Friday, July 27, 2012

Multiple Intelligences....Ommmmmm

I have been trying to incorporate a daily meditation practice into my life, been trying for at least ten years. I start, reap the benefits, and somewhere down the road life changes and the practice is left in a ditch. Let's see, what other excuses can I come up with? I can't sit still for very mind races...I fall asleep. All of these have happened, even when I was in the midst of a daily practice (they call it practice for a reason.) So the excuses take over and eventually I sit in front of the computer, blogging about how I need to start meditating.

I just finished up a summer program, working with a group of young people transitioning to high school. On one of the days we all filled out questionnaires to discover what our learning styles were. This activitity took our answers and tallied them to pinpoint whether we were auditory, kinesthetic, or visual learners. Also, whether we were musical, mathematical, interpersonal or intrapersonal learners. We were all a mixture of the styles, I scored high in the visual, verbal, musical and intrapersonal categories. It helped to explain how best I learn, there were some surprises, but most I had discovered when things didn't work out in a classroom.

Taking this quiz a bit further, I wonder, if we all have strengths in our learning styles, might we all have different ways in which we have a higher success rate with one meditation style versus another? I run every day, it feels great, and I have time to work through life situations with which I might be concerned. The steady even rhythm of my footfall lures me into a meditative state. So maybe I am actually mediating, it just looks different than a Tibetan monk's practice. Some people might need music, others a lap pool. Anything that quiets the mind so that a state of peace can enter. The word meditation itself derives from the 13th century, "discourse on a subject," from meditari "to meditate, to think over, consider." Today I meditate on the many styles of meditation that are available to me. It's ok, I am doing it right, I just need do it.   

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Humility is Humorous, pass it on...

This morning I was reading and stumbled upon a concept that fascinated me. The anonymous writer was talking about humility and humor in concordance with a spiritual tradition, and said that both words had the same root. My juices were flowing, just how can I connect the two words? I would write about it and during the process of writing I could stumble upon some useful nugget that would help me to grasp the difficult concept of humility, one with which I have always struggled. Just how does one become humble? It is a goal to strive for, it is one I would love to say I have accomplished, cross it off my bucket list (swim with dolphins, travel to Asia, run a triathlon, become humble, check.) So I started to do some research, and grabbed my trusty Oxford English Dictionary. I first looked up "humor" and was pulled back through the centuries to the fourteenth. "In ancient and mediæval physiology, one of the four chief fluids ( cardinal humours ) of the body (blood, phlegm, choler, and melancholy or black choler), by the relative proportions of which a person's physical and mental qualities and disposition were held to be determined." In Medieval times humor was any liquid or flowing substance. Our present day sense of humor derives from this concept that one's disposition had something to do with the fluid in one's body. Sounds delicious. I then looked up humble and humility. Different root, from the Latin humilitāt-em, versus the Latin ūmōr-em.

The OED defines humility as, "[t]he quality of being humble or having a lowly opinion of oneself; meekness, lowliness, humbleness: the opposite of pride or haughtiness." I am not sure whether I agree with the OED on this one. Having a lowly opinion of oneself does not sound like it would help me with life's difficulties. To be humble one does not have to lack any sort of self esteem. But can I laugh at myself when I make a mistake instead of wallowing in self condemnation, as if the veins of my body were pulsing with black sludge? Ok, that doesn't quite work, sounds melodramatic. I still like the Medieval concept though, what is inside me is projected out to the world. If I am negative, prideful, angry or just plain mean, somehow those around me will be hit with these energies. But if I can fill myself with Spirit, exude laughter and joy, I am sure it will make its way around. But for today I need to be humble enough to admit that I am still confused. Might as well enjoy it.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


“You must read, you must persevere, you must sit up nights, you must inquire, and exert the utmost power of your mind. If one way does not lead to the desired meaning, take another; if obstacles arise, then still another; until, if your strength holds out, you will find that clear which at first looked dark.” Giovanni Boccaccio