Developing gratitude can be very powerful for brightening spells of depression, and for making the good times even sweeter. In reality, it’s one of the key inner qualities a person can develop if they are interested in happiness.
In today’s post, I’ll share a way I think about different types of gratitude, and practices I do to cultivate each one. Here’s the three types:
1. Past Happenings
As the name suggests, these refer to tangible experiences that have already happened. They could be experiences from long-ago, like the vacation spot we went to as a child, or things more recent, like the vacation we took last month.
Although, one important principle to know is that proximity is power.
In other words, the most powerful past-happening-gratitudes are usually the ones that have occurred more recently. In turn, here’s a fairly common daily practice that I’ve found extremely beneficial: Continue reading
Not being able to fall asleep is a really common experience. It can happen at the beginning of the night, during the middle of the night, or even at nap time. Here’s my no-nonsense guide on how to expedite the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep.
The first important thing to understand is that if the mind is tired, it will naturally fall asleep once it’s sufficiently relaxed.
So how to get the mind sufficiently relaxed? Continue reading
We’ve just had a significant insight, and now life feels “different.”
Whether it’s a psychological or meditative insight isn’t terribly important, because whatever it was, it has left a noticeable residue.
Maybe we’re glowing and beaming. Maybe it has more of a sobering and cool feel. Although, whatever the residue, the question on the mind is often,
Here’s a list of six things I wish I would’ve known a decade ago. They help navigate the transition space from the old-us to the new-us.
The Buddhist tradition uses a three-step model for the development of insight/wisdom. While it could be applied to nearly anything, we’re mostly interested in how it applies to the three meditative truths: inconstancy, not-self and dukkha.
Although, to bring it down to earth, imagine we really dislike cold weather. Whenever it drops below zero, we automatically become tense, agitated and grumpy.
In other words, our experience is of “dukkha”—the pain of wanting things to be other than they are.
However, after walking through the three steps detailed below, we learn to be in frigidly cold weather without getting tense or resistant. And, in turn, we actually feel a deep capacity to stay relaxed and engaged, not just during cold weather, but during just about all unpleasant life situations. Continue reading
In today’s post, we’re going to more directly explore the realm of meditative truth.
Of course, just as you don’t need to read about gravity to experience it, you don’t need to read about these to experience them, or to have insight into them. However, knowing where to steer your practice can sure save a lot of time.
As a basic formula, meditative insight largely comes through applying our meditation fundamentals: being mindful with a curious and equanimous attitude, moment-after-moment-after-moment.
Without further ado, here they are:
With any insight, the basic thing we realize is the truth. However, we can have insights into two different types of truth: psychological truth and meditative truth.
Psychological truths are unique-to-us, story-based, and subject to change—like realizing our life’s purpose is to be a community leader, what our true values are or why we always seem to be late everywhere. This is also referred to as relative or personal truth, and is often pursued in a therapy room.
Meditative truths are universal-to-everyone, nature-based, and will never change—like realizing that anger is merely a combination of fluctuating sensation, cognition and feeling, or that there’s a subconscious belief that gives rise to it. Or, deeply seeing that “I am not my thoughts,” and how “I have profound choice on whether to indulge a thought or to let it pass.” This is also referred to as ultimate or absolute truth, and is often pursued in meditative practice.
To this point in the series I’ve given two examples of insight. One was about a community elder who realized that people were more important than possessions. The other was about two people having insight into healthy eating.
Both of those were psychological truths. While both situations present insights that many people could relate to, they don’t deal with the fundamental building blocks of consciousness. Continue reading
When we strip away all the fancy explanations, everyone knows what an insight is. It also goes by the names epiphany, revelation, realization, paradigm-shift, deep understanding or awakening. If we look closely, most people actually have “mini-insights” pretty regularly.
It’s a moment where we have a deeper-than-thought realization that shifts our understanding or way of being.
I think of insights as being like a mind-earthquake, occurring on a 0 – 10 magnitude scale (like the Richter Scale).
The higher the magnitude, the deeper the shift in our understanding & way of being.
For example, a friend with poor eating habits once told me he had an insight about healthy eating. However, a couple weeks after his insight, we chatted again, and he really hadn’t made any tangible changes to his eating habits.
In a previous post, I gave my basic vision of mindfulness meditation as being like an archeological dig. We start with the fundamentals, stabilizing present moment awareness with the right attitude.
However, an archeological dig is not about digging for the sake of digging. Neither is mindfulness meditation about being aware for the sake of being aware. Rather, it’s about using awareness to dive into the depths of mind, and uncover insight and wisdom.
This is why “mindfulness meditation” is used synonymously with “insight meditation.”
I will now begin a six part series that breaks down wisdom, insight and truth in the world of mindfulness meditation! For starters:
What is Wisdom?
Wisdom means deeply knowing or understanding the truth.
Consider a wise community elder. They simply “get things” on a level deeper than the rest of us.
The deepest answer to the question “why meditate?” doesn’t come from an intellectual analysis. It comes from a heart or gut-level “inner knowing.”
It’s similar to how a toddler learns to walk. They don’t write out a pro’s and con’s list. They don’t procrastinate for a few years. Rather, they have some very deep impulse that pushes them into actually walking, rather than sitting around thinking about it.
Today, I’ll detail the four sources of inner knowing, and how answering “why meditate?” on this level is the key to having a consistent meditation practice. Continue reading
I relate to Buddhism not so much as a world view, religion or philosophy, but as a set of practices that can help us live very deeply.
The formal teachings are sort of like a road map. It doesn’t do much good to read or think about a map if we’re never actually going to hop in the car and go anywhere.
However, assuming we are prepared to hop in the “Buddhist vehicle” and engage with its practices, it’s very helpful to know the most important thing the map is actually saying.
To quote the Buddha himself, “I teach one thing and one thing only—dukkha and the end of dukkha.”