Born again Buddhist
Today I fell back in love with Buddha.
I have returned eager to hear what the Buddha has to say.
After a two year break from my regular meditation class at the local Buddhist centre due to the dreaded restrictions and the fact that I suffer from onlineaphobia. I have realised how very much I have missed the simplistic wisdom of these special teachings.
I wasn’t in a great frame of mind today, could be that this is apparently, allegedly statistically proven to be the most depressing time of the year. More likely to divorce, leave your job, kill yourself, fun fun fun and that’s pre covid and not just the joys of living abnormally, that’s just January blues!
I think I had just sucked in some other peoples crap and even a session of kundalini magic crap shifting yoga with the fabulous Kat King didn’t quite cleanse my aura clean like it should have, me being the empathic little hoover that I am sometimes I struggle to not suck it all in; it is what it is, what can you do?
Ai Peng led us through two guided meditations. One watching the breath, one letting your thoughts just drift by like clouds in a clear blue sky. Basically, the sky is your untroubled mind and the clouds are those troublesome little buggers better known as our thoughts. How hard can it be, well that might depend on the chattiness of your internal dialogue (mine has verbal diarrhoea) and just how sunny your disposition is.
In my two year absence, I haven’t been completely flaky, I have meditated transcendental style, with and without guidance and mantras, breathed with Wim Hof and the breath guy and attempted to chant myself into a state of inner peacefulness and well being. There is no end of books, podcasts and insta experts available to show you the ropes.
The more techniques you learn I sometimes think the more confused you become. Left to my own devices I end up flipping from concentrating on the breath to repeating a positive affirmation to just noticing what I am feeling and hearing. I told you my mind is busy. But at least I try.
With meditation, it is a practise and if you want results you have to show up for class. Simple breathing meditation is very straightforward on paper, nothing is simpler than taking a time out in stillness, closing your eyes and just following the inhale and exhale as the air enters and exits our nostrils. No thinking required, forget your worries come on get happy, nothing to see here but blue skies. How hard can it be right?
The hidden gem of the meditation class taken by the mild-mannered peaceful warrior that is Ai peng for me wasn’t how many seconds I am able to free up space in my cloudy sky so that I could marvel at the blueness. It was her words explaining why we should all be searching for the sunlight. The route to overcoming negativity is learning to control the mind and the way to master this beast is to practice meditation often.
When people ooze serenity and calm it’s like applying a soothing balm to gaping wounds. We all want some of what they are having; we too want to be cool as a cucumber, unflappable and stable, don’t we or is that just me?
So the small group of people searching for a tranquil state of being, a sunshiny day without clouds sat and listened intently to our gentle gurus summary of what Buddha had to say and how to basically not lose your shit and become bitter and hysterical when things don’t go your way.
In her humble way, she explained how we should start with the small stuff, ok we are listening. Don’t run before you can walk sort of thing. Go on was the vibe of the audience, tell us more…
Ok, the example was if you go to the shops and you realise you have forgotten your bags are you going to get angry? No of course not was the reply, you know we love buying more bags even though we have five hundred bags for life stashed in a kitchen draw but it’s not exactly a crisis situation Ai peng! Even my mind a seasoned visitor was thinking if only that was the worst problem you could have. You could feel the newbies thinking really!
Unfazed she said okay now you have the shopping but you are waiting for someone to bring some bags and you are in a rush, how many minutes before this other tiny test starts to grate on the nervous system? Say you then attempt to pay but your card is declined or the till isn’t working, you drop your eggs, your toddler throws a tantrum; are will still calm? Not huge problems but check in on your patience levels next time you are in a long supermarket queue. Her very good point was yes we want to solve the big juicy problems that we encounter with ease and grace. But let’s cut our teeth on the small stuff first. Little wins turn into bigger victories.
People aren’t always as kind and tolerant mainly because everyone is so busy and stressed. If we can be more gracious and forgiving, if we can train ourselves to not make mountains out of molehills maybe we can tackle the bigger obstacles that litter our paths with a more Buddhist approach. An outside problem doesn’t have to become an inside problem. An outside problem whether it is a flat tyre, a dying relative, a comment that offended you or a terrible teen will only ever be an outside problem, one to be managed or overcome; it is up to you if you want to fill your clear blue sky with storm clouds and lightning bolts.
If you find yourself seeking Buddha and meditation as a way to make your problems disappear then you will be disappointed, Buddhist teachings aren’t magic. To be in human form is to know problems and to encounter situations and people that can actually break your heart. Forgetting your carrier bags doesn’t come close to smashing up your new car which doesn’t come close to your house burning down which doesn’t come close to your baby dying. Bad things happen, very bad things, every single minute of every day someone somewhere is having a nightmare scenario playing out for them before their eyes. Strength and love normally get us through, we dig deep and find it. And if we can learn to not sweat the small stuff and rejoice in the small wins then I am all for that. It is survival training.
Today I am a born again Buddhist. Grateful for the wisdom.
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