10 Minutes Of Meditation To Counter Daily Stress

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One of the most frequent objections I hear from people who believe they ought to meditate regularly, but don’t, is: “I don’t have time to meditate.”

How Do I Find Time to Meditate?

“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”

So where can we find time for something so important? Given the importance of meditation, the first thing to decide is not whether or not you are going to meditate, but when. In other words, take a determination, which, incidentally, is the first of Shiva’s Seven Secrets of Success. And he’s the one who pretty much invented meditation, so he should know.

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” – Richard Feynman

How Long Do You Need to Meditate?

Don’t make it too hard for yourself. You don’t have to start out meditating for big chunks of time. Ten minutes, twice a day, would be a great start.

You can even start with two minutes. Seriously. The daughter of a friend of mine did this. Her dad meditated, and she finally accepted that she needed to as well, but didn’t think she had time. So she started with two minutes, and increased it one minute at a time. Now she happily meditates regularly for half an hour, and swears it has transformed her life.

Where are those ten minutes?

Stephen Covey in his book, First Things First, teaches a great exercise where you fill a jar first with big rocks, then small rocks, then sand and then water. And each time you think there is no more space, you discover there actually is. I tried this and it really works. If you don’t have time to read this rather long and time consuming book, this is the main take-away. I just saved you eight hours. Use it to meditate.

The average day is not a solid wall of activity—it’s more like Swiss cheese. The key to finding a little bit of personal time is to look for the small pockets of air. Remember, we’re talking about only a few minutes at a time.

I know busy executives and single mothers who have not missed their meditation in twenty-five years.  If you make meditation a priority, you will do it. Remember that even just a few minutes of meditation is much better than none. Regularity is the key.

Meditation Creates More time. It’s Magic!

In life’s paradoxical way, when we spend time meditating on a regular basis, we actually have more time.

I now sleep six hours a night – I find it plenty. Before I started meditating regularly, I needed eight hours sleep. Multiply that by 40 years! Of course I also meditate at least two to three hours a day, which means I come out of it spending maximum one hour extra on a really solid meditation practice.

In meditation, we are in a state of restful alertness that is extremely refreshing for the body and mind. As people stick with their meditation ritual, they notice that they are able to accomplish more while doing less. Like Bruce Lee.

Protagonist pt. 2 (Character CLA)

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From a lowly farm boy to a Jedi knight in STAR WARS or a bumbling high school chemistry teacher to a psychotic drug lord in BREAKING BAD, characters experience change. This change, known as a ‘character arc’, can be measured on different levels. The meter stick I use as a writer and teacher is causal layered analysis (CLA) as pioneered by futurist and academic, Sohail Inayatullah. CLA is comprised of four levels of understanding, which when employed can help people identify guiding narratives that affect behavior, performance and future outcomes.

At the first level of CLA there is the litany. This is the surface level event. In scriptwriting the unit of measurement for any film is action. Each action is a note on sheet music that when combined composes a musical piece. So, the first layer of observing character is viewing what actions the character takes. In situation A, a character kills a man. In B, a character kisses a woman. In C, character cries, so on and so forth. These are all actions written into a script to make up the story of the film. The guiding question at this level is: what? i.e. what happens?

But, what lies beneath the action taking. Let’s take the elevator down, guided by the question of why? Why did the character take that action? The first layer down from litany in CLA is the systemic layer. What system is in place to create the litany. For character this is the layer of decision. He or she must make conscious decisions. Ideally these decisions are made in cases of dilemma where the character is forced to chose between two deviant paths. Whatever choice they make plays out in their actions.

As a storyteller or dungeon master (for those of us who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s) our job is to place characters in ever more complex dilemmas. This will force a character to make harder decisions and take more drastic actions. Its a bit like being in a lab and experimenting with the way subjects react to various stimuli or diverse environments. When placed in container A, the rat does X. When placed in that container B, the rat does Y. But what guides the decisions of these lab rats or story heroes?


Taking the elevator down another level we reach what in CLA world be the level of worldview. Surely, there are many factors, which influence the decision making process. i.e. mood, emotion, intuition, etc. But, most importantly is ‘value’. What values does a character hold that will enable him/her to make a certain decision? If it is money, the character would decide to take a job over a relationship. If it is love (as in romantic or familial love) they may turn down the job offer if it will create problems in their relationship. The decision they make and action they take tells us something about what it is the character values.

The final question which brings the elevator to the bottom floor is: who? The fourth layer of CLA is that of myth/metaphor. This is the deepest layer of character. True character or deep character as Robert Mckee calls it. Who is this person under pressure? I mean, who are they REALLY? Only when their values are challenged through conflict and dilemma can we really know. And this is the function of plot, to challenge character. You think you’re this person? Really? Well, under these circumstance are you really that person? Think again.

