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  • mono 2:04 pm on October 21, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Good Life, , , , Therapy   

    Mindful Absorption: Fluidity and Mindfulness 

    Carl Rogers talks about “the fluid nature of the self.” But, how does one achieve such an awareness of the fluid nature of the self? Aside from my recent article, I will expand on a few key elements to this most elusive yet ordinary way of living, hopefully, moving us toward a better understanding of “fluidity” and, “mindfulness” in general.

    I think it is extremely important to, in moments of great concentration (of a task, a conversation, a lecture, cleaning the sink) allow yourself to be fully drawn into the situation at hand. The catch is that if you find yourself thinking about how you’re being drawn into the situation, the absorption in the task has ceased to be so. It’s like reading a book and suddenly realizing that you are reading a book. In doing so, you’ve temporarily lost the “story.” When you realize that you are reading a book, you cease to be engrossed in the story or the argument and start to think about other things (sometimes even as you eyes continue “reading”). When you are fully engaged in the book, you lose track of time and, at that moment, you are in the realm of the author. So, the first trick is to permit oneself to “let go” of analysis of the situation and permit oneself to be 100% “into” the situation.

    But, I want to clarify that “letting go” does NOT mean recklessly doing whatever you want to do regardless of the consequences. No, not at all. In fact, the opposite. It means “letting go” to the situation in such a way that you are “tuning in” to it more clearly and more in accord with what needs doing or what is being presented to you in the situation. Therefore, the teacher becomes a better listener and speaker, the police officer becomes more attentive to crime, the musician becomes better focused on the production of sound and so on. It is a kind of realistic alchemy for daily living.

    Whenever you are having a conversation with someone, you are absorbed in something greater than each individual word that you are saying. Becoming more mindful of what you say and how you say it could help you along your path – “letting go” and “tuning in.” In order to have a conversation, you must enter the flow of the words, while attending to the meaning – you do this automatically, for the most part. Learn to become a better speaker through the control and edification of the words that you use with others. It’s like the old Japanese Butoh-fu poem, “Balance chaos and control, like a calm rider on a stampeding horse.”

    For now, and for the sake of “blogging brevity”, I would advise that you do as many things as possible and in the doing of those things, do them well. More than “well”, do them to the very best of your ability. Become mindful of your limits and, if need be, work purposely to change those limits so that they are in accord with where you want them to be instead of where they are by “default.”

    I work with a seventy-year-old man who has told me on numerous occasions, that he “doesn’t have a future.” A common reaction to that line might be, “Oh, but you DO have a future. You’ll be around a long time. Don’t worry about it.” However, he is always smiling, attentive and jolly. He is smiling because, more important than having a future, he has a present. Each task he does, each conversation he has, has meaning for him NOW. He does what needs to be done and holds to the purpose of the now. Old age has taught him a lesson. Hopefully, when and if I am his age, I, too, will be as engrossed in the moment as he is. Nonetheless, with those of us, who absolutely must plan for upcoming goals or events in our life, the best way to handle them is with the recollection that what you are doing now is leading you somewhere and it is what you are doing now that is of utmost importance to the quality and control of your life. The question is: Is what you are doing now leading you where you most want to go? If not, you may want to re-evaulate the doing part of your life and change what or how you do things. Change what you are doing now and start leading yourself to the imagined destination that you dream of. Getting there will probably be more fun than arriving, anyway.

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    • zensquared 11:25 am on October 22, 2008 Permalink

      It’s really difficult to do as you are suggesting — but you’re right, it’s very important to make a great effort to live this way, with our full attention on what is in front of us. Your anecdote about the 70-year-old man is wonderful! If he frets about the future, he will be wasting the precious time he has right now. Right now! How often do we just throw that away?

    • jg 3:40 pm on October 22, 2008 Permalink

      Thank you, Zensquared, for the support.

      Another interesting thing to note about my co-worker, is that he is always very well-prepared, in good spirits and consistently productive – a master in the art of having a present.

