Go to the Silence, Change the World

“Our meditation practice is not selfish. We don’t practice for ourselves alone. Our practice benefits the entire world. As we change, the world changes. Our practice makes us more compassionate, more generous, more patient, more loving, more caring human beings. Our practice is a powerful form of activism that makes the world a better place.” 

These are words I say to my fellow meditators at the end of the meditations I lead. And I believe in them. I really do.

Yes, I teach mindfulness, a millenary practice that helps reduce anxiety and stress. This is good, isn’t it? Calmer and less reactive people are better for everyone, right?

Or not?

Well, we have to consider that we live in a violent environment of oppression and exploitation of the many by the few. And, yes, as many critics of mindfulness point out, mindfulness can be used by those in positions of power to make citizens in general, and workers in particular, less combative, and more docile, obedient, and productive.

But who can say that mindfulness is not also allowing people to see reality more clearly? Who can say that mindfulness is not making the hidden forms of oppression and exploitation more visible? Who can say that mindfulness is not challenging meaningless living, waking up a crowd of sleepwalkers from the vain promises of achieving happiness through consumerism?  Who can say that mindfulness is not making us feel, in a very deep way, that we are all in this together, and that we are both oppressed and oppressors? Who can say that that mindfulness is not augmenting the contingent of wiser activists for social justice and the preservation of our planet?

The practice of mindfulness does not make us indifferent to the suffering in the world, or oblivious to injustices. I argue that it has the opposite effect: mindfulness practice makes us more sensitive and compassionate. It makes us more aware of the suffering of others, of the damaging impact our wasteful way of living is having on the planet and its inhabitants, and of the perilous path toward extinction our civilization is on. The higher consciousness that arises through mindfulness practice activates in us the desire to engage in wise actions that can bring about a better world for everyone.

Mindfulness makes us very aware  of our interconnection and interrelation. Thich Nhat Hanh wrote, “We are not separate. We are inextricably interrelated. The rose is the garbage, the soldier is the civilian, the criminal is also the victim. ‘This is like this, because that is like that.’ No one among us has clean hands. None of us can claim that the situation is not our responsibility. The child who is forced to work as a prostitute is that way because of the way we are. The refugees who are forced to live in camps have to live like that because of the way we live. The arms dealers do their business so that our economies can continue to grow and they can benefit. Wealth and poverty, the affluent society and the poor society, inter-are. The wealth of our society is made of the poverty of the other.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, The Other Shore

I, like so many others, believe that we need to change the ways we see life, the ways we understand the world, and the ways we treat each other and all sentient beings. The way we live on this planet needs to change, and the practice of mindfulness meditation, as well as other similar practices, by changing our paradigms, is the best way I know to promote effective, healthy change.

It is clear to me that it is completely possible for everyone to have a good life on this planet, but in order for this to happen, a change in the ways we currently live is necessary. The process of change starts with the realization that we, human beings, were the ones who created the way we are currently living, and that we detain the power to organize ourselves differently and change everything if necessary. In order to do so, we should assume a beginner’s mind — a mind not constrained by preconceived ideas and beliefs; a mind open to entertain infinite possibilities — and while looking at everything anew, ask ourselves, “This is a beautiful planet. This is a place of abundance. There’s more than enough here for everyone. How can we organize ourselves in such ways that everyone can have a dignified existence, while respecting all beings and preserving the health of the planet in the process?” I am convinced that it is completely possible for us to organize ourselves to live on this planet in wiser, more supportive, and less violent ways.

Each one of us finds his or her own way of responding to the suffering of the world. There are innumerable forms of expressing compassion and working to improve the lives of the downtrodden. We, all of us, are unique in the combination of talents and skills we came to this world with, and it is up to each one of us to discover how we will bestow the gifts that we were given in order to alleviate the suffering of others. Some will heal. Some will feed. Some will shelter. Some will teach. Some will invent. Some will make themselves available to listen and comfort those who are hurting. Some will be called to show up to protest inhumane practices, let their voices be heard, and not only precipitate change of morally wrong and unacceptable policies and practices, but also let the oppressed know that they have not been forgotten. While some will actively engage in social activism for change, others will meditate and live mindfully knowing that their practice, by transforming them, will, directly and indirectly, benefit all sentient beings. This being my preferential choice at this stage of my life, many people challenge me, saying, “What are doing? Your mindfulness practice is not changing anything. You are not helping anyone.”

