John O’Donohue was a priest and a poet whose life was struck short in January 2008. Shortly before his death he replied to a question about if there was anything that haunted him. He said, “It is the sense of my days running through my fingers like the finest sand and I can’t stop it.”
Whether our minds like it or not, this is the reality. We all share a common truth in this life and that is the truth of impermanence. But it is this very truth that frees us up to recognize the wonders of everyday life.
Life becomes more routine when we deny or avoid this reality.
Everyone gets hooked in life. You get cut off on the road and instantly fire up with anger. Or maybe someone walks by you and just says something insulting. Or maybe it’s the man or woman you live with who simply doesn’t put things away the way you’d like them to be.
There are lots of troublemakers in this world that really rile us up. What would you say if I told you the moment you noticed tension rising in your shoulders and your face becoming pursed is a moment of opportunity?
So you’re waiting in the hallway with your mind spinning about how it’s been a pretty crappy day and life just doesn’t seem to be moving in the direction you’d like it to. You’re friend walks by you and although you raise your hand to wave hi, she looks at you and just walks by.
Take a moment to sense what happened in your mind before reading any further.
Here is a past post that received considerable attention and I believe is worth revisiting. Enjoy!
I often say that there are two things that are unavoidable in life besides death and taxes and those are stress and pain. Pain is prevalent, be it physical pain and/or emotional pain. So we can all relate. But what if we could use our minds to change our brains and actually relieve our perception of pain this way?
The message has been given over and over again by those who know that the final days or hours are near. Randy Pausch learned he had terminal cancer and stood up to give The Last Lecture at Carnegie Melon. In this lecture he told his class and eventually the world that “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” He spoke of recognizing being in the moment and taking advantage of it, because after all, at some point or another we may realize that we don’t have as much time as we think.
Morrie Schwartz was living his final days as a result of Lou Gehrig’s Disease. When Mitch Albom found out about this he spent every Tuesday with him learning the lesson that in this life you must learn to love yourself and those around you. He went on to write Tuesdays with Morrie.
Today I bring to you Allan Lokos to give us some hints on how short practices throughout our daily lives can make big change.
Allan is the author of the book Pocket Peace: Effective Practices for Enlightened Living and is the founder and teacher at the Community Meditation Center in New York City. Allan has published numerous articles in various areas and studied with teachers that you may be aware of such as Sharon Salzberg, Thich Nhat Hanh, Joseph Goldstein, among others.
Elisha: What are Pocket Practices, and how can they help people find peace?
Allan: Pocket practices are concise, incisive versions of the Buddhist teachings known as the “Parami” (Pali) or “Paramitas” (Sanskrit) that can help us think, speak, and act wisely under pressure. They are compact but effective practices that we develop slowly so that we can call upon them quickly, instinctively. They are light, responsive, and powerful.
There is a poem by Portia Nelson called 5 Short Chapters that speaks to the natural unfolding of learning that happens when we work with becoming more aware of the mind traps in our minds. What are mind traps?
Mind traps are those habitual thinking styles we get caught in that inevitably trap us into a cascading snowball of reactivity that leads us to greater distress. Look this over, see if you identify with any of them and then we’ll get back to 5 Short Chapters.
These include, but are not limited to:
In the past I’ve written about the growing amount of people that answer the question, “Hey, how are you,” with “I’m doing Ok, just really busy.”
Busyness seems to be a growing epidemic. Even though we seem to have lots of gadgets that are meant to make us more efficient with our time, the gadgets all draw our attention and life seems to speed up. What happens when life speeds up? Well, often times what’s best for us goes to the bottom of the “to do” list.
I might ask people, “So you have this seemingly unending to-do list. Where are you on this list?” This is often met with either a quizzical look or a moment of reflection where the answer is almost always, “I’m not on it. There’s no time for me.”
Some say the key to happiness is to liberate ourselves from ignorance and come in to touch with the preciousness of life. However, the “habit energy,” as Thich Nhat Hanh calls it, of our everyday lives is very strong pulling our attention into multiple directions and making it difficult to realize the many spaces of choice we have to live a meaningful life.
Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Blink, speaks to how the mind makes a snap decision or interpretation within the first two seconds of an event occurring. For most of us, after that blink effect, auto-pilot kicks in and carries us into an unintentional unfolding of moments.
Here is Mondays Mindful Quote with the Tao Te Ching:
“Amidst the worldly comings and goings, observe how endings become beginnings.”
Underlying this quote is an important message that often times the mind is too quick to fully grasp.
“Yeah, yeah,” it says, “one door closes another one opens, I get it.”
No, no…take 20 seconds right now after you read this next sentence to become present. Close your eyes, notice your body, notice how you’re feeling and become aware of your breathing. Go ahead and do this now before continuing.