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Wellbeing according to Ajahn Chah (1918-1992)

16th October was World Anaesthesia Day focusing on occupational wellbeing


- Let go of success

Eg if I get a cannula or spinal anaesthetic in I try not to cling to the idea of success especially after the event.

Tomorrow or the next day or in a few week's time the opposite will happen and I’ll miss.

Success and failure are two sides of the same coin.

-Let go of failure

Eg if I can’t get a cannula or a spinal anaesthetic in I don’t cling to the idea of failure especially after the event. It’s not worth being grumpy for hours- what does that achieve! It is what it is.

-Let go when they think you’re good Sometimes people can’t get enough of me, everyone is singing my praises… let that go, remember it won’t last!

-Let go when they think you’re bad

Sometimes consultants don’t want to go for coffee and leave me looking after their patients … let that go, don’t give it a seconds thought.

-Let it all go

In the end, Ajahn Chah said we should just let it all go.

-Ajahn Chah’s metaphor: falling fruit

Ajahn Chah spent a lot of time meditating in the forest, the jungle, in Thailand He sat in the forest a lot!

Ajahn Chah says we need to spot the falling fruit, see it passing each branch … before it hits the forest floor: “Splat!”

If we watch carefully both outside and in our hearts and minds we can notice when we are starting to react to the environment or some stressor or person, if we develop our attention we may spot how we are feeling and responding to a situation (notice as the fruit passes each branch as it falls toward the floor) before we get as far as acting out of anger or some other emotion (you can think of road rage): the reaction is the fruit splatting on the floor, it is unskilful, and we may regret it or the consequences.

So how do we develop this attention and how do we modify our knee-jerk reflexive out-of-control reaction? One way is meditating on the breath. One way to do this is to sit on a chair in an empty room and shut the eyes and count the breaths in our head: in-breath(‘1’)… out-breath (‘2’)…. In-breath (‘3’) etc all the way to ten then start again.

Try to wait for the in-breath to arise by itself rather than controlling the breathing rate. It is surprisingly difficult. A lot of people find themselves getting distracted and becoming lost in thought and then BANG they realise they have stopped counting the breath. It’s ok. Return to number one.

Doing this again and again, for a long time (maybe 10 min a day for weeks or months!!!) builds our attention. The attention is slightly separate from our thinking mind.

Using the mind or our ‘cleverness’ to control the mind is a bit of a paradox. Conversely developing our attention and concentration using this technique works.

On behalf of an anonymous author


The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah Three volume set Published by Aruna Publications, Northumberland, UK 2011 Printed in Malaysia by Bolden Trade

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