The Life of Buddha

May 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Mindfulness, Spirituality

I’ve discussed about how connecting to the spiritual dimension is an important aspect of living a Low Density Lifestyle, and also the important of silence in connecting you to that spiritual dimension.

At the core of Eastern thought and philosophy is this understanding – that in silencing the mind, you silence the noise, the static, and the chatter that stops you from touching the spiritual force that is the central pulse of the universe.

Ultimately, according to Eastern philosophy, when you touch that spiritual force, you are cultivating the seeds of becoming enlightened, more self-aware, and more self-realized.

Enlightenment is one of the things that living a Low Density Lifestyle can do for you, because, as I said above, when you quiet the noise, you come into contact with both the universe within your soul and the universe of the cosmos.

Above, is a video that tells the story of Prince Siddhartha, who 500 years before Christ, went on a path of seeking that lead to spiritual transformation that turned him into the Buddha. Born into a life of opulence and great material wealth, he gave it all up to become a seeker – to find the answers to life’s deepest questions.

He founded the world’s first religion, and with it altered the way we all understand the nature and meaning of life.

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to enjoy this beautiful film – you can be Hindu, Jew, Christian, Muslim, Sufi, Sikh or any other religion.

Inherent within the film is a universal message: that spirituality plays a core role in life, and that it can be practiced just through the simple acts of kindness, compassion and love.

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The Nobility of Silence

May 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Mindfulness, Spirituality

47347495zengardenpathwayIn yesterday’s article, I told you of the importance of being connected to the spiritual dimension, and how that was an important aspect of living a Low Density Lifestyle.

When we are connected to that spiritual essence, we feel lighter of body, mind and soul, and when you feel lighter, you feel healthier, happier, and more in the flow. In other words, you are living a Low Density Lifestyle.

That spiritual force is something that can only be felt and experienced when we allow ourselves to be quiet and still, which allows us to hear the pulse of the universe.

Today, I would like to share with you words of wisdom from others, people who have touched that sacred aspect of life and have been able to articulate it well.

These words can help you at any time: when you are feeling happy and joyous, or at times when you are caught up in the High Density Lifestyle and need stress relief and a dose of healthy living.

These are words to carry in your heart at all times.

“We need time to dream, time to remember, and time to reach the infinite. Time to be.”1126065_corridor_sky
Gladys Taber (1899-1980)

“Listen in deep silence. Be very still and open your mind…. Sink deep in to the peace that waits for you beyond the frantic, riotous thoughts and sights and sounds of this insane world.”
From “A Course in Miracles”

“Let my doing nothing when I have nothing to do, become untroubled in its depth of peace, like the evening in the seashore when the water is silent.”
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)

“The need for temporary solitude is so intense it amounts to an impediment, a malady, chronic and incurable like recurring malaria…. Like a remittent fever it is nothing you can banish. Outwardly we look okay, but inwardly we are desperate; gasping and frantic for something as integral to ourselves as the color of our eyes.”
Mirabel Osler

“When one is a stranger to oneself, then one is estranged from others, too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others…. Only when one is connected to one’s own core, is one connected to others….. And for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be re-found through silence.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001)

sochi-sunset-1-web“Learn to be quiet enough to hear the sound of the genuine within yourself so that you can hear it in others.”
Marian Wright Edelman (1939- )

“We seem so frightened today of being alone that we never let it happen. Even if family, friends, and the movies should fail, there is still the radio or television to fill up the void…. We can do our housework with soap-opera heroes at our side…. Now, instead of planting our solitude with our own dream blossoms, we choke the space with continuous music, chatter, and companionship to which we do not even listen. It is simply there to fill the vacuum. When the noise stops there is no inner music to take its place. We must re-learn to be alone.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001)

“Once, after a particularly claustrophobic, stressful and over-populated time when there hadn’t been air or space to escape to, suddenly, for a few days, I was alone. It was like emigrating to another planet ( in fact I was at home ). Who was this person I was living with, this strange, this reasonable, serene foreigner in the house: a becalmed woman who spent her time inwardly humming?”
Mirabel Osler

