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Category Archives: Mindfulness

QG class 10:17

Before our second session of Five Animal Play class this week, I was feeling tired from a day of travel until midnight and experiencing pain from an oncoming bout of cystitis. I took the necessary medical measures, drank copious amounts of water and heard my husband saying that he could teach the class on his own if necessary. However, medication relieved the pain by 6:00pm and I wanted to be present in the class, to receive and give whatever energy possible.

What happened is what happens in every class – we benefit as much as the students from an hour of practice together. I also received the added benefit of my body, mind and spirit feeling better, being held by the field of healing Qi energy created by the group. The lesson I learned yet again – we benefit from gentle practice, even during illness or weakness. We can benefit from others’ energy when we are not able to generate much at all on our own. I have witnessed this in many forms over the past month – in meditation circles, Qi Gong classes, spiritual meetings where the intention is strong to heal and help heal others.

In The Healing Promise of QI by Roger Jahnke (p. 259), a book several Qi Gong teachers are studying together, he says “When you practice with a group there is a distinct awareness that it is easier to do your practice, and the internal effect of your practice tends to be more evident.” He also teaches that Qi is unlimited and can be applied across great distances. “In fact, the Qi Chang – healing field – of all who practice Qi Gong is always present because there are always people doing Qi Gong in the world.” There are also always people praying, meditating, loving, practicing compassion and kindness toward animals, children, neighbors, friends and loved ones.

We have a choice every moment to plug into this energy, to choose life, to choose healing, to choose love.  Thank you to each of you for practicing, sending good energy into the Universe today and for helping me heal and live such an amazing life.

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Thich Nhat Hanh arrives 8-29-17 in DaNang, Vietnam

Our teacher tells us that if the Buddha is to walk on earth today,  he walks with our feet.  If the Buddha eats, speaks, listens today, he must eat, speak and listen through our mouths, our ears.  He teaches us that all of us, everyone on earth can be a buddha, an “awakened one.”  Each human being has the capacity to be awake, aware of the suffering around us, in us.  Everyone can contribute to changing the world by changing our own minds and hearts.  A good practitioner is not someone who never suffers, but someone who knows how to breathe, eat, listen and speak through their suffering.  To transform suffering, one day at a time.  One moment at a time.

What a joy to see that our teacher, who suffered a stroke almost three years ago, has the energy and determination to return to his country, to continue teaching with the limitations of his present health.  He is a powerful buddha breathing and transforming suffering each day of his life.

Eclipse 8:21Today the Totality! Many powerful spiritual forces align with moon and sun to wake us up.  At WMC last night, Thay talked about how listening to one another heals us from within.  I also spent several hours reading and studying Ch 14 in The Healing Promise of Qi by Roger Jahnke.  One passage seemed very relevant to our meeting today of Qi Gong teachers to practice during the eclipse.  “Everyone creates healing fields of energy.  Everyone benefits, especially those whose need is greatest.”

All of nature, especially the dance of the sun and moon today,  cooperates in the act of healing Energy.

Mindfulness is ENERGY! The energy of love, of goodness, serenity, peace, more powerful than hatred, violence and ego.   Mindfulness wakes us up to the fact that we are surrounded by powerful energy every moment of our lives.  It is available to us all – in nature, in meditation, in Qi Gong movements, in sharing both our suffering and joy, in breathing and smiling together.

Our giving and receiving does affect the whole world, sends out healing, refreshing energy to those who are suffering most.  Qi is not bound by time or space! It’s true! Science is real. Amazing!  Grateful to be alive and able to participate in today’s eclipse!

Women's March on Washington 21 Jan 17

Remember the Women’s March only six months ago?  Six months of chaos and insane foreign “non”-policy, bomb dropping, firings, and disregard for the rule of law and balance of power?  Yet also six months of mobilizing, great demonstrations, committees formed to protect the most vulnerable in our communities, articles, speeches, victories in the courts and legislature.  We must remain awake, aware, involved in whatever way we can to resist the removal of systems that protect life, protect civilization.

