People ask what do I look for when monitoring an EBS instance for availability? Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM) with the Applications Management Pack (AMS) gives a good starting point, but here is a condensed list of my general health check items for my production instance. It’s not everything possible, but it’s what I generally would check during a shake-down of a disaster-recovery exercise.
What’s the Difference between Guided Meditation and Sesshin Training?
At a workshop on leadership given by Henry Givray, president and CEO of Smith-Bucklin, he cites two qualities of great leaders being self-awareness, and self-management. Self-management (or self-control) comes through motivation to change, and developing discipline to alter behaviors. But what process do you follow to become more self-aware, that is, heightening awareness of your own strengths and limitations, knowing fully your values and ideals, or even knowing what you do and how you do it? Meditation, and many other closed-eye processes are a way bring focus to your own thoughts by shutting down the myriad of stimuli that bombard our senses every moment of every day. Ever tried sitting down and thinking about one thing, and then thinking more about tangent elements of that one thing, and soon you are wondering why you were thinking about that one thing in the first place? Being able to calm down our expansive mental abilities to think and analyze many things at once takes some form of actual physical intervention, and meditation is one of the simplest and self-capable forms of performing this feat. You don’t have to soak in a sensory deprivation chamber, or alight atop a Himalayan mountain in order to achieve a state where you can focus deeply on something. The difference is similar to taking a brief glance in a mirror to check your appearance, or looking deeply at your own reflection in the mirror to see every aspect of your physicality, even what you may dislike seeing (and perhaps even being motivated to change.)
Sometimes, even the process of closing one’s eyes and attempting to pacify one’s thoughts doesn’t come easily. Too many daily distractions have piled-up creating worrisome subjects, or maybe the thought you want to focus upon isn’t easily visualized or even comprehended. You may even not know where to begin with really complicated situations. That’s when having something else provide the structure and attention focus for you helps a lot. Even your own voice and listening to your own verbalizations to yourself can help bring the extra framework of stability needed to train our mind’s excess capacity to think about many things at once, to calm the active and continuously curious senses back down to a state of focus and reflection. This is why many forms of meditation involve use of verbalized sounds or phrases, or mantras, which help achieve the same state of thinking. Psychologically, when you task your mind to repeat an endless phrase, which doesn’t require much thought other than to make the same sounds over and over again, with closed-eyes, you have occupied your mouth, mind and body with a single task to accomplish, which through repetition, physically hones in your awareness and senses towards a common focus — even if that task is to say, “Ohmmmm…” over and over again (or in the case of those of us in the Oracle IT software world, we might use “select * from dual;”.)
So, having achieved that nice, “happy place” state, how do you go about re-focusing on that thing you wanted to ponder, whether it was self-reflection, or how to solve a problem? That’s where guided meditation comes to play. It takes a lot of practice to maintain that state of inner calm, and also be able to introduce something else to think about, without upsetting the tranquility by piling on subject after subject to think about – as we all have so many things we’d like to figure out. Having another person or even a recorded voice instill that verbalized change of subject is how we can assist ourselves to stay focused on our own calmness, while the outside world introduces the subject of study. Listening to this podcast is a form of that kind of guidance, as you listen to each word and form images in your mind of what is being said. Guided meditation also facilitates that same process, whether in the form of a pre-recorded meditation audio track, playing Deepak Chopra’s Leela video game, or with another person providing the verbal support and guidance.
In Shinnyo-en, as in all forms of esoteric practice, self-reflection is one of the key forms of training to support our own development towards building a persistent world of harmony and joy. Shinnyo sesshin meditation training was developed by Master Shinjo Ito as a way to bridge the elements of the original Shingon form of sesshin, which involves complete isolation from the outside world and many rigorous hours of continued meditation practice, with the needs of the contemporary and practical world of today. This version of sesshin training has been arranged into differing levels of focus, ranging from simple self-awareness, to meditative problem-solving and crisis resolution. Depending on your own individual needs or objectives, you can choose to train in whichever level is most suitable for the particular area of focus you feel you need to work on as a priority. But the common element is the same – it is not that the words that the meditation guide gives you are the prescribed answers to your problems; it is about how you interpret those words, and what actions you take to actualize their meaning. The guide-person is a virtual verbal mirror for your own self-reflection. How you perceive what is said, is the key to understanding your own inner thoughts and what you do, and how you do it. And if you get the bigger picture, that’s also what the entire world is, and everyone around you – a mirror of your Self.
