Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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A Year of Mindfulness: True Compliments

Last week’s mindfulness practice was to eat without distractions. No newspaper, book, internet, iPad, or TV.

How did you do with this practice?

I found it to be a nice change of pace. Since I work by myself,  I typically eat while either checking email and news on my iPad or while sitting in front of the TV.  Sometimes I do this because I want to catch up on events. Other times I simply need the noise in the background. I can’t say that either activity enhances my dining experience.

When I first tried this practice, I think I ate a little faster. Then, as I slowed down, I noticed how quiet my environment was. I could listen to the rhythm of the clock ticking. Or I could enjoy the birds singing. I noticed the taste and texture of my food; sweet, juicy, cold, crunchy.

Without the distraction of my iPad or the TV, I ate my meal and got into the studio a bit sooner. At lunch time, I’d go for a walk after my meal. All good things to do instead of lingering over the news or flipping through the TV channels.

This week’s practice: Give true compliments

This week’s practice is to give a genuine compliment once a day to someone close to you. The more specific the compliment, the better.

Giving compliments is a good practice in gratitude. With this practice you must really pay attention to both the big and small things that people do. If this practice is difficult for you, step back and observe if you tend to only notice problems and are critical of people.

As Jan Chozen Bays stated in her book, “When someone becomes part of the furniture of our life, we forget to notice what they do and it doesn’t occur to us to give them compliments. In fact, we may only comment on the negative, the things we think need to be changed.”

With this practice, also pay attention to how it feels to receive a compliment. Depending on how we were raised, giving a compliment may be easier than receiving a compliment.

Reflection: You should know that kind speech arises from kind mind, and kind mind from the seed of compassionate mind. You should ponder the fact that kind speech is not just praising the merit of others; it has the power to turn the destiny of a nation. -Zen Master Dogen


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Monday Reflection: Compassion, Sorrow, and Kindness

Compassion is the heart’s response to sorrow.
We share in the beauty of life and in the ocean of tears.
The sorrow of life is part of each of our hearts
and part of what connects us with each other.
It brings with it tenderness, mercy,
and an all-embracing kindness that can touch every being.

-Jack Kornfield


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Monday Reflection: Wisdom of the Heart

The wisdom of the heart can be found in any circumstance,
on any planet, round or square.
It arises not through knowledge,
or images of perfection,
or by comparison and judgment,
but by seeing with the eyes of wisdom
and the heart of loving attention,
by touching with compassion
all that exists in our world

-Jack Kornfield


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Kuan Yin

kuanyinpicture.jpgToday is the birthday of Kuan Yin (also spelled Quan Yin, Quan Shi Yin, or Kuanyin.)  In sanskrit, her name is Padma-pani which means “Born of the Lotus.”

Kuan Yin is regarded by the Chinese as the Goddess of Mercy.  Kuan Yin was originally male until the early part of the 12th century.(Avalokitesvara, in sanskirt, her male form, was the Bodhivista of Compassion of Indian Buddhism which was introduced to China in the third century.) 

Several stories exist about Kuan Yin.  She was a Buddhist who, through great love and suffering during life, earned the right to enter Nirvana after death.  While standing before the gates of Paradise, she heard a cry of anguish from the earth below.  Turning back to earth, Kuan Yin renounced her reward of bliss eternal and in its place found immortality in the hearts of the suffering.

Quan  means to inquire or look deeply into. Shi means the world of people or generations.  Yin means cries.  Therefore the Bodhivista of Compassion responds to the suffering cries that come down the generations.

Kuan Yin is portrayed in many forms, each revealing an aspect of her merciful presence.  She is frequently portrayed as a slender female in flowing white robes and carrying in her left hand a white lotus, a symbol of purity.  Her beauty, grace, and compassion have come to represent the ideal of womanhood in the East.

Kuan Yin is also known as the “bestower of children” where she may be portrayed as sitting on a lotus with a child at her feet, on her lap, or in her arms.  Kuan Yin may also be depicted with a thousand arms, and a number of eyes, heads, and hands (sometimes with an eye in the palm of the hand.)  In this depiction she is considered the omnipresent mother, looking in all directions, sensing the affliction of humanity, and extending her arms to alleviate them.

Symbols associated with Kuan Yin include a willow branch which she sprinkles with the divine nectar of life, a precious vase symbolizing the nectar of compassion and wisdom, a dove, a book or scroll of prayers, and a rosary adorning her neck.

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