“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture on the lonely shore, There is a society where none intrudes, By the deep sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but nature more.”
Lord Byron (1788-1824)

“All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quiet in a room alone.”butterfly_of_love_2
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

“I am here alone for the first time in weeks, to take up my “real” life again at last. That is what is strange – that friends, even passionate love, are not my real life unless there is time alone in which to explore and discover what is happening or what has happened. Without the interruptions, nourishing and maddening, this life would become arid. Yet I taste it fully only when I am alone….”
May Sarton (1912-1995)

“Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty, unfamiliar and perilous….”
Thomas Mann (1875-1955)

“You do not need to leave your room… Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
Frank Kafka (1883-1924)

“The cure for all the illness of life is stored in the inner depth of life itself, the access to which becomes possible when we are alone. This solitude is a world in itself, full of wonders and resources unthought of. It is absurdly near; yet so unapproachably distant.”
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)

“There is a silence into which the world cannot intrude. There is an ancient peace you carry in your heart and have not lost.”
From “A Course in Miracles”

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Connecting to the Spiritual Dimension

A Good Day, with Brother David Steindl-Rast: A Lesson in Living a Spiritual Life

In the last article, I told you of the 12 spiritual practices to honor the earth.

Not only do these practices help you feel more connected to the earth, they also will help you feel more connected to the spiritual dimension of life. And being more connected to the spiritual dimension of life is one of the 12 steps to living a Low Density Lifestyle.

buddha_and_lightHow do we define spirituality? You can say that spirituality is the divine force that is the pulse of the universe, and this force is unlimited, infinite, undying and eternal. This divine force goes by many names: Universal Spirit, Universal Mind, Universal Consciousness, God, and the Zero Point Field, to name a few.

This force is both outside and within; it is everywhere and in everything. Everyone is connected to it at all times; the fewer blockages and densities a person has in their body, heart and mind, then the closer is that connection.

Every time a person allows himself or herself to relax, be silent and still, the potential to connect to the pulse of the universe is there.

When someone is living a Low Density Lifestyle it is much easier to feel that connection, because the static does not overcome the silence, whereas when living a High Density Lifestyle a person will have a harder time feeling that connection, because the static and noise are always there.

Mother Theresa said, “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the angelsfriend of silence. See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

Feeling the connection to the spiritual dimension also means holding love in your heart—loving yourself, those close to you, and all the inhabitants of the planet. Love is the ultimate truth at the heart of the universe, and when you feel love in your heart, you create an open energy circuit that connects you to the sacred flow of the universe.

Rumi said, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” The barriers you have built within yourself that stop you from feeling love are the very same densities and blockages that stop you from living a Low Density Lifestyle.

It is so important to surrender and let go of the things that hold you back from feeling love in your heart, because when you do, you can come closer to the Universal Force and be FREE.

window_of_hopeThere are many ways to feel connected to the spiritual dimension; for some it occurs from attending a church, synagogue, temple or mosque, while for others it is more personal—prayer, meditation, silence, walking in the woods, or some other way.

However you find your method of expression, one thing you need to understand is that spirituality is an everyday affair. You are not just spiritual when you go to church, synagogue, temple or mosque; or when you do the more personal way of expressing your spirituality.

Spirituality, and feeling connected to the spiritual dimension, is something zen-rocksthat should be realized at all times. For instance, in the Zen tradition, there is no distinction between spiritual and non-spiritual moments. “Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes,” is a Zen saying.

When that understanding is embedded in every cell of your body, your connection to the spiritual dimension becomes second nature, and all your actions will be directed in that way. You are in the flow and every movement you take and every achievement you make is done with effortless effort.

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12 Spiritual Practices to Honor the Earth

May 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Environment, Spirituality


To close the series on the environment and living a Low Density Lifestyle, I thought I would offer you these 12 spiritual practices to honor the earth. This article comes from the website Spirituality and Practice.

Ultimately, our connection to the earth should be one that contains reverence and awe for the wonder, sanctity and sacredness of life, and these 12 practices can help you in feeling that connection.

