Benefits Of Meditation Brain, Body & Spirit

Meditation benefits your brain

1 - Improved mood and working memory - even under stress.
Meditation is not an activity designed to take us away from the problems of life, rather it helps us face them with our full capacity. Everybody has to deal with stress at some point. Whether it is work, school, or family life, our ability to deal with circumstances is sometimes pushed to the limit. Dealing with circumstances that seem beyond your control can result in negative mood, anxiety, or chronic stress. New studies have proven that meditation actually improves mood and working memory; even in times of extreme pressure.
2 - Alleviate mental distractions
Training the mind to stay focused is a major motivation for practicing meditation. Brain scans show that experienced meditators process distracting thoughts with ease, then quickly return to a state of focus. Fortunately the rewards of meditation practice don't take years to cultivate. In a recent study it was shown that less than a week of practice resulted in significant improvement of cognitive abilities across a range of tests.
Meditation also has positive effects and reduces the symptoms of some mental disorders. ADD, anxiety, and depression are all marked by an increase in distracting or otherwise unwanted thoughts. Meditation trains the mind to free itself from detrimental thought patterns.
3 - Increase the size of your brain
That's right, meditating actually causes your brain to grow. You might think "who cares - I like my brain just the way it is", which is a perfectly reasonable response. However, age tends to cause thinning in the frontal-cortex. We all grow older and experience these effects. Without proper mental exercise, the gray matter responsible for language, cognition and emotional processing gradually degrades. This degradation has the potential to leave us with a higher risk for declining cognitive ability.
Thankfully, regular meditation slows thinning of brain tissue. Meditation is also responsible for thickening parts of the brain associated with attention, and working memory - crucial areas that are linked with intelligence. The gains in cognitive performance, experienced through brief periods of meditation, seem to show a positive relationship between meditation and improved intelligence.
Meditation benefits your body
4 - Enhance the strength of your immune response
Studies show that meditation not only improves mood, but also improves the quality of your immune response. One study demonstrated that meditators who were given a flu shot had more antibodies in their blood, as compared to non-meditators. The same study also observed increased activity in areas of the brain associated with positive emotion. Some beneficial effects of the meditation lasted up to four months after practice was concluded.
5 - Alleviate symptoms caused by sickness
We all know that stress influences the ability of our immune systems to fight off disease; which may be why meditation helps improve the symptoms from a wide range of conditions, such as:
  • - Heart disease
  • - High blood pressure
  • - Cancer
  • - Asthma
  • - Allergies
Research shows that meditation can have a positive impact on many health related issues. In one study, it was shown that meditation can enhance the effectiveness of conventional medical treatment. Meditation should not replace any recommendation provided by your doctor, though it might be worth considering as a complement to traditional medicine. Discuss the benefits or possible side effects with your health professional.
6 - Decrease Fatigue
Meditation might be a better stimulant for you than a cup of coffee. If you find yourself in need of a midday nap, or just didn't get enough sleep the night before, it might be time for a meditation break. Several studies have shown a link between meditation and mental alertness. Sometimes meditation can act as a replacement for sleep, with higher gains in performance.
7 - Meditation can help reduce the impact of physical and emotional pain
Chronic physical pain can have a serious impact on your mental health. The negative thinking that can accompany pain leads to stress, which can further exacerbate problems. Fortunately, studies show that meditation can reduce the direct experience of physical pain up to 50%.
Beyond physical pain, chronic pain can have a negative impact on emotional well being. Through meditation people have learned how to respond to pain in a healthier manner. Training the mind allows the opportunity of a choice about how you will experience the present. Learning that you are in control of your response, and training yourself to do so, can have a significant impact on how you experience physical as well as emotional pain.

