What on earth is Sense Restraint and why should we care?

What on earth is Sense Restraint and why should we care?

About the Speaker

PJ is someone who discovered Buddhism while procrastinating as a student and later discovered Ajahn Brahm and the Suttas in the executive retreat of 2010 in Chiang Rai.

He procrastinated again on the spiritual path through various roles with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), including industry development and strategic planning. He’s taking his time now working towards being a nobody.

‘Restrain’ in this modern world of freedom and enjoyment seems like a curse word. So when one says restrain leads to peace, to calm and to stillness, what does that truly mean? Cheryl and PJ discusses this.

Exploring the Concept of Sense Restraint

Sense restraint stands as a fundamental principle in Buddhist philosophy, elucidating the practice of maintaining control over one’s senses to foster inner peace and spiritual development. Rooted in the teachings of the Buddha, sense restraint emphasizes the importance of mindful awareness and moderation in engaging with the external world.

Common Misconceptions

Despite its profound significance, sense restraint often faces misconceptions and misinterpretations. Some individuals perceive it as a form of suppression or denial, equating restraint with restriction. However, in the context of Buddhism, sense restraint entails a balanced approach to sensory experiences, avoiding excessive indulgence or aversion.

Amplifying the Need for Right Restraint

Cultivating Awareness and Mindfulness

At the core of sense restraint lies the cultivation of awareness and mindfulness. By developing a heightened sense of consciousness towards sensory stimuli, practitioners can discern between wholesome and unwholesome mental states. Through mindfulness practices such as meditation and reflection, individuals gain insight into the transient nature of sensory pleasures, fostering a deeper understanding of the impermanent nature of existence.

Recognizing Unwholesome Mental States

Central to the practice of sense restraint is the recognition and redirection of unwholesome mental states. By acknowledging the arising of desires, aversions, and attachments, practitioners can refrain from becoming ensnared by them. Instead of succumbing to impulsive reactions, individuals cultivate the wisdom to respond with equanimity and discernment, thereby breaking free from the cycle of suffering.

The Solution: Practicing Right Restraint

Mindfulness Techniques for Sense Restraint

Practicing sense restraint involves employing various mindfulness techniques to anchor one’s awareness in the present moment. Breath awareness, body scanning, and mindful observation of sensory experiences enable individuals to develop a non-reactive stance towards external stimuli. Through consistent practice, practitioners cultivate a sense of inner calm and tranquility, transcending the fleeting fluctuations of the mind.

Wisdom over Willpower

Contrary to conventional notions of restraint as an act of sheer willpower, Buddhism emphasizes the cultivation of wisdom in exercising right restraint. Rather than forcefully suppressing desires, individuals employ discernment and insight to navigate the complexities of sensory perception. By discerning the impermanent and unsatisfactory nature of worldly phenomena, practitioners gradually loosen the grip of attachment and craving, paving the way for genuine freedom and happiness.

Testimonials and Success Stories

Personal Experiences of Sense Restraint

Countless individuals have attested to the transformative power of practicing sense restraint in their daily lives. From overcoming addictive behaviors to cultivating greater inner peace and clarity, personal testimonials serve as compelling evidence of the profound impact of right restraint. By sharing their experiences, practitioners inspire others to embark on the path of self-discovery and spiritual growth.

Case Studies on the Impact of Sense Restraint

In addition to personal anecdotes, case studies offer valuable insights into the practical applications of sense restraint in various contexts. Whether in the realm of addiction recovery, mental health management, or interpersonal relationships, case studies highlight the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions in promoting holistic well-being. By examining real-life examples of successful outcomes, individuals gain confidence in the transformative potential of practicing right restraint.

Tools and Resources for Practicing Sense Restraint

Meditation Practices for Mindfulness

Meditation serves as a cornerstone practice for cultivating mindfulness and sense restraint. Guided meditation techniques, such as breath meditation, loving-kindness meditation, and body scan meditation, provide practitioners with invaluable tools for developing present-moment awareness and mental clarity. Through consistent meditation practice, individuals strengthen their capacity to observe and regulate their sensory experiences, fostering a deep sense of inner peace and contentment.

Educational Materials on Buddhist Principles

For those seeking a deeper understanding of sense restraint and its philosophical underpinnings, a wealth of educational resources is readily available. From books and articles to online courses and workshops, aspiring practitioners can access a treasure trove of teachings on Buddhist principles. By immersing themselves in the wisdom of the Dharma, individuals gain profound insights into the nature of desire, attachment, and liberation, empowering them to cultivate right restraint in their lives.

