Alyssa Loorya, architects Marwa Al-Sabouni and Rahul Mehrotra, and landscape architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom.

Awakening, Intuition and What Nature Teaches Us with Samuel Austin

Episode #31 with Samuel Austin

“In this episode, Shaun and I are joined by the powerfully wise Samuel Austin, founder of Live Learn Evolve

Samuel is a digital wizard who, through his platform – samaustindesign.com, utilises his creativity and technological expertise for the betterment of humanity and nature.

He is also the founder of Live Learn Evolve – a digital platform publishing some of the most profound and thought provoking content around self realisation, spirituality, philosophy, art and science, with the aim to drive the emergence of a more conscious humanity.

Listen to the Episode

Spotify Episode

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Sam is also the creator of the documentary, Awakening the Soul – a deep-dive into the emerging psychedelic plant medicine scene, exploring how and why Ayahuasca is so profoundly effective at revolutionising people’s lives and catalysing miraculous healing.


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Sam is a powerful conduit for the plants and is currently doing some amazing work in Costa Rica with Rythmia – one of the leading plant medicine dispensary centres in the world.”

Episode Timestamps

  • 4:00 – The moment of awakening into presence
  • 10:02 – The dance between seeking and finding
  • 11:30 – The necessity of experiencing trauma
  • 13:26 – Tuning into intuition and universal law
  • 17:13 – Seeing from the heart, not from the mind
  • 22:35 – Blind hedonism and human naiveté
  • 29:36 – The catalytic effects of plant medicine
  • 32:41 – True healing can only occur from within
  • 35:01 – The war on addiction and labelling drugs
  • 40:45 – The only task is to do The Work and express your truth
  • 42:25 – The polarities of alignment and misalignment
  • 44:10 – There are no beginnings or ends
  • 46:12 – Anchoring in the felt dimension and remembrance
  • 48:25 – Remembrance found in presence
  • 50:29 – The only constant is change
  • 53:00 – Truly listen and you will always be guided
  • 54:51 – What questions are you asking?
  • 55:35 – The prescribed path may not be your path

Listen to the episode below!

How Mindfulness Transformed My Life

Autumn Leaves - Alaska

by Anshul Kamath

A little over 4 years ago, I decided to take one of the
biggest decisions of my life. I quit my job in London working in Finance for
one of the world’s largest energy companies and moved back to India where I
grew up. After years in the rat race and a completely hectic and unhealthy
schedule, I decided it was time to pause and evaluate what I really wanted from
life.

Within a few weeks of moving back, through a pure moment of
serendipity, I ended up attending a 2 day workshop on mindfulness and
neuroscience. Those 2 days were magical – for the first time I learnt about how
I function as an individual, how my mind works and, perhaps most importantly, I
learnt about mindfulness as a tool to use on a daily basis. We covered some
simple techniques of becoming aware of the moment through breathing and
practices such as mindful walking.

My life was extremely fast-paced and that was mirrored by the
pace of thoughts in my mind. Mindfulness became the antidote to that for me.
While I wanted to pause in my career and reevaluate things, mindfulness became
a mini version of that for me everyday. A chance to pause for a few moments and
enjoy the moment, a chance to become aware of my thoughts, body and what I was
sensing.

Deepening my practice

Over the next few months, some of my regular mindfulness
practices on a daily basis were as below:

  • Mindful walking: I started taking short breaks from my desk at work and would head out for a short walk. I would leave my phone behind at my desk to charge while I just enjoyed some fresh air and paid attention to my feet as I walked.
  • Mindful chai: In India, we all love our chai! And I
    found practicing mindfulness with my tea particularly de-stressing. I would
    engage all my senses while having sipping my tea
  • Touching the cup and feeling the heat in my fingertips
  • Smelling the aromas of the tea and inhaling the
    flavours
  • Paying special attention to the tastes and hints of
    spices such as ginger or cardamom
  • Listening to any sounds in my mouth or throat as I
    drank the tea
  • Sensory mindfulness: This is something I would do for a
    few minutes at my desk to recharge myself. Taking a few minutes to look around the
    room becoming aware of the space around me as well as any sounds and smells in
    the room. I would follow this with 3 deep breaths.

