18 Spiritual Teachings that Made My Life Better

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10. No self.

The separate “I” that I seem to be is merely an illusion, a fiction, a well-told story. Letting it go is a moment-to-moment practice, an utterly liberating one.

11. Suffering is the result of clinging.

Yesterday, we took a bus to Cali, Colombia. We were told it would take five hours. After eight hours had passed, I was hungry, tired, annoyed with the horrendous movies being shown in rapid succession on the bus and tearfully frustrated. I was clinging to my expectation that the trip would be five hours long. My young daughter, on the other hand, was just fine. She had no expectations. Whenever I cling, I suffer. So I strive not to cling.

12. Worry is useless.

I used to be a worry wart—even as a kid. At some point, I read that worrying is planning for a negative future. That blew my mind open in the best of ways. So I stopped worrying.

13. Friendship is the highest form of love.

This teaching came from Osho. When I read that sentence, it stopped me in my tracks. It rang so true. Though at the time I struggled with romantic love, I have typically flourished in friendships. True friendship is founded on trust and respect. The best marriages are founded on genuine friendship.

14. Difficult people are the best teachers.

(Much gratitude to Pema’s timely pearls of wisdom for this one!)

15. Therefore, be grateful to everyone and everything.

Gratitude can be cultivated through appreciation of the lovely people—as well as the pain-in-the-ass people—and the unique details of our daily lives.

16. Don’t get on the train.

There are 1,001 great metaphors for meditation. One that really resonated with me came from Matthieu Ricard. I imagine sitting at a train station, watching the trains arrive and depart. My pure awareness is the station and my thoughts, feelings, sensations, etc. are the trains. If I am not mindful, I will hop on a train and take it to who knows where. But the moment I realize I am on the train, I am magically off of it, back at the station, just watching without judgment, with compassion.

17. Breath is life.

As Buddhist teacher Gil Fronsdal says, if you’re aware of the breath, you’re aware of the present moment. Our breath is with us from the moment of birth until the moment of death. It is the one bodily function that we can consciously control. Deep breathing is calming. Awareness of breath is the most fundamental meditation technique—and one that I always return to no matter what.

18. Make your mind as vast as the sky.

When I read this line, also from Matthieu Ricard, my mind actually did feel like it blew wide open, in the best possible way. It felt spacious and vast and calm and just there. Now, when I am feeling small-minded and constricted in my thinking, I often remind myself to make my mind as vast as the sky and it inevitably helps.
May these teachings be of benefit!

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