Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mindfulness and Christmas

Beside the fact that mindfulness practice can come in handy and help us upfront by preventing us from falling into the retailers' trap during Christmas, mindfulness can also help us in a longer-lasting aspect. It helps us become a more wholesome person who can better contribute to society. In this regard, the author especially like the view of a leading mindfulness meditation teacher, S.N. Goenka, an Indian born in Burma. Goenka pointed out the universality of mindfulness practice by saying that mindfulness practice can help a Christian become a better Christian, a Muslim become a better Muslim, etc. He should have known. He was born and raised as a Hindu.

So let us recap a little bit on what Buddhist mindfulness practice is. Mindfulness is about being fully in the present, in the here and now, without judging or evaluating. You see things as they are. You observe each physical or mental phenomena and simply let go. This sounds easier than it actually is, dear readers. That is why you need a good teacher to guide you throughout. Mindfulness cannot be learned by the books. Lord Buddha himself made this clear.

So what happens next? When you are able to see things as they actually are, you will start to have an understanding of the true meaning of life. That wisdom will naturally make you understand that others are just like you, with similar needs, hopes and fears. In other words, with mindfulness, you will understand that we are all but fellows in this whole business called suffering together.

When that understanding rises by itself in your mind and not by reading or visualising it, compassion naturally rises without your having to give yourself a reason why you should have compassion for a particular person. In other words, true compassion rises by itself when the mind understands.

With this compassion, the giving of loving kindness to others, too, becomes natural. That is, when you wish someone a happy holiday, you really mean it. Your eyes, your smile, your tone of voice and your body language will reflect the state of your mind. The recipients will feel it and appreciate it.
Have a merry, and mindful, Christmas!

Do you have a favorite childhood memory of Christmas? Hang on to that story and the good feelings it generates for that in itself is a celebration, which can awaken the divine child inside of you.

In her book “The Four Fold Way,” Angeles Arrien suggests that we ask ourselves, “How do I use the healing salves of singing, dancing and story telling?” She believes that, in modern society, we are estranged from our mythical roots. And, she says that one way to reconnect is to pay attention to what gives us heart and meaning.

I believe that there is no better time to do that than at Christmas. Remember your favorite stories, sing your most heart-warming Christmas carols, and dance around the room to “Jingle Bells.” Each of these activities will re-acquaint you with the fun of living like children, when everyday was a celebration.

In our busy lives it is easy to forget what we once enjoyed. We routinely ignore good jokes, missing the opportunity to laugh. We have forgotten how to play. But remembering how to dance, sing and tell stories is healing.

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