EVOLVE – Liberating the Soul

September 7, 2013

Kalani discusses what causes us to add to our own suffering and provides ways to free us from the bonds of aversion. Based on “The Guest House,” a work by spiritual poet, Rumi, this talk is about creating positive relationships with every thoughts and feeling, inviting them into “your home” so that they may fulfill their role in helping us navigate our lives. We each gain knowledge and guidance from these “uninvited guests,’ but there’s no need to suffer. The KEY is paying attention and compassion.

This podcast features music by Azam AliGreg Ellis and Layne Redmond & Tommy Brunjes.

Visit Kalani on Twitter and Facebook.

Subscribe via FeedBurner and the iTunes store.

 

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EVOLVE – The Nature of Thought

September 6, 2013

Kalani talks about the nature of thought as it relates to developing mindfulness and a healthy relationship with one’s mind. The design and nature of the brain gives rise to an internal ‘storm’ of thoughts that are interconnected, dynamic, and have the ability to consume our awareness. Kalani describes ways to remain centered in the present moment, while allowing the mind to fulfill its nature. A healthy relationship with your mind is a KEY to developing a strong Thoughtfulness Practice and an Enlightened life.

This podcast features music by Azam AliGreg Ellis and Layne Redmond & Tommy Brunjes.

Visit Kalani on Twitter and Facebook.

Subscribe via FeedBurner and the iTunes store.

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EVOLVE – Peace of Mind

September 1, 2013

Kalani discusses the nature of the mind and outlines specific practices for creating a peaceful and powerful relationship with it. Learn more about how to use your mind to navigate the world without getting lost in a sea of thought. Learn to foster quality thoughts and actions that are in alignment with your interests, values, and goals.

This podcast features music by Azam AliGreg Ellis and Layne Redmond & Tommy Brunjes.

Visit Kalani on Twitter and Facebook.

Subscribe via FeedBurner and the iTunes store.

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EVOLVE – Seeing as New

August 31, 2013

Kalani discusses ways to increase one’s sense of joy and contentment by raising his/her awareness and appreciation for his surroundings, attending to the many features and changes in the environment. When we connect with the physical world through all our sense, we root into the present and live life more deeply. This practice is called “Seeing as New,” and can help anyone deepen his/her life experience and sense of spiritual connection to the world, to other people, and to his or herself.

This podcast features music by Azam AliGreg Ellis and Layne Redmond & Tommy Brunjes.

If you find this talk helpful, please let us know and share it with your friends and family.

Namaste and Aloha ~

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“You are Loved.”

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EVOLVE – The Creative Mind

August 18, 2013

Your mind is a creative and beautiful resource that is capable of producing all types of thoughts. It is in learning how to identify the various thought types that you will come to develop a practice that will help you reach your goals, both in work and play. In this talk, Kalani describes how to increase your awareness of thought types with the goal of improving your Thoughtfulness Practice.

This podcast features music by Azam Ali and Greg Ellis .

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A Wonderful Opportunity

June 10, 2013

One of the drawbacks, if there are any, in learning to better manage one’s thoughts and feelings, is that you don’t  find as many opportunities to use the Thoughtfulness techniques.  As we become more mindful of our daily experiences, we find fewer occasions in which we are experiencing anxiety.

I recently had an opportunity to put my  thoughtfulness techniques into practice  after I had  read a colleagues comments on a public forum.  Admittedly, I let my ego get the better of me and I allowed myself to get caught up in a discussion that ended up producing some anxiety in the form of frustration.

My frustration turned to excitement when I realized that I was presented with a wonderful opportunity.  I could  practice my Thoughtfulness techniques in a real world situation and again more first-hand experience.

The first thing I did was to check  in with my body by using the ‘Feeling the Feeling’ technique.  I found a place that I could be undisturbed for a period of time and I brought my attention to this sensation that I was experiencing in my stomach and chest area.  There was a kind of tension and energy that I was experiencing in association with the issue.

As I drew my attention inward, I could investigate the feeling more closely and invite dialogue between my body and my conscious mind.  In doing so, and as is often the case, I discovered that the feeling was more about an internal resistance to addressing an issue that it was about the feeling itself.   When I fully allowed the feeling to exist and invited it to reveal itself more completely, it essentially evaporated.

