Recent “Unfixed Podcast” with Pierre Zimmerman
DIMENSIONS OF WELLBEING – By Pierre Zimmerman 6/1/21
DIMENSIONS OF WELLBEING – By Pierre Zimmerman
Let’s look at the dimensions of wellbeing from the point of view of qualities of mind and heart that can be trained in as essential skills. Wellbeing is complex, has many factors that contribute to it with contemplative experiential activities, a convergence of science and subjective elements in different communities. There are four major dimensions that define wellbeing: awareness, connection, insight and purpose.
Awareness stands for being conscious, the ability to regulate our attention, and we have access to it anytime, building on meta-awareness. We cultivate being aware not just during meditation practice but during our waking hours.
Connection is in essence how we build and maintain relationships. We demonstrate an intention to be with others. We have appreciation for being part of a community, not necessarily of like persons, sharing norms, practicing gratitude and cultivating compassion.
Insight allows us to gain more awareness, discern what is wholesome or not, develop a range of related ideas, and understand inter-connectedness. We inquire how phenomena of sensations, thoughts, and emotions are understood and sustained, which brings us wisdom.
Purpose is vital for our psychological, cognitive, conative and emotional wellbeing. It is a way for us to orient ourselves and espouse our values and intentions, and best stay connected to experience as we embody them.
These four dimensions are skills that we train with and apply in life. In indigenous communities, connection and a sense of belonging come first, and there is more focus on ecosystems. In the educational realm, it might be purpose that takes priority. In mindfulness groups, awareness and insight take precedence. All four dimensions are included in any context.
The healthy emotional life of a being is characterized by contentment, joy within, flexibility, very little “stickiness,” creativity, being deeply responsive, and having a capacity for connection. There is an interest in figuring out common ground, developing listening and curiosity, while favoring dialogues and building bridges in order to be part of organic networks.
INNER KNOWING – By Pierre Zimmerman 5/1/21
INNER KNOWING – By Pierre Zimmerman
We discover ourselves through connection with others, and when this is absent, we become a stranger to ourselves. The experience of emotional resonance is familiar to almost everyone, because mirror neurons allow us to know in a visceral, first-hand way to feel others and empathize with them.
We are able to sense the internal state of our body; this is called interoception. We can also feel what others are feeling with a high degree of accuracy and discern someone else’s emotional experience within our own body. This suggests that the strict demarcation between self and others is delusional and that separate individuality is mistaken. The boundaries of ‘you’ and ‘me’ become permeable and the notion of a wholly separate self dissolves.
There are deep levels of mutual attunement, intimacy, resonance and inter-connectedness when a feeling of coherence emerges. It happens when we are in touch with our inner knowing, sense of values, ethical stance, efficacy, purpose and self-worth. These come together and evoke a feeling of wholeness that arises from the body and mind.
Often this felt sense of wholeness involves the area of the heart and belly and allows us to use our intuition. What thought divides, the heart unites, and when attention hones in upon the heart area, there is the experience of coming home. Once the mind knows its limits, it can rest in the fullness of the heart.
When we practice meditation or contemplative training, it sharpens and sustains our attention, enhances wellbeing, and leads to more empathic emotional responses to the suffering of others. It is linked with pro-social emotional behavior and important physiological markers of health. From the belly and felt sense we move to the heart with loving kindness and from there to the mind’s clarity and wisdom, all aligned in the ground of being.
Resources for People with Disabilities – CapNY Discovering Ability
On Meditation – By Pierre Zimmerman 4/1/21
On Meditation – By Pierre Zimmerman
The main point of meditation is to get to know ourselves: our mind, our behavior, our ground of being. We think we know ourselves, but actually we often don’t, because everything around us changes constantly and hopefully we do too.
We often say we meditate “on something.” We practice mindfulness meditation to experience a state of being, called the ground of being, from which we pay attention to every thought and action, prior, during, and post meditation.
