Practicing For Others

I had a realization last week while practicing with my sangha. I meant to write about it then, but then school started and my week got all crazy, so I’m only writing about it now.

We all practiced this guided meditation on Buddha Shakyamuni; visualizing the Buddha and feeling his love and compassion filling us, and then sending that love and compassion to our family and friends, and even to those we might consider enemies. And as I sat there meditating, I realized that my practice really isn’t just about me. I have to practice for the people around me.

I have to practice my siblings. I have five siblings who are all younger than me. I don’t see them much, but I have to practice for them so that when I do see them, I can show them that there’s a better way to approach life. I grew up in a family that held fear and control as its currency. I have to practice to show my siblings that they don’t have to be afraid of Life. That they don’t have to fear people and ideas that they don’t understand. That they can learn to let go of judgment and control and learn to be the best versions of themselves.

I have to practice for my friends. For the people I know who may be feeling alone and discouraged right now. I have to learn to practice compassion and understanding for them. That way I can be for them when they need me, and can give them the help that they need.

People see different things when they look at the Buddha. Some see endless love, or compassion, or wisdom. I see all those things, but I also see dignity, and a quiet strength. I realized that I’m practicing to achieve that same quiet strength, so that I can truly help the people around me. Doing so will help me make a difference in my world and the world around me. It’s not just about me anymore.

But it starts with me.


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