I recently bought a house (for the first time ever!) and moved into it a few days ago. I was surprised at how unsettling the whole experience was, and yet, it showed me how practice helps you to be at home wherever you are. In preparation for the move, I was somewhat scared of the prospect of living out of boxes for a few days.
And then there are all the unknown things that you could be forgetting... While I spent many a meditation practice going through lists in my head of what I could be forgetting, the practice also made me more calm and settled, and confident that somehow it was going to be all right. While I am quite a nervous person, just simply sitting helped me to avoid getting too caught up in worry. After all, if you can make intercontinental moves, a move within a city shouldn't be so bad... Then as more and more boxes got packed, I was surprised to see how little I really need. What I imagined to be terrible really wasn't so bad. I was actually quite comfortable between the boxes, and life just went on.
Last November, I had coffee with Linda Lantieri, who has an amazing track record for bringing mindfulness and emotional intelligence to kids in really challenging inner city schools. She serves as the Director of The Inner Resilience Program whose mission is to cultivate the inner lives of students, teachers and schools by integrating social and emotional learning with contemplative practice.
In January, I was fortunate enough to speak to Diane Grady about meditation. Diane is one of the founding members of a group of business and community leaders in Australia called ‘Practical Wisdom’ and has herself been on the board of a number of large Australian public companies for over 15 years. The Practical Wisdom group began about 12 years ago following a dharma talk given by Sogyal Rinpoche at the Australian School of Management and a question he posed: “Is this relevant to business?” The response was an overwhelming “Yes” and since then the Practical Wisdom group has gathered each year to receive further teachings on meditation and Buddhist wisdom. In addition, the group also now meets for a few hours each month to practise meditation together.
Treatment Methods in Buddhist Psychotherapy
It is clear that all psychotherapies emphasize introspection aimed at self-understanding and rely on the healing relationship. The Buddhist method in particular, incorporates an insight-oriented dialog and interpersonal role-modeling during the session with a contemplative educational triad of meditation, study, and lifestyle between sessions.
As many of us have experienced, it can be hard to speak with family and friends about our meditation practice. And yet it is so important to be able to speak about what we believe and to do it with courage.
A little while ago I had an interesting experience at work, where the things I learnt in my meditation practice surely came in helpful. The situation is that I am very lucky to be mostly surrounded by some of the most interesting, kind and open-minded people. As a result, I pretty much never get angry. I always used to think I am just "not that kind of a person that gets angry". It turned out, I was wrong. I just hadn't met the people to make me angry.
One of the most common reasons we turn to spiritual practice is to reduce worry, anxiety, the mental agitation that can be life's most consistent challenge. As the Buddha taught in the Sabbasava Sutta and elsewhere, while certain dangers in life are avoidable, most stressful events are inevitable, and our challenge is to learn how to skillfully tolerate each day's fresh "mosquito bite".
Actually, days without difficulties and challenges are often days without growth, for its the roadblocks and setbacks that force us to develop new, successful coping strategies. So a good start to reducing stress is to begin approaching challenges as valuable learning opportunities; once we find a way to adapt to situations without adding unnecessary stress, we have tools that are always at our disposal.
What follows are six useful approaches to facing our challenges without adding stress and suffering into the equation.
This was sent in by Melle, a friend of ours from the Netherlands...
Holding the train in your arms
The train can be an excellent place to meditate. Especially when you manage to get a seat. The train I regularly commute on is one of the busiest lines in the country. It has the airport as one of its main stops and lots of business people use the coaches as their first working space of the day. You have the grumpy people hiding in their papers, avoiding any contact, and the rise-and-shine early chit-chat ladies all mixed together in a relatively small room, travelling at about 100 km/hr. Feelings are bound to rise, and not always in a very flowery way.