Make Life Less Chaotic
I wish this wasn’t such a timely metaphor, but tragically due to the recent events in Ohio it is: a speeding train cannot reverse course instantaneously. It has so much inertia that it can only be stopped very slowly, and only once it’s stopped can it begin the gradual acceleration in the other direction.
Our habits, especially our mental habits, are like speeding trains. When we are born, our thinking hasn’t even started. Then, it starts to build and build. Soon, we’re thinking a million miles a minute.
Before we know it, we’ve picked up the stress and worry from our parents. Our mental freight trains gather more passengers like jealousy and comparative thinking from our friends and social media. As it builds up more speed, cargo like addiction and distraction get picked up. Now our trains are fully loaded and plowing forward.
All the cargo (which we could call conditioning) in these mental trains were picked up unintentionally and unconsciously. Some things we pick up are good, like sharing and caring. Some, not so good, like greed and fear.
The key to stopping our freight trains so we can unload the baggage and start going in a new direction is to slow down in our lives. This doesn’t mean doing less or limiting our ambitions. It means setting aside some time every day to observe the cargo (observe our minds), reflect on where the cargo came from (notice how this thinking began), and toss out any impediments to reaching our desired destination (release the old ways of thinking but stay conscious of them as well so that whenever they rear their ugly heads, we can consciously choose the new course of action). Once that mental train has stopped, we can load up on all sorts of intentional cargo that will help us get where we want to go (nourish the mental habits that make us joyful).
Every time we have a moment of presence, we are creating new inertia in the opposite direction. Every time we act consciously and intentionally, we build up speed and energy towards new mental habits. It takes time, so be patient with yourself. There will be twists and turns, so be kind with yourself. It takes effort and work, so be sure to enjoy the journey as well.
The Practice of Letting Go
- We know that happiness comes from within, but what about when things go wrong? How do we stay happy then? When I was in Thailand, a gentleman stole my camera. It wasn’t the camera that was hard to let go of, it was the may irreplaceable photos that I hadn’t backed up yet. Here’s how I learned to let go and forgive.
- Many of us try futilely to control every aspect of our lives. But control is an illusion. We can do our best to create a perfectly calm life, but life may have other plans for us. Often, our attachment to impermanent things becomes our primary source of suffering. This is how we can learn to become comfortable with change.
- While we can’t always control our circumstances, we can control how we experience and react to them. That is where mindfulness and meditation come in. Because our fast-paced culture can make meditation seem boring, a lot of people avoid it at all cost and will seek out anything else, but is that a good thing? Here’s the lowdown on alternatives to meditation.
- Every decision we make is driven by a desire for happiness. But often, what we do may bring temporary pleasure followed by more craving and more longing which actually makes us less happy in the long run (think eating a whole bag of chips).The lasting happiness we seek isn’t in the things we seek. Lasting joy and peace can only be found in the moments between words, actions, and thoughts. In the spaces between objects and things. This is where lasting peace can be found.
So then, if peace is in the stillness, what role do rituals, traditions and religious communities play in helping us find lasting peace and happiness? Can religion help us reach our ultimate potential? Here’s more on the roles that temples and churches play in our journey to self-discovery.
As we end one week and begin another, let’s remember the people of East Palestine, Ohio. Let’s remember people everywhere who are going through challenging times. Let’s be thankful for our many blessings. May we be strong for those in need, and may someone be there for us too when we falter. This is how the wheel of life spins on.
PS: Whether it’s losing weight, getting rich, or becoming enlightened, countless people are selling get-it-quick schemes. With smartphones and smart TVs and Amazon, we’re so used to getting what we want when we want. We’ve become an instant gratification culture and many businesspeople are more than happy to cash in on that. While instant enlightenment or quick-fix schemes can seem enticing, here is the truth about 2-minute meditation that everyone should know about.
The Art of Mindful Minimalism
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