How To Apply The Four Noble Truths For A Better Life

How To Apply The Four Noble Truths For A Better Life

The Four Noble Truths represent the Buddha’s fundamental teaching that liberates humans from suffering. These four truths can be summarized as follows:

  1. Life Inherently Contains Suffering And Struggle

Life involves struggle, frustration and suffering in both obvious and subtle forms. Even when things appear peaceful externally, we do not experience permanent satisfaction in anything but may feel an undercurrent of internal anxiety and uncertainty. This is the inherent problem of existence.

  1. Craving Is The Cause Of Suffering

The cause of suffering is craving that stems from ignorance. We suffer because we tend to blame our difficulties on things outside ourselves. We resist the truth that life is impermanent and change is constant – instead, we grow frustrated when the world doesn’t behave the way we think it should and life doesn’t conform to our expectations. We try to push away some things while grasping for others. This process of attachment and resistance stems from our desire for life to be different than it is and causes suffering.

  1. Suffering Stops When Craving Ends

Since we are ultimately the ones that cause our own suffering by perpetuating the cycle of craving and resistance, we also have the power to end our suffering. Even when life is unpredictable and impermanent, we can change the way we respond to it. By awakening to the true nature of our timeless souls, we can end the chase after external satisfaction and permanence, and so end the suffering. In the awakened mind, it is not the suffering that ceases, but the craving.

  1. There’s A Path Out Of Suffering

By embracing the path of right living, we can awaken to our Higher nature. This path involves ethical living, developing wisdom and discernment, and adhering to a personal practice that supports our emerging consciousness. This personal journey of awakening frees us from suffering and ultimately leads to enlightenment.

Most of us struggle with the practical application of these Four Noble Truths. Our human tendency is to avoid all pain and suffering, which only perpetuates our struggle.

Instead, I suggest that we look at the Four Noble Truths as recommendations for right living; guidelines to help us navigate life’s challenges more effectively. By presenting the Four Noble Truths as practical guidelines for living, they become powerful tools to guide our responses to life.

I propose using the acronym AREA to remember the structure of the Four Noble Truths in practical ways: Accept Life As Is, Release Reactivity, End Grasping, and Act Appropriately.

When we respond to these Four Noble Truths in appropriate ways, they will indeed expand our inner area of spaciousness and peace, and ultimately expand the area or scope of our True nature.

  1. Accept Life As Is

When we allow conscious awareness to infuse everything we do, we become more tolerant. We no longer interpret everything that does not go our way as a personalized attack on our ego selves; instead, we recognize it for simply being a part of life. When we experience a setback, we can see it as an opportunity for learning and growth; not as something unfair to be judged or avoided.

The Course in Miracles teaches that it is the meaning or interpretation we give to things, that makes them appear as good or bad; in truth, it simply is a part of life. Embracing the very impermanence of life can foster in us a deeper appreciation for the fleeting and precious nature of each moment.

  1. Release Reactivity

Human neurobiology makes it virtually impossible for us to constantly maintain a state of inner equilibrium without spiritual awareness. Our senses are continuously providing feedback through physical symptoms, emotions, thoughts and feelings. Equilibrium requires us to be with reactivity in a different way: learning how to respond instead of to react. We stop the cycle of reactivity by understanding that sensory feedback loops are valuable messages to respond to; not interference to react to, judge, resist or avoid.

When we experience physical symptoms or pain, our innate reactivity may prompt us to either resist the symptoms with medication or to grasp for some miracle cure outside of ourselves. Instead, perhaps it would be more meaningful to first dialogue with the symptoms for a deepened understanding of what they’re trying to tell us; and once we understand the deeper message, we’ll be able to respond appropriately so the messenger can be released. This process of responding instead of reacting allows us to create more inner space for growth in consciousness.

  1. End Grasping

It is essential to learn how to respond to life’s difficulties with an open mind, free from the conditioned behaviors of judgment, fear or craving. This inner attitude of non-attachment frees us from the endless cycles of attachment and aversion to offer us genuine freedom and inner peace instead. The Sedona Method puts it this way: “Embrace that which you resist, and surrender that to which you cling.”

