There is a lot to think about right now. I still continue to work on being healthy, make good choices, supporting my emotional health… And there is a lot going on externally. The needs and challenges of parenting, of marriage. My relationships with my parents, my brother, my family members… Then there are the social issues that surround me. The financial crisis, ongoing several years now and no sign of improvement. The violence in our communities, gun violence, violence against women, ingrained racism, classism. Obesity and illness due to what I believe is mass depression and despair, and an unhealthy system. Lack of quality medical care. The destruction of the environment and blindness to the injustices in the world, committed against the poor and disenfranchised. Our society’s addiction to media and substances like food, caffeine, alcohol, prescription drugs, narcotics. It spirals out and out in a dark and loping cyclone, picking up speed and wobbling its way toward melt down.
But there is beauty and peace within, at least that is the goal. If I can create a sense of balance and peace in my heart, in my home, then my family can be part of the smaller but more enduring cycle of hope, love, resilience and compassion. But can I still my monkey-mind long enough to develop those skills? Am I so addicted to the escape of television that I cannot turn off the media box and go inward to listen to my inner master?
I believe there are steps toward this sort of self-realization and I am going to begin a list now and see if I can develop it and myself toward this goal. Even if I can’t have the effect on the world that I believe awakened people have, there are benefits: Teaching my daughter how to live in a chaotic world with a calm heart. Celebrating the joy and love in my marriage and enhacing the cooperation and partnership that allows us to be responsive to each other and the world around us, rather than reactive. Raising my children to be equipped to show and teach others that there is a different world. And simply enjoying the human experience as much as possible without harming anyone or myself.
1. Calm my space. Declutter and keep things simple and clear to make space for creativity and healthy daily functioning.
2. Meditate. Spend some time each day doing nothing and letting the dust settle so the true thoughts can come through. Spend some time alone.
3. Journal so there can be a progressive narrative of growth and ideas, and to let the blather out in a way that does not upset, distract and burden other people.
4. Be kind to others. Use words carefully. Be considerate. Develop compassion. Give charity.
5. Spend time in nature. Observe the amazing wonder of the outdoors.
6. Pray, in any way that makes sense. Do this with some regularity, and don’t always just ask for something. Have conversations with G-d.
7. Seek community. Find ways to spend time with others who share your values. Think of others when you are not together. Write letters, have phone dates. Gather often.
8. Be creative. Find opportunities to express yourself and create opportunities to create.
9. Recycle, reuse and reduce consumption. Show compassion to the environment and treat it as a living organism.
10. Act mindfully. Do the things you have to do, fully present.
11. Cry whenever you need to. Laugh every day. Let your emotions out in a healthy way.
12. Honor the children in your life. Listen to them, consider them and teach them. See in them whole beings with the same rights and integrity as the best adults you know.
13. Eat mindfully. Nourish your body so it can be energized and fully activiated.
14. Move your body every day. Do things with your movement, like work, play, creation, travel. Put your energy to good use.
That’s all! The simplest and most challenging list I have every made.