Stages of Faith Development

Looking back at my journey, I realize that one of the most important teachings for my spiritual growth was contained in the short essay titled ‘How God Invites Us to Grow: Six Stages of Faith Development.’ In that article, written in a very accessible language, Richard J. Sweeney reasons that change is desirable in all areas of life, including faith. He explains that there are two very different views of faith: one that considers that religious faith should remain constant, unchallenged, and unperturbed, and another that accepts that faith, like every other aspect of adult life, should always be evolving. He then lists the common stages of faith most of us can expect to go through in life. His article is based on the work of the late James W. Fowler III, a professor of theology at Emory University.

That article, together with the writings of John Shelby Spong and Marcus Borg, I must say, had a huge positive impact on my life. It removed the guilty I felt for not believing as I once did, and gave me permission to question the rigid dogma and look for my own answers. It was very liberating and healthy.

Once I understood that there are different phases in the faith journey, I also became better able to understand my own evolution, peacefully accept my departure from the church, and more fully respect others, wherever they were along the path of faith development.

The six stages of faith, as presented by Sweeney, are:

  1. Imaginative faith
  2. Literal faith
  3. Group faith
  4. Personal faith
  5. Mystical faith
  6. Sacrificial faith

Faith evolves from the fairy-tale faith of a child, to a faith that is limited by narrow interpretations of some ancient texts, to a faith that demands loyalty to particular religious groups. While going through these phases, some individuals may feel uncomfortable with the tenets and demands imposed by the religious institutions, and the behavior of their leaders and members. That may prompt a deeper questioning and a distancing from the tribes, a departure from institutionalized religion in the direction of an individual spirituality marked by a quest for more satisfactory answers.

This usually evolves to the cultivation of silence, stillness, solitude, and simplicity, the reduction of selfishness, the realization of oneness, and the growth of the desire to serve others, and a deeper connection, communication, and communion with the ‘Divine’ in one’s everyday life.

……..

“Occasionally, history provides us with examples of persons who have so identified with the well-being of others and who are so committed to the values of truth and justice that they have a capacity for selfless love that outreaches most of us. Jesus, Gandhi, Dorothy Day and Archbishop Oscar Romero are examples of this sacrificial faith. Such persons display a radical and consistent commitment to the doing of God’s will that is uncompromised by concern for personal status or security. In some cases the willingness to sacrifice self for others has led to martyrdom. For many other less famous persons, it leads to a constant dedication of self to the growth of other persons and the improvement of society as a whole.” ~ Richard J. Sweeney

……..

The Deconstruction and Reconstruction of Piero Falci…

There was a moment in my life when I found the audacity to begin the process of questioning the tenets of my religion and the courage to remove myself from the religious institution I had belonged to for so long. That was very difficult especially because I had many friends in the church and I didn’t want to bring them any pain. I knew that not all of them would understand my departure; many would be saddened, while others would consider me lost, if not a traitor. But not without lots of trepidation, I went ahead. I embraced the ‘I-don’t-know’ mind and asked myself questions such as, “What is life? Why am I here? What does it mean to be human?” I opened myself up to the answers with deep humility. I had to find new voices that spoke to me, and answers that were more reasonable.

I soon realized how entangled I was in old beliefs, and how they were holding me back and preventing me from seeing life clearly. I gave myself permission to imagine other possibilities, other ways of being, other ways of living.

I came to appreciate that although it is important to be well-grounded and have a good understanding of the teachings, the stories, and the traditions of the church one belongs to, it is twice as important to question the dogma and be open to insights. One should not depart mindlessly from the historical traditions, but one should be extra careful in order not to get stuck in trying to preserve and replicate the past at all costs. I find it important to be rooted in traditions, but not stuck in them. And it is of great consequence to be cognizant of the difference between the two.


 

Read Piero’s books and keep the conversation going .

A BETTER LIFE IN A BETTER WORLD – Can Mindfulness Save Us from Ourselves?

……..

PEACEFUL WAYS – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True

……..

PAY ATTENTION! BE ALERT! – Discovering Your Route to Happiness

……..

SILENT PEACE WALK – From Inner Peace to World Peace


 

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 Shiwa Yoga in Deerfield Beach and Yoga Source in Coral Springs.

 

 

The Pandemic and Me

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main… ” ~ John Donne

As I write these words, humanity is experiencing the beginning of a pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus. It’s a time of upheaval. There’s a lot of uncertainty. For instance: we don’t know who is contaminated and who isn’t. I may be carrying the virus and not display any symptom, and the same is true for everyone else. So we go through our days asking ourselves: “Is it possible that I have it, and don’t know? Do I have it? Do they have it? Will I, unintentionally, pass it on to someone else? Will someone else, without knowing, pass it on to me? And if I get it, will I survive?”

