People are drawn to study Eastern philosophies for a range of reasons. Some of the most compelling include increased serenity and peace of mind, the wish to become a better human being, and connecting more fully with the self. However, sometimes the practice can feel somewhat rarified and disconnected from daily life. Here are five ways to help apply and integrate approachable Buddhist principles:
1. Daily Meditation
Meditation is the cornerstone of Buddhist practice and a powerful gateway to higher consciousness. However, it requires discipline and time investment to reap its benefits. Committing to sitting for daily meditation is an extremely valuable way to live a Buddhist life. Consider creating an altar or Zen garden to serve as a meditation space.
2. Making Kindness and Compassion a Priority
Striving to be more kind and compassionate directly reflects Buddhist teachings. All beings deserve to be treated well and making this behavior a priority is an extremely valuable way to embody the Buddhist way. Wearing Buddhist-themed jewelry such as a bracelet or pendant can serve as a reminder to practice kindness and compassion throughout the day.
3. “Becoming the Watcher” of All Mind States
The human mind is often active and sometimes intrusive. Thoughts and emotions come and go like clouds in the sky. At times our minds are stormy; at other times there are just a few clouds. However, the big, bright sky is always there behind them, as is our Buddha nature. Making it a daily practice to realize that our thoughts and emotions are impermanent allows us to more fully “become the Watcher” and tap into the eternal dimension of ourselves – pure consciousness.
4. Reciting the Metta Prayer Daily
This practice is a tangible way to commit to being kind in our thoughts and intentions. Reciting this prayer radiates positive energy and good wishes to all beings, starting with ourselves and our inner circle. The essence of the prayer is “May all beings be happy, well, peaceful and free,” and it is a wonderful gift to give to the world each day.
5. Transcending the Illusion of Separation / Remembering We are all One
The illusory world can trick us into believing that we are separate from one another; this, in turn, breeds fear, mistrust, and competition. However, Buddhism reminds us of the truth: that we are all facets of One consciousness. To hurt another would be like hurting ourselves. Make it a daily practice to see the world and other beings in this way. Know that there is only infinite Oneness, and meet each person as yourself.