Go Deeper: Right Effort (Eight-fold Path)

Post 6/8 of #Eightweeksofmindfulness posts based on the Eight-fold path

Having just ended, or perhaps just begun a journey this evening, through the depths of heartbreak, loss, fear, doubt and also physical pain that comes along with suffering through the arduous journey of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, all the while, still sitting in silent solitude in my apartment, as I closed the back cover a memoir, in which the protagonist hoped her three month hike might also be a path leading towards her true self, a simple, two-word phrase came to my mind…

Go Deeper. It rang loud and clear in my head, permeating my silent moment. It’s come to me before, time and time again. And tonight, I wanted to sit with it.

Many times throughout this novel, Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild”, I found myself, within her story, not necessarily in the nature of all her experiences, but in our shared humanity, our shared suffering.

The being lost and the being found.

The being found that comes only from hurling yourself into the great unknown, allowing yourself to be displaced. For Strayed, it was isolating herself for months, to conquer thousands of miles of rugged terrain, and to wrestle with her grief, all the way from the Mojave Dessert in California to Portland, Oregon. For me, it has been number of experiences, thus far.

The first of these experiences was moving to Bordeaux, France in 2012, and all the many things I experienced there. How profoundly alone I had felt, and how much of that time spent in solitude in a foreign country that allowed me to really understand myself, as I was then, for the first time. It allowed me to deal with things I’d been locking up inside of myself, pushing them further out of sight for months and years, that were then almost forced to become front and center, the only option being to face them head-on, to conquer them, to release them, and finally, to heal.

Another instance was just this past August, uprooting my East Coast life, moving to Southern California, with only what few possessions I could fit in my little Subaru Impreza, and a friend, who, luckily, for me, at the last minute, decided to join me on my cross-country feat.

I’ve come to discover the only way of finding myself time and time again, is throwing myself into the unknown, or rather, where I am unknown, where I can come to find the nature of who I really am, and where I fit in among the vastness of the world.

To me, this is the essence of Right Effort. Perhaps we don’t always need to be in solitude for a prolonged period of time to make this sort of effort, but it certainly can help.

The essence of Right Effort is always, to turn inward, to Go Deeper… to explore that which is within you, to address your fears and faults and wounds and to begin to repair yourself, simply because you owe it to yourself.

When you come into the place of Right Effort, you come into the place of abandoning all unwholesome states ( five hindrances: sensual desire, ill-will, laziness, worry, doubt) which you have previously harbored, choosing to work towards preventing further unwholesome states which have not yet arisen, while you work towards cultivating wholesome states and maintaining those in your daily life and practice.

When I think of Right Effort, and what that means to me, I think of Going Deeper in all aspects of my being: It is my wish to meditate more deeply on my feelings and why certain feelings arise, to utilize this insight in my relationships with others. I wish to explore more deeply the nature of my thoughts, as well as go deeper in my writing, becoming less worried about being vulnerable and honest on the page. In general, I would like to challenge myself to Go Deeper in all matters of the heart: to feel fully, to express and share myself more fully with others, and essentially, to BE fully and unabashedly.

This is my challenge of Right Effort, for myself.

Feel free to be brave with me, by exploring and looking inward.


-A.K.

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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.

I have been on a bit of a blog hiatus– BUT

I will be continuing my #8weeksofmindfulness posts in the coming days!
I traveled home recently to visit the East coast, and well, seeing family and celebrating my birthday and returning back to work and school have kept me away from wordpress! No worries! I’M BACK.

Stay Tuned : Right Speech post, comin’ atcha Christmas eve-eve!

This will mark the 3rd post of my #8weeksofmindfulness series of posts.

Just in time for the holidays, perhaps in uncomfortable family situations,
we’ll be able to put Right Speech into practice.

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.

 

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.

Coming Soon: 8 Weeks of Mindfulness

It seems like just as good of a time as any to get centered on the spiritual, as we approach the holiday season in the U.S. and other parts of the world. For eight weeks, I will focus on one factor of the eight-fold path of Buddhism each week and post about it.  Stay tuned for the first post in the next few days!

Here are the eight parts of the path:

1.Right view

2. Right intention

3.Right speech

4. Right action

5. Right livelihood

6. Right effort

7. Right  mindfulness

8. Right concentration