Friday, May 28, 2010

Finding Your Divine Purpose

by Edwene Gaines

At one time or another you've probably asked yourself, "What is the purpose of my life? What is its meaning? Why am I here on Earth, and what am I supposed to be doing?" Chances are, you work hard, whether you take care of a household or have a job outside of the home. Your days are filled with seemingly endless chores and tasks like getting the oil changed in your car and going to the grocery store. Perhaps sometimes, when you get tired or stressed out, life can seem like just one long and meaningless "to do" list with a bland retirement and a gold-plated watch at the end of it.

You may have a sense that given the right circumstances, you could do much more than you are doing now. Perhaps you long to make a real difference in the world, to assign meaning to your life, and to listen to the yearnings of your very soul.

All of the great and wise people who ever made a difference on planet Earth heard their souls' yearnings and chose a purpose for their lives. People such as Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela seem to have been driven by a self-defined purpose that they chose for themselves. Now, we often think of such people with a sense of awe and respect as if they were somehow different from us -- better, smarter, more saintly, or more courageous. Sometimes they hardly seem human. But the truth is that the only real difference between you and those people is that they all seemed to have a clearly defined life purpose that they selected for themselves and then embraced with steadiest dedication and unshakeable determination.

You have that very same opportunity as well. Every single one of us has some special gift, some special interest, some special talent, some special way of impacting this world, so that it becomes a better place for everyone. You have the potential to live at the level of Gandhi or Mother Teresa. The question you must ask yourself is, "Am I willing to define, embrace, and hold fast to my divine purpose, prayerfully, persistently, and patiently?" If the answer is yes, then the impossible truly can become possible in your life.

Now, finding and following your divine purpose is different from setting your goals. A goal is a tangible desire with an end result, but your divine purpose is really a way of living. For example, a goal might be to learn to paint with watercolors, but your divine purpose might be to bring joy to peoples' lives through your art. Another goal might be to get a PhD, but the divine purpose would be to live in the world of the intellect, the world of ideas. Your goals have finite deadlines, but your divine purpose is something that you will be working with and growing with for the rest of your life.

Years ago, a teacher explained to me that if I wanted to fully realize my potential in this lifetime the first thing I had to do was look out upon my world (understanding that we all look out through our own consciousness to see different worlds) and notice all the things that need healing, or fixing, or transforming.

Very frankly, in my world, I see that a multitude of areas where we as a human family need to direct our attention, change our priorities, get rid of the systems and concepts that are not working, and begin anew. Just to name a few examples, I believe that some new thinking needs to be done about the way we take care of our children, treat the environment, feed the hungry, share with the homeless, and provide for the disabled, the elderly, the imprisoned, the hurt, the abused, and the lonely.

The task, then, my teacher instructed, is that after looking carefully at the world, we must pick out one thing that we feel needs transforming, something that would be fun for us to get involved in repairing, shifting, restructuring, fixing, and perfecting. Please note I use the word fun. This is not about martyrdom or great personal sacrifice. It is about focus, joy, and a sense of purposeful possible achievement.

Next, we must take a bold step and make a 100 percent commitment to "fixing" the problem we have identified, followed by devoting our energies, time, talents, skills, and money to transforming that one piece of the earthly puzzle. Even as you're working toward solving the problem, keep in mind that what is really important is not whether the problem ever gets solved; it's that you are working toward the solution with dedication and persistence.

We are children of God. But children eventually grow up. And the evolving and advancing you will do when you begin to live according to your divine purpose is part of that growing up.

When you choose your divine purpose, you are framing your life with meaning. You are also taking an important step in your spiritual development: to demonstrate to yourself that you are a divine being and to prove to yourself that you have the power to affect change -- that you are bigger, stronger, more powerful, and more creative than you thought.

It was Emerson who said, "Oh Man! There is no planet, sun or star could hold you, if you but knew what you are." (Now, I know what he meant to say was, "Oh Woman! There is no planet . . .") There is nothing in the universe that could hold us, if only we knew our true power.

Edwene Gaines

Thursday, May 27, 2010

On the "Flower Garland Sutra"

The “Flower Garland Sutra” describes the universe as a net of diamonds that exists in three- dimensional space and in the fourth dimension of time. It goes backward and forward in time. Every diamond in this net is multifaceted and reflects every other diamond in the net. When you see one diamond, you actually see every other diamond in the net. You see the whole thing. Nothing is left out of the picture. When you touch one diamond, you’ve touched every diamond in the net. It’s incomprehensible that each thing contains every other thing, that there’s a mutual identity and causality, that each thing contains the totality of the universe. But that’s the nature of reality.

-John Daido Loori, "Straight Ahead" (Winter 1999)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Make Of Yourself A Light

Make of yourself as light.This is one of the last things the Buddha said as he passed according to Jack Kornfield the esteemed meditation teacher in an interview at Sounds True.  See what else he said because I was very inspired and wrote this blog in honor of the light waiting in all of us.

