1. Meditation

Meditation is not easy, and if it was, it would not be able to deliver to you the peace and well-being that it does once you get the hang of it. Like all worthy endeavors, it takes practice, patience and even some had work in order to benefit from its invaluable gifts.

One of the oldest practices in history, meditation has been used for centuries to heal the human spirit, calm the mind and even cure and aid severe physical pain and emotional suffering.
In our fast-paced and violent-charged world wherein every segment of our population seems to be stressed out, learning how to meditate is one way that can help us heal and more importantly thrive and learn to be peaceful, even in the eye of a life’s biggest storms.
Part of the process begins with simply learning how to be still, quiet and truly relax. This can help anyone, whether suffering from depression, or longing for a more meaningful and well-intentioned life. The purposeful act or rather non-act of meditating is also a proven and highly effective way of helping people to manage severe emotional and even physical pain. This includes those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder from the effects of war and emotional turmoil which can include mental illness and clinical depression (see link at bottom).
There are countless ways to meditate, and no method is the only correct method for everyone. Many people fear meditation as they already make up their minds that they will not be good at it. That’s the whole point of meditation—to relax within yourself and put all negativity aside. The important thing to remember is to simply begin, and to try different techniques until you find the one that works for you.
How to Start
Read a few books, talk to people who meditate, find a class and learn about it.
Begin my practicing the simple act of sitting still for a few minutes a day and closing your eyes. Turn off all phones, your television, computer and even music so that you can feel and even hear your own breath. Do not give up if you feel nervous or anxious to begin with, there is no right way or wrong way to meditate, it is not a race or a contest. If you can only sit still for five minutes to begin with, at least you know you are on your way to a more authentic self, and hopefully a healthier you.
Above all, keep practicing. The changes you will see in your life will be mind-altering and will alter your life.

2. Begin Each day with a Positive Motivation

Rather than just hoping that you will have a peaceful day and have positive experiences, make it happen.
In other words, before stepping out from a deep slumber and going through the auto-pilot mechanics of your hectic life, take five to 10 minutes to think about some positive feelings and outlooks to set in motion. This will make it more likely that you will be able to experience peace for the coming day ahead, whatever the day might bring.
 Motivations and affirmations may include:
I will attempt to be peaceful in all of my interactions with others.
I will be a conduit of calm, serenity and happiness in all things that I do.
I will attempt to gain positive enlightenment from my day and learn from others.
I will accept people as loving, peaceful and accepting as I am and will not judge.
The aim is to be the maker and creator of your first feelings of the day, which will undoubtedly effect the remainder of your day. The first feelings of the day are the most influential as to how the rest of your day will be. If you make an effort to make these thoughts a part of your conscious and subconscious awareness, you will not only have a more peaceful day, but effect others in the same manners as well.

3. Practice Mindfulness

The mind, the brain and our thoughts can be wonderful and glorious gifts we can give ourselves, if we use them right. But as we all know, our minds often lead us into destructive patterns of thought, extreme negative inner self-talk and self deprecation that can lead us into feeling pretty awful, if not downright isolated and depressed.
Many depressed people claim to feel tired all of the time, even those who have a relaxed schedule, as negative emotions are truly toxic and exhausting to the spirit, mind and the body.
Being mindful means that rather than simply going through the motions and reliving pain, you will become more aware of your feelings and thoughts, and therefore improve them. By becoming more aware of your feelings, you are more likely to think of actions and solutions as they relate to negative and toxic thoughts.
How to practice Mindfulness
Begin by becoming more aware of your feelings when you feel them, whether they are joy, pain, elation, ambivalence, fear or anger. Allowing yourself to feel your raw feelings when you feel them is truly the first start in being able to manage your emotions and find your way to peace.
Some of  spiritual epiphanies through mindfulness may include:
My past suffering does not have to hurt me any longer.
I feel the joys in my life much more strongly than any pain.
I only have today and I can make it anything and any way that I want it to be.
I truly love my children, and when they experience pain or joy, I feel it too.
The pain I feel from childhood has made me the empathetic person I am today.
The goal is to cultivate positive energy toward the good feelings that we have as well as the bad. But we can only discover what those are if we are mindful.
Begin . . . just begin.

