It’s wonderful to be on vacation. I just spent two and a half weeks in Europe (London, Paris, Venice, Florence, and Rome). Just because I was on vacation, doesn’t mean that I can let go of my daily meditation and spiritual development. I realized that this time away from home taught me some valuable lessons about attachment.
About three days before my vacation was over, I noticed that I missed my house, my dog (Liam), and my kitten (Kira). I know that it’s normal for me to miss my home and pets. But as I laid in bed thousands of miles away from my home, fear crept up inside me. I thought maybe the universe will not allow me to go home. I also thought about refugees who leave their homes behind and I thought about death. When I die, I have to leave my home, pets, and family behind. I realized that I have some very strong attachments.
How can I walk on this earth and not have attachments? Attachments are one of the five causes of suffering called, “kleshas.” Buddhist texts encourage us to cultivate neutrality and equanimity. It’s important to achieve a state called, “chitta-prasadana” – a state of the mind being in a pleased condition. (Swami Veda Bharati, 2015). Even though I was thousands of miles away (4,869 miles to be exact), I needed to be in the present moment – and not “longing” for things; which I found to be a difficult task.
Since I was experiencing fear and attachment, I connected with my breath to help me gain perspective and neutrality. I felt my breath and silently chanted om on the in-breath and shanti on the out-breath. I need to develop my sankalpa – spiritual willpower. A strong mind and spiritual wisdom will open new doors of reality.
Here are some ways to stay on the path according to Swami Veda Bharati (2015):
- Keep daily meditation. It will grant you insight.
- Keep your forehead relaxed – free of the wrinkles of worry and repetitive thought – in all situations.
- Every two to three hours, do two to three minutes of breath awareness with a mantra. (Do this sitting, standing, even with your eyes open while in a meeting, if you need to.) Just keep doing it – it will change your temperament.
- Observe yourself constantly. Take note every time you have not quite managed to remain true to your principles of speech and behavior. (Ask yourself: Was there a touch of unnecessary harshness in my tone? Did I neglect to practice non-anger or humility?)
- Use your sankalpa – your spiritual willpower. Resolve to do better next time, but do not indulge in self-condemnation. Never give up on yourself; just renew your sankalpa.
- Select one principle you find it easiest to practice and also one you find it most difficult to practice. Start practicing.
- Devise your own methods to apply these principles.
Om Shanti Om
Bharati, S.V. (2015). Whole hearted: Applied spirituality for everyday life. Minneapolis, MN: Dhyana Mandiram, Inc. (I highly recommend this book.)