The Buddha was en-light-enment and he saw the light in all of us.   What light in you have you been aware of?  How do you turn your light on?  How do you turn away from your own light?

This seems like an important directive from one of the truly awakened ones to have resided on Earth.  So how do we make ourselves a light? 

By no longer denying your spiritual nature
By allowing your heart to be your guide
By loving yourself
By ceasing all self-judgment and self-condemnation
By shrinking the inner critic
By totally and completely accepting yourself
By opening to your magnificence
By letting the past go
By welcoming all you feel
By recognizing the unlimited nature of who you are
By waking up in every way you can
By seeking to be more conscious
By quieting the mind
By following the guidance of your intuition
By not living in accordance with the ego-mind
By being kind to others
By showing compassion for the suffering
By exploring your Buddha Nature
By living with purpose
By being present to the now
By remembering who you are beyond the personality
By always seeking growth and insight
By opening to more awareness
By discovering that which is indestructible within
By moving toward the light of truth
By not getting caught up in the limiting story in your own mind
By following what brings you bliss
By doing what makes you feel energized and alive
By relaxing into the flow of life
By taking risks and not playing it too safe
By loving endless all who cross your path
By encouraging the best in others
By feeling the fear and doing it anyway
By walking the path of lifetime learning
By turning your light on when you first wake up and letting it shine all day
By caring for others
By no longer worrying because it does no good
By noticing and ending all self-limitations
By remembering your spiritual nature cannot fail
By no longer blaming and complaining
By caring for the well-being of your mind, heart and body
By turning toward difficulties as teachers
By building health relationships
By aligning the energy of the charkas
By breathing with awareness
By no longer thinking negative towards others
By fully expressing your potential
By expanding your capacities
By letting joy be the guiding force for how you live your life
By finding the path to happiness and peace within
By celebrating life as fully as you can each day

The world and all humanity are awaiting your light.

Changing Karma

How does one release karma and change karmic conditioning?
Karma is action. You can release karma by going through the action or behavior until the original impetus of the karma is complete, or you can go to the source of action, in silence of pure consciousness and modify the karma. By transcending thought and action in meditation, we go beyond the conditioning of our past to create a better present.  It is like rewriting our  programming.
The purpose of all karma is to help bring us the experience and understanding of our true self based on our previous actions. When we experience our essential nature during meditation, we are getting this knowledge of the Self directly and so it satisfies the primary purpose of karma. That is why we can change karma through meditation.
 For more information go to

Happiness Is The Way

Jen Smith is a Personal Development blogger from the UK who who can be found at Reach Our Dreams.
“There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.” Wayne Dyer
Being happy is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and others. In days gone by happiness wasn’t always top of peoples agendas and today some people still think happiness is a flimsy pursuit. Everyone has different world views and of course is entitled to their own opinion but more and more I am coming to believe happiness is one of the most important things in life for ourselves and the world around us.

Find Out What Makes You Happy

What makes you happy will probably be different to what makes the next person happy. Getting to know yourself and your authentic desires is important. We are constantly inundated with messages about how we should be living our lives. Society, advertising and other people’s opinions can all be a strong influence. Do whatever it takes to get in touch with your own voice. Meditation, spending time alone and writing are ways that I have found effective. You may have different ways. Finding ways to get in touch with your own voice is part of the process of getting to know yourself.
What makes you happy?

Follow Your Bliss

As you start to get in touch with what makes you happy, learn to follow those instincts. I was born just outside London . I love London, but deep down I always felt like I would enjoy country living more than city life. I didn’t know if I would enjoy this in reality as I hadn’t lived in the country side before, but a couple of years ago I took the leap and left London to live in the countryside (and near the sea ). I never looked back; I love where I live now. At times in London I wondered if I was running away or always looking for something else but deep down I know these desires were the authentic whisperings of my soul and I am really glad I listened to them.
What are the authentic whisperings of your soul?

Happiness Isn't Selfish

Sometimes people think being happy is selfish. It isn’t! The more we can be happy with our own lives the more difference we can make to others. For a start, happy people are nicer to be around than unhappy ones! Happiness spreads. You can make more difference to others when you are happy. You are then coming from a place of power. Authentic happiness doesn’t take anything away from anyone else. There is no shortage of happiness in the world. We don’t need to feel guilty for being happy or suppress it because someone else isn’t happy. If someone else is unhappy it is important to stay centered. Taking on their unhappiness will only drag both of you down. We can be sympathetic and understanding without losing our own center.

Allow Happiness

I have often read that we need to allow happiness rather than strive or try to create it. I think this makes a lot of sense. Happiness is our natural state. Our thoughts, anxieties, bad habits and day to day concerns can get in the way but we can learn to remove blockages and let happiness in and allow it. Emotional Freedom Technique is a great way to remove blockages and move past negativity. 

What can you let go of today to allow happiness?

