“when the turbulence of distracting thoughts subsides and our mind becomes still, a deep happiness and contentment naturally arises from within”
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso from the book ‘The New Meditation Handbook’
On Thursday night my beautiful friend Penny accompanied me to something very new for me… In the pouring rain we adventured to the Kurilpa Hall in West End, Brisbane to listen to NKT National Spiritual Director Gen Kelsang Rabten talk on Mindfulness.
Buddhism has been something I have always had a distant appeal with through my many travels to South East Asia. The Buddhist way of life is practiced extensively and honoured by those who follow and also by those who respect from a far. I have always felt a connection with aspects of their teachings so when a free public talk on Mindfulness was advertised on the Meditation and Buddhism webpage at the Tara Kadampa Buddhist Centre, I noted it down in the diary as something that wouldn’t hurt in attending. The blurb stated:
Learn about the practice of mindfulness and awaken your potential for a still and peaceful mind.
“Still and peaceful mind” … I’m there!
Gen Kelsang Rabten is funny! And I don’t mean in a peculiar way, he is funny in the comical sense… I didn’t expect that! He has this lovely flow to the way he talks where he draws you in automatically! Penny and I wanted to hug him, but we want to hug everyone so this is not unusual! Hehehe
Mindfulness is the art of bringing positive states of mind into the present moment. When we learn how to do this, all our daily activities become deeply satisfying and meaningful. By living in the present, we free ourselves from the mental burden of our worries and over-scheduled lives. We began our session with learning the art of stillness of mind through meditation, the practice of slow breathing, allowing thoughts to enter and acknowledging them, while returning to the state of looking to your inner eye by calming and clearing the mind.
Gen Kelsang Rabten conveyed a good analogy; like cleaning our teeth we do so several times a day in order to remove the decay and have a clean fresh, sparkly mouth! And we all know how much better we feel when we do! Like our teeth we can introduce this into our mind; clearing it of worry, hate and negativity through the practice of mindfulness and meditation.
Gen Kelsang Rabten, previously a film student from the United Kingdom spoke of the scene from Lawrence of Arabia, where you see this speck in the distant horizon and gradually as it comes closer… it appears to be a man on a camel. Audiences get this sense that this man is important, and he is. The scene takes several minutes to build as the image of the man becomes identifiable, there is no dramatic introduction music; however without this the scene is still filled with anticipation. To today’s audiences this scene would not fit, our lifestyles dictate quick responses as technology allows this to happen and in doing so our minds react to this. Mindfulness takes us back to a scene similar to the one of Lawrence of Arabia where we can register, digest and execute in a manner that is peaceful to the mind.
I left the talk feeling calm and more aware that the practice of meditation and mindfulness will play a very important role in my healing journey. But I am not alone, meditation and mindfulness doesn’t just need to be practiced by those facing chronic illness, it can be a daily act in order to seek enrichment, peace and clarity by all those that wish to incorporate it into your lives. Taking the time out to look after yourself, it is one of the kindest acts you can do for yourself!
With love, light and mindfulness! xxx
Photo courtesy of Tara Kadampa Buddhist Centre