matters of the mind

Posted on March 5, 2014


Untitled 4Last night I went to a talk here in Durbs by Buddhist teacher Gen La-Kunsang. On the invite were these words:

Discover powerful and practical methods to increase happiness and become a more confident and joyous person, capable of bringing real benefit to this world.’

Reading this, I was immediately intrigued. I’m a bit obsessed with happiness, you see. Afterall, if we’re not totally happy with our lives, our days and ourselves… then what’s the point? I’ve loved immersing myself in this subject for years with fabulous books like Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and Dan Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness. I’ve enjoyed no end of TED talks too. In fact, my dear friend Brandy Scott did a TEDx talk on the Measurement of Happiness, in which she discussed Bhutan’s world-renowned, ‘Gross National Happiness Index.’ Who needs to consider GNP when you’ve got that? It seems I’m not the only one fascinated by this subject as my all-time most highly viewed blog post written nearly 3 ½ years ago is one on happiness – Just like a Butterfly.

But back to last night.

It was a thought-provoking evening, presented by a lady with a wry sense of humour and a contagious smile. She touched on lots of areas but the principle I absorbed most is this:

  • We all share a united goal or wish in life… that is to find peace and be happy
  • Happiness means to be free from suffering; suffering being worry, problems, frustrations, strife and so on
  • Suffering comes from our heart… it is a feeling, an experience… and it is therefore, nothing but a state of mind
  • What this means is that we CHOOSE whether to be happy
  • Likewise, we CHOOSE whether to let life’s challenges overcome us
  • We blame people and places when things don’t go as we want but really, it’s nothing to do with external circumstances but rather, our reaction to it, our attitudes and mindset
  • Negative states of mind like greed, envy, anger, fear, self-obsession and egoism are like slow poison. They destroy us
  • Positive states of mind, on the other hand, such as understanding, kindness, love, tolerance, patience and generosity, bring happiness and peace, within us and around us
  • Ask yourself, when was the last time you felt angry? Did that anger make you feel happy? Did you enjoy the feelings it brought? NO! I’m quite sure your answer is no! Mine certainly is
  • The trick then is to learn to control the mind, which is a core part of Buddhist teachings
  • Only when we learn to do that, can we have complete freedom

Buddha said, “The mind is everything. What you think you become.”

Similarly, James Allen said, “Man is mind.”

I’ve written so much in the past about the power of the mind… how we choose how to react to whatever life throws at us. And this I suppose, is why for me, both long distance running and yoga, are such wonderful metaphors for life, amongst many other sports of course. Because whether in the midst of an epic ultra or holding a long warrior pose, it’s the power of the mind that determines whether we endure and suffer… or embrace and enjoy.

Over & out

x

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