Happiness Is In The Present

As the quote at the beginning of this article points out, there is no way to happiness; happiness is the way. Our mind tries to convince us at times that when we get this new purchase or new relationship we will be happy, however happiness is in the here and now. We don’t need to do anything to be happy. We need to be happy. Of course this doesn’t mean we don’t need to ever do anything or strive for anything. As I shared above, I wanted to live in the countryside and following that desire has made me feel good and in alignment with my desires. It can seem hard to be happy when we want to be somewhere else, but if we try and release anxiety and trust the process whilst being happy we are more likely to get where we want to be. Like attracts like. 

Let yourself be happy right now.

Related posts:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

When I was five

When I was five years old, my mom always told me that happiness was the key to life.

When I went to school they asked me what I wanted to be when I am grew up.

I wrote down “happy”.

They told me I didn’t understand the assignment and I told them they didn’t understand life.

By Janan

Serve to Lead: Make Your Life a Masterpiece of Service

by Michael McKinney

Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.
–Martin Luther King. Jr.
Serve to Lead

“Everyone can lead because everyone can serve,” says James Strock. “When service is the basis of leadership, everyone can be a leader.” What’s more, “We’re in a new era, with new rules, new ways to serve—and much greater accountability.”

Serve to Lead puts the focus of leadership where it should be. Too often, people think of leadership as being about the leader. A leader who serves has greater influence. Service—not control—leads to trust and increased influence.

In an excellent chapter on management, Stock helps to place management and leadership in perspective and explains some of the nuances of tough love and accountability. “Management is encompassed within leadership.” As leaders we must develop management skills.
“Ultimately, management is a key to extraordinary service. Individual performance has the limitations of an individual. You may be a virtuoso. Yet, if you are determined to express your individuality in a more expansive way, you must develop management skills and engage others in a larger enterprise.

To achieve ever deeper relationships with greater numbers of customers and other stakeholders, you must master management. Day in and day out, that means you must serve those with whom you work, enabling them to serve ever more effectively.
Filled with examples and quotes, Serve to Lead is well thought out and one of the best books you’ll read on how to think about service and how to get your leadership to be one of service.

Strock urges us to make our life a masterpiece of service. It begins by asking the question—who am I serving—throughout our life, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Importantly, it is not a question that we should apply to only one area of our life. It should be an approach we take in all areas of our life—our time, our money, our relationships and thoughts.

As an ongoing practice, he suggests we continually ask ourselves four questions:

Who am I serving?
How can I best serve?
Am I making my unique contribution?
Am I getting better every day?

Service isn’t easy. It doesn’t always get noticed, but it is what leading is all about. If that is hard to swallow, you need to ask yourself, why do I want to lead?
How many people are trapped in their everyday habits: part numb, part frightened, part indifferent? To have a better life we must keep choosing how we’re living.
–Albert Einstein

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tips for Teaching Mindfulness to Kids

How can we build the quality of mindfulness in our children, our classrooms, and our schools?

The Oakland-based Mindful Schools program, of which I am a co-founder and co-director, teaches children in public and private elementary, middle, and high schools how to be more mindful of their thoughts and actions. As of the fall of 2009, Mindful Schools had brought our five-week in-class mindfulness training to over 7,000 children in 26 schools, 22 of which serve low-income children. The program is secular, extremely cost-effective, and uses short, interactive exercises that are tailored for children. Both quantitative and qualitative responses from teachers, principals, and students have indicated that our program greatly improves the classroom and the overall school environment.

Children participating in the Mindful Schools program. Children participating in the Mindful Schools program. Mindful Schools
Here are some guidelines that Mindful Schools has created for educators who want to incorporate mindfulness into the school day, or for anyone who wants to teach mindfulness to children, based on our experiences with Mindful Schools.

Purpose. Because this is a tool that students can utilize throughout their life, it is important that the connotation of “mindfulness” remains accurate. Mindfulness, when applied appropriately, includes the qualities of awareness (paying attention to one’s experience through the senses and the mind); of non-judgment (not labeling things “good” or “bad” but rather observing with a neutral attitude); and of stillness in heart and mind (though the body may be moving). Although it may be tempting to use mindfulness as a disciplinary tool, mindfulness should not be used to demand a certain behavior. It inherently includes the quality of acceptance.

Have your own mindfulness practice. This will make you more effective at teaching mindfulness. We can only offer what we have developed ourselves.

Choose a time for mindfulness. We are creatures of habit! Try to always practice mindfulness at the same time. Many teachers find mindfulness helps their class settle down after recess or after lunch. Of course, you may do it more than once a day.

Create the environment. Make it clear that mindfulness is a special time: clear off desks, perhaps move to the carpet, or have all chairs face the front of the room. Ask students not to take bathroom breaks and refrain from talking and moving for a little while. 

Get the students involved. The best way to make sure you remember to do mindfulness is to enlist the help of your students. Create a rotation schedule for “who gets to ring the mindfulness bell.” If you practice mindfulness at the same time every day, pretty soon you won’t have to remember—whoever’s turn it is will remind you!

You share. Because children respond well when we relay our own experiences, you can share with the students if, how, and when you are using mindfulness in your life. If you share a recent story of when you were overcome with emotion or used mindfulness to help you deal with an emotion, they can hear how it is applied.

