We all want a peaceful mind and a happy life yet most of use are not exactly sure what that means. Is it a new house, car, spouse, money? We’ve had some or all of those things and we realize that the satisfaction from them is fleeting at best. Through our teachings at The Peaceful Minds Center and other places we are beginning to realize that happiness is not a state of life, it’s a state of mind.
How do I create a peaceful state of mind? Everything has causes and conditions including a peaceful mind. The things we do every day either create the causes for a peaceful mind or create the causes for suffering. We must look wisely at what truly creates the causes for a peaceful mind in a lasting way for us. When we can see those clearly, we can begin developing a practice around those causes and conditions.
Our practice is getting up everyday and doing the things that create the causes and conditions for our minds to be peaceful and joyful. I have created a tool that’s kind of like training wheels to help you get started developing a practice. It’s called a Zen Card. A Zen Card is a checklist of the things you know create the causes and conditions for your mind to be peaceful. The idea is to complete your Zen Card every day and notice the impact it has on your life and most importantly your state of mind.
Zen Card Instructions
For all the subtlety of his teachings, the Buddha had a simple test for measuring wisdom. You’re wise, he said, to the extent that you can get yourself to do things you don’t like doing but know will result in happiness, and to refrain from things you like doing but know will result in pain and harm. This Zen Card is a list of things that you do on a daily basis that you know will lead you to lasting happiness. Every time you complete your Zen List 100% notice how you feel. SAVE the ones you complete 100%, date them and put them in a special place. The “To Do’s” side is where you put your to do list for the day. On that side what doesn’t get done today gets done tomorrow. Your Zen List is complete even if all your “To Do’s” are not done.
Some Important Tips
Your Zen card should be designed to be accomplished easily. If it is too difficult you won’t do it. What I suggest is having minimums that are easily attainable. Let’s use my card as an example. My minimums are:
6 – 8 oz glasses of water
5 minutes of exercise
10 mindful breaths of meditation
Cleaning a room – I can just wipe down the surfaces
and so forth.
It would be wise to set your minimums such that when you are squeezed for time you can complete it in about 15 minutes. You can always do more than the minimum. The minimum is the least you can do and still be in integrity with your practice. The most important thing is that you do it every day. The devotion to your Zen List is the practice that trains your mind. A trained mind is more likely to stay in a placid, peaceful state allowing your true nature of Loving Kindness, Compassion and Patience to shine through effortlessly. When that happens life is wonderful and joyful experience all emanating from your peaceful mind.
Tom Notarianni Jr.