Relinquishing our positionalities rewards us with freedom from craving. Positionalities are in truth nothing other than learned behaviors and limiting beliefs, so relinquishing them truly opens up space for us to thrive.

  1. Act Appropriately

In shamanic traditions, appropriate action is referred to as “right living.” Appropriate action requires conscious awareness of our inner motives, beliefs and reactions. It nurtures the development of the observer/witness, or our Soul self. It is in aligning with this Higher aspect of being, that we are transformed to live from our full potential.

The more we fine-tune our responses to life appropriately reflect our Higher nature, the more inner freedom, peace and joy we experience. This is the core of all personal growth. Creating a path of appropriate action nourishes us at all levels and honors our true purpose in life – the embodiment of our Higher nature.

Using AREA can serve as a practical reminder to keep us aligned with the Four Noble Truths. The result is more inner peace, harmony and joy.

About the author

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

Living With Eyes Wide Open Now

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“Without order, nothing can exist. Without chaos, nothing can evolve.” — Oscar Wilde

Amid these chaotic times, we are seeing a global awakening to higher consciousness. This process of emerging inner awareness and spiritual yearning is opening our eyes to new ways of being, removing the blindness that kept us in the tyranny of egos run amuck.

Yet it begs the question: after awakening, then what? In Buddhist philosophy there is a saying: “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water; after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”  

In other words, awakening to higher consciousness does not exempt us from doing the work; it changes the consciousness we bring to the task. We learn to live with the eyes of our consciousness wide open. There is no magical point of arrival; it is a lifelong process that continues as long as we live in physical bodies.

We cannot download awakening, we become it. We do not buy it somewhere by paying for some blessing by an enlightened being; we cultivate awakened spiritual awareness within by finding and aligning with truth. We nurture awakened consciousness by question those aspects of our self that mitigate against it.

In the process, we discover how wise action in each present moment can change the next. We learn how, by staying present to the full triumph and catastrophe of human experience, we can recalibrate and shape the course of history rather than being shaped by it.

We’re living at a historical crossroad of monumental proportions. To choose well we need to harness our emerging consciousness to engage courageous thought and nurture fresh perspectives; not to stifle debate and feed dissent.

Living with eyes wide open enables us to affirm the healing radiance and power of the human spirit because we remember who we really are – Divine in origin, even as we travel along this human journey.

The power of our true nature cannot be diminished by tyranny or lies; it cannot be tarnished by manipulation or fear. It is unassailable. We need to remember this.

The journey of global awakening is a long and winding one. This is not a time to go back to sleep!

Compassion asks us to recognize that each soul we meet along the way, is awakening at their own pace and level. Courage is needed to stay the course. Likewise, we need a sense of humor. We have to discern when to speak up and when to keep our advice for a more propitious time.

Besides birth and death, no outcome is assured in life. That can be a very good thing!

We have incredible creative ability and free will to use our awakened consciousness for good, so let’s not settle into smug complacency. None of us have arrived yet, no matter how awake and enlightened we may appear. Life is a journey and there is no point of arrival until we complete the course.

There is much we can do to enhance the process of staying awake.

We can recognize our individual limits and pace ourselves for the duration. Let’s take care of our physical vehicles and lean into the spiritual Life Force that sustains us.

And there’s more: Let’s take full responsibility for living from our inner truth and values. Let’s fine-tune our moral compass, so it can lead us toward truth. Let’s stay open to learning, changing and becoming more awake with each passing day. Let’s discard the old and embrace the call to evolve!

Each one of us is here to learn, grow and contribute to the process of life. We can choose to embrace the opportunities embedded in every challenge, instead of resisting the call to growth. I love the way Richard Moss puts it in his book The Black Butterfly: An Invitation to Radical Aliveness, ”The very forces that crush people can become profound radiance in an individual who no longer is resisting or attempting to modify life.”

By not reflexively resisting dissonant ideas and concepts, we can discover nuggets of gold everywhere. We can use our individual sovereignty to find clarity by processing external evidence through our innate wisdom and discernment. We can honor our individual truth without hating or trashing the truth of others, understanding that the higher the truth we abide by, the more unity we will experience with others.

