Did you have a good day? Was it a bad day? Maybe you think being present and living in the moment involves little to no afterthought? Well The Buddha did teach qualities of presence and living within the moment. But he also was a big supporter of lessons learned, growth and understanding. These attributes require another important Buddhist concept – Reflection.
Reflection allows us to step back and see where we are/were. It allows us to maintain mindfulness and enrich our kind heart as we go through the day. When we come home in the evening, instead of collapsing in front of the TV or dropping on the bed and falling asleep, we can take a few minutes to sit quietly by ourselves. We reflect about and come to terms with what happened during the day. We look back over our day and think, “What went well today? Did I act with a kind heart?” We notice the instances when we acted kindly and rejoice. We dedicate that merit, that positive potential, for the enlightenment of ourselves and others.
In reviewing the day, we may discover that we were angry, jealous, or greedy. We didn’t realize it at the time when it was happening. But looking back over the day, we don’t feel so good about what happened. It may have been our attitude, or what we said to somebody, or how we acted. To remedy this, we develop regret and do some purification practice so we can forgive ourselves and let that negative energy go. In this way, we “clean up” emotionally and resolve any uncomfortable feelings or misdirected actions that may have arisen during the day. Having done this, our sleep will be peaceful. When you lie down, imagine the Buddha sitting on your pillow and put your head in the Buddha’s lap when you go to sleep. This is very comforting and helps you to remember the Buddha’s good qualities and frame your sleep.
Our life becomes meaningful when presence and reflection are combined. It becomes a complete practice. The important thing to remember is that reflection should never become judgement. You are not reflecting when you look at your actions and judge them harshly or shape your self perception and practice through such judgements. It’s a fine and hard line to distinguish, so think carefully on this and consider coaches helping good players become better players. Structure your reviews and reflection accordingly and with understanding.
Practicing Dharma should not be difficult or time-consuming. We always have time; there are always 24 hours in a day. If we direct our mind in a positive direction, we can transform whatever action we do into the path to enlightenment. In this way, the Dharma becomes part of our life in an organic way. Getting up in the morning is Dharma, eating and going to work is Dharma, sleeping is Dharma. By transforming our attitude in the midst of daily activities, our life becomes very meaningful.
Peace and Love, Jim