If you’re new to this, welcome! This is how we start our day as meditators and Buddhist practitioners. If you’re from another faith or without faith that won’t matter as this is a non-religious exercise in love for ourselves and humanity. This remembrance is a very sweet and special way to begin each morning:
Briefly contemplate (think about) this subject for 2-3 minutes each day as the first step in your morning practice. For the next three days I’ll be posting on how to contemplate the remaining three practices – simply add one each day. These brief practices will positively change your life in a short amount of time. You are encouraged to sustain these contemplations everyday for the rest of your life. Let’s start with the first one now – the precious human birth.
Slow down, take a few deep breaths – really connect to your breathing.
Begin by contemplating the opportunity you have been afforded by having a precious human birth:
You are very fortunate. Your human existence is invaluable, for you are endowed with the freedom and conditions necessary for developing and practicing loving-kindness and compassion. You also have the ability to help yourself and others to stop suffering and contribute to the overall welfare of our world and every living being. You have the possibility of leaving this world each day a much better place than you found it.
It’s of no use to intellectualize the preciousness of your human birth – instead – feel that having this human life is very special, that this is an incredible opportunity. Do you feel it? Can you feel your potential? It is so vital, so important to come back to this each day – to know your worth, to both know and to feel that you are very important, that you are very special and have extraordinary meaning. It is the same feeling a mother would have holding her only newborn child – beaming, hopeful, so full of life and promise.
Appreciate and take stock in what you have. A body that works, sense faculties – your eyes, your ears, your nose, your tongue, you have an amazing ability to feel. You have your limbs, and a mind of vast and creative potential. Many people are not as fortunate as you, but at least they have their mind. And many people do not even have that. Many people do not even have full use of their limbs and sense faculties. Take stock and rejoice in what you do have. You are alive, and you are blessed. You do make a difference and can do even more…Please start your day like this, take the time to feel these things, how blessed you are, and to appreciate the sacredness of your life.
You are in a free country, you have freedom of speech, expression, and religion. You have the freedom to have property, to vote and receive an education. In our country so far, things are easy to come by – almost anything you could ever want is right at your fingertips. And it is also so easy to give back – so easy to share all that you have received.
And before you fall asleep, do you feel, “Wow, I’m so fortunate I have enough food to eat, a bed, and I’m warm?” Perhaps, but far too often – no. Too often people feel the opposite about their lives.
They demand, “I want more, I want things to be different, better.” Or…“I’m bad, worthless…I’ve been abandoned…I’m unlovable.”
Generally this is because you’re caught by ego, which is never, ever satisfied. Ego always needs something, it wants something because it’s vacant and empty. Self-fulfillment is never fulfilling for very long. It’s painful to acknowledge just how many people are caught and ensnared here; More painful to admit that this has been ourselves.
But honestly, your life is really very good. That’s what you need to consider about your precious human birth. Think about how much freedom you have because of this human birth, how good this circumstance is for practicing and relating to the world with wisdom, loving-kindness and compassion.
You have food, warmth, safety, and you have teachers. In every session of meditation purposely reflect on this because the rest of our training is based on resting the mind. Contemplating on the preciousness of your birth will help you to feel safe and protected – safe enough to put your mind at ease and rest.
It’s vital that you feel safe enough in your own worth and value so that you feel that it’s okay to give of yourself – to share and to be generous with whatever you have with others and without regret.
You need to influence your emotional understanding about the preciousness of your life, and that influence comes through a conscious willingness to train your mind.
You just have to think about it again and again until you feel it in your whole emotional system, until everything inside your body agrees that, “I know I have a precious and valuable human life. I feel how important this opportunity is!”
Once you have conviction about the preciousness and importance of human existence, you’ll want to use it all of the time to the very best of your ability. As the Buddhist master Longchen Rabjam said, “We now have the independence to genuinely apply ourselves, so do not squander your life on pointless things.”
Start with being grateful. Begin each day by being GRATEFUL. Try to come up with three new things everyday – three heartfelt gratitudes. Write them down each day in a journal, your gratitude journal. Review your gratitudes each week and in no time you will start to know and feel your precious human birth.
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