“Is it the world that’s busy, or is it my mind?”

Haemin Sunim

Our visions of the “world” are candidly associated with our minds’ perceptions. While separating the “world” and the “mind” as two different entities is common, according to the Great Buddha, the boundary between the mind and the world is actually thin, porous, and ultimately illusory. In this present era of hustle culture- where slowing down is discouraged, training our minds to gather respite from the perpetually busy world has become somewhat obligatory. Haemin Sunim’s 2013 publication “The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down” presents a handy guidebook to do just that.

As a Buddhist monk and former professor who has the favor of lifetime experiences incorporated in his teachings, Sunim discusses a few requisite mindful activities on the path to spirituality. This article aims to introduce you to those activities in a much clear and simpler way! 

Be Familiar with Your Mind

The foremost idea that Sunim touches on in his book is spiritual intimacy, your oneness with your being. As it has once been said, we view the world through our minds’ eyes. If we keep our minds cluttered with unnecessary baggage, our subjective vision of the world turns equally clammy. Sunim says, “Too many choices make people unhappy.” For this reason, schooling our minds to prioritize their objectives and working towards them is necessary. When we understand our minds a little better, the world seems a little less intimidating and more welcoming. 

Bring a Change to Your Perspective

Navigating through life is seldom easy. We must overcome countless obstacles to guarantee a better state of living; both physically and mentally. One person’s idea of a troublesome situation may vary from that of another’s. For instance, your annoyance at having to cram yourself into a crowded subway car is contradictory to your friend’s reverence, who is grateful to not have missed that very car. Have you ever questioned yourself about such differences in mindsets? Evaluate your circumstances with respect to someone who has it worse than you. When we change our pessimism about certain situations to have a positive outlook, our minds convert their initial negative stimuli as well. According to the author, “It’s not the situation that is troubling us, but our perspective on it.” Therefore, to live life in a content manner, being a tad optimistic goes a long way. 

Invest Time in Your Heart

We have all heard of the expression, “Time heals everything,” have we not?  The meaning being, instead of meddling with our wounds, we should allow them to sit at rest sometimes. The tide of emotions we feel due to their presence might seem unbearable at first. But it shall become easy in due course. Haemin Sunim advises us to not dwell over our grudges. Dwelling on tattered expectations or hurtful interactions does not make the pain go away faster. Instead, it settles inside our minds and plays cruel tricks on us. What we can do in this regard, is work through our pain. We should allow ourselves to flow as time prompts us to. This way, the agony will subside on its own.

Be Mindful of Your Emotions

This section of Haemin Sunim’s teaching is fairly simple to catch on. Be aware of your emotions. When you are angry, be aware of your temper. When you are sad, be aware of the cause of your misery. If you feel irritated by something or someone, be aware of what they did to kindle this unpleasant feeling inside you. We experience such a wide spectrum of emotions every day, that it is natural for us to lose control of them. However, if you become aware of your emotions, you can engage in necessary practices to deal with or get rid of them. “Exercise, talk to your mentor, meditate on loving-kindness. As we begin to make the effort, the toxins start to lose their grip.” 

Count Your Blessings

Before going to sleep, make a note of affirmations daily. Be grateful for being present, here and now. Count everything good you did on that day and think of all the things you could have handled more sensibly. Train your thoughts to live in the moment. Motivate yourself to list a series of attributes that make you a better person. Think about one thing you were thankful for on that day. Think about the people who were kind enough to help you and the ones you helped as well. When we count our blessings, our objectives seem less futile. We garner a bit more confidence in our existence. 

Accept Yourself for Who You Are

How do you really accept yourself? It is such an easier said than done practice, we all more or less struggle with it at times. Haemin Sunim, however, encourages us to be genuine. In his words:

“When we are comfortable with ourselves and have accepted ourselves wholly, others will find us approachable and will like us for who we are.” 

His words teach: Cherish who you are, have strong faith in your beliefs. Be confident in being comfortable- and remember, others’ opinion of you does not hold two cents. Surround yourself with people who understand you and are compassionate towards you. Always remember, there is a vast difference between constructive criticism and negativity. 

To Conclude

All in all, the world will be your oyster if you could just sit back once in a while and re-set your mind to start over again. Fighting the world to regain your sense of self is nothing but impractical. You only need to enjoy your benefits and realize that you, yourself, are a part of this world. For “when your mind rests, the world also rests.”