Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Month: July 2010 (Page 2 of 2)

Exploring vulnerabilities

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle

The path of personal development always begins with coming to know yourself.  This involves setting aside time to reflect and examine your strengths and vulnerabilities, likes and dislikes, habits and patterns, boundaries or lack thereof, your basic beliefs about the world around you and much more.

Inspired by the book Vulnerable Leadership, Danette from FibroHaven did just this, and shared her vulnerable side with her community of readers.  Revealing your vulnerabilities can be an important step in creating a greater sense of trust and connection, and may also be the impetus for others to engage in a similar self review.

That’s exactly what happened for me after reading Danette’s article.   I felt admiration for this genuine, vulnerable yet also strong woman.  I was  prompted to reflect upon my own vulnerabilities too, and share my revelations with you now.

As a preamble, let me suggest that in exploring your vulnerabilities gentleness is the key.  The point isn’t to string yourself up by the thumbs or to develop self-loathing.  Whatever you find in yourself, be assured, you are not alone.  We all have weaknesses and work to do in this school of life.  As you navigate your vulnerabilities, remember your positive qualities as well, and bear in mind Buddha’s advice:

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

My vulnerabilities

1.  Fear – Fear has been a major factor in my life since early childhood.  I was frightened at an early age and fear became a continuous theme.  Although I expressed a great deal of bravado as a teen, trauma that occurred as a young adult, suddenly painted the world unsafe once again.

For the greatest part of my life, I was ashamed of being fearful. I pushed forward trying not to let others know, finding workarounds to avoid fearful situations.  This deep lack of self acceptance automatically creates a knot of tension inside.  Without intentionally wishing to deceive, you are still straining to hold up a facade. Georgia O’Keefe once said,“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”   In a similar spirit, I soldiered on, but there was a price to pay.

In Ayurvedic medicine, each person is said to have a unique constitution (“dosha”), a mix of three basic types.  Understanding your constitution sheds light on your innate temperament, which is said to be genetically determined.  Having this knowledge was like a healing salve for me.  These are the challenging emotions associated with each type when they are put under stress:

  • VATA – Impatience, fear, worry, anxiety
  • PITTA – Anger, hatred, jealousy, and other fiery emotions
  • KAPHA – Inertia, attachment, greed, and envy

Reading this explanation had a huge impact on me.  At long last, I was able to see and begin to accept that we are all alike in having vulnerabilities.  Thus, I didn’t have to be ashamed of my fear.

Although the system holds that these inclinations are genetic and cannot be overcome entirely, it is possible to master them to a great degree. That’s what personal development and spiritual transformation are all about.  With understanding and perseverance, they have far less hold over you.  You can even come to see them in a humorous light. It’s equally important to know that in Ayurveda, each constitution also boasts wonderful positive qualities, just as each and everyone of you do too.

As to my fear, it’s had a stranglehold on me such a big part of my life.  However, I can now happily report that through regular meditation, the Buddhist view of emptiness, and the skillful techniques of Amygdala retraining, it’s not the huge menace it used to be.

2.  Arrogance – By now you may have guessed that I’m, at least in part, a VATA type.  You’re right!  But my arrogance is decidedly a PITTA characteristic. I’m actually a blend of VATA-PITTA.

I confess, I can be a know-it-all.  So much so that I missed recognizing this most of my years, because naturally I am always right, aren’t I?  My way is the best way!

Arrogance can be a terrible characteristic because it blocks you from fresh possibilities and the opportunity to learn from others.  I’m an intelligent person.  I do know and understand a great deal.  But many times more than once, I missed a vital point stubbornly clinging to my approach or point of view.  I could count the times I might have suffered less if I had only been more receptive.

While I haven’t embraced total humility by any means, there is a beam of light shining through a tiny crack allowing me to see that I may not always be spot on.  More than ever, I understand we are each on individual journeys.  What’s right for me, may not be right for you.  Sometimes, the wrong way is the right way.  Maybe I don’t know as much as I think I do, and am truly just a beginner on the path. “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” -Suzuki Roishi

3. Hopelessness – My guess is that hopelessness is a KAPHA quality.  Overall, I have very little KAPHA in my basic constitution.  Generally, I am optimistic even to the point of being naive at times.  But when the going gets rough, I can drift into a black hole of hopelessness and float there for periods of time.  It’s not an overwhelming force in my life, but I need to stay on the lookout for it so I can steer a different course when it does arise.

