Thursday, January 19, 2012

Taking time to pause and reflect...

Life is overwhelming. That's one of the few things I can say with certainty. Life is overwhelming. Good things are often planned and plotted, but the speed bumps in life rarely are and often they coincide with the good things. So how do I manage to get through the everyday hassle of living? I try to take time to remember what is important to me. As a Buddhist, I chant/pray daily. I tend to do this EVERYWHERE. When my job gets stressful or I get exhausted I start saying "nam-myoho-renge-kyo" over and over in my head. It calms me down, grounds me, and reminds me that I am a part of something much bigger than myself. Taking this time to just BE is important. Instead of filling those minutes with ideas, lists, problems, et cetera, I attempt to let my life just exist for a moment.

I follow a blog by Tara Brach and yesterday she posted a wonderful bit about not filling in all the spaces. I encourage you to check it out here. If you haven't heard of her, Tara Brach is an amazing woman who has dedicated her life to mindfulness and mindfulness meditation. She has many books, audio tapes, and podcasts that focus on helping others learn to meditate and be mindful.

So today the challenge is how to live without controlling and doing. It's not as easy as it seems.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Personal Resolutions and Revolutions.

The new year is the perfect time to start thinking about how one's life should change. Lately, I find myself wondering how I can give back. How can I make a difference when I have so much going on that I can't keep track of my own life? I was glad to hear that a friend of mine was having the same struggle. We asked a senior in faith about this and got an answer so stupidly simple it was mind blowing: "Become the kind of person who can give people hope." (Tariq Hasan, SGI Chairman of the Board/Chief Operating Officer).

So how am I supposed to do this? By setting an example. Every day we focus so much on ourselves: what we want, what we need, what we "deserve" that we forget that we are a part of every other being on this planet. Call it what you will, but there is a force that connects us all.

Something that has plagued me throughout the years is the idea of helping. I help in obvious ways, but forget it does not mean killing myself for someone else. Doing dishes, laundry, babysitting, helping paint... yes, these are all great ways to help, but sometimes just the task of listening is enough. Having a friendship and enjoying is more of a help to many than you can ever imagine. In a time when stories of teen and young adult suicide run rampant in the media, we may want to reconsider those we are pushing away.

Don't get me wrong- you should never keep someone in your life who is bad for you. However, maybe the next time you decide to turn down an invite to dinner or coffee due to wanting more "me" time, maybe think twice. The friendship goes both ways: each person listens and shares. You may find this seemingly simple act of being there helps you even more than it has helped the other person.

It certainly seems less daunting to work on personal friendships than to go out and volunteer 20 hours a week. I'm not opposed to volunteering, but I am opposed to stretching myself too thin. So now instead of attempting to save the world through activism, I'm going to work on saving the world through friendship.