4. Before you Eat, Offer your Food to Buddha

There is perhaps no other more automatic and mindless action that humans have than the act of eating, and yet, it is truly an act that can bring peace and serenity, while also making us more physically healthy.
Of course you might ask yourself, “How do I offer food to Buddha? What does that even mean?”
Start by imagining that all good food is made of a blissful nectar that increases all of your wisdom. Next, imagine that Buddha is lightness in your heart and that when you eat, you offer the blissful nectar to Buddha, as you are nourishing and filling up your own heart and soul. Visualize this thought and eat mindfully, feeling grateful for the act of eating and for the gift that it is giving us. This will also ensure that you will eat slower and help you to reflect about where your food came from, how it came to your table, to your mouth, and to your well being.
How I Offer my Food to Buddha
As I imagine Buddha within my body, I think of him or her as a kind and gentle child that I only want to nourish and keep happy.
When I prepare my food, I do it slowly, carefully and with mindfulness, cutting fresh foods beautifully and precisely and stirring cooked foods gently and patiently. Whether it be a salad, fish or just a piece of fruit, I imagine how much the Buddha within me will enjoy it much more if I take my time to eat it and enjoy it.
This careful act of eating has not only made the ritual of eating a positive one each every time, but it has also inspired me to eat healthier food and therefore, become a healthier being, inside and out.

5. Looking Back on Our Day

This is similar to beginning the day with a positive purpose and spirit of intent. When put into motion, it will create a more peaceful and fulfilled day, all around. But just as important as it is to have a positive start to your day, it is of equal importance to end the day with the same degree of mindfulness and reflection.
Rather than having thoughts ruminating in your head such as: “I am so exhausted and just glad the day is over,” or “Just another typical hard or boring day,” why not instead look back on your day with some gentle reflections?
One reason why many people are not happy or fulfilled in their lives is that they are either too hard on themselves or not conscious and aware of their own thoughts or actions. By being reflective about your day, you can give yourself the gift of not repeating the same mistakes or missteps, and by thinking carefully about how your day went and how you want it to be different, you can learn the art of getting to know your own mind and how you act and react in different circumstances.
You will also have more reflective, interesting and revealing dreams if your last thoughts before drifting off were thoughtful, rather than random and purposeless.
While knowledge isn’t always power, it can lead you to a more spiritual path that can make you happier, if you learn how to reflect upon your thoughts and actions.
How to Look Back on your Day
Sit down in a quiet spot, on your bed, a chair or anywhere you can be alone for at least 15 minutes.
Close your eyes and think about your day as if it were a movie or a book; notice the different scenes that you were a part of, the people you interacted with and the feelings that you felt. And now, just sit with those feelings and think about how you might wish to act differently and feel differently if you were faced with the same circumstances.
Questions to ask yourself:
Could you have been more patient, loving and kind in your interactions with others?
Were you authentic and truthful to yourself in all of your actions?
How might you be a more understanding and empathetic person to both yourself and others tomorrow?
What was wonderful and joyous about your day?
What are you grateful about?
And once again, the most important thing is to be loving and forgiving to yourself for your transgressions. Only when you are willing to forgive yourself first, can you forgive others.
The act of looking back upon your day will not only help you learn about yourself and hopefully help you to be a better person, a spiritual person, and a loving person to yourself and others, but be a happier person as well.

