Book Club, March 23, 2013 Chapter 5 Your Dreams and Your Body

Gayle Delaney starts this chapter off with the history of using dreams to help diagnose and also help heal physical problems.  Over the centuries many cultures have engaged in this practice.  I found it interesting that Hippocrates (460-377 BC) believed “the mind and the body are interdependent parts of the human totality and that a physician gains a much improved chance of healing the mind/body organism if the aids of both parts are enlisted”. (pg 146)  He also believed that patients should pray for their own healing.  He believed that “Prayer is good, but while calling on the Gods, a man should himself lend a hand.” (pg 147)  More and more now the medical field is acknowledging the connection of thoughts, emotions and illness.

Because of the connection of body, mind and spirit, using dreams to help one when ill or engaging in a habit that is no longer working well can be very helpful.  Once again, Gayle talks about incubating dreams where the question can be “why am I sick and what can be done about it” (pg150) or “what am I trying to avoid or get out of?”  (pg 152) “Why do I drink so much?”  “Why am I fat?”  “Help me, inspire me to drop this habit.”  “Why do I always get so nervous (angry, jealous, etc) when?” (pg 157)

Gayle also addresses dreams after age 50.  For some these dreams are about losing their resources, or about forgetting their identity or forgetting names of old friends.  Often these are the dreams of people who have become quite passive in their lives.   (pg 163)  This is a good time to ask the question of your dream maker “what useful and satisfying thing can you do in your life now that the struggles of youth have passed.” (pg164)

This chapter also addresses sexual dreams.  She states that sexual dreams may be a way of working through sexual issues or you may be working on integrating or accepting parts of yourself that previously you have not acknowledged.  When the identity of the sexual partner is known, it is often the characteristics of this partner within yourself that you are working to acknowledge or accept. (pg167) This can be same or opposite sex partners.

Once again, this chapter points out the importance of using our dreams to help us live more fulfilling, healthy and rewarding lives.  All we need to do is ask and be open to receiving the answers by listening to our dreams.

Thank you to all who attended our group today.  Thank you for sharing your dreams.  With your sharing, we are all learning more and more about ourselves!

Next week we will discuss Chapters 6 and 7 and we will also discuss dreams.  See you there!

 

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Book Club: Meditation Eknath Easwaran

Book Club, Chapter 5  Training the Senses
Thank you to all who attended yesterday.  What a great discussion and wonderful insights.  It is so interesting to hear others experiences as we travel through this book together!
Living in physical form has its rewards and definitely its challenges as well.  This chapter is on the many ways we are challenged each day by our senses.
Eknath discusses on page 141 that like any other skill, training our senses takes practice and a desire to do so.  He says that once trained our senses become our “trusted servants” but untrained become our “oppressive masters”.  The challenge for many of us is first in becoming aware of what we are responding to when we automatically eat, or turn on the TV or check our e-mail.  For so many of us, we do things without much thought or awareness, it has become a habit.
He says that we begin by denying the body things that injure it.  (pg 142) When we eat foods that are not nutritious, we are impairing the body’s smooth functioning.  So many of these foods taste good, and we give in to the sense of taste.  He states that the “body’s needs should determine what we eat, not the appeal of the senses.” (pg 143)  The more aware we become the less appeal non-nutritious foods will have for us and the more it will bother us to watch as others harm their bodies.  He encourages us to start our children on healthier fare and not give in to ads for sugar filled cereals and other non-nutritious foods geared specifically to children through TV ads.
The next step is to eat only when hungry.  When we keep nuts and candies around the house, we pick as wander by, eating because it is there, not because we are hungry.  “Our attention is divided and we eat compulsively rather than from hunger.” (pg 145)  He then goes on to say that it is best if we overeat to skip the next meal, but rather than overeating try to stop eating when you are still a bit hungry.  (pg 148)  I thought this was rather timely with Thanksgiving coming up!
Our eating habits are so entrenched and there are so many temptations to distract us, he notes that it takes time as well as patience and persistence to prevail.  He discusses using your mantra, going for a brisk walk, and meditating as options to use rather than eating when we are upset, lonely or depressed. We all have to take personal responsibility.  We have choices and we alone are responsible for how we treat our bodies and our minds.
We need to be aware of the word we speak.  On page 159 he gives three gateways to check before speaking.  Are your words true, are they necessary and are they kind?  If the words do not meet all criteria they need not be spoken.  He goes on to say that not only are words misspoken destructive to the recipient…” they are terribly destructive to the consciousness of the person who uses them.”
We also need to be aware of what we watch on TV and at the movies.  Increasingly, we are watching more and more violence.  He notes that not only do we watch violence but we pay to do so.    Violence is seen by many as a possible solution to problems and more and more as a nation we are becoming insensitive to violence.  When we choose to become aware we become more selective in what we chose to watch, read and listen to.  On page 161 he states that “when we stimulate the sense unduly, vitality flows out through them like water from a leaky pail, leaving us drained physically, emotionally and spiritually.”  When we train our senses, we conserve our vital energy.  We mindfully choose what to surround ourselves with and we feel secure within ourselves.
On page 162 Eknath states that “When we learn to train our senses and master our desires, fewer and fewer of these waves (desires) rise up.  Gradually the mind becomes still so that we can discover our real identity.”
This is the goal for many of us as we continue to practice the ideas he gives us in this book.
Next week Book Club will meet on Saturday from 1-2:30.  Bring your lunch if you would like as we will meet right after meditation class.  Have a great week.

