WHY MEDITATE?? By Julie Kelly

Do you think it is arrogant or presumptuous to say that meditation is the only way to calm the mind?
To some, it most definitely will and, if you can find a better and more effective way then this is good. As a Buddhist and as someone who practices meditation regularly, I have not found any other effective way to calm and control the mind.
These days more and more people are beginning to practice meditation or at least become interested in it. Lives have become more hectic, and health has started to deteriorate quicker over the years, especially in the West. This is because people are accumulating high levels of stress that they really don’t know how to manage. The strange thing is, that humans create this stress all by themselves and it isn’t something that waits around the corner to jump on the first unsuspecting victim. Looking at things from this perspective, and assuming it’s true, don’t you think its odd that people can’t manage what they have reaped?
When you decide to explore and practice meditation, it’s really important to understand why you are actually doing it. The most common reason in the West why people take up meditation, is because there is something wrong in their lives, something that is making them angry or feel bad and they want to learn how to get rid of it.
This is all well and good, and it’s a great start but you must also take steps to understand why the mind became so busy in the first place.
Here in the West, we are a society of ‘quick fix seekers’ we want quick solutions to everything and if we don’t get them, we assume that the method does not work. It’s often pretty much the same with meditation but in order to quieten the mind there needs to be patience and an understanding of our own strengths and weaknesses.
Buddha described the human mind as filled with ‘drunken monkeys’ jumping around, chattering, carrying on endlessly. This is the monkey mind, flitting from one thing to another. We all have monkey minds, Buddha said, with dozens of monkeys all clamoring for attention. Fear is an especially loud monkey, sounding the alarm incessantly, pointing out all the things we should be wary of and everything that could go wrong.
Buddha showed his students how to meditate in order to tame the drunken monkeys in their minds. It’s useless to fight with the monkeys or to try to banish them from your mind because, as we all know, that which you resist persists. Instead, Buddha said, if you will spend some time each day in quiet meditation — simply calm your mind by focusing on your breathing or a simple mantra — you can, over time, tame the monkeys. They will grow more peaceful if you lovingly bring them into submission with a consistent practice of meditation.’

When we choose to practice meditation, it is definitely beneficial for the mind but it’s simply not enough without change or appropriate positive action. For example, if you are choosing to take up meditation because you find life too stressful, then of course meditation will help you to relax your mind enough to deal with difficult situations as they occur, but it is clear that change is needed in relation to your perception of and approach to life situations as a whole etc.
When we want to resolve problems in our lives, we must begin within the self because this is where the answer will eventually be found.
All too often we blame others for things that go wrong for example, if things are not good in our relationships we blame our partner. Maybe he or she isn’t so attentive anymore or maybe they are not as attractive as they once were. All these things can make us feel unhappy and restless in our situation but by turning this inwards we often find that some of the issues lie right here within ourself.
We are not responsible and cannot control how another person acts towards us, but we carry sole responsibility for how we react
An angry reaction is destined to create a more inflamed and unbearable situation.
You can work through any problem in life simply by changing your mindset and perspective of it and meditation helps us to maintain this sense of calm, rationality and inner peace.

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Lessons Learned from the Atheist Alliance of America Convention by Andreea Nica

Andreea Nica, pentecostalismThe Atheist Alliance of America National Convention 2014 held earlier this month in Seattle, Washington granted me the opportunity to interview, converse with, and listen to renowned speakers, comedians, and influential figures in the atheist movement including the likes of David Fitzgerald, Dr. Steven Pinker, Dr. Rebecca Goldstein, Richard Haynes, and Dr. Richard Carrier.

This year’s convention drew in approximately 100 attendees throughout the weekend, according to Amy Monsky, Executive Director of Atheist Alliance of America (AAA). Monsky states that the AAA National Convention has several primary goals including: to bring atheists together; to hear great speakers; to network and socialize; and to raise awareness through education.

The family-friendly event was comprised of educational and activist-oriented sessions, debate, a comedy show, VIP non-prayer breakfast, film by Jeremiah Camara, “2014 Richard Dawkins Award” banquet, and a Sunday outing to Snoqualmie Falls and Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery.

Below is…

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Coming to Consciousness: Eckhart Tolle and Yoga

roadBoth Eckhart Tolle and yoga have helped me become more conscious lately. As a Christian, I had always been a bit of a spiritual hypochondriac. Believing in the ultimate external body that had an opinion about my body – how it should feel, how it should be positioned – left me self-doubting and scrutinizing every moment for possible infractions. Christianity is supposed to be the peace that passes all understanding, but I think I had turned it into a moral gage that would never land on perfect for every long.

