A Clouded Mind

Thick clouds do not allow us to see the vast sky.  So it is with some mental states such as anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, envy, desire, and depression: they act like clouds in the mind. Not only they limit — and even at times totally obstruct our views — but they also bring about unwholesome words and actions, which engender negative consequences in our lives and the lives of others.

The three roots of all defilements, and the causes of the majority of human suffering, are attachment, aversion, and ignorance. Attachment is experienced as desire, greed, covetousness, and craving, which bring about the vain attempts to hold on, cling, and grasp a reality that is always changing. Aversion brings with it anger, hatred, ill-will, and even cruelty. Finally ignorance, or delusion, produce wrong perceptions that destabilize the peace of mind and result in hurtful actions.

Mindfulness practice allows us to notice the disturbances created by our attachments, aversions, and ignorance.  Diligent observation allows us to realize how much of our life energy is spent trying to reel in what we want and push away what we don’t want, while ignoring that it’s impossible to to get all we want to the total exclusion of what we don’t want. It becomes clear to us how much this pulling and pushing throw us out of balance. But once we acknowledge the presence of greed in our lives, its power over us subsides, and then renunciation, relinquishing, and generosity are revealed. And once we acknowledge our aversions, resistance subsides and a calm acceptance, not resignation, settles in.

So, the suggestion for increasing the quality of life is to notice the pulling and pushing forces at work, while investigating and getting clear about our attachments, aversions, and ignorance.


 

Piero Falci is an author and educator who believes that the inner work that leads to personal awakening and transformation is indispensable to create a wholesome world. He is an explorer of the mysteries of life who loves to observe, reflect and write, and who not only aspires to live a life that matters, but also hopes to inspire others to do the same. He is a promoter of peace who believes in advancing the idea that Heaven is here if we want it to be. He teaches Mindfulness Meditation and Mindful Living, and the acclaimed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program as taught at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He leads mindfulness silent retreats and organizes Silent Peace Walks. He lives in Florida, USA. Join his Mindfulness Meditation and Mindfulness Living sessions at Yoga Source in Coral Springs (Sundays at 9:00 AM) and at Shiwa Yoga in Deerfield Beach (Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 AM)


 

Take a look at these books at the Peaceful Ways online store

http://peacefulways.org/store/

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– “Peaceful Ways – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True”

Pay Attention Book Cover

– “Pay Attention! Be Alert! Discovering Your Route to Happiness”

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– “Silent Peace Walk”

www.PieroFalci.com

www.SilentPeaceWalk.org

www.PeacefulWays.org

Mindfulness is Simple, but not Easy

After four weeks of mindfulness practice, one of my students wrote, “I’m learning that mindfulness is not easy. There are so many distractions and obligations in life that make it hard to stay mindful. The practice is demanding: it takes time, effort, persistence, dedication, and motivation.” True. There’s a popular saying in the mindfulness world: “Mindfulness is simple, but not easy.” It is not uncommon for meditators to feel frustrated, discouraged, and unmotivated during the early stages of mindfulness practice. Novice practitioners soon realize how tiresome it can be to focus and sustain concentration, and how less tolling it is to continue acting mindlessly and automatically. They notice how challenging it is to sit still to investigate the feelings that arise, and how much easier it is to distract and numb themselves. They get to know firsthand how difficult it is to try to be mindful throughout the day. The truth is that old habits die hard, and that although all of us are capable of having some moments of great awareness, only highly trained individuals can be mindful all times of the day. It takes training to come to a state when living mindfully becomes second nature. It also takes practice to come to a state of not striving and not doing, just being, which makes the mindfulness practice if not easier, at least lighter. The saying that I keep telling my students is “It’s not difficult to be mindful. Difficult is to remember to be mindful.” Mindfulness practice allows us to have more moments of mindfulness during the day, and the more of such moments we have, the more we will have. So, if you are at the beginning this mindfulness journey, don’t chastise yourself because right now you cannot be mindful most of the time. Experience shows that moments of mindfulness for those with still untrained and untamed minds are rare. Setting reminders to pause, breathe, and observe during the day works well for a lot of practitioners. Give it a try!

