I have written lots on gratitude. Gratitude includes both an appreciation of, and a willingness to pay back kindness. It is important to bring awareness to gratitude for Mother nature - our sustainer and supporter of life. How do we repay the kindness of our Mother Nature? It seems to me that making efforts to protect our environment is the way to go!
I have been watching 'The War of Waste' which has been giving me lots of insights into the environmental impact of waste and some valuable suggestions about how to reduce waste. While the enormity of the problem of waste can be overwhelming, I am calmed by the fact that 'peace begins with me'. In Buddhism there is a truism which says you cannot cover the earth with leather for protection, but you can cover your feet with leather to protect them and the earth both!
So, how do we care for the earth, tread lightly on it and reduce our environmental footprint? And how do we return the kindness of our precious Mother Earth? One in the same really!
Here are a few suggestions. I am sure you can think of many more, but here are a few I am trying to put into practice...
As I write this blog from this beautiful spot, I am surrounded by the wonders of Mother Nature and reminded of how she sustains, supports and lovingly takes care of us all, so perfectly. I am truly grateful for this opportunity to restore and appreciate the wonder of my life. It has been fun to think about ways to be mindful to appreciate, return kindness and care for such wonderful, gracious gifts Mother Nature provides.
No matter where you are, especially at this potentially busy time of year, try to remember to take some time out to let Mother Nature replenish you, be thankful for Her sustenance and support and put into practice some ways to repay that kindness by caring for Her too.
Have a great fortnight. Thank you all.
Kind Regards and Best Wishes,
Sadly recently I have had to farewell family and friends who are dear to me. Their passing has taken me by surprise despite having studied Buddhism and 'death awareness'!
I used to not want to bring awareness to death, as I felt it was morbid and something I really did not want to think much about. I now understand that is important, as it helps me be realistic and make the most of each day and my precious life. It also helps me to appreciate others and not take them for granted.
My abbreviated understanding of Buddhist ideas related to death include these 3 premises.................
1. Death is Certain.
Death happens to all of us. When we think back over all those people we have known who are no longer with us, this brings this reality home. It is not helpful to bury our head in the sand regarding this as it prevents us from making the most of each day.
2. Time of death is uncertain
I know I want to believe that if I live a healthy life I will somehow guarantee living a long life. While it is certainly good to do your best to live a healthy and happy life there are no guarantees that it will prolong our life into old age or the average life expectancy. As we know there are many ways our life can end, including sickness and accident, the time of these events is beyond our control.
3. What will matter when I die?
I believe the answer to this questions is - how I have lived my life. So, if we do our best to live a good life that is all we need to do. For me the definition of a 'good life' is to do my best to practice kindness to myself and others. To do my best to live a kind, ethical life and be a positive force in the world.
I recently saw a billboard advertising bourbon which expressed this sentiment. It read 'Happy hour is short. Use it wisely'.
Lama Marut has a helpful, practical recommendation for factoring both this awareness of death, and appreciation for life into a morning practice. He calls it the two part morning loll.
So his recommendation on waking is to think about two things
1. Gratitude for all those people and things that make our life possible. As the mug above reminds us 'start each day with a grateful heart'. This is a great way to start the day as it uplifts our mind. We certainly have lots to be grateful for.
2. The second is to contemplate that this may be your last day and to make the most of each precious moment of it. If it really was our last day (and who knows if it is or is not) we would not waste it being unkind, unforgiving, resentful or harming others or ourselves.
I look forward to connecting again next fortnight
Kind regards, best wishes and love
I shared a few weeks agoI have been having fun breaking my inappropriate sorry habit. But what about times when sorry is appropriate and necessary!
Times like when we have made a mistake or hurt someone in some way. This includes an apology to ourselves as well in times when we have given ourselves a hard time, by being unkind with our self talk! There is a practice I learned from Lama Marut several years ago which is entitled the 'Four Powers'! I find this practice very useful when I have done something that I regret doing. It involves these 4 steps
1. Refuge -
This can simply mean remember having this on your conscious will destroy your peace of mind
Feel some regret having done the misdeed. As simple as 'I wish I had not done that'
Make a promise to yourself to do your best to restrain from repeating this misdeed
Do something to make up for what you have done. This can include an apology if appropriate or something else you can do to make up for what you have done to clear your conscience.
A simple example of this practice that I like to share involved a time when I cut someone off in traffic. I cut them off in my haste to get, would you believe, to a yoga studio!
My refuge in this example was my understanding that if I did not do anything about it I would feel guilty with troubled peace of mind for the rest of my trip and beyond.
So Regret next. Did I regret cutting the person off? Yes it was unkind and inconsiderate. I was sorry that I had inconvenienced the other driver.
Next Restraint. Could I restrain from inconsiderate driving for the rest of my trip home? Yes!