      You may have already read it, but Alan Watts’s essay, “What on Earth are we doing?” from his book “Cloud Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown: A Mountain Journal” talks about savoring the present. Well worth reading.

    • zensquared 9:10 pm on October 23, 2008 Permalink

      Thanks, jg. I will look for that Alan Watts essay. I haven’t read anything by him yet, but my dharma teacher recommends him.

  • mono 5:57 pm on October 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Path, , Therapy   

    Walking Your Path 

    “Many paths lie before you.
    Some paths highlight quiet sitting in peaceful surroundings.
    Some paths highlight sharp action and danger.
    Some paths are highly visible to others.
    Some paths require many hours of isolation.
    Your path is individually designed for you.
    You discover it only by walking it.
    Looking back, the twists and turns make some sense.
    But perhaps not now.
    Either is fine.”

    David K. Reynolds
    from Word Showers

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  • mono 10:58 am on October 11, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Godin, , Luck, , , , myth, , , Seth Godin, sethgodin, Therapy   

    Effortful Living: Seth Godin on Effort and Luck 

    Seth Godin has written a nice piece on “effort” and “luck” entitled, “Is Effort a Myth?”. In this article he opens up the popular misperception that a great life comes through luck and not effort. I think (and perhaps Godin would agree with me), that a great life can be built through an awareness of the “lucky” moments that support us coupled with mindful disciplined doses of effort. For Godin, the popular perception of success through luck is misleading us.

    Godin writes, “And that’s the key to the paradox of effort: While luck may be more appealing than effort, you don’t get to choose luck. Effort, on the other hand, is totally available, all the time.” In our daily lives we are perpetually lucky. You are here now reading this and lucky to be alive to be able to do so. You are being supported in countless ways throughout the day. Perhaps you are already aware of this or maybe you have forgotten it. Either way, luck abounds in our life, as we maneuver our way to work, back home, to the store and so on. Meanwhile, effort and effortful living, demand action and is not as easy as a reliance on “being lucky.”

    Effortful living is a choice and, as Godin says, “is totally available, all the time.” There is a great difference between floating through your work day as a mere cog in the system, and owning up to doing what you need to do or doing what you would do through effort. Sometimes, “the path of most resistance,” although the only path that will get us where we need to go, is pushed aside in favor of “taking it easy” or simply dooming our potential by “not caring.”

    Godin, in his article, has written a four point “Effort Diet”, which I recommend you pay attention to and enact. He also encourages readers to make their own “diet.” Transformation in one’s life is possible through changing what one does, by developing new habits. Nonetheless, making the plan is one thing, but effortfully enacting it and living through it is immensely difficult. It is the “difficulty” of this purposeful and effortful way of living that make it worth so much more than aimlessly drifting through your day. However, as Godin writes, “This is a hard sell. Diet books that say, “eat less, exercise more,” may work, but they don’t sell many copies.”

    Here, are my four additions to Godin’s “effort diet.”

    1. Learn a new word everyday for one month and use it in conversations or in your writings. See how the words that you use influence the way that you think about and experience the world.
    2. Control your speech and your self-talk. Observe how caught up you are in how you imagine yourself to be.
    3. Thank all of the objects and people that are in your life. Treat these objects and people with the utmost respect. If it wasn’t for them, you wouldn’t be who you are.
    4. For one week, go to work in the frame of mind that what you do greatly impacts not only the organization, but your own ways of being in that organization. This may include working in a way that you haven’t worked before.

    On that note, I would like to share with you an aphorism by my friend and mentor, Dr. Corey Anton author of Selfhood and Authenticity:

    “Worry About it After You’ve Started: So many people want to fix their lives but don’t know where to start, so they don’t.”

    Thank you for your attention.

    Please feel free to add to this list or, as Godin suggests, make your own list and, more importantly, enact it, live it, be it.

