Thursday, November 29, 2012

How to Get Rid of Despair

This was one of the most popular posts this year. If you'd like to forward this, just write in the body of an email message, or click on the links at the bottom to share. 

Here's a question I received from a reader, and the answer follows:


"How are you doing? I read your blog everyday and it makes me soo encouraged.

Lately I haven't been able to chant much due to some or the other reason (even though I try hard to take out time)
and now after almost 4 days of not doing regular gongyo and daimoku, today I am sitting in my office feeling completely lost and low and negative and depressed.
Have been crying sitting at my seat. Like everyones shooting at my weaknesses and trying to let me down.
I know these are the devilish functions working, but I'm not able to gather up the courage to stand up and chant again.

Please share with me anything you like. I've never felt so low in life.
All of a sudden I see a problem everywhere, in everyone, in every aspect of my life be it relationship, work, health ..everything..

Thank you in advance. You are truly an inspiration for many people!!"

Dear friend! 
You are just out of rhythm, and you can so easily get back into it! Here are a few words of encouragement from my heart. First of all, whether you believe it or not we have all been there! We have all been immersed in times where everything around us is darkness and there seems to be no light no matter where you turn. It goes without saying that the sooner you can start doing gongyo twice a day, the sooner things will get better, and I AM SURE that things WILL GET BETTER! You have the ultimate tool for happiness...sometimes it gets very hard to pick it up and use it. I know. We all know! I hope this post helps! 

Here are 16 ideas and tips to pull you through:

There are a few quotes I've embedded in my life: 

"Suffer what there is to suffer and enjoy what there is to enjoy, and continue chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo no matter what happens...then you will experience boundless joy from the law."
From Happiness in This World

Sometimes I interpret this as "It's all right to cry" and I stop resisting feeling bad and just allow myself to cry and release the feelings. 

Another is 
"Winter always turns to Spring"

And it does, doesn't it? Every single year! Sometimes it seems to take longer! But the seasons DO change! 

One of my favorite quotes from Daisaku Ikeda (from the book Learning from the writings. The Hope-Filled Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin. Page 277:

"Seen from the perspective of Buddhism, 
everything has profound meaning
There is no need whatsoever to vacillate between elation and despair at each turn of events. 
There is no such thing as a storm that will 
continue blowing and wreaking havoc without end. 
In the same way, there is no hardship that will continue forever. There are clear days and there are rainy days. If we are swayed by our environment, rejoicing one moment and despairing the next amid ever-changing circumstances, then we will not be able to accomplish a true revolution in our state of life.
The important thing is to always believe in the mystic law and to enter the powerful orbit of faith, practice and study. Entering the orbit - the orbit of human revolution and of  changing our karma - is the way to construct a life of good fortune and happiness that will endure throughout eternity. No matter what happens, we will enjoy the unerring protection of the Gohonzon. Instead of drawing conclusions about the world of faith from a superficial viewpoint, we need to calmly discern the true reality and significance of things and keep pressing forward. 
With the passage of time, it will definitely become clear that everything has unfolded in the best possible manner." 

When I feel despair ~
I write. I write all the sadness out. Sometimes I write to my Mom who, as some of you know, died almost 3 years ago. I just write what I am feeling and it makes me feel better. 

I take plenty of Vitamin D. For me, sometimes I just need more Vitamin D. 
Also drink a LOT of water! 


Encourage someone else! Give a stranger a Nam Myoho Renge Kyo card. Talk to someone you know about past benefits you've had. Doing this will remind you of how you've broken through in the past, and you'll gain more hope for the present. 

Take a bath with salt in it...the more salt the better! 

Clean your Butsudan and altar area. The altar in your home is a reflection of your own life. When you treat it with respect, your environment and all the people in it treat you with respect. If you do not yet have a Gohonzon you can still set up an altar where you chant with offerings to your life...fruit, water, a plant, candles, and incense if you like. 

Call a true friend. And if you don't have one, put that on your chanting list as something you are chanting for...I did this. I have many true friends now, and chanted for friends for quite some time. 

As soon as you can, get back in front of the altar to chant. And don't be afraid to cry in front of the Gohonzon or while you are chanting. heck, for the first couple of years I cried all the time when I chanted. It was as if my life had to release years and years of  emotion. 

