Skip navigation

Tag Archives: MPCF

bell-outdoors

“May the sound of this bell reach suffering ones in the whole cosmos, sending healing, comfort and peace.”  These words from my meditation teacher, Anh Huong Nguyen (www.mpcf.com) last Saturday morning, brought tears of joy and relief to my soul.

I had just traveled half way around the world from a wonderful visit to family living in Malaysia.  I had suffered the night before from lack of sleep and justified anger directed at me from a loved one.  I ate cereal in the car on the ride to this beautiful annual ceremony to transmit the Five Mindfulness Trainings to a member of WMC and many others from MCPF, Stillwater and other sanghas on the east coast.  I had been filled with remorse for my mindless actions that had hurt and angered someone I love dearly.  My body was still adjusting to crossing 12 time zones and being greeted by bitter 16 degree weather.  My spirit needed the silence, the beautiful church with huge windows revealing gently falling snow, a fox trotting by in the woods, the warmth of dozens of beloved sisters and brothers surrounding me.  I took a deep breath, relaxed and let myself cry.

I often find in meditation that the first person who needs the healing sound of the bell is me.  My suffering is so small compared to that of families dying daily in Aleppo, women raped and beaten in many countries, children starved and abused, all people suffering from war, poverty, oppression and fear of their political leaders.

Yet this body is the one I feel most closely, can breathe in most easily, can feed, rest, comfort and nourish.  I hope it is true – as Thich Nhat Hanh and his niece Anh Huong teach me – that in taking care of myself, I am taking care of the whole cosmos.  All suffering beings are present in me and me in them.  We “inter-are.”  I am the child in Aleppo.  I am the woman in Nigeria bearing a child of rape.  I am the coal miner in West Virginia worried about feeding his children.  I am determined to take care of all of me, all of the suffering in the world in my breathing, in the sound of this bell going out to the whole cosmos.

Photo by Bao-Tich

Monday, August 30, 2010

On Saturday, my husband and I had the opportunity to spend the whole day in mindfulness and meditation with the Mindfulness Practice Center of Fairfax. We have practiced with this sangha, led by Ahn Huong and Thu Nguyen, for many years in the tradition of her uncle, Thich Nhat Hanh. Ahn Huong is my inspiration and model for the days of mindfulness and women’s retreats that Ruth Fishel and I have been conducting.

I realize that leading the exercises of mindful breathing, walking, eating, and deep relaxation is a type of work that is also restful, not only to the people who are breathing and relaxing to my guided meditation, but also to me. We inter-are. But it was a treat to return to my teacher’s beautiful sangha, to be guided by her peaceful voice, to just REST.

For many people vacation is over today. Schools opening. Teachers teaching. Traffic increasing. Stress increasing. It’s a work day. So, here I am at my desk, working on a blog and my next retreat. Without traffic, without the stress of my many years in the classroom. Also without the excitement of meeting my new students. So I turn to you, my new audience of readers, less visible, less audible, but there.

There is a time for everything under the sun. I am so grateful for this period of my life when I am able to rest between periods of work and to attempt to make every task I do one of mindfulness and joy. I am still capable of becoming stressed about writing and publishing, capable of working without pausing. But, if I come back to my breath, at least three breaths when beginning a new task, occasionally during a task and at the end, my work is more productive and happy. My life has become so restful, so filled with joyful opportunities to merge work and rest.

How do you find rest within, before and after your work? Do you STOP occasionally to rest and breathe? What reminders do you use?