"Irwin, a frog must not blindly believe what others say. He should see for himself what brings contentment, clarity, and peace. That is the path for him to follow. These days, Son, it's easy to get caught up in all the hype - this thing or that is all that is needed to bring relief, happiness, joy, money, health etc. etc. It can make your head spin! But each of us has everything we need already inside us that will give us the life we truly want; a life filled with contentment, clarity, and peace." "I kind of understand that, Sir, but how can I accomplish this when the world is pushing and pulling at me?" Dharma answered my question with a few simple and effective methods we can easily incorporate into our daily lives. He said that when stress, confusion, and worry overwhelm us we can lose sight of our true inner confidence. But with these six little practices, we can regain the inner calm and clarity that is always available to us.
1. Cut through the word cloud. We live in a world cloud; sound bytes of news, commercials, and the viewpoints of others, as well as our own memories and perceptions of past events (those nagging voices in our heads). With this cacophony going on all the time, we often disconnect from our own truth. We lose the present while dwelling on the past or the worrying about the future. To reconnect with the present, we need to shift through these messages. The easiest way to do that is to tune them out through meditation or sitting quietly for a time, focusing on the breathe.
2. Resolve to take one thing at a time. Busyness is rarely helpful. We have false come to believe that quantity is more important than quality. So we multi-task like crazy! But, it is far better to do one thing at a time. This starts with asking yourself, "What do I need to do right now?" Once the answer has been discovered, put your full attention on that."It becomes so much easier to work when other concerns have been put aside, when all of our powers come to bear on this one thing. Then our physical and mental selves come into alignment with the task at hand, and things progress smoothly." And only when you've completed the task, do you move on to the next.
3. Take grey days and gloomy moods in stride. We all bad bad days and sometimes it can seem like the whole world is conspiring against us. When you have a bad day, don't feel compelled to be joyful and optimistic. Instead, it can actually be more useful to sit with those negative, blue feelings and admit that you're out-of-sorts. Acknowledging them can often diffuse them quicker than by wrestling with them or simply hoping they'll go away. "Draw very close to these negative thoughts and sensations, and try to be very detailed in your observations. You can do this without doing a lot of mental description: just feel very deeply."
4. Leave the guilt behind. Guilt is an ineffective coping strategy. It's never a good motivator, either. We can diffuse the guilt by taking the action we don't feel like like taking or by just getting a clearer picture of what our priorities really are. Find constructive ways of working through the situations that cause you guilt.
5. Cultivate contentment. We aren't what we own or the amount of money we have in the bank. It doesn't matter if you're loaded with money or just scraping by, we can all learn to cultivate contentment - feeling good about who we are; our inner self-worth. And while you may not feel content right now, try to imagine what that might feel like. Then steer your thoughts in that direction...do driver's license is required! Once you catch a glimmer of what contentment feels like, you can turn the playacting into reality.
6. Make worry your ally. Worry can actually become your friend if you don't let it fester. worry is best when it's a co-worker and not your boss. "If something worries you, take some small action to placate the worry. You don’t need to defeat worry once and for all: just defeat it for the time being. By converting worry into positive action, you deprive it of its power. A little bit of worry can make you more conscientious, while overwhelming worry can be paralyzing."
Dharma finished today's lesson by reminding me that contentment, clarity, and peace are a part of us. They just get dusty from non-use. Rather than getting swept up by all the chatter going on around you, take a few minutes each day to center your thoughts and remind yourself of your true purpose and self-worth.
Clutching his birthday bouquet of flowers as he hopped away, Dharma thanked me again for the special meal. I'm happy I could bring a joy to someone who always brings joy and happiness to others. And that makes me feel very contented.