    If you liked this article, you may also be interested in:

    Actualizing: A Constructive Living Approach
    Constructive Living: Unpublished Texts Series #1
    Constructive Living: Unpublished Texts Series #2
    While the Coffee Brews: Five Morning Fragments
    Living Constructively: Effort
    Constructive Living as Lifehack Strategy
    To Be That Self Which One Truly Is: Carl Rogers

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    • E.R. Gibson 3:19 am on June 7, 2009 Permalink

      Thanks for pointing out this work by Seth Godin. I was familiar with some of his books (such as “Tribes” and another called “the Dip”). Thanks for the thought that intention effort is something we have control over – whereas, luck is not!

  • mono 9:53 pm on October 10, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , Therapy   

    Actualizing (A Constructive Living Approach) 

    In his book Reality’s Reminders, Dr. David K. Reynolds reminds us, ” For all your hopes and dreams your life now is as it is. Reality responds to what you do and not to what you think or hope or dream. Actualizing involves action.” What this means to me is that goals become actualized through action. That is, Reality responds through your active participation. How often do we map out a plan and fail to enact it? Or, how is what we are doing right now moving us toward our goals, toward where we want to go?

    As you read this blog, you could be doing any number of things, but you aren’t – you’re reading this blog. Is reading this blog moving you toward where you need to go in your life? If so, please, keep reading. If not, please get on with doing what you need to do. Too much excess information in your life may overwhelm you to the point of becoming more and more lost in a spiral of overloaded inactivity. You are where you are with help received from a multitude of people and through actions that you have undertaken and solidified. All of the movements and decisions, ever-renewing support and connectedness, have brought you to the reading of this article. Thank you for helping realize this article! Welcome.

    Sometimes, doing what you need to do is not the same as doing what you have already done. That is, doing what you need to do may involve doing what you have never yet tried. Try doing something new and see the “you” change into a new “you.” A simple example may be, if you are confused about which restaurant to go to on a Friday night, step back and open your cupboards. Look at all of the food that you bought but have not yet eaten, food that you may end up throwing away because you failed to cook when you told yourself you were going to cook. Make something you have never made before. You were surrounded by food the whole time, but where was the “meal” before you cooked it?

    Learn to see and understand your habits, your ways of doing things and thinking about things. For most of us, what we do is not all that we would do, but simply, what we can do, moment to moment. A repetitive job that doesn’t fit your imagined dream doesn’t leave much room for taking action during the day. Don’t waste the time that you do have to do something about your situation. Align yourself through action and active involvement in your situation and enact the goals that you have created. Thinking is important, but I can’t know what you are thinking unless you express them to me in some way that is intelligible to me. That expression is an action.

    No matter what you do, Reality will respond. It can’t not respond. Sitting on the sofa watching TV may create more “TV watching” moments, as you find yourself caught up in the re-occurring warmth of familiar actions. But, ask yourself, “Is this moving me toward where I want to go? Is this the actualization that I want to actualize?”

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    • Jeff Jefferson 4:37 pm on January 26, 2009 Permalink


      I just wanted to thank you for posting this article, as well as your link to contructiveliving.com and http://www.constructiveliving.com/CL1.html in particular. It helped me quite a bit today and, hopefully, will continue to help me in the future.

  • mono 8:27 am on October 4, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Gift, , , Therapy   

    Constructive Living: Unpublished Texts Series #2 

    Do the now well.
    The following is from David K. Reynolds’s book “Reflections on the Dhammaphada.”
    You can read the entire text online here

    Chapter 8

    Words are gifts, too. Offer your best gifts to others. They are the giftwrap and the gift itself. Truthful gifts that provoke thought are especially valuable. Showy gifts reflect poorly on the giver and recipient. Flowery gifts waste everyone’s time.

    You are gifted with life. Use it well. Even as you give yourself away you are merely passing along a gift. The quality of this life gift depends on how it is used. Put your life to good use by working on your debt to the givers of your life. The size of the gift is less important than the quality and the care with which it is put to use.

    Chapter 9

    Move straightforwardly toward your goals. Distractions are intruding goals. Distractions, like feelings, contain information and so should neither be discounted nor fixated upon.

