Thursday, May 22, 2014

Do No Harm--to yourself

Doing no harm would require us to refrain from acting upon anything or anyone in a way that causes injury. What an amazing world that would be: No wars. No bullying. The earth experiencing renewal and healing. But what if we began the practice of not harming by simply not causing harm to ourselves—by not engaging in even the subtle ways that we injure our own mind, body, and heart? 

What if instead of working too many hours, rushing around with too many things on our to do list, or overextending ourselves to others while ignoring our own needs, we practiced slowing down and getting enough sleep? What changes would take place in our relationships, in our workplaces, and in our homes if we said No more to foods that keep us bloated and dull, and Yes to drinking enough water to hydrate the trillions of cells depending on us? 
Speeding to get to meditation: Cape Breton, NS
How would the world change if we spent as much time disentangling ourselves from negative self-talk as we do believing it? What if we stopped believing that there’s not enough time to take a walk, a nap, a break, a day off, and started embracing whatever moves us closer and closer to who we really are? 

I suspect that doing no harm to ourselves would leave us more tender—more able to be touched. It’s when I’m rested and clear-headed that I notice leaves rustling and clouds moving and the suffering of others. And I care—I care more about things and people when I’m not wrapped up in my own harmful suffering. 
Cloud Play: Ligmincha Institute, Shipman, VA
Chögyam Trungpa once said, When the world touches you, let it. Sometimes we’re just too overwhelmed by the world to be touched by it. Doing no harm to ourselves can lay the foundation for letting ourselves be touched. From there, we can do even more than not harm others; we can love them. 

Can I be mindful and loving of whatever arises.
If I can’t be loving in this moment, can I be kind.
If I can’t be kind, can I be nonjudgmental.
If I can’t be nonjudgmental, can I not cause harm. 
And, if I cannot not cause harm, can I cause the least amount of harm possible.
-excerpt from writing by Larry Yang