On the Four-Fold Way to Mindfulness

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Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of exploration of archetypes as a psychospiritual framework for exploring mindfulness and mindful leadership. Archetypes are powerful, because they are a symbolic language that taps into deeper parts of ourselves, parts that go unexpressed and yet still affect how we are being in the world.

I’ve been doing more work with Dr. Angeles Arrien’s Four-Fold Way. This classic explores four major archetypes that she has found among the indigenous cultures she has studied. The four archetypes are the Warrior (in the North), the Visionary (of the East), the Healer (in the South), and the Teacher (of the West).

As I’ve worked from this framework, I have begun to reflect on four questions that correspond to each of these archetypes and that are a great access to getting grounded in the present moment:

  • Warrior: Where am I standing right now?
  • Visionary: How might I speak my truth today?
  • Healer: How might I bring more love into my life today?
  • Teacher: How might I stay engaged in the process of my life today (rather than the outcome)?

These are great questions to journal around at the beginning of each day.

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The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary

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Last week, I began my reflection on the power of the holy rosary by exploring the Joyful Mysteries. This week, I want to take a look at the Sorrowful Mysteries.

On the surface, the Sorrowful Mysteries refer to the last hours of Jesus before his Crucifixion. And although this is true, this set of sacred mysteries is about much more. It teaches us about resilience and the power of faith. In his example, Jesus teaches us the power of profound acceptance, of acknowledging that there are certain things that every human being, including Christ, must experience, namely suffering and death. More importantly, he teaches us what it means to surrender, to realize that, in the face of suffering and death, the only thing over which we have control is how we greet those moments that try our humanity.

WHO are we in the face of suffering and death? How can we BE with the inevitable trials of life?

In a few weeks, I will be sharing my digital mini-course on “Tapping Into the Power of the Holy Rosary.” This digital audio and e-booklet package is intended to introduce you to the basics of the rosary and how you can begin to use it as a object for meditation. Stay tuned!

On Opening to the Wisdom Behind the Suffering

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Sometimes the completely open heart and mind of bodhichitta is called the soft spot, a place as vulnerable and tender as an open wound.”

I read this excerpt from Pema Chodron‘s The Places That Scare You, and I couldn’t help but appreciate how timely the wisdom was. Insecurity came up for me, and I just had to sit with the discomfort and craziness in my own head.

I read the above and thought about the own suffering I cause myself in my insecurity. Then, I realized:

When we are suffering, … when our wounds are opened wide, … we are the most open we can be to the deeper truths of the human experience trying to find their way into our hearts.

On Developing a Positive Relationship to Suffering

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It’s been a long while since I have written a blog post. I happen to be developing an e-course on “Living a Sacred, Fulfilling Life” and it seems that Life has been providing me with ample opportunities to move through my own curriculum.

One key idea in that curriculum with which I am being at this moment is transforming our relationship to suffering. As the Buddha realized, it is natural that, as human beings, we experience suffering because having that experience comes along with the grasping/desire-seeking parts of us that are hard-wired after millennia of human evolution. And as a means of coping, we have developed a resistance to the suffering caused by unfulfilled desires.

Even if the resistance automatically comes up, this does not mean that we do not have a choice as to how we react to that resistance and thus, to the suffering. We can begin to transform our relationship to our suffering such that it begins something positive from which we can learn.

So my mantra right now is: “May my suffering bring clarity and lead me back to my truth.”

A Step to Having Our Emotions Lead Us Back

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Emotions can be quite powerful. We even say that powerful emotions, like rage, grief, or shame, overwhelm us, completely filling us. Our experience of our emotions is that it gets into every fiber, every nook and cranny, of our being until it feels like that emotion is all that we have become.

Yet, our emotions do not fill EVERY part of us. There is space around our emotions that is not touched and taken over by the emotions. This infinite, eternal part is ever at Peace, ever still, waiting for us to return to it. It is what allows us to hold the emotion in the first place, to give it meaning and to return us to the truth of who we are.

Next time the next emotion arises, be with it. Then ask yourself, “What else is there?” The answer is what will lead us back to ourselves.

The First Step to Transformation

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“The gig is up! I feel like I’ve been found out, and I don’t know what to do with it.” I slumped back into my chair, as the rest of my men’s group sat in awkward silence. “What do you mean ‘found out’?” someone finally asked. “I feel like I’ve been lying to myself about myself, and now I see the truth for what it really is. … And I don’t know what to do with it. …”

And there is nothing to do with it. … All there is to do is to be with the reality of Life. This is the first step to Transformation: accepting reality.

And when we see the reality of something, we must be prepared for the eventual breakdown. We should expect that it will be disruptive, if not painful, to cease to see something as we have seen it in the past. Yet, it is the breakdown that leads us to something stronger, something truer.

For it is only in accepting the delicateness in our lives that we are able to find our way back to that which endures.

Opening Up

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A combination of being single yet again for the holidays, recent events in various relationships, and overcast weather have conspired to put me in a space of upset and disappointment. Moments like this aren’t to be resisted: They are a part of the rhythm of Life, cuing us in to the extent to which we are being with the present moment and true to ourselves.

And so I fear not the heartbreak that comes with moments like this. For breaking open the heart creates more space for Love to pour out of me, and consequently, for more Love to be let in.