The pandemic is here, and it is still early to say what may happen, but it is not too early to notice the ways we, humans, react to the menace. We have never seen a similar situation before, with such a large disruption of our routines, with such strict measures of isolation, and with so much uncertainty about what lies ahead. Feelings of helplessness, confusion, sadness, grief, and anger come to haunt us. Fear activates the fight-or-flight response, generates anxiety, and rushed, mindless, and selfish reactions are already taking place everywhere, challenging the notion that we are naturally good, compassionate, and benevolent beings.

Well, this crisis poses an opportunity for us to pause and contemplate our behaviors and the motivations behind them.

Can a global challenge like this one bring out the best in our humanity? Can kindness, generosity, and compassion be our guiding lights during these challenging times? Can we sacrifice ourselves for the greater good? Can we, perhaps, overcome our prejudices by realizing that the virus affects all humans indistinctively? Can we realize our interdependence and how utterly interconnected we all are? Can we use this time off wisely to reflect about life? Can we bring to mind the impermanence of everything, including our own physical existences? Can we see how, in so many ways, we are fortunate and blessed? Can we realize how little we need and how much we have? Can we focus on what is really important in life? Can we be grateful? Can we realize the immense value of human connection? Can all this reflection inspire us to live differently?

……..

We are all parts of an integrated whole. The spreading of the viruses shows that what I do impacts you, and what you do impacts me. It shows that what you do, not only impacts me, but also all the people in my life. It shows that what I do, impacts not only you, but also all the people in your life. It makes viscerally obvious that we are all interconnected and responsible for each other’s well-being.

If moved by fear I react mindlessly, and, for example, buy more goods than I need, I may be depriving you of what you need. If you buy more than you need, you may be depriving me of what I need.

We can be mindful or mindless. We can be selfish or selfless. What I do affects you. What you do affects me. We are all in this together. As John Donne wrote, “No man is an island.”

……..

What comes to my mind are science-fiction stories such as ‘The War of the Worlds’ by H. G. Wells, ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy, and ‘World War Z’ by Max Brooks, and, with them, the questions, “What will it be? All for one and one for all, or each man for himself? Altruism or Egoism? Cooperation or Competition? Compassion or Selfishness? Optimism or Pessimism? Hope or Despair?”

We shall see.

What is clear is that we don’t know what will happen.  And isn’t that always the case? No one knows what the future holds. The pandemic brought to light something that has always been there, only temporarily hidden: we live with the illusion of certainty and security. This clear and present threat made us remember that we are not invincible and eternal, and that these sobering facts of life should be faced with equanimity.

……..

Mindfulness invites us to see clearly. Mindfulness invites us to get closer, feel, and get familiar with what we fear and makes us uncomfortable. Mindfulness invites us to name our emotions — sadness, grief, anger, confusion, helplessness, and hopelessness — and acknowledge them, feel them, and hold them in our loving, tender, and compassionate awareness. Mindfulness invites us to befriend uncertainty and vulnerability, and be at ease with them. Mindfulness invites us to make a good assessment of the situation, accept what we cannot change, and put ourselves in motion to change what we can. In summary, mindfulness puts us in the best possible position to be the loving witnesses of what is unfolding, see the big picture, and choose the wisest and healthiest responses to the challenge.


 

Read Piero’s books and keep the conversation going .

A BETTER LIFE IN A BETTER WORLD – Can Mindfulness Save Us from Ourselves?

……..

PEACEFUL WAYS – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True

……..

PAY ATTENTION! BE ALERT! – Discovering Your Route to Happiness

……..

SILENT PEACE WALK – From Inner Peace to World Peace


 

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 Shiwa Yoga in Deerfield Beach and Yoga Source in Coral Springs.

 

 

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/

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

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

 

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness has several meanings and can be defined in many ways. Here I elaborate on mindfulness as a training that leads to a particular way of living.

Mindfulness is a practice that develops present-moment awareness. It is the practice of focusing attention and observing what is going on in the present moment, by observing our own bodies, emotions, thoughts, experiences, and life in general. Not only observing, but observing without interfering; observing without the presumption that we already know, and without hurriedly rushing to conclusions; observing with the curiosity of a child, or, as we say, with the mind of a beginner, not the mind of an expert. This manner of observing is one that allows us to discover the new in the old, the unusual in the usual, and the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Learning to focus and observe is just the beginning of the mindfulness practice. What follows focusing and observing is inquiring and reflecting as a diligent Greek philosopher from times past would. This practice of questioning and surmising has the potential to liberate us from wrong perceptions and bring us to that state of lucidity marked by clearly seeing, clearly understanding, and clearly knowing. We become better able to see beyond the veil of ignorance and delusion, and see things as they really are, see the impermanent and ever-changing nature of everything, and realize that everything that arises also passes away.

