Constant competition with each other, the race for achievements and material benefits, eternal haste and lack of time – this is how our usual life looked until recently. Not everything in her was bad or “wrong”, but in a hurry we missed something, lost or did not have time to notice.
Hustle and bustle have been replaced by anxiety and – for many – forced sitting at home in conditions of quarantine and self-isolation.
Many experts suggest using this time for the fact that we did not have time in the eternal race between work and home. Take advantage of the pause to chat with loved ones and be alone. However, it is not easy for everyone to readjust from the usual rhythm of life, lose background noise and face their dark sides.
It seems that we are faced with the task of living this time with dignity and, possibly, turning it into a period of inner growth. The centuries-old philosophy of Buddhism, the practice of which is aimed precisely at finding peace within ourselves and calming the anxious mind, will help us with this.
“The stronger our mental balance and serene mind, the higher the ability to be happy and enjoy life,” says the spiritual leader of Buddhists, His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama (book of the Dalai Lama and Dr. Howard Cutler “The Art of Being Happy”).
Psychologist Azadeh Aalai has compiled five Buddhist truths from the Dalai Lama that will make self-isolation meaningful.
1. The main thing is kindness
The Dalai Lama says his religion is kindness. As we plunge into the drama of our own life, we sometimes fail to feel the power of compassion – for others and for ourselves.
In the preface to the book of the Dalai Lama “Open Heart. Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life ”Nicholas Vreeland writes that in Buddhism, compassion is defined as the desire for all beings to be free from suffering.
Compassion creates positive emotions, develops empathy. Gives an understanding that we live in an inextricable connection with other creatures and with the whole vast world. When our kindness and decency are not directed towards others and we are guided only by selfish aspirations, it undermines the ability to connect with others.
It’s not that hard to take a minute to ask a person how their day is going, make way for someone, smile, or offer help. By doing such things, we set off a “chain reaction” of kindness.
2. Find inner silence
Our life is usually filled with business and vanity, emotions and information. Digital technologies have become the basis and necessity of everyday life. Mobile phones ring and vibrate with messages, letters come to e-mail, frightening and provocative news headlines run through the feed, they argue about something on TV screens, images go one into another.
All these technologies make life convenient and allow you to earn money. However, sometimes it’s worth putting off everything for a while and just enjoy the silence. Focus on the moment and what we are doing, not grabbing the gadget every second. Avoiding digital chatter can bring relief and peace by just temporarily focusing on the present, Dr. Aalai said.
“We need a calm environment … I mean a mental state free from distraction, and not just time spent alone in a quiet place,” writes the Dalai Lama. Of course, it is not always possible to achieve this. But we can turn off phones and laptops at least once a day and dive into the here and now.
3. Live in the present
“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. This is the present, ”Dr. Aalai quotes a note sent by a student, which now hangs in her office as a reminder that it is important to focus on the present moment. She considers this advice fundamental.
Focusing on the here and now is a powerful and transformative way to live fulfilling lives. The ability to focus on every breath, every bite of food we eat helps us to truly feel our own life.
According to the Dalai Lama, the mind should not be directed back to the past and should not be influenced by hopes or fears about the future. By keeping our attention in the present, we get rid of anxiety about the future and from thinking about the past.
4. Everything is temporary
Another reason to focus on the present is to understand that “here and now” is actually the only thing we have. Everything we experience passes away, and sooner or later everything comes to an end. However, this should not be cause for fear and anxiety. Understanding that everything is temporary allows you to enjoy the present and accept it, freeing yourself from the shackles of the past and illusions about the future.
“And this will pass” – a well-known expression from the holy book of a completely different spiritual tradition only confirms the wisdom of this simple universal human truth. For better or worse, our emotions and life circumstances are constantly changing.
5. Thinking about death shouldn’t hurt
Somerset Maugham wrote: “Death is a very boring, dreary affair, and I advise you not to have anything to do with it.” If only we had a choice.
Many spend their lives in fear, denial, or flight from death. But, of course, it is inevitability, the great mystery of life, as many scientists and philosophers have written over the centuries.
Once in Washington, meeting with the public on the lawn, the Dalai Lama said that this speech would be informal – just as informal are the two most important moments in his life, birth and death. Thousands of people gathered around the green area greeted this statement with laughter.
But deep truth is hidden in the words of the Buddhist Teacher. In order to feel your presence in the present moment of life, it is important to remember your own mortality and recognize that all phenomena are transient.
Moreover, as we reflect on imminent demise, we can broaden our perspective and feel grateful for the time we have. Thinking about dying doesn’t have to be painful. For each of us, this is just a necessary reconciliation with reality, helping to recognize our biological nature.
As Tibetan wisdom says, death is not the end, but only the beginning of a new stage in consciousness. “Farewell and death are different descriptions of a new beginning and a new life. Everything that you leave behind, you will find again, in a different form and in a different form. “
“These are my hopes for myself and others: to practice compassion, to cultivate wisdom that arises in peace and quiet of the mind, to live in the present, to accept the temporality of everything in our life and to think about death without fear,” sums up Azade Aalai.
Whether in difficult times or in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, these truths can serve as a support for people of all faiths. In fact, they remind us that, regardless of the circumstances, we are able to consciously be present in our own lives, be kind and not lose peace of mind.
About the author: Azad Aalai is a psychotherapist, teacher of psychology, author of the book Aggression: Psychological Causes of Aggressive Behavior.