Move your body. Go for a walk! Get your energy and your blood flowing! 

Read the Gosho or President Ikeda's writings! When you read these things - read them with your life. Choose a phrase or a passage and chant to realize its deeper meaning with your life. Chant to share the heart of Daisaku Ikeda. He has a heart beating with the fervent drum of Kosen Rufu. WHen your heart shares this reason it will push feelings of despair away! 

Ask someone to chant with you!
Get support! 

12. Change what you are saying to yourself in your mind. If your constant refrain is "Why me? How can this be happening to me again." it is important to just change that thought. Replace it with a more positive thought. You choose that thought. How about "Things are getting better and better for me, I just know it...sometimes it is hard to see, but I am definitely on my way!" or "Don't give up (insert your name) it's always darkest before the dawn!" 

13. Breathe deeply. When we are low we tend to breathe in a really shallow way, and it adds to our depression to breathe this way. Sit down and focus on your breathing. Fill your body with air. Picture that air as a bright light coming down from the top of your head...slowly moving down your body as your grey depressive mood seeps out your fingers and toes. Try this. It really does work! 

14. Smile! Go look at yourself in the mirror and smile. Look in your eyes and smile. Did you know it is almost impossible to be depressed when you are smiling?

15. Look up! That's right, look up. Tony Robbins, the inspirational success coach and mentor says that looking down has been proven to actually bring people down, while looking up has the opposite effect. 

16. When you are chanting - direct your thoughts like this:

"Gohonzon (my life itself!) Now is the time for me to rise from these emotions so I can show actual proof of the power of this law. NOW is the time for me to vanquish these feelings of hopelessness. I will NO LONGER allow these feelings to run my life. NOW I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY! I am a precious child of the Buddha, I will not stand for these feelings anymore. I vow to win in all aspects of my life. I vow to win!" 

All will be well. All will be well. All will be well. 
You will one day be encouraging others. And you will have sooooo much compassion!! 

I am thinking of you and chanting for you, and for all! 

Rev up your practice

How do you know when your practice needs some revving up? How do you know you need that extra boost, and how do you give yourself the juice you need to keep growing and expanding? 

These are all good questions. 

Seriously, it is easier to have a strong practice when you have a lot of challenges going on. When things are too stable in our lives our practices can get a little lackluster. It's harder for that to happen when you're a leader. I can't let my practice get lackluster because there are too many people I am committed to inspiring. So I HAVE to keep a high life condition, and I am fine with that. 

So what do we do? 

It's important to to think about what we really want in life...reconnect to our desires. Our desires are our fuel, just like our challenges are our fuel. Both are indispensable for building a happy life.  

Spend some time thinking about the things you thought were impossible that you actually made happen. Then think about the things you have written off as impossible now. Are they really impossible? Chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is for the impossible things. 

What impossible thing can you set your sights on NOW? 

The Ups and Downs of Life

Ups and downs.  
We all have them. 
Events we would rather skip, but know we have to face. 
By the end of the day tomorrow I will have gone into the office to gather my things and say goodbye. I will also compose a goodbye email with the aim of uplifting those still employed there. I know it is a very difficult time for them. So much is uncertain. 

I will be sitting down to chant quite a bit between now and then. I am so grateful to have this practice. 

I will be chanting to have a sky high life condition, and for my presence to inspire my associates. I'll tell people about the outplacement firm our company has hired to assist us in job transition. They have a system for helping each of us assess our talents, rewrite our resumes, learn new internet skills and interviewing skills. Tomorrow I will go to a networking event. I'm enjoying the live workshops. I've been to two of them so far, and learned a lot and met some very nice people. There is no shame in getting laid off. In most cases it is purely a business decision and not a reflection of the quality of people's work. 

And, as I've mentioned here before, I am preparing some products for you that will help you to strengthen your practice and hep others also learn this empowering way of life. 

Power prayers for challenging days:

I am determined to shine like the sun. My optimism, vibrant health, and excitement about my future will shine through. I vow to live my life as an inspiration for all that is possible in life. Even through this experience of being laid off,  I will inspire people to chant. I am determined to keep the negative forces out of my mind and my life. I vow to increase the confidence in my life. As a Votary of the Lotus Sutra I vow to show actual proof in all ways. 

