Make Your Life Better – 14 Resolutions for 2014

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It’s still resolution time (just about) and I actually thought long and hard about what could make my life better in 2014 than it had been in 2013.

Which things were vacuums of my time but yielded no benefits?

Which activities would make me feel happier and calmer every day if I just took a few minutes to do them?

What would help me end 2014 with a happier healthier body and mind?

The following are what I came up with.

My attempts at them so far have proved that (as difficult as they may be to stick to completely) incorporating them into your life in even some small way can be of huge benefit.

I hope you give some of them a try! You won’t be alone if you do.

Continue reading

Meditate: Session 2

My second meditation session was about self-cherishing or as us mere mortals might refer to it, being self-centred.

Our teacher explained that all human beings want to be free from suffering, and that no human being wants to be free from suffering more than any other.

So why should our suffering be any more important than anyone else’s? Why do we think we’re inherently more important than anyone else?

We always think our suffering is worse because it’s happening to us. If our car is stolen it can feel like the end of the world, but if our neighbour’s car is stolen, it’s a shame, awful even, but they’ll deal with it and life will go on and we don’t really bother ourselves with it.

I had trouble with this concept. Even though logically you can’t really argue against it. My trivial daily disappointments in no way compare with the suffering of a child in Syria or soldiers in Iraq, but I couldn’t help thinking that if I didn’t believe I was important, then who would? If I’m not the most important thing in my own life, then how am I of any consequence at all?

Surely you can’t bring a child up thinking that they are not important, nor is their suffering. They would grow up with terribly low self-esteem. Wouldn’t they?

As Aibileen, the maid, says to the little girl she looks after in the film The Help, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” Grammatical errors aside, this seems to me to be a good mantra to emphasise to a small child. That they are important, not that they are not.

But I can still understand that for most adults, trying to understand their suffering in the context of greater suffering is sensible and could help us to be calmer and more content.

We were supposed to meditate on the fact that our suffering wasn’t any greater than anyone else’s, but I have to admit I wasn’t in the mood that day.

Here’s why. Continue reading

Meditate: Session 1

The focus of my first meditation session in years was love and forming positive relationships.

For those of you who have never meditated, the meditation is normally dedicated to something specific. We meditated on the concept that “everyone is our mother.” I’ll explain later.

The session started with an awkward sing-along to some clunky music for Buddha’s benefit. Then consisted of a talk on the Buddhist approach to love and relationships, about 10 minutes of meditation and questions and answers at the end.

Our teacher explained that love and attachment were different things. Love, she said, is wanting the best for the person you love. Simply wanting them to be happy. Attachment is wanting them to be happy but also wanting them to make you happy. Attachment is not unconditional. Whereas unconditional love doesn’t ask for anything in return.

So it would seem that in most of our relationships (familial, friendships, husbands, wives, boyfriends or girlfriends) we’re all clearly falling more into the attachment camp. This is bad apparently. We should love them unconditionally. Continue reading

Meditate

An oil painting of Sitting Buddha that I bought from a street market in Hong Kong.

“Meditators showed a pronounced shift in activity to the left frontal lobe. In other words, they were calmer and happier than before.” – Psychology Today

I have decided to take up meditation. I’ve been aware of the health benefits for years (both physical and mental) and if Gisele and Miranda Kerr swear by it, it must have some seriously positive side effects.

It is, however, notoriously difficult to be a proficient meditator. To feel the benefits regular meditation, a little every day or at least three times a week, is required. Unless you are dedicated and consistent you may as well not bother. From what I hear. Continue reading