By Lynda Shadbolt
I heard a podcast recently where the teacher was talking about the purpose of a meditation and yoga practice – the most important factor is having “beautiful conduct.”
Beautiful conduct in the way that we live our lives and interact in the world. The teacher continued to say that in our meditation and yoga practices we take the time to be on our mat to learn about and examine the quality of our thoughts (the state of our mind) and the conduct of our life/actions and how those two things are connected. I’ve been thinking all week about the ways in which we learn about, experience and practice beautiful conduct.
It isn’t easy. It requires constant attention to the state of our mind and our thoughts so that they are positive and helpful and kind and grateful. And I know for myself, I can have beautiful conduct in one moment and in the next I can fall into old habits and ways of reacting that I don’t really like but are easy for me to do. Habits are easy and so the practice of being mindful, in a yoga or meditation class, can help us start to see those habits and ways of reacting that may not be useful. After years of paying attention and practicing mindfulness, every once in a while I catch myself and I respond to a frustrating situation or thought in a more skillful or thoughtful way. Or I catch myself about to do something that isn’t really in my best interest (or in my family’s best interest) and I don’t do it.
It is a lifelong journey to be dedicated to a healthy mind and thoughts which translate into healthier actions in our lives. What I think is most important about this idea of a healthy mind and beautiful conduct is that as a society we need to provide multiple ways for people to learn about or contemplate these possibilities. Life is always going to give us challenges. We are all going to be given difficult circumstances to navigate whether it is in our own bodies with an injury, or in difficult relationships or caring for sick parents or other challenges that come up. We will all be given stuff to deal with.
We each need places where we can feel supported and can even turn into ourselves and find our own stable inner centre that will help us move in the direction of beautiful conduct. Some people find it through prayer, others in nature, others in a meditation or yoga class. I think as parents we need to model these skills so that our children grow up surrounded by adults who are doing their best to have beautiful conduct. Healthy communities are created one person at a time.