I respectfully suggest the following three things to increase your experience of equanimity, connection and wellbeing for 2019 and the future.
- Just Notice:
Once upon a time there was a great spiritual teacher famous throughout the world for the peace he transmitted. He had taught for many years but suddenly he found that he had become fashionable and famous ─ two things that held no attraction for him. He simply wanted to teach. He was especially well liked by the more affluent and better educated, fashion-following, young professionals.
On this particular night there was great excitement in the auditorium, an air of expectation. All of the most fashionable people were there. They all wanted a profound message, a shortcut ,a trick so that they would feel happier with their lives because although they had loads of money and all the material things that they had been taught to want, many felt that something was missing. They still experienced a sense of disconnection, of emptiness. No matter how many fashionable things they bought, nor how many exotic places they visited, they simply could not shake the feeling that there must be something more to life. It was like a “stone in their shoe”; it would not leave them in peace. And so, they had all come today to listen to the teacher to find an answer.
The teacher started to talk in his wise and enchanting way. He had not been talking for long when the young professionals started to get irritated, shouting out: “Can’t you see that we are very busy, and very important which means that we don’t have time to listen to you talk and talk. All we need from you is something short and effective, a simple word, a brilliant phrase or technique that takes no time at all but will impact our lives in the most profoundly positive way. Something that will give us sense, give us meaning.
Everyone sat silently, confident that the teacher was about to tell them something profound, interesting and hopefully a bit witty as well. After reflecting a while the teacher looked up and simply said, “Notice”… Notice your lives”.
All of the young professionals there felt disappointment, then indignation. “I haven’t come all this way and paid good money to hear this rubbish. I’m very busy, I am important, I need something practical. Others (without really understanding why) became very angry. And so, in a wave of anger and indignation they rose up and killed the teacher. Then they all went back to their lives of conspicuous consumption, shaking their heads at such nonsense, hoping that one day they would find the short cut, the magic trick to make them feel better. Not realising that what they sought was right there in front of them, if only they would simply pay attention. They all died still waiting.
Real change comes about when we change our perception. Our perception does not change until we notice that it needs changing. Be present in your life. Notice your life. Respond instead of reacting
2. Be grateful:
A teacher told his pupil the following story:
A Buddhist Monk was walking through the mountains one day, when, out of nowhere, a tiger appeared, chasing the monk towards the edge of a cliff. The monk, in his quest to escape the tiger, ran to the edge of the cliff and climbed over the side, where he saw five more tigers 15 feet below him, also waiting to eat him.
So, the monk was just hanging there, holding onto a vine on the side of the cliff, waiting there for a chance to escape or at least to avoid being a tiger’s lunch. Then, as the monk hung there, exploring his options, he turned to the left and saw a strawberry.
He smiled, “Wow what a magnificent strawberry!” he said to himself. So he picked it and ate it.
The student waited for his teacher to continue but it was clear that the teacher was done with the story. “That’s it? That is the story? The monk is about to be eaten by tigers so he reaches out to pick and eat a strawberry?” the student exclaimed.
“What’s the point?” he added.
The teacher replied, “The lesson is to know and embrace the experience of being alive. You must be alive every second you are alive.”
The student responded, “But teacher, everyone is alive when they are alive.”
“No,” said the teacher. “It’s the experience of being alive in each moment, in each experience, good and bad. We must be alive every second we are alive and not simply exist and live out our days.”
The student, confused, questioned his teacher, asking, “But everyone alive is alive, aren’t they?” he insisted.
“No. Look at you now,” explained the teacher. “You are running around being chased by metaphorical tigers, consumed with your thoughts of how it could be better, how you could be better if only things were different. Yet, you have shared with me over the past year several difficult situations, in addition to the circumstances that I have observed directly; how you were about to be “eaten by tigers” and how you have been saved in each situation. You can’t be alive if you are living in fear and if you’re living in fear you can’t see and experience life; the magnificence of your life that is right in front of you in each moment.”
Being present in your life with an attitude of gratitude allows you to see, to appreciate the miracle, the great gift and good fortune of being here, being alive being conscious and being able to share.
Self-compassion is simply being kind to yourself, treating yourself as you would treat a friend.
A water-bearer carried two large pots on a yoke across his shoulders up the hill from the river to his master’s house each day. One had a crack and leaked half its water out each day before arriving at the house. The other pot was intact, perfect and always delivered a full portion of water after the long walk from the river.
Finally, after years of arriving half-empty and feeling guilty, the cracked pot apologized to the water-bearer. It was miserable: “I’m sorry that I couldn’t accomplish what the perfect pot did.”
The water-bearer replied, “What do you have to apologize for?”
“After all this time, I still only deliver half my load of water. I make more work for you because of my flaw.”
The man smiled and told the pot,“Take note of all the lovely flowers growing on the side of the path where I carried you. The flowers grew so lovely because of the water you leaked. There are no flowers on the perfect pot’s side.”
I don’t know if you identify with the idea of yourself as a cracked pot. I think most of us feel a bit like the cracked pot or perhaps even a “crackpot”. I certainly do. The fact is that you could search throughout our planet and you will not find anyone more deserving of your love and of your compassion than you yourself.
The main reason for which people are not more self-compassionate is that they believe that it will make them lazy and self-indulgent. This is nonsense. There are more effective sources of motivation than harsh self-criticism. It is just that we have been raised to believe that being hard on ourselves is the way to live.
Accept everything about yourself; I mean everything. You are what you are: beginning, middle and end. Every part is you. Every part is valuable. No apologies and no regrets.
Wishing you peace health and happiness for 2019.