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It goes something like this;
If you are involved in an inter-religion soccer competition and you have the choice, challenge the Buddhists first, they are the ones most likely to offer you the victory. Intended as a joke it conveys a misunderstanding that suggests that they are the easy beats and, in some way, soft and weak. This misapprehension needs to be addressed so a more accurate understanding that Buddhism is tough may be recognized. This toughness is based squarely on the teachings that prescribe the most searing of investigations into self, framed in the unrelenting reality of the situation of our lives.
The Buddhist study demonstrates what at times appears to be contradictory lessons. How can an enhanced familiarity with death improve the quality of our lives, how can a knowing of impermanence improve our enjoyment and how can the act of giving enable true receiving?
The first teachings of the Buddha are the Four Noble Truths, the first of these speaks directly to the suffering nature of our circumstance.
That we are born, age, and suffer sickness and die, a death that will inevitably occur and that its timing is unknown, therefore we are faced with a fundamental uncertainty. This uncertainty underpins every waking moment and with understanding has the potential to enhance that moment, such that it is valued and truly appreciated. How fortunate are we to have such excellent circumstances?
The second of the Noble Truths speaks to the cause of this suffering and for this we must accept responsibility, that it is our misdeeds that give rise to our unhappiness. This immediately strips us one our most preferred defences, that is blame. The family violence perpetrator blames the victim’s behaviour as the cause, the gambler blames bad luck and the protestor blames the other for all manner of suffering. The acceptance that we are responsible enables the consideration of transforming behaviours to better achieve happiness.
The teachings on impermanence is yet another example of how a deeper understanding of the true nature of our circumstance can improve the quality of those circumstances.
To purchase a new item is fraught with misunderstanding, the whole concept of new, a misapprehension. What component of the item is new and how quickly does it cease to be new? Our acceptance that all things deteriorate, a deterioration that commences immediately enables us to appreciate the item as it changes, not to be at some time shocked by its deterioration. The new flash car ceases to be new in the misdirected perspective only when it’s scratched or damaged. Once again, the greater the understanding of the true nature of us and the things we surround ourselves with the greater our capacity to find happiness.
The next aspect for consideration is the insistence that the Buddhist practice is elaborated by introspection, an honest look at self. The self that is self-centred, discriminative and is infused with feeling, such that every awareness registers as happy, unhappy or neutral and our responses to the feeling that can provoke love, consideration or envy, anger, jealousy and a whole range of thoughts, speech and behaviours.
What makes Buddhism tough is the honesty of looking and adjusting to live in the real world, that sees our reliance on all others and one in which we take responsibility for the consequence of our actions. Working to make the intention of those actions to benefit all others so we experience a more enduring quality of happiness.
by David Mayer
Drol Kar Buddhist Centre was initially established in 1999 by Geshe Sonam Thargye and a group of his students in Geelong. It is a not for profit Incorporated Association with the sole purpose of providing Tibetan Buddhist teachings, dharma practice, meditation and study, in the Mahayana tradition.
Drol Kar Buddhist Centre
Telephone: 03 52661788
The world is grueling, inspiring and unequivocally extraordinary in all its facets.
It is important not to lose sight of what the world of other people just like you, are doing to make a change. It’s important to see beyond the norms and expectations on what society places upon you and look for inspiration as a pattern of universal effect. Some of us, and silently a lot of us have big aspirations and goals, yet are stuck in this cycle of societal consumerism and sleeping through our alarm clocks. So maybe it’s time we set a new period, a better mindset with the help of other influential younglings who are making their path to follow.
So who are the most inspiring young people of our day and age? Who is making a change? Who is not doing what every other young person thinks they should be doing? Who is unique, and will make you want to get up out of bed this morning?
Krtin Nithiyanandam, Age 17
17-year-old Krtin Nithiyanandam went from a broken pelvis; to an idea, finding universities who would support him in his award-winning research for an antibody that would detect early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. This research led to Nithiyanandam receiving the Scientific American Innovator Award at the Google Science Fair in 2017. Nithiyanandam has also worked with researchers at Cambridge University to try and make rare and hard to treat breast cancer more treatable. A young man who will stop at nothing to find cures, and save lives.
Muzoon Almellehan, Age 19
Muzoon Almellehan is a Syrian refugee and Activist for female education. In June 2017, she became the youngest Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF, which made her the first person in the world with official refugee status to become an ambassador for the global organisation. Almellehan’s accomplishments and hard work are truly inspiring in shaping the future for females in education and human rights.
Shibby de Guzman, Age 14
Shibby de Guzman is only 14 years old and is one of TIMES 30 most influential people of the world. Why is she influential? At 14 she’s protesting the streets with cardboard signs on her chest standing up against Rodrigo Duterte’s fascist regime under the Philippines government. It is a dangerous and courageous act for de Guzman to stand up against a government and uphold what you believe is right.
