Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Skillful Means For Everyday Living

      As adults in our middle and senior years, we sometimes find ourselves facing stressful obstacles in our personal and professional lives.  Our jobs are threatened by the world economy, our relationships are pushed to the limits by outside influences, and our time is increasingly saturated by an artificial environment instead of the nourishing surroundings of nature. Physical exhaustion, mental confusion, and emotional trauma frequently result. We need a personal and practical method to help us manage the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of aging wisely in a tranquil and beneficial manner.
      Such a means is found by many in the major techniques of meditation practice, which are easily taken from the cushion or chair into everyday life.  The first step is learning to concentrate or focus.  Using this valuable skill in our lives can produce some really beneficial outcomes.  For example, being recognized as a stable leader, winning ballgames like the Los Angeles Lakers, and being cool headed around the ups and downs of parenting.  The second step is developing a practice called  mindfulness.  Being able to combine our attention with a solid focus allows wisdom to become part of making intelligent decisions at home and at work.  For example, how many people knew that Steve Jobs was a practitioner of Zen meditation?  His mindfulness certainly made Apple a huge success!  The last part of the practice is applying a step called loving kindness.  While the ability to concentrate and pay attention without judging opens us to wisdom, kindness allows us to balance and soften some of the affects that arise as we’ve been applying concentration and mindfulness. This action results in being more considerate and empathetic with ourselves and others.  For instance, instead of ignoring our employees, spouses, or adult children, we take the time to listen and help them solve some really important issues that are mutually productive.  The practice of loving kindness promotes compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity in our lives.
      Thus, after careful consideration of the foregoing information, we may know that we need a support system for daily living to grow older and wiser, one that is both personal and professional.  This means, normally called meditation, allows us to skillfully focus, pay attention, and be kind in the often stressful activities of everyday life.  Being able to remain calm in the face of stress, think clearly, and feel good about one’s actions afterwards is more than a great relief.  As a person in this category, I can’t count the number of times I’ve whispered the word “thanks” to the wonderful teachers who have taught me these skills.  May you, indeed, take advantage of this opportunity to pass through the stages of aging with wisdom.

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