“Mindfulness is a way of training yourself to become aware of things as they really are.” ~ Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

Practice allows us to notice those times when we are being tossed around by unhealthy thoughts and emotions — when the mind is lost in desire, aversion, regret, and anguish, ruminating the past and worrying about the future — and equips us to redirect our attention to the here-now and from unwholesome thoughts to wholesome ones.

So, what follows the practice of diligent observation and reasoning is wisdom, is seeing what is wholesome and what is not; seeing cause and effect and learning what the consequences of our actions are. From realizing that thoughts are insubstantial and ephemeral; from learning that we are not our thoughts; from discerning which thoughts bring about affliction and suffering and which bring about tranquility and joy; from seeing what is really important, and distinguishing what we can from what we cannot change, we can begin to be more selective, and choose which thoughts we should give our attention to and which ones we should dismiss.

As we learn to respond mindfully instead of reacting mindlessly, or, in other words, as we learn to take time to ponder before choosing what to say and do, we become better able to create peaceful and joyful lives. In a nutshell, the practice of wise assessment, wise discernment, and wise choices leads to liberation, awakening, and enlightenment.

Living mindfully is a fresh way of living in which we engage with life fully awake, alert, attentive, aware, and appreciative. By living in such a way, the suffering that exists in the world becomes more evident, and we feel called to engage in the work of promoting justice and enhancing the quality of life for all sentient beings. Throughout this process we experience, in a very natural and organic way, the growth in us of the qualities of tolerance, acceptance, hospitality, solidarity, compassion, kindness, and generosity. We become less selfish and more selfless. We become more inclined to cooperate than to compete with others.

Living with more gratitude, ease, joy, and aliveness encapsulates what mindful living is.


 

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

Advice to my fellow explorers

Dear fellow explorers,

I would like to encourage you to continue practicing mindfulness.

I begin by asking you not to wait for perfect conditions to meditate. We all want secluded and silent environments to practice, but the majority of the time these peaceful surroundings will not be available. Most likely, conditions will never be as perfect as you would like them to be. But don’t allow this to prevent you from meditating regularly. Remember: “If you can’t do it perfectly, do it imperfectly. Just do it anyway.” Don’t have twenty minutes? What about twenty seconds? Can’t find a place inside your home? What about outside? No excuses! Just do it! Change the way you approach your desire for perfection and develop the ability to say to yourself, “Everything is perfect. It is perfect, just the way it is. It is always perfect.”

Meditate regularly and continue developing your ability to focus your attention, noticing and investigating what is going on in the present moment with curiosity. The more you practice formal mindfulness meditation exercises, the better equipped you will be to live mindfully. Remember that we don’t meditate to become better meditators, but to become better human beings. We practice not only to enhance the quality of our lives, but also the quality of the lives of those we come in contact with.

Be mindful of your body, your mind, your feelings, and of your life in general.

Be aware of your body when you are sitting, lying down, walking, and standing, noticing physical sensations and mindfully observing your body breathing.

Be mindful of your mind, contemplating your mind states: your thoughts and emotions. Be mindful of the states of wanting, aversion, restlessness, sleepiness, and doubt. Notice the workings of your judgmental mind and of the times when you are comparing and contrasting, categorizing and classifying, complaining and competing, criticizing and condemning. Develop the ability to see thoughts and emotions for what they are: thoughts are just thoughts; emotions are just emotions. And recognize that your brain is an “independent thought-producing and emotion-producing machine.” Therefore, realize that you are not your thoughts and emotions. Thoughts and emotions are just visitors. They come and go. You don’t need to be schlepped around or owned by them. You don’t need to act impulsively on the bad suggestions that may arise. You are independent and free.

Be mindful of your daily activities, noticing the times when you are labeling your experiences as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Be aware of the instances when you are engaged in the process of liking or disliking, approving or disapproving.

Examine your beliefs and explore new ideas. Be ready to consciously unlearn what you have unconsciously learned, and let go of what does not serve you anymore.