source and courtesy

Nothing Higher to Live For - A Buddhist View of Romantic Love

If it is possible to live with a purpose, what should that purpose be? A purpose might be a guiding principle, a philosophy, or a value of sovereign importance that informs and directs our activities and thoughts. To have one is to live seriously — though not necessarily wisely — following some track, believing in a hub to the wheeling universe or a sea toward which we flow or an end before which all the hubbub of civilization subsides. What is your purpose, friend, or what should it be?
Perhaps most of us do not come to a clear conclusion in the matter, but this does not mean we have no purpose, only that we do not recognize it or admit it or even choose it for ourselves. In the unhappiest case nature simply takes its course, which is a turbid meandering through the swamps of desire. If life means nothing then only pleasure is worthwhile; or if life has meaning and we cannot get at it then still only enjoyment matters — such is the view of brutes and some sophisticated philosophers. It slips into the unconscious by default when we hold no other, but we are reluctant to entertain it and will rather, if we think about it, take as our purpose support of family, search for beauty, improvement of society, fame, self-expression, development of talent, and so on. But it might be fair to say that apart from these or beneath these the fundamental purpose of many of us is the search for love, particularly romantic love.
The love of a man for a woman and a woman for a man is often the floor to which people fall after the collapse of other dreams. It is held to be solid when nothing else is, and though it frequently gives way and dumps them into a basement of despair, it still enjoys a reputation of dependability. No matter that this reputation is illogical — it still flourishes and will continue to flourish regardless of what is said in any book. Love, or possibly the myth of love, is the first, last, and sometimes the only refuge of uncomprehending humanity. What else makes our hearts beat so fast? What else makes us swoon with feeling? What else renders us so intensely alive and aching? The search for love — the sublime, the nebulous, the consuming — remains sacred in a world that increasingly despises the sacred. When the heroic and the transcendental are but memories, when religious institutions fill up with bureaucrats and social scientists, when nobody believes there is a sky beyond the ceiling, then there seems no other escape from the prison of self than the abandon of love. With a gray age of spiritual deadness upon us, we love, or beg for love, or grieve for love. We have nothing higher to live for.
Indeed, many take it on faith that romantic love is the highest thing to live for. Popular literature, movies, art, and music tirelessly celebrate it as the one truth accessible to all. Such love obliterates reason, as poets have long sweetly lamented, and this is part of its charm and power, because we want to be swept up and spirited out of our calculating selves. "Want" is the key word, for in the spiritual void of modern life the wanting of love becomes increasingly indistinguishable from love itself. So powerful, so insistent is it that we seldom notice that the gratification is rare and the craving relentless. Love is mostly in anticipation; it is an agony of anticipation; it is an ache for a completion not found in the dreary round of mundane routine. That we never seem to possess it in its imagined fullness does not deter us. It hurts so bad that it must be good.
Practically nobody questions the supremacy of romantic love, which is good enough reason to do a little poking around the foundations of its pedestal. Who is entirely satisfied with the romance in his or her life? Who has found the sublime rapture previously imagined? And if one has actually found such a thing, does it last, or does it not rather change and decline from the peak of ecstasy? And if it declines what becomes of one's purpose in life? If a purpose is achieved it is no longer a purpose; it can no longer guide or sustain us. Does one taste of nectar satisfy us forever?
When we tire of crass, material goals we may go searching for love instead of, say, religious insight, because love seems both more accessible and more urgent, and because so much of institutional religion in our time has degenerated into insipid humanism. Some claim refuge here but many more, longing for authentic and moving experience, turn to the vision of the "lover," that source of wonder, joy, and transcendence, who, it is thought, must be pursued and if captured perfected and if perfected then enjoyed forever — or until some other lover lights up the horizon. Love is its own justification, especially for the young who have no other inspiration or no career or responsibilities to dull themselves with as their plodding elders do. Longing bursts through this one channel that seems open, dizzily insisting that the life of unreflecting passion is the highest they can aspire to. They do not reason, but fall. Their elders do reason — obsessively — but fall all the same, thereby admitting that, with all their thought and experience, they find, when driven to extremity, they have nothing but love to live for.
This is not to say that such a surrender must be bad, only that it happens out of instinct and uninformed passion. Love is sweet and it is our nature to give way. But why do we worship it so ardently and why do we break off our search for fulfillment here? Perhaps because we see no other gods. Yet if love is the highest thing to live for then this is a hopeless universe, because we should see in a calm hour that Cupid's arrows not only thrill us but make us bleed.
"Man Kills Estranged Lover, Then Self." "Wife Stabs Husband in Domestic Quarrel." "Love Triangle Leads To Shooting." So read the headlines with depressing regularity. The stories behind these are only the most shocking of countless tales of passion, but they do forcefully suggest that romantic love is not always a blessing. One might object that hate, not love, spawns such tragedies, but where has such hate come from if not from a prior attachment now broken? We should know from experience how easily what we call love can turn to bitterness, jealousy, and malice, and though we protest that this is not the fault of love, we ought to notice that where one passion arises another is likely to follow. Passions are unreliable, volatile, dangerous, and a poor foundation for happiness.