Have a great Thursday and thank you so much for all your messages and your Daimoku. 
Please take a look at some of the past posts and experiences on this blog and forward the links to your friends. We might reach 9,000 readers by tomorrow. You are all powerful Buddhas. I am honored to be chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo along with you. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Keeping a High Life Condition

 What is a high life condition? 

When we can look down at your challenges and problems from above, we have a high life condition. Our challenges seem insignificant and we KNOW the power in our life will keep us advancing. We greet the Gohonzon with a smile and full of appreciation. We are cheerful and full of life.

When our problems loom large, and hover above us feeling like we will be crushed, we have a low life condition. But we are still so lucky, because we know just what to do. 

When we feel our life condition sinking we can head to the Gohonzon and chant. We can also call a mentor in faith. I have many people I respect and love, and who can give me that extra added insight I need to fire up my chanting. We can study. I read the Gosho and President' Ikeda's guidance. I pick up the World Tribune or Living Buddhism. I look at my own encouragement on this blog, and read people's inspiring stories. Calling a friend and encouraging THEM also raises our life condition. Chanting Daimoku is the greatest tool. Sometimes we need encouragement to be able to chant more effectively.  

A Power Prayer to Raise your Life Condition:

"I am determined to experience each moment as the powerful Buddha I am. I vow to feel the power of Daimoku surging through me. I know that when I am at my best, I can do more to encourage others. I am bringing the best out of my life so that I can be my best and make this world a better place. 
I chant to raise my life condition and to experience each moment as the Buddha I am." 

Raising our life condition is like this: 

We have a challenge or a problem, and it shows up in front of us like a tall wall. At first we may back away and say "That wall is way too tall, I will never get over it!" But when we chant we can feel ourselves raising higher than the wall...lifting up into the air...and we can look down at that wall and suddenly it is a tiny insignificant bump in the road. We have raised our life condition. And we have the power to do this every single day. 

As practicing Buddhists we know that all our problems don't really amount to a hill of beans compared to Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. We have confidence in our own lives. And when we feel that confidence waning we can chant and tell our lives: "I am determined to feel the deepest confidence in my life" and become more confident. 

Yesterday I spent the afternoon learning about this outplacement company that my company hired to help all of us through the lay off. It's incredible. I can meet with a career counselor as many times as I like. I can use some of the tools I am learning to spread the reach of this blog.  Today I am going to a lecture on facebook and twitter. Cool. 

I hope you can take a few moments to send the link to this blog to your friends. It may be just the encouragement they need to raise their life conditions. 

Have a great full moon Wednesday. 

have a great day in the highest of life conditions! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

If you REALLY are ready to change your Karma

You have all the power to make it happen...but...
No one else can change your karma and change your life. You are the only one. You have all the tools you need! You are one of the lucky ones! You have found the practice of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo that allows you to tap into the vast power you possess. It's your time to take this practice and make the changes you want...and really become happy! 

I have always said that practicing Buddhism is not easy. It requires courage. It not only requires courage but it helps to BUILD courage and a strong sense of self. When you practice as I've outlined here you will be strong. You can take on ANYTHING. You will be happy. It takes perseverance, but I am here to tell you that you can achieve whatever you want. You can be happier than you ever imagined possible. But it takes work! And your life and happiness is WORTH IT!

There are 6 KEY aspects to a correct practice of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

And when we are activating them ALL we are all HAPPIER in every possible way. Until you have activated these actions in your life you will never really know your own full will be able to ROAR LIKE A LION. You will have power in your own precious life! 

1. Chant every morning and evening. Chanting twice a day PUTS YOUR LIFE IN RHYTHM TO WIN. THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR THIS. It sounds hard, but it is really the easy way. Chanting is MUCH HARDER when you do it every once in a while...and your results are less consistent too. You decide how long you will chant. I know that the more effort I put into my daily practice, the harder I work to stay focused, the MORE I connect with the Gohonzon (which is my life itself) the easier the rest of my life goes. I chant a minimum of an hour in my "laboratory of my life" every morning. I often find I chant more when I have a lot of challenges, (more logs on the fire) and the more I chant the more I WANT TO chant. Try it.

