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Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Site/Sight :: The Mindful Art of Ellen Kozak

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

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Over Labor Day Weekend I visited the gallery opening for my cousin, the artist Ellen Kozak at  Argazzi Art in Lakeville Connecticut
Ellen’s work Site/Sight is a reflection on the impermanence of nature from the perspective of the surface of water. She lives part of year along the bank of the Hudson River and goes to the river for her inspiration. Her work is a meditation on the changing nature of reality.
Here is an excerpt her artist statement:
I work from observation sometimes finishing paintings in one session but more often continuing to work on a painting for days or months. i am interested in looking at things, at change at the passage of time through the mediating lens of reflective surfaces. 
The Buddha loved river metaphors comparing the self to a river. It has some kind of identity and is changing moment-by-moment.  
To sit in the “chapel” of Argazzi Art and contemplate these representations of nature can be a meditation experience. Each piece captures a moment of perception, a moment of being alive and awake to see the beauty that is around us at all times in the form of light reflecting off surfaces.
We, too, are reflections off a surface. We don’t apprehend reality as much as construct through our perceptions. What we take to be “self” is such a reflection. Changing depending on the light and the angle from which it is construed. We too are fleeting representations of color and light. 
If you are local to Lakeville, CT, I encourage you to go see the show, which hangs until 6 October 2010. 
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Teachers and Talks: Pema Chodron

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

Ani Pema Chödrön is an American Buddhist nun and author whose teachings and writings on meditation have helped make Buddhism accessible to a broad Western audience. She currently directs the Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, Canada, the first Tibetan monastery in North America for Western monastics and lay practitioners.

Pema Chodron is the author of many fine books, including Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advise for Difficult Times, and Uncomfortable With Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Fearlessness and Compassion, the book that inspired the title of my book, Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness. 

Watch her interview with Bill Moyers on his series Faith and Reason:

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http://www.pbs.org/moyers/faithandreason/portraits_chodron.htm

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Wisdom Wednesday: Waiting for a Train and the Beauty of Persistence

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

Over Labor Day Weekend, I found myself waiting for a train at Newark Airport. I arrived about 15 minutes late for the train I wanted to catch, the 9:30. I grumbled to myself with a complaint about having to wait. Before that thought could finish echoing through my tired mind another thought arose. “45 minutes? A perfect time to meditate” I sat down in the then empty train station and began to practice in the industrial quiet. 

Soon, the air was filled with the arising and fading away of sound. I heard Asian languages, Slavic languages, English with a Spanish accent and the baritone booming voice of the station master calling in trains and announcing delays.
Perhaps my train would be delayed too? No matter, I’m enjoying my practice. 
This is the beauty of mindfulness meditation practice. It is both portable and durable. We can do it wherever we are in whatever conditions we find ourselves. I felt refreshed and renewed after practice. My travel-weary body transitioning into the next moment (and challenge) with ease.

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Challenges always arise during family visits for reasons Buddhists and psychoanalysts alike can appreciate. Lot’s of old conditionings to confront.
But that’s not the point of this entry. Instead, I wanted to talk about the beauty of persistence. At my parents home in New Jersey, my mother has planted impatiens in planters around the front entry way. Impatiens are an annual variety, needing to be replanted each season. 
These precocious impatiens had reseeded themselves and were making an initial foray towards being an invasive species. Some had sprouted in a crack on the asphalt driveway, a testament to the will to life. In a sense these flowers, too, demonstrated portability and durability as they seeded themselves all around and in unlikely places.
These impatiens are a metaphor for the juxtaposition of the sacred and mundane, beauty and starkness, natural and artificial. 
I hope your labor day contained moments of mindfulness and surprising beauty. These are always available when we give ourselves permission to look!
With blessings and gratitude,
Arnie. 

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TED Tuesday: Rev. James Forbes: Compassion at the dinner table

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

Continuing with the Charter for Compassion talks. Rev. Jams Forbes presents a refreshing and everyday perspective on compassion, including sympathetic joy — rejoicing in successes of others. He grew up in a family asking, “Are all the children in?”

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