Some Ways To 'Live In the Mandala' by Ratnavandana

Page 1

Some ways to help us live in the Mandala during an Urban Retreat By Ratnavandana

Staying Connected For me one of the most essential ingredient s of living in the mandala is my conscious intention to want to manifest the qualities of the Brahma Viharas in my life. Over the years, time and time again I find myself falling short of this wish, but I can see that this has only strengthened my wish for it to be different, to truly be a channel for these qualities to manifest in the world. So it’s become my lodestone, my compass which continually lets me know whether I am on the right track or not and generally guides and inspires me to keep trying. I’ve used the word lodestone over many years without knowing what it really meant. I looked it up a year or so back and found out that it is a naturally magnetized piece of the mineral magnetite . This didn’t mean much to me but what was fascinating was that it was through this mineral that the property of magnetism was first discovered and it was used in the first magnetic compasses. This seems so appropriate and indeed my whole experience of practising in this way is that the lodestone acts as a magnet, drawing me towards the sublime abodes and their immeasurable beauty. I’m telling you all this because I would like to encourage you to think about what this would be for you as a way of helping you stay in the mandala through the retreat whether you are at the Centre, at home or at work. So think about it, what is your wish for this retreat? It doesn’t have to be a big thing, it can be quite simple like ‘I want to be more friendly’ - but it needs to be remembered, brought to mind often and in different situations to assess where you are in relation to it. Letting it build up in terms of it’s meaning to you and how to truly bring it into being through the mandala of the Brahma Viharas. Lodestone may well not be a word that works for you, so think about what does. Is it just your conscious intention, your aspiration, your heart-wish. Whatever it is, spend a bit of time thinking and reflecting on it and then write it down on two pieces of paper. Bring one with you to be placed wherever is most significant for you on one of the shrines, and keep the other at home, somewhere you will notice it each day. I’d encourage you to read it, and add to it as appropriate as it may well clarify and deepen over the week. On Waking…. Set your alarm, if that’s how you wake, at least five minutes earlier than you need to get up so that you can awaken into awareness gradually, bringing your night time experience with you and then bringing to mind what you’ve written on your piece of paper so that it orientates your day from the start – it’s there like a compass, a reference point, throughout the day. It might be that there’s an image that sums it up that you can have by your bed, or a poem – something that awakens you to that wish. You can use this conscious intention to reflect you back to yourself in whatever you are doing so that you can instantly see where you are in relation to it. It’s obviously not something to beat oneself up about if you find yourself far from where you want to be – that’s not its purpose at all – just to act as a mirror and guide, to show you where you are and what you need to open to, to get closer to your wish. It’s very much the carrot rather than the stick. Stop and Realise I find it really beneficial to just stop whatever I’m doing at various points throughout the day – just stop and real-ise – connect – with your body, with whats going round your head, with your heart.

Where are you at that moment, especially in relation to the mandala? No judging – just seeing. Being interested, willing to see with kindness and conscious intention. It doesn’t matter if you’ve strayed far away – you can just begin again, opening to the mandala afresh. Triggers It might be helpful to have some trigger points in the day. I have quite a few ‘activities’ that I use in this way, as reminders, things that re-awaken me to my real purpose. Opening a door is one, Tying my shoelaces is another, - so these kind of things, things you do everyday, maybe several times a day – just use it to see where you are and to re-connect if that’s needed. The Brahma Viharas more specifically….

Metta Make a conscious effort to be more friendly – it might feel a bit false to begin with but it very quickly becomes natural and it is truly amazing what can happen when you just move towards people a bit more and really take them in. I find this especially true if it’s a situation where I am feeling irritated or impatient with someone. Just seeing whats happening, stopping and connecting with my wish to manifest the BV’s creates a shift and allows me to ‘see’ the person rather than my irritation or impatience. Metta is an attitude that you can bring to everything you do. It’s a turning towards with interest and openness.

Karuna Just noticing what you do when you hear about, or come into contact with, people who are suffering in some way. Being honest here and recognising that staying open, experiencing whatever is there in your own heart, which may not be what you would like it to be and still bearing witness to the suffering is the basis of whats needed. With your own difficulties, your own suffering - just opening your heart to yourself with kindness and understanding, just as a friend would do to you.

Mudita Make a point of expressing your appreciation or gratitude. Often we might think these thoughts but not take the risk of telling them for one reason or another. Rejoicing too, just getting into the habit of doing that and it engenders a wonderful atmosphere of gladness, joyfulness. At the end of each day, before bed, spend a bit of time reflecting on a few things that you are glad about from the day.

Upekkha Recognising the worldly winds when they blow and how we respond. Noticing our preferences, how we like this but not that, want this but not that etc and then just letting go in that moment, just giving it up. Giving up our resistance to how things are. Reflecting on the quality of equanimity and how it would feel to not to be pushed and pulled by attraction and aversion.

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.