During the same session I was able to acknowledge and identify the specific thought type that we call ‘worry.’  I noticed and acknowledged that I was entertaining thoughts about a possible future time when I would have to deal with undesirable circumstances and challenges.  In noticing this type of thinking, I was able to bring my awareness more into the present moment and distance myself from any potential anxiety that my mind activity was producing.

Stepping back from my own thinking allowed me to the gain perspective I needed to feel more centered and present.

I concluded my session with a slow walk through my garden, finding beauty and peace in my surroundings.  I spent a few minutes noticing the peaceful quality of the plants that are growing around me,  listening to the sounds of the birds,  and noticing the various sensations and effects of the wind and sunlight.

Having a very real,  sensation-based experience helped me to create more space for the present and less space for the past and future.  This “widening of the present”  is one of the primary goals of the Thoughtfulness Practice.

While I wish I could report to you that this one session completely liberated me from the feelings of anxiety due to my recent experience, I can not.  I can honestly say that it was quite helpful and has made it easier for me to engage in my practice on an ongoing basis,  taking small amounts of time and without a great deal of effort.

I was able to reduce my feelings of anxiety without the use of drugs of any kind. The process was completely natural and unlike drugs, produces no side effects.  What is perhaps most exciting to me,  is that I was able to turn a potentially negative experience into an exciting opportunity and I’m actually looking forward to having more opportunities to use these techniques.

I feel like there are very few situations that could exist where I do not have some extremely effective tools that I can use.  These tools are things that I carry with me so they are always available to me.   I’m not only able to develop my set of thoughtfulness techniques, but I can add to them over time and the best part is that they are all completely free.  All I have to do is put them to practice and they will develop and grow on their own.

I hope you will create future challenges with the excitement of a new adventure,  using your thoughtfulness techniques to improve the quality of your life and those around you.

Namaste and Aloha,

-Kalani

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The Key to Thought Types

May 31, 2013

Understanding that we have different types of thoughts, each with its own particular characteristics and qualities, is a key factor in our spiritual evolution.

on a very basic level, we can easily acknowledge 3 categories of thought quite clearly. We can be having a thought about something that occurred in the past, such as a memory or an event we are imagining to have occurred. We can have thoughts that relate to our present moment experiences.  And we can have thoughts about things we imagine will be or could be happening at some point in the future.

Each of us experienced these three thought types. We all have many thoughts about the past present and future throughout the day. Many of these thoughts are repetitive or variations on the same thought, but we will address that in a future discussion. The important point is to recognize that not every thought we have has the same qualities or characteristics and may therefore be useful, or not useful, with regard to reaching various goals as you move throughout your day, creating and shaping your life the way you prefer it to be.

Just as their are three basic thought types with regard to time, or what some call ‘clock time,’ there are three basic feeling states we can attach to any given thought. Generally speaking, a thought could be categorized as  being of a “low” or an undesirable quality,  such as those that cause us to feel sad, anxious, or fearful.  While these emotions are typical and functional, most people would characterize these types of thoughts as undesirable.

At the other end of the emotional spectrum, we find thoughts that most people would characterize as desirable. These are thoughts that conjure emotions and states such as joy, happiness, elation, excitement, and so on.  For the sake of simplicity, we can label these thoughts as ” high.”

The third basic thought quality with regard to emotion or feeling is ‘neutral.’ Neutral thoughts are those that conjure neither “low” or “high”  feeling states. These would most often be  the bulk of  the thoughts we have throughout a typical day.  They include what we might refer to as mundane content, such as thinking about what we might need to do when we are out running errands.

Because we have three thought types that relate to time and three thought types that relate to emotional quality, we end up with a total of nine basic types. We can have thoughts that are low, neutral, and high about the past; low, neutral, and high about the present; and low, neutral, and high about the future.

One of the first steps you can take towards developing your Thoughtfulness Practice, is to start to recognize your thoughts according to the nine thought types identified above.  At this beginning point, it is not necessary or advisable to try to change or manage your thoughts, only to recognize the quality of each thought so that you may become more aware of, and in tune with, the activity of your mind.