Investigate and explore life with curiosity as a way of growing in understanding and wisdom. Practice seeing the new in the old, the unusual in the usual, and the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Realize the impermanence and constant transformation of everyone and everything, witnessing the unstoppable cycle of birth, growth, decay, death, and transformation. Develop the understanding that life is manifesting through you, but that you don’t own this life, this body, this lived experience. Notice how clinging brings about suffering, and remember that nothing whatsoever should be clung to as I, me, or mine. Let it go and let it be.

Realize that experiencing suffering and dissatisfaction in life is a given. Notice that the lack of awareness of the craving for sensual delight, craving to be someone, and the craving to feel nothing are all causes of suffering. Notice that greater awareness of the existence of these cravings lessens suffering. Work diligently to identify, understand, and tame desires.

Practice to pause and augment the time between stimulus and response, developing the ability to be comfortable in the middle of uncomfortable situations, accepting with serenity the things you cannot change. By doing so you will diminish the number of mindless reactions and increase the number of mindful responses, which all in all will have a positive impact in your life.

Cultivate the skills of concentration, observation, and investigation in order to grow your wisdom. Be awake, alert, attentive, appreciative, and aware, in order to be fully alive. Know that the diligent practice will make your life better by, on one hand, taming delusion, ignorance, prejudice, greed, hatred, and violence, and on the other hand, by increasing in you the reservoir of kindness, gentleness, peace, compassion, generosity, patience, love, and forgiveness.

Be happy! And because happy is difficult to be define, at least be happier now than were before. Be happier! Be joyful! Take inventory of all the demands and notice how much you demand from yourself, how hard you are on yourself. Develop some self-compassion and give yourself the gift of rest. It’s your birthright. Rest. You deserve it.

Develop happiness, by practicing to notice, appreciate, savor, and absorb all the good things in life. If you do so, you will grow in gratitude which is the key that unlocks the gates to the kingdom of happiness.

Cultivate wisdom: wise effort, wise mindfulness, wise concentration, wise assessment, wise discernment, wise understanding, wise intention, wise action, wise speech, and wise livelihood.

All this practice will allow you to gain the wisdom that cuts through delusion and ignorance and allows you to see the truth of life clearly.

And continue exploring and inspiring!

So remember that our practice is not selfish. We don’t practice for ourselves alone. Our practice makes the entire world a better place. Whatever makes us better, makes the world better because we are part of the world.

I bow to you in gratitude. Thank you for your practice.

Wishing you many mindful moments, today and everyday.

~ Piero Falci


 

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 (Thursdays at 6:30 AM and 12:30 PM)


 

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

Meta Awareness

I’ve heard Dan Harris, the author of 10% Happier, explain what Mindfulness Meditation is many times in his podcast. He usually begins his explanation by saying that mindfulness meditation is the practice of cultivating meta-awareness. I like his explanation a lot. Here is what I captured from listening to him in the episode 194 of his podcast. This is my attempt to capture and respectfully transcribe his ideas, but please be advised that what follows is not a word-by-word transcription of what he said.

Mindfulness meditation is the cultivation of meta-awareness, the knowing that you know, the knowing that you are thinking. As a species, we are classified as homo sapiens sapiens, the one who thinks and knows he or she thinks. And the knowing that you have thoughts all the time — these random, discursive, mostly negative, always self-referential thoughts — allows you not to be owned by them. Knowing that you know is what separates humans from other animals, but most humans don’t know that they know. Most humans have not been trained to observe, notice, and become aware of their thoughts and emotions. They are yanked around… we are yanked around by this malevolent puppeteer of our ego, of our discursive thought process. A thought comes into our minds like a little dictator and we just do what the thought commands, even when doing it is detrimental to us. There’s no buffer between the stimulus and our reaction. Meditation is about building that buffer. One of the greatest benefits I see of mindfulness meditation is that by practicing it I am less likely to be yanked around and owned by my neurotic obsessions.


 

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 (Thursdays at 6:30 AM and 12:30 PM)


 

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

Unsatisfactoriness and Enoughness

 

The observation of life made me realize that I rarely experienced full contentment. No matter how wonderful my life was, I always felt that something was not quite right, that something was missing. I lived with the hope that something in the future would come about and fulfill this void I felt. But what would bring me contentment and peace of mind was never clear: perhaps the next academic degree, the next job, the next relationship, the next house, the next vacation, perhaps when I achieved fame and fortune. I kept pursuing those things that the culture told me would make me happy. Not knowing what would tame my anxiety — what would give me the feeling of fulfillment I so much longed for — I found myself all over the place. It was as if I was shooting in the dark, hoping to hit the target. Rather than being centered and satisfied, I found myself in this state of imbalance, constantly desiring, constantly leaning forward, hoping that the next thing would placate this sentiment that although things were good, they were not quite right, this subtle feeling in the background that something was wrong. I referred to it as ‘a bug in the system, an undercurrent of uncertainty, fear, anxiety, and dissatisfaction.’ I could hear Mick Jagger singing, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

I came to realize that many of the things I was pursuing, the things I was told would make me happy, were misleading, vain promises of happiness. I realized that I was following someone else’s formula for happiness, not my own.  I also came to learn that a state of happiness based in conditions is only temporary because circumstances are constantly changing. Yes, everything is impermanent!

