Eckhart Tolle says ‘realize deeply the present moment is all you have. This reminds me to be present where and when I am in the present moment and to not get caught up in being some place else or some time else! In the words of Jim Elliot; ‘Wherever you are – be all there.
There are several benefits to training our minds to be in the present ….
When we are in the present moment................
Both the past and the future only exist in the present mind. The past has already been and the future has not yet come! However we bring them into the present mind, usually with worry. There is never any use worrying about what has already been and what may or may not happen in the future, but how do we stop ruining our present with such worry?
A useful way to train our minds to be more in the present, which I learned from my Teachers Lama Marut and Cindy Lee is this ‘Be Here Now’ practice.
This practice is one way we can train our minds to be more in the present and less caught up with worry about the past and future, times that don’t exist. We can do this simple tuning into our surroundings anytime we remember as well as a preliminary before doing meditation.
I have been using this 'Be Here Now' practice to settle into the present before doing our meditation in yoga for many years. Lama Marut refers to this practice as 'setting our internal GPS'. It orientates us in the present, place and time.
The ‘be here now’ practice consists of the following steps.
ii.Secondly, we notice the sensations we can feel. These include any areas of pressure or warmth we can feel on the skin, a breeze, whatever we can feel. Again no need to think we are simply tuning in
iii.Thirdly, we bring our attention to any smells that are lingering around.
BINGO we are in the present, and everything is OK there, no fear or worry.
In our yoga classes we do this meditation preliminary practice, then go onto bring our attention to the breath, our anchor in the present with a simple mindful breathing meditation. I will outline the steps of this mediation next blog.
With love, appreciation and very best well wishes to us all
As I said last blog I have been trying to remember to be grateful and to do Lama Marut's 2-part morning loll each morning. The first part of the loll includes gratitude as I elaborated on last blog. The second part is all about considering our impermanence and using this to make the most of our precious lives.
Like us all, I have had family and friends who have passed away. Despite understanding that it is part of the cycle of life and having studied Buddhism and Death Awareness, I am often still taken by surprise when death occurs.
In the past I have been reluctant to consider death. I felt it was morbid and did not want to think about it because I was fearful. I am sure I am not alone as I think in our culture, we tend to be afraid of death. However, when we bring a wise understanding to death, we are able to let go of fear and appreciate our lives more.
I now understand it is not helpful to put my head in the sand when it comes to death and that awareness and understanding help me to be more realistic and to make the most of each day of my precious life. It also helps me to appreciate others too, to not take them for granted and to remember to tell them that I love and appreciate them.
The idea to live every day as if it was your last is an interesting one. If I truly thought today was the last day, I had to live I certainly wouldn’t waste time getting angry, upset or worried. I’d make the most of it to connect with those I love to tell them that I love and appreciate them. This is great to reminder to do all the time.
There are three Buddhist death awareness contemplations I find most helpful. These are…
I find these three Buddhist death awareness contemplations most helpful. My understanding of these are…
So when I have done part one of the loll and thought about all I have to be grateful for I then do a brief contemplation of these three understandings. I think about the certainty of my death, the unknown time of it and remind myself to live a good life and do my best to be kind positive force in the world. Awareness of death helps me to appreciate and live a ‘good life’.
With love, appreciation and very best well wishes to us all
A Morning Gratitude Practice
The New Year is a great time to remind ourselves of things that are great to do to promote peace of mind and happiness. Things like a morning gratitude practice. Gratitude is, as Pema Chodron says, 'a magical golden key to being alive in a full, unrestricted and inspired way'.
I have written much about gratitude and consider it one of the most important foundational practices for happiness, resilience and peace of mind. Gratitude can help us heal feelings of sadness. It can also help us to feel uplifted and to find the blessings in a difficult situation and turn a so-called problem into an opportunity to learn. For example I can be grateful for the grumpy person ahead of me in coffee cue for reminding me to be patient.
Many years ago I was introduced to a morning gratitude practice. It is wonderful way to start each morning and certainly sets a positive mood for the day. When I wake up I bring to mind my amazing life and all those in it and be thankful for it all.
I go through being thankful for having woken up, and all those who are helping to make my amazing life possible. These can include, having a house to live in, family, friends, and loved ones, my work and those I work with, and all the resources I have, shelter, money, food, clothes, etc. I can also bring to mind gratitude for all those people I don’t even know that make my life possible, including farmers who grow my food, workers who make all the appliances, gadgets and clothes I use, public transport drivers and road construction workers who help me to get around, and health care workers and police. While I have given many examples here even just a quick contemplation on few things that we are grateful for each morning is a great morning habit to develop.
Lama Marut calls this simple morning gratitude practice part one of the ‘two-part morning loll’. He suggests we don't get up straight away but instead loll around in bed contemplating our amazing lives and being grateful for all those people who make our lives possible. We can also keep a gratitude journal where we list the things we are grateful for each morning. Adding to it during the day keeps us mindful to be grateful.
The second contemplation we can do following the gratitude part of the morning loll is to think about impermanence and that none of us know when our lives will end. The purpose of this is not to be morbid but rather to help us prioritise what is important in out lives and to motivate us to make the most of each precious day. Lama Marut suggests we bring to mind these two things when we wake and contemplate them while lolling around in bed.
These two simple daily habits open up a sense of joy and get us in touch with what is important in our lives. They are a great way to start each day!
With love and my very best wishes to us all