The first sermon the Buddha preached after his enlightenment was about the four noble truths: 1) Life is frustrating and painful. 2) Suffering has a cause; we suffer because we are constantly struggling to survive, 3) The cause of suffering can be ended. 4) the path to end the cause of suffering is to meditate and practice mindful awareness.
Have you noticed that life is a struggle? As soon as we get on a path that feels good, something comes along to destroy the harmony. It could be a relationship, we fall in love, everything is going well then out of the blue our loved one does something hurtful. Or it could be a new job, everything is going well then a co-worker says or does something to hurt us. Or money; our finances may be going well, we have saved money, then something breaks or falls apart and all our money, our savings are gone. The reason the Buddhists meditate is to come back to a simple mindfulness and to get rid of the complex thoughts that surround struggle.
Not everyone enjoys meditation; not everyone finds the time to sit and meditate; so what do we do if we are one of these people? We simply practice being mindful. How do we do that? It’s like a prayer or a simple slowing things down for a moment. It comes back to the breath. Taking a few deep, cleansing, healing breaths can be a wonderful way to be mindful.
Let’s say something happens in your life that causes you to feel that life is a struggle; simply stop for a moment and take a breath. Release the tension with your out breath. Take another cleansing simple breath and fill your mind with serenity. Think, “I am here now in this moment and nothing is going on.” If someone is being mean and argumentative, say to them, “I just need a moment to go to the bathroom, or grab a drink of water, or something that is acceptable.” You are not saying, “I just need a moment to get away from you!” But you are indeed taking a moment to be mindful.
When you are away from the person, take a slow and deep cleansing breath. “I am here now. Nothing is going on in this moment. I am safe, I am here.” Be mindful of the moment. Then ask yourself, “How do I want this to end? What is the result I want to get?” Answer: “I want to bring serenity to the struggle.” “I want to be a bringer of peace and calm.”
How do you do that? You become mindful that the conflict is not in you. Life maybe causing a struggle in this moment, but you are not the struggle. You are observing the struggle, but you are not the struggle. You are being involved in the struggle, but you are not the struggle.
When you let go of the struggle, you realize that you do not have to answer frustration with frustration. You do not have to be angry just because someone close to you is expressing their anger. You are not the struggle. The struggle wants you to be part of it-because the struggle is struggling. But you do not have a responsibility to be angry, frustrated or upset. The struggle is something happening outside of you.
Have you ever tried to undo a tangled chain? I have. And what I learned is that you simply shake the chain gently. You let it jiggle around gently between your fingers. You allow the tangles to come apart. The chain itself wants to be untangled, and you are simply letting the chain find its own way to straighten. With time, it will straighten itself out. And all you did was sit with it and gently allow the pieces to find their own way out.
Today, when you encounter a struggle, whether it be on the road with another driver, or something/ or someone in your home that is struggling; be mindful. Be aware of your breath. Take a healing, cleansing breath in, and release all thoughts of struggle with your out breath. Let your mind become calm. You are a Life Warrior. You are learning a powerful combat move to kick depression.
It may not seem like you are doing much—but in fact you are being immensely powerful. To be mindful of your breath and to release your thoughts of anger and frustration with your out breath is one of the most powerful things you can ever do. Now you are an observer of life’s struggles instead of being an absorber. Now you are allowing peace and equanimity into your mind, body and spirit. My friend, if you can be mindful in the moments of struggle, you are a Life Warrior! Welcome to life.