Conclusion: Embracing Right Restraint for Inner Peace

Summary and Call to Action

In conclusion, sense restraint emerges as a potent tool for cultivating inner peace, wisdom, and spiritual liberation. By understanding the importance of mindfulness, wisdom, and moderation in sensory engagement, individuals can transcend the confines of craving and aversion, discovering profound freedom and happiness within themselves. As we embark on the journey of self-discovery and transformation, let us embrace the practice of right restraint with open hearts and steadfast dedication.

Final Thoughts

In the pursuit of inner peace and pure mind, the practice of sense restraint offers a path of profound transformation and liberation. Through mindfulness, wisdom, and compassionate self-reflection, individuals can navigate the complexities of existence with clarity, equanimity, and grace. As we cultivate right restraint in our daily lives, may we awaken to the inherent beauty and goodness that reside within us, realizing the boundless potential for healing, growth, and awakening.


PJ Recommends to get started here:

Bhikkhu Bodhi: In the Buddha’s Words

Bhikkhu Nyanamoli: The Life of the Buddha

SuttaCentral , https://www.accesstoinsight.org/, https://suttafriends.org/

Special thanks to our sponsors:

Buddhist Youth Network, Lim Soon Kiat, Alvin Chan, Tan Key Seng, Soh Hwee Hoon, Geraldine Tay, Venerable You Guang, Wilson Ng, Diga, Joyce, Tan Jia Yee, Joanne, Suñña, Shuo Mei, Arif, Bernice, Wee Teck, Andrew Yam, Kan Rong Hui, Wei Li Quek, Shirley Shen, Ezra, Joanne Chan, Hsien Li Siaw, Gillian Ang, Wang Shiow Mei

Editor and transcriber of this episode: Cheryl Cheah, Susara Ng, Ke Hui Tee

When Loved Ones Get Our Worst: Reserving Kindness For Our Favourite People

When Loved Ones Get Our Worst: Reserving Kindness For Our Favourite People

Editor’s note: This is an adapted article from Roberta’s blog of reflection and learnings

TLDR: Running thin on kindness for your loved ones? Ro explores deeper why that happens and how we can change that.

Life’s Ironies

It’s one of life’s ironies, that we often reserve our charm and grace for colleagues and fleeting strangers, while our closest companions sometimes (or often) get the grumpy, exhausted and less-than-ideal versions of us. 

In a recent conversation with some friends (all inspiring, strong ladies), we reflected on how easy it is to take those dearest to us for granted. 

It’s like we’re keeping our kindness currency in a bank, only using the keycard for brief interactions scattered throughout our day. I’ve been pondering this behaviour and why this tends to be the case for so many of us. It is as if our bank of Metta is sucked out of us before we notice.

Great at corporate, Not-so-great at loved ones

A close friend of mine, a true corporate powerhouse, who can network with potential clients and business magnates with the charisma of a Hollywood star, reflected on how she often greets her partner with but a quick peck and a tyranny of demands. 

Such a paradox. It’s not intentional, of course — she doesn’t mean to be demanding and low energy. In the moment, she isn’t able to withhold her raw emotions and frustrations and when he’s not around, she feels worse for her behaviour. She had, what Ajahn Brahm calls, ‘Double Guilt’, the guilt from feeling guilty about doing something negative

Loved ones in our line of fire

We’ve all been there. Life’s demands and uncertainties that are associated with being an adult can leave us feeling anxious and on edge. When we’re with our loved ones, we get to come out from under the facade that we carry throughout our days and reveal our anxieties and raw emotions. 

Who better to witness this transformation than our loved ones, who end up often unfortunately in the firing line?

Showing kindness to others is an important social currency. I believe that a small kindness to a stranger can go a long way. It’s important to remember though, that friends and family are our true gems, and worthy of being treated as such. 

They care deeply, they’re the ones who see us at our worst and still love us. In a world bursting with seven billion people, these connections inject meaning and purpose into our existence. 

So then, it should be as natural as breathing to shower them with kindness and affection, right?

How often do you give your partner a warm smile?

When we talk about kindness, it’s often defined as selflessly helping others, with no expectation of receiving anything in return. 