Starting to see the
benefits!

cold outlook

All of these exercises above were less than 5 minutes of my
time but really effective ways for me to practice some mindfulness everyday and
give my mind a short break! I also noticed a big difference in my own outlook
towards life. I started becoming more relaxed on a daily basis and able to see
greater clarity in my own thought process. By nature, I tend to be very edgy
and often appear nervous and anxious when facing situations. The last few years
have seen a big change in my demeanor and this has also been pointed out to me
by close friends. I’ve slowly made it a habit when taking decisions or
confronting situations to look at the larger picture and embrace a decision
whole heartedly. This is not a change that’s come easily but simple things like
taking 3 deep breaths when I’m feeling edgy or trying to see the worst case
scenario and embrace it have helped me.

Another big revelation for me through mindfulness was slowly
becoming more aware of my body. For the first time in my life, I was able to
identify moments when I had overeaten or times when my upper back started
showing signs of stress because I was sitting in a poor posture. Taking a few
moments to become aware of my body and my state played a big role in this and
after a few months, it became more of a subconscious habit. At the end of each
day before sleeping, I usually take 12 deep breaths following a ‘pranayama’
technique I learnt at a mindfulness retreat. Along with focusing on the breath,
you also pay attention to the entire body when breathing – when you breathe in
– you scan your body from your toes moving upwards to your head. And when you
breathe out, you reverse the scan starting with your head downwards. With slow,
deep breathing, this entire process lasts for at least 5-6 minutes which is a
great way to become aware of the body and breath.

Mindfulness and
physical health

Mindfulness has also helped me more recently through an
extremely challenging period in my life with my health. Two years ago, I was
diagnosed with an autoimmune condition and an underlying leaky gut. For those
of you familiar with autoimmune conditions and diseases, you will be aware that
these conditions generally have no cure, they can be maintained through factors
such as your diet, sleep and mental wellbeing.

The first year was really tough for me. My immune system
started attacking my inner cheeks and gums and the inflammation resulted in
several ulcers in my mouth that would often last over a month. While it’s
painful physically, it was even more challenging mentally. Not being able to
control the situation and being subject to random flare ups in my body used to
cause me a lot of anxiety which further compounded the situation.

This is where meditation and mindfulness has really helped me.
Constantly being able to stay in the moment and remind myself that these kinds
of flare ups are temporary and will also pass. It isn’t easy at all to change
the narrative in your mind from being a victim of a medical condition to
accepting and embracing it. It took me months of daily meditation and trying to
rewire the thoughts in my head to get there.

Hands

My condition is chronic and I still have periods of severe
inflammation and flare ups. However, I have first hand seen a correlation
between the times when I meditate regularly and my physical health and
inflammation. Research has also backed this by showing how mindfulness helps reduce
cortisol and stress in the body, which is a big contribution to inflammation in
the body.

These practices really helped me move towards my goal of
leading a healthier and more balanced life.

Moving from practicing
myself to helping others

In 2018, as I deepened my practice of mindfulness, I also
started connecting with meditation teachers and wellness experts; and together
we started facilitating mindfulness and personal growth workshops for working
professionals. Over the course of 2 years, I facilitated workshops for over 600
individuals and right from college students to CEOs, mindfulness seemed like a
practice with a universal appeal. We all know that practices like mindfulness
are the need of the hour in today’s lightning fast world. But actually seeing
it helping people was extremely satisfying for me.

About a year ago, I finally decided that this is something
that gave me immense satisfaction and I committed the next 5 years of my life
towards helping people with mental wellbeing and personal growth. I launched a
startup called Evolve and our mission is to make mental wellbeing simple and
joyful! And mindfulness is a big part of it!


Anshul Kamath is the founder of Evolve.

