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7 Buddhist Principles That Can Help You Transform Your Life

I write to help and motivate people to develop themselves, take another step in their path and explore new opportunities for growth.

Many people struggle and suffer from their thinking patterns. Buddhist psychology and philosophy welcome people with open arms, offering to reduce unnecessary suffering in life, by giving the tools of awareness and acceptance, which can already bring us more happiness and ease of mind, and, in turn, can lead to the choice and power to make changes.
Here are 7 Buddhist principles that help me a lot in life and I hope will help you in your own path:

1. Mindfulness and the practice of meditation

Mindfulness means being in the present moment, experiencing things as they are right now, without clinging to the past or the future. Meditation is the practice of that awareness and presence in the present moment. Being more aware and present helps you live your life with more details, it's like watching a movie with more frames per minute, where you can observe your experiences with more details, like a thought becoming a feeling becoming a reaction (for example, raising your voice because you're angry because at a person you feel has done something to hurt you). With practice, you can stop before the reaction comes, choose your words and tone of voice.

Meditation is training. Like you train your muscles at the gym, you train your mind in meditation. There is no way of failing meditation, your mind is expected to keep thinking. The only thing you need to do is to keep coming back to your meditation anchor (for example, your breath or an affirmation). A beautiful thing about meditation is that trying is already succeeding.

2. Non-identification (or simplified to, definitions)

For me, this is "who I am." We tend to think that our thoughts, beliefs or values define who we are. Sometimes we even think that other peoples' thoughts about us define who we are. But people are not a word in a dictionary. We change over time, at every moment we are different to another. The way we think, our likes and dislikes, values and beliefs, change over time (think about a type of food you hated as a child and now you absolutely love and can't imagine your life without it, or the other way around). Experiences, small and big, shape us into something a little different, every moment of every day, and it's vital to understand and accept that there are different parts in us, that represent different wishes or needs and manifest in different ways in different moments, it's just a part of being human. Our thoughts are nothing but a creation of our own mind, even they do not define who we are. So how can another person's thoughts about us do so?

Angkor Wat, 900 Years-old Buddhist temple in Cambodia

Angkor Wat, 900 Years-old Buddhist temple in Cambodia

3. Relations to emotions

We often treat emotions as negative and positive emotions. The truth is, there are no bad and good emotions, there are just emotions. Everything we feel, every emotion that arises in us is there for a reason and has a meaning. Sadness and anger serve a purpose just as joy and serenity. When we try to ignore or delegitimize our emotions we don't make them go away, we just bury them and avoid their meaning. Accepting our emotions and allowing ourselves to experience them to the fullest is what allows us to understand what they are here for, right now, at this moment, and then to let go of them and move on.

4. Judgments

Good and bad, right or wrong, fair or not. One of our mind's purposes is to label things, as quickly as possible, it's part of a survival mechanism. The important thing to remember is that we judge things from our point of view, but our point of view is limited. It's based on our own past experiences, thoughts and feelings, and does not apply to anyone else. Meaning, if we think someone is doing something wrong, the fact that we see it as wrong doesn't mean it is, it means we see it that way. This is also a good reminder of how we can only have our experience of every situation, every other person's experience has to be different. Let's take for example someone we feel has hurt us, using empathy, trying to see the situation through their eyes and from their experience, can help us understand why they acted the way they did and can help us explain to them how their acts have hurt us. Maybe the key to remember is that every judgment is just a point of view, not the reality.

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5. Non-attachment

this concept doesn't mean to be cold, distant or heartless, it's more in the sense of letting go. Letting go of things that happened in the past, letting go of fears or expectations from the future. For example, we may sometimes get attached to something that made us angry at work, and keep playing different scenarios in our head of what we could've done differently or what will we say the next time we see that person, sometimes even for days. There's a big difference between thinking, "next time I would like to act differently," to repeatedly playing different scenarios and outcomes. Focusing on the present moment, how we feel about the situation right now, can help us make accept how we reacted and make a choice to act differently the next time we are in a similar situation or if it's important enough for us to talk to that person about what happened, then let go.

6. Mind, body and soul are one

Sometimes we separate our thoughts or feelings and emotions from our bodies as if they are not a part of who we are. Things like, "my body decided to betray me," do not make sense. Our body is a part of who we are and it's doing the best it can, at any given moment, to keep us healthy and safe, and these 3 aspects of mind, body and soul, are not separated, but are integrated into one whole. Think for example, about the way fear affects your body (releasing hormones that prepare your body to react to a threat), or how your mood affects your physical health, and the other way around. Our bodies are not perfect, just like other parts of us. And we should accept and love them all just the same.


7. Forgiveness (Compassion)

Compassion is a key component in the Buddhist beliefs system. I took a chunk of it and brought it here in a way I think is easier to connect with. I strongly believe that if the principle of compassion was taught vastly from young age, this would've been a much better world to live in for everyone.

This principle gave me the gift of forgiving myself. Forgiving myself for not being perfect, forgiving myself for making mistakes. Forgiving myself for being wrong and forgiving myself for not living to all my (and everyone else's) expectations. Forgiving myself for not being exactly the way I wish I was. Forgiving myself gave room for acceptance. Through acceptance, you can choose to change. Forgiving myself also led me to be able to forgive others more easily, for their mistakes, for their wrongdoings, for them not being perfect, or just as I expect them.

I'm not a Buddhist monk or an expert in Buddhism. These are only tiny, simplified takeaways from Buddhism that about each of them you can find entire books. I write it to encourage you to explore whatever inspires your curiosity and adopt what you feel is right for you, because I truly believe it can help others transform their lives, as it did mine.

Please feel free to share any thoughts in the comments below.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Yuval Barak

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