Having a Calm and Still Mind

What is the most important attribute that will get us through any situation in best ways possible?

Over time, I have come to reach the answer of the question, and that is composure. I will relate the answer to Zen/Buddhism’s promotion of finding the stillness in mind, a imperturbable sense of calmness through continuous self-examination and self-discovery. Just a reminder that I am not preaching philosohy or religion, instead, I am stating something that has worked well for me and I believe in now.

I can still feel angry, disappointed, sad, happy, estatic, but I have come to realize that whatever emotions and feelings I may get, there is a stillness in my mind that can be kept. My mind is a part of my entity. Those emotions are not. And with a calm mind, I can maintain my awareness, assess the situation, and come up with the best way to respond or to handle those emotions. Some simple examples (taken from my personal experience):

  • If you play basketball for a long time, fatigue starts to build up and your shots are becoming more inaccurate and your body becomes less coordinated, would it do you any good to fret and get scared to take shots?
  • If you are a singer, half way into a song, gone over the most difficult part, and all the singing muscle becomes really tense, would it do you any good to panic and start thinking about not hitting the right pitch?
  • If you are to present in front of some very important individuals, in school or at work, would it do you any good to get so nervous and studder through the presentation?

As smart as you all are :) the apparent answer to all those are, “No, it is best for us to remain as calm as possible in order to make it through the situation with best possible performance.” I am not saying we should never be nervous because that is not possible, as I get nervous myself too! But staying calm and keeping a still mind will allow us to deal out the best cards we can at those moments, albeit subpar. It could only be worse if you get nervous, panic, and have a mental break-down.

In other words, there is no reason for us to fret or panic about anything. The only thing panicing will do for us is to make matters worse. Even if the situation is desperate, dire, and nothing can be done to help, we can reason that everything will come to pass in life, which is the truth. Why should we panic, fret, and worry ourselves to death? Just aim and do our best possible with support of a calm and still mind.

The quote provides the most suitable description of what I just mentioned:

“When the mind begins to become still, we then begin to truly see it. When you first try to stabilize and pacify the mind, initially it will become very busy because it’s not accustomed to being still. In fact, it doesn’t even necessarily want to become still, but it is essential to get a hold of the mind to recognize its nature. This practice is extremely important. … Eventually you will find yourself in a state where your mind is clear and open all the time. It is just like when the clouds are removed from the sky and the sun can clearly be seen, shining all the time. This is coming close to the state of liberation, liberation from all traces of suffering. … The truth of this practice is universal. It isn’t necessary to call it a religion to practice it. Whether one is a Hindu or a Moslem or a Christian or a Buddhist simply doesn’t matter. Anyone can practice this because this is the nature of the mind, the nature of everyone’s mind. If you can get a handle on your mind, and pacify it in this way, you will definitely experience these results, and you will see them in your daily life situation. There is no need to put this into any kind of category, any kind of “ism.” Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche

So remember, you can be nervous, you can be angry, you can be overjoyed, but maintain a still mind that will help you get through any situation the best way possible.

Originally posted 2007-04-25 23:17:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Essence of Life Is Breathing

Remember back when we’re young, when we’re so full of energy and exuberant, that we never seem to out of breath? That’s right, we never ran out of breath. We used to breath correctly. We breathed correctly with our entire body.

So what happened to our breathing? Because of outter influence, stress, pressure, bad habits, we lost our ability to breath properly. We become upper chest breathers as we grow. We no longer breath properly and only breath JUST ENOUGH for survival. But we no longer breath enough to keep ourselves in optimum shape. There are plenty of articles out on the Internet that talks about WHY breathing properly is important. So I won’t re-invent or plagerize here.

I can speak of some effects of obtaining the skill. Your body can be more easily relaxed. You will feel more energized. It’ll help you tremendously in all sorts of exercises and activities. Your mind can be more sharp. The benefits are countless.

Deep breathing involve all the major parts of the torsal and facial mask, not just the chest. First you need to keep your nasal cavity opened, which requires the relaxing of the facial muscle in that area. You will feel they are kind of “lifted” when done correctly. Then you need to learn how to breath with the diaphragm. One tip is to focus on a point that’s 2-3 inch below the belly button toward the back. Take in air deep pushing diaphragm downward, feeling the sensation and focusing at the focal point. You will notice expanding of the rib cage and the belly. And finally, the chest can expand slightly to take in more air, but no raising the shoulders. The whole process of breathing in and out should take a lot longer than only upper chest breathing (heaving). It will take discipline to make it into a habit. However, it’s a truly refreshing habit to have.

Give it a try.