2. Study with the intention of deepening your faith.  In Nichiren Buddhism FAITH IS A VERB and a MUSCLE! Chant to strengthen  your faith. Chant to have the kind of benefit that makes you truly believe your own power. And do this again and again! THIS is exercising the muscle of FAITH. It is the power you muster while you are chanting to activate the power of your prayer. Studying is like working the muscle of faith. It will help you produce results. It will strengthen your faith. Studying the Gosho by Nichiren Daishonin, and the words of our mentor, Daisaku Ikeda will help you become happier and healthier and stronger in every way!

3. MAKE A STRONG DETERMINATION. Write it down. Really, writing it down is powerful! What do you want? What do you really want? How do you want to feel? What do you want to make happen? Who do you want to BE? Avoid the tendency to blame your environment. Blaming the people, things, jobs etc. is not useful. Instead, accept that your karma is your karma and vow to change it! That is where your power lies! Not in complaint! Chant to root your suffering out of your life. I visualize the roots of a tree inside my body and literally pull them out in my mind while I am chanting. Chant to expand the power within your own life. Chant to raise your life condition and be the strong Buddha you are meant to be! 

4. Remember that you are not chanting to anyone or anything. You are not asking for favors or saying "please". No, you are having a dialogue with your own life and telling it what you want. The determinations and vows you make are to your own life. You are the Buddha. Remind yourself every day. 

5. It is important to be in the ORBIT OF FAITH! Attending SGI meetings is crucial. We really can't practice adequately alone. We all act as mirrors for each other. Our meetings serve to deepen our ties to each other and our ties to the world. If there is something you don't like about your meetings, chant about them. Use the power of your own prayer. Become a leader. How you feel about your Buddhist meetings is really a reflection of your own tendencies. If you "look down" on all the people at the meetings, you also "look down" on people everywhere. Have patience with yourself. See if you can summon the Ichinen (will put into action) to make a difference. Many of us have struggled with this at some time. I love being a leader because I infuse each meeting with energy. I chant at least an hour for the success of each meeting...I chant for every member to have a deep and meaningful experience at every meeting - refreshed in faith, more determined, happier. If you haven't connected already, Search for Soka Gakkai International to find the center closest to you. Call them and ask for the meeting closest to you, 

6. Help others. 

Encouraging fellow members in faith is crucial. And telling others about chanting is crucial too...even just giving them a Nam Myoho Renge card. I give out cards every single day. I have to. I feel I have discovered the key to absolute happiness and it fills me with joy to pass it on to others. I always give cards to people who help me in stores. They are always happy to get them. I have introduced countless strangers to this practice and planted many seeds.

YOU are a Buddha ~ Putting your practice first equals putting yourself first

It is so important for us to realize the power that lies within our lives. 

Nichiren Buddhism proclaims that we were born with the stars shining from our eyes and the rivers running through our veins. Our bones correspond to the rocks, our hair to the trees...and on and on. 

The realization the original Buddha had was that he WAS the entire universe. He spent the rest of his life endeavoring to give others the realization of this experience. He wrote the Lotus Sutra when he was 80 years old. 80 years old. He said all his other sutras were not the full embodiment of his teaching, and that the Lotus Sutra was IT, his highest and best effort to help others realize this experience. He also said that in the Latter Day of the Law another Buddha would be born to take this teaching to the next level and teach people how to practice to realize this truth within themselves. 

In 1222 Nichiren Daishonin was born in Kamakura Japan to a fisherman's family. He made the determination to become the wisest man in Japan, and to truly understand which form of Buddhism held the most value for people. There were many different forms. There was the Pure land sect aimed at happiness in the afterlife, not this lifetime. There were others sects who said women had to be reborn as men to attain enlightenment. Most other forms of Buddhism made it clear that lifestyle changes were necessary to attain Buddhahood, or enlightenment. 

Nichiren Daishonin came to the realization that the title of the Lotus Sutra " Myoho Renge Kyo" contained the essence of the entire Lotus Sutra. When he began chanting this phrase he put the word "Nam" before it to show it was "devotion to the law of cause and effect sutra." Then all heck broke lose as he suffered persecution after persecution but none of this scared him. He knew persecution was part of what the true Buddha born in the latter day of the law must undergo to truly create a revolution of faith. 