“I have not found anything else anywhere near as powerful, as nurturing, and as illuminating as cultivating the capacity for embodied presence in my own life. ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn


 

Piero Falci is an author and educator who believes that the inner work that leads to personal awakening and transformation is indispensable to create a wholesome world. He is an explorer of the mysteries of life who loves to observe, reflect and write, and who not only aspires to live a life that matters, but also hopes to inspire others to do the same. He is a promoter of peace who believes in advancing the idea that Heaven is here if we want it to be. He teaches Mindfulness Meditation and Mindful Living, and the acclaimed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program as taught at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He leads mindfulness silent retreats and organizes Silent Peace Walks. He lives in Florida, USA. Join his Mindfulness Meditation and Mindfulness Living sessions at Yoga Source in Coral Springs (Sundays at 9:00 AM) and at Shiwa Yoga in Deerfield Beach (Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 AM)


 

Take a look at these books at the Peaceful Ways online store

http://peacefulways.org/store/

Book Cover Image

– “Peaceful Ways – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True”

Pay Attention Book Cover

– “Pay Attention! Be Alert! Discovering Your Route to Happiness”

Silent_Peace_Walk_Cover_for_Kindle

– “Silent Peace Walk”

www.PieroFalci.com

www.SilentPeaceWalk.org

www.PeacefulWays.org

 

Clear Comprehension

There’s an urban legend of five monkeys that, as the story goes, were put inside a cage by a group of scientists. In the middle of the cage the scientists placed a ladder with bananas on its top. Naturally, when the monkeys saw the bananas they started to climb the ladder, but every time a monkey went up the ladder, the scientists soaked the other monkeys with very cold water. After a while, every time a monkey started to climb the ladder, the other monkeys pulled it down and beat it up. After some time, no monkey would attempt to climb the ladder, no matter how great the desire. The scientists then decided to take one of the monkeys out of the cage and put a new monkey inside. The first thing this new monkey did, after seeing the bananas, was to climb the ladder. Immediately, the other monkeys pulled it down and beat it up. After several beatings, the new monkey learned never to go up the ladder, even though there was no evident reason not to do so, except for the beatings. A second monkey was replaced and the same occurred. All monkeys took part in the beating of the newcomer. Soon, another of the old monkeys was replaced by a new monkey, and the same thing happened all over again. Then the fourth and the fifth old monkeys were replaced by new monkeys, leaving a group of five monkeys that without ever having received a cold shower continued to beat up any monkey who dared to climb the ladder. Now, if we could ask the monkeys why they beat up those who attempted to climb the ladder, probably their answer would be “I don’t know. It’s just how things are done around here.”

Our beliefs really limit what we apprehend with our senses. Some scientific experiments showed that people who believe something not to be possible, will not be able to see what they consider to be impossible, even if such a thing is unfolding right before their eyes.

Another factor that prevents us from seeing clearly is the pressure exerted by the many tribes we belong to and the stipulation to not question their dogmas and authority. To engage in an independent exploration to find the truth is often seen as dangerous, disloyal, and treasonous. Is not uncommon for the explorer to become a persona non grata and be expelled from the group. The emotional pain associated with becoming an outcast discourages many from exploring and challenging the dogmas of religious and political institutions, for instance. Rather than investigate the beliefs to see if they are really true, it is much easier, and certainly less painful, to turn a blind eye, surrender to the power structures, and bend the truth to fit the beliefs.

Perhaps the most important activity we can engage in during our lifetime is that of investigating our beliefs and behaviors, in order to get rid of all things that prevent us from seeing clearly. I love the saying “We must consciously unlearn what we have unconsciously learned.” It is a good idea to raise doubts, ask questions, and investigate what we know — or think we know — in order to consciously unlearn all the lies we were fed. This is not an easy endeavor: it demands courage, and no one can do it for us; we have to do it ourselves. With diligent effort we can get rid of all distorting lenses that prevent us from seeing, comprehending, and knowing clearly. Which brings me to another saying that I love and believe is appropriate to include in this reflection: it states that“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” 

Think about it.


