I recently went to one of my favorite meditation teachers, Kadam Morten, who led a meditation class on success.
“In New York City,” he began, “ our greeting card is success. The first question asked when most people first meet is often What do you do? We seem to focus on prestige, money, relationships, exterior things. Can any of us say we are successful at happiness?”
Having a connection to some kind of spiritual practice is a gateway to joy.
Kadam Morten spoke about how spiritual practice requires effort. Effort is a word that often makes us feel bad because it’s about gritting our teeth and working hard but according to Kadampa Buddhism, effort is a mind that delights in virtue.
It takes effort to learn how to delight in the the aspects of life that require effort to achieve. Mindfulness meditation has been my connection to happiness. Being able to look at my thoughts and process them before taking action has been my latest favorite tool. When I act without mindfulness, the result is consistently unpleasant.
Mindfulness meditation is not religious. As a Buddhist, Kadam Morten noted that, in his opinion, mindfulness meditation is maintenance.
As an agnostic, I’m actually okay with that right now.
Stress is the number one cause of more illnesses that I can name. Our bodies are shutting down because we run at such a high level, working to achieve happiness outside of ourselves, many of us are never aware that we are innately connected to joy, always.
Riding the busy. That’s what I call it. We pack our lives so full that we barely have space to breathe, then, turn around shocked that life is flying by. “Oh my god! It’s already June!!” Then the fear sets in. “Time is passing by so fast, and I’m not going to get it back!” My brother and sister in law have been married over 30 years now and every time I see her, if I ask her politely how she is doing her instant response is, “I am so tired.” Can you imagine, saying I am so tired to everyone you know for 30 years? What kind of a life is that?
Unfortunately when we run on all cylinders, riding the busy, our body unexpectedly shuts down. We get sick, our blood pressure rises, we develop cysts, cancers appear, our hearts become traumatized, we develop type 2 diabetes. The root cause of many of these physical illnesses is stress. Science is recognizing that the foundation to healing illness is learning how to manage and minimize stress.
Mindfulness meditation allows the space for us to slow down and get out of our fight or flight sympathetic nervous system, and ground down into our parasympathetic nervous system and is a vital tool for healing.
Kadam Morten compared starting a meditation practice to planting a seed. When you want to cultivate a garden, first you till the soil, clearing all of the rocks and thick roots creating a soft environment. Second, you work to nourish the soil. Using nutrients to make the land fertile for growth. I always think it’s interesting how we use compost and manure to cultivate and heal soil that has been worn out. Just think about that. The third and final steps are to take the action of planting that seed and nourishing it with water and warmth.
Using the seed analogy, Kadam Morten talked about cultivating the mind for meditation in three steps:
1. Remove whatever obstacles by purifying the mind.
2. Give strength and nourishment by filling the mind with positive energy.
3. Activate by receiving blessings which transform the mind and activate growth.
I think this formula is fantastic.
I think about the diversity of seeds and environments that we have on our planet.
Some seeds will never have the opportunity to grow in spaces without obstacles.
Some seeds were designed to grow their roots deep and grow through concrete.
Other seeds live in the city and are constantly bombarded with dog pee, human pee, pollution yet STILL these seeds focus down and grow strong beyond the surface level reaching towards the heavens while grounding down into the earth.
Let go of “if only”, take a risk and just try. I loved Kadam Morten’s recommendations and I modify the teachings to fit my life.
Some folks have their basic needs met, so they have the resources to clear obstacles, nourish their soil, then plant the seed water it and grow.Some of us do not have that luxury.
Listen, you don’t have to have all of the obstacles in your life cleared in order to start a self care practice. I encourage you, whatever your circumstances, to begin the process of practicing Mindfulness. Be brave enough to be present. Listen, more than you talk.
Allow yourself space to just be instead of trying to be.
P.S. This summer I’m leading a virtual book club! The book for the summer is How to be Single and Happy: Science Based Strategies for Keeping your Sanity while Looking for a Soul Mate by Jennifer L. Taitz.
I read this book earlier this year after a year back in the dating world of NYC. It has been a lifeline to me being able to mindfully date while being unapologetically single, connected to happiness and joy. Join me…www.patreon.com/visableblackwoman
#rhythmtherapywellness #singlehappysane #virtualbookclub #summerreading #sciencebaseddating