When he was exiled to the Sado Peninsula in a little gardner's hut in the middle of winter and the middle of a graveyard he wrote some of his most important treatises. These all took the form as letters to his followers. We study his actual letters to deepen our faith and create results. 
This form of Buddhism is  defined by actual proof. Does it work? Do we feel better when we chant? Are we filled with confidence and conviction? And if we are NOT filled with confidence and conviction we can chant to deepen our faith and deepen our ability to realize that we are, indeed Buddhas. 
Power prayers to accomplish this include:

I praise my life! I praise my mind, my body, and my spirit. I see my noble efforts in their best light. I chant to draw all of the power of the universe through my life to make this world a better place. My goal is to alleviate suffering for all, starting with my own happiness and extending to others. I know my prayer is expansive and powerful. I chant to deepen my faith in my prayer. I chant to increase the power of my prayer by 10,000 times. I chant to honor my life.

We are all Buddhas.
Start by honoring your life. 
Putting your practice first is putting yourself first. 
When you put yourself first you are unstoppable! 

Chant for Happiness. How it works...How to start

Why do so many people chant? What does it mean and what does it bring you? And how do you start? This blog post answers these questions. This blog post is meant for readers as a refresher, and also for you to forward to your friends or post on facebook. 

Why Chant?

The words Nam Myoho Renge Kyo are the name of the rhythm of life itself...your life...and the name of the rhythm of the entire universe. Literally they mean Devotion to the mystic law of cause and effect through sound vibration or sutra" Chanting these words is a tool to unlock our highest potential and reveal our lives as the brilliant shining life force we ARE. These words tap into that source. This is a practical practice. Chant for what you want. Chanting strengthens your life force and allows you to remain undaunted in any circumstance. Take a look through previous blog posts to see experiences of others, and more tips on effective chanting. 

What do you think about? 

When you chant you FOCUS on what you want. You do not clear your brain. You engage it. The goal of chanting is very individual because your own goals are uniquely YOURS. Happiness is the core. happiness that comes from within. The goal of chanting is universal also, because when you become happy, your happiness helps the world become a better place. This is a universal law due to the connected web of all of life. Through your own happiness the world can become happy. 

You are not chanting TO anything or asking for any favors. YOU are the Buddha. You are chanting to summon the power of your life itself. Only by experiencing chanting can you grasp the meaning of this passage.  

How to chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!

First of all make a list of what you really want in life. Take a new look at your desires and write them down.  Dream big. What do you really want? What do you want for yourself? What do you want for others? What do you want for the world? Make a list. There is no such thing as a “bad” desire as long as you wish no harm on others. Many Buddhists began chanting with desires that later turned into other desires. Don’t worry about it. Chant for what is really in your heart. Be true to yourself. 
I suggest having some sort of journal to write in. Writing in a journal helps you become aware of your progress and benefits.
Choose a place to chant comfortably. You’ll want to sit in a comfortable chair. Where would you feel most at ease chanting out loud? It is helpful to have something on the wall to focus on. It's helpful to rest your eyes on something slightly above eye level. It can be anything. When I first started chanting in my little two room apartment in San Francisco, I sat on the mattress on the floor and gazed up at the moon in a poster of Mono Lake. Choose something soothing to rest your eyes on. I find it helpful to have a table nearby for my tea, and other things I like to have close when I chant. You may want to put a little table up as an altar, but you don’t need that to begin. 
Write the words Nam Myoho Renge Kyo on a piece of paper (or use the card enclosed in this book). The words are pronounced as follows: 
Nahm, rhymes with Mom, 
meeyohoh, with three long vowels, 
rain gay, 
key oh. 
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. 
Nahm Meeyohoh Rain Gay Key Oh

Hold your hands with the palms facing in and touching each other in front of your heart. Sit with your back as straight as possible and say the words over and over and over again. 

You do not have to concentrate about what is in your mind at first. Just say the words. Breathe whenever you have to for as long as you like. See if you can chant for a few minutes, then a few minutes more. Chant for as long as you can!  