Professor Inayatullah considers metaphors as the vehicles of deep myths. The great thing about vehicles is that they tell a story in and of themselves and are understood a priori. The moment you hear Merlin, the wizard you understand certain qualities associated like: “magic, mastery, wisdom, guidance, etc.” When the good wizard is the archetype of a character, we know that they will value wisdom, truth, compassion over all else and act accordingly. The same goes for the ruler, the guardian, the trickster, the lover, etc. Someone can identify themselves as Indian Jones, which means that they value adventure, risk, knowledge, bravery, etc. Or someone can identify themselves with “the Jewish mother”, which means they value family, food, children, safety, tradition, etc.” The role of the plot in any well told story is to challenge the inner narrative of the character. There is ongoing war between internal selves, which fight for dominance. The crisis and climax, which will be discussed in a subsequent post, is usually when one self triumphs over another.

Professor Inayatullah’s work with CLA is to get people to identify what story guides their behavior and empower people to change that archetype or story if it does not serve them. As storytellers, our job is to do something quite similar. By putting a protagonist is situations of dilemma, we expose the complexity of their universe and force small amounts of change through decision and action.

photo by Ralph Rama Huber

Protagonist pt. 1 (Identification)

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Something that not many people know about me is that when I was five
years old I was a dog for one week. It’s true. I went to see the movie
Lady and the Tramp and for seven days afterward I barked at cars and
sniffed fire hydrants. Until, of course, I went to see An American
Tail and became a lonely mouse searching for my family. But there was
one film character whom I identified with as a child that has never
left me. His name is Bastion.

A creative boy with an imaginative mind, Bastion is told by his
serious father that he must “grow up” and stop fantasizing. Faced with
the death of his inner world, Bastion’s subconscious embarks on a
journey that plays out in the reading of a magical book: The
Never-Ending Story. (Also the title of the film) Continue reading

Love is the Seventh Wave

Today I’m particularly thankful to be alive because yesterday I very nearly drowned.

WAves crashing

The waves here in Mexico can come in pretty big with a fierce undertow and the beach where we are staying is known to be dangerous. We were swimming close to shore and the surf seemed sizeable but manageable. But then a huge wave came in – at least eight feet. I dived under it but the force of the water spun me around and held me down for a while and when I surfaced I was out of breath. Only to see another huge wave bearing down on me. The undertow dragged me further out and I had to dive under that wave as well. Then came another. Now it was getting difficult. Each time I came to the surface I felt more tired and I just had a couple of seconds to catch my breath before the next mountain of water fell on me. There was no way I could swim back towards the shore so long as these big waves kept coming. I was barely able to keep my head above water and I was tiring fast. Continue reading

The Weird World of Quanta

imagesQuanta are simply the discontinuous aspect of physical reality or in other words the smallest packets of mass and energy that govern all the interactions occurring at the micro scale. Quantum mechanics is the incredibly successful theory that describes the mathematical interactions of energy and matter that occur at this microscopic scale.

So, why is this description of how quanta behave weird and what does this have to do with spirituality? To begin with, quanta are difficult to localize. That is, they appear to exist not in one place but can be found most anywhere or in a sense can spread throughout all of space-time. Secondly, depending on how they are observed quanta may behave like particles at times and like waves at other times. Therefore, until they are actually observed or measured quanta have no definite properties but are thought to exist in all possible states simultaneously. These are virtual rather that real states. It is not until a quantum is observed that it takes on one state or another. Somehow, conscious observation fixes a quantum in a real states but it is normally impossible to predict which of the possible states will emerge from the “quantum soup.” The quantum seems to choose its ultimate state. Thirdly, even in their real state quanta cannot be pinned down exactly. For example, the better we know the position of a quantum particle the less we know its speed. Hence, there is always uncertainty in measuring quanta. Finally, quanta that share the same state when created are linked or entangled no matter how far apart they travel from one another and this connection is instantaneous and not limited by the speed of light. In addition, this connection between quanta occurs not only in the domain of small particles but also applies to complex systems or experimental setups. When one of the quanta in the system is observed all the other quanta shift from the virtual to the real state. Continue reading

Connecting to the Heart

I believe that love will change the world. Many wiser and greater people than I have said this before, but I couldn’t help noticing that not everyone seems to be listening, so I’m saying it again.