I am convinced that the practice of meditation, and of other similar disciplines of introspection and inner exploration in silence, stillness, and solitude, have a huge impact in the betterment of society. By getting to know oneself more intimately, by developing a better understanding of life, by becoming more aware of the suffering of others, by becoming more compassionate and generous, meditators wisely engage in the work of restoring Heaven on Earth, and have an effective impact. Like the ripples created on the surface of the water when a stone is dropped on a pond, so too selfless acts of kindness create ripples that travel far and wide and bless others with love.

When people accuse my meditation practice of being pointless and ineffective, I think of the impact the Buddha and Jesus had on the world; two meditators who dedicated their lives to their own awakening and the  awakening of others, and whose teachings, after millennia, still influence and benefit us to this day. The exemplary lives they lived inspire us to do no harm; to do good, be good, and savor the good. They inspired and continue to inspire multitudes of social activists. To say that meditation doesn’t change anything nor help anyone is, in my opinion, a misconception. Lasting change cannot really occur without individuals changing their perception of what’s within them and around them.

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” ~ Blaise Pascal, Pensées

Through the practice of meditation we become more compassionate. We reach the understanding that no life matters less than any other. The Dalai Lama said, “I try to treat whoever I meet as an old friend. This gives me a genuine feeling of happiness.”  Meditation practice makes it easier to smile and treat each person we meet as an old friend. We become sensitive to the suffering in the world and we let go of any impulses to put anyone down, replacing those impulses with the desire to bring everyone up.

“Here’s an ancient truth about being human: we cannot give gifts to others that we are unable to give to ourselves! That’s why “inner work” done well is never selfish. Ultimately, it will benefit other people.” ~ Parker Palmer

Practicing meditation is like going home, going to a safe refuge where you center yourself, find balance, and cultivate love. It is from this place of peace that you then come out into the world to distribute — calmly, compassionately, and generously — the love and peace you have gathered.

I say to the detractors of mindfulness, “One thing does not exclude the other. Practice meditation and work for social justice, and see what happens. Go to the silence and be surprised by the changes in the ways you see and behave. Knowing that the most effective nonviolent civil disobedience initiatives — the ones that brought about lasting social change — were inspired and carried out by those who had deep disciplines of introspection and inner work, choose to be like those who have used the formula effectively. Be like the Buddha, Jesus, Thoreau, Gandhi, Howard Thurman, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Thich Nhat Hanh, and others. Go to silence, know yourself, and then come out to work calmly within your circle of influence and change the world. Don’t get discouraged.”

I always remember that we, practitioners of mindfulness, are bringers of peace and sanity during moments of turmoil, and that’s why the practice is so important. Again, our practice is not selfish; we don’t practice for ourselves alone. Our formal meditation practice and our commitment to living mindfully is a powerful form of service to others. I tell my students, as an encouragement, that “In a boat full of fearful and agitated people, one sane, calm, and steady-minded person can find the way through the fog and the storm, through the winds and the waves, and sail the boat to a safe harbor, saving not only his or her life, but also everyone else’s lives. Practice mindfulness. The world desperately needs more steady-minded individuals.”

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“May you have the serenity to accept what you cannot change, the courage to change what you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

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“You may not be able to do much about the great problems of the world or to change the situation you are in, but if you can awaken the eternal beauty and light of your soul, you will bring light wherever you go. The gift of life is given to us for ourselves and also to bring peace, courage, and compassion to others.”  ~ John O’Donohue

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“Of course, I value independence, national and personal. But I also value collaboration because little that’s good has ever been achieved without it. I, for one, would be utterly lost without the many people who’ve invested time, energy and love in me.” ~ Parker Palmer

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“In general, mindfulness begins with one-pointed focus on where we are and what’s going on inside and out. Over time, though, this will bleed into a wider awareness that sees connections and explores what drives us and what effects we’re having on the world around us and the people, plants, and animals in it. It brings us into direct contact with our values, and the fundamental aspiration all of us have to make a better world, the part of us that cares.” ~ Barry Boyce, Editor-in-Chief of Mindful and Mindful.org in “Is Your Mindfulness Practice a Political Statement? Mindfulness brings us into direct contact with our values and our desire to create a better world.”

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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

Let it Be

A lot of stress derives from things we have no control over. This song reminds us that many times the wisest response is simply to let it be.

……..

