Practicing mindfulness to find peace
Special to The Union
What: Finding Peace in a Chaotic World
Who: Presented by Geshe Phuntso, Tibetan monk from Gaden Shartse Monastery
When: Tuesday, January 26 from 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Where: SNMH Outpatient conference rooms, Building 3
In this fast-paced world of information overload, most people go about their daily lives focused solely on checking off the items on their lengthy to-do lists.
Many people do not realize the amount of stress they’re burdened with until it takes a toll on their health and they begin to experience physical symptoms.
But there is a simple thing you can do every day to prevent stress from impacting your health.
Scientists, spiritual leaders and health care providers all point to mindfulness and, specifically, meditation as a great tool to reduce the impact of stress in daily living.
Studies consistently show that mindfulness-based stress reduction, using meditation and/or imagery, can decrease the physical and psychological symptoms of a diverse range of medical and psychiatric issues.
Tibetan Buddhist monks are known for being especially accomplished at mindfulness through meditation.
They explain mindfulness as being fully aware and present, moment to moment.
On Tuesday, Jan. 26, Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH) will host a presentation featuring Geshe Lama Phuntso, one of the visiting monks from the Gaden Shartse Monastery currently touring western Nevada County as part of the Sacred Earth and Healing Arts tour.
Geshe Phuntso received full ordination from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in 1996 and has traveled extensively ever since, working as a translator and interpreter.
During his presentation, “Finding Peace in a Chaotic World,” Geshe Phuntso will discuss Buddhist philosophy and the practice of meditation as an important tool in attaining inner peace.
He will share varying techniques, such as silent meditation, mantra use or focusing one’s attention on a divine being.
“We think we want to find peace in the world. We try to find peace in our country, in our towns … in our family. But all of this is difficult,” said Geshe Phuntso. “At the end, to find peace, you have to find it in yourself.”
Geshe Phuntso also shared the Dalai Lama’s belief that 10 minutes a day of meditation starting at age 10 creates “a spacious mind and heart” that would not face depression.
Carol Richey, Interim Chaplain at SNMH, agrees that mindfulness through meditation is a valuable skill to practice in today’s world. She and her team of about 25 volunteers offer mindful spiritual care to anyone at the hospital who needs a kind ear and a safe space to talk about what they’re experiencing.
Richey explains that the time to begin practicing meditation is now — when you are healthy and before a crisis strikes.
“Having the opportunity to hear from someone so skilled at practicing meditation may be just what is needed to begin incorporating it into your own life. By practicing regularly, and building up the mind’s ‘muscles,’ one won’t be rocked so easily by external circumstances.”
Spiritual Care volunteers are on-hand 24-hours a day at the hospital to provide solace and comfort to patients and their families.
“It’s a very practiced skill to learn to be mindful, to suspend judgment and just allow the patient to experience whatever they’re experiencing while at the hospital,” Richey said.
Geshe Phuntso believes that a deep meditation practice helps one to find peace, even in the face of distraction.
He also encourages interaction and discussion about Buddhist philosophy and practice.
“If a meditation practice doesn’t have proper guidance, it may not have depth. It can be superficial. So many minor obstacles can distract us,” he said. “This is our opportunity to share what we know and answer philosophical questions.”
At the presentation, donations will be accepted on behalf of the Gaden Shartse Monastery.
While the purpose of the tour is to share the monks’ culture and the traditions of harmony, peace and loving kindness, the donations help to meet the expenses of those studying and teaching at the monastery.
The presentation is open to the public. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Those who attend are asked to park in the lot in front of the SNMH Outpatient Center, Building 3. To RSVP for this program, leave a voice mail at (530) 274-6816. Limited seating available.
All physicians providing care for patients at SNMH are members of the medical staff and are independent practitioners, not employees of the hospital.
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