From this month’s Shinnyo Reflections newsletter, sesshin is one of the keys to creating a world based on friendship. The Shinnyo-en community, together with the practitioners and temple staff as a whole, are working to create opportunities for more people to be able to receive structured sesshin. That structured setting practice goes beyond reflecting on the indications we receive. It involves thinking about our connectedness to others, putting ourselves in the place of others, and working together with others. In the process, some of our own deep-seated fears or worries will naturally evaporate—leading us to becoming more courageous overall. By acting on what inspires us and applying in daily life what we grasp through the meditative practice of sesshin, we can truly change our lives. And this starts from not being afraid to step forward because you really care for the wellbeing of others. This selflessness and letting go of attachment will surely help us to break free from the cycle of karmic suffering toward the joy of being spiritually liberated. Our efforts to act on our sesshin training experiences nurture us to overcome whatever hurdles we may face.
Many of history’s greatest leaders share a commonality – a side affection for the Arts, whether it be music, painting, fictional literature, or even acting. It may be that these elemental activities, that are based more on individual creativity and interpretation than well-defined scientific guidelines are what create the flexible and innovative leaders around us.
For example, a leader who has been well-versed in laws and regulations, who knows how to “play exactly by the book” may be left uncertain in times demanding alternative approaches, or when facing rapidly changing challenges.
The person who is used to making the best of whatever the given situation presents, often has the freedom to think beyond conventional solutions and offer new strategies that may extend far beyond the conservative mindset.
Today the world is facing endless problems due to climate change, political tensions, economic crises, a soaring population, natural disasters and diseases, but the lovingkindness that already lies within our hearts and forms the core of genuine spiritual practice can help dispel these dark clouds to reveal a brighter future. Lovingkindness is the good within us and the basis of humanity and philanthropy.
Acts of lovingkindness will lead to the serenity and peace of mind that comes from feeling close to others. Good things come from loving acts and kindness is born from putting one’s beliefs into practice. As our kind and caring actions accumulate, we come to understand through personal experience the interdependence of all life along with the joy of living and being given life. To begin this process, the steps we take, however small, should be sincere and full of lovingkindness. Every moment that we spend being a good friend to others polishes our buddha nature further, allowing us to move closer to buddhahood.
Shinso Ito, our head priest of Shinnyo-en set forth the guidelines for 2013 during the January 1st service:
With sincere efforts made towards a borderless realm of shinnyo,
And following the example of the Shinnyo Parents,
Let us expand our ties of friendship in the world.
To help put this into practice, the two guidelines are:
1. Contributing through steps of lovingkindness.
2. Acting on our sesshin experience.
As the practice of sesshin training helps of understand our own flaws and areas needing encouragement, it is not enough just to understand that you and I have things needing improvement, but we must take steps towards actually changing ourselves as part of our efforts to reflect a better example for others.
We close with the 2013 Sonouta which reads:
Let us never fail to endeavor and pray till the world of joy is realized.
Note that prayer and self-focus is second, and making efforts comes first. This is because by actually engaging in honest efforts to encourage and support others, self-transformation comes as a symmetrical byproduct of the process. The spirit of friendship will expand in the world when we strengthen the bond we have to our own buddha nature, and to each other.
So after purchasing a very nice-looking product from a local ethnic market – Horlick’s “Womens Horlicks”which as an interesting product category is the first Horlicks malted milk mix that excludes sweeteners of any kind (so that the individual can choose how much sugar or sweetener to add.)
And I, for one, find the differences fascinating. I know the WHO standardized “Per 100g” so that consumers could judge intake between different kinds of foods regardless of serving size. So if you take the US RDA x3, it approximates pretty well the WHO statistics.
You can see where the FDA insists on a break-down of any specific ingredients (“Minerals”, “Vitamins”) but omits any natural flavorings that may be part of another combined product (“Dry MIlk Powder”, “Cocoa Powder”).
The World Health Organization on the other hand, is quite specific in the nutritional content by vitamin or mineral element, and not so interested in Fat break-down or Sodium and Cholesterol content.
Neither organization is currently policing Genetically Modified Organism (GMO), organic or natural nomenclature, or processing information.
I find it interesting that the disclaimer portions of the label are quite different. WHO warns, “Contains Nature Identical Flavouring Substances” presumably targeted to people worried about artificial flavorings and colorings (flavourings and colourings.)
US FDA warns, “Contains: Milk Powder” and “Made in a facility that uses treenuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat and peanuts” presumably for allergenic purposes.
Which standard (WHO or US FDA) do you think gives you a better idea of what you’re eating?
If you Care a Little More, Things Happen. Bees can be dangerous. Always wear protective clothing when approaching or dealing with bees. Do not approach or handle bees without proper instruction and training.