Being The Empty Tea Cup

The Zen tea cup story goes a little something like this:

“A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen.

The master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself.

“It’s overfull! No more will go in!” the professor blurted. “You are like this cup,” the master replied, “How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup.”  via RenegadeZen

I am trying to be more humble, more like the empty tea cup. It is forcing me to look at how I relate to the world – things I think I’m knowledgeable about (for me it’s usually work-related things), situations where I think I know what’s up, or where I think I’ve got somebody all figured out (whether or not I actually know that person!) or any number of other ways in which I take for granted my own point of view and my own essential right-ness about things. Continue reading “Being The Empty Tea Cup”

Karen Armstrong on Compassion

Karen Armstrong is a religious historian who has written books like “A History of God.” Her newest book is “Twelve Steps To A Compassionate Life” which I can’t wait to get my grubby hands on. She was on NPR recently to discuss the book and the importance of compassion.  It’s a huge topic and the interview below can only scratch the surface. But what I enjoyed about the conversation is not only the discussion of compassion from a religious/spiritual perspective, but the need for public policy to be informed by it as well.

Developing A Regular Meditation Practice

I was looking at some of the older posts on this blog and when I first launched it I was still off and on with meditation. These days I’m happy to say I do have a regular practice. I meditate on average about 5 times per week for 20 – 30 minutes. In retrospect here are a few of the factors that helped me finally develop a regular practice.

Find the time of day that suits you best

I experimented meditating at various times of the day. I found that in the evening I was apt to fall asleep, or just skip it if I was already too tired. Midday or afternoon meditations were pleasant but on days where I was busy or felt stressed about work, I found that I didn’t allow myself the time to meditate.  Mornings turned out to be the best time for me. I get up, go set the coffee-maker (doing this activity wakes me up so that I don’t fall back asleep on the cushion!), then settle down to meditate. Continue reading “Developing A Regular Meditation Practice”

An Expanding and Contracting Being

I heard a nice thing in meditation group last night.

I’m paraphrasing but this is what was basically said:

“The more you practice meditation, the less focused on your breathing and thinking you are. Eventually you just become an expanding and contracting being.”

I’ve experienced this sensation for a few moments here and there. It’s interesting to see how the mind reacts. Usually something along the lines of  “Wow, I’m not doing this (breathing)…something else is.” The I here is the thinking self that assumes it does everything!

Have you experienced this?

Overcoming Shyness – A Spiritual Approach has been kind enough to publish my guest post about shyness – Thanks!! This is based on my own personal experience in dealing with and working with my shyness.I hope it provides some help and inspiration for others of the shy persuasion 🙂

What Is Your Personality Trying To Tell You? Overcoming Shyness

What is personality?

While each of us is inevitably shaped by our backgrounds, culture, society etc, and we develop preferences, likes, dislikes, interests, and so forth, we also develop what we call personality traits. If someone asks what kind of person you are, you might say, “I’m outgoing” or “I’m shy” or any number of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but equally identifiable qualities that indicate how we present ourselves to the world.

What about ego?

When discussing personality, the word ‘ego’ has it’s own set of connotations. “Egotistical” is in itself a trait that we associate with a certain kind of person that perhaps is very self-absorbed, requires a lot of attention and so on. For the purpose of this article, the concept of ‘ego’ is the false set of ideas and thoughts we believe to contain our “self”.

Head over to to read the full article

Some other articles on shyness you may find interesting:

Think Simple Now – 20 Ways To Attack Shyness

Pick The Brain – Overcoming Shyness

Zen Habits – 8 Essential Tips To Overcoming Shyness

Thinking Small To Act Big – Instant Inspiration

Lately I’ve been finding that just sitting on my balcony for a few minutes, looking at the trees and the sky and the birds, is very peaceful for me. It’s almost like a meditation because it stills the chatter of my thoughts. I get out there and I’m always struck by the vibrant colors of the trees and plants; the unthinking ease with which the hummingbirds fly around, and the beauty of the hills in the distance. Just a few minutes a couple of times a day has proved very calming and inspirational for me. The same thing happens if I am to look at the night sky. This has been a pattern since I was a child. The night sky always inspires a sense of wonder and awe in me as I ponder the impossible vastness of the universe. I was reminded of this the other night. I was sitting in my car waiting for a friend and I took the opportunity to roll down the window and just gaze up at the night sky. The neighborhood is a particularly quiet, suburban one so I could see more stars than when I’m in the city. For me, there is nothing like acknowledging the enormity and beauty of our universe, the stars, planets etc to create a sense of calm. Continue reading “Thinking Small To Act Big – Instant Inspiration”

