Like many people, Gemma Hartley struggles with depression and anxiety. For five years, she used meditation to keep her symptoms in check. But one day, facing some tight writing deadlines at work, she felt herself beginning to slip back toward her old symptoms. This time, meditating wasn’t enough.
A new priest is causing a stir at a 400-year-old Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. Named Mindar, she teaches about compassion and the dangers of desire, ego, and anger. But this is no run of the mill human priest; she’s an android robot. Standing at 195 centimeters, Mindar is able to move her body, arms, and head. Only her hands, face, and shoulders are covered in silicone, to look like human skin.
One morning, the kids of Visitacion Valley Middle School found three dead bodies dumped in their schoolyard. Sadly, these kids were used to violence and murder. In 2006 alone, there were 38 murders in the neighborhood. Crime and violence surrounded this San Francisco school. The kids were anxiety-ridden and stressed, and their neighborhood was terrifying.
Do you know someone who seems to magically lift your mood without saying a word? When the Dalai Lama visits a city, residents often say they feel peaceful simply by being in his presence. Researchers believe that peaceful people’s hearts emit uplifting waves that affect nearby hearts. This may explain why some people make us feel so good while others leave us feeling deflated.
Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. And relax. I’m going to speak to you, and I want you to just listen and imagine. Do not sleep. Just relax and imagine.
Think about a person in your life. Maybe it is a friend. Maybe it is a family member. Maybe it is a co-worker or someone from your past. See that person in your mind’s eye. What do they look like? What are they wearing? How do you feel when you see this person? Imagine.
There are many ways to reflect on oneself. One very simple and easy to understand method was developed by a Japanese businessman named Yoshimoto Ishin. He called it Naikan, which in Japanese means “inside looking”. The practice of Naikan involves the use of three questions, all related to another person or relationship in your life. They are:
* What have I received from others?
* What have I given to others?
* What troubles and difficulties have I caused others?
Image by: Scott Robinson (CC BY 2.0)