Even the simple act of observation can have profound effects on one’s ability to manage emotional reactions and remain in a state of centeredness and contentment.  For now, your  practice is to notice when you are producing thoughts about the past, present, or future, and to notice the emotional quality that is associated with those thoughts, be it low, neutral, or high.  Noticing your own thought activity will be an enlightening experience and give you the perspective you need to make meaningful changes.

As you engage in the practice of observation, resist the temptation to judge your thoughts or assign value to them. Resist also the temptation to judge yourself for having certain types of thoughts, such as those you might classify as ‘negative.’  Self-judgment can result in feelings of frustration, anger, and even shame.  Should you have thoughts of this nature, simply recognize them as negative thoughts in the present moment.  Acknowledge the thought as the observer of the mind.  Know that your mind  is constantly producing many thoughts of different types, some of which you will find  emotionally desirable, and some of which you will find emotionally undesirable.

The goal is not to try to change your thinking to produce only those types of thoughts that you would like to have, but to simply observe the thoughts and feelings that your mind/body  is producing naturally.  Once you are able to observe your own thinking and remain neutral,  you will move to the next step,  which involves selecting which thoughts to use and which thoughts to acknowledge and let go.

Thank you for engaging the Thoughtfulness Practice as a way to help yourself and your community.

Many blessings and much aloha to you, my friends.

Leave your questions and comments below and I will do my best to respond.

- Kalani Das

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The Eternal Moment

May 27, 2013

Some call it “clock time.” The Greeks called it ‘chronos,’ which is a way of measuring time by noting movement. The movement could be the sun passing overhead, the sand in an hourglass gently falling, or the metronomic tick-tock of the hands on a clock. There are many ways humans measure time, but the fact remains that there is only one moment – this one.

Because we have the concept of passing time, we also have the concept of past and future. We learn to think in terms of history and the future. “What we did” or “What we will do.” These are common thoughts and even expected. It’s interesting to pause and consider that, although we can think about the past and future, we can only ever be in the present.

It’s impossible to be in the past or the future. When we think about the past, we are making a guess as to what actually happened. We’re not ever sure because we can’t know everything that is happening from moment to moment. We piece the past together from bits of information that we gather – in the present.

The same holds true for the future. We guess as to what will be coming up. We’re hardly ever right and when the present is not how we imagined it, we often are convinced that something went wrong. “This isn’t how things are supposed to be!” “I thought they would be different – and now I’m upset!”

Yes, we can think of all kinds of scenarios to fill our need to know what happened in the past and what will be happening in the future. The reality is, these are always guesses. Our thoughts about everything, even the present, are collections of ideas, hunches, guesses, approximations, partial truths, etc. We don’t really ‘know’ what is happening, we just imagine what is happening – or what happened or will happen.

Accepting that our life experience is contained within a ‘range of possibilities’ can be liberating. It helps us accept that there are always many ways to view a situation, for example. It helps us accept that others might have a different idea about what is ‘happening.’ It helps us remember that the past, present, and future are all open to interpretation, flexible and able to be shaped by our perspective and orientation.

Most of all, the idea of a flexible reality helps us remain open to the many possibilities that IS the world we live in. It reminds us that we use our minds to conceive of the world, not to ‘know’ it. Knowing is affected by the ‘knower.’ Being, on the other hand, is simply experiencing the sensations of life, not trying to shape a particular reality, but simply sensing that you are part of something – in relationship with everything.

A practice of sensing your own life experience in the eternal moment, not according to any ideas of the ‘passage of time,’  is one way to broaden your presence. Find yourself in this moment, over and over again. When your mind wanders to the past or future, simple say to yourself, “I’m thinking of the past (or future) and I am doing it now.” This simple thought helps to acknowledge the activity of the mind so you (not your mind) can refocus on your current experience of being.

We never try to suppress the activity of the mind. Thought suppression is very difficult for most people and not necessary for achieving presence. Accept that your mind can be very ‘busy’ and produce a great amount of thoughts. This is not a problem unless you decide that it is. Let your mind do what it does and simply choose which of your many thoughts to follow, or not.