The rhythm should sound like a train moving, or horses running. There should be some energy to it. You can chant as fast or as slow as you wish. Speed of chanting is up to you. 
If you want to hear how it sounds you can go to the top left corner of this blog and chant with me. I begin slowly and speed up with more energy. 
See how it makes you feel. Can you chant for a little longer? Maybe even a little longer than that. Can you get to the point where you don’t have to think about the words, but can actually think about what you want? It may take a little time. Naturally you will begin to chant for what you want. You’ll see. 
When you are finished chanting you can write in your journal.
Start by writing an assessment of your life right now. What’s going well, what you’d like to improve on. Then write how you felt before chanting and after chanting. In your journal set a goal for how much you want to chant every day.  When I started, I could only chant five minutes a day in the morning and five minutes in the evening. I had a timer next to me and I’m sure there were times I stopped before I’d even reached five minutes! You will build up momentum! Commit to chant twice a day every day. Keep your goals in mind and you’ll remember your reasons for chanting! 

These words and this vibration go deep into the heart of your life itself. They summon forth your highest wisdom, vitality and sense of purpose. They also uproot the karma that is making you suffer, and give you the opportunity to change this karma forever. You will still have challenges and problems in life when you chant...but eventually you will see them as the opportunities they are. Problems are the FUEL you need to catapult your life into a life of happiness and joy. You have begun a journey to uncover the true happiness that exists in your shining Buddha life. Congratulations!
Also - make sure to search on Soka Gakkai followed by whatever country you live in. This site will help you to connect with people who will be happy to help you learn to chant, overcome your problems, and reveal your brilliant, wonderful self!  Fellow Soka Gakka members love to help each other. 
and go to to read Daisaku Ikeda's words. He is lighting the way for us all...and for YOU!

Monday, November 26, 2012

What an Incredible Monday

After I posted the previous blog I got a call from a friend I met about ten years ago in a writing class. She is going through a life transition and called out of the blue. I invited her over to my sweet little apartment and she suggested we chant together and loved the peace it gave her. Sweet. 

Then I spent the next five hours encouraging someone else from the bottom of my heart. 
She showed me an app that was very interesting. 

Now I am determined to produce an app for you that will be so incredibly useful that you can't wait to try it, and you'll want to share it with all your friends...and they will want to tell everyone THEY know about it too...and on and on...
Cool, right?

Does anyone out there know someone who could help me design an app?  

Overcoming Fear

This photo is courtesy of my friend Axel Koch. He just went though the Panama Canal last week.

I've been considering the nature of fear lately. I mean, here I am, living on my own, and I was just laid off. (My last dy is this Friday) One would think that I would be really scared. I probably would be scared if I didn't have this practice. But I'm not at all scared. I chant Daimoku (Nam Myoho Renge Kyo) every day to have confidence in my life itself. I chant enough Daimoku to override my fear, and keep the negativity and fear far away from my brain. I know that with every chant I am connecting to the power of the universe itself. My life is unstoppable. How could I be afraid?

I am filled with appreciation for my last job, and I'm really looking forward to working with the outplacement firm that will help me with my resume and job finding skills. 

The primary thing I can say today is that I always chant enough Daimoku to keep any fear at bay. The moment I feel any creeping fear or sadness in the corner of my mind I head straight to the Gohonzon and chant. I vow to be victorious in all areas of my life. I am determined to turn this "log" into a fresh flame of benefit. The Gosho (writing of Nichiren Daishonin) for this month is "A Ship to Cross the Sea of Suffering." I have embedded some of the quotes from this Gosho into my life. I will be leading a discussion on this Gosho at my house this Wednesday. 

"In the Latter Day of the Law, the votary of the Lotus Sutra will appear without fail. (That's me and you) The greater the hardships befalling him the greater the delight he feels, because of his strong faith. Doesn't a fire burn more briskly when logs are added?"

The Gosho goes on to state that "...anyone who teaches others even a single phrase of the Lotus Sutra is clearly the Buddha's envoy." 


"Even a single phrase cherished deep in one's heart will without fail help him to reach the opposite shore. To ponder one phrase and practice it is to exercise navigation."

The Gosho is rich with phrases to cherish. When I was a young Buddhist I cherished "Suffer what there is to suffer, and enjoy what there is to enjoy, and continue chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo no matter what happens. Then you will experience boundless joy from the law." from the Gosho called Happiness in this World. 