This leads to us becoming more refined, and with it comes gentleness. We pay attention to pain and pleasure, developing empathy and friendship for the self. From there we are able to understand and resonate with the suffering of others. We become kinder and drop into basic goodness and wholesomeness of self. We begin to gain trust in ourselves and the world. A view of the path or journey emerges, and we do things for ourselves and others which give us universal genuineness.
The phenomenal world is no longer seen as an obstacle and is appreciated. We transmute aggression, ignorance and craving into a state of wisdom by simply observing them, without being hijacked by them or acting out, letting these states subside. We gather wisdom when we are free from ego and anxiety, a state of mind and heart that need not be cultivated and which cannot be lost.
Sunday 4/11 Meditation w Pierre Live at Caffe Lena
Caffe Lena has always been a respite from the world, a place of healing and peace… On 4/11/21 Dharma Meditation with Pierre Zimmerman returns to an IN PERSON format LIVE at Caffe Lena! MEETINGS will be held SUNDAYS from 9am-10:15am. Lenas is located at 47 Phila St. Saratoga Springs. PLEASE RSVP TO PIERRE by calling 413-992-7012 or Emailing PIERRE at least 24-hrs in advance. Masks must be worn at all times, and coronavirus safety measures, including distancing, will be practiced. A $10 donation is suggested.
Pierre will provide the SUNDAY essay for us to contemplate together.
Dharma Meditation includes inspirational topics that support emotional, cognitive, and ethical wishes for wellbeing. This is a sitting meditation for 25 minutes with a silent break allowing people to stretch, followed by a second sitting, introduced by a brief talk. Pierre posts his Sunday Dharma essays on our WEBSITE BLOG for the weekend for you to follow along with him. A discussion on the topic and some insights and reflections about the nature and commonality of our basic humanity is shared by attendees. This meditation is open to beginners and/or those who have been meditating for a while. This group has been ongoing 10+ years. A $10 donation per class is suggested. Register via email to PIERRE.
WEDNESDAY MEDITATION continues weekly from 5:30-6:45pm with Pierre Zimmerman and MEETS “IN PERSON” AT THE HALL OF SPRINGS. Located within Spa State Park, 108 Avenue of the Pines, Saratoga Springs. Masks required, health & safety regulations will be followed. A $10 donation is suggested. RSVP by calling 413-992-7012 or Emailing PIERRE 24 hrs in advance.
LOOSENING THE GRIP OF OUR LIMITING CORE BELIEFS – By Pierre Zimmerman 3/1/21
LOOSENING THE GRIP OF OUR LIMITING CORE BELIEFS By Pierre Zimmerman
Our core beliefs are often based on our earliest and potent fears, lodged in our brain from early childhood on. They are based on strong assumptions, conclusions and conditioned survival skills that have little to do with the present moment. While they served a purpose in the past, our brains are designed to anticipate the future, and past memories of endangerment are stuck in the long-term memory part of the hippocampus.
If it happened before, most likely it is bound to happen again, we presume. A few failures can still instill feelings of helplessness, deficiencies, humiliation and shame. Most of our core beliefs are reinforced by past hurt and fear, and strangely enough, dearly holding on to them. “I am not good enough,” is maybe the most common belief from which stems self-devaluation, self- degradation and rejection. The greater the degree of early life trauma or consistent stress, the more likelihood there will be of deeply entrenched fear-based beliefs and a tendency to isolate.
Deprivation, poverty, racial and gender biases, abuse, and condemnations affect us, and even though they are rooted in the past, they feel current and true. The Buddha said, “with our thoughts we fabricate the world.” When people pull away, our sense of rejection will confirm our belief. When we believe that nobody likes us, we will behave in ways that broadcast our insecurities. If we have a tendency to believe that others will attack or criticize us, we will more than likely become defensive or aggressive.