We beam at our barista, applaud a colleague’s effort, and lend an ear to an acquaintance. With our friends and family, we often have a different bar for them and load them with expectations that we associate with our relationship. 

We don’t approach them with the same lens that we do strangers, which makes showing kindness that much more meaningful.

Unfiltered vs. Worst Self

It’s both a blessing and a curse to have our loved ones see all of us. They see the best side of us and the less patient and often curt sides of our personalities. 

Psychological studies even reveal that we sometimes unleash direct (nagging, demands) and indirect (passive-aggressiveness) aggression on our closest ones because we think they can handle it. Essentially, we treat them like the punching bags of our emotions. 

Think about that. We’re being our worst selves to our favourite people, just because they will “tolerate” it. What a twisted way of showing affection.

Imagine An Alternate Reality with Your Loved Ones

Wouldn’t it be better if we lit up when our partner entered the room? Or greeted our parents with hugs that radiate love? Maybe we should meet our friends with the energy we save for the coffee meeting with a client?

I’m not advocating for us to don masks and put up fronts before our loved ones. But it’s about acknowledging how our autopilot treatment of our loved ones can be harmful. 

Time is precious, and in our busy lives, amid countless demands, it’s vital to spoil our loved ones with kindness and appreciation. 

These are a few tips about how we can show more kindness and love to our favourite people:

Practice Stoicism — imagine life without them

This can sound morbid and negative, but that’s exactly what makes it a strong practice. In my daily meditations, I can experience the huge hole my life would have without the presence and love of my family and closest friends. 

This makes me feel a sense of immense gratitude and love for them and the time that I have with them. I’m able to be more present and more openly show my appreciation for them.

This echoes what the Buddha taught:

“ Some do not understand

that we must die,

But those who do realize this

settle their quarrels.” –Dhammapada 6

Feel and Show Gratitude for Their Actions

Ever notice the small gestures from your partner, like making you a cup of tea or opening the door for you? 

Maybe it’s a friend, listening to your latest quandary. It’s so easy to take for granted these actions from our loved ones when we are in the thick of our turmoil. 

Yet, the small actions are acts of love that we should take more time to acknowledge. Noticing these actions gives us opportunities for us to show gratitude. It can be as simple as conveying your gratitude for their actions through a heartfelt, in-the-moment “thank you.” 

By sharing gratitude and being aware of their actions, you are less likely to “attack” your loved ones. 

It comes back twofold, as it also helps future difficult conversations become more meaningful. 

You can try out Gratitude meditation guided by an awesome nun, Ayya Khema, right here.

Be Present — The Game-Changer

Quality time together requires presence and curiosity. No matter how tired, grumpy or impatient I feel, nothing turns that around and shows my partner that I care more, than by being present. 

When I am present, I have the space to appreciate that they are human beings, just like me who are experiencing their life challenges and insecurities. Presence is the key to showing love and gratitude, as it helps to create space and intentions from your actions. 

I switch off my smartphone, turn away from the screen, and just listen. Listen with compassion and love by remembering that the words that my loved ones share, convey how they feel, and this is important to me.

Amongst all the chaos of work and life, we mustn’t forget to scatter kindness where it’s most needed. 

It takes effort to ensure our loved ones feel like they are the most important people in our lives. While it’s beautiful that they get full access to see us at our worst, it’s not a free pass to treat them worse than we treat a mere stranger or colleague. 

By expressing kindness in your relationships, even when you’re venting or airing frustrations, we are paving the way for those close to us to listen and understand us. Kindness gets your needs met.

Breakups suck: Here’s how the Dhamma and loved ones helped me through it

Breakups suck: Here’s how the Dhamma and loved ones helped me through it

TLDR: Lydia shares her cycles of emotions when going through a breakup and how she eventually bounce back with the support of loved ones, healthy distractions, and deep realizations.

I was heartbroken after my first break-up. I would like to share some things that helped me through the process and I hope that it will be useful for you!

Before getting attached I used to have many crushes but they never knew until I finally told them a long time after. I used to feel needy and wondered when I would ever find a boyfriend but I had high expectations and never really settled down.

After I became more passionate about Buddhism when I was in Year 4 of university I felt that I had more emotional stability. I had fewer cravings and felt that there were more meaningful things to life than looking for a partner.

Eventually, I fell in love and found a boyfriend. Impermanence then waged war on my relationship and we broke up.