You can visit their
website at
https://www.evolveinc.in/ or download the app at:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=in.evolve.android or

https://apps.apple.com/in/app/evolve-joyful-personal-growth/id1515433542

The following two tabs change content below.

Our aim is to promote mindfulness.


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See what makes us different
https://www.glencroft.com Learn more about our ZoeLife training system http://www.zoelifeonline.com Visit our resident portal to see dining menus, publications & activities
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5 Ways Meditation Will Transform Your Life by Pema Chödrön

Yes, it’s a strange thing to do — just sit there and do basically nothing. Yet the simple act of stopping, says Pema Chödrön, is the best way to cultivate our good qualities. It’s a long one, but quite honestly the most convincing perspective I’ve come across. Here are five ways meditation can transform your life:

There are numerous ways to work with the mind. One of the most effective is through the tool of sitting meditation. Sitting meditation opens us to each and every moment of our life. Each moment is totally unique and unknown. Our mental world is seemingly predictable and graspable. We believe that thinking through all the events and to-dos of our life will provide us with ground and security. But it’s all a fantasy, and this very moment, free of conceptual overlay, is completely unique. It is absolutely unknown. We’ve never experienced this very moment before, and the next moment will not be the same as the one we are in now. Meditation teaches us how to relate to life directly, so we can truly experience the present moment, free from conceptual overlay.

“Meditation gives us the opportunity to have an open, compassionate attentiveness to whatever is going on. The meditative space is like the big sky— spacious, vast enough to accommodate anything that arises.”

As we meditate, we are nurturing five qualities that begin to come forth over the months and years that we practice. You might find it helpful to reconnect with these qualities whenever you ask yourself, “Why am I meditating?”

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1. DEVELOP LOYALTY TO YOURSELF

The first quality—namely, the first thing that we’re doing when we meditate—is cultivating and nurturing steadfastness with ourselves. I was talking to someone about this once, and she asked, “Is this steadfastness sort of like loyalty? What are we being loyal to?” Through meditation, we are developing a loyalty to ourselves. This steadfastness that we cultivate in meditation translates immediately into loyalty to one’s experience of life.

“which could be your mind going a hundred miles an hour, your body twitching, your head pounding, your heart full of fear, whatever comes up—you stay with the experience.”

Steadfastness means that when you sit down to meditate and you allow yourself to experience what’s happening in that moment—which could be your mind going a hundred miles an hour, your body twitching, your head pounding, your heart full of fear, whatever comes up—you stay with the experience. That’s it. Sometimes you can sit there for an hour and it doesn’t get any better. Then you might say, “Bad meditation session. I just had a bad meditation session.” But the willingness to sit there for ten minutes, fifteen minutes, twenty minutes, a half hour, an hour, however long you sat there—this is a compassionate gesture of developing loyalty or steadfastness to yourself.

We have such a tendency to lay a lot of labels, opinions, and judgments on top of what’s happening. Steadfastness—loyalty to yourself—means that you let those judgments go. So, in a way, part of the steadfastness is that when you notice your mind is going a million miles an hour and you’re thinking about all kinds of things, there is this uncontrived moment that just happens without any effort: you stay with your experience. In meditation, you develop this nurturing quality of loyalty and steadfastness and perseverance toward yourself. And as we learn to do this in meditation, we become more able to persevere through all kinds of situations outside of our meditation, or what we call postmeditation.

2. SEE CLEARLY THE HABITS THAT LIMIT YOUR LIFE

“We start to catch the beginnings of a neurotic chain reaction that limits our ability to experience joy or connect with others.”

The second quality that we generate in meditation is clear seeing, which is similar to steadfastness. Sometimes this is called clear awareness. Through meditation, we develop the ability to catch ourselves when we are spinning off, or hardening to circumstances and people, or somehow closing down to life. We start to catch the beginnings of a neurotic chain reaction that limits our ability to experience joy or connect with others. You would think that because we are sitting in meditation, so quiet and still, focusing on the breath, that we wouldn’t notice very much. But it is actually quite the opposite. Through this development of steadfastness, this learning to stay in meditation, we begin to form a nonjudgmental, unbiased clarity of just seeing. Thoughts come, emotions come, and we can see them ever so clearly.