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be, Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be

For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be, There will be an answer, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be, Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be, Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow, let it be

I wake up to the sound of music, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be, There will be an answer, let it be

Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be, Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul McCartney
Let It Be lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

We Are Not Who We Think We Are

Have you noticed how many times you did what was convenient for you without regard for the inconvenience you created for others? I have. And when I feel tempted to criticize others, and what I consider to be their selfish actions, I pause, look back at my own life, and let the urge go by saying to myself, “I’ve been there and I’ve done that.” 

Sometimes we do what is convenient for us unconsciously, completely unaware of how what we do affect others, while other times we do it consciously, by choice. But since we live in community, we are called to tame our selfish instincts. We are called to share the world with others.  We are called to remind that we are not the owners of this world, and the attitude contained in the saying “This is my world, and you just happen to live in it,” does not apply.

Have you noticed how often we are the main characters of the stories we tell? Have you noticed how often we are the protagonists of the movies that run in the movie theaters of our heads? Well, perhaps it’s time to consider that we are not the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. Perhaps it’s time to suspect that we are not those special and remarkable human beings that we believe we are, and that, as matter of fact, we are not superior to anyone else. Perhaps it’s time to entertain the possibility that we got it all wrong and that we are not who we think we are.

Why don’t we pause, put aside our preconceived ideas about ourselves, and do an honest effort to see ourselves as others see us? It’s not an easy task for sure, but if we try we may be surprised with the realization that we are not those selfless, generous, and caring persons that we imagine we are. We may come to the realization that, in fact, we are very critical and judgmental, and be surprised by our inability to empathize. It may be a revelation to us how completely oblivious we are of how our egotistical behaviors affect others. The truth is that our self-centeredness makes it extremely hard for us to see how others see us, and realize how what we say and do affects others.

We all have blind spots. We all have shortcomings. We all have acted in selfish ways, unaware of how our behavior made others uncomfortable or, even, how it wounded them. Therefore, developing self-awareness is one of the most important things we can do. Learning to observe ourselves, noticing our thoughts, words and actions, while developing the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s position, is a priceless skill. This self-reflective practice allows us to get to know ourselves and others better, and grow in compassion, kindness, patience, and generosity.

How others see you?

……..

We have to be cautious with our views and beliefs. Many times we believe we are better, but other times we believe we are worse than the persons we actually are.

Someone approached the Dalai Lama and asked, “I don’t feel worthwhile as a person. How can I work on this?” The Dalai Lama answered, “You should not be discouraged. Your feeling ‘I am of no value’ is wrong, absolutely wrong. You are deceiving yourself.”

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“Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy, on the night of Martin Luther King’s assassination (April 4, 1968)

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I hope we may be able to suspect that we are not who we think we are. I hope we may be able to get a glimpse of how others see us. I hope we may be able to get a better idea of who we really are, and perhaps come to the realization that in the grand scheme of things, we are insignificant.

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“It’s just a thought. Thoughts are not real. Thoughts are just thoughts. Thoughts think themselves. I am not my thoughts. The thought of a thing is not that thing.”

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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 strives 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, 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 organizes Silent Peace Walks.


 

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

 

An Appeal for Sanity – Part 14

I live in Florida, close to the ocean. Every morning I go to the beach to watch the sunrise, and every morning I pick up trash from the sand. Some days I pick up a lot, other days just a little. Some days I go well prepared, with gloves, bags, and my pickup tool. Other days I just bend down, collect items with my bare hands, and deposit them in the trash cans. But I have vowed not to leave the beach without picking up at least eleven items. And if you are asking “Why eleven?” the answer is simple: “It’s just because eleven is my preferred number.”

Being a surfer, I have developed great love for the ocean, especially the shoreline, and beach cleanup is not new for me: it’s an activity I have been engaged in for decades. I have made it my mission to collect the scattered rubbish people leave behind. Almost every day I hear a “Thank you for doing this” from a stranger, and it is not uncommon to engage in conversations about how much our careless littering is wounding our planet.

I am not saying all this to brag, but to bring up a reflection about the way we live. Perhaps we can pause and ask ourselves, “Am I aware of how my choices affect the planet and all life on it? Am I being selfish and lazy, doing what is convenient for me without considering the inconveniences I create for others?” Perhaps this reflection can inspire us to live differently, consuming less and wasting less. Perhaps we can be more mindful of the choices we make, and limit to a minimum the amount of disposable items we use.

I am trying to be more selective of what I buy, trying to reduce the consumption of products packaged in plastic and staying away from single-use plastic items, such as plastic forks, knives, spoons, plates, cups, straws, and bottles.