At the moment I am cherishing my hardships and using them to fuel me forward, and increase my ability to connect with people, to have compassion and to inspire! 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Happy Holidays

I put up my Christmas tree today...
with all the trimmings, 
and twinkling lights all over my home. 
It's awesome. 
Although I have never been a Christian, I grew up in Oak Park Illinois and we celebrate Christmas here. We sing carols, we give gifts, we go to Christmas shows, we give gifts, and we spread holiday cheer. One of the best things about being a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism is we can continue our cultural heritage in whatever form we choose. 
It is no stranger for me to have a Christmas tree now than it was when I had a tree as a child. 
All of us, in any country we live, we can celebrate whatever customs we wish. 
And we come together to chant. We'll chant in this room with the Christmas tree here. 

Let the Christmas season commence. Happy Holidays! 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Power Prayers for Health

As President Ikeda says, health is the most important thing of all. We all know the truth of this statement. 

I have improved my health through this practice. I used to have allergies, asthma, and frequent headaches, along with the additional weight.   

I don't experience any of those things anymore.

Today I am sharing with you some of the thoughts, prayers and determinations that have become the fiber of my life lately. 

As I am chanting, these thoughts of appreciation and determinations flow through my mind as I connect with the universe during morning and evening gongyo:

Power Prayers for Health:

Power prayers come in several formats. The first type of power prayer is the determination. It is the prayer you pray when you are determined to make something happen in your life. They usually begin, not surprisingly, with "I am determined." 

The second type of power prayer is the power of appreciation...reveling in the experience of having received a previous prayer and being grateful for it. 

Power Prayers: 

Being healthy is easier than ever. 

I easily draw to myself all the resources and people I need to help me to be the healthiest, happiest version of me. 

All the best information just flows to me. Suddenly I know just what my body needs to be nourished and enlivened, and I naturally crave these things. I am becoming stronger and more resilient every single moment. I feel the best I have ever felt. I glow. 

I love to move and express myself. 

All the clothes I need to feel great at every moment naturally flow into my life. 

All the resources I need come to me now. 

I easily and happily become the very best version of me! 

I appreciate myself for releasing my resistance to change and for letting my life flow. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Being Healthy. Tips for losing weight.

A reader wrote me to ask how I lost the weight. Here is my reply:

I had a problem with my weight every since I can remember. I'll see if I can find a before and after picture for you....

All through grade school, high school and college...then on into and past my twenties and thirties. 

I lost weight over and over and always gained it back. I was always hungry. According to some doctors, the typical American diet is one that starves the body of the nutrients it needs. That's one of the reasons so many of us are hungry all the time. 

I have finally conquered this problem and feel better than ever. 

Here are the tips I can give you:

Make a list:

I made a list of all the reasons I wanted to be thinner. I love this list and will always keep it close to heart. My reasons range from being healthy enough to play with my grandchildren when they come. I don't know when that will be, but I want to be young no matter what age I am. And being healthy is what feeling young is all about. I love feeling good and sexy and being able to buy any clothes I wish. I love being able to shop in any store...not just the larger size stores and departments. 

Make a book or poster:

I have a book of pictures of cute clothes, inspiring quotes and loving pictures of couples together. I update this from time to time with new clothes and pictures that inspire me. I have lots of pictures that include ships and water. And I'm leaving on a cruise in three weeks. These techniques really work. 

Find a visualization that works for you:

I could not conjure an image of myself thin. But I could envision myself walking into the petite section of my favorite clothing store, going to a rack and choosing a tiny looking outfit, going into the fitting room and trying it on and being so happy because it fit! I picture myself laughing and really enjoying the fact that anything I like fits. 

Write some affirmations:

I wrote out a list of things beginning with the phrase "Wouldn't it be nice if..." Such as "Wouldn't it be nice if all the efforts I've ever put into weight loss all came together and this time losing weight is easier than ever." and "Wouldn't it be nice is I could go into any store and find clothes that look great on me." Using the phrase "Wouldn't it be nice" releases some of the resistance we might have to affirmations. It just works. 

Love exercise ~  find something that makes you happy:

Find what works for you. I walk and use free weights and machines. Sometimes I ride my exercise bike. I love the feeling I have when I walk. I love the way it boosts my mood. My brain loves getting the oxygen hit from walking. If I don't walk for a couple of days I feel my mood slipping a bit and I get back on that treadmill or exercise bike. 