There is no return to some romantic past. As Ken Wilber puts it in A Brief History Of Everything, our tendency to rewrite history as a romantic fairytale, is just a dream to pacify our fears of the unknown future.

Instead of looking for a place to return to, let’s focus our vision to create a bright future as our living legacy for future generations on this planet. Finding a new way forward requires courage, audacity and faith, yet we can do it.

You and I were born for this time. We have been preparing for it all along, and now the time is here.  Gather yourself!  Let go of what no longer serves and harness your courage!  Opportunity is calling. This could be a very good time for all of us!

About the Author

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

Losing It? Here’s How to Handle Reactivity

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Life as we knew it, is going through some enormous shifts at every level. This can be uncomfortable, even scary, especially when we focus our attention on external matters.

Fortunately, the external world is the world of effects; all true change happens from the non-physical Field of energy. As awakened beings, we have the ability to direct our focus to this unified, benevolent Force Field and to let our alignment serve as a conduit for the flow of Life Force to create optimal outcomes in the world around us.

This is our privilege and our mandate. Living as awakened beings asks us to recognize that we are the culture carriers of an emerging new world, no matter how unimportant we may seem in the larger scheme of things.

The currency of this emerging new world is not money, but consciousness. It is the level of consciousness we embody, that will enable us to create optimal outcomes for ourselves, our loved ones and the future. The higher our embodied level of consciousness, the higher the outcomes we can create.

Each moment of each day, we contribute to the field of consciousness, from where possibilities and probabilities can emerge when critical mass is reached.

We can contribute to the creation of optimal realities only to the extent we embody awakened consciousness. None of us can create outcomes at levels higher than our embodied consciousness.

That means we need to discipline our thoughts, for our thoughts direct the energy flow. All creative activity starts with this inner work because as within, so without. We cannot create outside of ourselves that which we are not in alignment with.

It reminds me of a talk the Dalai Lama gave about world peace, and someone questioned how we could ever accomplish world peace with so much conflict around us. The Dalai Lama’s response was: “Today, you can have peace in the world if you commit to become the peace you seek in the world. If each one of you reaches out with forgiveness and compassion to the one person you react to the most; the one person you most judge, hate or despise, you will have laid a stone on the path of world peace.“

Peace starts with each one of us. And if we wish to build a more peaceful world, we need to learn how to control our reactivity.

Everyone experiences different triggers: for some it is the news, for others politics, or the fear of what could happen, or the demands of others, or frustration over external setbacks or events. You may simply be aware of having a hair-trigger anger or impatience, which represents your individual reactivity to triggers.

Once you recognize the triggers that get to you, you can learn to use them as opportunities for awakening more fully and disciplining your mind.

Your state of consciousness is your most valuable asset in awakening. By becoming conscious of your specific reactivity triggers, you can use those triggers to awaken more fully instead of feeding the ego with reactivity. You can use every triggering situation as part of your spiritual practice to move deeper into Truth.

Most of us don’t like conflict. We seek harmony and when there are too many conflicting triggers around, we ‘lose’ it. Yet dissonance is an integral part of life; the key to inner peace lies not in trying to avoid triggers, but in learning to use them as a way to become more conscious, more awake and more aware.

Every trigger in your life – annoying people, political infighting, COVID constraints, and even the nagging of your children or the traffic noises, offer you lessons in disguise. Instead of feeding the ego with reactivity, you can take advantage of each trigger as an opportunity for growth.

External situations teach us to focus on the one thing that matters: inner peace. Amid outer clamor and drama, we can move our awareness past the ego’s resistance and reactivity to focus on the deep inner peace at the center of everything. This is our primary work as awakened beings; when we no longer feed ego reactivity, we become instruments for peace on earth.

We transform our own reactivity with conscious awareness, awakened choice and disciplined repetition.

As soon as you recognize a trigger arising, you are already in the driver seat. You remember that you have a choice. You can choose to react or you can shift your focus to the observer within, where Eternal peace prevails.

