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.
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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.
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Namaste and Aloha ~
“You are Loved.”
August 23, 2013
Kalani talks about developing a spiritual practice, which is a personal and unique approach to increasing one’s own experience of oneness, contentment, and joy. This talk is about finding new ways to approach your spiritual practice while fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment for the diverse range of practices that make up the global spiritual community.
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Namaste and Aloha ~
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.
August 14, 2013
Kalani Das explores spirituality, wellness, mindfulness, and the Thoughtfulness Practice in this audio series. In this introduction to the series,”The Crossroads,” Kalani talks about the current need for a new perspective on how we use our minds, aimed at improving the lives of individuals, communities, and the world as a whole.
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,
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
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,
April 4, 2013
It’s true. You are a miracle. And yet, so many people consider themselves to be ordinary or even unworthy of love.
How do we know that you are a miracle?
We only need to notice what is.
Why are you a miracle?
- You are a miracle because for billions of years, you were not here, and now you are.
- You are a miracle because out of billions of people, there is only one YOU.
- You are a miracle because everything in your entire body used to be part of the Earth.
- You are a miracle because everything in your body is still part of the Earth!
- You are a miracle because your mind is the most advanced technology in existence.
- You are a miracle because you have the potential to create something that has never existed before.
- You are a miracle because you have the ability to manifest your dreams.
Out of all the possible ways that the stuff of the universe could have taken form (been manifested), it comes together to form YOU – at least for a while. This is an incredible gift and an opportunity for you to experience the miracle of life – the miracle of creation.
You may feel down, sad, or even depressed at time. You may be hurt, physically, emotionally, or even spiritually. You may be facing challenges that make it difficult to fully appreciate the miracle that is you, but you still can. You can find a way to remember what you are. And that simple act will transform your life experience, no matter what it is.
Your Thoughtfulness Practice
Pause and take time to consider your life as an amazing gift that has been given to you to keep – for a little while. Meditate on the fact that you are alive, animated, and earthly. Yes – You are an earthly being having a spiritual experience. How amazing!
You are a miracle.
and you are loved.
March 3, 2013
Have you considered how you are using your mind? This might seem like an odd question, but it’s an important one to consider. We all have the potential to use our minds in a number of different ways. We can using it to recall events and feelings from the past. We can using it to help us in the present moment. And we can using it to imagine what will happen in the future.
How are you using your mind?
Do you use it to focus on the past, the present, or the future? Do you use it to think about ‘positve’ things, ‘negative’ things, or just things? What feelings does your thinking produce most of the time? Do your thoughts often leave you feeling uneasy or even in a state of anxiety? Or do they leave you feeling uplifted and optimistic?
If we wanted to create a picture or map of where our minds could ‘be’ with regard to time and emotions, we could use something like a tic-tac-toe grid. Drawing two vertical and two horizontal lines, we create nine boxes. Each box represents a possible state of mind. The column on the left represents thoughts about the past. The center column represents thoughts about the present, and the right column represents thoughts about the future. The top row represents thoughts that move our mood or feeling in a direction we might describe as ‘happy’ or positive. We will label those as “high.” The middle row represents neutral feelings. The bottom row represents ‘negative’ or undesirable feelings. We will label those as “low.”
Taking a look at the bottom row, from left to right the boxes or thinking states represent the ‘past-low’ state (regret or mourning), ‘present-low’ (anxiety or sadness), and ‘future-low’ (worry or fear). The middle row represents neutral feelings about events in the past, present, and future. The top row represents ‘past-high’ (good times), ‘present-high,’ and ‘future-high’ (anticipation of something desirable).
We can spend “time” in any of these nine areas. Most people tend to spend the majority of their time in the neutral past, present and future – with frequent visits to all three elevated times and a little time spent in the ‘low’ row. Spending time in the low row, either thinking about the ‘bad-things’ that happened in the past, or fearful of what the future may bring, can leave one feeling down or depleted.
People who might be described as “eternal optimists’ spend a majority of their time in the elevated row, remembering happy times or looking forward to what they imagine will be good times in the future. Someone who might be described as ‘bi-polar’ might see their thinking pendulum move up and down in the right column where ‘future-high’ thoughts bring optimism and a sense that “everything will be fantastic in the future” and ‘future low’ thoughts make it pointless to get out of bed in the morning.
Most people have all nine thought types throughout the day. Becoming aware of your thought types is one of the first steps in learning how to better use your mind. For example, when you spend a lot of time in the left column (past), you are not spending as much time noticing what is happening in the present or considering where you want to be in the future. Your ‘present’ becomes smaller as a result of your ‘past’ taking up so much mental space. When you spend a lot of time in the right column (future), your life might become more about your dreams and chasing those ‘dangling carrots of success,’ possibly setting you up for what is commonly referred to as a ‘dose of reality.’
Because life is now, an ideal place to focus your thinking is in the center column, the present. Thinking about the present doesn’t mean that you don’t think about the past or future. It does mean that when you do think about those times, you do so from a ‘centeredness’ in the moment. You spend less time thinking about the past and future, and more time noticing and considering that which is happening in the present moment. By spending more time in the present, you deepen your connection to all that is and have the potential to raise your awareness of, and appreciation for, life itself. Why? Because there is no life experience in that past or future. We can think about life in the past or future, but those thoughts are simply an abstraction, a collection of memories or ideas. Life is, and will only ever be, happening in the present. This is why it’s important to spend your time in it!
Why do older adults sometimes seem to spend the majority of their time focused on the past? It’s likely because they prefer it to the present. In the past, things were better. They could do more and felt more important. They miss those feelings and want to re-capture them. They avoid the present because it doesn’t seem as good as the past.
When times are difficult, people sometimes focus their thinking on the future, imagining better times ahead, including the ‘afterlife.’ This is another way to avoid the present moment and therefore life itself.
When you can identify your thinking patterns, in a nonjudgemental and objective way, you can create a realistic picture of how you are using your mind. From there, you can make changes that will allow you to use your mind in ways that serve your goals, rather than being subjected to the whims of your mind. You get to choose where you spend your time, not your mind.
Your Thoughtfulness Practice
Use the above nine categories of thought to take note of how you are currently using your mind. Discover what your thought patters are by saying to yourself “I am thinking about something from the [past, present, future] and I’m feeling [low, natural, high] about it.”
When you find yourself caught up in thoughts about the past or future, simply take note, without judgement, and return to something in the present. For example, when you find yourself day dreaming about the future, come back to something that will ground you in the present, such as your breath or observing something in your immediate environment. A very easy practice to return to the present involves feeling the sensation of being alive from within your body. See the article “Feeling the Feeling.”
As you learn to identify your thought-type patterns, you will come to form a picture of how you are currently using your mind. This will allow you to make informed changes, such as moving to reduce or extinguish worry. Worry is thinking in the low future. Noticing thinking time in the low-future is the first step. Moving back to the present is the second step.
Moving back to the present, from either past or the future thoughts is as simple as engaging in a sensory practice that is rooted in a present happening. Noticing the qualities of the “here and now”; Sensing your ‘beingness’; and Connecting with the qualities of “oneness” inherent in all things, are all ways to increase your presence in the present.
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