Meditation benefits your spirit

8 - Getting into a state of flow
The state of flow has been described in many different ways, but generally reflects the same experience. Flow consists of a harmonious state with positive qualities, that leads to a joyful state of being. When the characteristics of flow are described it's clear how flow is synonymous with a meditative state.
Losing yourself in the activity, intuitively knowing what you're going to do next, reacting spontaneously and purposefully to present circumstances, being unaware of the passage of time and confidence in your ability to face challenges; these are all feelings which accompany a state of flow.
One of my favorite descriptive terms to explain the experience is being "in the zone". Hopefully you've experienced this feeling before. Sometimes it happens spontaneously, while at other times it happens through a great deal of preperation. Maybe you were confident in your ability to complete a project, and things seemed to fall into place. If you play competitive sports, it's possible that your training led you to a high level of performance, and it felt like you were guaranteed to win.
Regardless of how you experienced flow, meditation can help you recapture this feeling. The clear focused attention required to get in flow can be cultivated through practice and carried over to other areas of your life. Capturing this state can help you move forward with purpose, confident in your ability to reach your goals.
9 - Improve your powers of empathy
Cultivating compassion can have a profound impact on how we deal with others. Forgiveness and compassion are important for building strong relationships, while at the same time contributing to a positive self-image.
Loving-kindness meditation (also called metta meditation) focuses on building thoughts of compassion for all sentient beings. To begin, we must first have compassion for ourselves, it can then be extended to friends, family and others. Building compassion for ourselves is not a selfish act - in fact it is one of the most unselfish things you can do. Compassion for the self leads to self-acceptance, even in light of past mistakes. Compassion and forgiveness are interrelated - we cannot begin to forgive others if we cannot first forgive ourselves.
Self-acceptance can lead to much more positive interactions. Understanding someone else's mental and emotional state can help us put their actions in context. When we have knowledge of other people's suffering, we can work to alleviate it. Compassion can ultimately lead to greater happiness for all. Through training we can actually move away from negativity and begin to experience a more joyful state of being.
10 - Attain enlightenment
Enlightenment is possibly the end-all of spiritual aspiration. This elusive attainment has kept philosophers and spiritual seekers contemplating the mysteries of the world for thousands of years. Achieving enlightenment is supposed to reveal the underlying nature of reality to those who attain it. Those who attain it describe it as the greatest paradox one could imagine, but also freeing and expansive.
Is this something you believe is possible? Is this your ultimate reason for meditating? If the idea of meditation raises more questions than you are comfortable with, then you may want to seek a spiritual guru to guide you on your path. Enlightenment may reveal some answers, while unveiling even deeper mysteries - much like scientific progress.
Some spiritual traditions describe levels of progress in the various stages of practice. It's said that through regular engagement in meditation, it's possible to have deep insights into one's own being
With all of the benefits of meditation, it's a worthwhile practice regardless of personal feelings toward spiritual attainment.

11 Quotes From Alan Watts That Will Change Your Life.

Alan Watts is considered as the foremost interpreter of Eastern disciplines for the contemporary West. He had an astonishing and an indescribable way of writing the unwritable.
Among all the qualities of this great orator and writer, he had an unique gift of expressing complex thoughts in the form of simple and illustrated thoughts. The simple way he exemplified and expressed all his reflections made him and universal philosopher, someone that could be comprehended by the vast majority of the people. Let’s see some of Alan Watts’ magic and awakening quotes.

1. “Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.” – Alan Watts.

It is no news that we humans take things too seriously. We over think to the point where we become anxious. We over analyze and overvalue things to the point of depression.
If there was something that Mr.Watts wanted us to do is to enjoy life and live it as a joyous dance. We are a tiny spot in an enormous, out-of-our-eyes universe, no need to take things too seriously! Go out and enjoy this beautiful experience!

2. “Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.” – Alan Watts.

This quote makes reference to the reverse effort principle. What Mr.Watts simply wants to say is to don’t force things, don’t create tension. Sometimes things work out better if we let them flow and simply “happen”.
Just as floating in the water, it is not about the effort we put into floating but about letting go! Flow as water!