Divorces, suicides, dissipation, violence, depravity, fanaticism, and other miseries great and small follow from passion, and yet passion is still, in the public mind, considered commendable, a mark of vigor and liveliness. Though everybody will admit that passion gone awry is dangerous, few realize that passion is by its nature likely to go awry. Romantic love is a chancy passion that may result in the opposite of what is desired. It may have happy consequences, too — else it would not have so many votaries — but it raises the stakes in the gamble of life and makes us more vulnerable both to our own weaknesses and to unpredictable fortune. As most of us count the joys of successful love (however we define it) worth the pain involved in its pursuit, we must learn to step lightly and with intelligence. We believe, with some reason, that love can ennoble and redeem us, and call forth our purest energies, but we are slower to see that when the lamp of love flickers out, as it tragically tends to do, we might lose our way in a fearful labyrinth of suffering.
Granted that few will shun the pursuit of romance out of fear of unhappy consequences, what can be done to ameliorate those consequences? If we really have nothing higher to live for, nothing to fall back on, the lugubrious truth is that nothing much can be done to ameliorate them, given the volatile nature of human affections, so it would be wise to make sure there really is no superior, sustaining ideal before committing ourselves exclusively to the chase.
Buddhism, of course, teaches such an ideal, which is nothing less than deliverance from all sorrow, called Nibbana. While worldly joys are mutable and fleeting, Nibbana is established, sorrowless, stainless, and secure. While worldly pains are piercing, unpredictable, and unavoidable, Nibbana is altogether free from pain. It is the end of suffering, the supreme refuge, the ultimate emancipation. The Buddha himself applied many terms of praise to it while recognizing their essential inadequacy. Nibbana cannot be grasped by language or concept, but it can be known and realized by one who makes the right efforts. This is a critical point.
Nibbana is not something that happens to us through an external agency; rather it is something that we ourselves may achieve. The Buddha certainly never would have troubled himself to teach had he not understood that his own realization was not fortuitous but rightly won and that those who followed his instructions could win realization for themselves. That understanding, passed down, has sustained the Buddhist religion to the present day. The diligent are not powerless. Suffering can be overcome.
Still, knowing ourselves to be sunk in confusion and beset by myriad defilements, we might regard Nibbana as too remote to do us much good here and now. We persist in seeing an unbridgeable chasm between saints and ordinary people like ourselves. We think practically everybody is like us (or worse) while maybe there are one or two genuine saints in the world, they presumably having just been born in that condition or with the exceptional good luck to get themselves elevated — who knows how? Yet the human condition is not, according to Buddhism, a fixed sentence to this or that level of wisdom and virtue. Beings are living at all stages of attainment, and they do not stay in the same place. They rise through their own good efforts, and decline through their own negligence in the endless action and reaction of intentional deeds (kamma) and results of deeds (kamma-vipaka).
The Buddha did not teach the Dhamma for the entertainment of those already perfected; he taught it for the benefit of fallible people like us who were struggling to avoid pain and make sense of the world. Even to those who came to him with no intention to scale high spiritual summits he imparted the progressive training of giving, morality and mental development. Why? Because there is always scope for improvement and because the human alternatives are not limited to holy wisdom or cloddish ignorance. Suffering lessens and happiness increases when we make an effort to follow the Noble Eightfold Path, whatever our present condition.
In the classic formula, the Dhamma is "directly visible, timeless, calling one to come and see, leading onwards, to be personally realized by the wise." Perhaps we cannot see Nibbana resplendent on the horizon, but we can certainly make out the ground beneath our feet; we can know when we draw a joyful breath or put behind us an old sorrow or refrain from a vicious act or compose an agitated mind. The Dhamma confers benefits here and now as well as in the future. Is there not satisfaction in performing a good deed with a clear mind? Is there not uplift in a moment of quiet contemplation saved from the tumult of the day? The Dhamma lightens our burdens in the present and gives us grounds for hope.
What then does this have to do with the problems of love? Simply this. The Dhamma puts the delights and torments of love into perspective, so that we can break the illusion of love as the highest of aspirations and most essential of desires. Henry Thoreau wrote (when young): "The only remedy for love is to love more." We might amend this to say: The only remedy for love is to love better. The understanding and the practice of the Dhamma do not destroy our capacity to love or enjoy love — far from it. The Dhamma purges the grasping, selfish qualities from our love and makes it purer and nobler.
As we come to understand through personal experience the rightness and goodness of the path of Dhamma, we may discover — slowly or suddenly — that the consuming passions we previously thought to be the only reasons for our existence are really not so, and that something of wondrous value overarches them — indistinct as yet but flashing out now and again from the clouds of possibility. What do our heaving emotions matter compared with that? When we lean hard, out of passion, we will fall hard — such is the nature of attachment. But when we do not lean, when instead we stand upright with an eye to the heights, then the love we bestow flows out of us without weakening us, like a superabundance of vigor. This is metta — loving-kindness devoid of selfishness. It becomes purer to the extent we realize it is not the purest; it becomes happier to the extent we realize it is not the happiest. Nibbana surpasses all.