When you recognize anger or frustration arising within, choose to focus not on resisting the present moment or reacting to it. Instead, consciously move your awareness within to find the presence of Eternal Peace beneath the surface there.

If you ‘lose it’ emotionally and lash out or react, it simply means that you momentarily lost conscious awareness and became unconscious.

When you first set about working on reactivity, you may lose it and only recognize that you had become reactive after it happens. Disciplined awareness will help you to stay conscious in the midst of triggers, and you will increasingly maintain awareness that you can choose how to respond.

Do not be discouraged when you lose it and become unconscious; some of our unconscious behaviors have been ingrained for lifetimes. This is why it is so difficult for societies to acknowledge their shadow and to work with it.

By noticing how we have turned away from truth and become unconscious, we may experience guilt, shame or fear, which simply adds another of layer of reactivity to the mix. And when we project that emotion outward because it is too uncomfortable to face, we not only feed the ego instead of the soul; we feed divisiveness and become a part of the problem.

Staying conscious requires you to have compassion for yourself. Recognize that when you choose to become spiritually unconscious, you are feeding the ego with reactivity and harming yourself. Compassion allows you to simply acknowledge when you fall short, and resolve to remain fully conscious the next time around.

Self-discipline brings incremental empowerment. The next time a trigger arises, you may notice that you remained aware for a longer time before losing it. By recognizing that you lost it, you are increasing your awareness. Each time you are triggered, your growing awareness empowers you to stay alert so you do go unconscious and feed the ego with reactivity.

Cultivating conscious awareness is the key to moving through the gamut of daily triggers without losing your peace or feeding the ego. Stabilize your consciousness in your inner observer awareness; it will remind you that every trigger offers you a choice. By choosing to align with Higher awareness within, you will gradually detach from the tyranny of the ego and remain at peace.

 About the Author

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

How to Live With Courage: Notes From My Personal Playbook

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When we droop with fatigue, overwhelmed by the relentless pace of change, yet yearning for a better life, it is helpful to turn back to basics – hopefully a little wiser. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the heads up on a few things we may encounter along the way?

I sure could have used a few pointers along the way to smooth out the kinks! However, a huge range of life experience taught me some valuable lessons, and I am happy to share them. Here are eight insights from my personal playbook on surviving in this world of marvel and change. May it encourage, embolden and inspire you!

  1. You will pass from this life leaving an unfinished To Do list behind.

Shocking, isn’t it – and that despite your very best efforts every day! Today more than ever, there’s no reason to assume any fit between demands on your time – all the things you  like to do or feel you ought to do – and the amount of time available. Thanks to capitalism, technology and human ambition, these demands keep increasing, while your capacities remain largely fixed. It follows that the attempt to clean up your To Do list is doomed.

The upside is that you need not berate yourself for failing to do it all, since doing it all is structurally impossible. The only viable solution is to make a shift: from a stressed-out rat race trying not to neglect anything, to a life intentionally lived and consciously choosing what to neglect in favor of what matters most.

  1. When stumped by a life choice, choose enlargement over happiness.

Jungian therapist James Hollis said that major personal decisions should be made not by asking, “Will this make me happy?” but “Will this choice enlarge me or diminish me?” We’re usually terrible at predicting what will make us happy: the issue quickly gets bogged down in our narrow preferences for security and control. Yet choosing enlargement elicits a deeper, intuitive response. You tend to know when leaving or staying in a relationship or a job, even though it might bring short-term security, would mean cheating yourself of growth.

  1. The capacity to tolerate minor discomfort is a superpower.

It’s shocking to realize how readily we set aside even our greatest ambitions in life, merely to avoid any level of unpleasantness. You already know it won’t kill you to endure the mild agitation of getting back to work on an important project, initiating a difficult conversation with someone, asking somebody out, committing to a workout routine, or checking your bank balance – yet you can waste years in avoidance! This is exactly why social media platforms flourish: they provide an instant, compelling distraction from reality where we can escape to at the first hint of unease.

