Buddhist prayer for Healing

Buddhist prayerJust as the soft rains fill the streams,
pour into the rivers, and join together in the oceans,
So may the power of every moment of your goodness
flow forth to awaken and heal all beings.
Those here now, those gone before, those yet to come.
By the power of every moment of your goodness,
may your heart’s wishes be soon fulfilled
as completely shining as the bright full moon,
as magically as by a wish-fulfilling gem.
By the power of every moment of your goodness,
may all dangers be averted and all disease be gone.
May no obstacle come across your way.
May you enjoy fulfillment and long life.
For all in whose heart dwells respect,
who follow the wisdom and compassion, of the Way,
may your life prosper in the four blessings
of old age, beauty, happiness and strength

How to Meditate

meditation

With so many forms of introspection and mental awareness training going by the name of “meditation,”  it can often be difficult to understand which one is for you, or even understand the benefits of the practice.  So with that in mind, I thought I would share my own personal perspective on the technique and the benefits it brings me.

If you’re new to the idea of meditation and wanting to experience it, one of the most accessible techniques comes from the oldest tradition of Buddhism called “Theravada” and is called “vipassana” in its native Pali (In English it translates as “insight”)  Although based in the Theravada and a lot of training courses will offer it in a Buddhist context, knowledge of Buddhist Dharma isn’t a pre-requisite, or even essential for the technique, making it ideal for beginners to join in without fear of embarrassment.

Vipassana promotes a quality of being which in Pail is known as “Sati”. (In English it translates to “Mindfulness”)  But what is it ?  Well, simply put, mindfulness is a state of open, nonjudgmental, and non discursive attention to the contents of consciousness. Cultivating this quality of mind has been shown to modulate pain, mitigate anxiety and depression, improve cognitive function, and even produce changes in gray matter density in regions of the brain related to learning and memory, emotional regulation, and self awareness.

The practice of mindfulness is extraordinarily simple to describe, but is in no sense easy to master.  Indeed, true mastery probably requires special talent and a lifetime of practice. Happily, however, the benefits of training in meditation arrive long before mastery ever does.

One of the earliest challenges every meditator will face is referred to as “monkey mind”.  That is distraction caused by the inability to focus.  This can be from external stimuli (which it is more easy to remove yourself from) but also internal ones too (which are harder)  How often have you paused for reflection only for something else to “pop into your head” and then dominate your thoughts and distract you ?  Most of us fall under the spell of “monkey mind” at some point or another in our early practice.  It can be a frustrating experience !!!! Meditation is a technique for breaking the hold this spell has over us. The technique allows us to awaken from unfocussed thinking and from the easy habit of hanging onto the pleasant (rejecting the unpleasant), so that we can enjoy a mind that is undisturbed by worry, merely open like the sky, and effortlessly aware of the flow of experience in the present.

My practice routine

  • I put some relaxation music on, nothing with a heavy beat, or words. Just something that can fill the background space.
  • I sit.  It’s important to be comfortable when you’re meditating , more so than being cross legged (lots of people think you have to be cross legged, but its more important to be comfortable – remember, we’re trying to remove internal distraction and nothing screams more loudly than “this hurts !!”  I personally sit cross legged, wrapped in my prayer shawl on a cushion.
  • I close my eyes and feel the points of contact between my bum and the cushion and the shawl wrapped around me. I then start to open my mind up to the sensation of sitting, the pressure of the floor, the warmth of the shawl, etc.
  • Gradually, I start to focus on my breathing, slower and deeper.  I pay more attention to the feeling it gives me, without trying to control it, just letting it come naturally and fill me.
    • I personally find as my focus on my breathing intensifies and takes hold, other perceptions and sensations continue to appear: sounds, feelings in the body, emotions, etc. Any time my mind wanders in these sensations, I pause and return to the sensation of breathing. The idea being that any moment I notice I have become lost in thought, I notice the thought itself as an object of my consciousness. Then return my attention to the breath—or to whatever sounds or sensations arise in the next moment.
  • When its time, I come out of that  moment (generally about 20 minutes or so, sometimes longer) and the day continues !

The above works for me and is the basis of the “vipassana” practice, I find it gives me a sense of peace, which has made me less emotional and affected by the ups and downs of the day.  According to my fitness band, I find that my heartbeat slows too, not as low as it gets when I’m sleeping, but slower than my usual 65 beats a minute during the day. I appreciate its not for everyone, even that reading something as simple as beyond frustrating, but it’s worth sticking with, even if the benefits of full mindfulness escape you, just taking 20 minutes out of your day to stop and reflect is a powerful benefit that you deserve, so stick with it and let me know how you get on !!!

Zen and the art of Work

Mountain

Have you ever stopped to think about the amount of time you spend at work ?  I’ll bet its quite a lot of your week.  Seems kindof a shame if you aren’t getting the most of it. But work doesn’t seem to be the place for Joy and generosity does it ? Do those words fit in with your companies image and expectation of you ? So how can you balance this and find your inner peace at work of all places ?

The practice of mindfulness can offer an answer, not only to help us stay in balance but also to ensure we are able to see our work in the context of creating a better world. But how can this impossibly simple art of bringing our full attention to the present moment and our breath possibly help ?

When we learn how to address our strong and often negative emotions and establish good relationships at work, our communication improves, stress is reduced, and our work becomes much more pleasant.  This benefits not just us, but also our work colleagues, loved ones, families, and society.  By taking care of the present, you are doing everything you can to assure a good future.

So how can mindfulness help at work ?  How can we integrate it into our work routine ?  Well, try these simple steps… And let me know how you get on !!!

  • Start the day with meditation.  10 minutes is enough, just sit, breathe. Nothing more. nothing less
  • Take the time to enjoy breakfast at home.  Think about what you are eating.  If you eat with your family, take the time talk to one another.
  • Don’t think of time as “my time” and “work time.” At the start of the day you were given the gift of 24 new hours,  time has no owner and all time can be your own time if you stay in the present moment.
  • Find a calm area at work to sit and breathe. Take regular breathing breaks to come back to your body and to bring your thoughts back to the now.
  • At lunch time, don’t eat lunch at your desk, change your environment and go for a walk.
  • If you feel anger or irritation, refrain from saying or doing anything straight away. Come back to your breathing and follow your in – and out-breath until you’ve calmed down.
  •  Share with work colleagues your appreciation of their positive qualities.
  • Take the time to relax and restore yourself before you go home, so you don’t bring negative energy or frustration back home with you.
  • At the end of the day, keep a journal of all the good things that happened in your day. Water your seeds of joy and gratitude regularly so they can grow

Well, that’s what I try to do – what about you ?