A Day of Mindfulness led by Pam Marraccini and Maggie Morris

cffwindowA Day of Mindfulness with Cloud Floating Free Sangha of Charlottesville, VA, September 29 and November 17, 2019, 9am-4pm in the Plum Village Tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh with the lay members of the Order of Interbeing, Pam Marraccini and Maggie Morris, the principal teachers at Cloud Floating Free Sangha

To be mindful is to be aware of what is going on in our body, in our feelings, in our mind, and in the world. The purpose of mindfulness practice is to experience and demonstrate that happiness is possible right here and now. Mindfulness is the basis for transforming ourselves and creating a more harmonious family and society. On this day, we come together to learn and practice the art of mindful living as a community. We will learn to enjoy the practice of mindful breathing, sitting, walking, movement, and mindful eating.

Dress comfortably and bring a mat and cushion for the sitting and a blanket for the deep relaxation. Some cushions, mats, and chairs will be available. Please bring a vegetarian dish to share at lunch.

Schedule:

8:30     – Registration – Welcome

9:00     – Guided Meditation

10:00   – Mindful Movements

10:30   – Indoor walking meditation

11:00   – Outdoor walking

11:30   – Orientation on mindful eating

12:00   – Potluck preparation – Lunch

1:00     – Deep relaxation

2:00     – Dharma talk, Q/A

4:00     – Closing

Registration fee: $20.00

DOM register and inquiries email: cloudfloatingfree@gmail.com

Mother Earth, Thich Nhat Hanh, A Rose For Your Pocket, p52-53

Mother Earth has been here for a long time. She is mother to all of us. She knows everything. The Buddha asked the Earth to be his witness by touching her with his hand when he had some doubt and fear before his awakening. The Earth appeared to him as a beautiful mother. In her arms, she carried flowers and fruit, birds and butterflies, and many different animals, and offered them to the Buddha. The Buddha’s doubts and fears instantly disappeared.

Whenever you feel unhappy, come to the Earth and ask for her help. Touch her deeply, the way the Buddha did. Suddenly, you too will see the Earth with all her flowers and fruit, trees and birds, animals and all living beings that she has produced. All these things she offers to you.

The Energy of Love

Thich Nhat Hanh, Answers From The Heart

The teaching of the Buddha aims at helping us to generate the energy of love and understanding. If we can practice that energy, it will first of all help us to satisfy our need to be loved. And then, with that capacity of love and understanding, we can embrace the people who are with us now. We can make them happy while we are happy ourselves.

 

Go Back to the Body

GO BACK TO THE BODY

Breathing mindfully takes our mind back to our breath and, if we continue, to our whole body. We go back to our body and reconcile with it. We get to know what’s going on in our body, the wrongs we have done, the conflicts we’re having, and we’ll know what to do and what not to do in order to be on good terms with our body. With mindful breathing, we come to recognize our body as our home. We might say:

Breathing in, I am aware of my body.
Breathing out, I smile to my whole body.

—Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh

The Art of Living by TNH

A message from Plum Village.

Dear Dharma Brothers & Sisters,

 

We’re very happy to announce the publication next week, on June 6, of Thay’s book THE ART OF LIVING, an edited selection of Thay’s unpublished teachings from 2013-14. It includes Thay’s remarkable teachings from the June 2014 21-day Retreat in Plum Village, France (the last 21-day retreat taught by Thay), with the theme “What happens when we die? What happens when we’re alive?” So perhaps the title of the book could also be, “THE ART OF LIVING AND DYING”

 

We hope those of you who were at the 21-Day Retreat will appreciate reading a full exposition of Thay’s teachings on the Cosmic Body, reincarnation, life-force, and so on. And those who missed the retreat will have a chance to discover some of Thay’s precious teachings before his stroke.

 

In THE ART OF LIVING, Thay’s insights are set within the context of the Seven Concentrations he focussed on in the last year or two of his teachings: combining the 3 Doors of Liberation with the last 4 Exercises of Mindful Breathing (making a total of 7).

 

We are grateful for the support of HarperOne publishing, in allowing us to produce an accessible yet profound Dharma book, that we hope will be an inspiration for Thay’s students everywhere, and a support for the deepening of our collective practice.

 

We hope that many of you will have a chance to read and study the book, as individuals and as sanghas. We invite you to get involved by writing an honest review on THE ART OF LIVING Amazon page, and by participating in discussions on the book’s Goodreads page. We’d especially love to see comments and reviews from those of you who attended the 2014 21-Day Retreat, and who’ve already had a chance to put these teachings into practice.

 

Perhaps, in the future, monastic and lay Dharma Teachers may be able to offer some structured study of the book, along the lines of Br Phap Hai’s wonderfully successful “The Sun My Heart” Book Club. If you have any ideas for this, please let us know.

 

We welcome your feedback.

 

With gratitude and appreciation,

 

Sister True Dedication

on behalf of the Plum Village Editorial Team

editors@plumvillage.org

 

 

 

How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh #2

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Digging Deep p66

Practicing loving kindness meditation is like digging deep into the ground until we reach the purest water. We look deeply into ourselves until insight arises and our love flows to the surface. Joy and happiness radiate from our eyes and everyone around us benefits from our smile and our presence. If we take good care of ourselves, we help everyone. We stop being a source of suffering in the world, and we become a reservoir of joy and freshness. Here and there are people who know how to take good care of themselves, who live joyfully and happily. They are our strongest support. Whatever they do, they do it for everyone.