They share. Many young students like to share what they’ve noticed or experienced during mindfulness, or maybe something that was challenging or distracting. Sharing also allows others to be aware of things to notice while practicing mindfulness that they may not have heard otherwise.

Practice every day! The sooner you begin integrating mindfulness exercises into your daily classroom routine, even for just a minute at a time, the quicker it will become a part of the classroom culture. 

Use the instructions and script below for a daily mindfulness lesson; it can be done in just one or two minutes. If you like, you can get more creative and add more in-depth lessons, or practice for longer periods. You can do the same thing every day. A simple lesson to repeat daily is one minute of mindful listening and one minute of mindful breathing.

1. “Please get into your ‘mindful bodies’—still and quiet, sitting upright, eyes closed.”
2. “Now place all your attention on the sound you are about to hear. Listen until the sound is completely gone.”
3. Ring a “mindfulness bell,” or have a student ring the bell. Use a bell with a sustained sound or a rainstick to encourage mindful listening.
4. “Please raise your hand when you can no longer hear the sound.”
5. When most or all have raised their hands, you can say, “Now slowly, mindfully, move your hand to your stomach or chest, and just feel your breathing.”
6. You can help students stay focused during the breathing with reminders like, “Just breathing in … just breathing out …”
7. Ring the bell to end.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Give Joy

From The Secret Daily Teachings
Every single day, no matter who you meet in the day - friends, family, work colleagues, strangers - give joy to them. Give a smile or a compliment or kind words or kind actions, but give joy! Do your best to make sure that every single person you meet has a better day because they saw you. This might sound like it is not connected with you and your life, but believe me it is inseparably connected through cosmic law. 

As you give joy to every person you meet, you bring joy to YOU. The more you can give joy to others, the more you will bring the joy back to you.

May the joy be with you,

Rhonda Byrne

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Happy Marriage

This post was written by Anastasiya.

The other day my husband and I were talking about our marriage and how happy we are together. Then we somehow started talking about our friends and how some of their marriages and relationships didn’t work out. It was sad to see some of them go through painful divorces or experience great disappointments in people who were considered their second halves just a while back.

It’s not a secret that rates of divorces are rising like crazy all over the world now (in the United States 50% of all marriages end in divorce and in Ukraine the rates are just a little bit lower). I am not going to go into the details of why it is happening but I would like to share my experience of a happy and balanced marriage. I hope that maybe these tips will help some couples to live happily ever after.
  1. Be honest with each other. I think marriage and any serious relationship starts with honesty.
    My husband is a scuba diver and he has a few scuba buddies. If you do not know much about diving then I want to share one secret: it is EXTREMELY expensive (you need at least $3000 on average to get your own gear and as you become better at it you will want more expensive and more professional equipment). For the reason that I cannot figure out scuba diving is a real addiction for men and they cannot stop buying new equipment no matter how much they have already (my husband is past that point thankfully :-) ) Back to the scuba buddies, these guys are married and they hide their new equipment from their wives. Every time they buy something new they try to sneak around and get it delivered when their wives are not home, then they hide it real good to make sure that their wives do not know how much they’ve just spent (my husband has never done anything like this, phew!). One of these guys has just divorced and now they are fighting over the custody of the children. I can’t imagine living with a person who is not honest with me, neither does my husband and I do not have much hope in marriages that are based on lies and sneaking around.
  2. Do not only say “I love you,” show it.
    My parents divorced when I was about 10 years old. I remember my dad always talking a lot about how much he loved my mom and me but he never showed it. He never helped my mom around the house, he never helped her financially to raise me after the divorce, and he never tried hard enough to be a good husband and a good dad.

