The Buddha’s closest attendant and cousin was called Ananda.
One day, Ananda asked the Buddha:
‘How important is good friendship on the spiritual path? Is it half of the holy life?’
The Buddha turned around and effectively said:
‘No, Ananda. Good friendship is 100% of holy life. With good friendship you go on to attain the highest happiness.’¹
That seems quite high!
But let’s think about this a bit more. What would your life be like without friendship? I think personally I’d feel very sad.
The happiest times of my life have been when I’m spending time with others.
Let’s start with friendship to yourself in this post.
Can you be your own best friend?
To do this, break things down into three:
Your body, your mind and your heart.
Making Friends with Your Body
First of all, let’s find out how to be best friends with your body.
If your friend was in pain, would you ignore them?
Of course not!
If your body is tired, let it rest.
So, don’t ignore your body’s messages.
Ask your body, ‘What do you want to do right now?’
Right now, I ask my body that question and immediately I get a response.
‘Uncross my legs, stand up and stretch please!!!!’
So I comply.
Ask your body, ‘What do you want to do right now?’
I ask again, and my body says ‘Open the windows so we can have some fresh air!’
So I do. And smile.
‘This is fun. Now rotate my shoulders please!’, says my body.
‘Sure’ I respond.
My body continues: ‘Shake your hands…..Release your jaw....Smile a bit more….Take a deeeeep breath…..That’s it. Thanks!’
Oh, my body feels great now that I’m back on this computer. And I’m smiling from ear to ear!
So, treat your body like your friend. Talk to it. Listen to it. Let your body do what it wants.
It was my friend’s birthday the other day. So I bought her a gift. I wrote and drew on a nice card for her. She wanted me to stay longer and go up one of the tallest buildings in London. So I did that too. And it was fun.
But I didn’t control her. I didn’t say: ‘no, we’re going to go to my favourite cafe instead. And we’re gonna have coffee, not tea.’
And every time she spoke, I didn’t totally ignore her wishes.
And so, I do the same for my body…
I listen to it….I let it reeelaxxxxxx if it wants to relax.
I let my body walk if it wants to walk. Run if it wants to run.
So, that’s the body. Notice (mindfulness) your body, talk (communicate) to your body, listen (mindfulness) to your body and let your body be control sometimes, rather than you telling your body what to do all the time (kindfulness).
BONUS TIP: Look in the mirror every morning and smile at yourself. Look into your eyes and say ‘I am good enough, just the way I am’.
How to Be Best Friends with Your Mind
Can you be friends with your mind?
That means, if your mind wants to wander off for a bit, can you allow that?
When your mind says, I really want to eat a piece of chocolate, do you say, ‘sure okay...’ or do you say ‘No way!’
What would you say to your friend if she wanted some chocolate from time to time?
You’d say ‘sure’, I hope!
So let your mind do what it wants to do.
Let go of controlling.
It’s the controlling that leads to guilt, anger, frustration and depression.
The opposite of controlling is letting go and being kind.
You and your mind can be best friends!
Everyday, my mind and I are becoming better and better friends.
We learn from each other.
I now know that when I give my mind freedom to wander off, it doesn’t want to go anywhere too far. It soon comes back.
And when I let my mind write books and blog posts without controlling the title or what I ‘should’ be writing, it flows beautifully.
Everyday, my mind and I are becoming better & better friends.
It’s great fun being friends with my mind.
My mind becomes silent very quickly if I manage to bring up this right attitude.
And we then both enjoy the peace of mind very much.
So, please be kind to your mind. Care for your mind. Listen to your mind.
Try it and be patient and I'm sure you'll have the same experience as me.
BONUS TIP - Say to your mind every morning ‘Dear mind, you work so hard for me. Thank you. I love you!’
Opening Your Heart...to Your Heart!
Your heart is such a beautiful part of you.
So let’s talk about friendship with your heart.
If you were sitting on a park bench with your friend, what would you ask?
‘How are you? What’s going on for you? How’s life?’
So, try asking your heart ‘How are you doing, my dear friend?’
My heart feels so great to be even asked!
S/he’s very happy right now. Really happy that I’m letting her be herself.
To write about what she feels most strongly about.
Ask your heart ‘How are you doing, my dear friend?’
She feels connected with mind and body. And therefore with me too.
And she wants more of this. She wants me to listen to her all day today. And so I will!
What does your heart say?
Do you enjoy being friends with your heart?
I’m sure you will.
Because true friendship always comes from the heart.
BONUS TIP - Place your hand on your heart as you meditate or just as you take a deep breath. The warmth of your hand will most likely warm up your present moment experience.
The metaphor of making friends with your body, mind and heart is one of my favourites!
Treating yourself with love and kindness doesn’t lead to being out of control - instead you experience greater peace, love and joy.
So go ahead - trust in the wisdom of your being, and simply and gently ask what it would like to do. Any if it's safe to do so, go ahead and follow your body/mind/heart's advice.
You'll be surprised at just how wise your body, mind and heart are.