EVOLVE – Life Is Now

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Immerse yourself in the rapture of music, you know what you love. Go there. Tend to each note, each cord, rising up from silence and dissolving again.

Vibrating strings draw us into this spacious resonance of the heart.

The body becomes light as the sky and you, one with the great musician, who is even now singing us into existence. – Radiance Sutras

This reading, from the radiance sutras, asks us to live in the present moment more deeply by using our senses and allowing ourselves to be enraptured by the continuous stream of input we receive from moment to moment.

As humans, we are conditioned to identify with thoughts. We are predisposed to believing that we can think our world into existence. But with thousands of years of history behind us, many struggle with simple questions, such as, “What is the meaning of life?”

Wisdom suggests that we bring meaning into our lives as a conscious practice, driven by our in-the-moment experiences. Our thoughts and beliefs about the world, however fascinating or perplexing, exist solely within the confines of our own minds. What is real, is waiting to be experienced–and can only be experienced through the senses. Life doesn’t happen in the past. It doesn’t happen later. It happens now.

Life is Now.

We are conditioned from childhood to identify with our minds. Soon after we acquire enough skills for basic communication, we are given problems to solve, riddles to answer, and we receive praise for our performance. We learn to identify our self-worth, in part, by the grades we receive in school and through praise from our and parents and peers. Our ability to solve problems, to identify, remember, and figure things out, becomes not simply a means to achieving quality of life, but a way for each of us to quantify our own value, and the value of others.

When the ego becomes associated with problem-solving, the status and importance of thinking can easily move from that of helper to that of ruler. Instead of using our minds to bring us more satisfaction, we allow ourselves to become slaves to the very questions that were created by our minds–or the minds of others. Does the fact that a question exists mean that there is an answer, or is the question itself flawed?

Consider for a moment, that humans are the only animals that create puzzles to be solved. So highly regarded is the human ability for thinking, that we create books of problems, and even television programs, to prove our mental abilities, to ourselves and each other. We not only seek out problems to solve, we take pride in having solved them. What does this tell us about the need for the mind and ego to consume problems? Does solving problems lead to greater life satisfaction – or is there a simpler way–a more direct path to joy.

Is it rational to presume that we can think our way through problems of the mind? Is it reasonable to assume that we can use the same tool to fix a problem that we used to create it? Could asking a question such as, “What is the meaning of life?” be just another way to feed the mind a puzzle, one that has no absolute answer. Is there any evidence to demonstrate that thinking is a reliable way to enhance your life experience? Does spending great amounts of time thinking about life’s problems often result in joy? Consider those times when you feel most satisfied, joyful, or at peace. Are you thinking or are you experiencing? Are you planning or are you doing?

Spiritual teachers throughout the ages point us not in the direction of contemplation as much as towards our own life experience. Be here now. I am that I am. Attend to this moment. How should we find meaning in our lives? The answer is simple. Pay attention. Pay attention, not to the internal process of thinking, but to your surroundings. Listen to the sounds, Take in the sites, enjoy the smells, tastes, and textures of the universe at play.

People talk about mind and ego. Let’s just drop this whole conversation. Consider instead: There is no mind. There is no ego. There is only incandescent reality at play, beckoning. – Radiance Sutras

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EVOLVE – Experience Being

Splash17When we suspend labeling, categorizing, associating, and judging, we open up the possibility for greater awareness of being. Being or "experiencing the now" is one of the goals of a medication or mindfulness practice. Wherever you are, you always have the potential for experiencing the world as it is and fastening feelings of wonderment and connectedness to all that is. In this episode, Kalani discusses ways to deepen your life experience by using your senses and managing thoughts that can distract you from reaching this simple and profound goal. Share this show with anyone you think could benefit.

 

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Music for this episode by Layne Redmond, Greg Ellis, and Azam Ali. Used with permission.

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EVOLVE – Liberating the Soul

Splash13Kalani 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.

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EVOLVE – Seeing as New

Splash10Kalani 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.

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EVOLVE – Spirituality

Splash17Kalani 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.

This podcast features music by Azam Ali, Greg Ellis and Layne Redmond & Tommy Brunjes.

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EVOLVE – The Creative Mind

Splash15Your 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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EVOLVE – The Crossroads

Splash16Kalani 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.

This podcast features music by Azam Ali & Greg Ellis

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A Wonderful Opportunity

Splash12Thoughtfulness is the practice of creating a functional relationship with one's mind for the purpose of enhancing one's life experience. This podcast and articles have one goal in mind: To help people life more fully and with more ease and joy. The KEYS are accessible and easy to understand, yet there are some fundamental shifts in thinking and perspective that will help anyone make the shift. Thoughtfulness is not a religion or dogma. It is something that anyone can learn to incorporate into their lives, religious or not.

We all have the ability, in this moment, to make profound and meaningful changes in the way we use our minds. We don't have to live with fears and worries. We don't have to battle our minds for control over our lives. Each of us has the ability to use his or her mind in a way that creates harmony and peace. The practices are not difficult or complex. There is no hierarchy. There is no long path with multiple levels. Anyone can do this and they can do it now.

Enjoy the EVOLVE Podcast from Kalani Das.

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The Key to Thought Types

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

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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