Instead, you can truly empower yourself by gradually increasing your capacity for discomfort, similar to doing weight training. When you expect an action to bring up feelings of irritability, anxiety or boredom, you can stick to your commitment; let the feelings arise and fade while doing the right action anyway. Once you experience the rewards of tolerating discomfort, it will reinforce this path of walking straight ahead as a more appealing way to live.

  1. The advice you don’t want to hear is usually the advice you need.

I spent years fixating on becoming hyper-productive before I finally started wondering why I was staking so much of my self-worth on my productivity levels. What I needed wasn’t another personal goal, but asking more uncomfortable questions instead.

Yes, it isn’t fun to confront whatever emotional experiences you’re avoiding – if it were fun, you wouldn’t avoid them – so any advice that could really help is likely to make you uncomfortable, too. And that is okay! If you can muster up the courage to go where you really don’t want to, you may just break through to a deeper level of personal truth.

Be especially wary of celebrities offering advice in public forums: many of them pursue fame to fill an inner void, which tends not to work – so they are likely to be more troubled than you are and by the time you buy their snake oil, they’d have already moved on to the next gig.

Here is a bit of reverse psychology that does work: ask yourself what kind of practices strike you as intolerably cheesy or self-indulgent. Is it a gratitude journal, mindfulness meditation, or seeing a therapist? If you feel resistance rising, it might well mean that the very issue your ego is resisting, is the one worth pursuing.

  1. The future will never provide the reassurance you seek from it.

As the ancient Greek and Roman Stoics understood, much of our suffering arises from attempting to control what is not in our control. And the main thing we try but fail to control is the future. We want to know, from our vantage point in the present, that things will be OK later on. Yet we never can!

It’s wrong to say we live in especially uncertain times. The future is always uncertain; we’re simply very aware of it in current times.

No amount of fretting will ever alter this truth. Accept that certainty and it will set you free.

While we live in uncertain times, it is still useful to make plans. Make your plans with the awareness that a plan is only ever a present-moment statement of intent, not a lasso thrown around the future to bring it under control. The spiritual teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti said his secret for peace was simple: “I don’t mind what happens.” That does absolve you from trying to make life better for yourself or others. It just means not living each day anxiously braced to see if things work out as you hoped.

  1. The solution to imposter syndrome is to see that you are one.

In the current era of incompetent leadership, it is not possible to ignore corrupt governments and egocentric self-indulgence amid global threats of destruction to the point of extinction. Yet the way forward lies neither in complaining nor in passively accepting that we are all doomed.

I believe the answer lies in recognizing that you – unconfident, self-conscious, insecure, and all-too-aware-of-your-flaws – you potentially have as much to contribute to your field and to the world as anyone else.

Humanity is divided into two: on the one hand, those who are improvising their way through life, patching solutions together and putting out fires as they go, but deluding themselves by arguing for their limitations; and on the other, those doing exactly the same, except that they know it. It’s infinitely better to apply yourself and accept your failures and successes both as intrinsic parts of life.

Remember, the reason you can’t hear other people’s inner monologues of self-doubt is not because they don’t have them. It’s simply because you only have access to your own mind!

  1. Selflessness is overrated.

We respectable types, and women especially, are raised to think a life well spent means helping others – and plenty of self-help gurus stand ready to affirm for a price that generosity and sacrifice are the way to happiness. There’s truth here, but it generally gets tangled up with exploitation of deep-seated issues of guilt and self-esteem.

If you think you should be doing more, that’s probably a sign that you should direct more energy toward your true passions and ambitions. As Buddhist teacher Susan Piver said, it feels radical to ask how we’d enjoy spending an hour or day of discretionary time – yet the irony is that you don’t actually benefit anyone else by suppressing your true passions anyway.  Instead of being disciplined about hating on yourself to get things done, try being disciplined about remaining close to what brings you joy. It takes a lot of courage, actually.

  1. Know when to move on.

And then, finally, there’s knowing when something that meant a great deal to you has reached its natural endpoint. All things in life come to an end, both the good and the bad. Your most empowering response is not to bewail the ending or unfairness of it all, or to hang on for dear life until your claw marks scar the very thing you loved most as life pulls it away from you. Your most creative choice in the face of endings, is to let go and to turn to what is next. The rest of life awaits, both for you and for me!