Connecting to the spiritual dimension is also one of the aspects of living a Low Density Lifestyle, so these practices will help you both ways – feel more connected and grounded to the earth, and aid you in living a Low Density Lifestyle.

1. Attention

The great Catholic writer Ernesto Cardenal in Abide in Love observes: “Everything in nature has a trademark, God’s trademark: the stripes on a shell and the stripes on a zebra; the grain of the wood and the veins of the dry leaf; the markings on the dragonfly’s wings and the pattern of stars on a photographic plate; the panther’s coat and the epidermal cells of the lily petal; the structure of atoms and galaxies. All bear God’s fingerprints.” Go for a walk and look for God’s trademarks. Better still, use a camera to document evidence of God’s fingerprints in the nature.

2. Being Present

Annie Dillard has written: ‘My God, what a world. There is no accounting for one second of it.” Get personal with one small piece of the Earth. Sit in the dirt in your backyard. Play in the sand at the beach. Roll in the grass. Stand under a waterfall. Sense the Earth as an animal senses it. Be really present with your planetary host.

3. Connections

Share a story with family or friends, or write in your journal, about a time when you were humbled, soothed, or awed by something in the natural world. How did you feel connected to nature?

4. Devotion

Adopt a tree, a park, a beach, a waterway, or a piece of wild land, and look out for its welfare. Clean up in and around it. Write letters to officials and newspapers on issues that affect it. In its honor, include in your daily prayers petitions to alleviate the sufferings of dying plants and trees, polluted rivers and oceans, and toxic lands.

5. Hospitality

Invite some bugs into your house for an evening. Rent the fascinating and illuminating video Microcosmos directed by French biologists Claude Nuridsany and Marie Perennou. This documentary presents one day in a French countryside meadow where butterflies, ants, spiders, and many other insects cavort in their small and exquisite worlds.

6. Joy

Listen to Three Dog Night’s classic rock song Three Dog Night: Joy to the World with the lyric “Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea.” Imagine all the other gifts of God in the plant and animal kingdom that give you pleasure and fill your heart with joy.

7. Justice

Hold a Council of All Beings in your school, congregation, or community center. Each participant in the circle speaks for another life-form — an animal, plant, tree, body of water, etc., expressing the being’s concerns. You might talk about threats to the being’s habitat or freedom, the effects of pollution, natural disasters, and wars. After all the beings have spoken, talk as humans about your responsibilities to correct some of the environmental and cultural injustices you have identified.

8. Openness

Embrace your environment. Walk around the perimeter of your home. Explore it as if being there for the first time. What do you see, feel, hear, smell? Continue this process as you move further out into your community. Make a list of things you discover that you have never seen before.

9. Teachers

Find a teacher in nature and let her give you a lesson today. Here’s an example from Natalie Goldberg: “Be tough the way a blade of grass is: rooted, willing to lean, and at peace with what is around it.”

10. Unity

Susan Seddon Boulet’s shamanic paintings feature the intertwined figures of humans and animals. Her art brings us to a fresh appreciation of interspecies unity. Check out the book Susan Seddon Boulet: A Retrospective at your library, or Google “Susan Seddon Boulet Gallery” to find examples of her images online.

11. Wonder

Set up a wonder table in your home or classroom. Make it a place where people can display wonders of the nature world they have found — actual examples or photographs of them.

12. You

Rededicate yourself to the live lightly and respectfully on the planet. Repeat this vow:

We join with the Earth and with each other.

To bring new life to the land
To restore the waters
To refresh the air

We join with the Earth and with each other.

To renew the forests
To care for the plants
To protect the creatures

We join with the Earth and with each other.

To celebrate the seas
To rejoice in the sunlight
To sing the song of the stars

We join with the Earth and with each other.

To recreate the human community
To promote justice and peace
To remember our children

We join with the Earth and with each other.

We join together as many and diverse expressions of one loving mystery: for the healing of the Earth and the renewal of all life.