The list does not stop with these three vulnerabilities alone!  For the sake I brevity and a little mystery, I won’t go on.

Understanding and accepting your vulnerabilities is the first step forward on this journey called personal development.

Have you explored your vulnerabilities?  Care to share?

Recommended Book:
Prakriti:  Your Ayurvedic Constitution by Robert Svoboda

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Are hidden food sensitivities making you miserable?

Adverse food reactions—allergies or intolerances—often play a role in arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, migraines, IBS, colitis, Crohn’s disease, autism, multiple sclerosis, acne, eczema, rashes, seizures, interstitial cystitis, hyperactivity, learning difficulties, ADD, sleep difficulties, depression, anxiety and many other disorders.

Although food may be a significant factor in your health challenges, you may never realize it and your doctor may not tell you either.  You may continue to suffer year after year without knowing that dietary changes could reduce or completely eliminate your symptoms.

Many different forms of food sensitivity

Although there are many different forms of food sensitivity, traditional allergists focus only upon classic IgE-meditated food allergy.  These are the immediate onset allergies that trigger anaphylaxis, allergic asthma, urticaria, angioedema, allergic rhinitis, some types of drug reactions, and atopic dermatitis—although some of these conditions can be caused by non-IgE mechanisms as well.  IgE meditated allergies affect just a small segment of the food reactive population—only the tip of the iceberg.  A visit to a regular allergist’s office may leave you without any solutions whatsoever to your food induced symptoms.

There are many different types of food sensitivity.  According to Janice Vickerstaff-Joneja, author of Dealing with Food Allergies, food sensitivity can be broadly divided into two major categories:

  1. Food allergies are immune-mediated reactions to a food.  Within this category, the word “allergy” is generally reserved for the classic IgE meditated allergies described above.  Other forms of adverse immune-related reactions like IgG and cytotoxic responses are referred to as “immune-meditated” responses.
  2. Food intolerances are non-immunological adverse reactions to a food or food additive.  These include intolerance to lactose, tyramine, histamine, sulfites, MSG (free glutamate), artificial colors and preservatives, oxalates, benzoates, and other naturally occurring substances in foods.

These are two distinct and non-interchangeable terms with precise definitions, whereas the term “food sensitivity” may be applied to either.

Alternative approaches to identifying food sensitivities

If you suspect that you are your children might have an IgE mediated allergy, it is important to be properly evaluated by an allergist since these can be life-threatening.  However, as you now know, most food sensitivities are not IgE mediated.  While IgE mediated allergies are well understood, many other types of food sensitivity are not. This may be why allopathic doctors exclude the use of other forms of food sensitivity testing from their practice.

Fortunately, alternative testing methods are routinely used by physicians who practice naturopathy and integrative medicine as well as physicians and allergists who specialize in environmental medicine.  Many licensed nutritionists are also at the cutting edge of this science. Given the vast array of causes for food sensitivities, no one test or method is adequate for detecting them all.  Ferreting out food sensitivies among all the possible causes is not necessarily easy and requires determination, expertise, and skilled detective work.

Following is information on blood tests used to assess IgE, IgG, and IgA immune-mediated reactions only.  They don’t assess for food intolerances as defined in the first part of this article nor do they assess cytotoxic reactions.

There is debate about the efficacy of blood testing for food sensitivity since it does not show 100% reliability.  However, standard skin prick tests are also not 100% reliable, as is the case with most medical tests, and they only indicate IgE reactions.  Although blood tests for food sensitivity may have some false negatives or positives, they can provide invaluable guidance when the results are seen within this framework.  They have the added advantage of providing quick results.  On the downside, alternative testing methods are not always covered by insurance.

Many allergists recommend a supervised elimination diet as the gold-standard for diagnosing food sensitivity. These require strong discipline over an extended period of time, which is not necessarily practical for everyone. Allergists view bood tests as indicators, and generally recommend confirming the results with follow-up elimination and challenge trials.

Despite the differences of opinion and approach, many alternative physicians successfully use serum Antibody Assessment (ELISA) for testing IgE, IgG, and/or IgA reactions to food and inhalants.   Several friends have reported positive outcomes using these alternative antibody assessments and this approach has proven effective for me as well.