Using our attention and awareness, we are able to disconfirm these beliefs and ask ourselves, “Is this really true?” When we note fear thoughts, we can create some space between ourselves and our beliefs and realize that the underlying beliefs are real but not true! They are appearances, interpretations of reality that entrap us. Taking refuge in the present moment, dropping into the felt sense of our body’s experience, we are able to use our aliveness, intelligence and compassion to see the downside of the beliefs and narratives of unworthiness and “badness” that we tell ourselves.
KARMA – By Pierre Zimmerman 2/1/21
KARMA – By Pierre Zimmerman
Every action has a cause and result in terms of the mind, not just in terms of external circumstances. Everything that exists is the result of cause and effect. Karma is not destiny, nor a life sentence. People lack understanding when they say “It is my karma,” confusing responsibility with control. The former doesn’t mean taking responsibility. We need to recognize whether our behavior is nurturing the clarity of mind or contributing to ignorance and confusion.
What activities impede our quest towards awakening? There are ten non-virtuous activities associated with body, speech and mind. Killing, stealing and sexual misconduct are associated with the body. Lying, divisive speech, harsh words and gossip are non-virtuous types of speech. The three non-virtuous activities of the mind are the inability to rejoice in others happiness or success, the wish to harm, and wrong views, such as dismissing the law of cause and effect.
These are the activities that incline a mind towards awakening, with virtuous activities: using the body to perform acts of generosity, including protecting others, engaging in pleasing speech that promotes equanimity and harmony, and holding views that support one’s wellbeing and that of others.
With an acceptance of karma, taking responsibility exposes a learning tool, not a scale for measuring reward and punishment. We know that all phenomena are naturally interdependent; all activities have positive, negative or neutral aspects. Practicing with karma shifts how we understand our everyday behavior with family, friends, at home and in the workplace. The possibilities of what we have done and what we can do, become infinite. Even though we remain subject to causes and conditions, the immeasurable advantage of our human existence is that they do not define us. Anything is possible when we know we are already a buddha.
One Roof Welcomes New Practitioner Courtney Paton
SEEING THE WORLD AND OURSELVES THROUGH AN ETHICAL LENS – By Pierre Zimmerman 1/1/21
SEEING THE WORLD AND OURSELVES THROUGH AN ETHICAL LENS – By Pierre Zimmerman
A care-based, ethical path involves connectedness and meaning, which engenders presence and authenticity. Connectedness is being in relationship with other sentient beings. Meaning is the awareness of being alive and understanding the depth of living ethically. This means we have to know what is beneficial or not and have a common notion of what causes harm.
We can foster a care-based, ethical path through empathy, feeling the suffering of others, by using discernment and not becoming hyper or hypo-aroused. We cultivate moral sensitivity by filtering out what action is most appropriate with a motivation geared towards making the most beneficial decisions and inflicting the least amount of harm. When taking an action that is not consistent with our ethical values, we experience moral distress and deep disconnect.
Three tenets can support us in espousing our “North Star” when facing conflicting principles: One is to practice beginner’s mind, not having fixed or solid ideas and beliefs that might separate us from others. Next, we bear witness to the situation, not becoming demoralized about the reality of the moment, just observing the situation at hand without judgment. Finally, when attentional and intentional stability and clarity arise, we cultivate compassion for anyone or any situation overwhelmed by suffering.
To be committed to authentic relationships we practice transparency. First, we are transparent to ourselves, no longer being ruled by our emotions, preferences and conditioning. We don’t need to espouse our narratives. Instead, we stay with what is meaningful to us, cutting out unnecessary thoughts, speech and behavior. Then, we can let the world be transparent to us, by releasing ideas, opinions and judgments, and letting go of our biases. Lastly, we can be transparent to the world, not hiding behind roles, identities, our persona or history, being undefended and invested in connecting with others.
When we operate from the heart and mind, strong back and soft front, there is no lack or excess in expression of speech and meaning, nor any compelling reason to deceive oneself or anyone else. Adopting ethical coherence, we welcome everything, push nothing away, bring our whole self to whatever experience we face, and find a place of peace in the middle of adversity and felicity.