It’s easy to get inside your head and stay there. But so much anxiety and depression is governed by our thoughts. This is the paradox of living in a fast-moving world. We need to slow down to break out of the cycle of anxiety and depression. Meditation is one of the most effective tools in achieving this because it allows you to detach from the constant mind-chatter, which includes thinking distortions and false fears, and permits you to find some peace. I’d like to offer some techniques to start you on this path.
My Spiritual Path
I was already on a spiritual path before grad school, but it was Thich Nhat Hanh who pushed me into the direction of integrating Buddhist principles with psychotherapy. These principles are powerful tools you can use to build inner peace, but setting the intention to be mindful of each minute can be a challenge, even for experts like Pema Chodron.
If you meditate, even for five minutes a day, you can awaken to something powerful: You choose where the mind goes.
That’s the first step toward detachment. Now, some people think of detachment as becoming “disengaged,” but it’s really more about being aware of where our mind goes, and awakening to the fact that we need not rebuild the ego’s defenses.
As Buddha said upon his awakening, “I have met the builder and broken the ridgepole. I will not build that house again.”
There are forms of meditation where we have a soft gaze at Buddha or another iconic figure. In the gaze and meditative state, we tap into our own Buddha or Jizo-nature, activating that part of ourselves that is greater than the ego. I created the small wearable icons of Jizo and Chibi to help with this. They help us connect and provide a focal point to calm the mind.
It seems that nearly everyone who meditates comes to a place where they give up. They do not have the patience. They do not see the results they think they are supposed to see. Even if you do not sit in meditation, holding a Jizo you are wearing can still provide a moment of peace in the midst of a busy day when uncomfortable feelings arise.
It’s my hope that in the wearing of Jizo, one continues to make contact with our meditative figure all day long. The figure becomes a touchstone, a reminder, to become mindful and then practice placing the ego and its anxious, non-productive narratives into the care of Jizo, the Earth Womb’s, robes …climbing in where we see Chibi sitting on his chest. That’s us: We are little Chibi and we place our little self in the care of our Vast Self.
Wearing Chibi has an equally powerful effect of reminding us to care for the inner child by placing it in the care of Jizo. I think of Jizo as a representation of the “unsuspected inner resource” the philosopher William James spoke of in Varieties of Religious Experience. I’ve written a meditation you might like to put all of this together. Just Google the word “Circum-Respiration,” whenever you want to meditate.
Wearing the Jizo reminds us to stay mindful and move toward compassion, to remember to breathe in a circle … to be in our bodies and present to the precious moment which is right now.