Originally posted 2007-03-07 00:48:11. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Saving Up for F%@# You Money

When it comes to finding reasons to save, we all have very different ideas. A lot of advice boils down to super-specific goals such as…

1. Downpayment for a house
2. Paying off debt
3. Buying a car
4. House remodeling
5. Traveling
6. Retirement
7. College fund
8. Gadgets and other consumer goods
9. 3-6 months emergency savings

For me, even though I have done a lot of the above, I never broke down and specifically say things such as “I will save $x amount so I can do [something].” It’s never been my style even though they are perfectly valid reasons.

Ever since college when I started working at least part-time, it has always been with me that I will sock some percentage of my earnings away into saving. (lucky me?) As a result, I never had to be in utter panic mode for most of the situations above.

I suppose part of it has to do with my penchant for independence from my parents at first. It certainly had now grown into a “depend on myself” motto.

To really boil it down, I have ONE philosophical reason to save, which is the fact that I really enjoy my inner peace and sense of freedom. This idea encapsulates all the elements I discuss below.

Sleeping well is very important.

Sleeping well is very important.

Having money saved up gives me the flexibility and options to choose in life. That’s definitely precious. It helps me sleep well at night knowing I would be ready for many life emergencies, including losing my job.

Restricting how I spend for specific goals like some of those stated makes me feel “ensnared” so I never do it. Plus I prefer to see one BIG pile which I can then allocate for whatever. Some may say this is a horrible idea because it makes it difficult for me to choose to spend… which is true but the flip side is that it helps me consider each big expense even more carefully.

These days, with the big corporate culture where I’m still an employee, the more work I do, the more I’ve become involved, the more scenarios where frustration and other stangnant feelings build up in me. Those of you with more experience in corporate world would know what I mean. With all the encumbering processes, petty politics, unsightly unfaireness, and what not.

Therefore, the more I save up, the more I put myself in a better position to possibly say… “f#$k you” if the situation warrant it. Well, figuratively.

I remember very distinctly and even saved an image copy of the Dilbert comic where Scott Adam so brilliantly dubbed the precious name of “Fuck You Money (FU Money).”
94411.strip

FU Money keeps me from stressing and disrupting my peace. I won’t really say “fuck you” to others in the face but I can certainly choose to walk away and “fuck it.”

Not just for walking away, the extra bonus is that it gives me confidence to act with more abandon and push back when shoved at work.

So for now, what is it that drives me to save? It is not retirement as most people think about it because it is not my goal to stop working.

By conventional wisdom, while many people work to save for the various “common” goals, I need not such concrete goal to motivate myself to save. I enjoy my peace and one could say that I am saving for my stash of FU Money.

Perhaps for no better reason than to… sleep better at night.

And…

Hopefully I won’t use it to “fuck it.”
Hopefully I will use it to do something because I love it.

Originally posted 2013-02-04 00:27:06. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

How to Communicate – To Truly Connect

For work or personal relationship, we are presented with the questions:

What does it mean to communicate?
How can we do it well?
Or rather, how do you really listen to the other person?

So then quite frequently, we took classes and lesson. We studied some psychology and philosophy. We are taught tricks and techniques such as…
– say certain phrases
– ask certain questions
– use certain hand gestures
– mirror the other party’s movement and behaviors
– how to process the words coming out of the other person’s mouth

Well, those are all dandy and fine, but I find those can only be effective in so much depends on how well you know yourself (as I often say here) and ultimately, on the basis your realization that, we are all human beings.

The other person is a person, a human being. Just like yourself.

This basic realization is fundamental and consequential.

That is very important because we often let our own and the other person’s identities get in the way and thus lead to both parties being scared, intimidated, distant, defensive, offensive during conversation.

Bosses and employees.
Teachers and students.
Parents and children.
Husband and wife.

We must realize that we are not merely identities.

Part of being present in the moment is this realization. Not that we ignore people’s identities but to have a “non-grasping-ness” with the identities while knowing that are the same human beings as I am. We are fundamentally the same… human beings who are both rational and irrational, with both thinking minds and emotional hearts. We all have parents. We all thrive on a healthy Earth. We… well, you get the point.

A few other details on what not to do in order to allow true communication…

Not wondering about other things in your mind.
Not thinking or preparing what to say next.
And definitely, not lying and saying things to ONLY achieve a personal agenda.

On a last note, these ideas point out a few limitation of communication through the virtual world. In that, when we are not physically together, thus the Internet, our communication relies heavily on the identities we already know of the other people or identities that we claim and establish. In other words, through Internet and text exchanges, we can only see fragments of the other person… rather than truly connecting.

Yes, emails, text messages, and social networks are great convenient tools, but at the same time, I find us making the grave mistakes of over-using it to represent and communicate ourselves as if they can represent and communicate ourselves in totality. Perhaps this is why more people are feeling lonelier than ever? That more people feel isolated than ever? That there are more depressed people than ever?

Something for us to ponder…

This is not so far from us missing the point by mistaking our abstractions of reality as reality. But, this is a topic for another day.

Originally posted 2009-08-31 23:41:39. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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