Practice and livelihood

Does your job cause benefit to others?  Is it beneficial?  Does it improve people’s lives?

This week I am focusing on the concept of “right livelihood”.

It is an area that I am having difficulty with.  I don’t harm anybody as a result of my employment, however am I benefiting anyone?

I was listening though to an interesting talk though by Gil Fronsdal, and he explored the concept that it isn’t just what we do, but HOW we do it.

We can carry out our work in such a way that our attitude and behaviour enriches the lives of those around us – our co-workers, and those we come into contact with as a result of our work.

We can work with positivity, kindness and joy.  And with gentle calmness and a sense of personal ethics.  Our work can be full of dignity and compassion.  And we can move the people around us with a sense of contentment and piece.

Our job may not itself be beneficial, but the way that we do it enriches people’s lives.

He also asked the question, “How does my livelihood support my practice?”

I would like to pose this question as well:

“How does my practice support my livelihood?”

I – like many others – don’t have the luxury of throwing in my jobs to go on a quest for the perfect job that fits the definition of “right livelihood”.  And nor would I want to anyway.  I enjoy and value my jobs.  I design and build websites, I am a personal assistant, and I also teach (and write about) personal development.

My goal this week is to use my practice to support my livelihood.  To benefit others not through what I am doing, but how I am doing it.

To bring mindfulness and kindness to my work life as well as my personal life.

I am interested to hear your experiences.

Are you satisfied with your job?  Do you feel it contributes to society?  Have you thrown it in to pursue something more altruistic?  



The week of right speech

As mentioned in my last post, I’m enjoying listening to talks by Gil Fronsdal on the Eightfold Path.  

I would really like to explore this area further, and in more depth, and I had an idea this afternoon – I will devote one week to each step of the path.  To try to learn as much as I can, and incorporate it as much as possible into my life.

So this week is Right Speech.

I’d love to hear – have you read any books that you recommend on Skilful speech?  Or any articles or blog posts?  Or even any tricks that you use to remember to speak wisely?

Right speech is an area I am so passionate about, and interested in.

We can do both great harm and benefit with our speech.  And it’s so interesting to be mindful of what we are saying, and how we are saying it.

I think for me the greatest challenge will be no idle speech. Not so much gossip (which I don’t participate in), but more chatter with no particular purpose.  

So that will be a particular goal for me this week 🙂

Blessings to you all,


The power of intention

I’m currently listening to a series of talks by Gil Fronsdal on the eightfold path.

I’ll be honest – I’m probably Gil’s biggest fan :D.  I absolutely adore his talks, and am grateful beyond words for what I have learnt from listening to them.

I’m currently up to the 2nd in the series of talks – this one on Right Intention.  And this – along with Right Speech – are my 2 favourite areas of Buddhism.

I’m endlessly fascinated by the effects that both of these areas can have in our lives.

During this talk Gil recommended focusing on our intentions, and how we want to be in this world.  In both large and small ways.  And how we can incorporate it into every are of our lives – from what we want to achieve long term, to how we want to be when we are in the grocery store.

Since listening to this talk (several times in order to take it all in), I’ve listed the following as my deepest intentions:

♥  Parent with calmness, gentleness, softness, understanding, empathy, love and kindness.

♥  Use my free time to learn and apply the teachings of the dharma in my life.

♥  Practice kindness as a way of life.

♥  Savour life and live life slowly and with purpose.


Further to deciding our intentions – and asking ourselves not just once, but continuously  to dig deeper beneath our automatic response – Gil recommended giving our intentions great attention whilst meditating.

He gave the example of people who mentally set an “inner alarm clock” to the time they want to wake up the next day.  And the fact that without giving it thought through the night, they do wake up at exactly that time, or just before.  And I have experienced this phenomena frequently in my own life.

So last night I followed his recommendation, and whilst calm and centred during meditation, I gave my intentions great focus.  Although I let them come to me naturally without having to think about them.  And the 3 that came up last night were:

*  Follow the eightfold path.

*  Find opportunities for kindness.

*  Parent with gentleness and calm.


I found it to be a really interesting experience.  And this afternoon, for no other reason that I could explain, I felt very calm and relaxed and centred.

My son was in a really foul mood, it was pouring rain (and we have a long way to walk) yet even those things didn’t affect my feeling of calm.  And I must admit I was proud of how I managed to stay equanimous even whilst dealing with 7 year old tantrums.

And although I would not generally describe myself as a laid back parent, I was surprised with my response to the pouring rain.  At first I tried to keep my son under the umbrella, and dry, but then I stopped trying to control him, and gave him the freedom to enjoy it.  I let him run ahead in the rain, laughing and skipping and just enjoying life.  And I must admit it felt GREAT.

Even to the point where I encouraged him to take off his shoes and socks and jump in the puddles :D.  This had him quite intrigued – as a child with autism he doesn’t generally welcome things that are outside his usual routine.  However he loved it.  He was running home jumping in puddles and yelling that it was the best day ever.

And I just felt so calm and happy – to see him enjoying life like that.

I can’t wait to explore this area of setting intentions further.

And I’m interested to know – do you set daily intentions?  If so, what are they?




I see you

I listened to an interesting dharma talk by Gil Fronsdal yesterday, on how we define ourselves and other people.

I wouldn’t consider myself judgemental ordinarily, but it made me realise that I too am guilty of seeing people through the labels I have defined them by.

My Mum comes to mind.  I realised I always see her through the filter of “mum”.  But she is a person in her own right.  She was her own person – an individual – before she had me.  And she continued to be her own person after I was born.

It’s easy to see people through filters.  By their sex.  Or occupation.

Or even by a previous encounter we have had with them – either pleasant or unpleasant.

Perhaps we see them as “angry”, or “emotional”, based on that encounter.

However no person can be defined by one label.

Even yourself.

You are the sum of everyone you have ever met.  Every experience you have ever had.  Your hopes, dreams and intentions.

Today’s practice:

Pick a prominent person in your life.

Spend some time reflecting – what “labels” have you defined them by?

How else can you see them?  How many ways can you describe them?


define nothing. Not beauty, not patriotism. I take each thing as it is, without prior rules about what it should be.
Bob Dylan 


Why did you say that??

I am a HUGE fan of Gil Fronsdal and his dharma talks.

It’s actually on my ‘bucket list’ to travel to Redwood City to listen to him talk in person at the Insight Meditation Centre (just putting it out there universe! 🙂 )

One dharma talk of his that especially stayed with me was “Mindfulness of Speaking”.

I am planning on doing a whole post dedicated to mindfulness of speech (because it’s such a wonderful subject to explore), but there was one thing he said that really resonated with me, and changed the way that I think.

And it was:

“If you want to jump-start your mindfulness practice, to go deep in Buddhist Practice, then here is the direct path…

Be aware of why you are saying what you are about to say


So when you speak – what is the motivation behind what you are saying.  And what exactly are you sharing?

Are you sharing delight?

Are you sharing information?

Or are you really trying to say something about yourself?  

How many times, when you speak, does what you say contain useful information that needs to be passed on?

How much is opinion?  And gossip?  And trying to accomplish something subtly?


There can be multiple agendas and purposes behind what we are saying.

It’s a wonderful and enlightening exercise to think about what you are going to say before you say it.

To take note of your intention before you speak, and your state of mind.  

Is it calm?  Relaxed?  Friendly?

Your speech will likely follow your state of mind.

For me, listening to this talk – and following Gil’s advice – created a paradigm shift.

It changed my way of thinking forever.



“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh