A Practical (and Somewhat Spiritual) Technique to Improve Your Mood

>> Sunday

I WAS WATCHING the movie Kundun, the true story of the 14th Dalai Lama. One of the things that struck me was how peaceful he was. The actor radiated a deep calm. I understand the real Dalai Lama does too, even under catastrophic circumstances such as those portrayed in the movie.

As part of their spiritual practice, the Buddhists in Tibet say prayers to bring enlightenment to all beings. They wish others well and pray that people find happiness and peace.

I have tried this and found it feels good. Wishing others well — only in my head, now, I'm not talking about saying anything aloud — feels soothing and calming. One of the most distressing experiences is being angry at people and feeling hurt by them.

The habit of wishing others well counteracts those feelings very directly. It makes sense that the practice would lead to peace and calm.

If you were in almost continual prayer or meditation, you could probably remain as tranquil as a holy person, no matter what happened. I know, I know, that's crazy, right? You've got a life to live, and you're not about to meditate your life away. But I'm thinking more along these lines: What if when you met with someone, you occasionally said something like this to yourself, "May you find happiness." (Buddhists believe the most fundamental desire of all people is to be happy.)

What would that do to your state of mind? What if while you were walking to your car to go to work, you said a silent prayer for all beings? What state would that put you in? Would you be calmer or more tolerant if someone tailgated you? I think you would. And why not? Most of the negative thoughts we think about other people are worse than worthless. Why not replace those thoughts with blessings for people?

Now when I say "blessing," I don't necessarily mean anything religious. I'm not a religious person at all. You've probably guessed that already. I just mean wishing others well. If you want to think of it as asking God for it, or directing some kind of cosmic energy, or using "mind power" or simply wishing it or intending it (and perhaps imagining or believing that your intentions have a magical effect on reality), the effect on your own body would probably the same no matter how you did it.

I've been trying out this idea, and it has some very good effects. I haven't ascended yet, but I'm working on it.

Last night a friend of mine really got on my back. We were working on a project together, but she was all over me, overseeing me and questioning me to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything or to make sure I was doing it right, and she was very intense about it.

When I got up this morning, I thought about last night and I was mad at her. And resentful. But I tried this method — I made a wish that she find happiness in her life — and immediately it changed my feelings toward her. It changed the way I saw her behavior last night.

To wish her well, I had to shift myself to a different point of view and from the new perspective, it was clear to me she meant well and that reminded me that she's a decent, kind person who has been very good to me.

It is as if the act of blessing her disengaged me or unhooked me from my self-righteousness, and I became more of the kind of person I want to be. My emphasis here is in how wishing someone well impacts the well-wisher. But it might influence the other person too. Read more about that here.

I invite you to try it. Give a silent prayer of good wishes — happiness, well-being, peace — for someone. This is good for you and it might be good for them too.

Sometimes praying for others' well-being feels like a job and you just don't feel like it. When that's the case, wish yourself well. You probably need it.

1 comments:

Andrea Runyan 4:03 PM  

I love this post!

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