Furthermore, it was always difficult for me to believe what I was supposed to without being filled with ego about it. But let us face it, as someone who had journeyed outside those fundamentalist leanings, I was still a hypochondriac (it was simply that grad school had given me more physical conditions to be suspicious of) and completely full of…

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Stillness by Oxana Poberejnaia

oxanaI am visiting my home town in Russia for holidays. I have not been home for 3 years and I have not lived there for 12 years. Many things surprise me. One of the features of contemporary life in my home town is the relentless and often destructive onset of capitalism. As I have said already, currently patriarchy has joined forces with capitalism in order to suppress nature and oppress women.

One of the ways capitalism does this is by involving women and men into an endless rat race and by substituting their Wild Nature (as Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estés describes it) with an identity of a consumer. People willingly put on masks of consumers who live to make money and to spend it on entertainment which is sold to them.

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A Radical Conclusion: We Are Our Own Authorities by Carol P. Christ

Carol Christ in LesbosElisabeth Schussler Fiorenza articulated a widely held tenet of feminist theology when she stated that feminism places a question mark over all inherited texts and traditions. This means that feminists cannot and must not accept any teaching or traditional way of performing religious acts simply because “the Bible [or the Koran or the minister or the priest or the rabbi or the imam or the guru] tells me so.”

Instead, feminists must question every text and tradition and the words of every religious leader to see whether or not they promote the full humanity of women. The implication of this is that we must acknowledge and take responsibility for becoming our own authorities—as individuals and in communities.

A tongue –in-cheek letter that began circulating on the internet in 2000 under the title “Why Can’t I Own a Canadian?” makes the point that even those who claim to be adhering to…

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Article: Coping With Death When Old Age isn’t a Factor: By Julie Kelly

To lose someone through illness is a terrible state of affairs. If you have cared for that person your days and nights will have been spent practically all of the time at their bedside.
You will have seen them through their most devastatingly sad moments and through those moments of laughter and lightheartedness.
A death can bring with it a sense of emptiness a hole that cannot be filled but Sometimes it brings with it relief, relief that the pain and suffering has gone and also relief that you can now get your own life back on track.
To some, this may seem selfish but it is in fact reality that life goes on after a loved one dies but what happens when we lose someone through murder or manslaughter? Here the after effects are a little bit different.

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Pachamama – August 1st – A day to Honour the Great Mother Goddess

JassyIn Andean traditions, today, and the entire month of August, is devoted to Pachamama.

Pachamama is the Supreme Goddess honored by the indigenous people of the Andes including Peru, Argentina and Bolivia. She is referred to as both the physical planet Earth as well as the universal Feminine Energy in time and space. Her name literally translates as Pacha – meaning world, land, earth, universe; and Mama, meaning Mother. She is the Mother of the World.

In Incan mythology Pachamama is also celebrated as a fertility Goddess who oversees planting and harvesting. She is responsible for the well-being of plants and animals and is often depicted as a Dragon or serpent representative of the Andean Mountains. When Pachamama feels disrespected it is thought that she causes earthquakes. Andean people believe that recent earthquakes in the region are a result of humanity’s destruction, disregard and disrespect for the planet. 

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Feeling it in Bones & Water: Practicing Somatic Spirituality

Kate BrunnerThere is a phrase I’ve heard here and there while living in Australia that I love for the sense that it evokes– “I can feel it in my water.” The usage is similar to the American phrase to “feel it in my bones.” It is that sense of knowing through the body that something is happening or about to happen. There are different explanations that posit to what “water” the phrase refers. I’ve been told it means urine in the bladder or it refers to the fact that the human body is truly mostly water. But, admittedly, my favorite explanation is that it points to the water of the womb. People of all shapes and sorts may use the phrase. But to date, I’ve only ever heard it from women, which gives some anecdotal credence to the womb theory. Any way you look at it, if you feel it in…

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Family Ties by amina wadud

amina 2014 - croppedSome of you may be familiar with the time honored curse: “May you grow up to have a child exactly like you…”? I know, no one is exactly alike, but the point is, some of what we put our parents through will likely be revisited upon us if/when we become parents. And so it is, I have joked with my children time and again, “I wonder where you got THAT from?”

Of my five children the one most like me is my middle daughter. Of course from my perspective her version is multiplied exponentially. Take her vegetarian beginnings. When she was 10 years and 10 months old she made the pronouncement that she would no longer eat slaughtered animals. As she was too young to have any kitchen responsibilities besides a weekly dish-washing assignment along with her siblings, I begged her father to intervene on my behalf. He managed to…

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Life After Murder & Manslaughter – A new perspective by Julie Kelly

To lose someone through illness is a terrible state of affairs. If you have cared for that person your days and nights will have been spent practically all of the time at their bedside.You will have been with them throughout their most devastatingly sad moments and through those moments of laughter and lightheartedness. Their death brings with it often a sense of emptiness a hole that cannot be filled. Sometimes however it brings with it relief, relief that the pain and suffering has gone and also relief that you can now get your own life back on track. To some, this may seem selfish but it is in fact reality that life goes on after a loved one dies.

Continue reading