Sarah’s Blog

The Three Jewels

Buddha CaveThe Buddha’s life was a long time ago, 500 years or so before Christ. His name before he became a Buddha (an awakened one) was Siddhartha which translates as “he who has attained his goals”. The teachings that develop experiential insight are called the buddha dharma, and those who practice them are called the Sangha (or dharma community). Together these three, the Buddha, (the teacher from long ago who represents our awakened potential), the Dharma or teachings, and the Sangha, or dedicated practitioners, are called the 3 Jewels. They are jewels of support on a path of living with awareness.

We all need helpful influences in this life journey, all the way through. Write down what your current ‘jewels’ of support are? Ask 3 different people today what theirs are? Reflect on what arises when you ask yourself and others where they access their inspiration, and what protects and fortifies you/them, especially when challenges arise?

Our World View & The Four Noble Truths

Buddha Statue, ChinaEven if we have never contemplated nor spoken of our world view, it is always there in the background, reinforcing our uninvestigated beliefs about who we think we are and how we assume the world works. This intimate perspective is slowly gathered throughout our lives influenced by our families, our religion, our culture, our race, our gender, our education, economics, the media, and the time in history we are living in.

Each wisdom path begins with a view. What constitutes a wisdom tradition versus just tradition is that we are not expected to simply ‘believe’ in this view, but instead to investigate experientially its possibilities. In other words in a wisdom tradition such as yoga or Buddhism, you are required to engage the path with your body, speech and heart/mind, your whole being must get involved in order to develop what is called experiential insight, inducing an ever expanding wiser view.

One common way of understanding the Buddhist view is in four statements, called the Four Noble Truths, which have depth teachings embedded in each of them.

  1. Life has suffering.
  2. Suffering is caused by our grasping habits, fueled by ignorance of our awakening nature.
  3. With the Buddha as an example, (and many others as well), anyone can transcend suffering by recognizing the causes of suffering, abandoning them, and realizing one’s boundless nature.
  4. The way to end suffering and enjoy genuine happiness is by cultivating the Noble Eightfold Path that the Buddha laid out, a wholistic (versus holistic – see below for a distinction) discipline that involves developing over one’s lifetime, ethics (sila), meditation (samadhi) and wisdom (prajna).

Reflecting on these four themes, do these statements intrigue you? How do they feel in your body? Lay down for six minutes of Mindfulness of Breathing while you contemplate this 2500 year old world view of the Buddha.


This reference states:
The two words “wholistic” and “holistic” have very different meanings, but there is some confusion and they are often used in an incorrect manner. The two words have very distinct meanings though somewhat similar in definition. Wholistic refers to the whole, a whole item or whole body of a person or thing. The word defines the consideration of the entire structure or makeup, which includes the body, mind and the spirit in the case of a human being. The word holistic is connected to holism, which focuses on the total entity and the interdependence of the diverse parts of this totality. Holistic has to do with the healing systems that are considered alternative like homeopathy and Ayurveda that deal with the human body as an interconnected whole.

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Habits of Mind & Our World View

Lotus FlowerAs we begin to cultivate active attention, or deliberate Mindfulness, we discover two common habits of mind that we may not have fully recognized before. One is our tendency for excitation, which in the context of meditation is distracting, the other is called laxity. We often oscillate from a busy mind, full of free associative thoughts, to mental dullness that is a suspended, vague quality of consciousness. This is called our coarse mind which is our functional conceptual mind showing its limitations. We also have more subtle aspects of mind which are obscured if we do not know how to be quiet and contemplative. Before we learn to turn inward, we have much less access to deepening degrees of subtlety and are confined by the perceptions gathered exclusively from our coarse perceptions of mind.

Our world view is a synthesis of what we learn and how we interpret what we perceive to be happening personally and globally. When we are limited by operating out of our coarse mind only, we easily mis-perceive our reality and the world at large, impeding access to our holistic intelligence and causing perpetual confusion and suffering. As we gain access to the subtler dimensions of our minds, we will also greatly alter and expand our world view.

Today, reflect on your current world view. What would you say are three or four salient aphorisms that you feel define life as a whole, that govern your outlook on what makes life meaningful? Ask a few different people this question today and see if you share their current ‘worldview’.

Mindfulness Practice

Water LiliesOn the topic of Mindfulness, we are not simply being with whatever arises as that would lead us right back to our habitual distracted selves. Mindfulness has an agenda of observation that is NON-distracted, able to maintain a focused attention on a chosen object such as the breath – free of the compulsion to either alter or ignore the breathing process.

In Sanskrit the word for Mindfulness is smriti and is translated as the verb, to remember. In Mindfulness practices we develop the skill of staying steady with our intentions, remembering to discard distractions when they compel us, and to come back to the breath every time our minds wander. We are creating a healthy new habit, that of remembering to dwell in present moment attention, while undermining the common mental addiction of distraction. All our simple and complex moments of living will benefit from this profound cultivation.

Sit now and practice Mindfulness of breathing for 6 minutes. Stay interested in self observation to detect any subtle pull to think about or want to do something to modify or escape the rawness of simple unmediated attention on the neutral object of breathing. With loving kindness toward this temperamental human mind, aspire to meet your habits of distraction with kind clarity. When you find you have left your breath process, simply feel into the next in-breath, thereby lovingly eradicating the power of disturbances to ensnare you on the spot!

Enjoy fortifying yourself with increased mental sanity!

Meeting Life Just As It Is

Water DropIn loving kindness practice we aspire to bring the potentiality of existence into actuality. As important as this visioning is, it is also essential to cultivate the capacity to meet life just as it is. This is the refreshing practice of mindfulness, and there are many methods. One foundational style is called Mindfulness of Breathing. This practice gives us an opportunity to let go of all our concerns by riding the breath waves into relaxation of body and mind.

Lay down with your eyes closed for 5 minutes and simply tune into your felt sense in the body. Be with each breath without controlling it as it comes in and goes out, feeling it throughout the whole body. When a thought comes up, let it flow through with the next out breath and stay primed with your interest renewed to fully feel the next breath. Think of this as a refreshing 5-minute breath bath. Enjoy!!!