How do You Measure Progress Along Your Path?

How do You Measure Progress Along Your Path?

Is it what you do or what you don’t do


Normally an internal or external stimulus arises and we are immediately reacting to it with self-criticism, shame, anger, joy. We are always in resistance with what is present and either want more or less of it. We are present with desire or aversion. This is the most obvious reaction to be aware of.

As we become more mindful there is a change in our relationship with the present moment. The initial reactive anger, sadness, shame, fear are present but one is able to be present with awareness, openness, allowing and just letting it be. One is following the middle way with nothing to do or not do. One can become aware of this lack of reaction to the present moment experience.

Ultimately, we progress to the point that we don’t even create an initial reactive response and creation of a sense of self to what is present in the moment. One is just present with what is independent of what one needs it to be, wants it to be and believes it to be. This non-reaction is the most difficult to be aware of as there is no sense of self that is in conflict with what is present. There is nothing to react to and nothing that reacts to it.

One needs to deliberately look for this. I become aware of what I don’t do when I am with other people who are reacting to what is present and I don’t even see that there is a problem. It is so informative to look to see what you don’t do!

by Dr. Phil Blustein
Jan. 4, 2024

Why do You Meditate?

Why do You Meditate?


Ask yourself the question: “Is meditation important?” The answer may be yes but I believe that for many of us: “It is really NOT that important!” We may be experimenting with this idea of meditation because someone says it is helpful or one learned about it from a news article or tv program. It is the current fad thing to do.

One believes that meditation will help with one’s anxiety and stress or quiet one’s thinking mind. These aspects are true but meditation can offer a lot more and recognizing that may be motivating to practice.

It changes the function of our brain to a top down rather than a bottom up approach. The pre-frontal cortex that is responsible for attention and self-regulation becomes more dominant than the amygdala that is the centre of fear. As we put in the practice the practice does us. We become more self-regulated. There is less that triggers us, we don’t react so violently and we recover quicker. We develop greater resilience. We become spontaneously and innately joyful independent of some external object or experience to make us happy. We experience a greater capacity for awareness. In seeing the everchanging nature of the breath and its impermanence we develop a greater insight into the true nature of reality that allows one to dis-identify with the self leading to a decrease in our suffering! A unified concentrated mind slows down the baseline cognitive activity allowing one to more clearly see experience with insight. With continual focus on one object we are less likely to rest in our Default Mode Network that is important in the creation of self and rumination. Our tendencies for greed, hatred and delusion decrease. As we become less identified with our sense of self we don’t need to defend our wounded ego as much. This opens one up to seeing the interdependence and interconnectedness of existence with a resultant greater compassion and empathy.

In appreciating the multiple benefits of meditation this can be the impetus for developing a more consistent and dedicated practice.

by Dr. Phil Blustein
Dec. 21, 2023

Why do You Get Up in the Morning?

Why do You Get Up in the Morning?

Is It Just to P?

Why do you get up in the morning? Is it to engage in the P’s of everyday activities that include People, Play and sense of Purpose in what you do that gives meaning to one’s life?

Do you connect with people out of a desire for intimate connection, capacity for meaningful conversation and to engage in similar interests or is it a need to prevent loneliness, obtain financial, technical or living support, to satisfy societal expectations of marriage and having children, or to share parenting?

Do you play in whatever way that means because it satisfies a personal passion, gives you joy or keeps you healthy or is it about the satisfaction of sensual desires through the material possessions and actions that society says you should own or do? To own a big house, have fashionable clothes, technology, an expensive car or go on an exotic vacation? To watch sport all day on the TV? Go out for a good meal at a restaurant? Play golf or ski? Listen to the current popular musician or go to their concert? To buy name brand merchandise because it makes you feel important and part of a larger group? Do these activities define who you believe you should be?

Do you go to work just to earn a living so that you can survive or if you are lucky, to enjoy a lifestyle that supports your desire for a big house, great vacation or material possession or does work or volunteering fulfill a meaningful need to express your talent or serve?

This is not to deny that we live in this world and pleasure from the things we do and relationships we have is important. But is there also a reason for existence that is greater than this need for satisfaction of sensual desires and to engage in activities that give life meaning? I believe it is to explore and examine the important question of Purpose beyond the daily activities of existence. Who am I and what am I supposed to do with this gift of life? What is the meaning of life? What is this all about? Living a meaningful life is different than exploring what is the Purpose or meaning of life.