Choose a program:

Right now I am trimming down even more by adopting a plant-based whole food lifestyle change. It is actually the easiest way to lose weight because you can eat as much as you want. I am so grateful to my dear friend Julia for inspiring me. At first all I could think about was what I couldn't eat. She helped me to see all the things I could eat, and how tasty they are. Thank goodness for Trader Joe's! I've been eating this way for over a week now and it's much easier than I thought it would be. I have books I can recommend and other tips for this. Let me know if you are interested. I am doing this for my health, and I really feel great! 

Some of the members in my district have been very successfully doing Weight Watchers. 

Chanting tips:

I chant to release myself from the world of hunger and to raise my life condition. 
I chant to release my fear of change. 

I hope these help. Let me know if you want to hear more about this subject. 
Happy Day after Thanksgiving. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving ! A great day to polish our altars.

at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - right on my TV

My kids loved to play with Pokemon when they were young. Pokemon bring me back such wonderful memories of sitting on the floor and playing with my boys.  Pika was always my favorite, but at one point I knew almost all the Pokemon names. Pika just makes me laugh. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you wherever you live. 

I am so grateful for all of you and your messages to me. I'm grateful for sharing this incredible lifetime with you. I am so grateful to be alive at the same time as President Ikeda. I'm grateful for this practice. And so grateful for my healthy family. 

I wish you all a marvelous day today. 

The holiday comes from when the pilgrims celebrated an abundant harvest. We take the time to be with our families and appreciate each other and good food and drink. Many families have the customary turkey and stuffing dinner. 
It's a day to be together. 

I like to take time on the holidays to clean my altar. 

Our Buddhist altar is really important because 
it represents our lives. 
When we have a Gohonzon 
we have a "Home within a home."
Today I took everything off my altar and cleaned it really thoroughly. I used a hair dryer to melt off some residual candle wax I found on the wood. I shined the wood with wood cleaner and dusted everything else. I keep my altar very clean, but some days I just like to go the extra mile and polish it up. I've always believed that the way I care for my altar is reflected in the way my environment treats me. A dusty or cluttered altar isn't good, it's neglected. We don't want to neglect our lives. Our altars should be free and clear and uncluttered. If there are things that don't belong, now is a great time to remove them. The only objects that should be on our altars are: fruit, water, greens of some kind or flowers, bell and candles and incense if you use them. 

Have a great day ~ 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Raising children to have faith in the power of their lives

Aaron and Ben - Best friends and brothers
The fish we were watching last night at the restaurant. 

We've been having a blast this holiday week spending time together. Aaron is growing his beard to raise money for prostate cancer research. I called him Paul Bunyan last night just for fun.  

I got a few questions about how I raised my boys as Buddhists. 

I think the most important thing I do is strive to be inspiring to my boys. I want to show them that practicing buddhism can lead to a happy and fulfilling life. They have seen me unhappy, and they have watched me determine to change. They've seen me shed 70 pounds. They've watched me in every job I've had, watched as I've greeted every adversity as a challenge and produced great results. They have seen me rise out of heartbreak and seen me become happy again. It's very important to me to inspire them with my actions, words, and with my life itself. 

And I always chant for them to be happy and to fulfill their mission for Kosen Rufu. If they didn't have a mission for Kosen Rufu they would not have been born to me. And I have tried not to push them. Oh sure, there were times I begged them to come to a big meeting, and times I lured them with food. But I always tried not to push them too hard. And in the times that they weren't chanting, or couldn't chant, or were too tired to chant I followed President Ikeda's guidance and said "That's okay sweetie, you don't have to worry, I'm chanting for you twice as hard today." And the next time I would invite them to chant they would gladly join me. 

I have been behind the scenes chanting and chanting for their happiness. 

And I always speak encouraging words to them. I NEVER put them down. I say "I trust you. I know that you have wisdom and that your life always knows what is best for you. I know you will be fine. I'm not worried about you. I am so proud of you."

And of course, when they want to talk I do my best to listen with a full heart and with no judgement. I may steer them, but don't have a heavy hand. 

Those are some of the key aspects I've found to raising Buddha Boys.