Mindful Breathing, kind and loving thoughts for immediate anxiety-relief

Dear Friends !

Anxieties, panic attacks, depression are real. Last week I got to see a young lady who was suffering from the anxiety and panic attack. She was shivering and crying nonstop right before me. Although I have seen people suffering from anxieties and panic attacks to certain extent, this is the first time I have ever witnessed someone who was really, I mean reaaaaaaalllllyyyy, suffering. It was too much that she did not want to live anymore and wanted to end her life. Her father told me that she was seeing doctors for sometime and was on medications for anxieties. But, it still did not work for her. They heard about me from a student of my weekly meditation class. So, the father thought of bringing his daughter to me for spiritual healing. I really felt compassion, goodwill for her and wanted to help her become immediately free from anxiety attack she was suffering from. First, I tried my best to calm her down with some positive, kind and soothing words. I said everything will be fine soon. Just trust my words and try to relax right now. I asked her to breathe in and breathe out with me. When I say, “just breathe in,” she would just breathe in. When I say, “just breathe out,” she would just breathe out. We did this for 20 minutes. As she was just breathing in and out with me, I noticed she was calming down. She stopped shivering an crying. After 20 minutes breathing in and breathing out, I have asked her to cultivate some loving and kind thoughts: May I be well. May I be happy. May I be peaceful. May I be free from anxieties. May I be free from depression, May I be free from pain. May I be free from fear. May I be free from danger. May I be well, happy and peaceful! I have asked her to believe in these loving and kind words and repeat after me. Like a little child, she was repeating all the loving and compassionate thoughts after me. We did this for another 20 minutes. At the end of this mindful breathing with loving and compassionate thoughts, this young lady felt a huge relief and retook charge of her life. She left the temple with a happy and smiling face ! Today I heard from her father and told me that she is recovering and feeling much better after talking to me.
With many blessings !
Bhante Saranapala
The Urban Buddhist Monk

Drop what is not yours !

Dear Friends,

We have a habit of hanging on to what is really not ours. As a result of that we tend to suffer deeply. What is not ours? Anything we experience through the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body, that is not ours. However, we have a tendency to personalize these experiences as “I, Me, Mine and Myself.” We make a BIG “I” with all that experience. This “I” has a habit of believing in it as permanent, hence this “I” has the tendency to control everything it experiences. When the “I” loses the control of experience, the “I” gets bruised and suffers deeply. This “I” wants the experience to be there for it unchanged. But, the reality is what we think ours constantly change. The “I” wants to control the change by simply begging: “Please don’t change. I want you. Without you, I cannot survive.” Despite the begging, when all experiences change, this “I” suffers big. To understand this, we need to meditate. Without meditation, we can’t understand it. What we need to understand is that all experiences we get through the senses are just there for a split second. Then they cease to exist. Although we think they are ours, they are not really ours. Pleasure, displeasure, anger, hatred, stress, anxiety, depression, pain, fear, envy, jealousy, greed: these are not ours. They are simply based on a particular condition. Observe all experiences with the law of cause and effect. If we can see this truth, then we can drop what is not ours and live a happy and peaceful life!
With many blessings !
Bhante Saranapala
The Urban Buddhist Monk

Becoming a good husband & wife and a good father and mother

Dear Friends,

Today, on the way to a place for a memorial talk, I had a very interesting conversation with a friend who belongs to a branch of Christianity. His wife is a Buddhist. I personally know their children were brought up in both Buddhist and Christian values. When I was talking to him about wonderful qualities of his kids, he told me something that deeply touched my heart, “If you are a man, be a good husband to your wife and be a good father to your children. If you are woman, be a good wife to your husband and be a good mother to your children.” Then, I added, how nice! All men and women in the world should become the good husband and wife and good father and mother full of love, compassion, faith, respect, gratitude, generosity, caring and good character who follow moral principles, there will be peace and harmony in the family and there will be peace and harmony in the society and the world! Let us become the best husband/wife and father/mother with five golden principles: 1. refrain from violence/taking life, 2. refrain from taking what is not freely given, 3. refrain from sexual misconduct, 4. refrain from false speech and refrain from consuming alcohol and drugs.
With many blessings !
Bhante Saranapala
The Urban Buddhist Monk

Let Go or Be Dragged !

