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Posts Tagged ‘contentment’

Teaching students about simplicity is very difficult in a world where there is no example of it in their lives.  We live in a society that is complex, busy, noisy, and filled with to-do lists and projects and school, studying, and working toward promotions and more.  And this is all happening today!

But to live a life of peace, joy, and contentment we will need to slow down, increase our ability to focus on one thing at a time, and find time to meditate and be mindful about each word, thought, and step we take.  When we accomplish this we will be living in a world that is full and complete and filled with peace, love, and compassion.  Fears and frustrations will diminish and laughter will appear in their place.

dad, grandad, boy playingWhen was the last time you heard yourself or your children or students or co-workers actually laugh with a loud squeal, saw them roll on the floor, and hold their tummy because it hurt so much from laughing?  When was the last time you laughed so hard tears rolled down your face like the picture you see here?

Below is an exercise for you to share with them to help them think about simplicity and how it appears in their lives. You may not be able to use it with very young students so you may have to revise it a little bit to show them how to work on one thing at a time and finish it before they go on to the next thing. You might illustrate that idea with two pictures, one that is a very simple picture of something i.e. a glass of milk, and the other that is a very busy and complex picture such as a table full of dishes and food with a glass of milk among the items on the table.

Script for Exercise:

Pretend that you have a magic wand and that magic wand allows you to recreate your life and yourself– to invent a new you.  I am going to give you a few minutes to meditate on a word and think about what it means to you and how it appears in your life, or doesn’t appear in your life.  The word is simplicity.  (short pause)

When I ring the bell I am going to give you several minutes to create something with the art supplies that you have gathered that will illustrate what you discovered about yourself during the meditation.  Be as creative as possible in expressing what you discovered and even what the new you, both internally and externally, can look like. Feel free to draw, write, color, express yourself in your own unique way.

Keep track of the time. Give the students 3-5 minutes, longer if they have experience meditating, before ringing the bell. After ringing the bell remind them what they are to be doing for the next 10-15 minutes.  Keep track of the time because you will want to save time for debriefing the activity.

You might even try this exercise yourself.  Reflecting on simplicity might lighten up your day and brighten up your life!  Try it I think you’ll like it…

In gassho,

Shokai

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Emerson:  “Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which animates aajahn-brahmll whom it floats, and you are without effort impelled to truth, to right, and a perfect contentment.”[1]

Zen Ajahn Brahm: “Contentment is the opposite of a faultfinding mind.  You should develop the perception of contentment with whatever you have, wherever you are, as much as you can (page 44).”[2]

Wow!  What a concept!  In America we find ourselves often in a place where contentment seems impossible.  Especially during times like Christmas.  From the time we are very little until we die we make lists all year long asking for the newest toy on TV or the bike like your best friend has, or a new car like the neighbor down the street just got.  We long for material things and money and trips and more.

When was the last time you were content with what you had?  When was the last time you spent time in meditation and prayer where your mind was not drug off into thoughts of discontent?  Discontent with your relationships, your job, your income, with your health, or the world in general.

Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of people in need all over the world. In need of food, shelter, and safety from floods and bombs and more.  And we should do all we can to help them from supporting peace not war, supporting food banks, homeless shelters, veteran’s benefits, and more.  However, we must start with ourselves and our own consciousness.  Start with the little things and work your way up to the big things!  If you need to lose weight and you create a plan to do so celebrate even the smallest improvement be it losing three pounds, exercising three days in a row, or changing your diet to healthier foods this week.

Be open to “baby steps—baby steps” as Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) told his patient Bob Wiley (Bill Murry) in the movie “What about Bob.”  Find contentment in the little things wherever you can—whenever you can.   Longing for things that are out of reach makes you discontented with life and robs you of your contentment and your peace and joy in the present moment.  It doesn’t matter whether that discontentment is about things, places, or people.

We attract what we think about the most.  So if you want peace meditate and focus on peace and like a magnet you will draw it to you!  Remember contentment is hiding within it! If you want better health, or a different more fulfilling job, or a new relationship do the same and watch what happens!  Open your mind to receive your good by placing yourself in the middle of contentment!

Let me know how it goes!

In gassho,

Shokai

 

[1] http://www.azquotes.com/author/4490-Ralph_Waldo_Emerson/tag/contentment

[2] Brahm, A. (2014) Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond A Meditator’s Handbook. Wisdom Publications: Boston

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“Peace is the way,” is a very famous idea and the original quote is shared with us in the very popular book by Robert Aitken, The Mind of Clover Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics (1984). He writes:

. . . we have the saying attributed to A.J. Muste, “There is no way to peace; peace is the way,” I doubt if this could have been formulated without the influence of Gandhi, who showed that swaraj, or independence, is right here now, not some time in the future… “Right here now,” “Peace is the way,” “This very body is the Buddha,” “The Kingdome of God is within you”—these are all expressions of human intimacy with essential nature, which is not born and does not die (page 164).[1]

So how do we get so far off the track of peace and into war, anger, meanness, self-centeredness, and the like? All of these words lead us away from peace and make us a very unlikable person. For me I find that when I allow my ego to take over my thinking and feeling nature I’m in big trouble! When the only words that I hold in my head are I, me, my, and mine I am in bigger trouble! And yet it is a great challenge to hold your ground when you are being abused or taken advantage of without giving up your “peace.” But it can be done!

I took a workshop many years ago with a wonderful Unity minister named Edwene Gaines and she shared a great affirmation with us to use when we needed to get a “toxic person” or situation out of our lives and it went like this: “I bless her on her way to find her highest good elsewhere.” WOW!! That’s a powerful thought and I have used it for over 20 years very successfully and so have others that I have shared it with.

So you might say, “I bless ________on his way to find his highest good elsewhere.” Change the pronoun as necessary. Really do it, say it, and think it from a place of peace and love, not of anger and hatefulness. Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, JR were able to do it in a big way. If they can free countries and people we sure can free ourselves and others with peace and love to find their highest good elsewhere.

Remember peace is inherent in you right here, right now, not in some other time in the future! Our essential nature is peace. Can’t you just picture that new born baby asleep in the crib how beautiful the baby looks, serene, content, and fulfilled? When was the last time you looked and felt like that, and I don’t mean without the wrinkles! I mean with real love and contentment in your mind and heart. The love and contentment that you were born with, you had it once; you can have it again right here right now this very minute. It is all up to you—choose it or lose it! A person can have love and compassion for even the most so called “unlovable” person in the world when they remember that everyone’s true nature is love and for whatever reason they just do not recognize it in themselves.

Let’s take the time now to do our three breath exercise. Take those three long breaths now! Feel the peace begin to move through you as you count one on the in breath and two on the out breath. Feel the relaxation that begins to encompass your mind, body, and spirit. Unwind your mind and ego~ and rewind the natural peace with which you were born!

And when you do you will see your relationships blossom and grow through peace and love. Peace is the way…this I see for you today!

In love and light, Shokai

 

[1] Aitken, R. (1984) The Mind of Clover Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics. North Point Press: NY, NY

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