If, through our own ripening knowledge, we appreciate that our ultimate and highest purpose should be Nibbana, the absolute end of sorrow, then all goals beneath that are cast in a new light. When we have something to live for that is higher than fame, honor, friendship, or health — higher even than love — we can never be utterly impoverished or ruined. We are in fact in a much better position to enjoy whatever may be achieved in worldly life, because we no longer depend solely on changeable circumstances for our happiness.
Love cools, friendships wane, calamities carry off the good and the beautiful. Who can deny it? If we are to overcome despair and grief we must not invest ourselves obsessively in what is perishable. We need to keep our minds, and consequently our actions, as free as possible from craving and attendant defilements like covetousness and possessiveness:
Our actions are all led by the mind; mind is their master, mind is their maker. If one acts or speaks with a defiled state of mind, then suffering follows like the cart-wheel that follows the foot of the ox. Our actions are all led by the mind; mind is their master, mind is their maker. If one acts or speaks with a pure state of mind, then happiness follows like a shadow that remains behind without departing.
— Dhammapada vv. 1, 2
While nobody can cut off craving simply by an act of will, we can certainly loosen its frightful grip on us by following the path and paying attention to the ultimate deliverance that shines at its end.
Love is never the poorer for being accompanied by wisdom. It is not harmed by being deprived of a crown. The agonies we endure and inflict in the name of love come from making love bear too heavy a weight. While we are in the world and engaged in the life of a householder we will naturally form attachments to family, job, friends, and lovers, but the suffering produced from these attachments will vary according to our wisdom and maturity. If we see nothing higher at all and abandon ourselves to the lottery of gaining and losing, we will surely suffer great pain, but if we keep the ideals of the Dhamma before us we will gain a measure of insulation against worldly inclemencies.
According to Buddhism, everything that has the nature of arising has the nature of ceasing, so it is well to place our greatest faith in Nibbana, which, being beyond all concepts and limits, does not "arise," and thus does not fluctuate with the teetering universe. An independent mind, intent on deliverance, is not a cold, unfeeling mind, but a mind whose love is uncalculated, beneficent, free — and empty of the furious I want of ego. If we don't live for love we won't die for it either. If the windows of our mind are open to the streaming light of Dhamma then that light will bathe our thoughts and actions and distinguish the skillful from the foolish.
Even without understanding of the Dhamma most of us will distinguish in theory between love and infatuation. We think of infatuation as capricious, irresponsible, and shallow, and true love as mature, serious, and steady — though in practice it is hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. At least we recognize some advantage to clear sight and reflection, and this recognition grows sharper with actual experience of the Dhamma. We become less likely to throw ourselves at the feet of the adored object and more likely to stand erect, honest, and mindful, ready to meet our fortune with bravery. To a world that knows nothing loftier than the convulsions of craving, this may seem a loss, but to one who truly experiences the refreshment of wisdom there comes no narrowness but rather a loosening of the bonds of fear and selfishness. One can love without compulsion, out of free will. How gratifying when affection is given, or received, without a bill for services rendered!
Even under promising circumstances there is no guarantee that love will be returned in equal measure, or that it will last long, or that it will provide unalloyed joy. When we depend on it entirely for our happiness we must dwell in the shadow of pain, however bright our amorous interludes. What if we should lose our heart's support tomorrow? We're okay as long as we have each other, we assure ourselves dreamily. But we will not have each other long. Quarrels, time, distance, changes, or finally death dissolve all unions of friends, lovers, and relatives, plunging the unwary into despair and meaninglessness; and if we have no wisdom we too may go creeping about the lonely streets with our eyes staring hungrily into other eyes and seeing the same hunger there.
But in the way of the Buddha there is relief from distress and exile. In wisdom there is security. Because love is fragile and temporary it cannot protect us forever, but if we relax our grip it may bloom even better, allowing us to give and receive without encumbrance, frenzy, or fear, offering to each other our strength instead of our weakness.
In a sense the practice of Dhamma is like gradually filling the abyss of ignorance with knowledge until that terrible vacuum is appeased and neutralized and the heart no more cries for unknown succor. The perfected one, clinging to nothing here or hereafter, asks nothing and requires nothing, so he is wholly free. His loving-kindness is just the over-measure, the overflowing of his goodness quite purified of the need, the visceral wanting and the vacillation of ordinary attachment.
While we cannot all at once purify our sentiments of their dross, we can raise the aim of our thought and conduct, and reflect on — indeed, contemplate — the virtues of the Buddha and the noble ones who are free from taint. Their achievement is an image to set before our inner eye, something higher to live for, within and beyond the motions of our conventional life. No good thing prospers in ignorance. The more we understand this flawed universe the more skillfully we can live, and the happier we will be. We love best when we do not love out of desperation.
Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano


