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.

……..

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

……..


 

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

An Appeal for Sanity – Part 12

I believe astronauts should rule the world. All of those who have been beyond Earth’s atmosphere and seen it from above have been struck by our planet’s beauty and fragility, and reflected on our unreasonable and preposterous behavior. Frank Borman, one of the first three human beings to orbit the moon, said,  “When you’re finally up at the moon looking back on earth, all those differences and nationalistic traits are pretty well going to blend, and you’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can’t we live together like decent people?”

 

When asked about what he remembered from the 1968 Apollo 8 flight, Jim Lovell had this to say: “We had pictures before of the far side of the moon, so we knew what to expect. What we didn’t expect was to see the Earth as it really is. I put my thumb up to the window and could hide the Earth. Suddenly, I realized that I am 240,000 miles away, but behind my finger is a planet with about 4 billion people. That told me in a moment just exactly what we are in the universe.”

He also added, “There’s an old saying, ‘I hope to go to heaven when I die.’ Suddenly, it dawned on me that we went to heaven when we were born! We arrived on a planet that had the right amount of mass to have the gravity to contain water and an atmosphere, just at the proper distance from a star. It appeared to me that God had given mankind sort of a stage to perform on. I guess how that play will turn out is up to us.” 

Here’s 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.”

……..

On December 24, 1968, in what was the most watched television broadcast at the time, the crew of Apollo 8 read in turn from the Book of Genesis as they orbited the Moon. Bill Anders, Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman recited Genesis chapter 1, verses 1 through 10 verbatim. Anders began by saying, “We are now approaching lunar sunrise, and for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.” He then read verses 1–4, Lovell read verses 5–8, and Borman read verses 9–10, concluding the transmission saying, “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas – and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.”

The preceding text is from a Wikipedia article under the title ‘Apollo 8 Genesis reading.’ I included it here because I feel that the final words pronounced by Frank Borman in that message express the feeling of inclusiveness in a very expressive way. I think his was the right message, one that includes everyone and that is worth repeating: “God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.”

……..

Here’s an idea: Every elected official, or better, every person running for public office in the world, as a requirement, should spend time in outer space looking at our world from above.

……..


 

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

 

 

Meditation Is Not What You Think

We don’t meditate to create any particular state or unusual experience, such as a state of calmness, or an experience of transcendence. Whenever we expect the meditation practice to produce a desirable state, we are setting ourselves up to frustration. Our intention during meditation should be to remain open and observe whatever arises, without striving for anything special to happen, knowing that sometimes what arises can be quite unsettling.

Sometimes the meditation will be easy and blissful, other times it will be difficult and tormenting, but we should be careful with our tendency to classify our meditations as good or bad. Not all pleasant meditations are good, and not all unpleasant ones are bad. A good meditation is one that gives the brain a good workout, develops focus, sharpens the ability to notice, and augments the appetite to investigate, discover, and learn.

Despite all the ups and downs we face during this journey of exploration through meditation, as long as we keep practicing, we will be moving forward, making progress, and developing our ability to live more mindfully, which is what will, in the end, improve the quality of our lives. And it’s quite easy to understand that the more “mindful moments” we have, the more of those moments we will have. It’s like saying that mindfulness brings about more mindfulness: it is by noticing what is unfolding that we activate and strengthen neural pathways that allow us to more frequently, and clearly, notice what is unfolding.

So, during meditation, don’t expect anything enjoyable or extraordinary to happen. If it happens, great! Enjoy it! The problem is not with the experience itself, but with the desire, the expectation, and the strong impulse to control the process in order to produce certain results. The advice is, “Do not strive to produce any specific outcome. Let go and let it be. Expectation will lead to frustration. Just meditate without expectations, and trust that a regular and commited practice will bring about improvements in your life.”

Let us cultivate the nine mindfulness-enhancing attitudes recommended by Jon Kabat-Zinn: Beginner’s Mind, Non-Judging, Acceptance, Letting Go, Trust, Patience, Non-Striving, Gratitude, and Generosity. By practicing regularly we will be developing this invaluable ability to more skillfully process the ups and downs in our lives — the good and the bad occurrences, the easy and the difficult situations, the pleasant and unpleasant experiences — with greater equanimity, balance, serenity, and ease. We will learn to reduce unnecessary reactivity and useless struggle, accept life as it presents itself, and use wise assessment and discernment to choose the best responses, all of them skills that are truly priceless.

……..

“There’s no enlightenment outside of daily life.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

……..


 

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

 

The Way Out of Suffering

In order to alleviate suffering, the first thing we have to do is to cultivate the aspiration to know reality as it is. A lot of the suffering we experience comes from wrong perceptions, from not seeing things as they really are, and from not realizing  how the constant push and pull of desires unsettle our balance. In order to see clearly, we need to develop the ability to pay focused attention and sharpen our noticing skills. We need to examine life and do our best to consciously unlearn the unwholesome notions that we may have unconsciously learned. We need to remove those distorting lenses that impair clear vision, such as wrong ideas and beliefs.

We have to ponder not only on the question, “Who am I?” but also on the question “Who am I not?”  We should welcome a healthy dose of doubt in our lives, and consider that perhaps we are not who we think we are. We may have created all sorts of stories about ourselves, but most likely those stories do not match reality. Perhaps it’s time to take a good look at ourselves and realize that we are holding a series of distorted and unrealistic views about ourselves, about others, and about life.

