The Magic of Unconditional Love

Unconditional love is the kind of love you share with someone when there are no strings attached. Your love for the other person or pet or whatever never depends on their state of mind, their actions, or their words. You love them unconditionally. You saw an example of this in Micah’s Story from chapter 1.

Another example of unconditional love is in the movie, Breathe. The movie tells the true story of Robin Cavendish, an Englishman born in 1930. At the age of 28, he married Diana Blacker and they had a wonderful life together in England and in Kenya with friends and family. In 1960 or thereabouts Diana became pregnant and Robin became paralyzed from the neck down from Polio. He was on a respirator for the rest of his life.

The couple returned to England and Robin was placed in a hospital for disabled people. After baby Jonathan was born, Diana began a campaign to get Robin out of the hospital so that she could take care of him at home, along with Jonathan. Her care for him for the next thirty-three or thirty-four years was a stunning example of unconditional love.

One of their friends built a wheel chair for Robin with a portable respirator so he could go outside, visit other polio victims he had become familiar with in the hospital, and actually travel to different parts of continental Europe in a specially designed vehicle that would carry the chair. On one occasion, they were traveling in Spain and the portable chair needed to be recharged. One of the traveling companions plugged the respirator in the wrong socket and it blew up. They pulled of the side of the road and were unsuccessful in fixing the portable respirator. While everyone took turns using the manual respirator to keep Robin alive, the inventor of the chair was sent for to repair the portable respirator. In the meantime, a party developed around them that lasted through the night and into the next morning when the inventor showed up. He fixed the respirator and they carried on. Robin and the inventor became advocates for disabled people and many other portable respirators were distributed to other polio victims.

In 1994, Robin’s lungs had become so inflamed that it was time to let him go. They had a “going away” party for him and he died in the summer. He became a medical phenomenon as one of the longest-living survivors of his type of polio. It was said that to know Robin was to know the personification of courage. I would say that to know Robin, Diana and Jonathan is to know the personification of unconditional love. In honor of the unconditional love they all shared, Jonathan produced the movie and his mother, now in her eighties, attended the opening.

Unconditional love is an important component of successful Mindfulness Breaks. When you do a Mindfulness Break with unconditional love in your heart, the chances of it coming true are increased one thousand fold. This is based on my personal experience as well as the Zen teachings of Father Eli. I would say that every time I practiced a Mindfulness Break in the state of unconditional love, what I was visualizing came true. Remember, no one, other than me, thought that Micah would survive.

[Excerpt from Mindfulness Breaks: The Zen Teachings of Father Eli.]

Father Eli on Goals and How to Achieve Them

Gratitude, loving kindness and forgiveness are the true foundations for a life of love and happiness. As you will see in a later chapter, these contribute vastly to inner peace, tranquility and equanimity. These qualities purify your heart and mind and promote beneficial hormones in your brain. These are some things to strive for and meditate upon on a daily basis. When gratitude, loving kindness and forgiveness are in place, it is much, much easier to accomplish your goals, whatever they might be.

Are you looking for a partner to share your life with? Are you looking for a new place to live or a new job? Do you need to figure out what to do with a health condition? Is your home or car in bad need of repair? Do you want to start a business of your own? Father Eli taught that Mindfulness Breaks are a wonderful tool for achieving goals.

In life, it is necessary to have some sort of goal. It might be as simple as getting up each day and going off to work so you can chill on the weekend. It might be earning enough money to retire early in life and play golf or tennis every day. Whatever your goal is it is what you are trying to achieve. You’ll find that most successful people have well defined goals.

[Excerpt from chapter 9, Goals and How to Achieve Them in my new book, Mindfulness Breaks: The Zen Teachings of Father Eli, coming soon!]  
 

A Mindfulness Break in Your Home

Now that you understand what a Mindfulness Break is, you can try it for yourself in your own home or workplace.

In your Mindfulness Break you may experience relaxation, healing, connection, well-being and a sense of deep peace right in your own home or workplace. This will help you cope better with the circumstances of your life and the situation in the world today with all the unrest and insecurity. With the current administration in the United States, with immigrants flowing into the EU and other countries and being rejected by the US, with the elephants in Africa being destroyed by poaching, with climate change raising the oceans and melting the glaciers, with more lies from the military / industrial complex, it is difficult to maintain a level of inner peace, happiness, and tranquility.

Mindfulness Breaks can help bring relief from these and other concerns by helping you to take it all in and finding peace in yourself, regardless of what is going on in the world around you. Whether you are a single mom or dad who works hard to keep your kids in school and getting good grades, a working family with two incomes, a senior citizen (like me) with time on your hands, or a single or married millennial with questions about your future, this guided meditation process is for you and your loved ones.

Need a Reminder?
[Excerpt from my new book, Mindfulness Breaks: The Zen Teachings of Father Eli, coming soon!]

An Incredible Experience

I had an incredible experience about the time of the summer solstice of 1973 shortly after I arrived at Father Eli’s farm in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. The experience was so powerful that it changed my life into a new direction towards righteousness and liberation.

[The following is an excerpt from Mindfulness Breaks: The Zen Teachings of Father Eli.]

There was a group of about ten of us – all eager to learn what Father Eli was to teach. I had no idea what I was getting into, and didn’t realize that I would be taught to train people to do the special Mindfulness Breaks! When this training began, I was especially moved and grateful to be in the presence of such wonderful teachings. Each morning, I would do yoga and meditation according to the teachings of Swami Rama and each afternoon, I would do a Mindfulness Break.