3. “To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.” – Alan Watts.

This quote does much reference to the former one. Trust, as some people wrongly conceive, is not about holding on to things or people, it is about letting go and having faith in the process.
In life, we can’t hold on to fears, over constructed thoughts, or plans. Any of this security searching habits and trust habits will only impede us from moving forward and really enjoying life. Let go and trust the waters!

4.“The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.” – Alan Watts.

A common seen reflection in the Eastern philosophies is the thought that life’s essence is the impermanence we find in it, something which is certainly true. Life is all about the process between life and death, creation and destruction, change.
Everything changes every moment. Cells multiply, plants grow, universe expands. Everything which is alive will be in constant motion, and this is the beauty of life. It is always passionate to change and it always brings something new to us! We have to acknowledge this as our nature, for it is!

5. “Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts.

Mr. Watts made a lot of emphasis on the inefficient word system we use. Words exist thanks to a contrast with other words. Right exists because there is wrong to contrast with.
Alan Watts saw this system of naming meaningless, for there is no bad or good, negative or positive. Ultimately everything is the same, just a different side of the same coin. To live life fully and with no restrictions, we have to acknowledge that any experience is just an experience and a learning process. If we constantly oppose to one side of the coin we will never see life as it really is, a color pallet with many different colors and shades.

6. “No one is more dangerously insane than one who is sane all the time: he is like a steel bridge without flexibility, and the order of his life is rigid and brittle.” – Alan Watts.

Rigidity is just a synonym of boring, unnatural and narrow vision. In life it is essential to flow as water, this is why so many Eastern philosophers refer to water as a great teacher.
Life is wiggly and spontaneous, being rigid in life will only lead us to a boring, narrow path in life. We won’t enjoy fully and at the end of the curse we will notice that we have wasted all of our time. Be like water!

7. “We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree.” – Alan Watts.

One of the greatest problems of society that Alan Watts pointed out is the intense separation between man and nature. Human beings tend to see themselves as aliens that came to Earth.
We have a constant will to change, destroy and manipulate nature. We, forgetting that we are also nature, are subjects to all the consequences of our acts. Global warming, total destruction of our resources, water pollution… There will arrive the moment were all of us notice that we are connected to this world and universe, just as the roots of a tree are connected to earth. We can’t keep going like this! Earth dies, we die!

8. “Without birth and death, and without the perpetual transmutation of all the forms of life, the world would be static, rhythm-less, undancing, mummified.” – Alan Watts.

Doubtlessly, what makes this world a beautiful experience is, the impermanence and mutability of all things. This world will always have a mysterious and unpredictable way of flow.
Everything is changing and it is necessary that we acknowledge that and live with it. We are organic to this world, an so, we are submit to change too. We cant oppose to our nature, we have to admit and flow with this beautiful dance.

9. “Only words and conventions can isolate us from the entirely undefinable something which is everything.” – Alan Watts.

Alan Watts held a firm point of view were he saw all life as something undefinable and with a sole purpose of experiencing it. He always said that this universe cant be defined by worlds and that the harder we try to do this the more we separate from the real experience.
To live this experience we have to see the object that we point at with our finger, not our finger. In other words, we have to live each experience and not try to define it!

10. “…tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live.” – Alan Watts.

Alan Watts was clearly a follower of an Eastern philosophy type of view. Something that any Eastern philosophy pushed on was the fact of living in the present.
It is more than true that only by living in the present we really enjoy all the pleasures of live, and more so, we eliminate any fear of the future, anxiety or depression. Making plans for the future is only useful for those who know how to enjoy this future when it arrives. It is useless to live for a future when we don’t live it when it arrives. Learn to enjoy the now and you will be able to enjoy everything else that comes at you!

11. “Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way” – Alan Watts.

