Being Buddhist in a bustling world

by Carolyn Potts, The Badge Herald, December 3, 2008

Newark, NJ (USA) -- A teacher of Buddhism told a crowd at the University of Wisconsin Tuesday a clear mind, happiness and efficiency can all be achieved through the meditative practices of Buddhism, and it’s possible to incorporate it into a busy lifestyle.

<< JEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photo

Gretchen Newmark, an experienced teacher of Diamond Way Buddhism, spoke to a small group in Memorial Union Tuesday about how the teachings and practices of Buddhism can be incorporated into everyday Western lifestyles.

According to Diamond Way Buddhism principles, using the methods of meditation one can learn “to experience the world from a rich and self-liberating viewpoint” and possess a clear mind.

“With meditation practice, what we are doing essentially … is we are creating habits … that enable us to do the things that we would want to do,” Newmark said.

In Diamond Way Buddhism, meditation is used to train the body and mind to change habits of speech “to say things … in ways we would want to say them to help others” and change perception “so that our experience of the world is good,” Newmark said.

The more meditation is practiced, the more of a habit it becomes, Newmark said, which makes it easier to incorporate into everyday life. She also said meditation is beneficial to a busy lifestyle.

“Practice actually makes us more efficient and more effective so we can do more in less time,” Newmark said. “Then our lives become less phonetic and less busy, in a certain sense, so that we can produce as much or more but we are not spending as much time doing it.”

The focus of the lecture was to emphasize that this type of Buddhism is not only practiced while on a meditation cushion but all the time.

Newmark said the trick to practicing Buddhism on a daily basis and incorporating it into a busy life is to schedule a time and place to meditate.

She also said it is important to not get discouraged by not having enough time to meditate, but rather start with five minutes and work up to a longer meditation period and it will become habitual.

Sean Grullon, a UW Ph.D. student who practices Diamond Way Buddhism, said he was first attracted to Buddhism by the worldview, philosophy and scientific way of thinking associated with the practice.

Grullon said the most important part of practicing Buddhism is “integrating every experience in your daily life, with your friends or with work, as part of practice and as part of learning [Buddhism].”

This school of Buddhism focuses on liberation and enlightenment in which one realizes the mind, body and feelings are constantly changing. Newmark described this as watching a movie and being able to realize it is only a movie.

She used her battle with breast cancer as an example of how her meditation practice has helped her to focus on the positive aspects of a negative situation and, though the experience was very real, she was able to stay in a good state of mind.

Grullon, who has practiced Diamond Way Buddhism for two years, said meditation has allowed him “to connect in a more meaningful way with others” and has made him a lot happier.