Science has extended our physical lives through discoveries about exercise and diet, even going so far as to eradicate smallpox from the world. But while vaccines and antibiotics ensure our physical longevity, what can we do to inoculate our souls against the challenges we face in our day-to-day living?
We can literally, do nothing; stillness is the cardio of our minds. The act of mindfulness, of being aware of your thoughts in the present moment, is like being aware of your blood pressure or pulse. It alerts us as to what we need to work on, and provides us with insights as to the nature of our selves.
“The way to do is to be.”
– Lao Tzu
I like to “be” by incorporating the practice of yoga and mindfulness in whatever I do. We may not have the luxury of living in caves and meditating all day, but even the busiest person can reserve 20 minutes out of his or her day to do so. I was recently reminded of an old Zen adage which proves that the problems of today are the same as the problems humanity faced centuries ago:
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day—unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”
“Do your duty, Arjuna.”
Krishna to Arjuna, Bhagavad-Gita
The duty of humanity is to shed our divisive past in favor of Love. Love is the essential healing force in a chaotic world filled with alarm clocks, endless meetings and deadlines. However, if we do our duty to ourselves and do the best job we can, our minds will not be self-critical. One’s ego will no longer criticize him or her for not doing enough or not being good enough. So Love is like a flu shot for the mind, preventing us from getting sick with regrets and second thoughts. It allows us to nip our regrets in the bud – which quiets the mind, in addition to calming our bodies.
There’s no wrong way of doing this. All it requires is having the courage to make the decision to open the door to Love for ourselves, and the audacity to reject the non-loving feelings that taint our hearts. It’s a way of giving approval to ourselves. It’s a way of accepting who we are with whatever is working well in our lives at that particular moment. Right now I’m sitting. I’m grateful for that. Whatever is not working well, I’m still grateful for it. I’m grateful for the lessons that I may learn from that. I’m still grateful for the opportunity to do something else.
“To love is to recognize yourself in another.”
As a coach, I share with my clients strategies to vaccinate themselves against non-loving feelings – in other words, we build an immunity against self-defeating thoughts, laying the groundwork for prevention rather than just sticking a band aid on the problem.
Denise K. Bonnaig, Esq.
25 Murray Street
New York, NY 10007