“Mindfulness practice suggests that we give up on self-improvement and instead begin a course on self-acceptance. The way out of our unhappiness is not to fix ourselves.” – Henry Emmons, The Chemistry Of Joy
Do you accept yourself for who you are? Can you forgive yourself and move on? Do you love yourself and have self-compassion? Be aware of the burden of your thoughts. Do you suffer because you can’t let go of something?
Here is a cradling exercise, by Angeles Arrien, from the book, The Four-Fold Way. This cradling exercise is a four-fold practice of honoring who you are and remembering the interconnectedness that supports and binds all beings together.
Cradling Exercise: Lie down and place your right hand over your heart, and your left hand over your right hand. Then mindfully contemplate the following:
Acknowledge your strengths and talents
Acknowledge what character qualities you like about yourself
Acknowledge the contributions that you have made and are making
“That which you believe becomes your world.” Richard Matheson, What Dreams May Come
What is the quality of my thoughts? What am I clinging to in life? The world will throw many things at me, but can I keep my strength and composure? I believe no matter what circumstances I am in, I can be well and grounded. As my Buddhist teacher, Bhante Sathi, says to me, “Don’t lose yourself.” Sometimes that’s easier said than done.
Last week I saw the movie, What Dreams May Come, and I realized that I am clinging onto my life. When I die, can I let go of my life and move on? Can I pack my bags and leave everything behind? Can I live well and die well?
I have seen many people die well. A few days ago, I was with an elderly woman who was dying of pancreatic cancer. She had a sweet smile on her face. She looked so innocent, and she had a brightness about her even though she was dying.
I have seen hundreds of people go through the dying process, and every one of them looked innocent. They are preparing to let go of their current lives and embark on a new journey. It’s a natural process, and our body and spirit knows what to do.
My message to you – the reader: You were born innocent, and you will die innocent. Between birth and death is a story. It’s a very important story – your lived story. What you believe becomes your world.
When you help just one person, the goodness spreads. Know that when you give someone help and share cheerfulness, you are making a difference. There are stories online and on the news about random acts of kindness, changing someone’s life forever and then that good energy is spread.
No matter where you are on the Earth, you make a difference in the lives of the people and living creatures around you. You are influential! And you have a choice about how to share your light.
Your light needs to burn bright, so take care of yourself so you can take care of others. If your light is burning low, it’s a challenge to help others. Take time to rest, read, do yoga or exercise, take a walk, get a massage, meditate, take a bath, drink tea, etc. Do not feel guilty about taking time off work. If you need a day to rest, then rest.
Life is short, and at the end of your life, you will have happiness and contentment that you shared your light, you loved yourself, and you loved others.
Waheguru has many meanings. It can refer to the almighty God or supreme soul. It is a mantra chanted in Kundalini yoga – that is used to elevate the spirit. Waheguru also means wondrous enlightener.
When I say, “Waheguru,” I acknowledge the eternal present moment. It’s not just the present moment, but the exact moment. After I am mindful of the moment, I say to myself, “Wow! I am still alive.” Living moment to moment has taught me to be where I am and appreciate my aliveness.
Challenges in life will enter into my present moment. But then when that moment or moments are gone, I can see that my life has changed again. I try not to carry on the burden of past moments, although they like to hang out in my mind. I realize that I am okay. I take full responsibility for my actions in life. I am not perfect – so I need to be a guru to myself to mindfully see that I can choose a path and go forward.
My Buddhist teacher, Bhante Sathi (www.triplegem.org), says that we need to be like the GPS app on our phone. We put in where we want to go and go forward. We do not go backward. We begin where we are and go towards our destination. The past is gone. Therefore, we need to start where we are.
All of your past experiences shaped who you are today. However, you are not those past experiences right now. You have changed and grown. You are a different person – just like how your body changes and your cells change.
Honor your authentic soul. Set boundaries, take care of yourself, and take care of others. I say to you, “WAHEGURU!” May you elevate your spirit, be wise, and rejoice in the present moment.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. We can take a difficult situation and see it as an opportunity for spiritual growth. We can change our mind on how we see the situation and create openness. It doesn’t mean to give up or run away. It means to see clearly and wisely.
I have a hospice patient who is diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). It is a disease affecting motor neurons of the spinal cord, which causes progressive weakness and atrophy of muscles. My patient is confined to a wheelchair, and he can only move his head. He was handed some major lemons.
I am surprised by my patient’s calm attitude and acceptance of his situation. It’s been a long two years for him. I’m sure he’s gone through a process of acceptance over time. My patient is happy with his life, and he has no regrets. He’s an amazing person!
When life hands us lemons, it’s hard to see that “this too shall pass.” But everything is temporary and impermeant. Our impermeant body is a blessing. Most of us will face the lemons of old age, illness, and eventually death.
What can we do when we have to face the lemons in our life? The making of lemonade is mindfulness, deep breathing, acceptance, positive attitude, resilience, and appreciation or gratitude. No one is perfect. There will be days when you don’t want to make lemonade – and that’s okay. A few days ago, I had a hospice patient who is consistently pleasant and happy, who said she was feeling angry that day. We are human – be human.
The main lessons that I learned from my hospice patients are to enjoy your life, be cheerful when working with people, and drink a lot of lemonade!
“Mindfulness is an embodied knowing of our present moment experience. It’s being present with our experiences in real time rather than being reactive and mindless, and pulled along by whatever is happening around us. It’s not about getting rid of thoughts or even about relaxation. It’s about developing the skills for greater clarity and choosing how we respond in any given moment.” – Alex Haley, Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality and Healing
“Even if we have a lot of money in the bank, we can die very easily from our suffering. So, investing in a friend, making a friend into a real friend, building a community of friends, is a much better source of security. We will have someone to lean on, to come to, during our difficult moments.
We can get in touch with the refreshing, healing elements within and around us thanks to the loving support of other people. If we have a good community of friends, we are very fortunate. To create a good community, we first have to transform ourselves into a good element of the community. After that, we can go to another person and help him or her become an element of the community. We build our network of friends that way. We have to think of friends and community as investments, as our most important asset. They can comfort us and help us in difficult times, and they can share our joy and happiness.” – Thich Nhat Hanh