    It is important to show your partner your love. It can be support in a difficult situation, help around the house or with the kids, a romantic night out or a timely hug when you are feeling blue.
  3. In a relationship you are a team and not two solo players. When you are married you lose some of your “I” and turn it into “We.” Marriage is like a football game (without getting slammed though :-) ). A person who does not know the rules will look at the field and see a bunch of big guys running around, jumping on each other and acting completely irrational. A person who knows the rules will see a strategy behind every move. Each player has his own role on the field and each of the players is responsible for the final score. In a marriage it is important to have your own life and your own interests, however happy couples know that all these interests are worthless if they do not benefit their team. There is a great movie called Facing the Giants that continues this analogy (this is a Christian movie). Another one of my favorites is Fireproof and I think that all couples need to watch it because it is a wonderful and inspiring movie.
  4. Keep romance burning in your relationship. There is nothing worse than a boring and unromantic relationship. When women start wearing hair rollers and shower caps around the house and when men spend all their time on the coach with a bottle of beer in their hands you can say that this relationship is doomed. Here are 10 ways to turn a boring relationship into a party of love and I am sure that you can think of at least 100 more.
  5. Be best friends. A marriage based only on friendship is hardly possible, but a marriage without friendship is doomed. What do friends do? They talk, they share their most intimate thoughts, they share their joys and sorrows, they have fun together, and they help and support each other. Can you imagine a marriage without all this? I can’t.
  6. Let little things slide. This tip is mostly meant for women because a lot of us (women) go crazy about little things like dirty socks around the house, a glass that was left in the wrong place or the wrong type of produce that he picked up at the grocery store. Men can think only about one thing at a time (these are words of my husband, no offense guys). When they think about a nice bottle of wine that they want to bring home for supper they forget whether you wanted Romaine lettuce or spinach. When they think about a football game they forget where they leave their glass and when they are ready to cuddle up with you under a blanket they forget where they threw their socks. Look at the big picture and enjoy a deep relationship and bond with your partner, after all nobody is perfect.
  7. Talk. When I say “talk” I do not mean just talking about what refrigerator you have to buy or what happened at work during the day. I mean talking about everything: about friends, about news, about your interests, about your concerns and about 100 more subjects. My husband and I lose track of time when we start talking to each other and I love this time more than anything else in the world (well, almost anything ;-) ). Talking will help you understand what is going on in the head of your spouse, what bothers him/her, it will help you to resolve and prevent conflicts and misunderstandings if they arise (the worst thing is to keep a grudge inside and let it destroy your marriage).
  8. Be silent. Sounds contradictory to what I’ve just said, right? If you and your partner argue (it happens to the best of us) then you are likely to say something that you do not really mean. When we are upset we tend to pick the most stinging words that can hurt your partner’s trust and faith in you permanently. I find that it is much better to be silent in these situations and to let both of us cool down a little bit. After the smoke has cleared and you can think rationally again you can talk the whole situation over and most likely you will find an easy solution or explanation that will satisfy both of you.
  9. Be equally responsible for the family and household. This is a tip for men. A lot of men mention that marriage kills romance and that their wives become less interested in sex and fun activities that they used to enjoy before. This is really true because a lot of women get so tied up in household problems and bringing up children (not mentioning the fact that a lot of women are also working at the same time) that they do not have any energy left for anything else.

    Most men still think that a woman is a 100% responsible for bringing up children and taking care of the household. How many men change about half the amount of diapers that women do? How much time do men spend with the children when the kids are in a bad mood? How often do men think about what to fix for supper or when to vacuum the house? If you are one of the men who does it all or is willing to do it all then your wife is (will be) a very happy woman (my husband is all I’ve just mentioned and even more :-) ). How would you expect a woman to think about a romantic night when she has been changing dirty diapers all day long and her personal time was limited to 5 minutes in the shower? A marriage puts a lot of responsibilities on both a man and a woman and if you want a happy and sexy wife then you need to give her some help and some free time.
  10. Smile and laugh together. According to a recent study people who smile a lot have lower rates of divorce. Researchers are not quite sure about the connection between smiling and happy marriages but having great time together and laughing a lot will help you become more positive about your relationship and life in general.
Here are 5 more rules that do not need any explanation in my opinion.
  1. Love each other
  2. Respect each other
  3. Support each other
  4. Understand each other
  5. Give to each other
A balanced and happy marriage is not a dream, it is a reality for me. I wish that more people could enjoy relationships that were satisfying and long-lasting at the same time. Do you have anything to add to this list? I am looking forward to your feedback.
Keep it balanced!

Balanced Life

balanced living
“Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.” – Robert Fulghum
Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Anastasiya Goers of Balance In Me.
Do you sometimes wonder whether your life is in balance? It is easy to know if you lead a balanced life because if you do then:

- you enjoy every moment and every second,
- you can cope with any difficulties,
- you can be happy without any reason to be happy,
- you can be yourself and love the person you are.

Today the world constantly tries to throw you out of balance and sometimes no matter what you do you still feel like your life is going in the wrong direction (I know I feel this way sometimes.) Balanced living might seem like one of those theoretical terms that nobody can put into practice but in fact there is nothing simpler than living a balanced life.

It might take some work at first but once you get in the flow and discover the simple ways to steer your life in your desired direction you will feel empowered. You will be inspired and energized by every day of your life. Your life will be full of amazing adventures and events that will make every day memorable. You won’t be wasting your life anymore or spending gloomy hours contemplating about the misfortunes that might have happened on your way.

Does balanced living mean that your life will be full of only positive people and events that will bring you happiness every moment of your life? Not at all.

Balanced living is when you can always offset any negative events in your life with positive ones. It is also when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Balanced living is when you are happy working and playing equally. If you picture happiness and everything great in your life as a diamond, then any negative things that may happen are just the setting that makes this diamond shine only brighter.

If you want to live a balanced life then there are 5 essential habits that you need to develop.
  1. Awareness and mindfulness. Awareness is the key to balanced living because it lets you see every moment of your life and appreciate it. A mindful person lives in the present and does not get obsessed with the future or the past. It’s important to plan for the future and learn from your mistakes in the past, but it is even more important to appreciate who you are right now and find joy in this state.
    When you are aware of this moment you are calm and you do not make any decisions that you might regret later.
    When you are mindful you are in balance with the universe.

