I lead a quiet life, uncomplicated life. My spiritual practice is important, all the same, I would like to clear up exactly what I mean in terms of spiritual.
My intellect and spiritual practice does not centred on one particular aspect. For instance, some might focus on praying or meditating. It is not like that for me!
I consider myself as a whole human. This means I focus on all of my existence. I like to employ the metaphor of a pie chart. We have many aspects, physical, emotional, philosophical, physiological, intellectual, cultural, creative, dietary needs, etc. the list huge. I concentrate on a few important aspects and the others improve as a result.
It is vital, for me, it’s a plant based alternative. Nonetheless, there are different staple diets around the world, clearly, make sure it’s healthy and you maintain a healthy weight. If food is an emotionally charged option, you will often take comfort food over nutrition. If you feel sad for example, you eat chocolate or devour the biscuits. The junk food, or comfort food is a never ending roller coaster. Using food to make you feel betters is dysfunctional and not what foods is for. Food fuels the body and should be providing vital nutrition. If this aspect of your life is all over the shop, nine times out of ten so are your emotions.
I am speaking from experiences, I was a over weight Vegan, it took twelve months of good eating and healthy choices to reverse my borderline diabetes and obesity, I lost 16 kilograms and my bloods and sugar levels are acceptable now. My medical professionals are happy and impressed with my efforts. I am happy to share more of my diet. You can email me for details.
It is vital getting out in some sunshine and walking, cycling or whatever you like in terms of cardio. I walk two hours there times a week. The sun provides vitamin D and the fresh air offers vitality. Don’t fall into the hype about training your butt off. Walking is great, no need run unless you love it. I know a few runners and it’s their thing, however, if it’s not, you just torture yourself. Strength training is my other two days a week exercise, mixed with some yoga. You don’t need to throw around huge weight, you need excellent form and listen to your body. Balance and over training is counterproductive.
Simplicity, here, for me sitting on my meditation cushion sometimes is enough. I sit cross my legs and elevated hips because of the cushion, IE knees below hips. After sitting like this and settling myself, I will shut my eyes and meditate. I never time myself. The sitting offers me peace and of course the closing my eyes in meditation take it further. Sitting cross legged is called “simple pose” in Yoga, however, for most it’s not simple. Many say sit in a chair, I disagree, sitting cross legs offers many health benefits ( Google it)and is worth the effort. It might start 10 minutes a day or less, but one day you will feel the benefits and be grateful you persevered.
Keep it simple, remember as a wise monk told me “letting go” is the goal.
‘The breath is one thing, mindfulness is another, and your awareness, still another. You have to twist these three strands together so that they don’t break away from one another. In other words, your awareness has to stay with the act of mindfulness, thinking about the breath. And both your awareness and mindfulness have to stay with the breath. Only then can you say that these things are factors of meditation.
When you can twist these three strands into a single rope, focus your awareness on observing the in-and-out breath to see whether it’s comfortable or not, expansive or confined, broad or narrow. Whichever way of breathing feels comfortable, keep breathing in that way. If the breath isn’t comfortable, keep changing it until it is.’
Starting Out Small
Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo
translated from the Thai by
I also consider reading and learning as part of my spiritual practices. Reading offers so much, we expanded our knowledge and for me it has a calming effect. Read what you enjoy, however, although some non fiction if you only read fiction, and visa versa. I can have three books on the go, their is no rules here, nonetheless, keep yourself interested. People say to me, ‘reading sends them to sleep.’ I say, ‘ it’s like anything you do you need to train.’ Start small if you are not a reader and slowly you will feel the benefits and increase your capacity. People abandon things in a week or two of struggling. Most new habits from my experiences, take a good month or two. Persistence and resilience are great allies. I believe study and reading helps purify the mind. The mind need exercise like any other part of you. If you have no money, there are some great free publications I have found useful.
I undertake to observe the rule:
1. to abstain from taking life
2. to abstain from taking what is not given
3. to abstain from sensuous misconduct
4. to abstain from false speech
5. to abstain from intoxicants as tending to cloud the mind
Purification of Virtue (Sãlavisuddhi)
Like any other tree, the great tree of the medi- tative life requires roots. The roots of the medita- tive life are Purification of Virtue and Purification of Mind. Unless these two roots are nourished, there will be no progress in meditation.
The first and most fundamental of the roots is Purification of Virtue. Purification of Virtue consists in understanding and maintaining four types of restraint: (1) observing the precepts one has undertaken and protecting them like one’s very life; (2) guarding the six sense- doors without allowing defilements to arise; (3) maintaining a righteous livelihood; and (4) making use of one’s requisites of life with wise reflection.
These are my main focus and the other aspect of my life have improved because of my dedication to theses four. Good things arise, however, the conditions have to be right. Too get the conditions right you need patience and persistence. The precepts for the Buddhist layperson to live by are above, and also my foundation for life choices.
You need a foundation and do your best to reflect and stick to it. I understand, you like me are far from perfect, we do not need to be perfect. We need to make genuine efforts if we want to improve our lives. My Bipolar adds a degree of difficulty sometimes, in terms of sleeping and moods. All the things I have mentioned have helped improve my quality of life.