YOUR ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN: ur new years resolution fb post

Right Action
Post 4/8 of #8weeksofmindfulness based on the Eight-fold path in Buddhism

With our world fast approaching the New Year in the hours to come, we will all be clutching our cell phones, laptops, tablets, fingertips poised for posting our statuses, tweets, or blog posts about our New Years Resolutions, how this one will be different, etc.

However different 2k15 may turn out to be, there is one thing that will inevitably remain the same: our continued connection to each other.

We will continue to be interdependent beings in 2015, whether we like it or not. We will still all continue to share this thing called human connection. We will share our stories and experiences with one another, and we will ultimately influence and impact each others lives, both directly and indirectly.

HAVING SAID THAT, Why not help to improve the quality of life for those around us?

While I don’t particularly believe in the significance of New Years resolutions, I do believe in goals: long-term, short-term, big and small. I constantly set little goals (and big goals) of not only things I would like to achieve, but also, things I would like to improve on physically, mentally/emotionally, spiritually.

If you are looking for some goals to discover a healthier, more positive version of yourself, or for a renewed outlook to start off the year with, a good place to start may be with examining your actions. Below are the five main aspects of Right Action from the eight-fold path the Buddha taught:

1) Respect life 2) Generosity 3) Avoid Physical misconduct 4) Loving speech and deep listening 5) Nourishment of your body

A little elaboration:

Focusing in on respecting all forms of life can allow us to appreciate the beauty and miracle that exists within all life forms. In this year we can remind ourselves to not take that for granted.

We can be generous with our presence and effort towards others. By doing so, we demonstrate genuine compassion for others. We care for others, and perhaps, in turn, are cared for. We are unselfish in our actions. We can choose to make the happiness of others a priority before our own.

In the physical misconduct category, the Buddha primarily taught of the dangers of sexual misconduct, which are issues of attachment and desire. I would venture further to include all physical misconduct, to any form of violence, physical harm towards another being.

Next, We can choose to offer loving speech and to listen deeply to the people in our lives in order to better understand them, their concerns and needs, because, sometimes, all we really need is to be heard, really heard.

Lastly, we can focus on nourishing our bodies. We can choose to make healthier choices to take better care of ourselves (whatever that may mean for you, specifically). Maybe, it’s to finally stop smoking, to eat more vegetables, or stop binge eating junk foods and learn to eat them in moderation.

The Buddha sums up Right Action in a small section of the Dhammapada:

“Watching his speech, well restrained in mind, let a man never commit wrong with his body. Let a man keep these three roads of action clear, and he will achieve the way which is taught by the wise.”

The moral to this story is simply that we are allowed to take baby steps to our self-improvement. We need not make some elaborate, extreme resolution of how we are going to become radically different in the next few hours.

We can simply make a continuous, positive effort to improve our world, by allowing mindfulness and compassion into our hearts, minds and extending this into our actions and our interactions with others.

With that, I would like to wish you all the very happiest of New Years!

Namaste ॐ

“The scent of flowers does not travel against the wind, nor that of sandalwood, or of Tagara and Mallika flowers; but the odor of good people travels even against the wind; A good man pervades every place.”
-The Buddha

-A.K.

“OH…FUUU–DGE…” on Right Speech (the eight-fold path)

Post 3/8 in #8weeksofmindfulness

First off, Merry Christmas Eve! I intended to have this up by last night to have you all ready to go for your family functions! Hopefully you will still find this enjoyable or of use.

As with most principles / practices in Buddhism, there is both an emphasis on renunciation as well as cultivation of certain patterns/habits (see previous post for reference).

The primary aspects of Right Speech the Buddha emphasized were as follows: abstinence from false speech, malicious speech, and abstinence from idle chatter.

When we allow ourselves to relinquish speech which is not promoting happiness and harmony among people, we are allowing ourselves to be aware of energy we are putting out, which generally increases positive interactions.

This awareness is imperative, always, but especially this time of year.

It can be difficult to reunite with family members, perhaps estranged, or otherwise distant. It is easy to make sarcastic remarks and to engage in hostile conversation, perhaps out of frustration, due to the high levels of stress associated with the Christmas season.

But I challenge you to take your time, to take a breath, to think before you speak, to ask your self: Is this compassionate? Is this necessary? Is this helpful?

I invite you to see if your interactions with family members can be better than ever this year, if you apply this awareness during your holiday visits. Maybe you will find renewed closeness, perhaps it will just make your holiday more bearable, if you add a little sweetness to your speech!

Give it a whirl and see for yourself ! =)

It may help you more than you know. I wanted to keep this brief, since it is the time to be enjoying with your loved ones.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

Namaste ॐ

-A.K.

Tis’ the Season for Setting the Intention (Right Intention Eight-fold path)

Let’s begin with a simple question: How often do you observe your thought patterns?

a. Often b. Occasionally  c. Never  d. WHAT DO YOU EVEN MEAN??

Whatever the answer, in the second part of my eight weeks of mindfulness posts, I want to focus in on Right Intention which is primarily centered on the qualities of our thoughts.

How important is this anyway?

In my humble opinion, it’s something we should choose to tune into if we really want happiness, peace, and all that jazz with ourselves and in our relationships with others. I’m willing to bet the majority of us don’t want to be miserable, though some of us are and it feels inevitable. There is always work to be done which can allow us to live happier, more fulfilling lives. I’d like to suggest that observing our thoughts and changing our thought patterns can really help us to help ourselves be more happy and at peace, with ourselves and the world.

