As part of a 30-day intentions/restraints practice, I’m back to reading Roshi Joan Halifax’s “Being with Dying.” In Chapter 10, Roshi Joan talks about how one can’t fully help others unless we help ourselves first. She suggests using a series of mantras as one way to get the ball rolling in that regard, mantras such as “I turn towards my suffering with kindness” or “May I be happy.”
She talks about having a spirtual practice to develop a concentrated, still place in which to cultivate calmness and kindness, including these principles for self-care:
1. See your limits with compassion
2. Set up a schedule that is sane
3. Know what practices and activities refresh you (and make time for them)
4. Actively involve, include and support other caregivers
5. Develop a plan for doing your work in a way that is mindful, restorative, wholesome and healthy
Given that breathing is at the heart of the practice of mindfulness – I feel calm just typing that – I thought I’d list my 10 favorite songs about breathing:
1. Stick Figure’s “Breathe”
2. Babe Rainbow’s “Johnny Says Stay Cool”
3. Courtney Barnett’s “Avant Gardener”
4. Anna Nalick’s “Breathe (2 AM)”
5. Berlin’s “Take My Breathe Away”
6. Pink Floyd’s “Breathe”
7. The Police’s “Every Breath You Take”
8. The Hollies’ “The Air That I Breathe”
9. Ingrid Michaelson’s “Keep Breathing”
10. Ariana Grande’s “Breathin'”
My intention for this year is to become more familiar with dying, particularly being with dying. I’m presently reading Roshi Joan Halifax’s “Being with Dying” and it’s been enlightening.
Right now, I’m learning how to deal with the suffering that often comes with the final stages of death. And how to be with it. Here’s an excerpt that highlights the points made about truly being present when with someone who is dying – letting go to attachments to how the death should be – and also compassionate and open to relieving suffering if possible:
This double-arrowed vision is yet another paradox of being with dying. I try to open to both suffering and freedom from suffering. If I see only suffering, then I am caught in the relative nature of existence: we are nothing but suffering. But if I see only the pure and vast heart, then I am denying our human experience.
One of the more fundamental functions of being human – of being a mammal, an animal – is eating. It’s a repetitive process, for which we almost always are on autopilot. Not only do most of us tend to eat the same foods every day – I eat peanut butter every morning – but the way in which we eat is often the same. One of the big adjustments for me during my first silent retreat was eating at a much slower pace – putting my utensils down after each bite. It was a profound experience.
This podcast with Jonathan Foust talks about eating as a spiritual practice. Jonathan notes we can transform our relationship with food. That we can be more mindful, that we can use our senses intentionally while consuming. All of our senses. Savoring each moment during a meal.
One key is to avoid binging when we’re not hungry. Learning to be aware of what are our triggers that cause binging. The environment and emotions that contribute to that. What are those dining companions that cause us to binge?
Jonathan also talks about how to replace self-criticism with compassion when it comes to food. How to be curious and playful with our meals. Eat, drink and be mindful. This book – “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think” – by Brian Wansink can teach us more…
As someone near that age where you think about such things, this note from Eric Weigel caught my eye:
Really insightful article on how to think about what you need in life. As retirement coaches/advisors we are often asked about the “number.” How much do I need to retire? But invariably that number keeps ratcheding up as capital markets reach yet another high.
When is enough really enough? When do you just buy that lifetime annuity and forget about how much the S&P 500 has gone up? Or simply, bring your risk down to enable you to sleep better, worry less, and actually enjoy your time doing the things that matter to you? How do you know if you are wealthy?
Hint: When what you have is enough.
Implication: Find out what enough is for you. Please read this wonderful article. It will shift your mindset toward more joy in your life – rich or poor!
I also like this article about “when to quit” by Andre Spicer. And this dharma talk from Jonathan Foust really helped me out on this topic…”the never-ending path of self-improvement”…the remarks at the 9:00 mark about “knowing how much is enough” is key…