Delete the Di$tr@cti0ns: Right Mindfulness (Post 7/8 Eight-fold path)

Post 7/8 in #eightweeksofmindfulness posts.

“With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.”- Thich Nhat Hanh

How often do you find yourself frustrated or mentally drained in the course of the work day or week?
How often do you find yourself wishing for more moments of clarity, of joy?

I am willing to bet that most of us wouldn’t consciously turn down an opportunity to be happier or at peace on a daily, even moment to moment basis– the key word being consciously.

While most of us genuinely do want to be more happy, more at ease, we often turn down the opportunity to be, when it arises.

What I mean by this is that present moment is a gift which we can decide to appreciate, or to discard. Oftentimes, it is easy for one to become caught up in what may seem like daunting routines of work, school, and other endless priorities which create the illusion that there is no slowing down.

It is often at these times, when life seems full of nothing but complete chaos, that it is perhaps most imperative to just take maybe five minutes out of your day, to sit in silence, to clear your mind and just be. It may sound trivial, or like a cake-walk, but I see it as a challenge.

At least for myself, as a graduate student, juggling two jobs, trying to create art, I have this constant nagging bit of myself that yaps in the back of my mind to “be productive”. It is a challenge for me sometimes to turn that voice in my head off, and allow myself to just being. I trust that many others have a similar experience in the modern world we live in.

Imagine: five minutes, without a screen in front of your eyes, no scrolling through Facebook, instagram, twitter, whatever.

Just allow yourself to be excused from the distractions and sit with being.

Developing the habit of taking a few moments, regularly for yourself, for your own clarity, and your own peace, will allow you to greet your responsibilities with a renewed sense of calm, to engage in interactions with others in a much more inviting way.

Right Mindfulness is allowing yourself to be attentive to your mental state, and how you relate to the world around you. It is allowing yourself time and space. It is allowing yourself to access the abundant joy which exists here and now.

With this post, I invite you to go inward for however long your busy schedule allows, to bring about awareness in each moment, and to be full of joy that you are living it.

-A.K.

Right Livelihood (Brief post 5/8 on the Eight-fold path)

Post 5/8 in #8weeksofmindfulness posts (much delayed!)

“Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.” ~ Buddha.

The previous post hinged on Right Action, which is definitely closely linked with Right Livelihood. According to my own understanding, Right Livelihood relates more towards profession than towards all action.

In the traditional sense of Right Livelihood, the Buddha’s emphasis was on making a living in ways which are honest and free of harm towards other sentient beings.

Some professions which the Buddha believed one should abstain from are as follows:
a) Dealing in flesh as a butcher (b) Dealing in weapons and arms c) Dealing in slave trade and prostitution (d) Dealing in intoxicants or liquors and drugs.

While these may sound a bit dated, there is still obvious relevance.

However, the message of Right Livelihood seems to have a larger significance that goes above the industry or job category. How you treat your coworkers, how you treat the other individuals you come into contact with on a daily basis on the job, the integrity of your work, are all things you can control to create positive interactions and a positive work environment.

If we allow ourselves to simply pay attention and not become lost in the routine of the every day, to put care into our work, if we at least begin to begin to notice our actions, we can begin to become the versions of ourselves we long to be: the versions of ourselves we owe to each other.

-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.

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.