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Posted By Opening the Heart

   So, as I understand it, Moses was at the top of the mountain for a long time. Can you imagine hanging with the Major Dude for that long? He must have had every bad karma and inclination to badness just burned out of him, wouldn't you think? Anyway, I guess the shephard was up there too long for the flock and the crowds below started to lose the vision. Doubt crept in on little camel feet. They started partying and pretty soon they naturally went to the ancient bad habit of golden calf building. Well, when Moses finally came down and saw the goings on, he was, excuse the term,, "pissed as a New York cabdriver", and he smashed the tablets to the ground right then and there and he turned around and started his march back up to the top. So, what's my point?... I always wondered about those first broken tablets. What was written on them? Was it the same ten commandments? What happened to those broken holy pieces with God's word written on them?

   The scene I imagine is George and Marge on vacation taking a hike up Mount Sinai and George looks down and calls out to Marge: "Hey Marge! Have a look at this. It looks like very old pieces of stone with maybe some writing on them." "George, all these rocks are the same. Come and see this beautiful view from here." And George's attention passes to a natural scene of wonder.

   And it makes me think, what other holy things do we pass over every day? In some Eastern traditions, it's called seeing with "Beginner's Eyes"- seeing things as if for the first time. It really is a practice of gratitude and I believe it can start anywhere you are. Don't move, don't go to a beautiful place, just close your eyes, go inside and breathe. The breath is a holy thing. Nothing in life happens without the breath. Watch as it comes in and fills the lungs and become aware of exactly when the inbreath changes to the outbreath, all the way to the end, and, again, becomes the inbreath.

   Now try using your eyes to settle on whatever is around you, something you may have seen a thousand times before. This time see it for the first time. See every detail of it so that if you closed your eyes, you could describe it to every perfect detail. Change your attention to the sense of smell. Maybe you need to approach something that has an aroma. A flower in your garden will do. Smell it as if for the first time. Let all of your awareness take it in.

   Go for a short walk and feel the miracle of legs moving your body. An appreciation of the mundane by bringing full attention to it is a kind of prayer of gratitude. Don't miss a thing. Take it all in. Pay attention. Meister Eckhart, a 14th century German mystic, said that "Coincidences happen more when I pray". When we pay attention- really pay attention- in the moment, we are, as the poet, Rumi, says "bowing down to kiss the ground".

   So what are the takeaways here? Keep the faith Sweet One- don't go building golden calves; look for the holy in the Everyday and make it a sacred practice; pay attention as well as you can to every moment you are given the gift of breath.

   With Love and Respect, Jon  


Posted By Opening the Heart

Here is the first in an occasional series of self guided meditations. These meditations are good ways to calm the mind, empty mental clutter and ease stress and difficult emotions. In them we use the breath as a tool and our imagination as our guide. Each meditation involves imagining sending a complete in and out breath cycle to paticular narrowly focused parts of the body. This time we'll work with:





 head focus points

Begin by finding a comfortable seated position. Settle yourself into a place where your body can be relatively still.


Close your eyes and gradually bring your attention to your breathing. There is no need to change anything about how you are breathing.


1) Let your inner focus bring your attention to your nostrils- the place where breath enters and leaves the body. Take a breath into the space inside your nostrils and imagine a hollowness, a sense of spaciousness inside them. Notice any relaxation of tensions around the nostrils as you do this.


2) Now bring your attention to your sinus area at the bridge of your nose. Take a breath into the space inside your sinuses and imagine a hollowness, a sense of spaciousness inside them. Notice any relaxation of tensions around the sinus area as you do this.


3) Bring your attention to the part of your head immediately behind the center of your eyebrows. Send the next breath into this place and imagine a hollowness, a sense of spaciousness being created there. Notice any relaxation of tensions around this area as you do this.


4) Use your imagination to send your next breath right up into the top of your skull. Allow the breath to relax and dissipate any tensions there simply by imagining a hollow, spacious emptiness.


5) Using your imagination again, send your next breath to the extreme back of your skull. Image an empty space there, wide and tall and open.


6) There is frequently tension at the place where the skull joins the backbone. In your imagination send the next breath deeply into this area. As you breath in allow that place to be infused with airy spaciousness. As you breath out notice the letting go.


7) On to the top of the throat. Breathe a great open space there.


8) Put the tip of your tongue gently on your hard pallette just behind your front teeth. Breathe a deep breath there.


9) and 10) Take two deep, emptying breaths into your whole head, imagining a hollow, empty space.


You can take more than one breath at each of the above stages if you find that works for you. You may also repeat the sequence as often as you would like.

As you lean the sequence you might like to have one of the pictures nearby. Feel free to copy them (female head is above, male head is below.)


malehead, focal points

Posted By Opening the Heart

One of the instructions we give most frequently at the OTH Workshop™ is "Breathe!!!!".

Becoming conscious of our breathing can immediately bring us into greater awareness of our bodies - the place where our feelings live.

There are many ways to develop a practice of "breath-noticing". One of them is called Anapanasati - a technique first taught by the Buddha 2,500 years ago. This technique is being brilliantly presented by Gil Fronsdal at The Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California and is being made freely available at the organization's web site. Gil's guided meditations and talks are clear, easy to follow, in short very "user friendly". There are quite a few of them - but don't be intimidated, you may dive in anywhere in the series and  do not have to listen to them in the order in which they were given.

For those of us who do not live close to a meditation retreat center, AND for those of us who find it difficult to maintain a reqular practice this series is an invaluable resource.



The series is  available in Podcast format - incredibly useful for downloading to an IPod!  investigate the AudioDharma website's homepage where you will find a link to Podcasts near the bottom of the left hand side bar:


or, if you have ITunes, open ITunes Store, click on Podcasts and search for AudioDharma


Good luck - I know that many of you will find Gil's inspiring talks and gentle guided meditations as helpful as I have