Gatsby’s Smile

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Detail from the original cover of The Great Gatsby.

Speaking of beautiful writing

“It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced—or seemed to face—the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey. Precisely at that point it vanished—and I was looking at an elegant young roughneck, a year or two over thirty, whose elaborate formality of speech just missed being absurd.”

Related: Beautiful, Strange Passage from Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

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Mindfulness Month, Days 16 Through 19: Read Your Favorite Beautiful Writing

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For the next few days, the meditation is to read one or several pieces of your favorite beautiful writing as an act of meditation. The writing can be anything you find soothing, the only guideline is that you read it will full attention. In case you’re at a loss for where to start, I offer the poem below from The Essential Rumi.

ONLY BREATH

Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu,
Buddhist, sufi, or zen. Not any religion

or cultural system. I am not from the East
or the West, not out of the ocean or up

from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not
composed of elements at all. I do not exist,

am not an entity in this world or the next,
did not descend from Adam and Eve or any

origin story. My place is placeless, a trace
of the traceless. Neither body or soul.

I belong to the beloved, have seen the two
worlds as one and that one call to and know,

first, last, outer, inner, only that
breath breathing human being.

***

There is a way between voice and presence
where information flows.
In disciplined silence it opens.
With wandering talk it closes.

-Rumi

 
Hope you have a great rest of your week and weekend!

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Mindfulness Month, Day 15: Dignity

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Tonight’s meditation comes from Wherever You Go, There You Are.

Dignity

When we describe the sitting posture, the word that feels the most appropriate is “dignity”….Perhaps we just need little reminders from time to time that we are already dignified, deserving, worthy….So, when we take our seat in meditation and remind ourselves to sit with dignity, we are coming back to our original worthiness.

Try: Sitting with dignity for thirty seconds. Note how you feel. Try it standing with dignity. Where are your shoulders? How is your spine, your head? What would it mean to walk with dignity?

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Mindfulness Month, Day 14: Lake Meditation

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Tonight’s meditation comes verbatim (page 208) from 1,001 Pearls of Yoga Wisdom, a little book that’s packed with illuminating and calming information on yoga, quotations from various works of literature and spiritual texts, meditation, poses, and so on.

Lake Meditation

  • Sit comfortably with your spine upright and close your eyes.
  • Visualize your mind as a deep lake, and view passing thoughts as ripples on the surface of the water.
  • Now dip beneath the surface, to the depths where the water is calm.
  • Breathe in the peace and stillness of these depths.
  • Then open your eyes, in the knowledge that this still place is always inside.

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Mindfulness Month, Days 6 Through 13: Loving-Kindness Meditation (Metta Meditation)

The quote is often attributed to Plato, but is also attributed to others.

The quote is variously attributed, often to Plato.

I first heard a loving-kindness meditation, or metta meditation, in a yoga class, and it’s one of my favorites. It is meant to cultivate compassion, both toward ourselves and to others. You start with yourself because without a sense of compassion toward yourself, it’s hard to give it to anyone else. Below, I’m listing how I heard it that first time, but I’ve seen it many different ways since then, and I’m providing a couple links, which also provide background.

THIS WEEK’S MEDITATION:

May I be happy.

May I love and be loved.

May I be free of suffering.

May I find peace.

Then repeat the form substituting in place of “I”:

  • someone for whom you feel grateful
  • a beloved friend or family member
  • a difficult person
  • all beings

Really, you can do it for as many people in your life as you’d like as well as any others you’d like to include (e.g., whole populations, animals, etc.).

Here is a simple version from Greater Good that you can even do with kids.

Here is a full explanation and an alternative from the Center for the Contemplative Mind in Society.

 

You may notice that this is a full week (plus one day). I think that’s appropriate as this is a meditation that can take some practice. Also, in giving daily meditations some thought, I think more of them benefit from being practiced for at least a few days to both see if you like them and to get more reward from the practice, rather than switching on a daily basis.

Until next time, have a great week!

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Mindfulness Month: Day 5 Mini Meditation on Interdependence

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In contrast to yesterday’s meditation on independence, today’s honors the ways in which we depend on others and the ways in which others depend on us.

Today’s meditation:

  • Tonight, shortly before you go to bed, go somewhere quiet and sit in a comfortable position.
  • Set your timer for five minutes (or whatever you’d like), or simply decide to go for a time that feels right.
  • Take a few slow breaths. Feel yourself releasing any tension in your temples, brow and forehead area, neck and shoulder area, and back.
  • Then focus on your heart area, and feel a sense of relaxing.
  • When you are relaxed, continue to concentrate on your heart area and think of a beloved family member or friend (whether of the human or pet variety and whether alive or passed on).
  • Continue breathing in an even and slow manner, with a slightly longer exhale.
  • Imagine that beloved is in front of you and feel the connection you have.
  • Spend the time you’ve allotted simply feeling a sense of that connection and it’s warmth.
  • End your meditation (when the timer goes off or when you’ve finished) with a sense of gratitude both for what you have given and what you have received in this relationship.

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Mindfulness Month: Day 4 Mini Meditation on Independence

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For those of us in the United States, today represents Independence Day.

Today’s meditation:

  • Take five minutes to write about your own independence—a time when you took charge for your own life or broke away from something that was weighing you down.
  • Spend five minutes writing continuously. No stopping to think, just write.

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