Here are realisations that helped me through the breakup, I hope that they will be useful for those going through their share of breakups

1. I am still very loved!

Post break up I felt abandoned, rejected and feelings of guilt came up. I asked myself what I should have done better.

I was unable to accept that the person I loved chose to move on. Even knowing the teachings of impermanence, I could not believe and accept that his feelings for me had changed.

I think the most important thing that helped me through was support from family and friends. To remind myself that I am still very loved. To spend time with them and to purposefully distract me till I achieve mental stability to process the difficult perceptions of abandonment and rejection. 

2. It’s okay!

It’s okay to be sad or depressed. I used to see crying as a sign of defeat or weakness.

I wanted to set a timeline for myself to heal, recover and move on, but I couldn’t. And it’s okay because creating a timeline for myself to move on added to the suffering. 

There is a strong societal stigma pertaining to depression because it seems that the person is depressed out of their own choice.

But how can we forget that no one wants to suffer and we all want to be happy and peaceful?

While some aspects of managing depression are within our control, I think that we can be very helpless when strong emotions arise. 

We can try to modify the aspects as much as we can such as avoiding triggers, distracting ourselves and not falling into habitual patterns of unwise decisions. But sometimes, we might still fail and become demoralised as a result. 

Through this experience, I really feel much more compassion for people who have gone through depression. It is not just a clinical diagnosis but a difficult life situation, which might persist for a long time.

So, I tell myself it’s okay. It’s okay to still feel sad, it’s okay to feel needy and lonely. It’s okay to have thoughts of wanting to find someone to love you. It’s okay that I still don’t know how to love myself well. It’s really okay.

And this acceptance is loving kindness and compassion to oneself. I always struggle with loving kindness for myself, not knowing how to love myself. But this acceptance is the first step. Ajahn Brahm used to teach us, ‘Be kind, Be gentle and Make peace.’ His teachings have really helped me through this difficult period.

To open the door of your heart to whatever you are experiencing, and to sit tight and remind yourself that the storm will pass. Once you get used to the process, it is about bracing yourself and preparing for the storm too!

Another teaching that was useful is the analogy of the hand. If we put our hand in front of our face, it covers our whole world and our hand is the world.

But if we put our hand back to where it belongs, at the end of our arm, we can now see the whole world.

There was a time when the break up was the world to me. There was nothing I would think of except feelings of sadness and I felt so unmotivated to do anything at all. I could not see the love from my family and friends and I was so fixated on a love that I could not get.

I believe it was a lot of romanticising the good times and forgetting the difficult times. But if you deliberately remind yourself of the other things in your life, it reminds you of the blessings that you already have. And these blessings too, are impermanent.

Ajahn Brahm also taught that a relationship that ended is like a concert that ended. All concerts come to an end no matter how good it is, such is the nature of life.

3. Awareness of what you need

Post break up I was trying to act as if nothing happened. I was trying to continue my work and Dhamma commitments as much as possible, but it was a huge mistake.

What I needed was probably just to rest and to spend time with people I love. 

There was a strong desire to reconnect with my previous boyfriend but every contact brought back difficult emotions. Yet I was still unable to let go. 

Sometimes, our thoughts can feel very real and justified, although it might not be the best decision for us. This was probably my first experience with how we cannot fully trust our thoughts.

What helped me was that when the strong desire arose, I decided not to react or take action but I went for a jog instead.

After the jog, the compulsion to act was weaker, and I made a different decision. Even if you still decide to act in the same way after coming back to it, then so be it. 

I can almost understand how obsessive people can be post-breakup. Although I was not obsessed to the extent of being a stalker, I could see many obsessive thoughts in me at one point in time. 

Acknowledging that I needed rest and help is also important. To know that I am not in a good place now and hence to take a break from the commitments at hand.

I also realised that  I needed to care for myself and to do things that made me happy.

Things that did help me were going to nature, especially going to the beach and listening to the waves was very therapeutic. Talking to family and friends or crying when you need to, listening to Dhamma talks, chanting and meditation and having adequate rest help. 

In Summary

All in all, breakups suck! But Ajahn Brahm also teaches us that our life experiences are our kammic ingredients, whether good or bad. It is up to us what kind of kamma we make out of it. 

Even with poor ingredients, we can still make a delicious meal. With our dog poo experiences, we can fertilise our mango tree, and it can be transformed into delicious mangoes!

