Sunday, July 20, 2014

Attentiveness and Intention: On Practicing the Five Strengths

After publicly confessing last week about my difficulties with meditating every day, I managed to pull it off - an entire week of meditating for 5-10 minutes every single day. Sometimes it didn't happen until the evening, but it always happened. I'm happy with my progress and feel like I'm building momentum, which feeds nicely into this week's lojong tenet:
Practice the five strengths, the condensed heart instructions.
The translation isn't very different, "A summary of the essential instructions: Train in the five forces." On the other hand, the explanatory passage they provide does add to my understanding - especially since it actually explains the five forces:
The five forces are: developing momentum through consistent practice, training in all areas of your life, sowing virtuous seeds through acts of goodness and kindness, feeling regret about reactive states of mind or destructive actions, and dedication of personal benefit to the welfare of all beings. (Emphasis theirs.) (Source.)
Before I move onto the Tricycle passage that stuck out to me, I want to explain the gif up above. As I started to consider the five strengths/forces, I realized that my recent confession and ensuing uptick in meditation is an example of the kind of momentum one can develop through consistent practice. I also realized that I'm also already pursuing all of the other strengths/forces. The picture accompanying the passage on is of a flower, but if the five strengths are like a flower then surely I'm a butterfly who is dependent on the flower. It's like I'm there, and I'm doing what I need to do, but I need to be attentive and intentional about it - or moreso.

And that brings me back to Lief's piece about this tenet. The bulk of what she wrote mirrors what I shared above, but her suggestion for how to live with this teaching is interesting - and once again it's a thing I already do:
Pay attention to how you decide to spend your time. How much of your activity each day is intentional? Choose a day and try deliberately setting an intention to place whatever you are doing that day within the context of mindfulness and loving-kindness practice.
The loving-kindness part might be hard, since (like everyone else) I'm prone to being overly critical of myself. However, that's what I'll be focusing on this week.

Until next time, namaste and all that.

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