Vesak Ottawa Project on Mindfulness

September 13, 2018 | By More

Ian Prattis

The Vesak Project in Ottawa asked me to present a session on Mindfulness at the OPL, Metcalfe branch. Saturday, September 15, 12.30pm – 1.45pm, Main Room B 125. There are 35 seats available so book one with your library card at: https://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/event/mindfulness-dr-ian-prattis

The session will begin with a wellness chant. My talk afterwards is taken from the opening chapter of my new book – Our World is Burning: My Views on Mindful Engagement. Let me tell you a story …..

My grand-nephew James was celebrating his birthday, yet he felt awful about being nine years old. He wished he could stay five years old forever. When I asked him “Why?” he replied that if he could stay five then the Earth would not explode. His lips quivered and tears welled up in his large brown eyes. “I am scared it is too late, that there will be nothing to save,” he exclaimed with a frightened voice. He dropped the unopened gift in his hand. He was so upset. I gently guided him from the hallway of his home to sit with me on the back garden steps. It was quiet there.

James said, “I don’t want to grow up and live in a world that is burning.”

After a long talk I gave James a mindfulness plan to follow.

I talked about “Gardening in the Mind” – a basic strategy of Engaged Buddhism. I offered him eight simple steps to refine mindfulness and then engage differently with the world.

Yo James – learn to be silent and quiet! Clear time and space for spiritual practice at home and throughout your daily schedule.  James shouted back: Yo Uncle Ian – right on – got it!

Create a stress reduction menu and subtract the negative energies in the garden of your mind.

Be determined to meditate daily – do the weeding of getting rid of negative energies..

Focus on and soften your heart – do not be mean – cultivate the soil of your mind’s garden.

Cultivate the seeds of mindfulness – Love, Compassion, Joy, Equanimity and promote them at home, school, work and in solitude.

Simplify, make do with less, de-clutter your mind and home.

Taste the fruits of your spiritual practice that change your mind.

Engage with the world.

James was entering all of this on his tablet as I continued to talk. “Our ways of living together, caring for environmental, political and economic realms need to be re-constructed.” I assured James that “Gardening in the Mind” has the capacity to transform how we think. Finding stillness and inner silence is a necessary first step. “We have to find a way to create the conditions for this to happen. In our modern world of fast paced lifestyles there are so many distractions that make us outwardly dependant and un-centered. We also find it easier to close down rather than open up our hearts. But the remedy is within reach. We can unravel the knots of suffering and move from being mindless to being mindful. This is achieved by gardening in the mind. The 8 point menu helps you to get there.”

I assured James that we are equal to the task and I chose not to hold back anything from him during this long conversation on his birthday. He is an unusually bright boy, as he asked questions and demanded clarification. Yet I knew he had grasped what I had said. He came up to me as I was leaving and whispered in my ear that my chat with him was his best birthday present ever.

Category: Articles, Spirituality & Meditation

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