One morning during the first week on retreat, I sat in my Ford van on my zafu facing the front of the van. I was mentally repeating my mantra when I seemed to disappear into emptiness. I was empty of a separate existence from space and time. The feeling of it is really indescribable. There was no joy and no sorrow. There was no happiness and no sadness. I was one with the whole cosmos. This experience, I knew, was beyond achievement and non-achievement. When I came out of it, I knew it was a life-changing experience. It was similar to, but more intense than the experiences I had on three separate occasions when I was 19.

The first took place during a performance of the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven…

The second experience came during Kol Nidre – the night before Yom Kippur…

The third experience came a week later the day before my sister was to go off to college. She was two years younger than me, but only one grade behind…

This third event confused me even more. Was there a God? Did he exist? Was he telling me something? How do I understand these visits of bliss in an altogether unhappy life? What is the significance of the feeling of emptiness I had experienced?

Teachings on Gratitude

Today, I want to relate to you the teachings on gratitude that I learned from Father Eli back in 1973. From my point of view, the expression of gratitude is one of the components of inner peace and a happy life. Things have really changed for me since I began practicing gratitude.

Father Eli taught that gratitude is a means of preparing yourself for an excellent Mindfulness Break. He taught us to think about the things that we are grateful for and recommended that we make a list. He taught us to go over the events of the day when we reached a state of relaxation in our daily practice and find three things we were grateful for that day. When we count our blessings, we tune into our higher selves and come in contact with our inner knowing.

Father Eli writes regarding the old saying,

“I felt bad because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” Probably the man who had no feet felt bad until he met a man who had no arms or legs and lived in a basket. Perhaps the man in the basket then could compare himself to the man dying in extreme pain and say, “At least I’m comfortable in my basket.” (Second Book of Wisdom, Lesson 18.)

Eli said that there is always something to be grateful for. One of the most important things is the opportunity to work towards awakening in this life. When you tell someone you are thankful for what they did, they tend to do more for us. He gives the example of a child. You bring a child a gift and he shows his gratitude with thanks and kisses and the next time you see him, you’ll bring another toy. But if he is not grateful, you are not likely to bring a gift the next time you see him.

What are you grateful for today? List three things and tell me why.

What will you choose today?

China Beach

One of my favorite teachings from Helen Palmer is that “Energy follows attention!” Where we put our attention is where our energy goes. If we put our attention on relaxing, beneficial people, events and things, we will feel happy and have some inner peace.

If we put our attention on negative things, tension, worry, and discomfort follow. We go into the fight, flight or flee response, or just feel bad. “Energy flows where attention goes.”

Mindfulness Breaks™ generate the relaxation response so our energy flows in a positive direction. The Buddha called this “yoniso manasikara” or appropriate attention. This corresponds to a statement by Father Eli,

Happiness is a state of mind in which our thinking is pleasant a good share of the time. Notice that HAPPINESS IS NOT AN EMOTION – it is a state of mind.”
– Father Eli, The Second Book of Wisdom

I like the way Lissa Rankin, MD put it in her Inner Pilot Light email today:

Pay attention to things that raise your vibration and light me up.

Dance?
Nature?
Intimate conversations with trustworthy friends?
Certain kinds of music?
Veggies and green juice?
Gathering in spiritual community?
Snuggles?

Now pay attention to things that lower your vibration and dim me.

Road rage?
Gossip?
Board meetings?
Alcohol?
Cheetos?
Complaining?
Overtime?
Criticizing others?
Criticizing yourself?

What will you choose today? 

Ready for a bonfire,

Your Inner Pilot Light

I would add news channels, racism, and Trump to the list of things that lower your vibration. Just stop reading and watching the news for one week to see if you experience any relief of tension in your body. I know that when I used to pay attention to the jerks on commercial TV, I would get all anxious and I could feel it in my body. I stopped the news and I stopped the anxiety.

So what will it be? Happy, relaxed emotions like love and compassion? Or tense, conflicting emotions like anger, stress, hatred? The choice is up to you.

You might want to try my Stress Relief Mindfulness Break!

Stress Relief Mindfulness Break
MP3: $9.97

Happiness is the Normal State

One of the most memorable teachings of Father Eli is that, “Happiness is the normal state of a healthy, well-adjusted individual.” Another one of his interesting ideas about happiness is that “Happiness is a state of mind in which our thinking is pleasant a good share of the time.”

He says that happiness is not an emotion, but a state of mind. Emotions, come in two types: tense emotions and relaxed emotions. Tense emotions, like  anger, fear, frustration, worry. fear, anxiety, etc., give rise to the fight or flight response. Relaxed emotions, like love, pleasure, peace, joy, and so on, give rise to the relaxation response and give us a chance for happiness.

You see, the word, “happy” comes from the root-stem of “hop,” like a 7-year-old jumping up and down in the park on a sunny summer afternoon and like the girl in the above picture.

When you are happy all senses get better and internal organs like the glands and heart function better. Your memory works better, and you can get better grades or perform better at work. All the religions say that righteousness is obtained by happiness and cheerfulness.  Happiness is the method of obtaining personality and character perfection.

Some psychologists say the unhappiness is the sole cause of disease. So to stay healthy, “Don’t worry! Be Happy!”

Here are a few things you can do to promote happiness.

  1. Think of at least three events, people or things that you are grateful for each day. Gratitude practice is essential for happiness. Remember, “To desire what you don’t have is to waste what you do have!”
  2. Spend some time in nature every day and contemplate the wonders of life. Remember that “This life is the gift of the whole universe – the earth, the sky and many generations!”
  3. Learn to forgive yourself for those moments when you are tense and not happy. Also forgive everyone in your life that you can think.
  4. Perform a simple act of kindness for someone else each day to make someone happy or reduce their suffering.
  5. Sign up for a Mindfulness Break!

Can you think of more ways of producing happiness for yourself?