Living peacefully in the moment

Mon, 4 Feb 2019

IS THERE A SECRET TO LIVING PEACEFULLY? IN THE "MOMENT"? It’s not an easy question to answer. Have you ever thought how or why do Buddhist monks appear peaceful and present all the time? How do they do it? Do they know some hidden secret that you don’t? I think they do! Let me explain. For thousands of years, Buddhist philosophy has focused solely on how to reduce human suffering and keep the mind focused on the present moment. Not the past and certainly not the future. To live each day in that "moment". Each day we are given 24 hours to be in the present. To learn from our mistakes, grow spiritually and to learn mindfulness. So what can we learn and implement in our lives from the teachings of Buddha? Here are ten practices of the Buddhist monks that we can adopt in our lives for peace and self awareness. While they may appear difficult at first, if you keep at it, they’ll benefit you for a lifetime. Habit 1 – Outer de-cluttering Did you know that the Buddha was born a prince? Yep, he could have spent his life in a big, beautiful palace where everything is done for him. But he didn’t. He abandoned everything when he realized the frustrating nature of materialism. 2300 years later, Buddhist monks do the same. They keep material possessions to a minimum and only hold what they need to live their life. Usually this will all fit in a small backpack. Now I am not recommending that you sell all your worldly goods and shave your heads, but have you ever thought about the "stuff" you have that you haven't even used in the last 6 months? Is it causing clutter? Does it make it hard to clean your home because of all the things you have saved? I moved 3 times in the past year, and each time I got rid of more stuff. Things that I didn't use anymore like cookbooks. Who uses cookbooks anymore with all the recipes you can find online? Buddhist completely de-clutter their life. Habit 2 – Inner de-cluttering: taking care of others In many Buddhist circles, monks learn to do things not for themselves, but for the whole world. When they meditate, it’s for the sake of everyone. They attempt to attain enlightenment to reach their full potential and help those in need. When you can develop this kind of selfless attitude, you focus less on your personal problems. You get less emotional about small things and your mind becomes more calm. This is what’s called inner de-cluttering: making room for others and dumping selfish habits. Habit 3 – Meditating A LOT Most monks wake up early and meditate for 1 to 3 hours and do the same at night. This kind of practice changes the brain. If you’ve read any articles on the benefits of meditation, then you know what I mean. Now you don’t have to adopt this kind of rigorous schedule, but what if you started the day with 30 minutes of meditation? I use guided meditations in the morning and before bedtime. It has honestly changed my life. I used to be a raging lunatic (LOL) and would yell at people, get hot under the collar and be ready to fight even if I was wrong. Now I just laugh and walk away. Habit 4 – Following the wise In our` society, we have an unhealthy relationship with old age. But for Buddhist monks, they see elder people as having wisdom. They seek elder spiritual guides that can help them on their path. If you look around, there are always insightful people to learn from. Older people have more experience which means they can offer countless life lessons. Habit 5 – Listen mindfully and without judgment Our brains naturally judges others. But according to Buddhists, the point of communication is to help others and ourselves suffer less. Criticizing and judging obviously doesn’t help. What’s wonderful about mindfulness is that it’s judgment-free. The main goal of mindful communication is to take in everything that someone is saying without evaluating it. So many of us pre-plan our answers while we’re listening but the main goal here is to simply take in all that they are saying. It leads to more mutual respect, understanding and chances for progress in the conversation. Habit 6 – Change is the only law of the universe According to Buddhist master Suzuki, a crucial principle we all need to learn is to accept change: “Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure. But unfortunately, although it is true, it is difficult for us to accept it. Because we cannot accept the truth of transiency, we suffer.” Everything changes, it’s the fundamental law of the universe. Yet, we find it hard to accept it. We identify strongly with our fixed appearance, with our body and our personality. And when it changes, we suffer. However, Suzuki says we can overcome this by recognizing that the contents of our minds are in perpetual flux. Everything about consciousness comes and goes. Realizing this in the heat of the moment can diffuse fear, anxiety, anger, grasping, despair. For example, it’s hard to stay angry when you see anger for what it is. This is why Zen teach that the moment is all that exists. Suzuki says: “Whatever you do, it should be an expression of the same deep activity. We should appreciate what we are doing. There is no preparation for something else” Habit 7 – Living the moment As humans it can be tough to simply embrace the present moment. We tend to think about past events or worry about what the future holds. Our mind can naturally drift. But mindfulness encourages us to refocus. Practising mindfulness enables us to get better at redirecting our thoughts back to what we’re actually engaged in. Without judging ourselves for getting lost in our thoughts, we simply acknowledge that we lost our attention and direct our focus to our senses or any task we’re engaged in. It takes discipline but it’s what we need to do if we want to be present for the miracles of life. Habit 8 – Focus on one thing This is a simple point, but underlines a key aspect of Buddhist philosophy. Buddhist monks are taught to focus on one thing at a time. Whatever is happening in your present moment, give it your full attention. If you can be like a Buddhist monk and focus on one thing at a time, you’ll be more engaged with what you’re doing and probably will experience more peace and calmness as a result. Habit 9 – Give it everything you’ve got Giving something your all is similar to focusing on one thing at a time. When you are doing something, embrace it with every aspect of your being. This doesn’t mean turning into an aggressive work horse, creating stress for yourself and people around you. Instead, focus on the present moment with a sense of peacefulness and sustained concentration. After all, you’re living here right now. There’s nowhere else to be, nothing else to do. Give what you’re doing everything you’ve got and wait for the results to kick in. Habit 10 – Let go of what you can’t control Letting go of things you can’t control is a huge part of how Buddhist monks live their lives. How many of you have heard me say "let go of the control" "you cant control the outcome" When you realize how impermanent everything is, you begin to let go and enjoy life for what it is in that moment.

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