Good day my friends!

There are certain things in our life that we need to let go. I know we all have a fear of letting go. Although it is a difficult task, we have no other choice but to simply let go. Why? Because they are poisonous, toxic, deadly. They make us sick and miserable. The poisonous, toxic and deadly things are the emotional baggages we are carrying from the past to the present and then to the future. These emotional baggages are full of negative stories, memories, experiences, feelings, people from the past. Money, power, fame, ego, conceit, pride and control are also in these emotional baggages. We fail to notice that they are becoming heavier and heavier in our life. Most of the time we think we need them in order to survive. If we do not choose to let them go, they will drag us with upset, sadness, anger, hatred, jealousy, envy, anxiety, stress, pain, suffering, distress and depression. We know letting go is one of the most difficult tasks to do. But, we have to learn to let go if we truly love ourselves. We have only two choices: (1) Either we let go and live a happy life and then die peacefully, (2) or be dragged with pain and suffering and eventually die with regret and guilt. Now choice is ours. Which one are we going to choose?
With many blessings !
Bhante Saranapala
The Urban Buddhist Monk

COME AND BELIEVE vs COME AND SEE

Good morning, Friends!
Today I would like to highlight a very interesting point from the candid conversation I had this morning with two of my fellow monks. There are two traditions seen in the world. One is “COME AND BELIEVE” and other is “COME AND SEE.” The first one may force people to believe through fear, and the second through wisdom, free from fear. Fear is based on lack of knowledge and wisdom. Fear leads to more clinging and suffering. “Come and see” is an open invitation based on experience, knowledge and wisdom and this would help people to remove fear and become free !
With many blessings !
Bhante Saranapala
The Urban Buddhist Monk

My U of T Lecture on Beyond Abrahamic Scriptures

Along with a famous Canadian Author, Dr. Brian Author Brown, today I had the privilege of giving a lecture on the “Beyond Abrahamic Scriptures: Interfaith Dialogue with the Sacred Texts of Eastern Religious Traditions” organized by the Emmanuel College of the University of Toronto. Thanks to Prof. Cuilan Liu and Prof. Nevin Reda for the invitation. Click here to see all pictures.

Chief of Police Comments on his Experience of Mindfulness Meditation

Hello Bhante, I wanted to say thanks again to you for the presentation today. Everyone enjoyed it and we received many positive comments later in the afternoon back at the station. Bhante, you are providing very valuable information, some of the officers have pretty stressful lives and this will help them manage it better. I know it will help me. You probably know this but police officers will rarely ask for help until their problems get very bad. They are such good men & women, I’m glad we could give them something so useful. I also enjoyed our conversation and I admire your faith & commitment. Thanks and I’m looking forward to doing it another time. I enjoyed meeting you very much.

Michael Simo
Chief of Police
Morton Grove Police Department, Illinois, USA (March 6, 2017)

Let us develop the swan’s skill!

Dear Friends,

Did you know that the swan has a unique skill? In many cultural and spiritual myths and legends the swan has highly been praised for this special skill. The swan, of course, is an ancient symbol of spiritual grace and purity. But, the special skill the swan has is the one we are trying to develop within ourselves and instil in the young hearts and minds. Suppose we mix water with milk. It is said that the swan has the skill and ability to separate milk from water. Leaving the water aside, the swan drinks milk only. In the same way, the entire society is a mixture of good and bad. Like the swan, we should be able to separate good from bad. And, we should also help the children develop the same skill. Now imagine we help children develop the swan’s skill, as they grow up and take up the responsibilities and duties of the family, society and the world, we can secure a good family, society and world in the future. With love for the humanity let us give an education to our next generation to develop the swan’s skill. Through this education they will be able to separate good from bad and they will choose to follow the good only by leaving the bad aside. Sustainable peace if guaranteed !

With many blessings !
Bhante Saranapala
The Urban Buddhist Monk