As you begin to notice and accept your thoughts, you might find that you do not repeat the same thoughts as much. If you do repeat thoughts (and most people do) it’s OK. Allow the mind to work as hard as it wants without getting swept up in its activity. You are always able to connect with the present moment and experience the beauty and peace that surounds and flows through you.

Blessings to you my friends,

-Kalani

 

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The End of Worry

September 25, 2012

For many of us, worrying is like a given. Everyone seems to do it, and almost no one questions it. Why, when it’s largely agreed-upon that worrying produces little or no value, do so many of us participate in this seemingly unproductive exercise?

To answer this question, we’ll need to define what we mean by the term ‘worrying.’ A simple definition I can offer is this: “Worrying is the combination of imagining an undesirable situation occurring at some point in the future, with the anxiety associated with that thought.”

Right away, we can agree that worrying is a voluntary action of entertaining the idea that, at some point in the future, there will exist a situation that we will experience as not only undesirable, but also as anxiety-producing.

Why, on earth would we do this? What purpose does this serve? One could argue that worrying is our way of making sure that we take steps to prepare for the future. In other words, if we are able to imagine an undesirable scenario at some point in the future, we might be able to prevent it from happening by taking some preventative actions in the present. This seems to be perfectly reasonable; however, what we are really talking about here is preparation, which does not need to include the anxiety that often comes with worry.

Getting back to the definition above, we see that the act of worrying involves imagining an undesirable situation. This, in and of itself, may not cause us to experience anxiety in the present; however, it often does.  The key difference between worrying and simply thinking about the future, lies within our reaction to those thoughts in the present moment.

What happens when we worry, is that we “buy in” to the scenario, as if it were really going to happen. Our mind follows the thought, and in many ways, gets swept up by it. We find ourselves feeling as if we are also becoming swept up, our feet rising off the ground, our emotions running rampant. We respond to our imagined thoughts as if they were real. But of course, they are not.

How do we change this pattern? How do we direct our mind and body back into the present moment, where everything is okay–where we are safe? The answer is simple. We have only to remember that we have thoughts about the future because our mind is trying to help us. Our mind is presenting us with as many different scenarios as possible, as a way to make sure we are prepared for anything that could happen. When we acknowledge that our mind is simply trying to help us, but that not all of our thoughts about the future are valid–or even true, we place ourselves in the position of being able to choose which thoughts to follow, and which ones to experience as merely products of a busy mind.

One way to change your perspective with regard to various thoughts, is to imagine your mind as your helper, which it is. Rather than thinking of your thoughts as “my thoughts,” think of them as “my mind’s thoughts.” Think of the thoughts your mind produces as your mind’s way of trying to help you. After all, the main purpose of your mind is to help you solve problems. The mind seeks out problems to solve. When there is no apparent problem to solve, the mind often creates potential problems to solve. Worrying can be thought of as your mind presenting you with a potential problem to solve. When we experience worrisome thoughts from this perspective, it becomes quite clear that we have a choice to either follow the thought as if it were real, or to simply note the thought and remain grounded in the present moment.

Having an active mind is not a problem. In fact, it’s a blessing. The only way our thoughts can cause us to experience anxiety about the future, is for us to forget that not all of our thoughts are valid with regard to our lives in the present–or the future.

The next time you start experiencing worrisome thoughts, use it as an opportunity to see those thoughts as products of your creative mind. Celebrate the fact that your mind is so creative that it is able to imagine different scenarios occurring at some point in the future–even ones that might cause you anxiety. Do not try to suppress your thoughts. Do not fight your mind. Rather, acknowledge that your mind is simply trying to help you. Be grateful for having this creative resource at your disposal. Say “thank you” to your mind, for offering you so many options. When you do arrive at your imagined ‘point in the future,’ where you will need to make a decision, you will do what is needed with the tools you have at that time. This is all you have ever done–and all you will ever do. This is perfectly natural and all you can expect, since there is no way to address a ‘future problem’ in the present moment.