In an article published in the May 6th, 2019 edition of the Washington Post, Darryl Fears wrote: “One million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction, with alarming implications for human survival, according to a United Nations report released Monday. The landmark report goes further than previous studies by directly linking the loss of species to human activity. It also shows how those losses are undermining food and water security, as well as human health. Oceana senior adviser Philip Chou called the report a beacon for more action to address a crisis. “We are seeing alarming increases in the deaths of fish, marine mammals and turtles ingesting plastics,” Chou said. “These plastics break apart in the ocean into microscopic particles [that are] consumed by fish, fish we now eat.”

……..

Here it is, once again, my appeal for sanity: “We are all crew members and passengers of spaceship Earth, and we need to work together to preserve this vehicle that is taking us through the cosmos. We have to look at the big picture. We are all interconnected and interdependent. We are all in this together. We must stop all this ridiculous and pointless fighting, and cooperate unreservedly with each other, because we will either succeed and live, or fail and die, all of us together. Let’s change the focus, stop worrying about ourselves, and start thinking what we can do for others. Rather than asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’ let’s ask, ‘How can I serve?’ We are all responsible for preserving Planet Earth and building a sustainable future for all life. Let’s work together for the common good, for the greater good. And working together for common goals is completely possible. We just need to let go of fear and selfishness, and have the resolve to make it happen. So, let’s stop the nonsense and the pettiness! Heaven is here, if we want it to be.”

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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

Meditation: Doing Something and Doing Nothing

Mindfulness meditation is not a practice I engage in order to create a desirable state, such as peace or bliss, but one I practice to develop the ability to be more aware and less reactive. It is a training that enhances my ability to pay attention to the present moment, notice what is going on, and curb my most-of-the-time hasty, thoughtless, and unwise reactions.

The idea that we can meditate to stop the arising of thoughts and clear the mind is a myth. In meditation, my aspiration is not to stop thinking but rather to observe the thinking. It is not my intention to have a completely blank mind, devoid of thoughts, but rather to be aware of thoughts when they arise, getting to know them better.

Besides awareness of my thoughts, the practice of mindfulness meditation has allowed me to be more aware of my emotions and body sensations. I have become more conscious of the constant activity of my mind and realized its non-stop pursuit of sorting out what I like from what I dislike, what I approve from what I disapprove. By resting in awareness — by staying put and doing nothing, except observing — I have been able to become aware of my periods of restlessness, drowsiness, and doubt. I noticed my relentless, competitive tendency to compare, contrast, categorize, classify, criticize, and condemn. I realized the impermanence of everything, became less judgmental and self-centered, and grew in love, kindness, gratitude, generosity, patience, and compassion. And, in the middle of this whole process, I came to experience greater calm and serenity.

It is said that the most important moment in the meditation practice is the one when we transition from being lost in thoughts to becoming aware of where our minds have been. By bringing energetic curiosity to my life, I have been able to clearly see the difference between the moments when I am not aware that I am thinking and those moments when I am. Now, when I become aware of a thought, I am able to realize that I have been lost in thoughts. I try to pay great attention to these moments of transition because noticing them, over and over again, is what develops my mindfulness and enhances the quality of my life. By having the intention and exercising the commitment to be awake, alert, attentive, aware, and appreciative, I feel fully alive.

……..


 

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

The Present Moment is the Most Important One

To a certain extent I agree with the saying, “Where you are is less important than where you are heading to.” I feel it gives me hope and motivates me to improve my life situation. But I believe in the primacy of the present moment, so I say to myself, “Where I am is more important than where I am heading to,” because who and where I will be are always being determined by the decisions I make now.

This moment is the most important one. No other moment is more important. Actually, no other moment even exists.

I also believe that who I was is less important than who I am now, and where I have been is less important than where I am now.

It’s only in this present moment that I can make a good assessment of where I am. It’s only in this present moment that I can sense what I would like to see changed and decide where I would like to be. It’s only in this present moment that I can choose the right destination, set myself in motion in the right direction, and make adjustments, even changing my destination altogether if that is what is called for.

This is not new. I have been doing that throughout my life, and I still do, but what changed for me is that now, in my assessments, I focus much more on what I have than on what is missing. I take more time being grateful for who I am, what I do, and what I have than focusing on what I want. Now, I am more cautious not to ignore how fortunate I already am.