Book Club Notes: Meditation Eknath Easwaran

Book Club November 3, 2012  Chapter 4
Thanks everyone for coming and THANK YOU TOMI for the delicious vegetable soup, that we all enjoyed before we started our discussion.  As Tomi pointed out as this chapter was on One-Pointed Attention, it would likely be wise to eat first and then start our book discussion.  That worked well, and we did visit as we ate, and someone pointed out we had it down to two things at a time, which overall is a big improvement from what we usually do throughout the day.  Old habits are a challenge to identify and then to change!
What a great chapter once again.  This chapter on One-Pointed Attention or doing one thing at a time was very interesting.  Ekhart Tolle quoted a Zen master who was asked “what is the meaning of Zen?”  The Zen master said “doing one thing at a time”.  The questioner went on to ask “and then what?”  That is so often what our minds ask, if we are not busy all the time with thoughts and activities, surely we are missing something in life, what else could I be doing?
Eknath says that “If we want to live in freedom, we must have complete mastery over our thoughts.” Pg 116 This is not the case for most of us, instead as he states “our thoughts think us”. Pg 116 We are not in charge, we are “not the master here”. Pg 117 Our minds go where they choose and we follow along.  He gives examples of this as when a song lyric goes through your head and you can’t make it stop, you forget someone’s name perseverate on this the rest of the day, hoping it will come to you.  We also tend to remember and replay in our minds something that went wrong, and about which we feel badly.  As Eknath says these thoughts “haunt” us , keeping us “far from the light and joy of day.” Pg 117 We can choose to bring our minds into focus, or let them scatter wherever they may go, like light, which when focused is intense, yet when it is left to shine our through many cracks and openings become diffuse and goes in all directions.
We can train our minds by using meditation and by refraining from doing more than one thing at a time.  Here is the challenge, the more we work to fight distractions, the more attention we pay to them and they increase.  Instead we need to give mindful attention to our mantra, our prayer or our task at hand.
This takes discipline and self honesty.  The payoff is that when one’s mind is focused we have more energy, we are more efficient, more engaged and “opportunities worthy of our concentration come along”. Pg 122
Divided attention can lead to exhaustion and we feel very little satisfaction in what we do.  The choice is ours to make, but first we have to be aware of what our minds are doing.  Once we start to pay mindful attention to one thing at a time, we “grow new eyes and new ears.” Pg 125 We start to see and understand things in new and deeper ways.    We discussed how it is that some people like to have music on while they read or study, while for others this is very distracting.  Eknath feels that to do both is a disservice to each.  If you are reading, read, if you are listening to music listen to music, if you are driving the car, drive the car, this is not the time for visiting, or for music.  He summed up what Buddha said “when you are walking, walk.  When you are standing, stand.  When you are sitting, sit.  Don’t wobble.” Pg 132
“One-pointed attention averts mistakes and costly accidents.”  He also notes that “your senses are keener, your emotions more stable, your intellect more lucid, your sensitivity to the needs of others heightened.” Pg 140 When we unify our minds, we plunge deeper and deeper into that reality and move ever closer to the Lord.” Pg 140
Next week we will meet on Sunday, which is a change from what I said last week.  There is a training going on most of Saturday.  So we will meet at 4PM at our new location.  I look forward to seeing you there and hearing your thoughts on Chapter 5, Training the Senses!
Have a great week.

