There is a scene, in “Eat, Pray, Love”, with Julia Roberts, which is based on the true life story by Elizabeth Gilbert, where she cannot sit still for 1 minute to meditate. Can you relate? Similar to being in Savasana, (Challenge #8) when we quiet our body, our mind takes a little longer to catch up. If you’re new to meditation, sometimes the idea of it can be really intimidating and even sound kind of boring. The benefits of meditation however are truly endless — better concentration, improved sleep, and best of all — greater ability to cope with stress.
Need some guidance? Check out the guided mediations offered at My Yoga Online and select one that is perfect for you! Today, try meditating for just 5 minutes. Next time, try 10…and then one day…try a full hour!
A calm mind is more useful state of interacting with the world. If the mind is imbalanced by strong emotions it is not possible to engage the world efficiently. When you see just how powerful an impact your own level of realization makes not just to those around you, but to the whole world there is no choice but to embark upon sincere spiritual practice. Once you realize fully that you will only experience, create and share more suffering in the world unless you realize the true nature of your being and find freedom from the cycle of pain then you see that spiritual evolution is needed for a peaceful planet.
The Dalai Lama spoke this January in Bangalore and communicated one overarching theme, that is, that a calm mind holds the key to a healthy body, an effective life and a healed planet. His final statement was a positive dream for the future that the 21st century should be a century of dharma because the 20th century was of killing. A goal that he would like for us to have is to demilitarize the world, starting with the individual dedication to a peaceful life. This will only come with action, not prayer. For the individual prayer is great, but for community we need action. Karma means action. Talking too much with too little action means that we will not realize the true interconnection of all being. These human values he concluded have nothing to do with religion but are universal. So perhaps the best service that we can give to the world is to fully commit to our own spiritual practice for both personal and global reasons.
Many spiritual practitioners in the Western world sometimes have a low self-esteem about their basic worth and hide their insecurities in the work. But true spiritual practice demands that you believe in your basic ability to succeed at the hard work of spirituality. Desire and ego are needed for the strong will, determination and desire for boddhichitta that spiritual practitioners must have. So in a sense strong self esteem is needed for spiritual practice as long as all drive and determination is based in positive action. If the emotion or ego is based in biased, negative desires that engender further attachment into the material world, then it is not a good use of your strength. But if you channel your strength, drive, and desire into spiritual practice you will develop the kind of tenacity to be a strong force of good in the world. One of the 46 minor precepts in Buddhism states that if you see harm being done and do nothing you also have done something wrong yourself. You must take appropriate action to stop the wrong, not out of anger but out of compassion. The tricky thing is to take appropriate action while maintaining genuine care for both the victim and the perpetrator of violence just the same.
The Buddhist path of meditation affirms the notion that all beings have a basic right to happiness, that all beings posses the same Buddha nature such that all can be Buddha too. The Dalai Lama says, “Human intelligence is really precious, a calm mind very important . If the mind is disturbed by emotions then the basis of life is also disturbed and then the whole view becomes biased, so we can’t see reality clearly. In order to see reality the mind must be calm, then we can investigate reality and see clearly. Once mind is disturbed then you can’t see.” If our basic mental attitude is quite happy then disturbances come and go like waves on the ocean come and go. Yet at the same time emotions have a biological factor that can be hard to deal with. For example, anger is associated with the ability to fight and fear is associated with the ability to run for your life. Although these are positive things for survival in an ancient evolutionary context, with the cultivation of Buddha nature we can begin to use human Intelligence to compare longterm and short term sensations and develop awareness. Meditation means that you can train your mind so that when anger develops you can separate from the anger, de-tach and watch it. Once you separate yourself from anger so that the dominance of the emotion lessens you can get free from it and find peace.
Although the initial motivation for spiritual development comes from within as a desire for yourself, you soon realize that there is a simultaneous opening of the heart that wants to share your realizations in the world. Only with a calm, clear mind can you be a force of healing in the world, free from your own suffering, and liberate those in pain. While a basically selfish urge, the search for spiritual realization is ultimately the most compassionate undertaking you can embark upon. The open-hearted embrace of all that is that comes from true spiritual awakening is the liberation that can bring about a truly peaceful planet. We each have a responsibility to be the best person we can be and commit our lives to selfish and selfless service towards ultimate freedom and spiritual evolution for ourselves, humanity and all beings.
About Kino MacGregor
Kino MacGregor is a small business owner (www.miamilifecenter.com), yoga teacher and freelance journalist who has produced two yoga DVDs and her first book, Inner Peace, Irresistible Beauty released in 2009.
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