In meditation, you are moving closer and closer to yourself, and you begin to understand yourself so much more clearly. You begin to see clearly without a conceptual analysis, because with regular practice, you see what you do over and over and over and over again. You see that you replay the same tapes over and over and over in your mind. The name of the partner might be different, the employer might be different, but the themes are somewhat repetitious. Meditation helps us clearly see ourselves and the habitual patterns that limit our life. You begin to see your opinions clearly. You see your judgments. You see your defense mechanisms. Meditation deepens your understanding of yourself.

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3. TRUE COURAGE

The third quality we cultivate in meditation is one that I’ve actually been alluding to when I bring up both steadfastness and clear seeing—and it happens when we allow ourselves to sit in meditation with our emotional distress. I think it’s really important to state this as a separate quality that we develop in practice, because when we experience emotional distress in meditation (and we will), we often feel like “we’re doing it wrong.” So the third quality that seems to organically develop within us is the cultivation of courage, the gradual arising of courage. I think the word “gradual” here is very important, because it can be a slow process. But over time, you will find yourself developing the courage to experience your emotional discomfort and the trials and tribulations of life.

Meditation is a transformative process, rather than a magic makeover in which we doggedly aim to change something about ourselves. The more we practice, the more we open and the more we develop courage in our life. In meditation you never really feel that you “did it” or that you’ve “arrived.” You feel that you just relaxed enough to experience what’s always been within you. I sometimes call this transformative process “grace.” Because when we’re developing this courage, in which we allow the range of our emotions to occur, we can be struck with moments of insight. These insights could never have come from trying to figure out conceptually what’s wrong with us or what’s wrong with the world. These moments of insight come from the act of sitting in meditation, which takes courage—a courage that grows with time.


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Through this developing courage, we are often graced with a change in our worldview, if ever so slight. Meditation allows you to see something fresh that you’ve never seen before or to understand something new that you’ve never understood before. Sometimes we call these boons of meditation “blessings.” In meditation, you learn how to get out of your own way long enough for there to be room for your own wisdom to manifest, and this happens because you’re not repressing this wisdom any longer.

When you develop the courage to experience your emotional distress at its most difficult level, and you’re just sitting there with it in meditation, you realize how much comfort and how much security you get from your mental world. Because at that point, when there’s a lot of emotion, you begin to really get in touch with the feeling, the underlying energy, of your emotions. You begin to let go of the words, the stories, as best you can, and then you’re just sitting there. Then you realize, even if it seems unpleasant, that you feel compelled to keep reliving the memory, the story of your emotions—or that you want to dissociate. You may find that you often drift into fantasy about something pleasant. And the secret is that, actually, we don’t want to do any of this.

“Part of us wants so earnestly to wake up and open. The human species wants to feel more alive and awake to life.”

But also, the human species is not comfortable with the transient, shifting quality of the energy of reality. Simply put, a large part of us actually prefers the comfort of our mental fantasies and planning, and that’s actually why this practice is so difficult to do. Experiencing our emotional distress and nurturing all of these qualities—steadfastness, clear seeing, courage— really shakes up our habitual patterns. Meditation loosens up our conditioning; it’s loosening up the way we hold ourselves together, the way we perpetuate our suffering.

4. ATTENTION

The fourth quality we develop in meditation is something I’ve been touching on all along, and that is the ability to become awake to our lives, to each and every moment, just as it is. This is the absolute essence of meditation. We develop attention to this very moment; we learn to just be here. And we have a lot of resistance to just being here! When I first started practicing, I thought I wasn’t good at it. It took me a while to realize that I had a lot of resistance to just being here now. Just being here—attention to this very moment—does not provide us with any kind of certainty or predictability. But when we learn how to relax into the present moment, we learn how to relax with the unknown.