Meeting challenges does not have to involve feeling upset and powerless. To the contrary, working through challenges can be one of the most invigorating and satisfying things we do. When we are grounded in the present, worrying about the future, becomes a thing of the past.

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Taking Note

March 15, 2012

When you’re reviewing conversations that you had with other people, or thinking about conversations that you will have with them, who are you talking to? In your mind, you’re having a conversation with the other person, but in reality, everything that they “say” and “do” is being projected by your mind. This is self-evident and with the exception of those who may be delusional, most people would agree that they are creating all of the “conversations” that occur in their own minds.

We all engage in these types of conversations and there’s nothing out of the ordinary about this. This type of mental activity is evidence of the helping nature of the mind. As I have previously discussed, the mind is always looking for puzzles to solve and ways to help improve our situation. Internal dialoguing only becomes an issue for someone when they lose their perspective and get swept away in their own mind flow.

If your internal dialoguing is causing you to experience feelings of anxiety, such as increased heart rate, rapid shallow breathing, sweating or nervousness, it may help you to remind yourself of the process in which you are engaging–at the moment that you are doing it. Most people tend to accept internal dialogue as part of everyday life. As I mentioned, there’s nothing out of the ordinary about having internal dialogue. Sometimes; however, internal dialoguing can result in a decrease in the quality of our current experience by distracting us from our “real-time” life.

Becoming aware of the quantity and the quality of our internal dialogue is an important first step to improving the overall quality of your life experience. A very simple action, and something that anyone can do at any time, is to identify when you are having internal dialogue by pausing to take note. All you need to do is say to yourself “I’m dialoguing with myself.” There is no judgment in this statement. The purpose is to simply identify your current state and bring it to your attention in an objective way.

By using the statement “I’m dialoguing with myself” you create the opportunity to examine your own thinking, as if you were a third party observing the conversation between two other people (you, and the person you’re “talking” to). From this perspective, you may gain insight into the nature of the “conversation.”

If your internal dialoguing is bringing about feelings of anxiety, you could simply decide to stop. If you’re like most people, your internal dialogue is probably somewhat repetitive and you tend to have the same or similar conversations with the same people about the same issues. If there is an issue that is ongoing, say between you and someone you work with, and you are engaging in repetitive internal dialoguing with the hopes of finding an acceptable solution, you may wish to take a different approach. Since internal dialoguing is actually a conversation with yourself, it stands to reason that you may never find resolution because the conversation is completely one-sided and does not actually involve the other party, with whom you are working. To move forward, it’s likely the case that you will need to address the issue directly with the other person rather than exclusively within your own mind. In the meantime, it may help to reduce the amount of time that you spend engaged in internal dialogue.

The simple act of identifying a process, such as dialoguing, can have profound and positive effects on your general sense of wellbeing, freeing up valuable mental ‘real estate’ that can be used for more productive and positive experiences. One of the most enjoyable experiences that could take the place of internal dialoguing is to notice the sensation of being alive from within your own body. Focusing on “the evidence of life,” such as your breathing, heartbeat, physical sensations and everything that you experience through your senses, can be a wondrous and enjoyable experience. You do not have to “do” anything to experience the wonder and beauty of life. All you have to do is pay attention to what is.

When we clear away the clutter from our mind, stepping out of our ‘mind flow’ long enough to stand at the bank of the river, and stop trying to make our lives happen by using our minds, we increase the potential for noticing and acknowledging our true nature, which is poised at the edge of evolution. It’s ironic that many of us seem to be under the impression that we can think our way out of the problems of thinking! Having access to a resource such as the human mind is an amazing gift, but sometimes the solution to the problems of thinking can be so simple, they tend to be overlooked or undervalued.

Life is not complicated, nor is it meant to cause anxiety or suffering. Those states generally exist in the domain of thought. The next time you are over thinking, having internal dialogues and feeling swept away in the flow of your own thoughts, pause to notice this with an objective statement. You may even find it useful to say it out loud. “I’m talking to myself.” or “I’m having an internal dialogue.” From a place of objectivity, you can choose to take a different path. Try it and see what happens.

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