The following is an excerpt from Lama Surya Das’ wonderfully practical “Awakening The Buddha Within”, one of my favorite books.
Kalu Rinpoche used to tell us to evaluate our own actions daily by making two little piles of stones each day – one for positive actions and one for negative actions. Each day you count up the positive and negatives, and then assess, evaluate, and consider what is happening in your life. I personally have found that this simple childlike teaching has brought me deeper into my own practice in the last few years. I will admit that here in the United States I am more likely to use a notebook than stones, and you may well feel the same way, but the point remains.
This little exercise can be combined with an analytical meditation that we can do while we are lying in bed at night before we fall asleep and also immediately after waking up. This practical way of examining our intentions and actions corresponds with one Atisha’s mind-training slogans “Two Things To Do at the Start and Finish of Every Day.”
When you wake each morning, start the day by reaffirming your intention to practice loving-kindness and compassion. Remind yourself each day to work at letting go of ego clinging, selfishness, controlling behavior, negative thoughts, possessiveness, aggression, resentment, and confusion. Resolve each day to find one small way that you can change a frozen behavior pattern, and try to do so.
When you lie down at night, reflect on the day that was. Remember your accomplishments and your frustrations – things done as well as undone. Who or what pushed your buttons? Use clear discernment and discriminating awareness to genuinely examine your behavior and the quality of your life. Recognize your familiar repetitive patterns. Assess how fruitful they actually are.
Finally, examine your day for lingering resentments and self-destructive, harmful, egocentric, or narcissistic thoughts. Find joy in awakening the noble-hearted spirit of bodhicitta. Rejoice in all the good works of both others and yourself, and share in all that good karma. It will help you find rest.
Then rest. “Done is what had to be done,” as the Buddha said.
“Wait, wait,” a follower once cried after the Buddha as he disappeared into the forest.
“I stopped a long time ago,” Buddha replied. “When will you stop?”