Buddhism: Moving on from Unhappiness

DharmaChakra

“Overcome your uncertainties and free yourself from the dwelling of sorrow.  If you delight in existence, you will become a guide to those who need you, revealing the path to many.”

From the Sutta Nipatta

The Buddha teaches us in the Four Noble Truths that life is dukkha, suffering.  The cause of dukkha is our unfulfilled desires & ambition and clinging to everything which is impermanent.  This passage highlights the importance of dropping the dukkha in our lives and moving on by “freeing ourselves from the dwelling of sorrow.”  I find the comparison of our sorrow or dukkha to a dwelling quite apropos.

In the past ten years, I have moved only three times, but each time, I’ve found the whole process to be stressful: finding a new place to live, packing up my belongings, and moving them, and then getting used to a new location, new room mates, and new sets of circumstances.  For many of us, transition is difficult.  Even if we would be much better off in a better space.  At one of my previous residences, we had a rodent problem, and though it was annoying, I was fairly satisfied living there rather than moving to a new house.  When I did move, however, and I took the effort to move to a better location, I was much happier.

The analogy of moving on, of dropping our dukkha dwellings is a poignant reminder of how difficult it is to deal with suffering in life, but the Buddha gives us a systematic approach to finding happiness in our everyday existence through the Eightfold Noble path:

Right View

Right Thought

Right Speech

Right Conduct

Right Livelihood

Right Effort

Right Mindfulness

Right Meditation

The truth is that happiness is already here waiting for us to discover it: existence itself is something over which we should delight. If we examine our birth into the world and the probability of the string of events occurring exactly as they have, our very existence as it stands is nigh miraculous. We are a part of an intricately woven chain, and happiness surrounds us. The Eightfold Noble path is a more descript path to happiness, and is a wonderful guide post, and a way for us to share happiness with others through our behavior.

Change must ultimately come from within, and by living an inspirational life of happiness, we can lead others to a content existence. This inspirational leadership is what truly speaks to me as a Buddhist; so often times we find ourselves in situations where we are being coerced, where someone thinks they can inflict change upon us, but change, true growth, is something we must desire fore ourselves. When we see happiness and contentment in others, oftentimes we seek that happiness from them.

Namo Amida Butsu

Signature.jpg

Metabolism, Diet, and Body Weight

Though this might be a bit of a tough topic for my first post, I’m going to try to tackle metabolism head-on, because it’s something about which I am quite passionate. Unfortunately, there are a lot of fads, fasts, diets, and cleanses that saturate the fitness market- unfortunate because to successfully utilize these tools, we must really know how they affect our bodies. Put simply and excluding units, weight loss is a matter of an easy equation: 

(Intake Calories) – (Output Calories) = Net Weight Gain or Loss 

If we apply this formula to our diets every day (with a lot of self-control), we can achieve our goals! In actuality, this process of weight loss isn’t as easy as that (even if you have unbelievable self-control). As animals, our bodies are fine-tuned, miraculous machines that are able to make adjustments to how they function based on their environment (that includes our diets and activity levels). We might think that having a daily 500 calorie deficit is the best way to approach weight-loss: that’s something like 25% of our average daily calorie allowance, so in a month, we could finally get rid of that pesky 10 lbs. In actuality, having such a large deficit would allow us to lose weight, but depending on our activity levels and macronutrient intake (protein, carbohydrates, and fats- I’ll touch on these in a later post), we could be doing some major damage to our metabolism and to our muscles! After a week of such a big caloric deficit, our metabolism will start to slow down. Our bodies will burn off some fat, but protein is much easier for our bodies to convert into energy, so the areas we really want to minimize: stomach, love handles, thighs, etc. aren’t changing as much as we would like. As our bodies burn muscle for energy, and our metabolism slows due to the decreased muscle mass. We burn calories by using our muscles, and when there is less muscle to work, we burn fewer calories. So we have this horrible feedback loop of reducing our resting metabolic rate when we have a huge calorie deficit. Ultimately, my point is that, creating large caloric deficits like those popular in cleanses, fasts, or extreme diets is not good for you, and in the long run, will create road blocks to achieving fitness goals. At the same time, if a cleanse or a fast helps to jump start your getting into fitness, then go for it! Just make sure that you do these, just like everything else, in moderation. Getting fit, being healthy, and improving our lives involves overcoming bad habits and creating new ones- a huge part of it exists in our minds. Most importantly, be mindful of your body. If something hurts don’t do it. Most importantly, examine exercise routines and diets with a critical eye, and ask QUALIFIED friends (CPT’s, licensed nutritionists, etc.) for advice if you aren’t sure. Don’t just take marketing or the opinions of spokespeople as science. There are a lot of companies out there that know just how desperate for instant gratification humans are!

Until next time! Signature.jpg