“For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Way #1: Try a 5-Minute Meditation.
Here’s a quick an effective stress reliever! Set your phone, watch, or whatever you like for a 5 minute period. Close your eyes, take deep breaths from your diaphragm and focus on the present moment. Continue for 5 minutes. Remember, you are not trying to “think about nothing,” but rather to gently acknowledge thoughts as they arise with each inhalation and let them go as you exhale.

Way #2: Go for a Meditative Walk.
Sunshine and fresh air is magic for your frame of mind. Focus on your breath and feel the motion of your body as you step. Listen to the sounds of nature and the environment around you.

Way #3: Listen to Relaxing Music.
Do you have a favorite music artist that just resonates with you? Music has a powerful effect on our mindset, as anyone who works out or studies while listening to music can tell you.

Way #4: Get creative.
If you have a friend who is an artist, ask them what goes through their mind when they are performing their craft. Odds are you are going to get an answer like “Nothing,” “Complete focus,” or “Peace.” Any craft – from writing and blogging to sketching and painting – has a very powerful effect on our mind.

Way #5: Pray.
It’s easy to be sidetracked by stressors of this life as opposed to what’s mostly important, peace, love, and the delivery of your unique positive energy for a higher good. Try and remember what’s truly important to you and act on your faith in prayer, meditation, or whatever method you use to connect with your highest self.

Way #6: Leave inspiration around your home.
This works well – find what inspires you and place reminders around your place. Inspiration can take the form of quotes, scripture, images of your idol… anything that results in a positive, peaceful piece of mind

Way #7: De-clutter a part of your home.
When you are trying to both attain and keep a peaceful mind, clutter can distract you. This is especially true if you are a clean person by nature. De-clutter your workspace, garage, bedroom, closet, or another part of your place.

Way #8: Help someone in need.
This is good for the soul and for keeping a peaceful, positive mindset. There are many people who could use a helping hand.

Way #9: Lose yourself in a book.
An engaging read engages and expands your mind. When focused on a good book, your mind relaxes and brings a peaceful ambiance to your being.

Way #10: Recognize the good in people.
Unfortunately, what we read, see, and hear can both consciously and unconsciously cause us to judge and see the negative the people around us. Odds are these people have great qualities that are made known if you look.

Way #11: Understand that possessions don’t equal peace.
In our consumerist culture, we are bombarded with marketing and advertising that promotes the “benefits” of a product and how it can “make life better.” Some of the happiest people in the world have little and love the minimalist way of life!

Way #12: Get into nature.
Our world is incredible in its diversity and natural attraction. Something as simple as sitting under a tree or relaxing by a river can have a calming, relaxing effect on your mind.

Way #13: Be with your loved ones.
There is something special in just relaxing and being around the people that you love. Relaxing with your spouse, kids, parents, and others whom you care about will help you appreciate life and bring you peace.

Way #14: Serve someone else.
History shows that the most peaceful, loving people are also servants of others. Jesus, Buddha, Mother Theresa, Gandhi… the list goes on. There is real power and peace in service for its own sake.

Way #15: Do what you love. At work, home, or for recreation, don’t forget and set aside your passions for any reason.

Way #16: Resist dwelling on negative thoughts.
If you find yourself in a negative frame of mind, you can turn the tables by simply witnessing the thought and letting it go. There is peace to be found by not judging yourself and simply witnessing a thought as a byproduct of your mind.

Way #17: Single-task.
This is another area that can bring peace and tranquility to your life. When doing something, anything; keep your mind on that one thing. This can be anything from brushing your teeth to writing a book. Realize that our brains are meant to take on one thing at a time. Multitasking is inefficient, unnecessary, and unhealthy.

Way #18: Stretch.
When we work or expend any kind of effort, our body becomes tense.  A quick stretch of your arms, legs, and other areas of your body is relaxing and can bring peace of mind.

Way #19: Be truthful.
This means resisting the temptation to tell “little white lies” and other untruths. Telling the truth reduces stress, promotes peace, and is just the right thing to do.

Way #20: Stop procrastinating.
When there is something that needs to be done, and we don’t do it, the stress takes on both a conscious and unconscious form. We all have things that we don’t want to do, but the sooner it’s resolved, the sooner we can forget about it!

Way #21: Do nothing at all.
You read that correctly – do nothing. We all work hard and need to take some time once in a while to simply be. Sit or lay down and simply be present.

Hope you may like this article. Read others as well, you'll find them useful. Be Happy!

The Noble Eightfold Path - The Middle Way

This is the Path for leading a religious life without going to extremes.
An outstanding aspect of the Buddha's Teaching is the adoption of the Eightfold Path is the Middle Path. The Buddha advised His followers to follow this Path so as to avoid the extremes of sensual pleasures and self-mortification. The Middle Path is a righteous way of life which does not advocate the acceptance of decrees given by someone outside oneself. A person practises the Middle Path, the guide for moral conduct, not out of fear of any supernatural agency, but out of the intrinsic value in following such an action. He chooses this self-imposed discipline for a definite end in view: self-purification.

The Middle Path is a planned course of inward culture and progress. A person can make real progress in righteousness and insight by following this Path, and not by engaging in external worship and prayers. According to the Buddha, anyone who lives in accordance with the Dhamma will be guided and protected by that very Law. When a person lives according to Dhamma, he will also be living in harmony with the universal law.

