The path of meditation and mindfulness requires exactly the same level of commitment, motivation and training and exactly the same reminders and conditions to arise for an athlete or anyone wanting to achieve their potential or wanting to simply achieve a worldly or spiritual goal. The training could be for getting the perfect photograph, or following a diet plan or simply for getting through the day. Whatever the ambition, in order to achieve a goal, the training requires motivation to stick with the challenges and obstacles that present themselves but essentially follows the same path and reminders and a few favourable conditions.
The reminders listed below are conditions that when in place allow us to skilfully travel on our journey through life whether we’re an athlete or a meditator. Above all, these reminders remind us to count our blessings and remind us to make the most of our opportunities and remind us to bring ourselves back again and again to the road and strengthen our minds, strengthen our resolve and so build our confidence. But above all these reminders give us the courage to believe in ourselves and our inner wisdom. Everyone wants to be happy and free from suffering but life is so full of distractions and this is essentially why we need these reminders.
There are six reminders of conditions that can motivate and inspire us to keep going and skilfully navigate our journey through life. These reminders enable us realise our potential and ultimately find true happiness and bliss. Our potential may be limited but still worth pursuing, regardless of what life has presented us with. We are said to be extremely fortunate when we use reminders to navigate our lives and as such their potency should not be overlooked.
- Firstly we need a physical body that works and that has the right capabilities and potential for us to train and follow our dreams. A disabled person can also be an athlete and succeed and train in mindfulness and meditation, however someone who is ill or who has terminal illness might not be able to train let alone take the first steps on the path. So being reminded that the right human body is a precious gift can motivate the athlete and meditator to start and stick with the journey.
- Secondly, we need to remember that the life of an athlete is short term and that eventually, younger people will come along to take our place on the podium. Our potential glory as an athlete will quickly come to an end. Additionally, a meditator’s life could be short and will pass by very quickly. We might die before we achieve our dream and so it is vital that we use this reminder to seize the day and give all of our time to our training, not wasting a moment of the time we have.
- Thirdly, we need to find ourselves in the right time and place where we can train to develop our potential. People who are spending all their time and energy just surviving for example in war zones or in disaster areas or famine, poverty and climate driven extreme events would not find themselves in the right place or the right time. The right time would be being fortunate enough to have access to the right training facilities, have like-minded people around us who can support and encourage us, have access to the right teachers and guides who have our back and who have our best interests at heart and who have the right expertise, skills, knowledge and can work with us to fulfil our potential.
- Fourthly, we need to train in developing the right mindset and develop confidence in our potential. This manifests in training ourselves in having enough self-belief to overcome all the self-judgements and external and internal judgemental voices, jealousies and envy that will want to derail us. The right mindset knows how to work with the negative inner speech that can plague and distract and derail us. Our mind will only become strong when we train in becoming aware of and recognising our negative habit and thought patterns. We make friends with ourselves and like a kind compassionate friend, we don’t beat ourselves up when we fall down, but instead gently and kindly train in letting go of the negative self-talk again and again and again – as many times as it takes. We train in bringing ourselves back to our centre and picking ourselves back up and working through the ups and downs, working with the setbacks and the doubts and keeping our focus by bringing the mind back to that place of inner peace and self-confidence. This reminder is very important if we are to keep the view of where we want to be and keep our motivation strong.
- The fifth condition is that we need to keep our minds focussed on those who have trodden this path before us for inspiration and insight. We want to be like them and so we study and learn from them. Knowing they have trodden the path themselves we have faith in their experience and that they know all the pitfalls and obstacles that can arise and the antidotes to those obstacles. Following in the footsteps of those who have gone before motivates us to keep going on our own path.
- The sixth and final condition is that we visualise ourselves as winners. We visualise ourselves as champion athletes or enlightened beings. We view our trainer as the ultimate trainer and we align our body, speech and mind with our trainer. We have total faith and trust in our trainer. We imagine ourselves as them – their belief in us becomes our belief in ourselves. And this comes about as a result of our training working with the first four reminders and conditions. Athletes visualise themselves on the podium, meditators visualise themselves as Buddha, photographers visualise the perfect photo and dieters visualise themselves as slim and fit and those who just want to get through their day visualise themselves at the end of the day as having had a good and useful day. Having visualisation of where we want to be is a very powerful and proven skillful thing to do. Through visualisation we can experience the bliss of actually attaining our full potential, and this ‘high’ acts as a powerful motivation that drives us on to ultimate bliss.
Having achieved our potential, then there is a sense of coming back down to earth, of grounding and of supreme confidence (not to be confused with arrogance – supreme confidence is totally different and has no need to prove anything to anyone, whereas arrogance is constantly trying to prove they are the best). So having this supreme confidence brings us to a place of peaceful abiding where we will have developed useful life skills. But we need to keep up the training as it is very easy to slip back down once more when life brings challenges for us, so we keep reviewing the reminders and that helps us to stay motivated, remember to count our blessings and be available to help others find that same motivation and confidence.
May all beings benefit.
May all beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness, may all beings be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
written with love for all by Christine Jeffcutt