Good morning! Welcome to the DKos Sangha weekly open thread.
This is an open thread for members of the DKos Sangha and others who are interested in discussions concerning how we integrate our progressive political activism into our spiritual practice. If you have observations about the political discourse of the week, or about practice, or about anything else related to walking a spiritual path through the political world, if you wish to share, or if you seek support, or if you simply want to say hello, please do; this space is for you.
If you would like to write a diary for the DKos Sangha, please let me know.
If you care nothing for spiritual practice and only wish to denigrate and disparage, please do so elsewhere, and respect that this is a community diary for the DKos Sangha.
Here are some practices that you might find helpful. Or perhaps these examples will suggest others that are more suited to your daily activities. The universe is always giving us something to work with, always showing us what we need to work on, always shining a light on our path.
The three breath meditation - This is a short meditation technique you can turn to as needed. At work, or around family members, or while driving in traffic, sometimes we'll react to something said, or as in traffic, some action taken, and we can see reactive conditioning arising within us like a sudden thunderstorm; if we're attuned to our bodies, we can feel it arising as well, as the mind and body are intimately connected. Anger arises, the face gets flush, or the heartbeat quickens, or there's a knotting in the gut.
When you notice what's happening, stop what you're doing (or if you're in traffic, wait for a traffic light or pull off the road), bring your attention to the breath, slowly and evenly take in a deep full breath, see the breath fill into that area of the body that is reacting, feel the energy of the breath moving into your brain; and then slowly and evenly exhale, seeing the stress move from mind into the heart, where it is burned off and the work of healing is done. Do this three times. That is all that is needed to effect a significant change in how you are in this moment.
The point is not to block out what is happening around you, not to push aside what was said by someone; rather it is to take the opportunity to meet what is unmet within us, that karmic conditioning that creates separation, that egoic programming that immediately finds the "other" as the cause of our suffering, as a target upon which to place blame. Then, when we've met this conditioning and brought it into the heart, we are more able to be present with what is happening, with what is being said; and when we are present, we can interact with others from the heart.
Staircase practice - If you live in a home with a staircase that you use often, or perhaps there is one at work, this is an easy and effective practice. Throughout your day, whenever you move up or down a staircase, make that a time for meditation, or mindfulness, or breathing, or feeling into the body. The staircase becomes an opportunity for centering, for being fully present with what is happening now; there is nothing else that needs to be done, nothing else that needs our attention more while we are on this staircase.
Like the three breath meditation, this practice helps bring our spiritual practice off of the meditation cushion and more into our every day lives, more into our every moment.
Telephone ring mindfulness bell - In some monasteries from time to time a mindfulness bell is rung at random times throughout the day; when heard, members of the community stop what they are doing for a moment and return to the breath. You can incorporate a similar practice at home using the telephone; or with cellphones, you can do this wherever you are. When the phone rings, instead of immediately reaching to answer it, first come to center, return to the breath for a moment, find that place of stillness and peace, just for a moment; then answer the phone.
This practice will significantly change how your mind and body react when your telephone rings. It will also change how you go into the conversation with the caller.
Dish washing practice - Dish washing is a great activity for practicing mindfulness. Our minds tend to wander a lot and quite far away when we are doing activities like washing dishes. Some of us may even have conditioning that has led us to have a negative view of having to spend time washing the dishes. But it is an activity that lends itself to mindfulness, to being present; it is meditation in action.
While washing dishes, if the mind begins to wander, simply return to the breath. Here, the breath is light and easy and sufficient for the activity of washing dishes. Notice how the cup feels in your hand, notice how the soap makes it slippery, notice that with care and attention the cup is held such that it is less likely to slip out of the hand.
In mindfulness practice, we are fully and simply present with the activity. There is no person who is washing dishes, there are no dishes to be washed, there is simply dish washing. Mindfulness practice takes us out of the illusion of separateness, and invites us to experience now; it invites us to simply be; no stories, no mindless chatter, no reactive conditioning, no thoughts about what else needs to be done, no thoughts about work, none of the things that separate us from just being ourselves, fully present, with what is, at peace.
So just a few examples of practices, some of which you might find helpful, or that might inspire you in other ways to more deeply bring your spiritual practice into your daily lives.
Enjoy your Sunday!