Suffering is alchemy, change is God Now you droop your head, heavy with rust
Sit, contemplate, what did Buddha say? Old age, sickness, death, no one owns eternity
From 'Peony' by Marilyn Chin
The other day I saw Ruby Wax. She gave a lecture on mindfulness, that's her thing now - although she happily confessed she doesn't like the word, because "it sounds vegan". So Ruby took the scientific approach to mindfulness. There was a lot of cortisol and dopamine going on, which is in fact a nice change of scenery in this regard. It was an interesting talk and Ruby Wax is one funny lady. Oh yeah and she also graduated from Oxford, by the by.
Fun, that's the thing. I remember when we visited one of the (many) temples in Nara, Japan, that we stumbled upon something that closely resembled a stand-up comedy session. A schoolbus worth's of kids sat and listened enraptured to a monk that cracked joke after joke.
Another monk explained to us that 'fun' was how they got their message across. Pretty cool approach. Compare that to catechism and whatnot in Christianity. It's quite nice to hear someone talk who can put things, themselves mostly, into perspective. Because we get way too worked up.
Not wired What I got from Ruby's talk is that we humans aren't exactly wired for modern life. We're build for surviving in the wild, where alertness had a clear goal and dropped when danger was gone. These days we invent our own danger and suffer from it nonetheless.
What would Buddha do?
So what did Buddha say? I guess the most important thing is: "Find out for yourself. Don't take my word on it." Find out what works for you. Find the right words, the right way. For some it's sports. For others it's funny monks or ladies or, I don't know, cat movies but we have to find something to take our mind off the stress - quite literally.
For me? I need to write again, I mean, really write. So I breathe in, breathe out and get ready to dive into my novel again.