What a bizarre seven weeks this has been! I’ve attempted to be as honest and plain spoken about my experiences as possible, and hopefully at least some of you found my seven week project entertaining if not enlightening. “Everyday Dharma: Seven Weeks to Finding the Buddha in You” by Lama Willa Miller packs a lot of information into seven easily digestible weeks. I admitted to a little rushing on my part, and I would not encourage it for others who may decide to pick up Lama Willa’s book. When everything is said and done, you can easily progress through the book in seven weeks, but to truly learn the lessons can take a lifetime. So do as I say, not as I do if you give it a try. And if some of you guys do give it a try, email me and let me know how it goes!
However, now that my seven week journey is behind me, what did I learn from this that I still carry with me? For your convenience, here’s my list:
One, meditating is hard. Hard, hard, hard. Your body fights sitting still, your mind rushes with memories and thoughts, and it doesn’t get easier quickly. At least in my case. No amount of statues or candles to look at, mental visualizations, or words said aloud make it any easier. At this point I meditate with my eyes open staring at a blank wall, and a good meditation session is five minutes, with the first two being me doing nothing but thinking “in” when I breathe in and “out” when I breathe out, all the while pulling my brain on track. I can’t say that I still meditate daily like I did when I was working my way through the book, but I still manage to make attempts regularly, probably three times a week.
Two, saying things out loud makes me feel dorky. Even when I’m by myself. No matter how beautiful or heart felt the prayer, or whatever is, I feel stupid. First thing I did when I completed this book was to stop saying anything when I attempted to meditate.
Three, people don’t spend enough time thinking about things. At least not the important things. Sure, I think about our finances, our social calendar, etc. and those things seem important, but they really aren’t. They’re parts of the big things, the things we should really think about. Everyday now I try to think about who I want to be and what I want to do and regardless of how small the action is, I try my hardest to do things that support my beliefs. Whether it’s approaching my job with a fresh focus of realizing how many people’s days I make easier by being at the office and doing my job, or taking the time to cook dinner for friends, these two things are important, and by luck, things like that help with the less important parts. If you take a moment to think about it, the ripple of the actions we take go further than we originally thought.
Four, Buddhism is an amazingly approachable and adaptable faith. For all of its seemingly exotic trappings, at it’s core it is very simple. No wonder why I find more and more people who include Buddhism in their spiritual practices!
Five, writing about all of this was WAY harder than I imagined it would be when I decided to give this a go. Seriously. Several times while attempting to write about my week I yearned for the days of unreadable legislation!
There you have it! Before you ask, I have no idea what I’m going to do next. I have a few ideas kicking around that would be educational for me and entertaining for you guys, but much of it depends on my health and these northeastern winters. However, do not despair for there will be more weird adventures on the horizon.
I’d like to take a minute to extend many, many expressions of gratitude to Xochi Adame, publicist extraordinaire for Quest Books, and Lama Willa Miller, an amazingly generous and patient author who put up with 7 weeks of my ramblings. Thank you both so very much! Also, remember that you have the opportunity to and talk with Lama Willa Miller at the September 11, 2010 Magical Buffet of Authors!