Macinley Butson, Age 17
Macinley Butson is an Australian girl who at the age of 17 was the youngest recipient to date of the INTEL International Science and Engineering Award and the 2018 NSW Young Australian of the Year for her invention called the Smart Amour. The Smart Amour acts as a protection layer for breast cancer patients while they are undergoing radiotherapy. An idea which sparked to Butson’s mind while sitting at the dinner table with her dad.
Molly Steer, Age 10
Molly Steer is another Australian girl who at the age of nine with the help of her mum made her Straw No More campaign to remove plastic straws from schools around Australia. Steer has convinced over 90 and counting Australian and International schools to cull the plastic straw. What was only meant to be a small change in Steer’s Cairns home, became an international campaign, resulting in Steer delivering a TEDx speech in 2017. A small step for Molly, but a big step in environmental change.
It is often mentioned that the younger generation is aimless, entitled and echoes of “millennial-itis” call across the conversations of many of our elders, however I think you will agree with us – this is just not always the case. The selection of young people we have shown you are but a sample of SO MANY! The future is bright, and it may be an aspect for us to ponder on how we spend our energy, our time and the path we choose to take.
As the iconically wise Dr. Suess once said,
You have brains in your head,
And feet in your shoes,
You can steer yourself,
Any direction you choose.
About the Author:
Montanna Macdonald is currently studying journalism and public relations at University, and we welcome her as a contributor to Ponderings. The love of meaningful and impacting communication fuels this passionate public speaker and an avid debate is always on hand with a social conscience that runs deep. This go-getter will write a speech to move an audience and inspire them into change. She doesn’t mind being friends with Muggles and wears her Gryffindor scarf with pride. Montanna has a love for broadcast media but doesn’t subscribe to the status quo. Robert Frost is her go to along with Dr. Seuss.
Zhuang Zi from the 3rd century BCE said “We are born because it is time, and we die in accordance with nature. If we are content with whatever happens and follow the flow, joy, sorrow cannot affect us.”
This is what the ancients called freedom from bondage.
In our modern world, we hear a lot about leading a balanced life. We hear so much about balance it can almost lose its true meaning. Often it is code for being very busy and trying to fit everything in. Not really balanced at all. One of the ancient philosophies associated with Chinese medicine is Daoism which suggests we live in a state of flow and be less focused on controlling the outcome of our lives. The paradox being that the things we do achieve will be true to us and what indeed supports and serves us, enabling us to share more of ourselves, in our work and private lives. One of the very welcome benefits of living this way is good health, physical and emotional health, even longer life.
Daoism speaks of change as a constant.
We see it daily in the turning of the day, as night becomes day. We see it as we move through our lives, it never stops. But we can become very attached to the way things are, sometimes so connected we cannot see the way to the next place, or what the next best step might be. So, attached that we stick with what we know even if it is not serving us well. It is familiar, safe. Sometimes life must shout very loudly at us so we can hear what is on offer. Things can become very out of balance as this process unfolds. It can affect our physical and emotional health significantly.
In Chinese medicine, we observe that the different organs are associated with mixed emotions. When we are living in harmony, each of our organs is supported and can function optimally. The heart, for example, is said to house the spirit, it has a strong relationship with a bright, alert mind, clarity of thinking. When things are out of balance, there can be anxiety, insomnia and general agitation, even mania.
The liver is said to oversee the free flow of things, it is also the strategist. When our lives are happy, we can plan effectively. When they are not anger can become a problem.
The kidneys have a strong relationship with fear.
When we overwork and constantly push we deplete the kidneys vitality and our own life force. The spleen can be taxed by overthinking, going over and over and over things. This can cause a foggy head, fatigue and a feeling of melancholy. The whole body can feel heavy and damp. It can feel as if we are living in a fog and are stuck not moving forward.
However, when the flow of life is respected the organs support one another and importantly support the whole being. Life is vital and alive. The energy of our lives flows and changes with grace, and we are able to live a fully productive and balanced life.
About Philippa Youngs
Philippa Youngs has been educated and trained by some of the world’s most experienced Chinese Medicine Practitioners, Acupuncturists and Myotherapists at Australia’s prestigious universities. The dynamic natural health practitioner has spent decades honing her craft with a passion for helping families achieve their goals. To find out more about Philippa go to: http://philippayoungs.com.au
What’s the difference between a professional and an expert?
The person who not only has impressive qualifications but has walked the walk and speaks from experience. Bravery comes in many forms and sharing a personal story that may in some way help another is a type of courage we love at Ponderings. We welcome one such person: Sarah Healy- Health Professional and life changer.
Here’s a discovery that may help you on your journey: exercise helps to reduce anxiety but how do we put it into action? I can speak from experience, and I want to share this with you.
I’m an Exercise Physiologist, and up until recently low and behold I had a fear of exercise.
Sounds ridiculous right? I started to avoid exercise, feeling anxious and using every excuse under the sun to resist. I used pain and injury as my excuse. My clients come to me with pain and injury, and I give them exercises to help.