About the author

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

How to Overcome Difficult Emotions With Self-Compassion

How to Overcome Difficult Emotions With Self-Compassion

Self-compassion is a powerful antidote to difficult emotions such as anxiety and shame. It is a portable form of therapy that can be applied anywhere.

Many people think of self-compassion as a weak trait and shun it in their effort to act tough. And yet, self-compassion is hugely important to help us learn and grow.

It allows us to become more resilient because we accept the inherent possibility of both failure and success in all areas of life, instead of resisting it. Through the lens of self-compassion, we recognize that both failure and success are part of the process of life. Instead of hardening our stance in the face of setbacks, this recognition helps us to accept ourselves and our best effort as good enough in each moment. Even when we fail, self-compassion gives us the courage to try again.

The aspect of ourselves that judges, blames or shames ourselves or others, will be the slowest in evolving. Our least evolved parts are usually stuck in basic survival instincts, including excessive self-criticism, fear, hatred and shame.

By healing this within us, we are able to fully evolve.

Whenever we feel threatened by something outside ourselves, we automatically revert back to the primal fight/freeze/flight response for protection and safety. We lash out, self-isolate or avoid confrontation instead of learning how to effectively deal with challenges.

When danger is experienced on the inside, we go a step further: we internalize the fight/freeze/flight response and instead judge, blame or abandon ourselves. We devolve toward self-criticism, isolation and stuckness – the unholy trinity of woundedness.

A good case in point is the anxiety that many people experience around public speaking. According to psychologist and mindfulness practitioner Dr. Chris Germer, a public speaking anxiety is not an anxiety disorder; it is a shame disorder. At the root of the anxiety that causes us to fear failure or to choke up, lies deep shame.

When we internalize our shame, we create anxiety.

Self-compassion dissolves this excessive shame and self-criticism to bring balance thru self-love. In essence, the practice of self-compassion allows us to hold ourselves in the midst of shame, acknowledging that we are all imperfect beings and embracing ourselves nonetheless.

Many of us extend compassion toward others, yet have difficulty in holding compassion toward ourselves. We can be compassionate to others because we don’t feel immediately threatened by their challenges.

And yet, healthy self-compassion is a necessary prerequisite to master before we can offer true compassion to others.

Why is it so difficult for us to develop self-compassion?

Self-compassion is not our first response at the instinctual level of survival; it is a skill we need to develop from a spiritual perspective if we wish to break free from living at basic levels of survival and evolve into our fullest potential. Old conditioning of self-judgment, unworthiness and shame also make it difficult for us to practice self-compassion and block our growth. To continue evolving, it becomes essential for us to address these emotions.

Self-compassion can be seen as a melting of the heart in the face of difficulty – stepping out of judgment and into compassion devoid of judgment for ourselves or others. It allows the lower, denser emotions to dissolve in the higher frequencies of compassion and love.

When the heart starts to soften around an issue, we will re-experience some of the same emotions previously triggered by conditions: shame, guilt, pain, grief, disappointment and more. And yet, as we learn how to hold that space of compassion for ourselves, we become strong enough to hold our pain as well. By becoming present and acknowledging these buried emotions, they can finally dissolve so we can let go of woundedness in our lives.

Self-compassion gives us the capacity to hold ourselves in love while we process old pain differently and resolve it, instead of staying stuck in a dysfunctional coping mechanism. This practice allows us to become stronger and more resilient, and we grow in grace.

Even as life continues to offer us emotional triggers, our growing ability for self-compassion and understanding empowers us to hold that safe space of compassion for ourselves. It allows us to see ourselves as a work in process, holding our struggles and the messiness of our lives in compassion. I believe this is what pioneering psychologist Carl Rogers meant when he said: “When I accept myself just as I am, I can begin to change.”

Self-compassion becomes easier with practice. It develops our ability to extend compassion and forgiveness to all forms of life, and to offer more life-expanding love to others. Ultimately, it connects us intimately to the abundantly rich wellspring life.

Self-compassion is not self-indulgence; it means treating ourselves with the same care, love and support we would give another.

