I will finish this 108 days blog project (although the 3 habits, now engrained, will continue indefinitely) with three comments.
I have pages and pages of reflections about this project, recorded along the way. There is so much I could share; let’s have a conversation if you’d like to know more. However, a friend of mine asked if I could summarize this experience in 108 words. I replied, “Challenge accepted,” so here it is:
The learning component has fostered my curiosity and strengthened my love of learning. The meditation component has consistently heightened my awareness and appreciation of experiencing life. The “compassion action” component has colored the lens through which I see the world by priming me to actively be alert for opportunities to help and by normalizing intentional creation of joy for others. Overall, this experience has been transformational—subtly, but profoundly. I love that this project has challenged me, forced me out of my comfort zone in some cases, initiated interesting conversations, invigorated friendships, and cultivated meaningful connections with countless people. I feel engaged with living, maybe more than ever. (Word count = 108, exactly!)
What is the take-home message? What is the most important thing that I have learned in these 108 days? Perhaps that we each have the remarkable (and remarkably easy) ability to positively influence the lives of others, and thereby our own lives, every single day. It is easy and habitual to go about our days absorbed in our own tasks, goals, issues, and thoughts, without acting in the service of others or even connecting meaningfully with others. The realization that I could live a whole day without doing anything substantial for anyone else—not because I was unkind or selfish, not because I didn’t care—was shocking and unsettling. This project has strengthened my conviction that making kindness a priority is intrinsically valuable and that subsequent enhancement of my own joy is an added bonus.
“Those who make compassion an essential part of their lives find the joy of life. Kindness deepens the spirit and produces rewards that cannot be completely explained in words. It is an experience more powerful than words. To become acquainted with kindness, one must be prepared to learn new things and feel new feelings. Kindness is more than a philosophy of the mind. It is a philosophy of the spirit.”
-Robert J. Furey
This journey consisted of one day for every bead in a Buddhist mala. However, it is often forgotten that there is always a 109th bead, called the sumeru or guru bead, which joins the strand together and is meant for silence, acknowledgement, and gratitude. Today represents that bead:
Today I learned about the connection between Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and the Dalai Lama’s methods of meditation (here).
“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.”
-Anthony J. D’Angelo
Today I meditated for 108 minutes. Just kidding, but that would be poetic. I meditated for 25 minutes. Silence, acknowledgement, gratitude…
Today I acted kindly by giving a sincere, in-person compliment to someone who amazed me.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”