  2. Appreciation of your body. By “appreciation” I mean taking care of your body. If you are grateful for the very first gift that you received in your life (your body) then you must take care of it. It means making healthy choices in life, exercising and being generally active, eating a balanced and healthy diet, letting your body rest when it’s tired and pampering it every once in a while.
    Your body is the tool that lets you experience so many wonderful moments in life and you need to do your best when taking care of it.

    Clearly, balanced living is not possible without a balanced body.
  3. Creativity. Every day we face a lot of challenges and choices in life. Some of these challenges might be easy while others will be more difficult. If you approach each of your challenges with creativity then your life will be filled with adventures. Conversely, if you turn off your creativity, then your life will turn into torture.

    Creativity is a wonderful tool that lets us turn our dreams into reality, turn play into work and work into play, and enjoy life even when it seems empty.

    Creative people are the ones who can make the exquisite setting for the diamond of their life.
  4. Patience. With patience we can overcome almost anything whilst without it we can ruin almost anything.

    Patience can help us turn our dreams into reality (losing weight, starting a business or blog). It can help us be better parents, spouses, friends and even strangers (sometimes a smile from an understanding stranger can make the biggest difference when you are having a bad day). If you are patient you do not have to worry about the minutes spent in traffic or in the line at the grocery store. With patience you can see results in all your endeavors and you do not have to spend the precious time of your life getting mad or infuriated.

    Patience leads to mindfulness and mindfulness brings you in balance.
  5. Simplicity. Simplicity is probably the most important part of life balance. When you build your life around simplicity you reduce the number of out-of-balance things that can disrupt your happy living.
    In balance everything is simple. There are two opposites (like black and white) and you just have to pick something in the middle:

    • Simplify you work schedule so that you do not have to think about a hundred things at the same time.
    • Simplify your relationships by connecting with people you truly care about and getting rid of the ones you don’t.
    • Simplify your diet by choosing simple healthy ingredients that are part of balanced nutrition.
    • Simplify your social media exposure and enjoy living life and getting things done rather than wasting time online.
    Simplicity makes life balance simple.
These habits have been my lifeline for many years and I cannot imagine a balanced (and happy) life without them.
Living in balance is easy and very rewarding because your life becomes the one of joy, happiness and serenity. If you put some time and effort into turning your life into a balanced direction then you too will live a truly Zen life.
Read more from Anastasiya at Balance In Me, subscribe to her feed and keep your life in balance.

Love Is All Around

My root spiritual teacher, Nyoshul Khenpo, once said that a moment of enlightenment is a moment when we realize “the blessings that are always pouring forth.” We are, by nature, endowed with qualities of absolute goodness—purest love, compassion, wisdom, and tranquility. Those radiant qualities are intrinsic to our being. They are among the “blessings” to which Khenpo refers. A moment of enlightenment is a moment in which we newly notice such “blessings” as having been all around us, and within us, from the beginning. Whenever we are ready to notice, we can sense their healing, liberating energy pouring forth right here, right now.

One such radiant quality is unconditional love, the kind of love that doesn’t care what someone has thought or done but simply wishes him or her deep well-being and joy. It’s like the unconditional and unreserved love that a wise, devoted parent has for a child. That capacity for love is within each of us and has been active all around us, pervading our world from the moment we were born.

The claim that love pervades this world may not sound real to you but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Most of us just haven’t learned to pay much attention to the countless moments of love, kindness, and care that surround us each day: a child at the store reaching for her mother’s hand, an elderly stranger at the park who smiles upon a young family, a grocery clerk who beams at you as she hands you your change.

The “blessings that are always pouring forth” include the love that has permeated our lives, peeking at us through many eyes. Think, for example, of someone you loved to be near when you were a child: a parent or grandparent, a special aunt or uncle, a family friend or teacher—someone it felt wonderful to be with. Why did you like to be near that person so much? Probably because she radiated a wish of love to you through the quality of her presence, her words, her play with you, or simply through her smiling eyes when you came near. Try to remember someone like that from your childhood right now. Hold that person in your mind for a moment and recall how it felt to be near her. That’s what it is like to receive the love that simply wishes for your happiness. We like to be near people like that because we have a deep need to receive their unspoken love, to drink up its life-giving goodness.

That radiant blessing of love has been coming to us from the start, not just from a few people close to us, but also from many not personally known to us or people long forgotten. So many have offered themselves to us quietly, unnoticed and unremarked upon, such as those who served in our school, who coached sports for us as small children, who taught us music and clapped for us, who watched over us with kindness and care wherever we ran and played. Then there are all the adults who put loving care into their work, as our teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers, craftsmen, bakers, librarians, and waitresses. Yet we may never have noticed the extent of such care and consideration. No one actually verbalizes: “Out of loving concern for all the children in this neighborhood, including you, I am helping to build this playground,” or “I am now sending you the wish of love; that’s why you like to be near me.” And the child doesn’t think “I am now receiving the wish of love.” So we may never become conscious of how much loving care pervades our world.