Yet an interesting article in the Washington Post Arts&Style section reminds us that “taking a break from current events” for an hour doesn’t mean “not paying attention.”  We need to take care of our bodies, spirits and minds to be alive, aware and ready to be involved for the “long haul.”  So, meditating every morning, reading Handmaiden’s Tale again, drawing a cartoon, laughing, holding a baby, walking in the woods is not “copping out” of the revolution.

I was perhaps too single minded in the late sixties, stopped reading novels, dedicated all my reading time to political analysis and gathering of research for my next speech, next demonstration or news article.  In today’s struggles, I am not giving up my journaling, meditation, Qi Gong routine, time with family and friends who make me laugh, an occasional play, movie or book that isn’t directly related to politics and social change.  Our minds need breaks, variety, balance, delight and joy.

 

 

MLK monument

Many of my great teachers are small in stature but huge in spirit, in courage, in their actions for peace and social justice.  This photo of Martin Luther King, I took last week at his memorial reminds me of the importance of standing up to current insanity, lies and blatant greed in our government, to the harm planned by gutting the Medicaid program for millions.  A powerful reading from Together We are ONE by Thich Nhat Hanh this morning reminded me that Gandhi, Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa were physically small people with actions that still resound around the world and in our hearts.    Larry Ward’s article in that wonderful book was a call to action – huge action by each one of us.  He asked the question, “How can we NOT be as big” as our teachers?  We stand on the shoulders of giants!  Their courage and insights are in us.  “Our actions matter, our thoughts matter, our speech matters, because they live on when we have disappeared.  Our actions, our thoughts, our speech are continued in the stream of time and space, and also go beyond time and space.” (p. 131).

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What we water in ourselves is what grows into this world, right?  If there is violence, racism, ideas of “me,” “mine”and separation, where did they come from but our minds, our wrong notions of reality?

The practice of mindfulness has helped me come to know my true self better, to see that I am not separate from any other human, any suffering or any joy in this world.  “Suffering that appears far away is closer than you think.  It is all near, because it is all US.  What if we are already in heaven and are missing it because of our wrong ideas?”

We read these words before our morning meditation several days ago from Together we are One by Thich Nhat Hanh.  This specific chapter by Larry Ward is full of great insights about the false notion of “race” and the suffering that flows from it.  If our meditation can transform not only our thinking but our actions, heaven is right here, right now.  Mindfulness can guide us to transforming war into peace, police killings into unified communities.  We are ONE, but we often don’t realize this truth, become fearful and act in ways that harm one another.  What if there is really no need for fear or anger or revenge?  What if our unity, our deep love for one another IS heaven!

Why not live this one day as if we have already arrived in the Ultimate and dwell there?  Together.

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I just had an insight, walking slowly down Pennsylvania Avenue in the Climate March April 29th. What we experienced there, our teacher urging us to gather, walk slowly, mindfully, to sing together, be a strong presence in the midst of a huge, loud, often wild scene is really a picture of the highest reality! All the “news” that’s reported about Trump is ‘blah, blah’ noise by comparison. What is REAL, WHAT IS TRUE NEWS is that there are people, groups, a world-wide movement for peace, love, sanity, justice and preservation of Mother Earth. He looks big when magnified by TV news, but he is a blip on the screen of life and history compared to Thich Nhat Hanh, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, the Buddha, Jesus and the millions of people around the world making peace.

We have to keep our perspective, to see what is REAL, lasting, on the Ultimate dimension of REALITY – an amazingly huge Universe that humans have barely begun to explore or understand!

We have to be extra mindful when surrounded by messages that are meant to provoke fear, confusion and dispersion of our energy.  Real damage is being done, many are suffering as a result of ignorance and greed.  But together we are truly larger, stronger and more powerful than any president, any government. If we get distracted by tweets, games, threats and noise, we might forget that we are made of stars, that we are as old as the Universe, as vast, as powerful, as beautiful.  What is REAL, what is TRUE is LOVE, PEACE, Inter-BEING.  We need to change, to act, to stay vigilant and we DID in January and last weekend! But most importantly, we need to keep our perspective, to see what is true, what is real. We need to protect our minds, hearts and emotions, so our lizard brain won’t jerk us into reacting from anger or fear. Every day we nourish our peace, our joy, our freedom, our unity with one another on this precious planet in the vast Universe of which we are a part.

