1. Focusing on a few fundamentals can create a massive change in your life:
making your healing, personal transformation and well-being a top priority
intentionally refraining from harming yourself or others
intentionally creating mental space for gratitude
intentionally being kind and generous to others
Shifting your focus to growth and inner evolution will not only decrease the tension in your mind but it will automatically change the way you relate to the ups and downs of life. The law of cause and effect is pervasive through this universe of mind and matter. Being generous in a balanced way does bring good results, but there is no telling when the fruit of your good actions will ripen. If you are dedicated to cultivating inner peace, it is essential to understand that the kindness you give to others will fundamentally support your inner clarity and calmness.
2. Beware of taking things to an extreme. Many have this tendency of taking an idea and pushing it to the point where it makes us act in an unbalanced manner and makes our thinking narrow. Allow room in your mind for nuanced views and different perspectives. Understand that the solutions that worked in one area many not work in another. Life is very situational, meaning every situation will have a different set of conditions that calls for unique approaches – one size does not fit all. Your middle path will not look like someone else’s middle path. A good idea will only remain good if it is applied in a balanced way. Balance is one of the keys to living a good life.
3. When you commit to growing, your old habits will not make it easy. Often, doubt will roar and shout and trick you into thinking that you are making much less progress than you really are. The mind likes to repeat its most common patterns over and over, which makes them dense and thick. They become the great barrier that stands in front of you as your primary challenge. Luckily, persistence can help you work around these old patterns and build new ones that actually nourish your life. Persistence is your greatest asset on the road to becoming a wiser and more aligned you.
I just got back this past weekend from a silent 30-day Vipassana meditation course. This is why I haven’t sent a newsletter email in a few weeks. During the course we meditate about 11 hours a day. Vipassana is a technique that originates from the Buddha’s teaching. It focuses on understanding the subtle truths of nature within the framework of the body and purifying the mind at the deep subconscious level. Ultimately, it is a path that leads to liberation from suffering.
To learn the technique you can take a 10-day course, these courses are available all over the world through dhamma.org. The courses are free of charge, when you finish the course you can give a donation if you want to but it is not an obligation and there is not even a suggested donation. This style of Vipassana is difficult, but the results are immense.
Personally, I have gotten so much from meditating in this tradition, I did my first course back in 2012. The path is so clearly outlined, and the results are immediate and profoundly transformative. It works because it is an actual way to clear out all of the dense patterns and mental conditioning that get in the way of mental clarity and happiness. This course helped me see how craving is a direct cause of misery, whenever the mind is craving it immediately becomes tense and loses its sight of the present moment. This course also gave me a deeper appreciation of impermanence, and how change happens at every level of existence, from the subtlest ocean of atoms that create the human body, to the larger changes that are bound to happen in life. Vipassana is the only practice I do for the sake of healing and liberation. Now that I am out of the course I am going to get back to writing, take time to move slowly, integrate the new things I’ve learned and figure out how much my preferences have changed.
In what ways can you develop a more balanced approach to your personal growth? What are the biggest changes you have seen in yourself since you started developing your self-awareness and new habits? Now that you have learned more and let go of a lot, is there a way to keep your humility sharp so you can continue flourishing?
One of my favorite books is 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari. I really think he is like an Albert Einstein of the Social Sciences. In this book he clearly delineates the challenges humanity will collectively have to face this century. Some of the challenges feel daunting, but properly informing ourselves is the first step in making real collective change.