It is perfectly valid to visualize the life you want for yourself, create a plan, and put yourself in motion to reach your objectives. But this journey has to begin with an honest assessment of who you are and what you are meant to be. Pondering on the questions “Who am I? What do I love? How shall I live, knowing that I will die? What gifts do I bring to share with the family of the Earth?” (*) is of the utmost importance.

The best way to live a purposeful life is to follow your bliss and be of service to others. Imagine what is necessary to make the life you want to live a reality, put yourself in motion to reach what you aspire, and then release the need to control the results, remaining flexible and trusting that the organizing intelligence of the Universe will take you to where you are meant to be in order to learn the lessons you are meant to learn and teach the lessons you are meant to teach.

Occupying yourself fully with the task at hand, and extracting joy from doing it with great attention is what brings about a life that is worth living. Remember that the present moment truly is the most important moment, and that the past and the future are nothing more than thoughts in the present moment because whatever happened in the past, when it happened, actually happened in the present, and whatever will happen in the future, when it will happen , will also happen in the present moment. So, this is it. This is all that there is. This moment, right now, right here. And realize how special this moment is. This is a completely new moment, one that has never existed before. This is the first moment of the rest of your life: make it count! Be here, now.

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(*) Check Wayne Muller’s excellent book “How, Then, Shall We Live?”

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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.

Join his Mindfulness Meditation and Mindfulness Living sessions at Yoga Source in Coral Springs, and at Shiwa Yoga in Deerfield Beach, Florida, USA.


 

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

 

Non-attachment

I am known to be an upbeat and optimistic person, to such a point that some friends affectionately nicknamed me ‘Mr. Happy.’ But even in those moments when everything is well and I am cruising through life worry-free, I still feel the presence of melancholy in the background. I keep coming back to that underlying sensation of sadness in my life. And then I ask myself, “Why do I feel this way?”

As I ponder, I come to the conclusion that I feel sad because who and what I love — the people, the things, and the situations — will, eventually and inevitably, be taken away from me, including my own physical existence with all its joyful moments.

It’s not difficult for me to realize that my sadness derives from my cravings and attachments. I can see how my desires for people and things to be a certain way are sources of suffering.  When they are not the way I want them to be, I suffer. And when they are, by getting attached to them and not wanting them to change, I set myself up to endure pain because change they will.

I can see how delusional is the idea that I can create a perfect life for myself, a life situation that once attained would remain unchanged, fulfilling my needs and desires for the rest of my life. I can see the suffering I bring upon myself by my futile attempts to create permanence in an universe where everything by nature is impermanent. It’s clear to me that the constant transformation of everyone and everything will never allow me to experience complete and lasting satisfaction in my lifetime. I can accept that an undercurrent of dissatisfaction will always be present, even when things are going well.

I feel that all situations, no matter how good, cannot bring me complete contentment and peace. Even when things are good there is a knowing that things are not going to stay that way. I live with a sense of discomfort, an ever-present feeling that things are not quite right. Unsatisfactoriness is ubiquitous. I understand that everything changes and nothing stays the same, and that the attempts to make permanent what is impermanent always fail and only bring about more suffering,

I get that.

And when I realize that this is a condition that affects everyone, I feel deep sympathy and compassion for all humanity.

I guess that I am attached to life and wish not to die. Therefore, the greatest training to alleviate afflictions and agonies is the training I can undertake to reduce desires and learn to die before I die. My moment-to-moment practice must be one of letting go of attachments to everyone and everything, while, at the same time, loving everyone and everything.

Oh, these paradoxes!

I know that in the physical realm everything is transient: nothing lasts forever. I can see manifestations of birth, growth, decay, and death all around me, all the time. Through observation and reflection I can easily come to an understanding that I don’t own anything permanently, that in a way everything and everyone was lent to me for my temporary enjoyment, my body and my life included.

In order to placate this disturbing sensation of lack and insufficiency, I cultivate a sense of enoughness, saying to myself, “I do enough. I have enough. I am enough. These accumulated lifetime experiences are enough. These relationships are enough. This knowledge is enough. This wisdom is enough. This life is enough.”

So, the training for not falling in states of despair and depression is one of coming back to this present moment, of appreciating this present moment, of giving thanks for this present moment, of feeling content and satisfied, over, and over, and over again, while calmly accepting the impermanence of everything in this inescapable cycle of perennial transformation.

I see it.

I know it.

Now, what’s left, is to do it.

Just do 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.