This inner stance allows us to ask ourselves what we need and then giving that to ourselves. It allows us to recognize that all people are imperfect – including us – and to admit that in ourselves at the very moment we feel we’re failing. It gives us the grace to accept what is instead of getting stuck in resistance and denial.

At the core of self-compassion lies mindfulness – observing things as they happen and being willing to stay present with difficult emotions. Mindfulness is a wonderful practice because it teaches us how to step out of the drama and practice compassion toward ourselves and all sentient beings.

Lasting transformation comes not from just understanding the process of self-compassion, but putting it into practice as a personal way of living.

Here are a few guidelines to help you live from a place of self-compassion:

  • When you find yourself failing or suffering, bring mindfulness to it – acknowledge that you are struggling to validate yourself.
  • Remind yourself of the common humanity of the situation – this is not just you; it is part of all of life. Struggle is a part of life.
  • Speak some words of kindness to yourself; comfort yourself and give yourself the encouragement that you would give your best friend.
  • Cultivate the habit of practicing lovingkindness to yourself and all sentient beings in all circumstances – especially the challenging ones! An excellent place to start is with the Buddhist Lovingkindness prayer, one version of which you can find at Buddhagroove.
  • Commit to a daily practice of self-compassion. In the flow of life, a self-compassionate response means honoring the pain of seeing what we’ve done; recognize difficult situations as areas in need of healing, acknowledging the experience and its related shame in love, and then opening our hearts with forgiveness and compassion in the midst of shame.

When more and more people commit to practicing self-compassion, we create a culture of kindness in which everyone can heal and grow. Together, we can become a force for healing in a broken world.

About the Author

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

How To Live A Life Without Regrets

How To Live A Life Without Regrets

While most of us aspire to live a life we won’t regret, many do express regrets at the end of life. If we could address the things we may regret now, we can focus on living the remainder of our lives with greater satisfaction.

I believe that regrets really stem from a lack of courage. We tend to regret the thing we did or did not do, because we lacked the courage to do it. We may have been too afraid of consequences, or the unknown, or what others may think. And so we settled for less, compromising our potential to live small lives of quiet desperation, as Henry Thoreau said, dying with our song still unsung within.

Regret-free living takes courage: it is as simple and as difficult as that.

Our lives are shaped by either courage or by fear. When we live a live true to ourselves, there will be others who judge us; voices that criticize us for stepping out of the box or label us as crazy. Fear of this dissonance often holds us back. To live fully and without regrets, we need the courage to follow our hearts, even when others may not understand our choices.

In fact, it is none of their business! Each one of us is fully responsible for our own lives and choices. When we choose to go beyond the comfort zone of the collective in order to grow and realize our full potential, that is a courageous decision that deserves support, not criticism!

It is this courageous process of stretching that develops elastic in our souls so we can extend further, believe more, and accomplish better outcomes. Courage to commit to our unfolding path is essential for a satisfying life. And nobody knows better than you what that means!

We need courage to break with norms, to expand beyond the confines of our tribe, and to let go of external expectations and pressures. Courage empowers us to fully live from our hearts, and to stay in touch with our true compass and purpose.

People at the end of life can teach us valuable lessons about living from their perspective at the end of the road. Bronnie Ware, an Australian caregiver who worked in hospice care, identified five core regrets among dying patients which can teach us a lot about living well.

  1. Not staying true to self

Look at a person disempowered and miserable about their life circumstances, and you will most likely find someone who never had the courage to break away from dysfunctional family dynamics. And if we lack the courage to make that primary break away from dysfunctional caregivers, we will end up staying put in jobs we dislike, putting up with abuse and lack of respect in relationships; we will ultimately abandon the opportunity to fulfill the purpose of our lives. To break free from any dysfunction, the discomfort of doing what is needed to be true to oneself must always outweigh the illusionary comfort of avoiding risk.

2. I wish I had not worked so much

People who work all the time develop no identity outside of work. Workaholics have no time to develop in other areas of their lives and when their work drops away, they have nothing else left. Developing healthy interests outside of work allows us to refresh ourselves; it also brings renewed energy to our work lives. Finding that space outside of work is an essential, enriching aspect of life often seen only seen in hindsight.