What are IgG immune-mediated food responses?

IgE mediated allergies have been explained above.  So what are IgG immune-mediated food responses?  U.S. BioTek Laboratories explains IgG mediated food sensitivity in this way:

“IgG antibodies represent the most prevalent class found in the blood. It is produced after reimmunization, or secondary response to antigen. It is the primary mediator of the memory immune response. Often involved in Type III delayed hypersensitivity reactions, IgG forms an immune complex with the allergen. This antibody/antigen complex activates complement (a group of small proteins found circulating in the blood stream that are involved in the release of inflammatory mediators), and enhances phagocytosis by opsonization. The inflammatory process is gradual and may take anywhere from several hours to several days, which is why this type of reaction is termed, delayed. Although immune cells called macrophages dispose of these immune complexes immediately, they only have a finite capacity to do so. Excess antigen may saturate the macrophages capacity resulting in the prolonged circulation of complexes and their deposition into the body tissues. Depending on which tissues are involved, it is thought that these complexes may be implicated in many different conditions/symptoms.”

Information about IgA immune-mediated reactions is available at the BioTek web site.

Taking the ELISA test

Labs typically offer a choice of panels that might include a general food panel, a vegetarian food panel, an Asian food panel (select labs), and an inhalant panel. Food panels usually test for 90 plus foods. In consultation with your physician, you are able to select IgE, IgG testing or both and some labs also offer IgA testing.  A blood sample is taken according to specific instructions and sent to the lab for evaluation.  Your doctor receives your test results about two weeks later.

Following is an image of one part of a sample test report for all three assessment panels (Ige, IgG, and IgA) combined together.  The length of the bar indicates the degree of reaction to each food.

 

Your doctor will evaluate your results and make appropriate recommendations, which may include eliminating highly reactive foods and rotating others or eliminating all reactive foods for a period and then moving over to rotation.  I highly recommend working with a qualified physician or nutritionist who is well versed in interpreting these particular tests.  There are subtleties that can be missed by someone who is not familiar with food sensitivity or these tests.  Even low scores can be indicative if you are familiar with patterns that may occur on the tests.

IgE and IgG Antibody Assessment (ELISA) testing is available from U. S. BioTek Lab, Genova Diagnostics (USA and International), Great Plains Laboratory and other innovative testing laboratories.   The tests can be ordered through any doctor, but most standard physicians and allergists will scoff at the idea.  My former allergist warmed me not to order any of those “alternative tests from California.”  I’m so glad I didn’t listen to him or I might still be lost in an unending maze of unwellness.  I can assure you that not one of these labs is located in California!

Other forms of food sensitivity testing include:

  • A supervised elimination diet conducted by a nutritionist
  • Conducting your own elimination diet using one of the published books on the topic like The Allergy Exclusion Diet by Jill Carter and Alison Edwards.
  • Cytotoxic and mediator release testing (The Alcat; Mediator Release Testing (Signet Lab); FACTest, Food Antigen Cellular Test (Genova International).  Some forms of testing may also represent IgG reactions.

Dr. Lewey, a board certified gastroenterologist, highly recommends the Meditator Release Testing when IgE allergies are not the case.  This test is available in both the U.S. and Europe, but not in some locations like Hawai’i.

I suspect the effectiveness of a particular type of test will vary depending upon the precise mechanism behind an individual’s sensitivity.  In addition, results may be less reliable if you have a limited diet, but may still show some basic trends.  It can be difficult to decide which type of test to take.  Therefore, it’s important to research the options thoroughly and see which tests seem to best fit your profile. Friends have reported good results with the ELISA IgG Antibody testing, the Mediator Release Testing, and the Alcat.

Some forms of food sensitivity testing are very expensive so shop around.  The BioTek tests are the most reasonably priced that I’ve found, but your choices will also depend upon which tests your doctor prefers.  And remember, these tests will only reveal immune-mediated responses.  Your food sensitivities could be determined by entirely different mechanisms and this type of testing may have less relevance for you.  Food intolerances (lactose, benzoates, histamine, tyramine, oxalates, and so on) are an entirely different ball game.

Do you have one or more food sensitivities?  How did you discover them?