Meditation by Eknath Easwaran

Book Club, October 20th 2012.  Chapter 2 The Mantram
First, thank you to all who joined us at Book Club.  What an interesting and interactive group we had.  The energy in the room was amazing; of course it was the same room in which we had meditated an hour earlier and I know that helped us along as well.
Chapter 2 on the Mantram starts off with Eknath telling of the elephants in India, who are decorated in beautiful colors and are part of the Festival Parade that travels through the small winding streets on Festival Days.  Along the streets are the vendors selling their fruits and    vegetables.  As an elephant walks, his trunk is in perpetual motion, swaying from side to side and of course helping himself to whatever he finds.  As the street vendors are very simple peasants, they cannot afford to have their produce eaten by the elephants as they walk by, so the elephant trainer (mahout), asks the elephant to grasp a stick in his trunk.  Once the elephant has something to hang onto, and is doing this for his trainer who he loves, he holds the stick aloft and the procession goes through the streets without incident.
This Eknath says is what a mantram does for us, it gives us something positive to focus our minds upon, as we go throughout our day.  This becomes increasingly important when we start to feel stressed, or upset about something.  It is very comforting to be able to grab onto our mantram and bring ourselves back to center.
In a class I am taking right now at the School of Metaphysics in Fort Worth, in this week’s lesson we are discussing goals.  The formula we are looking at is Goal +Purpose + Activity = Success.  I think this ties in beautifully with this story and with the mantram.  It is up to each of us to determine our Goal.  For each it will be a little different, we are each unique.  The next step is to identify the Purpose behind the goal, why am I doing this and how strongly or passionately do I feel about this goal?  This will be key in the next step which is Activity, for it is only when we take action that anything happens.  In Yoga, the body doesn’t feel any different watching someone else do Yoga, you must do it yourself.  The same with the mantram, we can read about it all we want, but until we have a purpose or a reason why we choose to try it, nothing is going to change within us.
I had a perfect opportunity to try this as I was reading this very book 2 weeks ago.  I was in the doctor’s office waiting room.  I pulled out my book to read the intro, then chapter one, then chapter two.  By the end of chapter two I realized I could be like the elephant and hold onto my stick or I could get upset.  I closed the book, and I choose to try the mantram.  It was very helpful to keep my mind from going further into angst mode.  We all have these opportunities throughout the day, take them and use them wisely.
This chapter has so much great material.  He gives us many choices of words or phrases for the mantram and encourages each of us to find one that resonates with us and stick with it.  He feels that by changing your mantram, we will be like the farmer who starts drilling for water, then tries a new spot , and then another new spot, and he never does find water.  Do what works for you, but initially you may want to try his suggestion.  Eknath does say it is important to choose a spiritual word or phrase “that has been sanctified by long use-one of proven power, that has enabled many men and women before you to realize the unity of life.” Pg 69  He feels the mantram can “permeate and utterly transform our consciousness.” Pg 61  The aim is to “drive the mantram to the deepest levels of consciousness, where it operates not as words but as healing power.  So avoid anything that holds you to the surface level; otherwise, you are in the position of someone trying to dive to the bottom of a lake while wearing water wings.” … avoid counting your repetitions or using your rosary, … (as in) keeping track of numbers or remembering what your hands are doing binds you to the physical level.”  Pg 71
The mantram is different from meditation in that you can use it anywhere, with eyes open or closed.  There is no ritual, just repeat the word over and over.  “Skill at holding the mantram increases with practice. …(initially) the grip feels tentative…in time the fingers grow stronger and the mind can grasp firmly…after a long while, the mind… has a permanent hold on the mantram.” Pg 85
I encourage everyone to read the chapter, find your mantram and realize your purpose for practicing your mantram and then take action.
See you all next week at our NEW LOCATION and NEW TIME.
1  until 2:30  at 950 Hilltop Drive, behind the Weatherford Post Office
Take Santa Fe, turn east at the lights in front of the Post Office, (that is the only way you can turn), go about 2 blocks and it is the new stone building on your right.  Out front is a sign that says Stewart, Brooks & Bates.