Stripping Away The Ego and Dealing With The “Unconscious” World

Since reading Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, I’ve definitely been more conscious of my own ego. The thing about it is that, the more you start to peel back the layers and recognize the ego, the more you realize just how ego-driven you are, no matter how conscious, shy, kind etc you may think you are- and therefore just how much work you have to do to become truly ego-free! So I’m realizing just how driven by ego I still am and how vigilant I must be in order to stop it taking over at every turn.I do generally consider myself to be more conscious than average. I consider other people’s feelings, I’m respectful of others, I try to treat people without judgment etc. However, what I’ve noticed about myself is that when I encounter people who are blatantly disrespectful or selfish, it really gets to me and elicits a lot of angry or annoyed thoughts. It’s not just because it represents an attack on my identity in some way because these things anger me even when they are not directed AT me, for example, when I see them happening around me to other people. Continue reading “Stripping Away The Ego and Dealing With The “Unconscious” World”

What Is The Ego?

What Is The Ego?

I’ve been reading Eckhart Tolle’s latest book “A New Earth” and it’s been very inspiring. This man is truly enlightened, and once you begin to delve into the book and his ideas, it becomes clear that there is a distinction between true spiritual leaders like himself & Dr Wayne Dyer, and the “motivational coaches” such as James Ray and others. The distinction I would make is that while Ray and others focus on helping you get what you want in your life, in a spiritual manner, Tolle is talking about a much deeper understanding of spirituality and the connection between yourself and the world and the rest of humanity. I’m not knocking one approach over the other – I’ve found a lot of Ray’s writing to be very helpful and motivational and for me, as I’m sure with others, it provides a gateway into a deeper spiritual life which Tolle & Dyer discuss in more depth.

One of the main concepts that Tolle discusses in the book, is the distinction between our ego, and our true self or spirit. In order to break it down, I hope I’m not butchering his concepts too much 😉

Continue reading “What Is The Ego?”

5 Ways I Know I Am Changing For The Better

Well let me first warn you, I don’t have one of those ‘sales letter’ pitches where I can astound you with tales of how much money I’ve ‘manifested’ in the first several weeks of following x, y or z regimen. No, nothing so glamorous.

But what I’m realizing is that this personal development stuff is work which pays off with small victories at first, and the more you notice them, the more rewarding it becomes. Sounds ironic because I believe the ultimate goal is to just let go and return to ‘being’ which by all accounts is the most effortless way. But the path to it – not so easy when you’re fighting against 20+ years of programmed thoughts and behavior! Some days you just don’t want to do it. Sometimes you want to wallow in a lazy, de-motivated mindset, because it’s just easier – it’s the way you’ve been programmed. And sometimes that’s ok.

But, as I always say, it’s like going to the gym. The more you use certain muscles the easier it becomes and once you start seeing results the easier it is to motivate yourself. So while I can’t point to some huge quantifiable change, I can see the pointers along the way.

I’ll share some with you here – perhaps they will help you be more observant of your own small victories which will fuel your motivational fire.

Continue reading “5 Ways I Know I Am Changing For The Better”

10 Tips For Getting (And Staying) On The Path To Positive Change

10 Tips For Getting (And Staying) On The Path To Positive Change

Writing this blog has helped me become a little more analytical of my own development – for the purpose of my own clarification and also to perhaps provide more solid reading for others. So as I sit here today and think about how I’m becoming a different person – more organized, more productive, happier, more motivated – I’m trying to pinpoint the things that have helped me along the way. So here are some tips to help get you and keep you on the path.

1) Read– I’ve read, and continue to read inspiring books (you can find some here) and keep up to date on relevant blogs (e.g Steve Pavlina, Zen Habits, Trizle, etc) that help me keep my thoughts on track. These should not be an excuse to procrastinate but the opposite – a motivational tool. By immersing yourself in new ways of thinking positively, you’ll challenge your mind and also find the things that resonate the most for you. After a while you realize a lot of personal development stuff is repeating the same ideas over and over, but its about finding the ideas and ways of expressing them that have the most impact for you. Continue reading “10 Tips For Getting (And Staying) On The Path To Positive Change”

Are you seeing 11:11 ?

This is weird. For the past couple of months I’ve been happening to look at the clock at times when the numbers are all the same, e.g 2:22 and in particular I’ve been noticing 11:11 a lot. I’m not one to be overly superstitious or read meaning into every little thing, so I didn’t think much more of it than a quirky coincidence. Then, a couple of days ago, this article was delivered to my Inbox via the excellent DailyOM. I’ve never been that much into numerology, but this definitely has piqued my interest. Anyone else noticing such repeating patterns?