It is rare to encounter a close friend who understands you. - Pai Chang
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March beckons the early inklings of spring-time when
new and fresh life arrives and blossoms in Nature. It is
an ideal month for us too, to spring-clean just about
everything – mind, body, environment and spirit.
- Yogi Dr. Malik, Editor of Yoga Magazine
There are things that seem to be common to patriarchal traditions. One, they’re body denying, and two, a priesthood interprets rather than there being a direct experience. - Gloria Steineim
We should think about how we can best serve others, without thought of gain or loss to ourselves. - Sheng Yen
The world's "great" religions all exhibit strong anti-woman bias. While Buddhism has done better than most of them, Buddhism still has work to do. Tenzin Palmo was the first Western woman to be ordained a Tibetan Buddhist nun. The journey was difficult and lonely. Here's how she describes the way she was treated as a woman seeking to experience the fullness of Buddhist life and practice:
"The lonely times in my life were when I was the only nun surrounded by monks and laypeople. I didn’t belong anywhere. Plus, I was a foreigner. That was very, very lonely. I remember often going home at night and crying. I had to eat by myself, and I lived by myself. But I was working for my lama, so that was the one thing that kept me there. I desperately wanted to understand Buddhism and practice, and the monks didn’t know how to teach me. And since I was female, they didn’t think it was important to teach me. I’m not trying to whine, honestly. But I remember that this American scholar came and wanted to study for his Ph.D. He wasn’t a Buddhist, and yet they gave him hours and hours every day. They taught him so much, which later he put into his thesis, which became a book. So in one year he learned far more than I ever learned in all the forty years I’ve been with that community. And he wasn’t even going to do the practice. He just wanted to get his doctorate. I remember feeling, why? Here I had given up everything for the dharma, yet they didn’t take me seriously, in the way they took him seriously."
After the loss of a loved one, it can be difficult to see how to ever go on. The grief journey may seem like a mountain that is too difficult to climb. The Hospice Foundation of America offers these steps you can take that may help ease that journey.
Allow your grief. No step is more important than this. Appreciate, accept, and allow your grief as a natural response to your loss. Let yourself feel your pain. Suppressed grief doesn’t go away. Grief is a mix of many uncomfortable feelings. You may feel sad, angry, or filled with remorse, regret, or longing. All these feelings are natural.
Express your grief. Empty out your feelings. Cry when you need to cry. Be angry when you feel angry. Don’t suppress yourself or pretend to be stoic. The more you express your pain, the more you free yourself from it.
Be patient with yourself. Grief is a process that takes time. Moving forward is not necessarily quick and easy, but it is possible. Trust that you can and will cope with your loss. The day will come when you can remember your loved one without pain.
Keep busy. You cannot dwell on your sorrow or your loss every waking moment. In the first flush of grief, you may feel you cannot control the extent of your suffering. But, you can with friends, with activities, and a plan that forms a lifeline.
Keep a journal. This is a powerful method for expressing pain, as well as a means for having private, intimate time with yourself. Some feelings may be too hard to speak aloud, like anger or regret. Journal writing can serve as a release as well as a meaningful expression of yourself.
Exercise daily. Move your body. Walking, dancing, swimming, or whatever activity pleases you, can help you feel better. Through exercise, you build your physical strength, release tension, enliven yourself, and keep yourself well. Exercise releases endorphins that will lift your mood.
Be willing to change things. It is natural to wish to keep things the way they were when our loved one was with us. Still, that doesn’t keep the person alive. Although loss is never easy to face, we need to remember we can go on with our lives. We need to take care of ourselves and our needs in the process.
Generally people can be put into one of two categories – positive thinkers or negative thinkers. There are those who tend to see problems rather than possibilities; those who never see a cup half full but always half empty. Here’s a humorous story which reveals how distorted our perception can become when the negative over rides everything else.
Two men were great friends but one of them was growing more and more negative. This was beginning to concern and annoy the other friend. His friend’s name was Norm and he began to think of him as “Negative Norm”. So he wanted to find a way to help “Negative Norm” become just a bit more positive in his outlook.
The optimistic friend had an unusual dog. As it grew out of it’s puppy state, the beautiful creature developed huge paws with large webs between the toes. When they walked together around a lake and his human companion threw a stick out onto the water for his dog to go after, the dog didn’t swim but could actually walk on the water, retrieve the stick and walk back.
He invited Negative Norm on a walk around the lake to show off his dog, believing that Norm would see the positive and say “wow, what an amazing creature” thereby jump starting his ability to become more positive. The man picked up and threw a stick onto the lake. The dog walked on water and retrieved the stick. This happened two more times but Negative Norm didn’t make any comment.
Finally, the positive man said to Negative Norm: “Don’t you notice anything unusual about my dog?” His friend replied: “Yes, but I didn’t want to say anything because you’re always telling me I’m so negative. It’s clear to me . . . your dog can’t swim!”
Let that story prompt you to assess whether you are a positive or a negative person. Are you one who looks out and sees a dog that can’t swim or a dog that walks on water? Do you see the positive or the negative in a situation?
Life is richer, fuller, more pleasant when we shift our focus toward the positive rather than become warped by the negative.
Buddha himself told us, ‘Do not believe my teaching on faith, but rather through thorough investigation and experiment.’ So if some teaching goes against reason, we should not accept it. - Dalai Lama
Diseases of the mind require
medicines for the mind - meditation,
mindfulness, proper breathing.
- Victor M. Parachin
Victor M. Parachin ...is a
Vedic educator, yoga instructor, Buddhist meditation teacher and author of a dozen books. Buy his books at amazon or your local bookstore.