As we grow older, we learn to pay attention to things that society considers more real and significant than the loving care of all those people. According to the social discourse around us, it seems much more important to identify those whom we should hate, fear, or compete with for affirmation, power, and wealth. Meanwhile, television news and magazines focus our communal attention each day on the horrible things that some people have done to others, as if that is all that happened in the world that day.

Much of our discourse is spent propping up this negative worldview: “Oh, yes, I know what you mean, my relatives are horrible too.” “I can’t stand that politician either.” “Can you believe how stupid those people are?” We have become so smug in our cultural cynicism we don’t notice that even the people we generally look down upon have had moments of integrity and kindness.

In addition, there are people in the world and throughout history who have benefited many people beyond their personal lives, people whose way of being embodies such powerful concern for others and for the world that they epitomize our greatest human potential: Shakyamuni Buddha and Jesus, St. Francis, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama. Such potent spiritual beings have radiated their love to all of us without discrimination. But with our modern, secular worldview, many of us have forgotten how to acknowledge and to receive the liberating power of such love. Instead, we’ve learned to ignore it.

Our society provides no curriculum or schooling on how to notice love or to recognize the many people who have transmitted its life-giving power. Most of us haven’t been taught that to receive love deeply and transmit it wholeheartedly is a real human possibility, that it can be learned, and that to do so is the key to our deepest well-being, our spiritual life, and our capacity to bring more goodness into this world.

So as adults, we need to become newly aware of the love that has infused our lives all along, to turn our attention to it afresh with the eyes of a child. To do so is to become conscious of the tremendous capacity for love that even now permeates our being—to open to it, to be healed by its life-giving energy, and to participate in its power to renew our world. We can awaken to the deepest goodness in ourselves and others. We can learn to recognize and commune with the blessings that have always been pouring forth.

The first step is to learn to pay new attention to what has been ignored. Many people are extending love, the simple wish for us to be happy—and have been since the day we were born. What is remarkable to me is what happens when we are willing to notice it. And even more remarkable is what happens when we are willing to receive it. The simple act of accepting a stranger’s wish for our happiness empowers us to experience the world in a completely different way.

To receive such a simple wish of love quietly opens our minds to an innate wisdom that recognizes the essential goodness of being, the intrinsic goodness of experience itself, the joy of being alive. It brings out the natural wisdom that was hidden in our minds—a purer vision that knows the beings and things all around us to be utterly holy, as if they were all messengers of the Buddha.

To receive love in this way is to become conscious of a fresh, sacred world that was somehow obscured by our tired, socially constructed worlds of self-centered worry and cynicism. When someone awakens in a moment of receptivity to the “blessings that are always pouring forth,” the fresh, sacred world that was long ignored suddenly unveils itself. It is self-revealed as one’s true home.

Guided Meditation #1: Commune with Spiritual Benefactors

It is important to learn to recognize deeply spiritual people in your world, past or present, who function as spiritual benefactors. These are persons that you feel embody great goodness, a force of love and compassion that extends to all without partiality, including yourself. These may be people in your life whose fundamental goodness and way of being profoundly influenced you. If you have a mentor or teacher who inspires your spiritual practice, he or she would be included here. You could also include the teachers of your own spiritual teacher. People most profoundly holy to you, such as Shakyamuni Buddha or Jesus, would fall into this category. Try to identify ones you feel to be such sacred beings and trust your own maturing sense of that, without trying merely to conform to others’ assumptions.

You can keep a picture of a spiritual benefactor near you to help you relate to this person. One meditator I know keeps a picture of Mr. Rogers, the fatherly television personality and minister who helped generations of American children feel at home in this world. Because spiritually weighty beings have communed so deeply with the very source of love and compassion we share in that ground when we open to their wish of love. It blesses our life. This is part of the reason that images of the Buddha, the Dalai Lama, and other revered spiritual teachers are so important to Tibetan Buddhists—such figures are sources of spiritual energy and inspiration for those who regularly commune with them. Try to bring to mind one or more spiritual benefactors now, whether personally known to you or admired from a distance, and imagine their smiling presence before you. Relax and gently open to receive their wish of love that radiates to you and many others. Commune with them in that way for a little while, and enjoy.

Guided Meditation #2: Discover the Benefactors in Your Life

We discover love’s transformative and liberating power first by receiving love more fully, then by offering it more inclusively, and finally by reflecting it from the ground of our being. To enter into this process, we need to identify benefactors who have been emissaries of love in our lives.

“Benefactor” here means someone who has sent us the wish of love, the simple wish for us to be well and happy. Once we start to notice such beings, we find, actually, that there have been many that have radiated such love to us, but we had mostly overlooked or forgotten them.

A benefactor is someone you perceive as such in your own experience, not just someone you assume you should pick as benefactor. Your benefactors may be living or not. The power of love transcends how we think of time.

Benefactors need not be infallible or perfect people. Just allow yourself to become newly aware of moments when someone’s unreserved love came to you—through a kind word, a gesture, a smile, or a comforting presence. It could be someone well known to you or a seeming stranger.

