Posted in care for the caregiver, Caregiving, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Spirituality and Health

What Buddhist Monks and Children Have in Common!

I think we underestimate the wisdom young children. They are, for the most part, unencumbered with the stress of daily life and they experience each day as a wonder. Having the capacity to live in the moment dissolves over time as we inherit the norms of society. Unfortunately, that inheritance is a detriment to our well- being and can have grave consequences. So why are we so attached to things and the perfect outcome?

Recently I had the joy of spending a week with my family at a beach resort in the Caribbean. It shouldn’t’ be a surprise that at the edge of the water kids, including my nephew, were building sand castles and forts all along the shore. They worked vigorously and experienced great joy. When they finished their architectural wonders they simply walked away, not even taking pictures of their engineering accomplishments. In addition, later that day my mother told me that my nephew asked her to report back on whether or not the building was still standing. How can kids simply walk away from something they worked on for hours, and during the process become invested in the outcome (or do they)?

I’m also blessed to have witnessed the creation of those amazing sand paintings created by Buddhist monks. I’ve watched on and off for days as these focused spiritual beings create highly detailed paintings made of colored sand. Their devotion to the process is unmatched. This is part of their spiritual practice. The amazing thing, and needs to be seen, is that at the end of the process they take a fan and blow the entire painting away. The board where the painting rested is wiped clean. Hours and days of work and all they have is a blank slate, could you do that?

In both cases we bear witness to the practice of impermanence and nonattachment. It’s not something we’re familiar with in our culture, and unfortunately is at the root of much pain, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. What we’re most attached to is our assumption of good health. When diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness our assumptions are shattered, our sand castles and paintings are blown away, but they cause enormous distress.

Are we able to become attached to other things such as perseverance for peace in our soul? Are we capable of becoming attached to attaining our higher purpose? Is it possible to become attached to nonattachment? I know I’m getting a bit out there, but we grab on for dear life for so many things we have no control over because the locus of control is external. What if we focused more on the things we do have control over like being kind to others and ourselves.

What are you willing to allow the water to wash away, or a fan blow away (literally and figuratively)?

Facing a chronic or life-threatening illness?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Hoping to find out how art can improve your healing process?  Visit http://www.timetolivecreatively.com

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