Join his Mindfulness Meditation and Mindfulness Living sessions at Yoga Source in Coral Springs, and at Shiwa Yoga in Deerfield Beach, Florida, USA.


 

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

 

 

Wise Acceptance

Joseph Goldstein, the great mindfulness teacher, tells the story of dealing with a recurring fear. Being trained in mindfulness, rather than giving in to the instinct of pushing his fear away, hiding from it, or running away from it, he practiced getting closer to it, looking at it, and investigating it with curiosity, which, most of the time, made its intensity subside.

According to him, this went on for many years until the day when he had an epiphany and understood that he was using the technique of befriending the fear with the hope for it to go away forever. With this realization came an insight, a moment when he was able to say to himself, “Even if this fear stays with me to the end of my days, that will be OK.” And that was the moment of total acceptance, when his relationship with fear changed, the load became lighter, and he felt that the fear released the powerful grip it had on him. He realized that until that moment he had been watching the fear in order for it to go away, but now he could accept that perhaps the fear would never go away, and even that would be OK. He understood that his resistance to accept, and his struggle against the unwanted was making things worse, not better. He was able to frame this event not as resignation, but as acceptance, and he continued doing what was necessary to get better, but now in a much calmer and less afflicted way.

I guess that this is what we are called to do: Practice equanimity, wise understanding, and serene acceptance of what we dislike, what is uncomfortable, what is annoying, what we would like to be different but are unable to change.

We are called to accept our lives and what we were given: the uncertainty, the anxiety, the fear, and the pain. We are called to accept everything and everyone, even the difficult people. We are called to ponder on the fact that everything that arises also passes away, that everybody dies, that no one is exempt from death, that we will die too, and that there’s no right time to die.  We are called to cultivate serenity and wise acceptance now.

……..

Acceptance, for me, begins with wise assessment, with seeing things clearly, beyond the veil of delusion. We must “start where we are.” Empathy can be wise or not. We should wisely choose what we are going to give our attention to and where we will put effort, remembering that the right effort is gentle, calm, joyful, pleasurable, and light, while the wrong effort hurts and produces pain and suffering.

Acceptance is not resignation. Acceptance is a process of transformation that involves:

  • accepting the situation
  • not wasting energy futilely fighting ‘what is’
  • remembering that everything that arises also passes away
  • bringing to mind that what you resist, persists
  • choosing to take time to make a wise assessment of the situation
  • seeing clearly, beyond the veil of delusion
  • knowing where you are
  • starting the process of change from where you are
  • using wise discernment, sorting what we can from what we cannot change
  • responding wisely rather than reacting impulsively
  • choosing wise action

Serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

Wisdom to know the difference.

……..

“I find I am more effective when I can listen accepantly to myself, and can be myself. I feel that over the years I have learned to become more adequate in listening to myself; so that I know, somewhat more adequately than I used to, what I am feeling in any given moment … One way of putting this is that I feel I have become more adequate in letting myself be what I am. It becomes easier for me to accept myself as a decidedly imperfect person, who by no means functions at all times in the way in which I would like to function. This must seem to some like a very strange direction in which to move. It seems to me to have value because the curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I change.”
~ Carl Rogers, “On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy.”


 

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 strives 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, 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 organizes Silent Peace Walks.


 

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

 

Desiring Others to Change – Part 2

When we start practicing mindfulness, it is not uncommon to experience a boost in the quality of our lives. We feel so excited with the progress we are making that a desire emerges in us: we want the people with whom we share our lives to do what we are doing and experience what we are experiencing: we want them to practice mindfulness too. And if this does not happen, we feel frustrated, because we think that we are changing for the better and they are not. But if we look deeply, we will notice that our assessment that others are not changing is inaccurate. Mindful observation makes it very clear that all of us are changing all the time. No one stays the same. It is very clear for mindfulness practitioners that change is unstoppable and perpetual.

A deeper examination may reveal that we are the ones who are stuck in our old ways of seeing. Perhaps, we are not approaching the people in our lives with a “beginner’s mind,” with the necessary curiosity to discover who they really are now, in this moment. We have classified and categorized them in the past, and we continue to rely on the old assessments, conclusions, and labels that we have given them. We are oblivious to the fact that as we have changed, they have changed too, and that we need to look at them with fresh eyes in this present moment to see who they really are now.

Telling someone, “You should meditate. Meditation would be good for you,” is usually not well taken. What the other person hears is, “You are flawed. You need to meditate. Meditation will fix you.” We didn’t say that, but that’s what, the majority of the time, they will hear; and no one wants to hear that there’s something wrong with them.