All problems have a solution, problems are soluble in solutions, and solutions are inexhaustible. We have powerful minds which work by creativity and logic, we certainly have the power to create solutions.
Alan Watts, with his positive mindset, had a great ability to pose problems and find their solutions. We all can do this, it takes breathing, calming down and concentrating! Sometimes it is all about how we approach the problem!

9 Life Lessons from Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen master who brings life lessons to people around the world. His message of mindfulness, peace and spirituality has changed countless lives through the numerous books, lectures and poems he’s written. Here are nine particularly pertinent life lessons Thich Nhat Hanh has to offer:

9 Life Lessons from Thích Nhat Hanh

1. “Some people live as though they are already dead. There are people moving around us who are consumed by their past, terrified of their future, and stuck in their anger and jealousy. They are not alive; they are just walking corpses.”

This is a particularly harsh lesson from Thich Nhat Hanh where he really wants to emphasize the importance of living in the moment. When we become preoccupied with negative feelings about the future and past it makes it impossible to do our best in the present moment.
Worrying about things that we cannot change puts us out of control of the present moment, so in a sense we are dead when we do not work in the now. So release your worries.

2. “When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.”

It is so easy for us demonize and blame others for complex problems. Yet when the tables turn and we do something wrong we justify it with the numerous factors that led to the incident. We should extend the same courtesy to all others giving them the same compassion we would want to receive when making a mistake.

3. “To dwell in the here and now does not mean you never think about the past or responsibly plan for the future. The idea is simply not to allow you to get lost in regrets about the past or worries about the future. If you are firmly grounded in the present moment, the past can be an object of inquiry, the object of your mindfulness and concentration. You can attain many insights by looking into the past. But you are still grounded in the present moment.”

Just because you live in the moment, doesn’t mean that you should not ever consider the future and past. The past offers us a lot of wisdom. We have to plan for our future to live responsibly. To live in the moment means just to not get swept away by the future and past, so that we forget to experience the beauty of the present.

4. “People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” 

We can often get caught up in the difficulty of our current set of problems, so that we don’t want to branch out and grow. No matter what improvements or changes we make in our lives there will always be problems, but often we prefer those problems that we already know how to manage.
We should not let our fear of the unfamiliar inhibit us from growing.

5. “Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.”

Think carefully about what you say, do and think, because these are the things that form your identity. Living mindfully also means to live carefully to work towards creating an identity where you wouldn’t mind your signature being on everything you produce.

6. “We have to continue to learn. We have to be open. And we have to be ready to release our knowledge in order to come to a higher understanding of reality.”

Holding onto knowledge and ideals does not let us to explore. Keeping open to the world of different perspective we may find we learn a lot. It will also help us grow compassion for others, who are a lot more like us then we think they are in reality.

7. “Every sliver of carrot needed the sun, the water, the air, the care of another human being. Imagine the effort to grow that carrot, take it from the earth, pack it, cut it and get it here for you. Pay tribute to that. Chew mindfully. At times, close your eyes and pay homage to the carrot. Think of the nourishment it needed to be and the nourishment it’s providing as a gift for your body.”

Every small activity of the day is filled with wonder. By learning to take note of all the complexities of the luxuries of everyday life, we get a great appreciation for the abundance that we live in. This leads to not desiring so many additional things since we already have so much.

8. “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” 

Our body can have a great deal of influence on our mood. To carry one’s self with confidence and happiness can help bring the brain out of a rut. Next time you are feeling down, stand up straight and smile to help improve your mood.

9. “My actions are my only true belongings.” 

Things come and go, but what determines the course of our lives is the way we act. Choose wisely when making decisions for actions and inactions, because these are the things that permanently alter the course of our lives and those around us.

source: guidedmind

Five Ways Of Putting An End To Anger

Shariputra shared with monks, five ways of putting an end to anger:

1. If there is someone whose bodily actions are not kind but whose words are kind, if you feel anger toward him, meditate to put an end to your anger.

