In this edition:
- Festive Glamour: When the festive season throws you an occasion, you need to glam it up.
- Andrew McUtchen looks for fun in cricket with former Australian cricketer Damien Fleming.
- Take a look at our Christmas Gift Guide.
I was defrosting my 25-year-old freezer, again (its a trauma endured fortnightly), when an ice shelf calved off the back, shattered, and doused all the food Id been too lazy to remove from the fridge below.
As I grumped about, the words of a wise, but not too old, Buddhist monk came to me (paraphrased): Tell it to someone whose life really sucks!.
So I pictured myself telling someone who lost it all in the Queensland floods about my freezer problem. This was not an easy sell.
Lama Marut has visited this page before and is welcome any time. Earlier this year, on his No Worries Tour, the big American with the sideburns and a silver chain dangling beneath his rust-red robe (he looks like he lifts trucks in his spare time) spruiked Buddhist teachings as only he can.
A motorcycle enthusiast and former surfer dude, the son and grandson of Baptists ministers and a PhD of comparative religions, he is direct, disarming and clearly right a lot of the time. Heres what he had to say about Aussies failing Aussie Philosophy:
The State of No Problem-dom
Youre Aussies, right? Youre supposed to have no worries, right? We smile at our regular incompetence in this area, hungry for tips on getting life right.
A problem, he says, is just an interpretation. Its not inherently a problem. Arriving at the State of No Problem-dom is a case of tweaking perspective, says Marut.
We think were so sophisticated that we need bigger answers to life than be kind to others and learn from the challenges, he says, amazed, on our behalf, at our own cheek.
You want to ju-jitsu your problems? . . . Interpret them as an opportunity to learn.
When youre faced with a difficult person, thats your interpretation of who they are. The real difficulty lies not in the person who irritates you but in your own anger that bubbles up, having made its imprint at some former time and event. They merely trigger it. That difficult person is your greatest teacher, kindly revealing your unresolved anger that needs tending. You ought to thank them.
I like co-speaker Cindy Lees takeaway tip, a real call to arms: Imagine everyone else in the world is enlightened, except you. That way, you learn a lesson from everyone.
Meditate on Death . . .
Marut suggests, but not in a hopelessly morbid way, that if you want to get to the flinty end of what life is all about, spend a few minutes on occasion imagining your last minute on Earth.
Youre dying. What goes through your mind? What unfinished business sucks the life out of you? It certainly brings into focus what you value most.
Then, relax, count your blessings, all six trillion of them: Thank you for my eyes that see; my legs that walk; my full fridge, and get to work on the things that matter.
Dont Ask God
Buddhism has loads of gods, were neck-and-neck with Hinduism. Do gods fix problems? probes Marut. If they coulda, they woulda, but they canta! Only you can. So buck?up!
Train your mind, say I want to be a happy person and start acting it. Take responsibility for yourself and your mental and emotional direction. Waiting for someone else to make your life complete is never going to be the answer.
Getting Life Right
So, when someone asks, How are you?, dont let your answer be Oh not so good, theres this thing going on at work . Thats just scab picking, growls Marut when 97?per cent of everything else is fine.
Practise being happy, not by stimulating yourself into a pleasure-frenzy (that new restaurant, bar, movie, pair of shoes), because the memory of consumable bliss fades instantly (after the bill, the booze buzz, the popcorn is eaten, the shoes are scuffed).
Go for real, everlasting peace and happiness by making someones life spectacular just by a word, a look, a deed. Normally we wait for others to drop the kindness bomb before we reciprocate, Marut says. Surprise someone, daily.
Drop it. Go on. Drop!
You need to dump that identity youve been clinging to as big office kahuna or best-in-show. Attachments to professional kudos, material gain, physical attributes, even spiritual superiority are useless because its all temporary.
Life is suffering, everything changes . . . Learn to be happy by surfing change, recommends Marut.
You cant make the pain of suffering go away, but you can end suffering by adopting clear perspective. Make that whining voice in your head a happy one, count your blessings, serve others, and life becomes beautiful, meaningful.
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Lisa Mitchell is a hatha yoga teacher, relaxation instructor and freelance writer/editor specialising in holistic well-being.