Not only wise and great people say this, even musicians say it. Musicians like The Beatles: “All you need is love…” or Hal David and Burt Bacharach: “What the world needs now is love sweet love…”love-song

So a lot of people seem to agree that love is really important. And there really should be no shortage – after all, love is the ultimate renewable resource – it never runs out. So how do we get more ready access to it?

If I ask you where, in your body, love comes from, you’ll probably touch your heart. I decided to ask someone who really ought to know, a cardio-vascular surgeon. But he told me ‘no’. He said, “in the heart there are a lot of arteries and veins and blood and ventricles and stuff, but I’ve operated on 147 hearts, and I never saw any love.” Continue reading

On a Mission from God?

By Andy Douglas

“We’re on a mission from God.”

Proclaimed in righteous tones by John Belushi (or was it Dan Akroyd?) at a key moment in the American comedy film “The Blues Brothers,” this line of dialogue conveys the urgency, the conviction, the characters’ utter sense of being right in their hilarious, if destructive, quest to do good. They’re called to do important work – dammit! – and nothing is going to stand in their way, even if it leads to multi-car pileups.

It’s human to cling, sometimes, to a sense of stubborn righteousness, which is what makes the Brothers’ lampooning of it so funny. (And because they also represent a ‘stick it to the man’ anti-establishment attitude, we cheer, but that’s another story.)

A Buddhist teacher once remarked that when you meditate, there’s the danger that a sense of self-importance can grow. You may become obsessed with the grandeur of your practice, bolstered by your own growing sense of change. This problem has also been called spiritual materialism. The ego can as easily get enmeshed in spiritual work as in any other kind of work. Just because one is meditating, that doesn’t mean the problematic aspects of the ego go away. Continue reading

What Happened before the Beginning of Time?

Science Vs_ Spirituality indiaThere is strong and convincing scientific evidence that both time and space began in a gigantic explosion that occurred some 13.7 billion years ago in what is commonly called the Big Bang. One of the principal reasons for this theory is based on the discovery of Edwin Hubble that distant galaxies are all moving away from Earth and from each other. This rate is also proportional to the distance separating them from each other. Hence, if a galaxy is one hundred light years distant its velocity might be V. However, for a galaxy that is two hundred light years distant it is found to be receding from Earth at 2V. This expansion is not due to the mechanical results of the Big Bang but to the expansion of space itself. If this were not so then distant galaxies would be moving away from us at a speed greater than light, which is not possible. Another consequence of this type of expansion is that the universe, which began as a point, has no center. No matter where you stand in the universe, everything is observed to be receding from you at the same relative rate depending on its distance from you. Therefore, the universe has no center or the center can be considered to be anywhere including our own solar system. Continue reading

Does Mind affect Matter?

HandThe obvious answer to this question is a resounding yes. Every time we willfully raise our arm or grasp an object with our hand, we are consciously affecting matter with our mind.
However, the question we would like to answer here is whether mental intention can affect the physical world without an intermediate such as the body.This idea that we can consciously affect matter with our minds is fundamental to Eastern or spiritual philosophy, but strongly rejected by Western science since it violates materialistic dogma. Any study of such phenomena by “true scientists” is considered taboo since if such phenomena were real then it would negate the prevailing doctrine among most scientists on how nature “ought” to work.

Nonetheless, modern studies of the behavior of quantum particles have led to the inescapable conclusion that the simple act of observing a system changes it physically. Some of the earliest founders of modern physics such as Erwin Schrödinger, Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, Max Planck, and Wolfgang Pauli wrote about how observations and measurements directed by human consciousness radically change the nature of physical reality. More recently, physicist Bernard d’Espagnat wrote in an article in Scientific American:

“The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment.” Continue reading

Tantric Creation Story in Theaters Now!

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Movie Theater II

In the beginning… the theater was empty. No ticket stubs littered the
floor, no sticky Coca-Cola stains, no smell of popcorn wafting in from
the lobby. Just darkness. And silence. Lots of it. Then, one day, God
said, “let there be light!” Suddenly, a beacon of luminance shone
forth from the projectionist booth and lit up a giant canvas screen.
Next, images began to appear. First a planet resembling earth
surrounded by the word ‘UNIVERSAL’. Then a lonely mountain with a
crown of stars. And finally, a lion wrapped in celluloid billowing
forth a giant roar.

Then the most fascinating images of all: humanity. People doing stuff.
Acting out dramas and adventures, relationships and heartbreak.
Conflict and cohesion. Journeys of the soul. This is the ultimate
film, the ultimate story, the story of life—our life and our
connection to all life that exists. In this theater of existence with
all of our dramas being acted out on one screen, the question I pose
to the reader is: who is sitting in the audience? Continue reading

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