You can’t make radical changes in the pattern of your life until you begin to see yourself exactly as you are now. As soon as you do that, changes will flow naturally. You don’t have to force anything, struggle, or obey rules dictated to you by some authority. It is automatic; you just change. But arriving at that initial insight is quite a task. You have to see who you are and how you are without illusion, judgment, or resistance of any kind.
“the keys to longevity are diet, exercise, finding a purpose in life (an ikigai), and forming strong social ties—that is, having a broad circle of friends and good family relations.”
a hunter, a European hunter, was lost in a forest in Africa. Suddenly he came upon a few huts. He had never heard that a village existed in that thick forest; it was not on any map. So he approached the chief of the village, and said, ‘It is a pity that you are lost to civilization.’ The chief said, ‘No, it is not a pity. We are always afraid of being discovered – once civilization comes in we are lost.’
Releasing the Arrow
by Thich Nhat Hanh from No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering
There is a Buddhist teaching found in the Sallatha Sutta, known as The Arrow. It says if an arrow hits you, you will feel pain in that part of your body where the arrow hit; and then if a second arrow comes and strikes exactly at the same spot, the pain will not be only double, it will become at least ten times more intense.
The unwelcome things that sometimes happen in life—being rejected, losing a valuable object, failing a test, getting injured in an accident—are analogous to the first arrow. They cause some pain. The second arrow, fired by our own selves, is our reaction, our storyline, and our anxiety. All these things magnify the suffering. Many times, the ultimate disaster we’re ruminating upon hasn’t even happened. We may worry, for example, that we have cancer and that we’re going to die soon. We don’t know, and our fear of the unknown makes the pain grow even bigger.
The second arrow may take the form of judgment (“how could I have been so stupid?”), fear (“what if the pain doesn’t go away?”), or anger (“I hate that I’m in pain. I don’t deserve this!”). We can quickly conjure up a hell realm of negativity in our minds that multiplies the stress of the actual event, by ten times or even more. Part of the art of suffering well is learning not to magnify our pain by getting carried away in fear, anger, and despair. We build and maintain our energy reserves to handle the big sufferings; the little sufferings we can let go.
Living our life fully and deeply requires courage. If we cannot be happy, right here and right now, we need to ask ourselves why. If we’re having difficulty touching peace and the wonders of the cosmos in our daily life, there must be something getting in the way. We need to find out what it is. What’s weighing us down or pulling us away from the present moment? Continue reading
WE NOW ASK YOU TO SEE BEFORE YOU A LADDER. AND it is a wooden ladder and it is very, very straight. And you stand at the base of the ladder and you look up and you cannot see the top of the ladder because it goes so high into the clouds. And we ask you now to place your hands on the rungs of the ladder. And you feel them in your hands as wood, as smooth, as solid, and as supporting you clearly and capably in their firmness. And you put one hand above the other and you begin to rise up the ladder, one rung at a time. And as you do, your frequency begins to lift and you begin to move higher and higher in frequency as you rise up on this ladder in energy.
Make sure you have periods of downtime and alone time. Become centered. Practice meditation, the most desirable tactic, or at the very least find time throughout the day to shut your eyes in a quiet place and take some deep breaths until you feel relaxed and centered. The best breathing technique, which we mentioned in connection with the workplace (this page), is to breathe in to a count of 4, then breathe out to a count of 6.
Remain active. Getting up and moving around throughout the day stimulates the vagus nerve, one of the principal pathways of the autonomic nervous system. Yoga is even more stimulating and is the best activity for switching from sympathetic overdrive to heightened parasympathetic activity.
Seek positive outlets. In this case, the word positive means anything that makes you happy. Making time to be happy is a whole-system strategy, but that’s dry and abstract. Happiness is the philosopher’s stone for turning a stressful situation into a healing one. In psychological terms, this is why the best way to build a happy life is to build happy days.
Rely on emotional support. Modern society is more and more isolating, which was true even before the Internet and video games greatly accelerated the problem. There is no substitute for emotional bonding, and one thing almost always found in happiness studies is that the happiest people spend an hour or even more per day being in contact, either personally or on the phone, with friends and family who mean the most to them.
Escape if you must. This is generally the hardest choice for most people, who will endure stressful situations long after it is evident that escaping and walking away is the right choice. Aggravated situations like domestic abuse are actually acute stressors. Significant life changes like divorce or switching careers must take many factors into account. However, on an everyday basis you should give yourself the freedom to walk away from heated arguments, malicious gossip, rude e-mails, perpetual complainers, worrywarts, and anyone who is openly criticizing you.
The Healing Self: A Revolutionary New Plan to Supercharge Your Immunity and Stay Well for Life by Deepak Chopra
It must be remembered that we are free to acknowledge and surrender our feelings, and we are free not to surrender. As we examine our “I can’ts” and find out that they are really “I won’ts,” it doesn’t mean that we have to let go of the negative feelings that result in the “I won’ts.”
Lord Acton has said: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” No, that is not right. Power never corrupts, it only brings corruption out. How can power corrupt?