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The story behind cosmetics

What’s in your cosmetics and fragrance? Find out the alarming truth in this short, jazzy video.  Only 2 minutes and 29 seconds!  Then follow the link for safer alternatives. Your health and the health of your children is worth this short time bite.

Definitely not to be missed!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjgkN6IpYr8]

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A Simple Approach to Boundaries, Worry, and Catnaps

Chitta

Whatever occurs or appears in your life can be an opportunity for personal development if you are committed to continuous self improvement.

Take kittens, for example.  In Hawai’i, it’s smart to have an outdoor cat for reasons best left unexpressed.  When my husband and I heard of two kittens headed for the pound, we were happy to intervene and circumvent this potentially life-threatening possibility.

Within 24 hours of their arrival, it was clear that these energetic babies had lessons for me.

It’s Natural to Have Healthy Boundaries

Bodhi and Chitta were living outdoors the first six weeks of their lives.  They are understandably wary of humans given their Lilliputian size.  Unlike humans, kittens don’t need a minimum survival kit.  Self-protection is an automatic reflex.

When humans approach, tensing up, shrinking away, running away, turning their back on you, ignoring you, hiding, hissing, and scratching all come easily to them.  They don’t stop to think, “Oh, maybe I’m hurting the human’s feelings.”  Or, “Gee it’s not polite to turn your back on a human.” Guilt is not in their repertoire nor is obsessively churning over the appropriateness of their behavior.

Chitta in particular has an aura that’s about 10 feet wide and does not hesitate to give you a searing look that communicates, “You’ve got to be kidding me. You are not getting anywhere near me.”  Bodhi is the master of turning his back on you and pretending that you don’t exist.

Boundaries determine where I begin and you end and the degree of space between us. Clear boundaries are essential to healthy interpersonal relationships and are key to living a happy and meaningful life.  Several different factors influence your ability to establish boundaries: genetics (including your neurochemistry and the sensitivity of the amygdala), the effect of your early environment, and how well you adapted as a baby to separation from your mother.

Many people, especially highly sensitive people, have trouble with being overly porous.  Do you find yourself extra sensitive to other people’s thoughts and emotions?  Do you feel responsible for the world around you?  Do you overextend yourself to please others?  Do you have trouble setting physical and emotional limits?  If so, it might be time to think about your boundaries.

My new life coaches are telling me it’s natural, healthy, and positive to have clear boundaries.  Learning to value yourself and build healthy boundaries takes time and attention, but like everything else in the realm of personal development, it is eminently possible.

Worry Never Helps

Bodhi

Citta is a daredevil, Bodhi an adventurous climber.  They are both irrepressibly curious.  The worry habit started to arise as I observed their vivacious gymnastics.  The resulting potential for trouble was obvious when Bodhi got his claw stuck in a hanging chair tag.

Then, friends told me how kittens can be eaten by mongoose or beaten up on by older cats.  Reading about the rampant leukemia and HIV among island cats was the final straw.   All this put me in a tizzy, as I was overcome with worry awakened by the recognition of the kittens’ fundamental vulnerability.  In truth, life is dangerous and we are all fragile, but I know deep down that adding worry to the mix won’t help at all.  It just eats away at you and does nothing to improve the situation.

Here’s my simple approach to worry.  Applied consistently, it will slowly erode away this unhelpful habit.

1. Observe and acknowledge how worry is taking over your mind.  Simply seeing the worry already creates space and a sense of relief.

2. Breathe in and out, slowly and deeply, placing your attention on the breath.  Let the worry thoughts dissolve on the outbreath into space, just letting go of the tension and any new thoughts occurring in your mind.  Continue this cycle of breathing for however long it takes to reconnect with a sense of peace.  It might be 5 minutes or 20 minutes.

3. Remind yourself that worry never helps. I employ the aid of inspirational quotes for this purpose.  These are some favorites starting with the French philosopher Voltaire:

“Most of my life has been one tragedy after another, most of which hasn’t happened.”

The modern day marketing sage, Seth Godin, agrees:

“Anxiety is nothing but repeatedly re-experiencing failure in advance. What a waste.”

As you master this simple technique, you will gradually become more agile at spotting and addressing worry far before it consumes you.

Play, play, play. Rest, rest, rest.