Next Meditation Session is Saturday, November 3rd from 11:00 to 1:00 PM!  See you then!

Share Your Inspiration: Marcy Atchley

My Piece of Peace…Why I Meditate
By Marcy Atchley

I relish my time alone with God, my Divine creator…mind calms…attention is focused…body relaxes…stress does not exist… a complete feeling of inner peace abounds…I desire this… I practice this.
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, just look at Genesis 24:63…Issac went out to the field one evening to meditate!  Just imagine… sitting outside… full day of work accomplished… feeling grateful that it’s over, that it went well or what on earth do I do next?  Stop…give it to the One who gave me the work to begin with!  Listen and be still…still in body…still in thought.  Psalms 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God… Be grateful…be blessed…Worship.
When I meditate it is my intention to seek harmony with my mind, body, and spirit..to be aware..not to judge!  I find answers when I look inwardly.  Ephesians 1:18…I pray also that the EYES OF YOUR HEART may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you.  This is a priceless gift.  Ephesians  4:23 tells me that I can be made new in the attitude of my mind.  Romans 8:6 tells me that when my mind is controlled by the Spirit, I have life and peace.  Romans 15:13 tells me that I can overflow with hope and be filled with joy and peace.  Philippians 4:4-9 tells me I was created to be happy…rejoice in the Lord…present my petitions.not be anxious..Let Christ guard my mind…practice pure, true, noble, admirable, praiseworthy thoughts and the God of Peace will be with me.
Meditation is an avenue that I use to build my faith.  I love God.  I am loved by God.  I feel it.  I know it.  I own it.  I can only give to others out of my abundance whether that is time, money, wisdom, or energy.  I feel blessed with all when I stop and turn my thoughts inwardly.  I try to carry this love and inner peace with me through out my day.  Whatever I am doing, wherever I am going, it balances me…even when my thoughts turn negative, my joy drains….how quick can I get it back?
Like daily bible reading, prayer and meditation, I also have discovered a need for a daily practice for my body.  Yoga has led me to a stronger mind, stronger breath, stronger bones, stronger muscles, I stand taller, I feel whole which in turn makes me more holy.. for the movements are done in rhythm to my breath…My God given breath working with my God given and created body…meditation in motion!  How cool is that! By the way…did you know that yoga means union? Union of the body with the mind and the mind with the soul.
The work I am doing with Sandra at Indra’s Grace, is helping me rebound more quickly and more gracefully…thus more pleasing to my Creator. A positive thought is just a thought away, but it is up to me to look for a positive one!  Life is hard…disappointments abound…but so does Love.. Joy.. Peace… Patience… Goodness… Kindness… Gentleness… Self Control…the choice is mine to make. This application is huge when I look inside…I used to be very quick to judge myself…I should have…did I…will I… have I…wish I…scattered thoughts had a tendency to plague me. Now, when I feel unbalanced I return to my breath…my Spirit…once again I calm…I breathe…I meditate and I am at peace.