Lower Your Threshold of Pleasure

By adolescence, if not sooner, we have received millions of messages persuading us that we need more and more. We come to require ever higher levels of stimulation to be happy. These messages make hungry ghosts of us, leaving us perpetually discontented in the most prosperous society in the history of the world. Mindfulness lowers the level of stimulation that we need to reach in order to have fun. By living mindfully, you are training yourself to require lower levels of stimulation. You can...

Devote a Day to Mindfulness Practice

One thing that can help you generate more energy in your mindfulness practice is to have a day that you devote to mindfulness. Ideally, you are learning to live deeply and mindfully every day. However, it is all too easy to get pulled out of our intention to be mindful. Our lives are too demanding, too stimulating, and the quality of our mindfulness is as yet too weak. A day of mindfulness is a day that you set aside to move more slowly and calmly. You resolve that, for this day especially, you...

The Prime Directive

Anyone with a passing familiarity with Star Trek in any of its multiple incarnations will recognize the term prime directive. In these shows, the prime directive was a rule to not interfere with the development of other cultures in the galaxy, but to let each develop in its own way and at its own pace. How shall you, as an individual, practice Shall you join the Zen center down the street Will you do a lot of sitting meditation or more walking meditation Will you emphasize metta meditation,...

Wholeness Rather Than Holiness

When a person becomes religious, or adopts some form of self-improvement regimen, something happens. Suddenly that person develops a split in herself a split between where she is and where she would like to be, between how she is now and her new ideals. Whether it is the newly converted Christian, who now wants to convert her friends, or the coworker who just got back from an assertiveness workshop and now deals roughly with everyone's feelings but his own, we say such people have gotten...

Inner Guide Journaling

Emerson wrote, We are wiser than we know. There is in each of us an amazing wisdom. The problem is not that this wise voice does not exist. The problem is that it is difficult to hear it over the cacophony of other voices, especially the voices of worry, fear, and gloom. It can help to use imagery to access the wise voice. There are many ways to do this. You might imagine a holy figure such as Jesus, Mary, Krishna, the Buddha, Avalokiteshvara, or any representation of the wise woman or wise man...

Become Acquainted with Your Shadow

The shadow is a part of ourselves that we view from a conscious perspective as weak or inferior and that we therefore push out of awareness into the unconscious. The shadow is not evil per se, though sometimes we think of it that way since it is incompatible with our ideals and aspirations. Shadow figures generally appear as a person of the same sex as the dreamer. Sometimes the shadow appears in a dream literally as one who follows or shadows us as we move. The shadow generally exhibits...

Practice for Week Seven

Continue to practice meditation (twenty minutes twice daily), mindful moments, daily reading, and walking meditation (chapter 3). 2. Begin to record and work with your dreams, using the suggestions and ideas in this chapter. If you do not always have the time in the morning to work with a dream, at least jot some quick notes to jog your memory. Then record it more fully later in the day. 3. Continue to practice a day of mindfulness (chapter 5). 4. There's a lot of information in this chapter....

Learn the Art of Wu

In Chinese Zen, there is a practice called wu-wei. Although it means not doing, it does not mean doing nothing. It is about a certain kind of awareness, a certain attitude toward the doing. Often, when we do something, our mind is elsewhere. Brushing our teeth in the morning, we are thinking of the next thing we have to do, and the next thing, and maybe even the next thing after that. Brushing teeth in the spirit of wu-wei means coming back to the present. It means being aware of brushing our...

Bring Mindfulness to Your Schemas

Mindfulness can help us identify and alter our schemas. First of all, as we become more mindful, as we learn to calm ourselves and look deeply, we become more aware of these patterns. For example, if you have an unrelenting standards schema, you start to notice how hard you are on yourself. If you have a mistrust and abuse schema, you may begin to notice how unsatisfying your relationships are and how self-protective you feel around others, as though at any moment they would try to hurt you....