And lastly my recompense. What could I do to make up for this misdeed? I would find someone to let into the traffic as a makeup for the inconvenience to the other driver. It took me nearly the whole way home from Northcote to find someone to let into the traffic. Whew, finally I did and it felt great! All done and dusted! And a clear conscience!
And a couple more helpful thing when saying sorry for something you regret doing!
1. AVOID BUTS!
So many times I apologise and then go on with a but and it's following string of excuses! It goes something like this when I am late for my mum .....Sorry for being late, but the traffic was terrible ...on and on with a string of excuses.. This makes her cranky with me and I understand why!
The word BUT following a sorry......
Negates the main purpose of an apology, which is to acknowledge
1. The action and
2. The impact it has had.
Shifts the responsibility for your actions and their impact onto someone or something else
Makes the person you are apologising to feel invalidated and overlooks their pain.
So, what can I do instead of the 'but' and excuses following my apology. I could say to my Mother 'Sorry I am late. I said I would be there on time and I am not. I am sorry I have inconvenienced you.
This statement apologies, acknowledges the action and the impact it as had. When we don't use a but, and instead use a' full stop' or an 'and' we acknowledge the impact of our actions without minimising the other person's experience. We also take responsibility for our actions.
Forgiveness for oneself and others is also very important. When others offer us an apology, forgiveness is not only healing for them, but also frees our mind from the disturbance of holding onto a grudge or hurt. It is equally important to forgive ourselves for misdoings. We are all human and make mistakes. Using the Four powers can be extremely helpful here.
We are human and all make mistakes and are at times hurtful to both ourselves and others. We can be aware of how we respond at these times and avoid 'buts' to allow a response that makes others and ourselves feel better. It never feels good to be defensive, blaming or hurtful. A helpful anonymous quote says "Never ruin an apology with an excuse' And a plug for forgiveness from Mother Theresa - 'If we really want to love we must learn how to forgive.
I look forward to connecting again next fortnight
Kind regards, best wishes and love
As I shared recently I have had some sad events going on including the passing of my Aunt Rosa and the declining heath of my dear teacher Lama Marut. Sadly these things are part of life and none of us are immune to the sadness change often brings.
One thing that really helps me in times of sadness, is gratitude. I have recently been reminded that we cant have 'sad' without 'glad'. It is just the same as the fact that we can't have the light from a candle without darkness. Like everything else sad and glad are interdependent. Lama Marut, amongst other fabulous things, is a master teacher on the concept of interdependence. The truth that everything, including ourselves, is interdependent, and not dependent nor independent.
Interdependence put simply is the understanding that everything is interrelated or in relationship. The example I find easiest to understand is that you can't have an independent giver of a present without a receiver of that present. The giver can only be a giver in relationship with a receiver of the present. And the same is true vice versa. There cannot be a receiver of the present until or unless there is a present and a giver giving it. The two exist in relationship and neither can exist without the other or their relationship. So no independent giver without a receiver and no independent receiver without a giver. The two are in an interdependent relationship of giving and receiving. Neither can exist without the other and neither can come first!
It is the same with everything including sad and glad. So I am sad to have lost the physical presence of my aunt Rosa, but I am so glad to have had such a wonderful connection with her. And I am so grateful to her for so many other things too. I am also glad that the connection we share will continue every time I bring her to mind with gratitude.
Rosa taught me so much through how she lived her life. She reminded me that contentment is a state of mind which is not related to what we have or what we have achieved.
Rosa never married, she was the 6th child of 11! She was very short in stature but was big in heart. My cousins and I were the children she never had and she remained so interested in us, our lives and our families throughout her life. Rosa was not a big traveller, in fact she rarely took her red gemini out of Geelong!. She never travelled overseas or in a plane, and only went on two interstate road trips with relatives. Rosa lived alone in a very small unit that was often frequented by family passing by. She worked for Pilkingtons in Geelong as a glass windscreen inspector. When she retired she loved to walk and would walk to town each day visiting friends and relatives on the way.
So seemingly no great vocational or academic achievements, no travel adventures and enough material possessions. She was somewhat radical in that she did not have the desire to achieve more, to do more or acquire more. She was content with her life. She made her family feel loved and appreciated and for that I am very glad. I am also glad she did not have to suffer for long and that she was surrounded by those she loved when she passed away.
For me she was a very good example of Lama Marut's slogans - "Be Radical, Be Content'! and "I have enough'. Lama Marut taught these helpful slogans to protect and remind us about the dangers of falling into the whole consumer discontentment trap. They are particularly useful at Chadstone!
Rosa's funeral ended with an announcement that Rosa was shouting us all lunch and a beer at the pub where we could laugh and share stories together. It was fun, there was plenty to both laugh and cry about. So, I am both sad and glad together. And it is not goodbye, but instead farewell. Rosa lives on in the hearts and minds of all who loved and knew her and I am very glad of that too.
THANK YOU to you all! Have a great fortnight!