Deriving status and identity from our work can trap us into a role defined by society rather than by our individual truth. My mother was convinced that I should become an actuary – can you imagine how miserable I would have been in a profession that would have locked me into my left brain?? Another trap is buying into the scarcity thinking of the ego and never feeling as if we have enough money to follow our dreams or step away from a job we despise. Do you have the courage to let go of what does not bring you joy, so you can move toward what does?

3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings

Many dying people long to express their feelings to loved ones, yet never had the courage to do so. Fear held them back. They were crippled by fear of rejection, fear of being misunderstood, or fear of being vulnerable…. The list goes on. We need courage to speak our truth – and when we do, we free ourselves to live from our core truth, regardless of how others may react. Having the courage to be honest with oneself, is vastly more important that how others receive it because it gives expression to our vital life force. Suppressing our truth ultimately suppresses our life force.

Expressing our truth in a compassionate and kind way, creates space for healing and compassion. We don’t have to make another wrong just for us to be heard. We simply need to express our truth – not for justification or to attack others, but for our own healing. Everyone is at a different place on their journey; at times, it may be helpful to write out feelings to another because it allows us to distill our truth while giving others the opportunity to revisit our expression when they are ready.

Expressing ourselves also requires us to become good listeners, because communication is a two-way street. Our honesty and vulnerability can allow others to feel safe enough to express their feelings. Being present with others in a kind, non-judgmental way allows them to share without fear. Can we listen deeply to the people in our lives? Can we find the courage to say the things that need to be said?

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with friends more

At the end of life, memories of happy times and friendships enrich one’s life. And yet, most people’s lives start narrowing down after kids leave home. The comfort of confining themselves to the same routines, friends and circles can lead to stagnation. Stepping out of earlier roles such as parenting can be a stepping-stone toward broadening relationships and connections, rather than narrowing them. If we expand our friendship circles throughout life, we can offer enrichment to one another even as old friends and relatives drop away.

Sometimes, the desire to maintain a safe personal comfort zone prevents people from getting involved in the messy business of true connectivity. I have seen people withdraw from opportunities to help because seeing another in a difficult situation, made them feel too uncomfortable with their own tenuous sense of stability. Life is messy and true connectivity requires the willingness to get one’s hands dirty! True joy is found in real life connections; not on social media or from the comfort of our easy chairs. When we have the courage to connect with people face to face, we ultimately experience enrichment and joy.

5. I wish I had let myself be happier

This regret stems from not understanding that happiness is a choice. We often look for happiness outside ourselves with self-imposed conditions: if I lose 10 pounds I will be happier; if I could just find the right partner, or make enough money, I’ll be happy. The truth is that happiness is a choice. It is an empowering internal decision that we can make regardless of where we’re at in life!

When we choose to honor the truth of our Being, we will find happiness.

We are in this life for a limited time only. This life is going to end, and it is the only life we will ever get to live as these unique beings that we are. This life is precious and sacred: how can we then live to make it really count?

Our greatest joy, highest power and ultimate fulfillment lies in facing the fears that hold us back. We can muster our courage and live from the truth in our hearts. Imagine how much we lose out on while operating from fear and other people’s rules!

To live a courageous life, we’ve got to stretch in ways that may be uncomfortable. Perhaps you’ve heard this from a fitness trainer or yoga teacher, because it’s true in all areas of life: we need to stretch to grow, improve and get strong. And growing in courage means taking risks in the very areas where we feel afraid.

Everyone already has times in life when they’ve been courageous. You may have displayed great courage in a relationship or a job. Perhaps you didn’t recognize it as courage at the time; you were merely doing what had to be done. Yet in every situation where your acted courageously, you valued the discomfort of change more than staying in the comfort of the status quo. You might have been terrified, but you did it!

You can take courageous action again. One you know what motivates you, you can do it again. Let your core values motivate your courageous actions. Practice letting your courage ripple out into more and more areas of your life, and you will live a life without regrets.

About the Author

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.