Building a Sangha is like planting a sunflower. We need to be aware of which conditions will support the flower’s growth and which conditions will obstruct its growth. We need healthy seeds, skilled gardeners, and plenty of sunshine and room to grow. When we engage in Sangha building, the most important thing to remember is that we are doing it together. The more we embrace the Sangha, the more we can let go of the feeling of a separate self. We can relax into the collective wisdom and insights of the Sangha. We can see clearly that the Sangha eyes and hands and heart are greater than that of any individual member of the Sangha.
We have the opportunity to help build our Sangha in every moment, by participating in activities of the Sangha and contributing our energy and insights. To sustain our own practice when we leave the practice center, we need to know how to build a Sangha. Let us be active in establishing connections with those around us. When we realize our true nature of interbeing, we naturally seek to connect with others by sharing our practice and seeking the support and guidance of our fellow practitioners.
That instructs us to be energetic in the practice of mindfulness. The past is finished and the future is uncertain, only in the present can we discover the miracle of life. Living in this spirit, we are already valuable members of our Sangha. We will know how to engage in the continuous process of building a refuge for many beings.
That encourages us all to be Sangha builders, following the footsteps of the Awakened One, who was a great Sangha builder. When we are able to live and practice in harmony in a small community, we can then share this harmony with the larger Sangha, our family and friends, our co-workers, and our co-practitioners. When there is joy in the practice of Sangha building, then we know that we doing it correctly.
Benefits of Practicing Inner-Ease1. Attunes your mental and emotional nature to the most reasonable and effective way for responding to situations in your life.
2. Creates more inner peace and flow in your day by helping to regulate the balance and cooperation between your heart, mind and emotions.
3. Accesses the heart’s intuitive guidance for intelligent solutions to problems.
4. Prevents and eliminates much personal stress and promotes faster recovery from stressful occurrences.
5. Helpful and effective to use as a “prep” before engaging in potentially stressful situations.
6. Creates much easier navigation through challenges and resistances at their onset.
By: Doc Childre
Autumn Equinox Contemplation Questions
1. What have I achieved this year?
What has been my personal harvest?
What has grown into full expression and brought me joy?
Begin each sentence with “I celebrate…”
2. Which seeds have grown, and which have not?
Why have I been successful in some areas and not in others?
What seeds of insight will I collect to re-plant successfully in the next season?
3. Where am I holding back or giving in to doubt?
Which fears are stalling me?
“I am afraid of…”
4. Where am I creating struggle or holding on?
How can I conserve energy by releasing any unnecessary effort?
5. Am I housing any latent anger towards myself or others?
How can I liberate myself from it?
6. Do I feel ashamed or embarrassed by any behaviors or decisions I have made?
How can I lay them to rest?
7. Do I feel guilty for any of my thoughts, words, or actions?
How can I make a conscious change?
8. If my body were to speak, what would it say to me?
Meditation PracticeAs the trees let go of their leaves, what do you wish to let go of? What seeds do you want to cultivate over the winter, ready to grow and blossom next spring?
Select one of the Autumn Equinox Contemplation Questions for this meditation, and choose one of the below based on the time you have available.
Less than 5 minutes:
Simply pose a question to yourself and trust your subconscious to come up with an answer. In savasana, or just before bed, are good times to do this.
5 – 20 Minutes:
Sit quietly and reflect on your chosen question. Set a timer and keep gently bringing your attention back to your breath and your meditation question.
As thoughts arise, imagine placing each one on a leaf and watch it flow by on a stream. Observe any thoughts that come into your mind, one after another, and then let them go.
Meditate on a question as you walk. You can do this indoors or outside. Keep your focus on the act of walking, your breathing, and on your meditation question.
Set your timer for anywhere between 5 and 20 minutes, and keep your pen glued to the paper, writing continuously for that time.
If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the meditation question. Don’t worry if a lot of what you write doesn’t seem to make any sense, this stream of consciousness writing can allow gems of truth to surface.
Cred: The Roaming Yogi
1. Have a morning gratitude ritual.
Rather than starting your day dreading what’s to come, start a routine that helps you focus on all the good things in your life. My favorite thing to do in the morning is to head to the beach down the road from my house and take just one minute to stand in the wind listening to the waves.
I take a couple deep breaths and acknowledge how lucky I am to have this experience each morning. If you aren't so lucky to live near the ocean, find something in your home or neighborhood that gives you this sense of gratitude. Even if it’s just the cup of coffee you’re drinking, really take the time to enjoy each sip and appreciate a moment of stillness.
2. Do a morning detox.
When you’re stressed, it can be so hard to focus on eating well, and tension and anxiety can further disrupt digestion. A simple way to detoxify your body each morning is to drink a cup of warm water with lemon. This will jump start your digestion and give you a little health boost to start your day.
3. Practice Restorative yoga.
A lot of us put pressure on ourselves to get to the gym every day. However, giving your body a break is just as important as being active. There are so many wonderful yoga poses that you can practice at home, and even in your bed. They can even help you unwind before bed for a more restful night sleep. Here are some wonderful poses and sequences to help you sleep better.