A bhikshu practicing asceticism wears a patchwork robe. On a filthy garbage pile one piece of cloth is still intact. So he takes it home, washes, and sews it into his patchwork robe. If you are wise, when someone’s bodily actions are not kind but his words are kind, pay attention to his kind words. This will help you end your anger.

Part 2 of 5

Part 2 of 5
2. If you become angry with someone whose words are not kind but whose bodily actions are kind, meditate to put an end to your anger.
The surface of a lake is covered with algae and grass. A thirsty man takes off his clothes, jumps into the water, and with his hands clears away the algae and grass, and enjoys bathing in and drinking the cool water. It is the same, with someone whose words are not kind but whose bodily actions are kind. Pay attention to his bodily actions and not words, to end your anger. 

Part 3 of 5

Part 3 of 5
3. If there is someone whose bodily actions and words are not kind, but who still has a little kindness in his heart, if you feel anger toward that person, meditate to end to your anger.

At a crossroads a weak, thirsty, hot and deprived person sees a buffalo’s footprint with some stagnant rainwater in it. She thinks, ‘If I use my hand or a leaf to scoop it up, it will become muddy and undrinkable. I will have to kneel down, put my lips right to the water, and drink it directly.’ She does just that. When you see someone whose bodily actions and words are not kind, but where there is still a little kindness in her heart, pay attention to the little kindness that is in her heart so you may end your anger. 

Part 4 of 5

Part 4 of 5
4. If there is someone whose words and bodily actions are not kind, and in whose heart there is nothing that can be called kindness, if you are angry with that person, meditate to end your anger.

A man on a long journey falls sick. He is alone and exhausted and he fears he will die. Someone comes along and takes the man’s hand and leads him to the next village. She ministers to his needs. Because of this compassion and loving kindness, the man’s life is saved. When you see someone whose words and bodily actions are not kind, and in whose heart there is nothing that can be called kindness, think: ‘That someone is undergoing great suffering. Unless he meets a good spiritual friend, there will be no chance for him to transform and be happy.’ You will open your heart with love and compassion. 

Part 5 of 5

Part 5 of 5
5. If there is someone whose bodily actions are kind, whose words are kind, and whose mind is also kind, if you are angry with that person, meditate to end your anger.

A lake’s water is clear and sweet. A thirsty man takes off his clothes, jumps into the water, and finds great comfort and enjoyment in drinking and bathing in the pure water. His suffering disappears. Give your attention to all his kindness of body, speech, and mind, and do not allow anger or jealousy to overwhelm you. Abridged from a Plum Village discourse.


30 Alan Watts Quotes That Will Make You Rethink Life

Alan Watts is often viewed as one of the most prolific philosophers of the 19th century and is widely known for his interpretations of Zen Buddhism and Indian and Chinese philosophy

He’s authored more than 20 books on the philosophy and psychology of religion and has built an extensive archive of lectures in audio form, brimming with his characteristic lucidity and humor.
Watts spent his career teaching others how to unlearn everything that society teaches us, and focuses much on recognizing that the only moment that exists perpetually is the one we live in presently.
Any questions about life, love, reality or the self can be illuminated by Watts and his ideas that quench existential wonder.  Even after his death in 1973, his teachings and musings remain applicable to our day-to-day lives.
Here are 30 of his most famous quotes:

On Perception

  • “This whole world is a phantasmagoria, an amazing illusion.”
  • “We notice only what we think noteworthy, and therefore our visions highly selective.”
  • “Memory creates the future as well as the past, you wouldn’t know that you were going to have anything happen tomorrow if you didn’t have something yesterday.”
  • “The world is precisely the relationship between the world and its witnesses, and so if there are no eyes in this world, the sun doesn’t make any light, nor do the stars.”
  • “If you don’t remember anything you don’t know you’re there.”
  • “There is nothing except the eternal now.”
  • “Things and events have only a verbal reality.”