The rambunctious kittens play hard:  chase, wrestling, hide-n-seek, grab or bite the tail, hide-n-pounce, push your sibling off the chair, climb the highest mountain.  Their sheer joy and enthusiasm sparks the question, “Do I play enough?” Their playful spirit challenges you to energize all your activities throughout the day with the same sense of delight.

Animals follow their inborn energy cycles and rest when they are tired.  Humans on the other hand often fail to get sufficient sleep and are not always cognizant of their innate rhythms.  Researchers believe that there’s a natural dip in energy about 8 hours after waking—mid afternoon— when we are meant to take a nap.  Some cultures embrace the mid-afternoon nap as a tradition, but in many others you are expected to work like mad throughout the day.

A 20-minute nap can help you feel refreshed and alert, transform your mood, improve cognitive performance, and reduce afternoon accidents related to drowsiness.  Resting in the afternoon without actually falling asleep has similar benefits.  A word of caution:  some people find afternoon napping interferes with their ability to fall asleep at night.  We’re all different, so check your own rhythms and needs.

I always feel refreshed after a nap, but have failed to make it a positive habit.  I’m now planning to follow the behavior modeled by the kitten alliance.

Life Happens

Life happens, but I’m gradually learning to take it in stride. The kittens quickly warmed up to us.  In fact, they are lounging next to me as I peck away at the keys.  But they still reserve the right to express their boundaries. Until they are a hefty size and strong enough to fend off their natural predators, they have the penthouse lanai (deck) with garden view as their digs, ample food, their best friend in each other, a soft sofa bed, and human love and affection too.  What more could you want?  As for us, we are more than pleased with our new personal development coaches.

How about you—what are your thoughts on boundaries, worry, and catnaps?


I’m grateful for your time and attention.  If you have a moment, please help me reach others by sharing this post.  If you’re new, please consider subscribing for free updates by email.  With love, Sandra

The most important lesson of my life

“Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. -Buddha, from The Sutra of the Heart of Transcendent Knowledge

Farnoosh, the mind and heart behind Prolific Living, has one of the most elegant writing styles in the realm of personal development blogs.  Her beautiful musings on lessons she wishes she had learned earlier in life stimulated my own reflections on this provocative subject.

The original idea to write about life lessons was initiated by Abubakar Jamil who authors the blog Rebooting Your Mind.  Abubakar has invited personal development writers to participate in the series, which has produced a wonderful collection of advice from the best bloggers on the planet.  Here’s my contribution.

Often, I will focus on the power of one, whether it be an action, a lesson, or a new positive habit.   “What might be the one point of attention that will leverage the most personal evolution for me?’  In the current context,  the question became, “What one lesson would have powerfully changed my life for the better had I understood it early on in life?”

The illusory nature of reality readily leaped to the forefront of my consciousness as the answer.

What is the illusory nature of reality?

Please don’t be put off by the abstract sound of this proposition! There’s much to be learned when you explore the nature of reality.

In my view, the biggest mistake made in life is automatically taking all phenomena to be real, solid, permanent, lasting.  By phenomena, I mean both the self, the world around you, and all the transitory thoughts and emotions that arise in your mind and the minds of others. Although on some level you may know this to not be the case, the hidden assumptions of permanence and solidity are the very ones that run the drama behind our entire existence.

What does the “illusory nature of reality” actually mean?  Another word to describe this is “emptiness.”  Don’t be alarmed! Emptiness doesn’t mean void or nothingness, but rather it means beyond our ability to perceive with the senses or to conceptualize. Quite the contrary to being voidness, though everything is empty it appears as form.

Empty of what? Empty of any inherent, independent existence.  There is a Tibetan phrase to illustrate emptiness, which translates as:  “free from permanence and non-existence.”  Emptiness goes beyond the two extremes of eternalism, believing everything to be permanent, and nihilism, believing in non-existence.

At the same time that everything is empty, this inconceivable emptiness gives birth to all form.  In fact, emptiness and form are inseparable. Therefore, emptiness might be more correctly understood as fullness or the complete potentiality that exists in the universe.  Mingyur Rinpoche describes emptiness as an “unlimited potential for anything to appear, change, or disappear.”

Emptiness isn’t  an idea or a concept made up by the Buddha. Neither is it a concept or an idea at all.  Rather, the Buddha observed how reality actually is.  Interestingly, his observations are being born out by modern physics.