 

Piero Falci is an author and educator who believes that the inner work that leads to personal awakening and transformation is indispensable to create a wholesome world. He is an explorer of the mysteries of life who loves to observe, reflect and write, and who not only aspires to live a life that matters, but also hopes to inspire others to do the same. He is a promoter of peace who believes in advancing the idea that Heaven is here if we want it to be. He teaches Mindfulness Meditation and Mindful Living, and the acclaimed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program as taught at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He leads mindfulness silent retreats and organizes Silent Peace Walks. He lives in Florida, USA. Join his Mindfulness Meditation and Mindfulness Living sessions at Yoga Source in Coral Springs (Sundays at 9:00 AM) and at Shiwa Yoga in Deerfield Beach (Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 AM)


 

Take a look at these books at the Peaceful Ways online store

http://peacefulways.org/store/

Book Cover Image

– “Peaceful Ways – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True”

Pay Attention Book Cover

– “Pay Attention! Be Alert! Discovering Your Route to Happiness”

Silent_Peace_Walk_Cover_for_Kindle

– “Silent Peace Walk”

www.PieroFalci.com

www.SilentPeaceWalk.org

www.PeacefulWays.org

Fear When Happiness Arrives

It’s not uncommon for fear to arise when things are just fine. Yes, everything is OK, everything is perfect, but we are not tranquil: inside us there is this disturbing fear that something bad is about to happen.

Flavio Gikovate, a Brazilian psychotherapist and scholar, lectured extensively on the irrational fear felt by many that when everything is well, or when everything is about to be well, a tragedy will strike. Many people are unaware that they may be afraid of achieving their dreams, having success, and experiencing happy moments, because they are already anticipating the pain they will experience in the event they lose all that.

Have you ever noticed the sneaky fear that arises when we are about to reach our goals, or when we have reached them and are experiencing success and happiness? Dr. Gikovate alerted us that due to this fear many times we sabotage ourselves and bring our projects to failure, a dangerous tendency that becomes more present as we get closer to reaching our goals.

It’s not uncommon, when things are going well, for our brains to focus on the negative rather than the positive. And we have to understand that the brain’s tendency to pay more attention to what is negative is natural; it’s just the way our brains work and have worked throughout the ages to protect us, humans, from danger.

But the good news is that our brains are trainable.

Yes. Our brains are trainable!

We can, through deliberate mindfulness practice, increase our ability to be aware of those times when fear is not called for. We can also train ourselves to increase our ability to notice the good and take it in, what has the power to tame fear.

I created an acronym to make this practice easier to remember: NASA. Not the National Air and Space Administration of the space programs and astronauts. I’m talking about the initials of four words: Notice, Appreciate, Savor, and Absorb. NASA. The more I pause to notice, appreciate, savor, and absorb the good things in my life, the more gratitude becomes my brain’s default operating mode. I become more focused on gratitude than fear. I focus on the abundance of the Universe and marvel at it. I am more optimistic and less pessimistic. I focus on how blessed I am, how blessed we all are, and feel content, satisfied, and happy.

N.A.S.A. I invite you to give it a try.


 

Piero Falci is an author and educator who believes that the inner work that leads to personal awakening and transformation is indispensable to create a wholesome world. He is an explorer of the mysteries of life who loves to observe, reflect and write, and who not only aspires to live a life that matters, but also hopes to inspire others to do the same. He is a promoter of peace who believes in advancing the idea that Heaven is here if we want it to be. He teaches Mindfulness Meditation and Mindful Living, and the acclaimed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program as taught at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He leads mindfulness silent retreats and organizes Silent Peace Walks. He lives in Florida, USA. Join his Mindfulness Meditation and Mindfulness Living sessions at Yoga Source in Coral Springs (Sundays at 9:00 AM) and at Shiwa Yoga in Deerfield Beach (Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 AM)


 

Take a look at these books at the Peaceful Ways online store

http://peacefulways.org/store/

Book Cover Image

– “Peaceful Ways – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True”

Pay Attention Book Cover

– “Pay Attention! Be Alert! Discovering Your Route to Happiness”

Silent_Peace_Walk_Cover_for_Kindle

– “Silent Peace Walk”

www.PieroFalci.com

www.SilentPeaceWalk.org

www.PeacefulWays.org