4. Make your bath tub a spa.
Is there anything more relaxing that a nice warm bath after a long day? Take your bath to the next level by adding some essential oils (try lavender, rose, or chamomile for ultimate bliss). If you’re feeling sore, sick, or totally depleted, try an Epsom Salt bath. This ancient remedy is said to relieve muscle pain, menstrual cramps, improve circulation, and generally detoxify your body.
5. Invest in an essential oil diffuser.
Whether it’s stress, anger, sadness, headaches, or creative blocks, these powerful oils can help center, soothe, and rejuvenate you. There are tons of options when it comes to diffusers, and many come with a starter kit of oils. Keep one in your bedroom for a more peaceful bedtime, or better yet in your office for all day healing.
6. Create a sacred space.
The reason that we go on vacation, to the spa, or spend time in nature is to escape from the noise of our lives. It’s so important to have a place in your home that exists just for the purpose of making you feel at peace. Even if it’s just a corner in your bedroom, create a sacred space that is filled with things that make your soul feel good.
Incorporate your favorite books, candles, pillows, flowers, anything that encourages you to be your best self. I like to write myself notes of encouragement that I put in my sacred spaces as reminders each day.
7. Do nothing,Yes, do absolutely nothing.
Just sit, lay down, stand, and breathe. Breathing is the single most important thing you can do to eliminate stress. Our breath is the thing that connects us to the present moment, the place where we are not worrying about the future or the past.
Having this quiet stillness also allows you to actually hear yourself. It’s the time when you can tune in to what your mind and body really need to feel their best.
Self care is about more than taking a long, luxurious bath every once in a while. It’s about taking time each day just for yourself. With any luck, self care will be much more than a social media trend, but rather a shift in focus from stretching ourselves too thin, to taking the time to replenish our bodies, souls, and spirits.
Credit: Camille Dodson
Sit with your back straight and your feet flat on the ground, head pointing up to the sky or ceiling.
Close your eyes and begin to relax your body.Start with the top of your head and relax this area, then focus on your forehead and relax this section, from the front of your head to the back and the middle, too, if you can. Then move down to your eyes, relax everything here, then your nose, below your nose, and your lips. Step by step focus on each area and relax all of the muscles you can.
You can do both arms at the same time and your legs too. Finally, relax your entire feet, from the top near your ankle all the way down to your toes.
Then scan your entire body down and up and down again, relaxing any tense areas. This should take about five minutes. Take your time and drop deeper into your breath and into your body.
Focus your attention on the sensation of the breath as it comes in and comes out of your nostrils. What do you feel? What do you notice? Breath in and out of your nostrils normally but focus your mind, with alertness on all of the sensations you feel as the breath comes in and out of the nostrils. Follow the full duration of the in breath and the full duration of the out breath. Take your time, don't rush! Allow yourself to drop deeper into your breath and the way the body responds to the breath.
You yourselves are the Being you are seeking~ Swami Vivekananda
Something beautiful happens on the mat for the student who stay with yoga practice even for a short time. An awareness begins to dawn. Having been immersed in an outwardly focused culture, most of us come to yoga in search of something we do not have, something we cannot even name. As the weeks turn into months, thought, we begin to understand that we are no longer seeking something outside ourselves, or something that we do not have. A powerful understanding starts to take shape.
Our attention shifts from what we can get to who we can be. Without anyone needing to tell us- but simply by spending time on the mat with ourselves-we arrive at the conclusion that we are the ones we've been waiting for. This is the beginning of svadhyaya, or self-study, on the mat.
Here are some simple practices to connect with your own warrior's heart. First, bring breath into your heart. By breathing into the muscles of your heart you increase the oxygen levels in your blood which moves out the toxicity in your cell tissue faster. This practice also relieves the tightness and pressure so many of us carry in the chest and upper back which helps us be more at ease in our bodies. Your basic health and attitude will improve by breathing into your heart.
Start right now. Put your hands on your heart. Take at least ten deep breaths into your heart, chest, and/or your upper back. Use the warmth of your hands to defrost the shielding and scars around your heart. Next, breathe into your heart with a willingness to feel your world, if only for a few minutes a day, including those moments that are kind of scary and painful. Now focus on something of beauty to you, whether it's your child or pet or the vast blue sky. Deliberately breathe that beauty into your heart, learning to nourish your heart.
No one else can do this for you. In cultivating a warrior's heart, we learn to grow up and tend to our own needs. The next step is to ask your heart what is precious to you, what matters to you. Write it down, even if you feel foolish doing it. Do this practice every day so you build a repertoire of your heart's priorities. What a great way to start your morning -- breathe into your heart, ask what it needs, and then do something each day that nourishes your heart, even if for just a few minutes a day.
I ask the ones who want to live with a warrior's heart to live a life you can be proud of. How fun it is that you get to define what that means!
Inspired by Ana Forrest
It's easier to change when you don't feel restricted or forced into it but for those time when you do feel forced go to the temple of your heart and meditate. Mentally ask yourself how you can let go and know that what is happening maybe an opportunity for great change? An opportunity for growth a rebirth perhaps.
Sometimes our view is blocked by one of the five hindrances outlined in Buddhist tradition: desire, ill will, sloth, restlessness, and doubt.
For this meditation start in a simple seat and meditate on which hindrance maybe holding you back from embracing change.