The Spiritual Practice of Play

During lunch with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in April 2012, one of the things he shared was that he learns best when he laughs.

Our spirits need celebration! What feels joyful to us encourages us along the path of personal growth and expansion.

“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.” — Michael Pritchard

Play is the exuberant expression of our being, it fuels our joy and wonder. Play provides the energetic space we need to feel alive; it taps into unlimited possibility, inspiring us; it resides at the heart of our creativity and our most carefree moments of devotion. Play is a powerful way to feed our soul.

When was the last time you stepped into the transformational space of play?

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan

The Book—Discovering the Seven Selves
The Experience—Life Harmony

© 2013 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

Find me on Twitter @HolEssence

Buddhism and Smartphones

I appreciate modern technology; it’s conducive to what I do for a living, enabling me to meet with clients all over the globe via phone, FaceTime, and Skype.

My smartphone allows me to do several things at once if I want. I don’t.

I love that it’s intelligent enough to also accommodate the Buddhist philosophy of doing one thing at a time: talk on the phone, take a photograph or video, make a recording, send a text, listen to music, transfer money to/from my bank, check in at the airport, even read a book or watch a movie.

I appreciate the vivid artwork on my smartphone’s protective cover — it makes me smile every time I see it.

I also appreciate the Zen Temple Bell ringtone that Len purchased for me. It doesn’t startle. Rather, it’s a single, soft, low tone — a gentle reminder to ask myself, “What’s it like to be on the receiving end of me?” before I pick up.

I’m not a Zen monk, but I enjoy being present in everything I do. Thich Nhat Hanh, one of my favorite Zen monks said, “Smile, breathe, and go slowly.” Like single-tasking, that works well with my lifestyle.

“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” — Zen proverb

By the way, the sassy digital assistant associated with my smartphone recently suggested that I change the spelling of my name from Laurie to Lori, informing me that the latter version is much more popular! No thanks, I’m good.

Do you find that modern technology improves or hinders your lifestyle?


Lunch with His Holiness the Dalai Lama

On April 26 I had the unique opportunity to be one of eighty guests who enjoyed lunch with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Loyola University after he spoke to a crowd of 4,000 people about the importance of non-violence and human compassion.

Sitting in the second row, I had a clear view of the sacred chants, musical performances, and three high school students who read their award-winning essays in response to the Dalai Lama’s question:

“How can an attitude of non-violence counteract the prevalence of violence in our families, in our communities, and in international relations; and how can we as individuals cultivate and promote such an attitude?”

A humble man with a contagious smile, the Dalai Lama describes himself as, “A simple Buddhist monk.” Currently 76, he was proclaimed the 14th Dalai Lama at the age of 4 and became Tibet’s leader at 15. In 1959 he made a harrowing escape from Tibet over the treacherous Himalayans as the Chinese made a violent grab for power. He now resides in Dharmsala, India.

Never once using notes, the Dalai Lama spoke from his heart, calling on young people to lead the world toward peace. He said, “Concern should not be rooted in religion, rather, the focus should be on understanding.” And while his message was serious, he also shared stories that made the audience laugh:

His eyes sparkled with mischief as a recounted being a toddler riding on his mothers shoulders and using her pigtails to “steer” her in the direction he wanted to go in the event she wasn’t listening to him.

When he was ten or so, he and his older brother were not interested in studying—they liked to “goof off.” His spiritual teacher came to the conclusion that two “whips” were needed: a regular one for his brother, and a “holy” one for him (his was painted yellow). With a grin, he assured the audience that a “holy” spanking hurts just as much as a regular one.

In his message of hope the Dalai Lama shared:
“Change must start within one individual.”
“The future depends on the present.”
“The difference between violence and non-violence resides in the heart.”
“When we exercise a compassionate view, we let go of anger.”

In my perspective, the Dalai Lama is the embodiment of goodness. If we all emulated his compassionate attitude—one that is positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing—the world would be a very different place.

What’s one change that you can make for the better?


Rain Retreat Meditation

In the Buddhist tradition “Phansa” is the rainy season—typically July, August, and September. During this window of time, monks stay indoors to study, meditate, and teach. This practice stems from when Buddha stayed inside to avoid stepping on and killing insects and seedlings.

I’m fascinated by this tradition. However, with owning a healing practice and teaching, taking a three month hiatus simply isn’t prudent.

Last fall Terrill Welch over at Creative Potager posed the sprout question, “Where are you finding sublime bliss today?”

Shorty thereafter, Catie Manning over at As Told by CatMan – The Rose Bandit asked, “How do you get rid of stress?”

My answer to both was the same—in the shower.

It’s here that I take a mini Rain Retreat. Pulling in a Rubbermaid footstool, I sit with my back to the shower-head, and wholly relax as the hot water pelts my neck and shoulders, washing any physical tension right down the drain. The emotional tension melts away as I practice my personal version of metta:

I visualize myself as a smooth pebble that’s been tossed into a still pond. The pebble—me—produces a gentle ripple effect on the calm surface. The first time I say the metta, I start with myself. Then each consecutive time I replace “I” with the next person in my life—the next ring out—and so on.

It looks something like this: me, Len, our son, Kayley, individual family members, individual friends, neighbors, clients—you get the idea—until I end with,
“May all beings…”

May I live in safety
May I be healthy—body, mind, and spirit
May I live with ease
May I listen more than I speak
May my motivation be positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing
May I interact with kindness and respect
May my constant companions be peace of mind and joy
May laughter reside in my heart

Where do you go to retreat?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan

Please visit HolEssence and our Facebook page

© 2012 Laurie Buchanan– All Rights Reserved


During my cross-country driving adventure in September, I got to enjoy 29 miles in the state of Arizona—just a snippet. The only photograph I took during that brief segment was of this Joshua tree, part of the Yucca family.

I’m not sure why, but standing in the company of this tree brought to mind a quote that I’d read in my planner by the Dalai Lama:

Even those who do not know much about spiritual development can appreciate that those who possess an other-directed attitude have great power of mind. In Buddhism, such beings are called bodhisattvas—those who are heroically intent (sattva) on achieving enlightenment (bodhi) in order to help others more effectively.”

Pronounced boh-dee-SAHT-vah, this person has the wisdom to become a Buddha, but refrains from doing so in order to help others find salvation.

Do you know a bodhisattva?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
                — Laurie Buchanan and our Facebook page

© 2011 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

The Power of Perspective

Perspective by Laurie Buchanan

Perspective by Laurie Buchanan

Our perspective is the lens through which we view life. It impacts the way we experience people, places, and things; and has a direct correlation to how we respond to life’s ups and downs. In fact, our perspective creates our world. In her book, You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay wrote, “What we think about ourselves becomes the truth for us. I believe that everyone, myself included, is responsible for everything in our lives, the best and the worst. Each one of us creates our experiences by our thoughts and our feelings.” By changing our thoughts, we can change our life.

In my experience I know this to be true. That’s why I’ve chosen to let go of errors of the past, to forgive myself and others, to fill my world with joy, and to live a life of gratitude—regardless. It’s been said that enlightenment is letting go of everything we believe that’s not benefiting us. With thankful heart, I accept the peace of enlightenment.

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.