Don’t have to change

What this means is that we can find our own happiness and peace of mind
just as we are in this very moment, because it is within us. We don’t have to change our thoughts or change ourselves into someone else.

We don’t need to think that who we are, this “me,” is not good enough, smart enough,  or lucky enough to be happy.

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, Resting the Busy Mind

How to improve our wellbeing

We expend a lot of effort to improve the external conditions of our lives, but in the end it is always the mind that creates our experience of the world and translates this experience into either well-being or suffering

Matthieu Ricard

Love and fear

Happiness, anxiety, joy, resentment — we have many words for the many emotions we experience in our lifetimes. But deep down, there are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt.

We have to make a decision to be in one place or the other. If you don’t actively choose love, you will find yourself in a place of either fear or one of its component feelings.

Every moment offers the choice to choose one or the other. And we must continually make these choices, especially in difficult circumstances when our commitment to love, instead of fear, is challenged.

Elizabeth Kubler Ross

Creating a more stable base for attention

One reason we need to create periods of rest is to counteract some of the effects of modern society on the brain, and nurture habits of stability and patience.

Nicholas Carr is the author of the book, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains. In it he outlines some of the ways that modern technologies are not only affecting our ability to pay attention but are also changing our brains. These technologies tend to fragment our attention, speeding up our need to know and plan, thus reducing our capacity to just rest in ourselves and our own space. This can increase the sense that our  day to day is running from here to there, with no time for ourselves, just a succession of  things to get done.

In an interview with CNN he said, “I became aware of changes in my own thinking a couple of years ago….… I came to realize [that] I was losing my ability to pay deep attention to one thing over a long period of time. When I’d sit down to read a book, for instance, I was only able to sustain my concentration for a page or two. My mind would begin to crave stimulation and distraction — it wanted to click on links, jump from page to page, check email, do some Googling….The habits of mind the net encouraged had become my dominant habits of mind.

It is no surprise that when we have an activity that demands patience and perseverence, we find it difficult to concentrate, missing the inner quiet needed for sustained activities. We become what we practice: If we are continually practicing distraction and small, bite-sized bursts of information, the brain can get used to distraction. If we practice resting and calm, the brain can become more calm.  As Carr continues: Other people – and I’m one of them –  believe that while it’s important to be able to skim and scan and multitask, our deepest and most valuable thinking requires a calm and attentive mind. If you exist in a perpetual state of distractedness, you’ll never tap into the deepest sources of human insight and creativity.

Once again, we can learn from nature in these days. Real growth takes time and is patient. As the proverb reminds us  “Mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow”, not immediately, but slowly, over time. Let us create gentle periods of less “productive”, more reflective activities – walking, reading, reflecting, meditating – and thus nurture other habits of mind.


Allowing ourselves some quiet in our busy lives

Finding quiet time isn’t a luxury; it’s essential for protecting our health.  It allows us to rest the body and the mind in a world that increasingly values speed and distraction.

After a pebble touches the surface of the river, it allows itself to sink slowly. It will reach the bed of the river without any effort. Once the pebble is at the bottom of the river, it continues to rest. It allows the water to pass by.

I think the pebble reaches the bed of the river by the shortest path because
it allows itself to fall without making any effort. During our sitting meditation we can allow ourselves to rest like a pebble. We can allow ourselves to sink naturally without
effort to the position of sitting, the position of resting.

Resting is a very important practice; we have to learn the art of resting. Resting is the first part of meditation. You should allow your body and your mind to rest. Our mind as well as our body needs to rest. The problem is that not many of us know how to allow our body and mind to rest. We are always struggling; struggling has
become a kind of habit.

When an animal in the jungle is wounded, it knows how to find a quiet place, lie down and do nothing. The animal knows that is the only way to get healed-to lay down and just rest, not thinking of anything, including hunting and eating.  What it needs is to rest, to do nothing, and that is why its health is restored.  In our consciousness there are wounds also, lots of pains. Our consciousness also needs to rest in order to restore itself. Our consciousness is just like our body. Our body knows how to heal itself if we allow it the chance to do so.

Thich Nhat Hahn

How nature heals

These beautiful autumn days touch the heart and the spirit. Simply being out in nature can heal and restore us, without the need for words or explanations or ideas.

We can learn from it as to how to be with someone who is going through a time of difficulty:

I was sad one day and went for a walk; I sat in a field.

A rabbit noticed my sadness and came near

It often does not take more than that to help at times

to just be close to creatures who are so full of knowing

so full of love, that they don’t

chat

they just gaze with their marvellous understanding.

John of the Cross