Whenever feeling compelled to talk about the benefits of mindfulness to people close to us, let us remember the saying, “No one is a prophet in his own land,” and not get disappointed if what we have to say falls in deaf ears. Let us remember that despite our good intentions, unsolicited advice is often misinterpreted as criticism. So let’s be very cautious and gentle when suggesting meditation, or inviting others to practice it. Also, whenever we catch ourselves considering that others are stuck in their old ways, stubbornly ignoring our advice to do what we believe could improve their lives, we should pause and ponder. Let us realize that believing that we know what is best for others reveals arrogance and conceit, which may be an impediment for a leveled relationship. Let us mindfully investigate our drive to dispense advice and see the possible presence of a sense of superiority in us.

We should remind ourselves that the challenges we face are great teachers. They offer us opportunities to practice. For instance, whenever we catch ourselves desiring the people in our lives to be different than who they are, we should congratulate ourselves for noticing that. The mere fact that we are able to notice our judgment of others, and the upsetting emotions associated with our lack of acceptance is, in itself, a great step towards understanding and liberation from suffering.

All these aspects should be calmly considered when we feel the desire for people to be who they are not, but who we want them to be. Whenever these desires come up, may we be able to slow down, pause, take a deep breath, observe, and gleefully welcome these moments as great opportunities to mindfully cultivate curiosity, equanimity, acceptance, patience, and trust in the process of change.

The diligent practice of mindfulness makes the impermanence of everything very evident. By paying attention, we realize that as we are changing, the people with whom we share our lives with are changing too. Therefore, challenges like this one — the desire for people to be different — allow us to notice our own rigidity and prejudices. They remind us that there is a time for everything, and that the wisest thing we can do is to let things be as they are and unfold as they will, while focusing on living mindfully and enjoying the present moment. If the situation we wish is to come about, we trust that it will at the time it is meant to, without the need on our part to strive forcefully.

Mindfulness also makes it very apparent how interconnected we all are. This produces an inner knowing that understanding, compassion, and acceptance of others are not only good for them, but also for us. The awareness of our interconnectedness also makes us realize that our growth and evolution are already affecting the people in our lives in positive ways.

Finally, trying to bring the people in our lives to practice mindfulness may be difficult. We can invite others — gently and skillfully — but we should never insist. People will experiment mindfulness when they see us changing for the better, become curious about it, get informed about its benefits, or are in such a degree of suffering that they are desperate to try. Everything considered, the best thing we can do is to avoid proselytizing and just practice it ourselves. Period. One of the rules I have adopted is, “Don’t talk about mindfulness meditation, unless asked.” But I am not completely strict. Sometimes — very seldom I must say — I take the initiative to talk to other people about the benefits of mindfulness, but I do so only in those instances when I feel that the person is under too much suffering and could really benefit from learning and practicing.

It’s not up to us to change others; it’s up to them to change themselves. It’s their work, not ours. The best thing we can do is to be inspiring examples that will instill in them the desire to do something, perhaps the same we are doing, in order to make their lives and the world better.

……..

If you want to read the first part of this reflection, click here “Desiring Others to Change – Part 1.”


 

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 strives 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, 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 organizes Silent Peace Walks.


 

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

The Eight C’s

We all have some habitual thought patterns. What I mean is that we develop habits to process information in certain ways that become well established habits. In general, given our negativity bias — you know, the one that states that “the brain works like velcro for the negative and teflon for the positive” — we tend to think in negative ways more often. We habitually  criticize, judge, and condemn.

The mind engages in the Eight C’s process a lot, if not all the time. Comparing and contrasting, categorizing and classifying, competing and complaining, criticizing and condemning, are all habitual behaviors.

Let’s ponder for a while. Aren’t we unceasingly comparing and contrasting how things and people are with our beliefs of how they should be. “She should do this. He should do that. I don’t approve her behavior. I don’t like the way he is. Do I like this, or not? Looking at these two, which one I prefer: this one or that one?”

We are also constantly classifying and categorizing, in other words, labeling, putting things and people in this or that specific class or category. “I like this. I don’t like that. This goes over here, together with the things that I like. This goes in that shelf, together with those I dislike. That one goes in that drawer. This one, in that file.” Unfortunately, once we have made up our minds of what goes where — for example, which group, in our minds, an individual belongs to — we begin to live with our ideas about them, not with the reality of whom they are. We don’t see them; what we process in our minds are our ideas of them.