I wasn’t always this way, but I have for a very long time identified myself as an injured person. I remember going to a chiropractor as a gymnast at ten years old because I was experiencing back pain and that continued through years of gymnastics, competitive aerobics (never was very good at that fake smile), track cycling and anything else I could try.
After having my first two children, my anxiety levels were through the roof.
Sometimes just the thought of going for a walk or a ride would stir up pain in my back and knees. Back spasms weren’t uncommon, and I feared it would be too debilitating to feed and carry my babies. None of my pain or injuries were severe, but my anxiety would cause tension, and that tension and memory of pain would bring on more pain and panic.
Stress or anxiety causes a stress response, fight or flight. Chronic anxiety can lead to hyperstimulation, even if the threat has passed, leading to headaches, tight and painful muscles and general aches and pains.
I was anxious about exercising, not exercising, having injuries, having pain, putting on weight; afraid people would think that because I was injured, unfit, in pain and overweight I wouldn’t know what I was talking about professionally.
I didn’t initially realize that my anxiety was increasing my pain.
It was when I noticed it in a family member that was experiencing pain always just before the same event and always less when away on holidays that it finally linked for me. I was also very aware of what I was missing out on with my family when my husband would take the kids for a walk or ride, and I wouldn’t go. I was missing out on so much. I was determined not to identify myself as an injured person. It wasn’t the exercise as much as wanting to move daily as part of my routine, wanting to move and not thinking about it so much.
The mental aspect of pain is so incredibly powerful that you can experience higher levels of pain just by receiving an MRI diagnosis than compared to those with the same injury but without MRI investigations. You are not your MRI; you are not your diagnosis.
Countless studies have identified the benefits of exercise for the symptoms of anxiety so I was well aware that exercise could help me too. Where I stumbled was the very thought of exercise was making me feel anxious. I needed to reduce the fear of exercise and the only way I could do that was also to reduce my fear of pain and injury. If I was to try exercising I needed to be calmer and accept that if I was to feel pain during or after my session that would be ok. My pain was not an emergency.
New neural pathways were needed in my brain, to bypass my routine response of ‘oh no I’m about to exercise and make all of my injuries and pain worse!’ Who would create those pathways? Me.
I would meditate and imagine my body relaxing, my muscles relaxing and when I started to add more exercise, I would treat myself like I would treat my clients (I know right? Who knew?) As therapists we are so good at helping others we often neglect ourselves!
I went back to basics but also changed things up because with different exercises or environments I was less likely to predict a movement that would cause me pain.
A local ‘Ninja Warrior’ gym was one I tried. Ninja training meant fun climbing rope ladders and monkey bars and flipping tyres, the time would fly by. It didn’t feel like a workout, and I gradually started to trust my body again and not obsess over little niggles. Activities I did not even consider through fear of pain and debilitation were now an option.
Muscle fatigue and pain from exercise, the ‘good pain’ -I don’t fear. I love the feeling of my body reminding me I have put in the effort. I have enjoyed welcoming that feeling back into my life.
Please find movement that you enjoy even if it takes you years and many trials to work it out. ASK FOR HELP from physical and mental therapists. Meditation and mindfulness are such powerful tools too. I have learned to believe I can heal and if I do experience pain, I can relax with it before panic makes it escalate. I have even recently started playing Gaelic Football, it’s not easy, I haven’t run in years but its fun, so much fun.
We are blessed with so much choice here in Australia, take advantage of that. It doesn’t have to be an organized sport it can be hiking to a waterfall, swimming, a circuit with a group of friends, walking your dog on the beach, street orienteering (it’s a thing, look it up, it can be fun) Moreover, if that means being the slowest on a Gaelic football team and sitting on the bench for the finals than do it and cheer as loudly as you can. At least then you’ll have a reason to train.
I can’t say that my anxiety is gone, but it has diminished.
There were a few anxious tears before the first few Gaelic training sessions, could I do this? What will others think of me? I’m too heavy, slow, uncoordinated? However, each time I attended those sessions, it would get easier to tie up my boots and go.
So why am I sharing my story with you?
Because for someone with anxiety you can feel very alone with your experience. You agonize over every detail and can become very focused on your own story and worries. Once you start to open up, you realize your story is not that different from so many others. I have learned so much from everyone that provided me with the tools to help myself, and I have continued to research more so I can help my clients get back their joy in movement.
Want to get in touch with Sarah and find out more about healthy healing? This inspiring human can be found HERE.
About Sarah Healy:
Exercise Physiologist – AEP AES ESSAM | Bachelor of Applied Science – Human Movement |
Graduate Diploma – Exercise for Rehabilitation | Cert IV – Training & Assessment
An Exercise Physiologist with over 13 years of experience and has been employed in the sport and fitness industry since 1996. Sarah works with individuals experiencing pain, musculo-skeletal injuries, posture/muscle imbalances and those that have developed anxiety relating to exercise and movement.