Tag Archives: Zen

5 Books After Which Nothing Will Be The Same. Ever.

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There are some books that we love. There are some books that are recommended to us or highly rated. There are some books that are classics, or that we think we should read. But there are also some books, after reading which, nothing will ever look the same. Ever. Again. Here are some of them (this choice is entirely subjective and doesn’t pretend to be any ultimate to-read list; however, these are some books with high impact, that you might like too…).

Here goes the list:

1) The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

This. Is. Amazing. I don’t even know where to start. Sometimes silence is so much better than analysis… So I’ll just give some quotes:

- “People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.”

- “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

- “People where you live,” the little prince said, “grow five thousand roses in one garden… yet they don’t find what they’re looking for…

Any more words are unnecessary. Try for yourself.

2) The Way of Non-Attachment: The Practice of Insight Meditation by Dhiravamsa

This is a guide to a very useful technique of loosening the grip on what you think needs to happen, and understanding yourself. After practicing for some time, “Clarity gradually comes, suffering is gradually understood, and freedom begins to appear.” (a quote from the book).

This can help tremendously, whatever you’re going through. Especially if you’re going through some hard times. It is easy to get lost in your thoughts, and feed your pain, but there is a simple way out, based on your breathing and looking deeply into your feelings. All the answers are already in you and you may see what happens when you try to uncover them… Firstly, you may find that clinging to something, whatever it is, has harmful effects and can suck. We can only be free if we let go. Then you can take the next steps. It can be very healing and it can bring you deep peace.

3) The Art of Communicating by Thich Nhat Hanh

A lot can be said about mindfulness. This book says a lot more. The way we communicate with our loved ones (and not-so-loved ones) has a huge impact on our relationships and on our state of mind. If we cultivate inner peace and choose words wisely, we can transform even the hardest argument into something constructive. Things that have seemed difficult start to be achievable, as Thay (that’s the Vietnamese word for ‘Teacher’) explains to us the ways in which we can approach conflict and difficult emotions, to create peace and harmony. It is a really useful read for couples, families, individuals, friends, and anyone else who wishes to transform their relationships, and also better understand their own emotions and reactions. Some of the steps are quite simple. They can be practiced by anyone.

Communication is key. And this book is a key to communication.

4) The Secret Life of Salvador Dali by Salvador Dali

An autobiography of the famous surrealist, embracing his late thirties. That’s the craziest book I’ve ever read! It was very hard to hide it under the table during my uni classes, and the fact that I couldn’t stop laughing while reading some passages probably gave it all away… The lecturer must have been very patient with me. This book is HILARIOUS. It also gives you an insight into a mind of an exceptional man, who is extremely creative, and extremely forgetful sometimes. He once opened his door dressed quickly in a bath-robe tied with a cable, at the end of which, accidentally, was a lamp. The kind of stuff you do every day, right?

Apart from peculiar anecdotes and a lot of unpredictability, you will find a lot of creative inspiration here. And a massive amount of food for thought.

5) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

If your mind has ever been wandering somewhere far, far away, exploring ideas that you cannot stop thinking about, and you also like travelling (even if just with your mind), this book is for you. A journey through several American states, on motorbikes, over many days, can bring A LOT of self-reflection. Nature plus space plus time, and a companion that unwillingly forces you to reflect on things, is a very philosophical combination. And that’s one side of this book. It cannot be defined in a couple of sentences, it has to be read. Written in the 1970s, it has become a classic. It was quite disturbing at some points. I won’t tell you which ones. It was also very fascinating, engaging and had a high impact. Not something easily forgotten. Oh, and it was non-fiction.

You may choose one of these books this weekend. Or you might remain in your sweet indifference to them, as if this article never happened (which is OK too). If you read some of them, tell me what you think. Whatever you choose to do… Have a great weekend!

 

photo credit: In Awe via photopin (license)

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A poem: ‘Unclosed’

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Something we all strive for from time to time, I guess…

 

 

 

 

 

Unclosed

by Anna Wawrzyniak

 

Looking for questions to ask

looking for answers to appear

right before my eyes

on an empty stomach

 

Looking for a glimpse of a shadow

for an ordinary sign

for the hand that feeds

 

Looking for the void in darkness

for the door to the forest

that has been left unopened

and unclosed

 

 

 

photo credit: sciencesque via photopin cc

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A Short Guide to Mindful Eating

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Mindful eating is a practice of savouring every bite of your meal, in the same way you cherish every day if you live by the carpe diem maxim.

In an era when there are so many overweight people, it might be a good idea to focus on what you are eating, instead of watching TV or reading at the same time. Because we think we are multitasking, whereas in practice we dissolve our energy and do not even notice what we are eating, which can lead us to actually eat more than our body needs. If we practice this for a prolonged time, that can lead to some additional kilograms… Why put so much stress on ourselves? Wouldn’t cherishing every bite in silence bring us better results? After all, it would be nice to have a break in our tight schedule, to enjoy the moment and slow down for a minute.

As Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn puts it,

When we can slow down and really enjoy our food, our life and our health, we take on a much deeper quality.

So, I suggest you do the following next time you have lunch, dinner, or any other meal. It can also apply for snacks, fruit, and tea:

- find a comfortable place to eat

- place your food in front of you and look at it for a couple of seconds, enjoying its texture, colour, shape, temperature,   vapour over a hot tea, or anything else you find special about what you are consuming. Settle into this moment

- breathe in and out

- slow down your thinking and focus on your breath

- take the first bite/sip. Focus on the texture of it in your mouth, on the flavour and on the feeling of eating/drinking. This is the only thing that interests you now. Feel the sensation of swallowing each piece/sip and how it makes you warm inside

- keep eating/drinking like this. If you get distracted by other thoughts, that’s ok. In this case, come back to your flavour and cherish it once more

- when you’re done, take a few deep breaths and acknowledge the experience, how relaxing it was

- you can now come back to your duties and enjoy the day :)

I hope that helps. It’s a lovely practice of being here and now. I am mindfully eating pieces of Green & Black’s Organic chocolate while resting my eyes from the screen, and it is a truly pleasant experience. You can do it too.

If you would like to get to know more about it, there is a book called Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Living by Thich Nhat Hahn.

Love,

Anna

photo credit: Jiuck via photopin cc

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How to make the grass greener on our side.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/allisonkilla/4011479540

Success is a journey not a destination. The doing is usually more important than the outcome.

- Arthur Ashe

I’ve heard this saying many, many times… Are we truly aware of what it means to really enjoy the journey?

Take this situation: we are planning our career for years, taking courses, getting experience, burning the midnight oil, to ‘make it’ one day. As Thich Nhat Hahn has said, we know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. It all comes down to this observation: We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living… (Peace Is Every Step). Do we have to be that way?

I know it’s easy to forget about all this. We all get busy in our jobs, interests, friendships, family commitments, things to do, etc., that sometimes it is easy to forget that in ten years time (or thirty years time!) we would be wishing that today came back. Sooner or later, this is gonna happen, as we are not getting any younger…

Time is the most precious resource that we have. So, let’s use it wisely. Let’s be here and now, instead of giving people around us vacant stares and thinking about something else all the time. They say that grass is always greener on the other side… The same with future, it seems better than the present time… But if you really cross that fence, you may realise that the grass on the other side is exactly the same as yours, or, you may realise it is greener, but it is also artificial, made of plastic, what you didn’t see from a distance, and you cannot actually lay on it or walk a dog on ;)

Things change. Nothing – a job, a home, an age, a group of friends – is forever. Appreciate what you have. You may not have it tomorrow.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/allisonkilla/4011479540

 

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