Excerpted from "Boundless Healing: Meditation Exercises to Enlighten the Mind and Heal the Body" by Tulku Thondup, with kind permission of Shambhala Publications.

Positive Perceptions

Pessimism can be so deadly. The habit of worrying about problems or seeing only the negative aspect of a situation hardly leaves any room for healing. When the mind becomes encrusted and rigid with this attitude, then everything that happens appears tainted by pain and negativity.

The mind can choose between positive and negative; it's all in the perception. A central practice in Tibetan Buddhism is positive perception. It's an approach that's been proven over the centuries to yield an amazing harvest of spiritual realization, as well as happiness and health in everyday life.

Try to reduce the degree of resentment toward the so-called unhappiness; that will be a big achievement. Change what you can to improve your situation, and don't worry about what you can't change. Be more accepting of things at this very moment.

Even if our lives are painful, we can find something to use as our focal point of healing, the best out of the worst situations, if we care to look for it.

Problems can become stepping stones on the path to freeing our minds. Even if we are not great spiritual masters, we can start by seeing small problems as acceptable. Try to see a difficulty as an interesting challenge. Then if you can solve it, or learn how to tolerate it, be sure to congratulate yourself on doing so. Feeling the satisfaction can bring a surge of joy, which has a positive ripple effect in the rest of your life.

A spark of peace and joy can be found in every situation, if we care to find and apply it. Even if we are having a hellish life, there will always be some moments of peace that we could certainly use as the source of healing. So, even if our lives are painful, we can find something to use as our focal point of healing, the best out of the worst situations, if we care to look for it.

Don't make happiness an obsession, like some object you simply must get hold of and keep. If you can relax the obsession about happiness just a bit, then spontaneously you might be happier.

Finally, when we deal well with a problem, it's important to acknowledge this to ourselves. In daily life or meditation, any time we heal some suffering we have felt, we must recognize this. By such recognition, the powerful energy of joy can flare up. That could be a great focal point for further healing

A Meditative View of the Body

Our physical body is a precious treasure. It's an amazing machine: elegant, complex, and beautiful. It is also ours for a limited time. Buddhism talks about the body as a guest house for the mind, and takes a quite realistic view of the body's aging and decay. Mind and body are together only for a while; all the more reason to treasure their true well-being while we can.

When we bring awareness to the body, doing so can call forth powerful positive energies. There are three reasons to meditate upon the body.

First, our own body is a very effective support in regaining the healing energies of the mind, since the body is so intimately connected to the mind.

Second, much of the time, the goal is to heal the ills of body. So, choosing the body as the object to be healed is practical. Meditation can be an effective remedy for these problems, depending on the skill of the meditator and the particular illness. It is also true that, compared to emotional problems, physical ills can be difficult to heal through meditation, especially for a beginner. But even if our physical ills don't go away, they can often be eased. At the very least, our minds can learn to better tolerate the woes of the body and carry them more lightly.

Third, by bringing healing energy to the body, we can also improve our lives. The mind, the main actor in healing meditation, is absorbed in positive healing energies. This loosens the grasping of the mind. It becomes easier to develop a more open and relaxed attitude toward problems, including how to get along better with others. Our focus here is to simply become more accepting of our bodies as they are.

In the West, the body tends to be worshipped unrealistically. Even "perfect" supermodels seem to worry that their bodies should be better than they are, ever more perfect, and never changing. In the East, the body tends to be viewed more as something filthy and unworthy. Asians are not friends with their bodies either. East and West, so much negative energy is attached to the body, and negative perception blocks the healing of body and mind.

It's better to take a more balanced view, and by making a practice of meditating upon the body, gradually and after many sessions, you can go beyond attachment or resentment of the body.