27 November 2020 11:16 (NZT)
What good is meditation
A number of people over the last weeks have been asking me about meditation and what it brings. Yesterday, a mate asked me the benefits of meditation and I thought of this question through the day and again while on the train this morning. Answering this question is not easy – perhaps something like explaining Van Gogh to someone who cannot see. While the experience – and the experience is not limited to the sitting practice itself – is not easy to explain, perhaps a few things can be highlighted. At this point, I will emphasise one thing – background noise.
Experiencing meditation throughout your life
When you meditate, the “goal” is not to reach some mystical state for a few moments while sitting. The “point” – if there is one – is to take what happens in meditation into the rest of life. What does this mean? Perhaps an example will help.
Learning to recognise the static
When you centre the mind, you see random thoughts as not you. You see ideas arise and fall. They are inconsequential. They are, importantly, not you. This awareness expands and you learn to interact with others in the same fashion. You see their thoughts arise and fall, too. You see their essence as so much more than the random comments that come and go. You learn to distinguish the music from the background noise – the static.
Listening to the music
So much is static. So much is distraction when your mind is not focused. What is one benefit/effect of meditation? Learning to distinguish the static from the song. Focusing on the beauty of the music, rather than getting lost in the background noise. There are so many beautiful songs around us.
Gerald Lee Jordan, MBA, MEd, MCouns ❤️
19 November 2020 12:09 (NZT)
The Tranquility Within Us
There is within Buddhist imagery, the visualisation of consciousness being a very deep body of water, where there are waves on the surface, but tranquility underneath these surface waves. Most live focused on the surface, feeling themselves thrown around by the superficial events of life. The idea is that under these relatively shallow waves is a great depth of calm which cannot be disturbed by surface movements.
I have been meditating since 2003. Sometimes, I go for a while. Sometimes, I get distracted. I have been meditating daily since early July. Four months of meditating every day (except one after having a tooth extracted). At least once a day, on a few weekends twice a day. Meditating through tooth pain. Meditating through daily distractions. What has happened? I have reached a state of tranquility that not only exists in meditation itself, but carries into the rest of my life. I sit at my desk and notice the breath. I have the benefits of meditation. I walk through the city and feel the earth against my feet. I feel the benefits of meditation.
Living in the Depths of Consciousness
The point of meditation is not just to feel contentment while in meditation – meditation can have its own discomforts – but to bring the tranquility, the equanimity, the insights into the rest of your life. You realise and live in the depths of yourself, not distracted by the surface disturbances.
If you haven't tried meditation, I strongly recommend it. Start easily and slowly. A few minutes is enough to begin with - you can add a minute a week until you get used to sitting with your thoughts. There is no "success" and no "failure". You will learn to watch your thoughts come and go. You will discover the calm under the surface waves. The tranquility is there inside of you, always.
Gerald Lee Jordan, MBA, MEd, MCouns ❤️
12 November 2020 10:12 (NZT)
Our Shared Nobility
"O Nobly Born, O you of glorious origins, remember your radiant true nature, the essence of mind. Trust it. Return to it. It is home." (The Tibetan Book of the Dead)
Perspective on Self
Many have an inner voice that either suggests they are worthless, or discounts their every accomplishment. Yes, there are a few people who inflate their accomplishments, but this could be argued to be an attempt to compensate for personal feelings of inadequacy in many instances. The prevalence of depression in the modern world suggests that we tend to be critical of our lives. Is there another way to deal with our negative self-talk?
Focusing on our Inner Value
I love this quote from The Tibetan Book of the Dead because it encourages us to trust our inner wisdom. It also speaks of our innate dignity. These are powerful ideas and worthy of our consideration. Imagine for a moment that we are all noble and wise and that this includes you. This doesn't take anything from another, but adds to us all. We are all lifted up, together!
Try to emphasise this for a few days. Repeat this quote. Look around you at others and see their nobility. Look in the mirror and see your own. Imagine that there is wisdom inside of you. Be kind to yourself, oh you of noble birth!
See the shift in perspective that this will bring, both in your relating with self, and your relating with others.
Gerald Lee Jordan, MBA, MEd, MCouns ❤️
5 November 2020 12:38 (NZT)
Living to succeed
“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
10 May 2020 14:43 (NZT)
It was my first night alone in the 6+ weeks since lock-down started in Aotearoa New Zealand back in March. I won't deny a certain amount of trepidation, as I thought of being home without my son. We are close. I might be coding. He might be working on his art, his guitar or school work, but we always take a moment or two to express ourselves. It is a wonderful relationship and also very comforting.
So, my first night alone as he goes to his mum's! I began to imagine all of the things I could do. There is cleaning to be done, my Cannondale is a bit dusty and could use a trip around the coast, there is always website work to do . . . I then realised that what I really needed was time with my own mind.
I am in no way religious. When I first began meditating before my Jack was born, one of the things I wanted to avoid was Buddhism. Over the years, I began to see Siddhartha as someone who observed pain around him and wanted to understand and help. This one to whom we generally refer as the "Buddha" - "Enlightened One" - wanted to help others suffering and (like many in his world) believed the solution was somewhere within his grasp. Some imagined they could torture the body to make it give up its secrets. Siddhartha tried this, but realised it was a dead-end. After years of struggle, he sat under a tree and decided not to move until he had the solution. He focused on his breath. When he believed he had the answer, he refused initially to share it. It is all too easy. No one will believe me, he thought.
He found the answer was within him and within all of us. We could minimise suffering by an attentive life, what came to be known as The Eightfold Path. When others asked for supernatural explanations, Siddhartha brushed away their questions. Some have argued, such as the former Buddhist monk, Stephen Batchelor, for a Secular Buddhism. Deities are not required for Buddhism. Reincarnation is not required. Actually, the historical existence of the Buddha, although rarely seriously debated, is not even required, as long as the conclusions are "true" (contrast this with Western theologies). The message is that there is suffering and there are ways to help. Some, like me, consider the Buddha to be a proto-psychologist (to give a Western context) whose words were later used to create power structures we often refer to as "religion".
So, I sat and focused on my breath last night with another seeker.
May you find peace.
Gerald Lee Jordan, MBA, MEd, MCouns
About Nocturnal Works
The content on this site is provided to give resources and support to those dying, their loved ones and those
providing death doula (end of life) support. When we find out that death is near and the initial shock wears off,
emotions and questions flood into our minds. Noctural Works exists as place where you can find out about mental
health issues and therapy related to death, dying, grief and bereavement - as well as more practical support, such
as planning for death and supporting others on their journey.
The resources on this site are provided by Death Doula Ltd, a company in Aotearoa New Zealand which provides end of
life doula support online, in Wellington, Blenheim and Picton (New Zealand). These resources are not legal or
medical in nature, so do no rely upon them, but seek legal and medical advice, as required. If you are interested in
counselling resources not focusing on death and dying, you can visit our other site, Therapy Aroha.