Life has snuck up on me again preventing me from paying attention to the quality of my mind. It is a constant struggle to wean ourselves off of the habits that we’ve cultivated. In any case, I’m here now reminiscing the next eight lessons I’ve learned during the two-month long hiatus.
- I’ve learned that women have superpowers: Four kids, a business partner, no dishwasher, a part-time business and no help – these are only some of the characteristics that describe a good friend of mine. How she manages it all without losing her sanity and with a smile is beyond me. She says she just takes life as it comes; fighting it doesn’t help but standing tall amid adversities does. That’s a superpower, isn’t it?
- I’ve learned that discussing politics is a great way to practice patience and calm: If you’re the least bit into politics and were following the American presidential race (yup! I’m Canadian and find American politics interesting and entertaining), you know exactly what I’m talking about. No matter how calm and rational I was in discussing my political views with a colleague, I always seemed to upset her. However, it helped me practice detachment from my emotions and appreciate the differences I had with my colleague.
- I’ve learned to follow my heart no matter how hard the decision: After being part of a sangha for almost a year, I decided to part ways as it no longer fit my needs. It was a hard decision because I had come a long way in my spiritual journey with this sangha and felt as if I owed my allegiance to the group. In reality, your spiritual journey is your own and the only allegiance you have to fulfil is that with your mind and nothing else.
- I’ve learned that an uncontrolled mind is unbelievably selfish: In a drive-through line up for a morning tea, I decided to “pay it forward”. With my luck, of course, the person behind was buying breakfast for a team meeting. My selfish mind fought back and for a brief moment I thought about capping the “good karma”. I ended up paying for the entire purchase (a $24 tea) but I couldn’t believe how shallow my mind was! How could it possibly put a “cost” to good karma?
- I’ve learned not to criticize my mind but to nurture it with kindness: In Lesson #4 I criticized my mind and I paid forward for the entire order as if to get back at my mind. In doing so, I had taken the pleasure out of collecting good karma points. It’s good to recognize the shortcomings of your mind but it is extremely important to treat it with kindness and nurture it instead of criticizing it or being embarrassed about it.
- I’ve learned that communities in transition won’t transition on their own; we all have a role to play to help them out: Walking back from watching a play in “Regent Park” – one of Canada’s largest and oldest social housing communities that is in the middle of a huge transition – was eerily uncomfortable. I immediately thought to myself that I would never live or raise a family here . It is this residential segregation based on income-levels, status and all things material that results in troubled neighbourhoods with high crime rates and concentrated poverty. Let’s embrace the idea of living in mixed-income neighbourhoods and be actively involved in the social development of low-income residents to combat residential segregation and empower such communities to do better.
- I’ve learned to rise above the superficiality of this world and work toward looking beautiful on the inside while still being tolerant with those who judge the book by its cover: Read this article about a Sikh woman’s classy and thoughtful response to a mean-spirited photo of her posted on Reddit and you will share my view.
- I’ve learned that being mindful is becoming your own best friend: We lead such hectic lives that not only do we lose opportunities to attune to others in our lives but we also leave very little time to attune to ourselves. We operate on auto-pilot even in the most mundane of routines and the opportunity to relish this amazing gift of life is lost. Being mindful helps us live in the present moment giving us the time to get close to our inner selves allowing us to engage with ourselves and others with more authentic connection, with more reflection and consideration.
I’ve enjoyed writing this four-part series of the lessons I’ve learned, albeit dragging my heels with it, as much as you have enjoyed reading it. All these 32 lessons boil down to one thing – being mindful sharpens your focus on the present, enabling us to feel our feet as we walk through this path of life. Our lives are more enriched with the awareness of being alive, of living in the moment that you can’t help but inspire the world around you.
Thank you for being patient with me as I complete my series. I am privileged to share my journey with all of you.
32 Things I’ve Learned: Part 1
32 Things I’ve Learned: Part 2