Practice the Five Strengths is about taking your mind training practice and writing seriously, and finding a way to keep motivated and focused on what matters to you. The five strengths empower you to remember who you really are and to put it into practice every day.
The original lojong slogan is: Practice the five strengths, the condensed heart instructions, which are a distillation of the most important points of the Buddha’s teachings. The five strengths are:
- Positive Seed
Determination means making a commitment to your highest goals and consciously choosing what you’re going to do. Rather than drifting through life, you do what you say you’re going to do.
Familiarisation is about creating positive habits that reinforce your determination to achieve your goals. This means that your mind training practice isn’t just an extra you add onto a list of things to do, but part of the way you live your life every day.
Positive Seed is about remembering who you really are. This is your Buddha nature or true Self. As you practice mind training, this part of you will become stronger and clearer.
Reproach is about breaking the bad habits of your ego by turning away from your fears and doubts, but without beating yourself up about it. Just stop taking your faults and failures so personally.
Aspiration is about reaffirming your desire to awaken and live in a more compassionate way.
Apply this slogan to your writing practice by realising that if writing is important to you, then you need to take it seriously.
Either you want to write, or you don’t.
Determination means making a commitment to your writing so don’t keep putting it off or allow yourself to get sidetracked by distractions. While familiarisation means making that commitment every day by incorporating writing into your life seamlessly. Writing isn’t a chore or just another thing on your do to list.
Positive Seed means remembering you’re a writer and so nurturing your desire to write by cultivating practices that support your writing. At the same time, you reproach anything that stops you from writing and affirm the aspiration to become a better writer.
Exercise: Identify your writing goals and intentions and write your own writing manifesto. Write it in your journal or print it out so you can hang it above your desk where you can see it every day.
You can read my Writer’s Manifesto here.
More in the book – available now: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers