Restlessness arises because we do not appreciate the beauty of contentment. We do not acknowledge the sheer pleasure of doing nothing. - Ajahn Brahm
Starting with the Buddha himself, Buddhism has always been concerned about the environment and promoted living in harmony with the planet and it’s needs. Here are some of those ways:
When you meditate, do not try to have good thoughts, do not try to keep away bad thoughts, do not try to stop thoughts, and do not try to go after them. Rather, rest in a state of being aware of the thoughts as they arise.
When I first began doing yoga, a teacher introduced me to headstand. She was a gifted, compassionate and excellent teacher who started her students with headstand at the wall. The first time I did this pose, I felt, intuitively, this was something I wanted to experience more of. Years later, I do headstand for a full hour at a time, usually 3 or times a week. I always feel superb after my one hour session. My research indicates that headstand delivers many benefits. Here are just ten:
1. Produces richer oxygenated blood for the brain. In headstand, the blood absorbs 33% more oxygen which directly benefits and nourishes the brain as well as other internal organs
2. Significantly reduces risk of stroke. Research reveals that stroke rarely occurs in those who consistently do headstands.
3. Increases core strength. In order to hold a prolonged headstand core muscles (such as obliques, the rectus abdominus and the transverse abdominus) are engaged.
4. Stimulates the lymphatic system. This network of nodes and fluids removes waste products from the blood. Headstand energizes the lymphatic system helping and hasting the removal of toxins from the body.
5. Lifts depression and generates feelings of happiness. Headstand stimulates the pituitary gland which is responsible for releasing endorphins (the body's 'happy' hormones).
6. Reduces anxiety, tensions and stress by lowering levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
7. More efficient breathing. Headstand facilitate a more complete exhalation fully emptying the lungs. In turn, this allows for a greater intake of fresh oxygen.
8. Face lift. Headstands can reduce facial wrinkles by reversing the effects of gravity allowing the skin to “rest” in the other direction. Also, this inversion increases circulation to the face bringing fresh nutrients and oxygen rejuvenating the skin while removing wrinkle causing toxins.
9. Strengthens the neck, spine and shoulders significantly.
10. Reverses the impact of gravity on inner organs. Being constantly upright tends to compress the organs. Headstand reverses this pattern giving the organs more room and allowing them to “space out”.
If you wonder how a headstand can provide so many benefits, here's a good explanation of the physiology from the Arhanta Yoga, an Indian yoga teacher training organization:
When you come into headstand, not only the body inverts, but the blood pressure as well. The pressure changes in the head, neck, shoulders, veins, arteries, lungs as well as legs. This change in blood pressure forces the body to react in order to maintain balance in the different body systems. The muscles and tissues of upper extremities are also stressed and activated.
Now maybe some alarm bells are going off as you hear that the blood pressure to the head increases. Luckily our body has very intricate and strong systems to make sure that the body and the brain stay safe. If you are physically well and your practice with the help and guidance of an experienced teacher headstand is very safe and beneficial. Due the reversal of the blood pressure – when in Headstand the blood pressure towards the head increases and in the feet and legs reduces to almost zero – we can see incredible physiological benefits. In fact according to recent clinical research, inversions improve the brains performance by 14%, and regular inversions do really improve concentration, memory, observation and clarity of thought and can counter-act depression and anxiety. Furthermore inversion therapy may even play a serious role in arresting the brain’s “aging process.”
Much of mental deterioration can be traced to poor blood pressure and hardening of the arteries, both of which reduce oxygen flow. Thus, with regular inversion therapy, we can overcome these risk factors and keep the mind from sliding into dementia.
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We need to be able to live with some pain in our lives. We need to be able to take some hits. Everything need not be so comfortable all the time. - Guo Jun
1. Don’t desire perfect health. Perfect health can easily increase one’s greed and arrogance. Do let your suffering become medicine.
2. Don’t hope for a life free from hardships. Such a life would only increase your pride and contempt for others. Do accept the worries and difficulties that come your way.
3. Don’t expect that your practice will be free of difficulties. Without difficulties, you could never patience and persistence. Do obtain liberation in the midst of obstacles.
4. Don’t expect that you can practice hard and not experience temptations. A lack of temptations will only soften your resolve. Do see “demons” (Mara) as friends who have come to help you along the Way.
5. Don’t hope for easy success. Easy accomplishments weaken determination. Do persist, persevere when life is challenging.
6. Don’t make friends to benefit yourself. Pursuing your own benefit damages trust. Do maintain long-term friendship through integrity.
7. Don’t hope that others will agree with you or follow your leadership. This desire only increases your arrogance. Do remember that those who disagree with you are the ones who help build your character.
8. Don’t expect to be rewarded for your kindness. This leads to scheming and improper intentions. Do t hrow out the expectation of rewards like you’d throw out an old shoe.
9. Don’t profit over and above what your work is worth. Do be rich in honesty.
10. Don’t seek to have unfairness and mistreatment removed and resolved quickly. Do consider mistreatment the materials for making progress in your spiritual practice.
(From: The King of Treasures Samadhi)
If you clear up your mind, you may actually make a discovery and find something you’ve missed. Or you may be able to see what has been troubling you from a different perspective. - Guo Jun
Treating your mind like a best friend involves approaching it with a warm, engaging attitude: “Hey buddy! Do you want to meditate now? What do you want to watch? How do you want to sit? You tell me how long.” When you treat your mind with kindfulness, your mind does not want to wander off anywhere. It likes your company. You hang out together, chilling out, for far longer than you ever expected.
- Ajahn Brahm from his book Kindfulness
Stay in the present. Don’t get caught up in hopes of what you’ll achieve and how good your situation will be some day in the future. What you do right now is what matters. - Pema Chodron
“Generally people start meditating and do fairly well in the beginning for their great desire to unfold spiritually propels them within themselves. But when the subconscious mind begins to upheave its layers – as it naturally must for the unfoldment process to continue beYond an elementary stage – meditators become afraid to look at the subconscious patterns of their seemingly not so perfect past. To avoid facing themselves, they stop meditating and the subconscious subsides….For many years thereafter the one time meditator can be heard to say ‘I’d like to meditate, and I do sometimes, but I don’t have time really to meditate.’ What he is actually saying is ‘Most of my time is used up distracting myself so that I won’t have to meditate anymore and won’t have to face my bothersome subconscious. On the path to enlightenment, you have to face everything that has gone into the subsconscious, not only in this life, but what has been registered in past lives.”
- Swami Sivaya Subramuniya