Who Am I When I Am Not?

We need to be careful with what we think, say, and do, because unwholesome thoughts, words, and actions create suffering. We must accept without hesitation that restraint, simplicity, and frugality, combined with selflessness, compassion, and a steadfast determination to do no harm, unequivocally eases suffering in the world.

It is by curbing reactivity and expanding the time between receiving a stimulus and choosing a response — which is put into practice by making unhurried and thorough assessments of the situations, applying wise discernment, and choosing the most appropriate responses — that we trim misery down. It is by remaining awake, alert, attentive, aware, and appreciative of life in the present moment that we reduce anguish. It is through mindful living that we diminish agony and tribulation in the world.

In a nutshell, conscious living is the way out of suffering.

……..


 

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

 

Looking Deeply and Letting Go

I agree with Socrates who said that “an unexamined life is not worth living.” I believe that it’s our duty to examine life and consciously unlearn the unwholesome notions that we have unconsciously learned.

“The less you know, the more you believe,” is a saying that points to the fact that many of us hold on to unwholesome beliefs that most likely we absorbed during that time in our lives when we hadn’t yet developed the ability of critical analysis. It is unfortunate that many of us, even after reaching adulthood, still choose, perhaps out of fear, not only not to analyze our beliefs to test their veracity, but also not to explore other points of view.  It is clear that this tendency to close ourselves up to other ideas, this stubborn determination to ignore other perspectives, and this unwillingness to change, even when evidence of the inaccuracy of our positions is presented, brings about suffering not only for others, but also for our own selves. This realization alone should be enough to encourage us to look deeply and honestly within ourselves in order to let go of those beliefs that do not contribute to the betterment of life.

Enter mindfulness!

Mindfulness is a practice aimed at alleviating and eliminating suffering. It takes us to a place of deep observation of the present moment and invites us to explore. It removes the fog of delusion and ignorance and allows us to see clearly. It connects us with what is real and true and liberates us from our old and inaccurate beliefs. It develops in us the humility to recognize and calmly accept that we have been holding on to suffering-creating views. It shows us an universe of possibilities and empowers us to let go of what does not serve us anymore. It gives us freedom to change and in doing so, improve not only our own lives, but other people’s lives as well.

……..


 

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

Noticing and Exploring Whatever Arises

Mindfulness meditation is quite simple, but it’s not easy.

In the beginning of this journey of mindfulness practice, the goal is to develop the ability to concentrate attention and notice the details of what is being observed. This practice of focusing the mind is done by choosing an “object of attention” — the breath, for instance — and setting the intention to pay attention to it. A great aid to keep the focus on this object of attention is to be interested in it, investigating it with curiosity — with a so-called “beginner’s mind” — exploring the physical sensations of breathing, and discovering them anew.

Now, while one is focusing, or trying to focus on the object of attention, the mind wanders. This is common, expected, and inevitable; nothing wrong there. So, when the practitioner notices that she is lost in thoughts, she is called to congratulate herself for noticing, acknowledge what the distraction was, gently release it, and bring her attention back to the chosen object of attention. Quite simple, but not necessarily easy.

This practice sharpens our noticing skills, and develops one-pointed focused attention. It brings awareness to the non-stop internal chatter — the proliferation of distracting and mostly non-constructive thoughts — and reveals how transient and impermanent thoughts are.

Once the practitioners get a good understanding of this practice and develop the ability to retain focus for some time, they are introduced to an expanded, and more encompassing meditation. Rather than choosing beforehand one object to pay attention to, they are instructed to investigate with curiosity whatever arises and calls for attention during the meditation. This is known as choiceless awareness meditation. It is also called open awareness or open monitoring. Again, it is quite simple but not necessarily easy.

In this meditation, practitioners are initially instructed to ground themselves, noticing sensations, and becoming aware of the body in the here-now, and the body breathing. “Sit, and know you are sitting. Breathe, and know you are breathing. Breathing in, know you’re breathing in. Breathing out, know you’re breathing out.” Once they settle down and settle in — once, as we say, they bring their minds to inhabit their bodies, once mind and body are together in the present moment — they are invited to investigate with greater curiosity whatever catches their attention, such as thoughts, emotions, sounds, or body sensations. Whatever arises becomes the object to be investigated and known.

This practice can be divided in the following four phases: 1 – Settle, 2 – Open up, 3 – Explore, and 4 – Return. Here’s an explanation of each phase:

SETTLE: Rest in the awareness of your body and your body breathing. Settle down and settle in. This will be your ‘anchor,’ a safe place to return to whenever you get distracted, agitated, or lost.

OPEN UP: Once you have settled, give yourself permission to observe other experiences. Open up and remain open to whatever arises. Notice whatever becomes predominant in your field of awareness.

EXPLORE: Investigate with curiosity what is calling you, what is asking your attention. Remember that there is a difference between observing thoughts and emotions, and being lost in them. Stay as the observer (*).

RETURN: If at any moment you get confused, agitated, or lost, return with gentleness and compassion to the anchor. Reconnect with the body and the body breathing in this moment, and once you feel settled, return to your practice, opening up and exploring again.

(*) It is important to have it clear when you are observing thoughts and emotions and when you were caught, carried away, and lost in them. It is important to develop the ability to stand in the role of the observer, the one who is watching the movie that is unfolding. The following reminders may be helpful: “Observe that you are observing. Notice that you are noticing. Be mindful that you are being mindful.”

……..


 

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