And then comes criticism, judgement, and condemnation. “She should not act like this. He should not talk like that. This car in front of me is moving too slow; it should go faster. This car that just passed me is moving too fast; the driver is speeding. He should slow down. I hope a cop gets him.”

When we criticize others — which happens most of the time — we unconsciously engage in a mind-created competition in which we compare ourselves with others and invariably, although unconsciously, declare ourselves to be the winners. “He is not as good as I am. I am much better.” And untrained minds are constantly complaining.

Finally, we become those presumptuous and self-righteous judges, and we proclaim our verdicts, condemning others: “Guilty! Irredeemable! Sentenced to punishment!”

It is a very seductive process, very easy to get in, and difficult to get out. It is an unconscious and therefore not easily perceptible way of processing information.  Fortunately, mindfulness practice allows us to see how often we are lost in the eight C’s and how easily we put ourselves on pedestals, high above others, from where we judge and condemn everyone and everything.

As my teacher says, “You cannot fix what you cannot see. You cannot heal what you cannot feel. You cannot tame what you cannot name.”  So, let us be more mindful and notice when we are comparing, contrasting, categorizing, classifying, competing, complaining, criticizing, and condemning. By doing so, we can begin to tame those negative tendencies.

Let’s be mindful.

Let’s remember that the mind is trainable. Let’s practice ways of developing more positive thinking habits. Let’s notice and reduce the time we spend with the eight C’s. Let’s give ourselves more time to intentionally notice the good that is all around us.  Allow it to be noticed. Allow yourself the time to notice it. Appreciate it. Linger and savor, and finally absorb it, taking it in.

Let’s go ahead and do it! Just do 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 strives 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, 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 organizes Silent Peace Walks.


 

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

An Appeal for Sanity – Part 13

Every now and then I have this surge of indignation with our stupidity: mankind’s stupidity, I mean.

How can we, human beings, be so irrational and foolish? How can our behavior be so absurd and imprudent? Why aren’t we able to come to our senses, and see the countless ways we are endangering the Earth, our home, and all life in it. What’s wrong with us?

And then I ask the same questions I’ve been asking for so long…

Why do we allow the lowest parts of ourselves, such as greed, hatred, and mindlessness to command our actions? Why do we insist in this endless pursuit of power, possessions, prestige, and privileges that has proven to be incapable of producing lasting happiness, and that keeps bringing so much suffering to the world? Why do we choose to ignore how our actions hurt others and the planet?

Why do we divide ourselves in all sorts of tribes? Why do we fight each other? Why don’t we unite, once and for all, recognizing that we are members of just one tribe, the tribe of humanity? Why do we keep wasting resources manufacturing killing devices instead of using our talent and time to improve the quality of life for all sentient beings on this planet? Why can’t we join forces to preserve, enhance, and enjoy our planet, this beautiful garden and wonderful playground that was given to us? Why can’t we understand that we are all in this together?

Isn’t our behavior completely insane?

What’s wrong with us?

Every time I reflect about this absurd state of affairs, Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot exhortation comes to mind. He reflected on the size of our planet, and after bringing to our attention that the Earth is no more than a tiny dot in the immensity of the Universe, he called us to come to our senses.

 

 

“The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.” ~ Carl Sagan

Here it is, once again, my appeal for sanity: 

“We are all crew members and passengers of spaceship Earth, and we need to work together to preserve this vehicle that is taking us through the cosmos. We have to look at the big picture. We are all interconnected and interdependent. We are all in this together. We must stop all this ridiculous and pointless fighting, and cooperate unreservedly with each other, because we will either succeed and live, or fail and die, all of us together. Let’s change the focus, stop worrying about ourselves, and start thinking what we can do for others. Rather than asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’ let’s ask, ‘How can I serve?’ We are all responsible for preserving Planet Earth and building a sustainable future for all life. Let’s work together for the common good, for the greater good. And working together for common goals is completely possible. We just need to let go of fear and selfishness, and have the resolve to make it happen. So, let’s stop the nonsense and the pettiness! Heaven is here, if we want it to be.”

……..

So many people in the world have grown but not matured. They grow physically, but still act like spoiled, selfish, and insecure children. The world needs people who behave as true adults, adults who see with clarity, are guided by wisdom, and act with selflessness and responsibility for the well-being of all sentient beings.

……..


 

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 strives 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, 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 organizes Silent Peace Walks.


 

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