Some people regard Buddhism as a religion, but for many, it is actually a philosophy and a way of life. When I was in Thailand, I was intrigued to learn more about the ways one can incorporate some of the basic concepts into everyday life. I visited temples in different cities, observed many of its practices, learned about loving-kindness, and took a meditation class with a monk.
You don’t have to become an ordained monk, or turn from your own religious beliefs to include some simple yet powerful practices to help you live a balanced life.The following are some concepts I apply to this day:
Quiet the mind through meditation
Someone once asked the Buddha: “What have you gained through meditation?” The Buddha replied, “Nothing at all. Let me tell you what I have lost in meditation: sickness, depression, insecurity, burden of old age, and fear of death.
Meditation is all about quieting the mind. It has proven effects that help manage stress and anxiety in a healthy way. Once we are able to clear our heads, we can make better choices. There are different ways to meditate. Some common techniques are: Focused Meditation, it focuses on something intensely like the sound of ocean waves. Primordial Sound Meditation, which focuses on a mantra. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, uses both breath awareness and body scan.
Live in the present
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” -Buddha
The best way to be is living in the now, for the past or future does not exist. It is easy to get caught up thinking of the past or preoccupying the mind with events that have not happened yet. The problem with this mentality is that it steals us from the wonderful gift of today, that is why we call it the present. Even though it is important to learn from the past and plan for the future, it is crucial to focus on what we have in front of us.
Cultivate positive thoughts
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”-Buddha
Our minds have the power to make us strong or weak, to heal us or make us sick. We just have to decide if the thoughts governing our mind will be positive or negative. For this reason, it is crucial to create a positive mental attitude. The best way to do this is to start each the day with a grateful heart. Throughout the day, no matter what challenges may arise, if you look at the positive side of the situation, something can be learned and you will be in a better mood.
Live with compassion
“Radiate boundless love towards the entire world — above, below, and across — unhindered, without ill will, without enmity.” –Buddha
Love really makes the world go round. If there was more of it, we could see past the differences that separate us and there would be no reason for war. Although our world still struggles with this, there are still many people that care to give back, to be a friend in need, sharing with the less fortunate. There are always ways to do kind deeds, whether is volunteering at your local community or practicing a conscious act of kindness. This will go a long way in your life and the lives of others.