There comes a day when you realise turning the page is the best feeling in the world - because you realise there’s so much more to the book than the page you were stuck on.
When it comes to being gentle, start with yourself. Don’t get upset with your imperfections. Being disappointed by failure is understandable, but it shouldn’t turn into bitterness or spite directed at yourself.
Steps for Dealing with Emotional Pain
1. Refuse to see yourself in all-or-nothing terms (as you’re not all good and you’re not all bad)
2. Refuse to let the past define you
3. Refuse to let mistakes and weaknesses define you
4 .Refuse to let your scars and your pain define you
5. Refuse to let rejection define you
6. Refuse to let others peoples’ opinions define you
7. Believe you can be free, and have a different life
8. Imagine yourself free – being who you’d like to be
9. Whenever the old thoughts and emotions overwhelm, think of this new you, and a new future instead
10. Take one small step and choose to walk towards that better life and future you’ve chosen for yourself.
When did loving yourself
become so rare, that it’s
revolutionary to do so?
Meditation begins with a long out breath. Once we are seated, determined to meditate, we breathe out all of our worldly concerns and just meditate. If we have a lot of worldly concerns, we may have to breathe them out several times. If, as we meditate, our concerns return to us, we breathe them out again and begin meditating again. The ability to breathe out our worldly concerns is a tremendous power. We all have that power.
We don’t have to meditate to recenter ourself with our powerful exhale. We do it naturally whenever we get a sense of relief. We sigh, or say “whew” (which is just an out breath wrapped in a word). We can also do it whenever we need a sense of relief. Whenever we feel too much tension building in our body, when our worries and fears are filling our minds, we can breathe it all out with a long, conscious out breath. When we breathe it all out, our body knows that everything is all right. Then we can breathe in and begin life all over again.
It is important to remember our ability to reset our systems with our breath. We become anxious when we are not getting enough oxygen, and we don’t always get enough oxygen when we are anxious. We may worry about this or that and forget to breathe. When we notice ourselves suffering from our cares and concerns, we can breathe them all out. As we breathe out mindfully, all is well.
Is Meditation Essential to a Zen Practice?
Meditation is both fundamental and incidental to a Zen practice. Our Buddha Nature is just the same whether we sit with it or not.
If I had the choice of practicing Zen without meditation or practicing meditation without Zen, I would practice meditation.
I like the idea from the Soto school of Zen Buddhism that sitting meditation is enlightenment itself. If you embrace that idea, when you sit, you have nothing to gain or lose, you are simply enlightened. You are there.
Breathing, eating, sleeping, standing, sitting, being kind, developing a compassionate heart from which compassionate actions flow, experiencing your Buddha Nature, and helping others to experience It are all important elements of a Zen practice.
To really understand the importance of meditation, just sit.
We all have different reasons for forgetting to breathe.
Today there is a dark cloud hanging over my head. I’m practising being kind to myself and trying to catch the negative thoughts and asking myself, would you think this about someone else? Would you be so hard on them for something like this? Put them down in this way? No, of course I never would!
I made a mistake and upset a dear friend and the key now is to accept that, to accept that other people are entitled to feel how they feel. I’ve apologised and they’ve told me they are annoyed and hurt; all I can do now is to make it up to them.
It’s the internal dialogue that makes the situation worse. Just because someone is upset, it doesn’t reflect on you as a person- you made a bad call, that doesn’t make you a bad person.
So again, turning it around as if this had been done to me, would I want that person to hate themselves? Of course not! I would not be the level of annoyed at them that I am at myself. I love them and care about them, I want them to be happy and love themselves. So I’m thinking perhaps I should be doing the same.
Berating myself prevents me from learning. It focuses it back on me and not the people around me. Forgiveness is the key to learning.
Off and on
When we are faced with our own or others’ suffering, it is important to know that there is an off switch. For ourselves, we can learn to access that switch through training our minds. For others, we can demonstrate compassion and kindness and help them to learn to access that switch in their minds.
As we practice intentional compassion and kindness towards others and ourselves we learn to turn off our suffering. As we practice experiencing joy, gratitude, generosity and love we will notice new ways to turn off our suffering. As we practice tuning into our own and others’ suffering we will learn how to notice whenever the switch is on. Then we can practice turning it off again. When we have managed, through our practice, to turn off our own suffering, again and again, we gain confidence in the existence of this switch. Understanding that we can access it when we need to, changes the nature of our suffering. It increases the effectiveness of our practice and increases our desire to help others find how to access their switches.
Some switches are accessible through meditation, others through medication. How we locate our switch is not as important as knowing that it is there and looking for it. Some of our habits turn it on, some turn it off. Each of us has to find our own switch and how to flip it, but we can help each other as we search. Understand that we all suffer, off and on.