    When you make a mistake, when you do something that by your lights is wrong, immediately turn to your next purpose. What needs doing next? Correcting the mistake or righting the wrong may well be what needs doing next. Keep on doing what is right by your own standards. Thus you accumulate a history of doing right. Thus you develop an upright character.

    Sometimes mistakes and evil deeds are rewarded and good deeds are punished. No one guarantees just results. Nevertheless, to flit with any breeze to attain your goals will leave you scattered and dissipated. Whatever the results you are responsible for your actions.

    Bad associates don’t cause bad behavior. Bad upbringing doesn’t cause bad behavior. Race or economic conditions or social status or genetic makeup don’t cause bad behavior. You are responsible for what you do.

    In the end death happens to us. In the end death happens.

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  • mono 6:22 pm on September 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Dogen, , , , , , Therapy, Unpublished,   

    Constructive Living: Unpublished Texts Series #1 

    I have received permission and will be periodically posting excerpts from unpublished Constructive Living texts written by David K. Reynolds. Today’s piece is from the “Reflections” section of Reynolds’s book The Ears Have It.

    The Ears Have It
    David K. Reynolds

    You cannot expect to understand the depths of these writings without help. Please don’t misunderstand; it is not my help that you need. It is the same help that inspired the production of these writings that will inspire your understanding of them. Understanding is acquired through donations of a mysterious benefactor. The benefactor goes by many names, none of which is, or even can be, descriptive. It is useless to try to stick gummed labels on air. Too many of us try to do so. Outlines and metaphors are equally futile. So just listen to the air, the space, the silent voice.

    Listening is more important than speaking. Some people have the mistaken notion that they create reality with their thinking and speaking. Such ignorant arrogance is immediately exposed by an earthquake or flood or plane crash. Cancer cannot be vanquished by proper thoughts. But you can listen to cancer and what comes along with it. While utilizing proper medical arts learn from whatever comes to you. In order to learn you must listen.

    When you know how to listen you won’t be fooled, not even by your listening itself. Proper listening doesn’t permit fooling or being fooled, although it allows becoming a fool. So sit quietly and listen. You may go to a corner of the room and corner yourself. Sometimes you will be “just listening.”

    All creative authors practice listening some of the time. So do creative painters and musicians and others. Without listening nothing worthwhile emerges. The difficult part is to avoid imposing yourself on the listening. The trick is to get out of the way, to dissolve into the listening. Can you hear me?

    More precisely, we cannot actively listen. Something listens us. Our work is to get out of that “something’s” way. So we cannot take credit for listening. Again, more precisely, we cannot even take credit for getting out of the way. Something gets us out of the way. We have to allow that activity to happen. More precisely, something allows us to allow that activity to happen. Can you see the infinite regress here? Happenings happen.

    For a comprehensive list of all of David K. Reynolds’s unpublished books, please visit: Constructive Living.

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  • mono 6:24 am on September 11, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: aphorisms, , , , , , , , , Therapy   

    While the Coffee Brews: Five Morning Fragments 

    The following five fragments were inspired by Constructive Living author David K. Reynolds. Thank you for your attention. If these help you or you are interested in reading more CL material, please visit: Constructive Living.

    I awake early in the morning, while the world
    around me has already awoken. Birds. Insects. Commiting myself
    to the task of writing at this early hour is not
    easy, does not feel good, but something tells me
    it must be done.

    Getting out of bed for a short while, while the
    coffee brews. I return to bed. This second drifting
    is not the same as the first. Sometimes we struggle
    to start our day. Making the bed takes effort. A wise
    teacher taught me that, “We are always awaking to a situation.”

    Waiting for emails to arrive from certain others
    puts me in a state of inactivity. Pulling myself
    away from the interface of the computer, I wash the
    dishes and sweep the floor. The rhythm of the evening
    changes. I am no longer waiting.

    A rumbling stomach cannot be tamed by thinking about food.

    Interacting through the Web, we find that we only know
    other people by what and how they say things about their world.
    A social networking profile made with care, tells
    us about the other person. Through their actions, I have met them.
    Thank you for teaching me about you.

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