And then I began to become aware of the vicious circle of desires and discontentment, desires and restlessness, desires and suffering! I became more aware of how wanting is disturbing, and how contentment is calming.

Enter enoughness.

I realize that everything, no matter how good, can be improved. I also realize that improvement has no end, and that it is necessary to practice mindfulness and  know when to say, “That’s enough. I am satisfied.” By practicing appreciation, contentment, and gratitude for all that I do, all that I have, and who I am, I feel that I was blessed with much more than enough, and as a result of that feeling, I am more generous. And when I am all this — appreciative, content, satisfied, grateful, and generous — I am happier.

Give it a try.

……..

“Our culture today is obsessively focused on unrealistically positive expectations: Be happier. Be healthier. Be the best, better than the rest. Be smarter, faster, richer, sexier, more popular, more productive, more envied, and more admired. Be perfect and amazing… Then fly your helicopter to your wonderfully fulfilling job, where you spend your days doing incredibly meaningful work that’s likely to save the planet one day… When you stop and really think about it, conventional life advice is actually fixating on what you lack… This fixation only serves to remind us over and over again of what we are not, of what we lack, of what we should have been but failed to be… The more you pursue feeling better all the time the less satisfied you become as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place. The more desperately you want to be rich, the more poor and unworthy you feel regardless of how much money you actually make… The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience… Wanting positive experience is a negative experience. Accepting negative experience is a positive experience.” ~ Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

……..


 

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 (Thursdays at 6:30 AM and 12:30 PM)


 

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

Mindful Living

I always come back to the saying, “It’s not difficult to be mindful. Difficult is to remember to be mindful.” To live mindfully is to live a life with plenty of mindful moments, moments when I remember to purposely pay attention and observe whatever may be happening in the present moment with calm, interest, openness, and curiosity.

I know that although observing the here-now is fundamental for mindful living, it is not enough. Living mindfully invites investigation and reflection on what is being observed. It is an engagement with the present moment through the philosophical method of questioning, learning, and knowing. It is a vibrant and exciting way of living that fulfills my aspiration to explore and inspire.

I know from experience that in order to live more mindfully, I have to deliberately increase the amount of mindful moments in my days. I know it is difficult to be mindful all the time, but I also know that it is possible, through training and practice, to increase the number of times I remember to be mindful.

Mindful moments are those when I remember to embody the qualities of six words that begin with the letter A: awake, alert, attentive, aware, appreciative, and alive.

It all begins with being awake, meaning that I am not sleepwalking through life. I am not on automatic pilot mode. Things are not happening totally on their own without my conscious participation. I am not going through life mindlessly repeating negative patterns of behavior that may be degrading the quality of my life. I am engaged with the present moment, deliberately slowing down and purposely focusing my attention on the here-now, just observing with openness and curiosity what is going on in this present moment, without rushing to add a commentary, an opinion, or a judgment.

The place is here. The time is now. I am here, now. I am present. I am alert and attentive. I am noticing what is going on. I am aware of what is happening. I process events, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and sensations in my body with clarity. I am able to see and perceive things clearly. I reflect. I ponder. I understand. I have insights. I see all the beauty of this world. I appreciate and am astounded by the magic, mystery and miracles that surround me. I experience energy, vigor, and vitality. I am able to pay attention, observe, notice, and discern with a clear and sharp mind. I am in command. I am making wise decisions that improve the quality of my life. I am awake, alert, attentive, aware, and appreciative of life. I am fully alive. I am living mindfully, and this is such an empowering feeling.

It is clear to me how our choices affect our lives. Living mindfully involves being a good observer, seeing clearly, making wise assessments, using wise discernment, and making wise decisions. That’s why focusing on the present moment is so important. Because it is in this moment that I choose, and these choices are the ones that ultimately affect the quality of my life.

……..

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our responses. In our responses lie our growth and our freedom.” ~ Viktor Frankl, (attribution)

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ~ Viktor Frankl

“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.” ~ Viktor Frankl


 

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 (Thursdays at 6:30 AM and 12:30 PM)


 

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