On Art & Creativity

  • “An artist is a person who performs certain things skillfully, but doesn’t really know how he does it. You learn art by methods that you don’t know how you learnt, you can’t describe, because your brain is capable of absorbing all kinds of information that is much too subtle to be translated into words.”
  • “Creative people can stimulate creativity in others, by osmosis.”

On the Universe

  • “You and I are as much continuous with the universe as a wave is continuous with the ocean.”
  • “Everything in this universe depends on everything else.”
  • “Everything that happens, everything that I have ever done, everything that anybody else have ever done is part of a harmonious design, that there is no error at all.”
  • “Through our eyes, the universe perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.”

On Life & Death

  • “Dying should be one of the great events of life.”
  • “The meaning of being alive is just being alive.”

On Balance

  • “Everybody has to be salted by a certain unrespectability.”
  • “The positive cannot exist without the negative.”
  • “To be implies not to be.”
  • “All insides have outsides.”
  • “You can only be on the in in relation to something that is out.”

On Choice & Misguidedness

  • “Choice is not a form of freedom in the sense of the word; choice is the act of hesitation that occurs before making a decision.”
  • “We have been literally hypnotized by social convention into feeling and sensing that we exist only inside our skins.”
  • “Every manifestation of life is impermanent. Our quest to make things permanent, to straighten everything out, to get it fixed is an impossible and insoluble problem.”

On Emotions

  • “There are no wrong feelings.”
  • “This is one of the peculiar problems of our culture, that we are terrified of our feelings.”
  • “Most problems that are solved in a rush are solved in the wrong way, especially emotional problems between people.”
  • “We have frustration because we are fighting the changing of things.”

On Love

  • “The first thing to discover is what indeed you do love, and you will find there is something.”
  • “Love is not something that is a sort of rare commodity, everybody has it.”
  • “Never pretend to a love which you do not actually feel, for love is not ours to command.”

Anger Is Not Your Enemy

Don’t try to destroy your anger, transform it into constructive energy, writes THICH NHAT HANH.
To sit is not enough. We have to be at the same time.To be what? To be is to be a something, you cannot be a nothing.To eat, you have to eat something, you cannot just

eat nothing.To be aware is to be aware of something.To be angry is to be angry at something. So to be is to be something, and that something is what is going on: in your body, in your mind, in your feelings, and in the world.

While sitting, you sit and you are. You are what? You are the breathing. Not only the one who breathes —you are the breathing and the smiling.
It is like a television set of one million channels.When you turn the breathing on, you are the breathing. When you turn the irritation on, you are the irritation.You are one with it. Irritation and breathing are not things outside of you.You contemplate them in them, because you are one with them. If I have a feeling of anger, how would I meditate on that? How would I deal with it, as a Buddhist, or as an intelligent person? I would not look upon anger as something foreign to me that I have to fight, to have surgery in order to remove it. I know that anger is me, and I am anger. Nonduality not two. I have to deal with my anger with care, with love, with tenderness, with nonviolence. Because anger is me, I have to tend my anger as I would tend a younger brother or sister, with love, with care, because I myself am anger, I am in it, I am it. In Buddhism we do not consider anger, hatred, greed as enemies we have to fight, to destroy, to annihilate. If we annihilate anger, we annihilate ourselves. Dealing with anger in that way would be like transforming yourself into a battlefield, tearing yourself into parts, one part taking the side of Buddha, and one part taking the side of Mara. If you struggle in that way, you do violence to yourself. If you cannot be compassionate to yourself, you will not be able to be compassionate to others.When we ge angry, we have to produce awareness: “I am angry. Anger is in me. I am anger.”That is the first thing to do.

In the case of a minor irritation, the recognition of the presence of the irritation, along with a smile and a few breaths will usually be enough to transform the irritation into something more positive, like forgiveness, understanding, and love. Irritation is a destructive energy. We cannot destroy the more constructive energy.

Forgiveness is a constructive energy. Understanding is a constructive energy. Suppose you are in the desert, and you only have one glass of muddy water.

