About one year ago, I converted to Buddhism not so much as a new religion but more as a new way of life. The more I researched Buddhism I found many spiritual guides and meaningful, symbolic terms. The one thing that really helped me become a better person, and also a better woman, was understanding the meaning behind Namaste. Namaste means to honor the soul, love and truth within you. Women in this generation have it very hard – they try to uphold certain images that are projected by society and believe they have to meet these projections to fulfill themselves. These projections include things like how they look, how smart they are and how much money they make. The term Namaste teaches us to be happy with who we are and define who we want to be from within, not by what society expects us to be.
One of my first experiences with Buddhism was while I was in college. We had to attend temple to do some research for a project. From the moment I entered to when I left, I was filled with positive energy and complete joy. I was able to spend some time talking with a monk. What he said immediately resonated with me. He taught me so much in just forty-five minutes that I knew there was something special about this philosophy. We started by singing through their prayer book consisting of phrases about world peace and being kind to others. We ended the session with a 15-minute meditation. Our directions were to think about a flaw within ourselves and to try to correct it. This was something that really opened my eyes and made me think closely about the way I treated people and myself. After my first experience at the temple I found myself there every Sunday. Each week I learned new ideas and concepts about reality. The time I spent there taught me to be a more thoughtful and empathetic person. I also started to believe in the concept of Karma, realizing that to have a positive experience in life I needed to contribute positive energy. My focus evolved to treating people with a helpful, positive attitude and perspective, the way I would want to be treated. This is something to this day, I follow.
One of the greatest sayings by Buddha was, “What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.” This quote really made me think, we create our own reality! We are in control of our past, present and future. We mistakenly believe it is our surroundings that set our direction through life, but in reality we are in control of what we want and need, how we perceive the situations we are in, and our ability to accept the reality that we create. We are in control of creating the life we want. One of the key learnings in Buddhism is not letting other people determine your level of happiness in life. The idea of creating my own reality has stimulated a spiritual journey for me, something I remind myself of every day. I recommend, even if you have different beliefs, to attend at least one session at a Buddhist temple. It will help you look at things differently and fill any voids in your life with peaceful energy.