— U.N. Environmental Sabbath Program
quoted in Prayers for Healing edited by Maggie Oman

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30 Ways to Relax: Part 2

relaxIn yesterday’s article, I told you about 15 of the 30 ways to relax. In today’s article, I will tell you about another 15 ways to relax.

All told, if you put any of these into practice, it will give you much stress relief and give you a chance to experience healthy living.

And it will also help you live a Low Density Lifestyle.

I don’t know about you, but any opportunity to manage stress and have stress relief is fine by me. I’m sure you would agree with me.

So let’s go down the list and find out about more ways to relax and experience some healthy living.

Ok, so here we go with 30 Ways To Relax. Today, numbers 16 – 30.

16. Breathe. Breath is such a vital part of being able to relax and find your inner stillness. Try practicing breatheslow and deep breathing for a 10 count: deeply inhaling and then exhaling, slowly and calmly. The more you do this, the more it becomes second nature. This will allow you to easily relax and slow down at any point.

17. Lavender. Lavender is an essential oil that is prized for its soothing and relaxing effects. Try spraying your bedsheets with lavender and laying down on them.

yoga-cat18. Yoga. Whether you are naturally flexible or find yourself tight and stiff when you try and do yoga, is not important. What is important is how calming and relaxing yoga can be. You owe it to yourself to do it.

19. Meditation. Sitting still and emptying the mind will slow your body down and allow it to enter into a state of stillness and quiet.

20. Basking in the Sun. Whether at a beach, a lake, or in your backyard, feeling the sun’s energy beating into your body can be very relaxing. Just make sure you’re wearing enough sunscreen. An additional treat is if you’re at the beach, then you can listen to the sound of the waves crashing as the tide comes in.

21. Walking in nature. Being in nature is very invigorating, quieting, soothing and relaxing. Next time you’re feeling stressed out, if you get yourself immersed in nature you will find yourself decompressing in no time.

22. Fishing. This one is for those of you who like to fish – though there’s always a first time to get into it. Fishing is something that teaches you patience. It’s just you, your pole and the water, and you just wait and wait until something happens. Or it might be that nothing happens. But it can be very relaxing and soothing.

23. Vegetable Gardening. Gardening has many rewards, and one of them is how it can focus and quiet vegetable_garden_tomatoyour mind, and keep you involved in the cycles of the seasons. Each season has its own energy, and gardening can help you to feel more in harmony with the seasons.

24. Unclutter Your Living Space. If you allow clutter to take over your home, it can make you stressed out. Cleaning up the clutter and making order can create much more calm in your home.

25. Listen to Relaxing Music. Sure, it’s fun to rock out, and of course, as the famous saying goes, music soothes the savage soul. But to allow you to get deep-rooted stress relief, it’s best to listen to music that is calming and soothing. It can be classical, jazz, or some other melodic music. Or perhaps your relaxation will come from you playing on an instrument.

26. Do something creative. Write a poem, paint, play with clay, take photos, bang on a can, etc. Doing something creative can feed your soul. And by so doing, your soul will breathe a little easier and release any pent-up tensions and frustrations.

27. Just Say No. Create boundaries by saying no to other’s demands and requests. This allows you to not take on any more responsibilities and burdens, and allows you to take time for yourself.

28. Say Yes. Sex is very relaxing.

29. Tell Someone You Love Them. By doing this, it opens up your heart and allows your body to relax and let go.

24dog_and_cat130. Pet Your Dog or Cat. While you stroke your pet, tell them about all the stresses you are going through. Because they’re your pet, they love you unconditionally, so they’ll listen to you and always be there for you.

So that’s it for the 30 ways to relax. There are lots of other ways, and it might be that you have your own best way. Whatever that is, go for it and remember the more you relax and find stress relief, the more you will be on the path of healthy living and living a Low Density Lifestyle.

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Being FREE: Flow/Relax/Effortless Effort

February 5, 2009 by  
Filed under FREE, Low Density Lifestyle

1109934_the_skydiverThe secret to living a Low Density Lifestyle is becoming FREE. In an earlier post, I explained what the acronym FREE means. It stands for Flow, Relax, Effortless Effort.