And when we taste yummy mangoes, we are reminded of the dog poo in it. So when you see happy relationships, we must also remember to go – Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu, because who knows what kind of dog poo others have experienced?

Lastly, it will all pass, good or bad. And good, bad, who knows. Taking refuge in the triple gems and guarding my kamma and keeping myself close to the practice is probably what is most meaningful for me in this lifetime.  That being said, a broken heart still takes time to heal. So be kind and patient with yourself and give yourself as much time as you need. Buddha bless!

Wise Steps:

  • Breakups suck, and acknowledging that sucky-ness is the first step to being in tune with your emotions. 
  • Don’t believe all your thoughts! Such events can trigger different thoughts that might seem very real but actually aren’t real. 
  • To know what you need and take part in activities that might help such as jogging, exercise, nature walks
Decoding Year-End Reviews: A Buddhist Approach to Career Pit Stops

Decoding Year-End Reviews: A Buddhist Approach to Career Pit Stops

TLDR: Join Sharon in mastering the SBI framework infused with Dhamma wisdom for delivering feedback, fostering understanding, and resolving differences mindfully.

Career Journey Checkpoints

As a leadership coach, I have been seeing clients who are anxious about the year-end performance reviews. 

It is common for both the individual contributors and the managers to feel anxiety, nervousness, confusion, wariness etc.

“How can I ask for a salary increment? A promotion?” 

“How can I talk about my achievements without sounding boastful?” 

“How can I give negative feedback to my direct report?” 

These are questions that we can tackle from a Dhamma perspective. 

Often, there are some HR guidelines to prepare one for the 1-1 performance reviews. For the individual contributor, it involves self-reflection, listing your achievements of the year, strengths you have applied to good effect, areas of development for next year, any career progression desire etc. 

I recommend giving yourself proper quiet time to do this reflection. Instead of feeling the burden of an official performance review, an official writeup, we might use this opportunity to check in with ourselves with compassion. 

Try not to be overly attached to the negatives, especially if there is “constructive feedback” from a 360 report. 

We might turn attention back to our bodies, noticing the tension arising, breath quickening, as we encounter some triggers and perhaps self-judgment. 

In the The Satipatthana Sutta-“Contemplation on Mental Objects – The Five Hindrances” , it is mentioned, 

When agitation and worry are present, he knows with understanding: ‘I have agitation and worry,’ or when agitation and worry are not present, he knows with understanding: ‘I have no agitation and worry.’ 

He understands how the arising of non-arisen agitation and worry comes to be; and he understands how the abandoning of the arisen agitation and worry comes to be; and he understands how the non-arising in the future of the abandoned agitation and worry comes to be.”

We might reframe this one-time performance review as a single check-point in our broader career journey. It is not the final destination, nor a permanent verdict. 

We might notice the agitation and worry, but choose not to be attached to it. 

How the Dhamma can help you get promoted!

I had a client who wanted to ask her manager for a promotion with a change of title and salary increment. 

She felt that it was long overdue, having taken up projects outside her scope of work, always being proactive to help others out, showcasing her strengths and skills in the process. 

She swayed between feeling indignant with pent-up resentment, and feeling undeserving with crippling self-doubt. I asked her to pause for a moment, and honestly answer these questions. 

“Why do you spend extra time and energy taking up all these new projects?”

She answered, “Because I see the gaps and where I can contribute with my skills and knowledge.”

“What is the Impact of you doing all these?” 

She answered, “The team feels more confident to move forward quickly, we all felt a sense of accomplishment when the project is completed successfully! We then celebrate with good food and drinks together…I feel happy my ideas are accepted, and that I made a positive impact on the team.” 

“What is your current role, and how do you see yourself instead?”

She took a long pause, “Currently I am just an Admin executive, but I have in fact been playing the role of a Project Manager.” 

She knows her value, her contributions and her impact on the team and the organization. She had to first update her self-narrative in her mind, and find the words to articulate her intention to her manager. 

It kick-started the development conversation, eventually it got escalated by her manager to HR, who then mapped her to a new title and grade.