Every Buddhist is encouraged to mould his life according to the Noble Eightfold Path as taught by the Buddha. He who adjusts his life according to this noble way of living will be free from miseries and calamities both in this life-time and hereafter. He will also be able to develop his mind by restraining from evil and observing morality.

The Eightfold Path can be compared to a road map. Just as a traveler will need a map to lead him to his destination, we all need the Eightfold Path which shows us how to attain Nibbana, the final goal of human life. To attain the final goal, there are three aspects of the Eightfold path to be developed by the devotee. He has to develop Sila (Morality), Samadhi (Mental Culture) and Panna (Wisdom). While the three must be developed simultaneously, the intensity with which any one area is to be practised varies according to a person's own spiritual development. A devotee must first develop his morality, that is, his actions should bring good to other living beings. He does this by faithfully adhering to the precepts of abstaining from killing, slandering, stealing, becoming intoxicated or being lustful. As he develops his morality, his mind will become more easily controlled, enabling him to develop his powers of concentration. Finally, with the development of concentration, wisdom will arise.

Gradual Development
With His infinite wisdom, the Buddha knew that not all humans have the same ability to reach spiritual maturity at once. So He expounded the Noble Eightfold Path for the gradual development of the spiritual way of life in a practical way. He knew that not all people can become perfect in one lifetime. He said that Sila, Samadhi, and Panna, must and can be developed over many lifetimes with diligent effort. This path finally leads to the attainment of ultimate peace where there is no more unsatisfactoriness.

Righteous Life
The Eightfold path consists of the following eight factors:

Right Speech
Right Action
Right Livelihood
Sila - Morality
Right Effort
Right Mindfulness
Right Concentration
Samadhi - Mental culture
Right Understanding
Right Thoughts
Panna - Wisdom

What is Right Understanding? It is explained as having the knowledge of the Four Noble Truths. In other words, it is the understanding of things as they really are. Right Understanding also means that one understands the nature of what are wholesome kamma(merits) and unwholesome kamma (demerits), and how they may be performed with the body, speech and mind. By understanding kamma, a person will learn to avoid evil and do good, thereby creating favorable outcomes in his life. When a person has Right Understanding, he also understands the Three Characteristics of Life (that all compounded things are transient, subject to suffering, and without a Self) and understands the Law of Dependent Origination. A person with complete Right Understanding is one who is free from ignorance, and by the nature of that enlightenment removes the roots of evil from his mind and becomes liberated. A lofty aim of a practising Buddhist is to cultivate Wisdom and gain Right Understanding about himself, life and all phenomena.

When a person has Right Understanding, he or she develops Right Thought as well. This factor is sometimes known as 'Right Resolution', 'Right Aspirations" and 'Right Ideas'. It refers to the mental state which eliminates wrong ideas or notions and promotes the other moral factors to be directed to Nibbana. This factor serves a double purpose of eliminating evil thoughts and developing pure thoughts. Right Thought is important because it is one's thoughts which either purify or defile a person.

There are three aspects to Right Thought. First, a person should maintaining an attitude of detachment from worldly pleasures rather than being selfishly attached to them. He should be selfless in his thoughts and think of the welfare of others. Second, he should maintain loving-kindness, goodwill and benevolence in his mind, which is opposed to hatred, ill-will or aversion. Third, he should act with thoughts of harmlessness or compassion to all beings, which is opposed to cruelty and lack of consideration for others. As a person progresses along the spiritual path, his thoughts will become increasingly benevolent, harmless, selfless, and filled with love and compassion.

Right Understanding and Right Thought, which are Wisdom factors, will lead to good, moral conduct. There are three factors under moral conduct: Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood. Right Speech involves respect for truth and respect for the welfare for others. It means to avoid lying, to avoid backbiting or slander, to avoid harsh speech, and to avoid idle talk. We have often underestimated the power of speech and tend to use little control over our speech faculty. But we have all been hurt by someone's words at some time of our life, and similarly we have been encouraged by the words of another. It is said that a harsh word can wound more deeply than weapons, where as a gentle word can change the heart and mind of the most hardened criminal. So to develop a harmonious society, we should cultivate and use our speech positively. We speak words which are truthful, bring harmony, kind and meaningful. The Buddha once said 'pleasant speech is sweet as honey, truthful speech is beautiful like a flower, and wrong speech is unwholesome like filth'.

The next factor under good, moral conduct is Right Action. Right Action entails respect for life, respect for property, and respect for personal relationships. It corresponds to the first three of the Five Precepts to be practised by every Buddhist, that is, dear to all, and all tremble at punishment, all fear death and value life. Hence, we should abstain from taking a life which we ourselves cannot give and we should not harm other sentient beings. Respect for property means that we should not take what is not given, by stealing, cheating, or force. Respect for personal relationship means that we should not commit adultery and avoid sexual misconducts, which is important for maintaining the love and trust of those we love as well as making our society a better place to live in.