I see it as the opportunity to create the conditions for a life of exploration, discovery and integration of who we are leading to wholeness and skillful action. Can one cultivate one’s authentic self? The capacity to bring awareness to and expression of what is one’s unique gift and talent in being human. Whether it is an expression of an athletic, artistic, dramatic, intellectual or caregiving calling. Can one cultivate one’s transcendent self? The ability to move beyond one’s conditioned constructed sense of self to the unconditioned presence of mindfulness that has innate compassion and wisdom. Can one cultivate one’s human self? The ability to recognize and appreciate the magic and mystery of being human in one’s ability to just see, hear, taste, touch, smell, and think. And also to see this same beauty in the animal and natural realm.

As Socrates said: “An unexamined life is not worth living.”

Can we integrate these various aspects of who we are and be present in life beyond one’s defended ego so that we can be in a mindful relationship with every experience and act from a place of wisdom, compassion, interconnectedness, interdependence, joy independent of external experience, non-harming, kindness, generosity and respect?

by Dr. Phil Blustein
Dec. 8, 2023

THE TRAGEDY OF EXISTENCE IS NOT THE CERTAINTY OF DEATH BUT THE FEAR OF FULLY LIVING ONE’S DYING LIFE

THE TRAGEDY OF EXISTENCE IS NOT THE CERTAINTY OF DEATH BUT THE FEAR OF FULLY LIVING ONE’S DYING LIFE

It is often said the greatest existential fear we have as being humans is the fear of death. However, is this the greatest tragedy of existence? Death is inevitable. This cannot change. Why waste one’s time in resistance of this inevitability. It is futile!

The real tragedy of existence is not the certainty of death but the fear of fully living one’s dying life. What does a dying life mean? The commonest cause of death is birth. Once you are born one is on the inevitable journey to death. Every moment is bringing one closer to death. We are always in the process of dying. I view dying time not just when one is in the actual physical process of dying but the time we live right now. To reflect as one having a dying life may sound morbid but it is also a wonderful opportunity to have a constant reminder that there is only so much time one has and it is important to live it fully.

Why are we frightened to live our life? We are trapped by our desire each moment to meet subconscious unmet conditioned psychological needs of our wounded inner child. We live a life of trying to compensate for perceived inadequacy and deficiency. We may view ourselves as being successful, independent and adult through the roles we assume and our material possessions. These are just masks that hide the calling of our child to feel safe, loved and worthy. We feel scared and powerless to live a life beyond the limitations of our personal narrative.

We live a life trapped by the uncritical adherence to live one’s life according to certain societal, religious, political, gender, educational, profession, age or race beliefs. To be unique and step out of the collective consciousness is a threat to one’s safety and the cohesiveness of the group.

We fail to recognize and express the potential of our unique innate gifts and passions and the magic of being human.

What fabricated truths do you live your life by?

We live a life limited by who we believe we need to be
Rather than who we are meant to be.

by Dr. Phil Blustein
Nov. 17, 2023

P’s OF OF A MEANINGFUL LIFE

P’s OF OF A MEANINGFUL LIFE

We often talk about the meaning of life that is indicative of what you see as the purpose of one’s existence. However, there is also the consideration of living a life of meaning, of fulfillment. I see this as an expression of the P’s!

PEOPLE
We are social animals and developing relationships with other is essential. It fosters a connection to help overcome loneliness and depression, allows for opportunities to express compassion, openness of heart and support and provides a forum to exchange and learn new ideas. We are so busy in our life that it can be difficult to find the time to create meaningful relationships.

Don’t wait. Find the time to connect with other.

PLAY
We are so driven as a society to believe that we need the big house, more exotic holiday, faster car, to go to the best and most expensive restaurant, up to date technology, fashionable clothing, to join the right club etc. In order to do this, we sacrifice play in order to work. What a mistake. We need to set the right priorities to have the balance between work and play. We cannot just be defined by the roles we assume.

What do you enjoy playing at? Do you make the time to do it?

PURPOSE
Personal
What do you believe is important to you? That gives you a sense of purpose? We are meaning making creatures! There is an innate drive to understand our life. We conventionally feel that there needs to be some meaning in our life to make it all worthwhile.

What overarching questions do you have about your existence? What passion or gift lives through you calling to be heard? Do you recognize, honor and cultivate it?

Read, watch videos, listen to podcasts, join groups, take courses and have discussions with your friends about your questions of life.

Public
What is also important is to cultivate a sense of purpose for how one can be in a skillful relationship with other ie. people, animals and the environment. An attitude of respect, kindness, compassion, non-harming and generosity is needed.

PRACTICE
To live a meaningful life requires effort to bring richness to it. Start your day by reflecting on what is meaningful to you as it relates to the P’s and how are you going to bring them into your life. At the end of the day reflect on how successful you were in doing this.

What also supports the P’s of a meaningful life is an acknowledgment and expression of gratitude for all the wonderful things in your life.

by Dr. Phil Blustein
Nov. 2, 2023