We spoke to Sydney mum of 3 and recently ordained Buddhist nun Kelsang Dana about Buddhist meditation and how it helped her find her path amongst the craziness of city life. She has some tips on how to start on your own path to a peaceful mind.
City living has the potential to be overpowered by work, stress, and just general busy-ness, often meaning we forget to take time to simply be with ourselves and our minds.
Recently ordained Buddhist nun Kelsang Dana, whose role involves running classes on Buddhist meditation and teachings at Sydney’s Mahasiddha Kadampa Meditation Centre, tells her story;
“I first came to Buddhism 8 and a half years ago because I had got myself to a point where all the ‘normal’ ways of coping and being happy had stopped working for me,” Dana said.
“So, I decided to do what I had been promising myself I would for years, which is learn to meditate – it had always been one of those self-improvement things that I hadn’t ever gotten around to.”
The reason Dana had put off learning meditation for so long is what puts many of us off trying new things – a fear of failure, and the excuse that we are simply too busy to fit in anything new.
“I had a naturally busy mind – talkative and busy, and I kind of had this preconception that I couldn’t meditate or that I wouldn’t be very good at it, so I put it off,” Dana said.
“But something I quickly learned is that anyone can meditate. There’s no such thing as someone who can’t meditate. Even the talkative, busy people.
“I started to do 5 minutes breathing meditation every day– just once a day, 5 minutes of sitting and just concentrating on the sensations of my breath. And I was so busy that it felt like a big deal to find 5 minutes every day, but it was amazing what a difference that 5 minutes makes to the way my mind feels the rest of the time.”
Dana says that the craziness of life in Sydney often pulls people away from the mindfulness needed to live our best lives and be our best selves.
“Sydney is such a fabulous, interesting place to live – we’re so lucky there’s always something brilliant to do, but we all do work really hard,” Dana said.
“Meditation gets our thoughts and feelings in perspective so that they don’t sweep us away and beat us up – by going inwards, everything outwardly becomes more enjoyable and the problems become more manageable,” she said.
“I’ve learnt that my thoughts and feelings don’t have total power over me – and that’s the key to living a good life in Sydney.”
Being too busy is an excuse we all use far too often, but Dana believes that we can all find time to focus on our mental and spiritual wellbeing – it’s simply about using that precious spare time we do have in a meaningful way.
“We all think we’re really busy, but we do have some time that we’re choosing to spend in certain ways – whether that’s flopped in front of the TV or complaining about a problem to our friends – so I started to choose to use that time deliberately,” Dana said.
Ultimately, you don’t need to be in a rainforest or on a beach to find the peace and calm we often associate with spirituality or meditation or Buddhism: all you need is some quality time with your mind.
“The most beautiful thing about Buddhist meditation is that you start to discover the peaceful depths of your own mind. It teaches this wiser way of thinking and reacting to the world, which is the antidote to that stress,” Dana said.
“That was a huge change for me, just thinking and realising ‘you know I’m really happy in my own mind.’ And then that makes everything else lovely and okay.”
For more information on Kadampa Buddhism and the classes offered across Sydney, visit meditateinsydney.org.
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