In meditation, the Bodhisattva ideal is one who takes a vow to share the fruits of their meditation practice with all living beings. This vow comes from realizing that the suffering of others is not truly separate from our own.
Since August of last year, I’ve engaged in some form of daily mindfulness practice. Over the past several months, each morning I write a minimum of 3 things for which I’m grateful and at least 10 minutes of guided meditation practice. What I’m finding the most difficult is carrying over this practice in every day situations. I am getting better, having some awakenings into my reactivity and being able to analyze my behavior on the spot and adjust accordingly.
This morning’s meditation was on Bodhisattva. When the teacher described it I was immediately taken back to my first Speech Pathology mentor, Gwen. I had just taken my first job as a speech pathologist in a physical rehab hospital in Northern California. This particular day, I had just finished working with a patient who had recently had a stroke. The session did not go well, at all. When I went to Gwen after the session, I was complaining to her about the patient. How uncooperative he was, how ungrateful, and just plain grumpy. I will never forget the words she said to me. “Your patients never have a bad day, you do.”
To this day, 23 years later, her words ring in my head. I share this motto with my students. I’m not saying I’ve never had a bad session with one of my patients. But when I do, for the most part, I can trace it back to me having the bad day, not them. I’ve noticed if for whatever reason I start out my morning bad, something breaks, or I forget something at home, it invariably guides the rest of my day. I run late with my first patient, then I run late the rest of the day. Someone says something to me first thing that doesn’t sit well, it sets my mood for the entire day.
I realized after listening to today’s practice, there’s a name for it! We’ve all had moments like this. Setting the tone for those around us will definitely set the tone for them. What’s the saying? Garbage in, garbage out?
“Few of us are satisfied with retreating from the world and just working on ourselves. We want our training to manifest & be of benefit. The bodhisattva-warrior, therefore, makes a vow to wake up not just for himself but for the welfare of all beings” ~ Pema Chodron
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