Because it is a very important concept, I want to discuss FREE a little further at length.

The Flow state is known to athletes as being “in the zone.”  To an athlete, this is where everything just seems to go their way. And athletes will be the first to tell you that when they are in the flow state, they perform at higher levels.

Shawn Phillips, the well-known athlete, bodybuilder and author of Strength for Life, had this to say about the subject:

From the beginning, what I was connecting with in the gym was a universal energy source. I would just feel it flowing. Even when I was twenty years old, I called the gym my church. When I was there, it wasn’t about being social; it was about doing my practice. I was in it. I was in the zone.

Paulo Coelho, author of The Alchemist, said,  “Be like the fountain that overflows, not like the cistern that merely contains.” In essence, this is what Flow is about. You become a circuit of energy, flowing infinitely, much like an unimpeded electrical circuit in which the electricity freely courses throughout.

Relax is something that doesn’t always come easy for many people. Sure, everybody knows how to veg out. But do you know how to profoundly relax, to tap into the stillness within and the center of your being?

To find that calmness and stillness within, you can do any number of things or techniques.  These can be meditation, prayer, walking in nature, speaking silently, listening to quiet engaging music, yoga, along with many other mind-body techniques.

A recent scientific study even found that relaxation techniques can beneficially affect your genes.

Relaxation is about finding your peace within the turmoil and hubbub of everyday life.  Some of you may do workshops or go to retreats or go on vacations to help find that inner quiet. And that is a good thing. But the trick is to embed that knowledge into your body and mind and integrate that understanding into your daily routine, so that everywhere you go, wherever you are, you are immersed in your stillness.

When you are acting with Effortless Effort, you can labor for hours on end, at times functioning on little sleep, and yet feel full of energy and life. You are firing on all cylinders, and the universe seems like a giant playground. You love what you do and you do what you love.

Interestingly enough, there are times when stress has a positive connotation. There is a term, eustress, which is the positive aspect of stress. In this case, a person is very busy, doing many things, but they are thriving in the midst of it, and loving how productive they are. A person in this situation is in full Effortless Effort mode. To an observer, it would seem as if this person is pushing themselves far too much and burning themselves out. But to the person immersed in Effortless Effort, they are thriving because they are firing on all cylinders and feeling alive, vibrant and awake.

And so, this is what being FREE is all about. Remember the formula? It’s LDL = FREE.  Keep that in mind–it will help you to live a Low Density Lifestyle.

Low Density Lifestyle: Keeping It Real!

February 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Low Density Lifestyle

Hi Everyone,

Living in a Low Density Lifestyle (LDL) doesn’t require you to escape from your “normal” commitments to life, nor does it mean that you need the deep spirituality and decades of time in meditation, such as that of  the Dalai Lama. Instead living a LDL means being able to handle your life in a healthy and effective manner. It also means that you can bend but never break in times of discontent and mental and emotional turmoil.

I often imagine a Low Density Lifestyle as a metaphor in which I compare us to a rock that sits in the middle of a rushing creek; the rushing creek represents our daily life that rushes by us in a fast paced and stressful fashion. The current can represent such things as your deadlines, the kids, your family, your bills and expenses, and continual commitments you must meet each day.

When you are able to live a Low Density Life, it simply means that you can weather the storm while still remembering that life is unscripted; at the same time, no one can promise you that the road will be smooth and paved with gold. We must also remember that it is with trials and tribulations that we get stronger and more irrepressible. Everyone can be peaceful, calm, serene and have altruistic tendencies when in isolation, but the trick is, can you be the same when being exposed to challenges or obstacles?

I remember hearing an outstanding quote from the great modern-day philosopher Jim Rohn. It says: “The best thing we can do is not to expect the road to be easy but instead expect us to get better, stronger, and more resilient.” I love this quote because it takes the blame right off an external source and puts it back on us, because ultimately, that is all we have control of anyway.

Move towards a Low Density lifestyle.

Until later…
Alvin Brown

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