You have to transform the muddy water into clear water to drink, you cannot just throw it away. So you let it settle for a while, and clear water will appear. In the same way, we have to convert anger into some kind of energy that is more constructive, because anger is you.Without anger, you have nothing left.That is the work of meditation.

I give the example of a big brother who gets angry at his sister at first and then finds out that she has a fever, and he understands and becomes concerned, and he tries to help her. So the destructive energy of anger, because of understanding, is transformed into the energy of love.Meditation on your anger is first of all to produce awareness of anger, “I am the anger,” and then to look deeply into the nature of anger. Anger is born from ignorance, and is a strong ally of ignorance. Being Peace, Full Circle.

Tortured By Love, Lust, A Crush? Buddhism Has Some Advice For You!

“Foulness Meditation”

“The Lord Buddha advised those who are ardent on attaining Nibbana to contemplate the body with its impurities…”


Growing up, my momma was an American Buddhist. While I appreciated the community hugely, growing up, I didn’t get into Buddhism personally until I was 16. I was graduating from high school, and figured that before I left my teenage home (Karme Choling, a Buddhist meditation center in rural Vermont) I’d say goodbye to all that in proper Buddhist style: by doing a weeklong meditation retreat. Nine hours a day, including zen-style meals, of meditation.

And I finally, personally, fell in love with Buddhism. Meditation, I belatedly realized, wasn’t just some way of avoiding living life. It wasn’t boring. It was…to use a word I generally avoid…transformative. I could begin to live and enjoy life from a clear, open, sane, relaxed point of view (and as a teenager, that was one helluva discovery).

So I canceled my plans and studied and partied and meditated and worked (as a lumberjack) at Karme Choling for a year. Along the way, I learned a whole hell of a lot.

One of the funny little things that’s stuck with me is how to wake oneself from that exquisite pain that is lust or having a crush on someone. If you’re in love or in lust or intimidated or entranced by a beautiful man or woman, you have only to remember that, just like everyone else, below that alluring exterior they’re full or blood and spit and mucus and poo and pee, like everyone else. You’re actually supposed to visiualize them going to the bathroom.
It works. You remember they’re human, and stop tripping out.

Excerpt from a Buddhist text:

35) How to Combat and Subdue Lust and Desire

Afflictions stemming from greed, while numerous, are all included within the defilements of the “five desires” and the “six Dusts.” From the root of greed stem other evil afflictions, such as stinginess, envy, hate, fraud, deceit … known as secondary afflictions. The “five desires” refers to the five defilements, that is, the desire for beautiful forms (sexual desire …), wealth and money, fame and power, exquisite food and elegant attire, [excessive] rest and sleep.[48] The “six Dusts” are form, sound, scent, taste, touch and dharmas [i.e., external opinions and views].

The six Dusts encompass the five desires; however, the term “five desires was created as a separate expression to stress the five heavy defilements of human beings in the realm of the “six Dusts.” The concept “six Dusts” is used when speaking in general, while the expression “five desires” refers to specific afflictions. I employ the term “six Dusts” here to cover other defilements not included in the five desires, such as excessive fondness for music and songs as well as infatuation with romances, novels, etc …
When the five desires and six Dusts flare up, the general way to counteract them is through skillful visualization of four truths: Impurity, Suffering, Impermanence, and No-Self.

1. Impurity

This means that the body is impure, the mind is impure and the realm is impure. Impurity of the body means that we should reflect on the fact that beneath the covering layers of skin, our bodies and those of others are composed entirely of filthy, smelly substances such as meat, bones, blood, pus, phlegm, saliva, excrement, urine, etc. Not only that, body fluids are excreted through nine apertures (mouth, ears, nose, anus, etc.). If we stop to think carefully, the physical body of sentient beings is hardly worth cherishing.

 Vaguely relephant bonus: Karme Choling’s innovative garden:

source and courtesy: elephantjournal

Blog Archive