Let us keep walking, marching, smiling, breathing together.

 

Redbud and BEE

Suffering surrounds us – the starvation in Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, the bombs in Syria, frightening threats from our government to the Earth’s survival.  Yet we breathe, have breakfast, hear the bees in the redbud tree in the back yard.  How can such deep suffering within and around us and such beauty and joy co-exist?

My meditation teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, says that mindfulness has two functions.  The first is to get in touch with the wonderful and beautiful things all around us.  The second is to get in touch with the difficult emotions, like anger, fear, pain and sorrow inside and around us.  Mindfulness can help us recognize and embrace these difficulties and transform them. (Together We are One: Honoring our Diversity, Celebrating our Connection, p. 84).

Three things help me do this work of transformation:  a daily habit of mindfulness meditation , connection with community and active resistance to war, poverty, discrimination and destruction of our Mother Earth.  Suffering exists.  How do we transform it today within ourselves, in our world?

A LESSON IN MINDFUL EATING

Yesterday afternoon, I arrived for a visit to my friend in a nursing home toward the end of his lunch time.  He was totally focused on eating, carefully moving the spoon into a dish of custard and fruit.  I sat silently, just breathing and observing the care with which he moved his hands, focused his intention, brought the spoon to his mouth and chewed his food.   He was clear with his aide when he was finished eating, and she waited patiently until that time to remove his tray, leaving a glass of water and straw for him to drink.  Then he was ready for a visit.

What a beautiful time with this amazing man who has helped so many people in his lifetime.  Now is the time for him to receive support with breathing, moving, and just the amount of help he needs to feed himself.  He inspires me to continue to slow down, and take my first three bites for him and my meditation teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, who has also suffered physical limitations that reduce his mobility.  Both these men give me lessons on mindful eating, mindful living.  My heart is full of gratitude for them.

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Together we are ONE” was the theme of our gatherings Friday and Saturday, January 20/21 for a mindful presence at the Women’s March.  Washington Mindfulness Community, MPCF, Stillwater, ARISE, Wake UP, sanghas from Baltimore and many others, local and national, organized and led us in silent walking to the mall.  There we formed a circle of about 140 meditators, then did mindful walking, sitting, singing and eating together amidst half a million other sisters and brothers.  We rejoiced when we learned that we were part of over 670 marches around the world, in every US state, on every continent, standing up for justice, peace and love.

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Our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh was present in the form of a large photo, reminding us to keep coming back to the home of our breath, here and now, in the present moment.

In Together We are One  (Parallax Press, 2010, p. 79),  he says “Sometimes we believe, ‘Until this person or that institution changes, I can’t be happy.’   We may make a particular person or group of people into our enemy, we think they are the obstacle to our happiness.  But our suffering comes from our own ignorance and lack of understanding, not from other people.  When we understand this, we can open our arms to embrace all peoples, all species, and we have no enemies.  To have no enemies is such a wonderful thing.  When we have no enemies, no reproach, and no blaming, our mind is light as a cloud, and our happiness is vast, immense.  We do not look at those who hurt us as our enemies, but as people who need understanding and compassion.  When we are able to look in this way, we can call ourselves the children of the Buddha, disciples of the Buddha, and no one is our enemy….If we use the eyes of compassion to look at the world, we can see that even those who oppress and exploit others, those who instill terror, or those who cause harm, can be our beloved ones.  None are our enemies.”

Those of you who remember me as the “mini-skirted nun” of 1969 protests and actions will smile.  Have you truly embraced this teaching, you might ask?  I am transforming, trying, stumbling sometimes, gaining tremendous strength, joy and hope from the millions who walk with me, one day at a time, one step at a time, never alone now, always “Together as ONE.”

Photos by Bao Tich Nguyen