She was successful not by using hard negotiation skills or trickery, but by speaking with clarity, from a place larger than her Self. Here are some tips to get you started: 

  • Use words and phrases that convey your point clearly and with confidence. Use “I want”, “I would like to”, “I can”, “I have successfully done…”, “I am confident to…”. Avoid words and phrases that take power away from you, or project self-doubt. Stay clear of phrases such as “I guess…”, “At least I might…”, “I am just a…”
  • Articulate the value you bring to the team and organization. Cite quantifiable evidence of the value and impact of your work. Be ready with your performance data, feedback collected, success stories, anything else that would support your claim for promotion. This is the ammunition that you can provide to your manager for him/her to justify your promotion to the management (if applicable). 
  • If you still feel the jitters, speak to a trusted mentor or wise friend. Get some advice from her/him, especially if she/he has navigated similar situations skillfully.
  • Some of my clients put in extra time to rehearse, or role play the conversation with someone. If you do not have a coach, a partner or a trusted friend, pets or stuffed animals would work too. If it helps, strike a power pose (think superman or wonderwoman), or put on imaginary armour (think ironman). This does not work for everyone though, but it is always worth a shot. I would be curious to know what worked for you! 

Of course, we know life is not perfect, there will be a dozen unsuccessful cases that come with each success story. There are simply other factors outside of our control. 

Arrows at work and in the heart

During or after the performance review, we may feel wronged, agitated, angry at the unfairness of it all.

There’s a story about suffering in the Sallatha Sutta, one of the oldest Buddhist texts. The story is often retold(with a touch of humour) like this: 

The Buddha once asked a student, “If a person is struck by an arrow, is it painful?” The student said duh. He then asked, ”If the person is struck by a second arrow, is it even more painful?” Again, the student said yes, Duh!

The Buddha then explained, “In life, we can’t always control the first arrow. However, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. This second arrow is optional.”

With mindfulness, we can become aware of the second arrow. I have a client who literally feels the impact of the second arrow in his body. It starts with tension in the neck, then shoulders, followed by a heaviness pressing on his chest. No, he did not have a heart attack, but he has clearly felt the self-amplified, paralysing weight of the second arrow.

The awareness that this is a second arrow means he has a choice now. He can choose how he wants to react to the first arrow. In his case it is usually an urgent notification escalating an issue at work, demanding his immediate attention and disrupting his work day.

Instead of immediately feeling stressed, he realised he can pause, discern the urgency of the escalation, and choose whether he needs to attend to it immediately.

He started to feel that he can decide what to prioritise, and how he wants to react. Sometimes he physically stands up, stretches out his chest and arms, intentionally taking a deep breath, before reading the escalation email in detail again.

Becoming a better manager

If you are a manager (or one day might become one), the challenge might be to deliver negative feedback to your direct report. 

In official leadership training to new managers, I often teach the SBI framework – Situation, Behaviour, Impact. 

This is a great framework to give specific, actionable feedback for future improvement. I suggest to add a touch of Dhamma to it! 

In the Pasadika Sutta – “Resolving Differences in Opinion”, the teaching suggests “neither dismissing nor disparaging him, without dismissing him, without disparaging him, you should, with careful attention, make him comprehend only those wordings.” You can find a wonderful Sutta discussion on this by Venerable Canda on Youtube

The Sutta mentions there can be Disagreements on the Meaning, Disagreements on the Wording, or both. The key is to be mindful of our intention, and approach these differences with compassion. 

Our own mindset and emotions will already set the tone of the discussion. The words we use can be triggers for the other person, triggering strong emotions. 

When we hold on strongly to our views, it is almost like a verdict with no room for discussion and clarification, much less exploration or co-creation. 

Instead of going into a tough conversation trying to “win over” the other person, we might ask open-ended questions to engage in discussion.

Sometimes simply asking “How can I support you?” or “What do you need from me?” would work. We have to be mindful that strong words or phrases can trigger negative emotions. Try to stay objective and avoid attacking the person with “You are always so rude/lazy/slow” etc. 

Corporate & Compassion?

In the corporate setting we sometimes feel limited by unspoken boundaries. Do we share emotions? Talk about our fears? Say out loud the narratives or assumptions in our heads? 

Do we have the courage and skills to hold space for the person sharing these? Do we have the emotional vocabulary to label the emotion we are feeling? 

It is often a process to self-reflect, learn and experiment as we go along this journey. My ask of you is to meet people where they are, regardless of what stage they are at, with compassion for a fellow Sentient Being.

Once you have internalized these suttas & ways to approach tough conversations, performance reviews will feel more like a walk in the park.