“the ability to become awake to our lives, to each and every moment, just as it is. This is the absolute essence of meditation”

Life is never predictable. You can say, “Oh, I like the unpredictability,” but that’s usually true only up to a certain point, as long as the unpredictability is somewhat fun and adventurous. I have a lot of relatives who are into things like bungee jumping and all kinds of terrifying things—all of my nephews, particularly, and nieces. Sometimes, thinking of their activities, I experience extreme terror. But everybody, even my wild relatives, meets their edge. And sometimes the most adventurous of us meet our edge in the strangest places, like when we can’t get a good cup of coffee. We’re willing to jump off a bridge upside down, but we throw a tantrum when we can’t get a good cup of coffee. Strange that not being able to get a good cup of coffee could be the unknown, but somehow for some, maybe for you, it is that edge of stepping into that uncomfortable, uncertain space.

So this place of meeting our edge, of accepting the present moment and the unknown, is a very powerful place for those who wish to awaken and open their heart and mind. The present moment is the generative fire of our meditation. It is what propels us toward transformation. In other words, the present moment is the fuel for your personal journey. Meditation helps you meet your edge; it’s where you actually come up against it and you start to lose it. Meeting the unknown of the moment allows you to live your life and to enter your relationships and commitments ever more fully. This is living wholeheartedly.

Meditation is revolutionary, because it’s not a final resting place: you can always be more settled. This is why I continue to do this year after year. If I looked back and had no sense that any transformation had happened, if I didn’t recognize that I feel more settled and more flexible, it would be pretty discouraging. But there is that feeling. And there’s always another challenge, and that keeps us humble. Life knocks you off your pedestal. We can always work on meeting the unknown from a more settled and openhearted space. It happens for all of us. I too have moments where I am challenged in meeting the present moment, even after decades of meditation.

The point is that when your cover is blown, it’s embarrassing. When you practice meditation, getting your cover blown is just as embarrassing as it ever was, but you’re glad to see where you’re still stuck because you would like to die with no more big surprises. On your deathbed, when you thought you were Saint Whoever, you don’t want to find out that the nurse completely pushes you over the wall with frustration and anger. Not only do you die angry at the nurse, but you die disillusioned with your whole being. So if you ask why we meditate, I would say it’s so we can become more flexible and tolerant to the present moment. You could be irritated with the nurse when you’re dying and say, “You know, that’s the way life is.” You let it move through you. You can feel settled with that, and hopefully you even die laughing—it was just your luck to get this nurse! You can say, “This is absurd!” These people who blow our cover like this, we call them “gurus.”

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5. NO BIG DEAL

The fifth and last quality regarding why we meditate is what I call “no big deal.” It’s what I am getting at when I say we become flexible to the present moment. Yes, with meditation you may experience profound insight, or the magnificent feeling of grace or blessing, or the feeling of transformation and newfound courage, but then: no big deal. You’re on your deathbed, and you have this nurse who’s driving you nuts, and it’s funny: no big deal.

So meditation helps us cultivate this feeling of no big deal, not as a cynical statement, but as a statement of humor and flexibility. You’ve seen it all, and seeing it all allows you to love it all.

This was one of the biggest teachings from my teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche: no big deal. I remember one time going to him with what I thought was a very powerful experience from my practice. I was all excited, and as I was telling him about this experience, he had a look. It was a kind of indescribable look, a very open look. You couldn’t call it compassionate or judgmental or anything. And as I was telling him about this, he touched my hand and said, “No . . . big . . . deal.” He wasn’t saying “bad,” and he wasn’t saying “good.” He was saying that these things happen and they can transform your life, but at the same time don’t make too big a deal of them, because that leads to arrogance and pride, or a sense of specialness. On the other hand, making too big a deal about your difficulties takes you in the other direction; it takes you into poverty, self-denigration, and a low opinion of yourself. So meditation helps us cultivate this feeling of no big deal, not as a cynical statement, but as a statement of humor and flexibility. You’ve seen it all, and seeing it all allows you to love it all.

This teaching is from Pema Chödrön’s new book, “How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind,” published by Sounds True.