This past Thursday I was asked to speak at an interfaith service at our local Unity Church for the 20th Annual Unity World Day of Prayer. This year’s theme was: “Living Well: Nurturing Mind, Body, and Spirit,” and
the affirmation was: “My positive thoughts, words, and actions create a healthy life—mind, body, and spirit.”
I represented the Buddhist faith and was among a handful of congregation leaders from the Muslim, Jewish, Latter Day Saints, and Native American communities, along with a few others, who were there to offer a prayer or some words in line with the theme of well being. It was my second year participating in this service and I enjoyed it very much. Connecting faiths and sharing together is a beautiful expression of coming together as brothers and sisters.
This is the passage I read from the Plum Village Chanting and Recitation Book:
We come back to live in the wonderful present, to plant our heart’s garden with good seeds, and to make strong foundations of understanding and love. We vow to train ourselves in mindfulness and concentration, practicing to look and understand deeply, to be able to see the nature of all that is, and so to be free of the bonds of birth and death. We learn to speak lovingly, to be affectionate, to care for others whether it is early morn or late afternoon, to bring the roots of joy to many places, helping people to abandon sorrow, to respond with deep gratitude to the kindness of parents, teachers, and friends. With deep faith we light up the incense of our heart. We ask the Lord of Compassion to be our protector on the wonderful path of practice. We vow to practice diligently, cultivating the fruits of this path.
I then offered my reflections on the reading and mentioned two components that spoke to me in regards to well being (of mind, body, and spirit). The first one is kindness. When we think about kindness we often think about being kind towards others or animals or the environment, something or someone outside of us. But one of the most important elements of well being is commonly overlooked – kindness towards ourselves. How do we treat ourselves? What does it mean to be kind towards ourselves? This includes things like whether we are resting enough, what we ingest, what we consume with our other senses, and how we talk to ourselves internally. Many of us have very negative self-talk and self-judgement. All of these elements factor into our well being.
The second component that spoke to me from the reading is gratitude. I feel there is a direct correlation between the quality of our lives and how strong our practice of gratitude is. When we practice getting in touch with all of the things that we have to be grateful for everyday our outlook and experience of life begins to positively transform. There is so much to be grateful for both within and around us in every moment. Life is precious! We are so lucky to be here together in community! The practice of gratitude benefits us in many ways. Even when things are hard or stressful we are still surrounded by so much abundance and beauty. Getting in touch with gratitude, even when things are challenging, is an important practice for living life more fully.
So I would like to leave us with the following: May we practice kindness towards ourselves and others and may we practice gratitude everyday.