Wise Steps:

  • Block time for self-reflection, update your self-narrative in your mind, and find the words to articulate your intention to your manager.
  • Stop stabbing yourself with the second arrow. Talk to a wise mentor or Kalyāṇa-mittatā (virtuous friend or admirable friend).
  • Meet people where they are, regardless of what stage they are at, with compassion for a fellow Sentient Being (Being that has senses). 
Mooncake & Lanterns: Love is not what it seems

Mooncake & Lanterns: Love is not what it seems

It’s Mid-Autumn Fest! What can Chinese V Day teach us about love? Kyle unpacks some lessons he has learnt through his life’s journey and shines a light on how we can look at lanterns differently.

With the Mid-Autumn Festival (Chinese Valentine’s Day) in full swing coupled with the Korean and Thai drama series I’ve been watching lately, I can’t help but ponder the four-letter word (not the infamous word that starts with the letter F) that we all feel but may not fully comprehend – LOVE.

Love’s Complexity and Tragedy

As a 44-year-old man, I know I should better understand love, but I’ve never had a relationship (let alone an exciting one) or a boyfriend. 

Instead, the only ‘exciting’ things I have experienced were tragedies.  I’ve experienced insecurity about my body, battled cancer, and struggled with my queer identity. I often wonder what I’m missing out on without a special someone to love or be loved by. Pondering deeper, maybe it is better to focus on what I have and can experience rather than what I am lacking in my life

Exploring love through Buddhism

In the Buddhist community, we often hear about love through the concept of loving-kindness (Metta). The root word of Metta is ‘Mitta’ which means friend. The feeling of friendliness is probably the easiest way to grasp this concept and the fuzzy & warm feeling it entails.

Metta is not to be confused with compassion. Compassion is associated with a willingness to comprehend the pain of others and support them in their hardships. 

While this is an important trait and another of the Four Divine States of Buddhism (Four Brahmaviharas), it’s not what loving kindness is.

I especially love how the Buddha used the term “loving-kindness” rather than just “Love” alone. Love that is expressed in conjunction with kindness. This got me thinking about how kindness and love can be intertwined.

Why Love Needs Kindness

While kindness is selfless, I’ve observed that loving someone or being loved seems to come with an expectation of something in return. Couples argue about not giving each other enough time/effort/love and this makes me curious about what Buddha meant by loving-kindness.

The concept of loving-kindness in Buddhism is often associated with the idea of cultivating compassion for all beings, regardless of their relationship to us. In the Metta Sutta, there is a passage that says

“Let none deceive another,

Or despise any being in any state.”

“Let none through anger or ill-will,

Wish harm upon another.”

After reading this passage, it’s important to understand that loving kindness isn’t simply about being kind to certain people or only one’s friends or family. It requires one to be free of harmful thoughts and extend that kindness to all beings. Yes, this extends even to the uncle/auntie who keeps asking you when are you getting married.

Although this seems hard, practising this kind of love can be both selfless and unconditional. We often underestimate the capacity to what extent one can practice loving-kindness selflessly and unconditionally. Consistently practising the art of unconditional love is possible and rewarding!

Practising loving-kindness allows us to be more open-minded, making room for opposing views and emotions while reducing our egocentric tendencies.

By doing so, we become resilient to negative experiences and are less likely to be impacted by them.

Be like earth

Like the earthy ground we walk on – it endures all kinds of waste, from trash to urine to water. Despite this, it never complains. Instead, it gracefully absorbs and transforms what it’s given into something nourishing. 

Is there anything more loving or kind to oneself than the freedom that comes from not carrying the negative thoughts?

The Power of Meditation and Mindfulness in Cultivating Loving-Kindness

Mindfulness and meditation are powerful practices that can help cultivate a sense of loving-kindness. 

Meditation promotes mindfulness, which in turn raises awareness and dispels our attachment to certain views or ignorance. Mindfulness involves being fully present in the moment, without judgment or distraction, and meditation can help achieve this state by training the mind to focus and quiet the chatter of thoughts.

When we are mindful, we can better appreciate the beauty of the present moment and connect with ourselves and others.

Through the loving-kindness meditation I’ve experienced, I can cultivate a sense of loving kindness towards ourselves and others. This involves recognizing the inherent worth and dignity of all beings and wishing them happiness, health, and peace.

