First, after I say my affirmations, I go to my heart every morning. I sit with my heart (which I visualize through an image of me as a toddler … innocent, serious, loving - see my post “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall - A Revelation”) and feel its love, light, faith, trust, compassion, humility, gratefulness, joy, contentment, strength, courage, and wisdom; this is my true self.
I affirm that all emotions, judgments, cravings, and attachments flow from my ego-mind … all of which are aspects of non-acceptance … and that they and the darkness that the ego-mind creates are not my true self. They are just a product of my mind. I say to them all, “Not me!” And turn my will and my life over to the care of my true Buddha self and see myself and the world around me through the its eyes, my unwounded heart.
I say to my true self, “I’m coming home.” I take the hand that he stretches out to me and he leads me away from my ego-mind’s world of darkness, fear and anxiety, doubt and confusion, guilt and shame, back to the love, light, and faith of my true self. I bask in that glow and know without question that my unwounded heart is my true self, not my ego-mind.
Next, I allow my heart to open up and embrace all aspects of my being and experience … every last element. Past, present, and future. I take in a deep breath and feel my heart expand, embracing everything. My past trauma, my life as it is at this moment, and the future with the attitude que sera sera, I know I will be ok regardless what life throws my way. And so nothing offends, all internal and external struggle ceases. When I am in that state, I know that I have everything I need inside myself to be at peace and happy and allow nothing to interfere with my peace and happiness.]
Another practice that helps being present is to greet myself and the world around me with a smile, to say “hello” in my mind to everyone and everything I encounter (with the exception of evil, see my post, “Evil - How Should a Buddhist Respond). It starts with me looking in the mirror first thing in the morning and smiling and saying to my mirror-image, “Good morning. I love you.” And when I smile at what I encounter, I am present, because I connect deeply with my surroundings. This is part of seeing things through the eyes of my true self.
As I go through each day, the world I encounter and my ego-mind presents countless occasions that require me to be aware and repeat these steps. Each of these occasions may seem quite small, and yet being disciplined about my practice makes the difference between my being at peace and happy, experiencing joy, or being weighed down by the “background noise” of my ego-mind.
So for example, the other day I was having coffee in a nearby town. The immediate built environment is old and has character, well-maintained, there is little traffic, and it’s quiet. All things I respond to positively. But my ego-mind saw the place as dead, few people on the streets. I know it could be so much more; the way it used to be before the car moved all the shopping out to suburban malls. I could go on and on.
And so I was bored and couldn’t wait to leave the place. But then I suddenly became aware of what my ego-mind was doing and stopped. I opened my heart to embrace my surroundings and turned my face into a smile. Instantaneously my mood changed. I felt relaxed. I was aware of the peace and beauty of the place . I was aware of the sky and the trees. I had no desire to leave.
The reader may respond that that’s all well and good when faced with negativity that’s rather innocuous. But what about when one encounters something that actually can cause hurt?
Ah, how are we defining hurt? Unless you’re talking about physical hurt or mental abuse … in which case you clearly do what you can to avoid being hurt, taking yourself out of harm’s way, … every other type of hurt and the resulting pain are a product of the mind. Even in the case of physical hurt or mental abuse, the hurt is one thing; it is real. But the pain we suffer because of our ego-mind’s reactions to that hurt are just a product of the mind.
And so my response to the question is that, with the exception of physical hurt or mental abuse, following these steps … going to the heart, embracing your experience, and facing it with a smile … will turn every situation from a negative to a positive. From a situation that has the potential to cause either minor or major suffering into one where you will be able to find beauty or happiness, you will know that things are the way they are because it’s just the way it is, and you will remain at peace. And so when you walk away from the situation it will have no emotional after-effect on you.
This is not to say that you won’t walk away feeling, unemotionally, that something needs to be done to change the situation you encountered or keep such things from happening in the future. But you will not obsess on this observation (unless you allow yourself to). And so you will not feel frustrated and will not suffer.
I encourage you to try these practices. See what a difference it makes in the quality of your life.