“Knowing others is wisdom; knowing yourself is enlightenment.” ~ Lao Tzu
Enlightenment is only possible now.
Transformation is instantaneous, or it’s not transformation.
What we seek eludes us. We can no more court enlightenment than will our soul mate into existence before the universe says so.
Life is paradoxically both completely out of our control and, simultaneously, completely affected by the contents of our minds and bodies, which are not separate.
Well, not completely out of control. We do get to choose our actions and reactions. We get to choose how we spend our time, money and energy.
We do not get to choose what happens to us though. We do not get to choose which thoughts and feelings will arise in our minds today. We can’t always get what we want.
The first basic law is that the nature of life is impermanent. Everything changes. Everyone dies. In the face of this truth, how can we can choose to create peace and happiness in our lives?
Through “practicing” mindfulness—which gradually shifts from separate, formal and informal practices into a new way of life—we can create a foundation of stability, equanimity, and inner peace that anchors us in the moment.
Without further ado, here are the 10 simple steps to total enlightenment. Do these practices daily and get results within two lifetimes, or your money back— guaranteed.
1. Good posture and mindful breathing.
Call it yoga if you want.
Sit up straight. Stand tall. Stretch. Take deep breaths. Balance on one leg. Bend over forward and backward. Stand on your head. Walk well. Relax your shoulders. Loosen up.
Notice your breath. Relax.
Being grateful to everyone & all experiences, I cultivate openness. I am grateful for all of my soul mates, friends, family members, acquaintances and even enemies.
I am grateful for all my experiences in this precious life, happy and sad and everything in between. I realize that without sadness, there would be no happiness.
The practice of sending love and kindness to all beings without exception.
“Peace requires us to surrender our illusions of control. We can love and care for others but we cannot possess our children, lovers, family or friends. We can assist them, pray for them, and wish them well, yet in the end, their happiness and suffering depend on their thoughts and actions, not on our wishes.” – Jack Kornfield
Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to wish. I practice metta formally and informally as often as I can. It is simply sending good wishes for myself, you and every sentient being in the universe.
May we be safe. May we be happy. May we be healthy. May we live with ease. May we be free.
4. Honoring our bodies and emotions.
“Polarity is only a problem when we buy into it. Otherwise it’s just a journey in self-discovery.” ~ Chani Nicholas
I honor my physical body as a marvelous organism that keeps me alive and walking the earth. I honor my mind which contains all my thoughts, ideas, emotions, plans, dreams, hopes, fears and memories.
I honor my body and mind by being flexible. I listen to my intuition.
5. Serving others.
I intend to be of benefit to my fellow earth dwellers. I intend to help empower the disempowered. I intend to write words that connect with people and are helpful, honest and inspiring.
I intend to seek justice in an unjust world and equality in a society so full of inequalities it’s mind boggling. I intend to generate good karma.
For me, this lately means walking, swimming in or hiking around the lake and investing time and effort in my daily hatha yoga asana practice. I enjoy moving my body.
I exercise because I want to, and I do it in the fresh air or the lake or ocean, not in some air-conditioned gym or chlorinated pool. I move because bodies are meant to move.
7. Conscious learning.
I’m not in the classroom anymore, neither a student nor a teacher. Yet I am still learning every day, all the time. My syllabus is ever evolving.
Writing (journaling, essay writing, blogging, poetry, etc.) is a mindfulness practice. I strive to write every day. To practice the “true secret,” as Natalie Goldberg teaches.
I also love reading, whether an electronic book or a good, old-fashioned page-turner. I am currently reading J. Krishnamurti, The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac and a book on practicing mindfulness with children by Thich Nhat Hanh. Reading and reflecting on what we read is a most wonderful way to learn.
8. Mindful communication.
I intend to cultivate conscious, compassionate relationships with my loved ones (and myself). I listen. I speak clearly and candidly. I do not lie or gossip. I do not speak idly or harshly.
I speak my mind when it’s necessary. I voice my ideas. I also know when to embrace silence.
9. Eating and drinking well.
I eat healthy, local, natural foods as much as possible. I drink herbal, medicinal teas. I drink pure water.
I occasionally indulge in a slice of cake, but when eating mindfully even a plain apple can become miraculously delicious.
10. Embracing the ever-changing moment.
“Enlightenment is always there. Small enlightenment will bring great enlightenment. If you breathe in and are aware that you are alive – that you can touch the miracle of being alive – then that is a kind of enlightenment.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
I am living presently. Living in this moment is really the only choice we have, therefore the best one to embrace. Living presently means experiencing each moment, each sensation, each emotion, each day for what it is, as it is. It means accepting ourselves, with no embellishments, as whole.
Do I do all these things every day? No. But the more I do them, the better I feel.
What are your daily life practices?