June 20, 2017

What's Happening This Week at SpiritualityandPractice.com

Editor's Pick   

By Frederic Brussat

It is so easy, and so common, to respond to things with a strong "no." No, we've never done it like that before. No, there just isn't enough (time, money, energy, what have you). What if we could find our way to "yes" more quickly? Here are articles, blogs, books, excerpts, films, memes, quotes, and more to help you do just that.

Pure Enjoyment

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh's breathing exercises are deceptively simple; their ability to change our state of mind when actually practiced goes way beyond their childlike phrasing. This one offers us an almost instantaneous immersion in calm and peace, as profound as it is easeful.

More Practices: Summer Solstice, Birthday of Dame Cicely Saunders, Birthday of Helen Keller, Beyond Fireworks, Birthday of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Birthday of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama  

A new e-course by Joan Chittister        
July 3 - 28, 2017

What is struggle? How do we survive it? What happens to us spiritually as a result of struggle? Joan Chittister provides tools to help you analyze your stories of struggle, shares her own, and suggests the gifts that each struggle can give as you move towards hope and transformation. Read more and sign up:
A new e-course by Donald Altman        
July 3 - 28, 2017

Are you are hungry for more daily meaning and fulfillment? That's where daily mindfulness practices come in. Mindfulness helps you integrate what you are already doing -- even ordinary tasks -- into your experience with a heightened sense of purpose, awareness, and appreciation. Read more and sign up:

This annual film festival showcases the best documentary filmmaking from the United States and around the world. Enjoy this taste of the variety and depth of these films, and keep a watch for them in your theater and home-entertainment offerings.

Directed by Matthew Cassel

This superbly performed story gives us an inside view of a meeting between two leaders during the negotiations for the 2000 peace agreement in Northern Ireland. The challenge for each man is to set aside his sectarian ideology and to find common ground. We have also collected films about N. Ireland and The Troubles for you to explore.

More Films:
Churchill, Dean, My Cousin Rachel, Lost in Paris, Hare Krishna: The Mantra, the Movement and the Swami Who Started It All

Directed by Wang Bing  

This spiritually attuned film revolves around the exhausting existence of three sisters who live in a small Chinese village. It puts before our eyes and hearts the hidden lives of those who feel left out of China's "economic miracle."

Written and hosted by Michael Wood
This robust and thought-provoking six-part BBC series, airing over three nights on PBS in the U.S. and also available on DVD, enables us to see China's history and culture face-to-face in exquisite detail.

More DVDs:
This Beautiful Fantastic, Chapter & Verse, Frantz, Neruda

Boundless Heart
By Christina Feldman

"Whether standing, sitting, walking or lying down we abide in kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. There is no more noble way to live in this world," writes Feldman in her graceful look at the Four Immeasurables.

More Books: The Book of Joy; Buddhism for Busy People; Emotional Rescue; Goodbye, Things; No One Cares about Crazy People
Children's Books   

By Natasha Yim  

A fisherman's family is torn apart after a storm at sea. Tin Hau, the Chinese patron goddess of fishermen, intervenes: first to relieve the grief of his wife and child, and then to help the family reunite.

Spiritual Literacy Blog
By Frederic Brussat

A 2014 poll found that 93% of people dislike self-checkout machines and in some cases their anger and impatience with the machines drive them to theft. We prefer the Japanese model of putting the accent on improved staff efficiency through elaborate courtesy.
Elder Spirituality Project  

By Haider Warraich

With a sturdy grasp of all the complications of death and dying, Warraich writes crisply about medical ethics, modern technology, resuscitation, pulling the plug, patients who desire death, and recent developments in dialogue about end-of-life matters.  

For our Elder Spirituality Project, we have selected films that provide profiles of elders. The most recent -- The Hero and Churchill -- examine themes of disappointment and vulnerability. For more films about elders, please see this page.  
From Our Wisdom Archive   

Compiled and designed by Darren C. Polito

"When you practice generosity, you open the circle of self and become aware of the larger whole in which the self rests," writes Rami Shapiro.View these inspiring examples of ways to be generous and then see how many more you can come up with on your own.   
A Thought to Carry with You  

In their book Soul Food, Jack Kornfield and Christina Feldman share a story about Mulla Nasrudin, a Sufi teacher both foolish and wise. One day, when Nasrudin was sprinkling bread crumbs around his garden flowerbeds, a neighbor wandered by and asked, "Mulla, why are you doing that?" The answer must have surprised him, "Oh, I do it to keep the tigers away." The neighbor said, "But there aren't any tigers within thousands of miles of here." Nasrudin replied, "Effective, isn't it?"

What childlike humor! Think about it, though, and you may discover a punch. Do we really have any way of being certain that the bread crumbs were not responsible for the tigers keeping their distance? Sure, this concept is silly, and of course, this angle of thought is only one approach to the story. But it comes mighty close to how you might feel about your daily spiritual practice.

Let's say that every day you meditate, pray, read scripture, repeat a mantra, do hatha yoga, or serve those in need. Let's say you keep at it with steady dedication until one day you wonder, "Is this really making a difference?" These seemingly little efforts might seem as silly as bread crumbs spread to deter tigers. You may be keeping something terribly alarming at bay -- but you would never know it, because danger doesn't dare come near you!

This is one of countless reasons to remain faithful to daily practice. During the week ahead, if you have lagged in your practice, give yourself permission to start fresh without blame. If you are steady in practice, be grateful for unseen blessings -- your equivalent of kept-away "tigers" -- as well as for those you recognize. And if you do not have a practice, why not explore these everyday opportunities and see if one calls to you?
Your Spirituality & Practice Team 
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat 
Patricia Campbell Carlson 
Darren Polito