I grew up in a household in which sarcasm came naturally. By the time I left my home sarcasm was imprinted on every brain cell and leaked out of every sentence I spoke. Out in the world I quickly discovered that as a method of communication, sarcasm rarely accomplished what I thought it would. It didn’t break the ice, diffuse tension, make a point well, win a debate, and it didn’t connect me to others. Most often it damaged relationships and left a wide burn zone around me on the other side of which were a growing number of people who doubted my sincerity and feared talking to me.
The danger of sarcasm is that it divides and hurts.
Rude and Condescending
The turning point came when someone called me rude and condescending and I painfully faced the recognition that I was. And, I didn’t know how to stop it at once. Rather, I struggled, like a person struggling to quit smoking; I wrestled daily, sentence by sentence, to strip mischief from my communication and suppress my sarcastic reflexes.
A Time And Place for Everything
Sometimes I tell myself that there is a time and place for everything and that suppressed sarcasm can come out safely when I am among close friends, or with colleagues. But that’s a lie I tell myself when I feel too lazy to look for a more beautiful way to talk about what is truly important. In stepping down my sarcasm I have come to witness people’s feelings being lacerated by the kind of sarcasm I used to be an expert at. It brings tears to my eyes now, and a deep, dull, sick feeling when I witness it, or when I feel it wanting to vomit out of my own mouth again after all these years. To Tear Flesh Off
The origin of the word sarcasm, in the Greek language, means to tear flesh, and generally, definitions of the word point to the intent to hurt. Sometimes I hurt when I read message boards and comments sections on the internet and I remain quiet, not because I have nothing to say, but because I have not yet found a way to express it that is consistent with what I believe I value: kindness.
Our amazingly beautiful world of technology has brought so much to us in terms of new ways to connect and communicate, and yet some of our most important skills related to its use are suffering, such as the practice of genuine thoughtfulness, old fashioned decency, listening, and responding to other points of view with grace, subtlety and finesse.
Completing the month of Chanting as a Spiritual Practice we sang Amitabhan's version of the Gayatri Mantra. Ami will be performing at the Center on Wednesday, October 2 with me at our monthly, Prayer, Meditation and Song service. And, all who attend will receive a free spiritual resource booklet.
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"Repeating an affirmation is leading the mind to that state of consciousness where it accepts that which it wishes to believe." Dr. Ernest Holmes
Adding music and rhythm to inspiring words and repeating them for a fixed number of recitations is a powerful practice. Dr. Edward (author of The Power of Meditation) shows us how we can establish a practice of chanting.
Giving as a Spiritual Practice has been the focus for August 2013. I've heard from so many people who struggle with self-esteem related to finances and their ability to contribute. My hope is that they will retrieve their natural-born innocence and joy for giving, and separate the act of giving form a dollar amount.
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Money is closely connected to self-worth and power. When it comes to giving, these connections prove to be powerful influencers. How to give joyfully? That's the focus of Giving as a Spiritual Practice.
Practicing throwing on the breaks, in addition to not acting and not talking in heated moments, can be accomplished by developing the habit of sometimes mindfully doing one thing at a time, such as eating without watching television, reading or any other activity at the same time. I enjoy a variety of stimuli and I love watching a good movie while having a good meal, and I also see the value of learning how to do something with a single mind which I call concentration; all my attention is centered on the activity at hand.
I may be missing out on something.... I acknowledge that as enjoyable as the sum total experience of eating and watching a movie is, I may be losing out on something very special when I fail to concentrate from time to time on one single activity. “When you are walking walk, when you are sitting, sit. Don’t wobble,”  are words which remind me to consider that whatever I find myself doing at any moment might as well be the of my undivided attention.
Put yourself "On Call." Enroll the participation of a friend or acquaintance who is willing to call you, or send you a text message, at three random times during this day to remind you to think about your meditation practice. When the call or message comes, all you have to do is pause, notice what you are currently doing. If you did meditate in the morning, try to remember that time of sitting. Then, go about your business as usual.
 Attributed variously to Gautama Buddha or Chinese Zen master, Yúnmén Wényǎn The Power of Meditation is available from...