        A Little Background

Right Intention is also oftentimes referred to as Right Thought.  There is a lovely little Buddha quote that I think nicely summarizes the importance of intention in our lives:

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.”-Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)

Keeping this in mind, we know that from our intention, stems our actions and speech(parts of the eight-fold path which will follow this one). Our thoughts do indeed shape our world.  In the practice of Buddhism, there is significance placed both renunciation and cultivation: in this case, renunciation of unwholesome thoughts, habits, actions while cultivating wholesome thoughts, habits actions.

Right intention consists of dropping desire, cultivating the intention of good will and harmlessness. The importance of ridding ourselves of desire is not because desire is necessarily evil, but because it causes us to suffer. In this holiday season, what better practice than to cultivate good will, and to let go of desiring.

In Practice

If we allow ourselves to be free of desire, we allow ourselves to be happier. Of course, there are always going to be things that we want in life, whether they are material things or things we’d like to see in our relationships with others. This is not always a bad thing. We set goals and work towards the objects we ‘desire’. However, the desire I speak of is one that consists of wanting things in such a way that it disrupts your inner peace. It may cause you to have negative thoughts centered on the “WHY do I not have this or that when others do?” This is an unhealthy pattern. It may cause you to resent others who do (at least on the surface) have the things that you want. This is also a harmful way of thinking and separates us from others, rather than bringing us closer together in a way that we can appreciate and be there for one another.

Exercise: Practice contentment. When thoughts arise about needing that newest piece of technology, or comparing yourself or situation to others’, practice contentment. Let go of the desire that is causing your current dissatisfaction, and notice how wonderful everything truly is.

In regards to cultivating good will and harmlessness, this can simply come from noticing when a judgmental thought arises about another person, and choosing to realize that the two of you are one in the same, that that person is your equal, you are both on this journey of life, and you are both choosing to deal with things differently. You can drop the habit of thinking unkindly about others; you can cultivate the habit of thinking compassionate thoughts, wishing them well, even if you do not understand their motivation or intention, and perhaps, sending them the type of positive energy they need. If we cultivate compassion towards others, we will feel better than if we are harboring negative thoughts about them, and we will also perhaps cause them to be compassionate in return.

Surely changing our thought patterns can’t happen instantaneously; it is a process, but certainly if we become conscious of the quality of our thoughts, and what they are telling us about our inner state of being, as well as our attitudes towards others, if we become aware, where we haven’t been before, then we have the potential to change them up entirely.

Being that it is, after all, the season of peace on earth and good will towards men,

I myself, hereby set the intention to cultivate that good will, and invite you to do so as well.

 

Post 2 of 8 in 8 Weeks of Mindfulness of the Eight-fold Path.

-A.K.

 

Poets Past and Present Collide at Mission Bay Park

I collected some of my favorite poems from poets of the past and present, some contemporary authors which have visited my school SDSU such as Marilyn Chin and David Tomas Martinez who have done readings and visited my graduate classes. The themes of these poems encompass different perspectives on humanity, race, class, gender and religious topics unique to each poet. My goal was to portray a diverse array of poetry/poets and place them side by side– out in the open for all to see and experience. In some of these pictures you can see a few people passing by and quietly reading the poems. My hope is that maybe one or two of these poems intrigued or inspired a passerby and invited them to reflect on something from their inner world today.

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Understanding Our World (Right View & the Eight-fold Path)

Post 1 of 8 of 8 weeks of Mindfulness, centered on the eight-fold path in Buddhism(As promised! But a little delayed)

While each part of the eight-fold path intersects and relates to the others, my goal is to focus on each aspect of the path for a week, as a personal mindfulness practice, and share it with you.

A little background:

         Right View/ Understanding is the first part of the eight-fold path. Essentially, it is the idea of understanding the world and everything in it as it is, not in distorted ways according to the tricks of our own minds, not through the lens of our self-constructed delusions. Choosing to focus on Right View is choosing to tune into your life, deeply, paying attention to your relationships: familial, friendships, coworkers,to tune into your attitudes about yourself, other people and the various happenings of the world.

We all have little delusions we allow ourselves to believe (believe it or not HAH!) and sometimes when we are caught up in the cycle of our every day routines, we are not fully conscious of them. This is an invitation to be conscious:of actions,words, perceptions, thoughts, attitudes. This is the beginning. Simply becoming aware can be extremely fruitful in deepening our understanding of ourselves.

For me, I think the most important parts of Right View are attention, honesty and acceptance. If I pay attention to my thought patterns, habits, actions and I am honest with myself about my realizations, I can accept these things as they are, and I can also decide if I want to make changes in my thoughts, habits, actions. If I do not pay attention or I am dishonest with myself, then I am not truly allowing room to be the best version of me. This is why I find mindfulness to be so important. It helps us to help ourselves be healthy and happy, and effectively improves the health and happiness of all our relations, if we choose it. Perhaps it will open new doors in your relationships, perhaps you will learn some things about yourself, some things about your partner, perhaps you will simply begin to notice little things you didn’t notice before, and in actuality, aren’t so little, after all.

That said, I hereby challenge myself to really pay attention to what my mind is telling me and to decide for myself, in my heart, if it is also true there. Maybe you think your life is perfect, your relationships are perfect, your habits are all perfect. That’s wonderful.

However, I am willing to bet that if you sit quietly with yourself for a moment, that you will find there is room for improvement somewhere. Why not give mindfulness a chance, and see what it can offer you in your life? I have a strong feeling you won’t be disappointed. On that note, I am extending the invitation to take part in this journey on the beginnings of awareness. I would love to hear feedback on what arises for you. 

Here’s to perhaps uncomfortable, laughable and beautiful moments of discovery.

(to be continued)

Happy week 1 of Mindfulness ! =)

-A.K.