Category Archives: Religion

Zen Meditation: Thicker brains fend off pain

My friend Evelyn posted this recently on Facebook.  The article will interest anyone with chronic pain and those who meditate regularly.

Zen Meditation: Thicker brains fend off pain.


A model baby home

It was now almost lunch time, but we really wanted a chance to spend some time with Slavi/Matan, so we returned to the baby home after filing some paperwork with the notary.  The notary office will soon become  a second home to us since Ukraine requires lengthy notarization for all legal papers.

When we returned, one of Matan’s caretakers directed us to a playroom.  After removing our shoes, Karen charged into the adjoining room with Matan close on her heels.  We followed them into a  huge room that was decked out for the children’s Christmas party. Christmas here is only on January 7th (Russian Orthodox).

One of the caretakers pointed us towards a piano, and opened it, indicating that the children could play.  I was amazed since such delicate and expensive items are usually off-limits to children.  With a huge grin, Karen started banging on the keys.  She quickly modified her style when I told her that we must play gently if we wanted them to allow us to continue playing.  Matan quickly followed her lead, and the three of us experimented with different keys for a few minutes.  Then they were both off looking for something more interesting.

After Karen played around with the camera a bit, they both dashed into the adjoining room to play with more toys.  Matan was thrilled to have me help him sit astride a “car”, while he experimented with rolling in different directions.   Between Karen and myself, we took a bunch of photos.  I tried picking out my favorites to share here.

From Lama Surya Das’s newsletter

Breathing, relaxing and smiling, settling, arriving, letting yourself arrive, you’re already here it seems.  But has your energy arrived here and landed in this place?  Collect your scattered thoughts and energies. Connect with the present moment, through breathing as an anchor to presence, immediacy, to nowness, calming and clearing the heart mind.

Open to the wisdom of allowing effortless effort to reveal itself through the wisdom of openness, acceptance, spiritual detachment, keenly caring and interested yet detached, observing, with the bigger perspective, the ultimate stance or outlook, the great perfection, the great mudra, awareness alone beyond outside and inside, good or bad, self or other, awareness alone, naked awareness – this moment the only moment, this breath, the only breath.  Marvelous.

Paying attention, calm and clear, awake, take care, stay aware, aware of inhaling while breathing in, aware of exhaling while breathing out, watching the exhalation, letting everything else go by on the stream of consciousness, the river of experience, without judgment or evaluation, without pushing or pulling – mindfulness of breathing, breath awareness, the basic meditation exercise for being more present, cultivating awareness, awareness of all.  

And third, let it be, leave yourself alone for a change, simply get to know yourself as you are, as it is, just sitting, just breathing, just being aware, attentive, mindful of thoughts, feelings, sensations and perceptions, not picking and choosing.  Aware, choiceless awareness, pure presence, radiant clarity, the natural meditation of the natural great perfection, leaving things just as they are, Buddha said there’s Nirvanic peace in things left just as they are.   In this meditation just be and remain at home, at ease, luminous, serene, clear, aware.

      –Lama Surya Das

From my inbox, today

“There is no such thing as spiritual practice except stepping out of self-deception and stopping our struggle to get hold of spiritual states. Just give that up, other than that there is no spirituality.”

– Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, “Myth of Freedom”

As if international adoption wasn’t tough enough

Want your adopted son to become Jewish? Act Orthodox – Haaretz – Israel News.

Unfortunately, this is exactly how things work in Israel.  It is shameful.  I won’t comment further for obvious reasons, but I hope some of you will comment.

I know many adoptive parents and many have chosen either to forgo conversion completely, or to do a Conservative conversion.  A conservative conversion will not make the child “Jewish” enough to get married inside the faith in Israel.  Like so many others, the children will need to travel to Cyprus to get married.  If the child is girl, her children will never be considered Jewish.