Right Livelihood is a factor under moral conduct which refers to how we earn our living in society. It is an extension of the two other factors of Right Speech and Right Action which refer to the respect for truth, life, property and personal relationships.

Right Livelihood means that we should earn a living without violating these principles of a moral conduct. Buddhists are discouraged from being engaged in the following five kinds of livelihood: trading in human beings, trading in weapons, trading in flesh, trading in intoxicating drinks and drugs, and trading in poison. Some people may say that they have to do such a business for their living and, therefore, it is not wrong for them to do so. But this argument is entirely baseless. If it were valid, then thieves, murderers, gangsters, thugs, smugglers and swindlers can also just as easily say that they are also doing such unrighteous acts only for their living and, therefore, there is nothing wrong with their way of life.

Some people believe that fishing and hunting animals for pleasure and slaughtering animals for food are not against the Buddhist precepts. This is another misconception that arises owing to a lack of knowledge in Dhamma. All these are not decent actions and bring suffering to other beings. But in all these actions, the one who is harmed most of all is the one who performs these unwholesome actions. Maintaining a life through wrong means is not in accordance with the Buddha's teaching. The Buddha once said, 'Though one should live a hundred years immorally and unrestrained, yet it would indeed be better to live one day virtuously and meditatively.' (Dhammapada 103) It is better to die as a cultured and respected person than to live as a wicked person.

The remaining three factors of the Noble Eightfold Path are factors for the development of wisdom through the purification of the mind. They are Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. These factors, when practised, enable a person to strengthen and gain control over the mind, thereby ensuring that his actions will continue to be good and that his mind is being prepared to realize the Truth, which will open the door to Freedom, to Enlightenment.

Right Effort means that we cultivate a positive attitude and have enthusiasm in the things we do, whether in our career, in our study, or in our practice of the Dhamma. With such a sustained enthusiasm and cheerful determination, we can succeed in the things we do. There are four aspects of Right Effort, two of which refer to evil and the other two to good. First, is the effort to reject evil that has already arisen; and second, the effort to prevent the arising of evil. Third, is the effort to develop unarisen good, and fourth, the effort to maintain the good which has arisen. By applying Right Effort in our lives, we can reduce and eventually eliminate the number of unwholesome mental states and increase and firmly establish wholesome thoughts as a natural part of our mind.

Right Effort is closely associated with Right Mindfulness. The practice of mindfulness is important in Buddhism. The Buddha said that mindfulness is the one way to achieve the end of suffering. 

Mindfulness can be developed by being constantly aware of four particular aspects. These are the application of mindfulness with regard to the body (body postures, breathing so forth), feelings (whether pleasant, unpleasant or neutrally); mind(whether the mind is greedy or not, angry, dispersed or deluded or not); and mind objects (whether there are mental hindrances to concentration, the Four Noble Truths, and so on). Mindfulness is essential even in our daily life in which we act in full awareness of our actions, feelings and thoughts as well as that of our environment. The mind should always be clear and attentive rather than distracted and clouded.

Whereas Right Mindfulness is directing our attention to our body, feelings, mind, or mental object or being sensitive to others, in other words, putting our attention to where we choose to, Right Concentration is the sustained application of that attention on the object without the mind being distracted. Concentration is the practice of developing one-pointedness of the mind on one single object, either physical or mental. The mind is totally absorbed in the object without distractions, wavering, anxiety or drowsiness. Through practice under an experienced teacher, Right Concentration brings two benefits. Firstly, it leads to mental and physical well-being, comfort, joy, calm, tranquillity. Secondly, it turns the mind into an instrument capable of seeing things as they truly are, and prepares the mind to attain wisdom.

The Noble Eightfold Path is the fourth important truth taught by the Buddha. As a competent spiritual physician, the Buddha has identified a disease that afflicts all forms of life, and this is Dukkha or unsatisfactoriness. He then diagnosed the cause of the unsatisfactoriness to be selfish greed and craving. He discovered that there is a cure for the disease, Nibbana, the state where all unsatisfactoriness ceases. And the prescription is the Noble Eightfold Path. When a competent doctor treats a patient for a serious illness, his prescription is not only for physical treatment, but it is also psychological. The Noble Eightfold path, the path leading to the end of suffering, is an integrated therapy designed to cure the disease of Samsara through the cultivation of moral speech and action, the development of the mind, and the complete transformation of one's level of understanding and quality of thought. It shows the way to gain spiritual maturity and be released completely from suffering.


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