By practising loving kindness regularly, we can become more empathetic, patient, and understanding towards others, and develop a greater sense of inner peace and contentment.

Incorporating goodness into our daily routine

Incorporating acts of kindness and compassion into our daily routines is not only beneficial for those who receive them, but it can also have a positive impact on the giver. 

Imagine if this is how we express our love daily, how much worthy love can be in pursuing? 

When we intentionally send loving kindness to those around us, we are more inclined to treat them with kindness and compassion. This can foster more peaceful and harmonious relationships, improve communication, and increase empathy.

Moreover, the pursuit of loving kindness can have a broader societal impact. When more individuals practice loving kindness, it can create a ripple effect of kindness and compassion, leading to a more compassionate and peaceful society.

Ultimately, you can’t break up with the loving-kindness you have shared with others, can you? 

As a single and fabulous 🙂 44-year-old gay man, I’ve come to realize that I don’t need to find love or a partner to feel fulfilled.

Instead, I’ve found a way to love the world around me, rather than simply loving a selected few.

As I strolled down the street, I couldn’t help but admire the stunning lanterns adorning the decorations. It dawned on me that this is what the mid-autumn festival is truly about – the lanterns symbolize inclusivity, shining their light equally for everyone. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, it doesn’t matter.

The design or shape of the lanterns is irrelevant; The soft glow of the lantern can also represent the gentle warmth of human kindness, spreading light and love in the midst of darkness. 

Nurturing a sense of loving-kindness requires deep introspection and healthy connections with others. 

It’s a lifelong journey that can enrich our lives in countless ways. 

By embracing kindness, and empathy, and opening our hearts, we can gain a better understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. At last, I just want to say I love you too.

The best ‘mooncake’ we can give ourselves

Just like mooncakes, people prefer different types of mooncakes. Being okay with your own mooncake’s shape and flavours and those that surround you can make you a lantern in a world that can seem dark.

Nurturing a sense of loving-kindness requires deep introspection and healthy connections with others. 

It’s a lifelong journey that can enrich our lives in countless ways. 

By embracing kindness, and empathy, and opening our hearts, we can gain a better understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. I just want to say I love you too. 

Wise Steps:

  • Practice Loving-Kindness Meditation: Regularly meditate on kindness to enhance empathy and understanding in relationships.
  • Perform Daily Acts of Kindness: Extend intentional acts of kindness to others, promoting better communication and empathy.
  • Embrace Inclusivity: Focus on spreading warmth and love to all, regardless of your relationship status, and find fulfilment in loving the world around you.
#WW: 😪 Mommy verbally abuses Daddy daily. What can I do?

#WW: 😪 Mommy verbally abuses Daddy daily. What can I do?

Wholesome Wednesdays (WW): Bringing you curated positive content on Wednesdays to uplift your hump day.

Home conflicts can be a struggle. What does a Buddhsit monk advice to his followers to do when in such a situation? How can we prevent ourselves from becoming our biggest enemy? Today we explore one Dhamma story and one personal sharing

  1. Mummy is always scolding Dad, what can I do?
  2. Speak to yourself the way you would speak to a friend.

Mummy is always scolding Dad, what can I do?

Cr: Unsplash


Ajahn Kalyano, Abbot of Buddha Bodhivana Monastery, answers a question about verbal abuse in the family. He shares some useful tips that a child can undertake to help reduce friction at home. He shares also how we have to see that the abuser is also stuck by their conditions and we can do what is skillful to help them increase that awareness

You’re not going to be able to teach your mother…help her be more aware of what she is doing.

Wise Steps

  • Can we see the suffering in the person who inflicts harm on our loved ones? Will that change our approach to them?
  • Contemplate: How can I raise awareness of the harm caused by our loved ones?

Check video here or below!

Speak to yourself the way you would speak to a friend.

CR: Lexica


Peter Attia, a MD focused on longevity science, shares how we can remove negative self talk by imagining our self criticism differently. When we fail, we tend to talk to ourselves negatively and harshly, Peter recommends talking to ourselves in the manner which we would talk to our own best friend. It is amazing how much compassion we show for others and not for ourselves.

I was in tears… It was such a shift of how kind I was being to that person.

Wise Steps

  • When was the last time you talked kindly to yourself?
  • Everytime the self critic arises, talk to yourself the way you would talk to a bestfriend who screwed up

Watch it here