Reflecting on emptiness

To help achieve an understanding of emptiness on a profound yet experiential level, Buddhism offers a series of analytical meditations in which you consider whether phenomena are impermanent, singular, and independent.  These are not lightweight exercises that are done for five or ten minutes now and then, but points of reflection to devote your mind to for weeks and months at a time.  Deconstructing your concrete version of reality takes repeated mental exploration and countermeasures.

Remember, phenomena means not just external matter, but also the self and all the thoughts and emotions that glide through your mind.  Indeed, the very nature of mind is empty yet its nature is cognizant.  No matter how deeply you look, you cannot find anything that is permanent, singular, or independent—which is the point behind these exercises.  While you might understand this intellectually, the process of personal investigation has far greater power to erode your erroneous thinking and allow this view to penetrate deeply into your being.

How understanding emptiness helps you in daily life

All suffering stems from attachment to what exists around and within you.  Isn’t this the case?  If you look at any suffering that arises, you can see that it stems from attachment or its partner aversion.  For example, why are you sad, frustrated, or angry when you break a new possession?  It’s due to attachment.

When you understand the illusory nature of existence, you realize that ultimately there’s nothing to hold onto anyway. Everything is constantly moving and changing at a sub-atomic level as well as transforming on a gross level, although it sometimes appears to occur more gradually on a gross level.  This is equally so with our thoughts, which are seldom still for a moment. Grasping onto anything is like trying to hold onto running water.  It just creates needless suffering and unhappiness.

Recognizing this fundamental truth makes it far easier to relax, let go, and allow the fantastic display of existence to unfold before you.  There’s far less grasping, tension, and distress when you accept impermanence, change, and the illusory quality of life as the natural order of existence.  A feeling of compassion naturally swells up as you understand firsthand all the unnecessary suffering that occurs for yourself and others simply due to our mixed up notions of the way the world actually is.  There’s a greater sense of ease and spaciousness and more wisdom expressed in your actions.

At the same tine, you learn this is not an empty emptiness.  Things are not non-existent either.  Everything arises due to interdependence, as the result of causes and conditions.  Your thoughts and actions have consequences and they affect others.  “As you sow, so shall you reap.”  This understanding gives rise to ethical and compassionate action—a sense of personal and universal responsibility. You come to understand how foolish it is to act with negative intentions.  In the end, you harm yourself as much or more than others.

An exercise in emptiness

Mingyur Rinpoche also speaks of emptiness in this way, “The sense of openness people experience when they simply rest their minds is known in Buddhist terms as emptiness…”

So in addition to the analytical meditation mentioned above, there is a direct way to begin to get a glimpse of emptiness through meditation.  The following exercise in emptiness is from Mingyur Rinpoche’s  book, The Joy of Living, Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness. This exercise uses the movements of mind to gives us a taste of emptiness.

In this exercise, “…you’ll look at your thoughts, emotions, and sensations very closely, as they arise out of emptiness, momentarily appear as emptiness, and dissolve back into emptiness. If no thoughts, feeling, or sensations come up for you, just make them up, as many as you can, very quickly, one after another. The main point of the exercise is to observe as many forms of experience as you can. If you don’t observe them, they’ll just slip away unnoticed. Don’t loose any of the thoughts, feelings, or sensations without having observed them.

Begin by sitting up straight, in a relaxed position, and breathing normally. Once you are settled, start to observe your thoughts, emotions, and sensation very clearly. Remember, if nothing comes up for you, just start gibbering away in your mind. Whatever you perceive—pain, pressure, sounds, and so on—observe it very clearly. Even ideas like “This is a good thought,” “This is a bad thought,” “I like this exercise” are thoughts you can observe. You can even observe something as simple as an itch. To get the full effect, you’ll want to continue this process for at least a minute.
 Are you ready? Okay, then go!

Watch the movement of your mind. …

Watch the movement of your mind. …

Watch the movement of your mind. …

Now stop.

The point of the exercise is to simply watch everything that passes through your awareness as it arises out of emptiness, momentarily appears, and dissolves back into emptiness again—a movement like the rising and falling of a wave in a giant ocean. You don’t want to block your thoughts, emotions, and so on; nor do you want to chase after them.

Understanding emptiness has transformed my view of the world and entirely changed my life for the better.  I hope this little taste of emptiness might also wet your palate.  What do you think about the notion of emptiness and possibility?

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