Try to recall someone like that from your childhood right now. Envision his or her smiling presence before you. Recall how good it felt to be near that person. That is what it is like to receive love. Hold that person in mind for a little while, communing with him or her in the simple goodness of their wish of love for you, their wish for your happiness and joy. Take a few minutes just to relax and receive that wish from him or her. Right now.

When you feel ready, try to think of a few other people you adored being near as a child. An uncle or aunt, perhaps? A schoolteacher that you loved to be with? A friend of your parents whom you looked forward to seeing? When I began to do this exercise, my second-grade teacher suddenly appeared in my mind’s eye—Mrs. Kirchner, whom I liked so much that I accidentally called her “Mom” at school. She wasn’t just teaching; she was expressing her love for her students through her teaching. Then there was my Uncle Morton, who expressed his love with silly jokes and by snatching some of my french fries when I wasn’t looking—while making sure I would catch him in the act. When you have thought of a few such benefactors in your life, imagine them before you one by one or all together. Mentally hold the smiling faces of those benefactors before you; then relax and just accept the simple goodness of their wish for your well-being and happiness, their wish of love for you. Take time for this right now, accepting, receiving, and enjoying the power of their wish. There is nothing more important to do.

If you do this exercise repeatedly, you will recognize more benefactors not only from your early life but also from other periods. Even now there are people you have probably overlooked who make a wish for your happiness, but you haven’t realized yet how important and life-giving it is to pay attention to them.

As your practice progresses, you may find yourself widening your range of benefactors by spontaneously recalling instances when you were the recipient of unconditional love, even from people that you long characterized as unloving. One meditator who had a particularly difficult relationship with his mother told me how during a meditation session he found himself recalling a scene from his early childhood. He had been in a fever, foggy with delirium, when his mother came to soothe him by placing her hand on his stomach—a gentle, healing touch. The memory of that simple, loving gesture suddenly reawakened. Again, we are not looking for infallible people; just moments when genuine, unreserved care came through.

All portions of this article have been adapted from Awakening Through Love © 2007 by John Makransky. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications.

John Makransky is a professor of Buddhism at Boston College and a guiding meditation teacher at retreats for the Dzogchen Center.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Makarenko - The Jewel of Education

"A major figure in the development of Soviet education, Makarenko (1888-1939) was especially influential in fighting for integrating democratic principles into education theory and practice. His numerous books, including his work, The Road to Life (An Epic of Education), the first volume being an absorbing chronicle of his years as director of the Gorky Colony for juvenile delinquents in the Ukraine in the 1920s.
What I relally love about Makarenko´s concept, is that in his work with homeless orphans and delinquents after the Russian Revolution, he encouraged children to take responsibility not just for themselves but, more importantly, for the good of the community as a whole.

As a theoretician, he rejected both anarchistic “free education” and biological determinist theories, instead building a system of “pedagogical logic”. Educational goals should change with society, be humanistic, and stress the power and creativity of the collective, according to Makarenko. He also felt strongly about the importance of the home learning environment.

One more fascinating aspect for me is that Makarenko was able to “translate” his experiences into captivating fictionalised books, an easy read for children and adults.

The feeling that I get from many modern educational systems is that they are too individualistic. They do enhance personal talents and capabilities, at the same time putting “the self” (meaning the ego) on the pedestal.

But the new time is coming, people are coming more closer together and they need some new collaboration and communication skills, some new approach to each other. And that is what Makarenko`s system is about. May be one day I will develop my own system, based on his one… Lets see… My passion for it is there!"

The Road to Life
(An Epic of Education)
Volume 1

Source: Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow 1955, Second Edition
Illustrations: selected from photographs taken by Makarenko at the Maxim Gorky Colony
Translation: Ivy and Tatiana Litvinov
Online Version: A. S. Makarenko Reference Archive ( 2002


The Road to Life
(An Epic of Education)
Volume 2

Source: Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow 1955, Second Edition
Illustrations: selected from photographs taken by Makarenko at the Maxim Gorky Colony
Translation: Ivy and Tatiana Litvinov
Online Version: A. S. Makarenko Reference Archive ( 2002


Makarenko Internet Archivenex

The Rose of the World

The Rose of the World by Daniel Andreev is a unique and poetic cosmological treatise passionately written out of personal experience. It offers a prophetic call for the spiritual reunification of all people and an open and harmonious relationship among the great world religions. For Daniel Andreev, whose mystic revelations are often compared with those of Dante and William Blake, the Rose of the World is a spiritual flower whose roots are in heaven: each petal is a unique image of the great world religions and cultures, and the whole flower is their joint co-creation with God.

Roza Mira (full title in Russian: Роза Мира. Метафилософия истории, literally The Rose of the World. The Metaphilosophy of History), that was written in the fifties of the 20th century gives a unique and fresh view on the history and future of mankind. The uniqueness of this perspective its intellectual brilliance combined with a deeply spiritual insight…