Immeasurable Minds p81

Loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity are described as unlimited states of mind because they continue to grow and they cannot be measured. The more you practice, the more you see your love growing and growing until there is no limit. The more you practice compassion,  the more it grows. The more you cultivate joy the more joy you will feel and be able to share. The more you understand, the more you love: the more you love, the more you understand. They are two sides of one reality. The mind of love and the mind of understanding are the same.

Fulfillment p86

We should practice in such a way that every moment is fulfilling. We should feel satisfaction in every breath, in every step, in every action. This is true fulfillment. When you breathe in and out, there is fulfillment. When you take a step, there is fulfillment. When you perform any action, there is the fulfillment that comes from living deeply in the present moment.

Natural Happiness p87

If you walk with true awareness of every step, without having a goal to get anywhere, happiness will arise naturally. You don’t need to look for happiness. When we’re in touch with the wonders of life, we become aware of the many conditions of happiness that are already there, and naturally, we feel happy. The beauty around us brings us back to the present moment so we can let go of the planning and worries that preoccupy us. When you look at the person you love, if he is absorbed in anxiety, you can help him get out. “Darling, do you see the sun? Do you see the signs that spring is coming?” This is mindfulness; we become aware of what is happening now and we are in touch with the conditions of happiness that are there, inside us and all around us.

Watering the seeds in the ground of love

16299107_1661521150542076_6310428942049543838_nYou have two gardens: your own garden and that of your beloved. First, you have to take care of your own garden and master the art of gardening. In each one of us, there are flowers and there is also garbage. The garbage is the anger, fear, discrimination, and jealousy within us. If you water the garbage, you will strengthen the negative seeds. If you water the flowers of compassion, understanding, and love, you will strengthen the positive seeds. What you grow is up to you.

– Thich Nhat Hanh
(Painting: Van Gogh)

On the Four Noble Truths

The nondual nature of reality is also part of the four noble truths. Although there are four truths, each truth contains the others; they can’t be considered completely separately from each other. If you fully understand one noble truth, you understand all four. If you really begin to understand suffering, you are already beginning to understand the path to its cessation. The four truths inter-are. Each one contains the others.

The first noble truth is ill-being. The second noble truth is the causes of ill-being, the thoughts and actions that put us on the path leading to ill-being. The third noble truth is well-being, the cessation of ill-being. The fourth noble truth is the path leading to well-being, the noble eightfold path.

The second noble truth is the action that leads to suffering, and the fourth noble truth is the action that leads to well-being, so in a sense they are two pairs of cause and effect. The second noble truth (the path of ill-being) leads us to the first (ill-being), and the fourth noble truth (the noble eightfold path) leads us to the third (well-being, the cessation of ill-being). Either we are walking the noble path or we are on the ignoble path that brings suffering to ourselves and others. We are always on one path or the other.

-Thich Nhat Hanh,  “Good Citizens: Creating Enlightened Society”.

Breathe, You Are Alive

 

A Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing

By Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Subject Five: Observing Our Feelings

 

  1. Breathing in, I am aware of my mental formations.

     Breathing out, I am aware of my mental formations.

  1. Breathing in, I calm my mental formations.

     Breathing out, I calm my mental formations.

 

Mental formations are psychological phenomena. There are fifty-one mental formations according to the Vijnanavada School of the Mahayana, and fifty-two according to the Theravada. Feelings are one of them. In the seventh and eighth breathing exercises, mental formations simply mean feelings. They do not refer to the other fifty mental formations. In the Vimutti Magga, we are told that mental formations in these exercises mean feelings and perceptions. It is more likely that mental formations here simply mean feelings, although feelings are caused by our perceptions.

Some feelings are more rooted in the body, such as a toothache or a headache. Feelings that are rooted in our mind arise from our perceptions. In the early morning when you see the first light of day and hear the birds singing, you might have a very pleasant feeling. But if once at this time of day you received a long distance telephone call that your parent had suffered a heart attack, the feeling that comes from that perception may be painful for many years.

When you feel sad, do you remember that it will not last forever? If someone comes and smiles at you, your sadness may vanish right away. In fact, it has not gone anywhere. It has just ceased to manifest. Two days later, if someone criticizes you, sadness may reappear. Whether the seed of sadness is manifesting or not depends on causes and conditions. Our practice is to be aware of the feeling that is present right now. “Breathing in, I am aware of the feeling that is in me now. Breathing out, I am aware of the feeling that is in me now.”

If it is a pleasant feeling, when we are aware that it is a pleasant feeling, it may become even more pleasant. If we are eating or drinking something that is healthy and nourishing for us, our feeling of happiness will grow as we become aware of it. If what we are consuming is harmful for our intestines, our lungs, our liver, or our environment, our awareness will reveal to us that our so-called pleasant feeling has within it many seeds of suffering.

The seventh and eighth breathing exercises help us observe all our feelings – pleasant and unpleasant, neutral and mixed. Feelings, arising from irritations, anger, anxiety, weariness, and boredom, are disagreeable ones. Whatever feeling is present, we identify it, recognize that it is there, and shine the sun of our awareness on it.

If we have an unpleasant feeling, we take that feeling in our arms like a mother holding her crying baby. The “mother” is mindfulness and the “crying baby” is the unpleasant feeling. Mindfulness and conscious breathing are able to calm the feeling. If we do not hold the unpleasant feeling in our arms but allow it just to remain in us, it will continue to make us suffer. “Breathing in, I touch the unpleasant feeling in me. Breathing out, I touch the unpleasant feeling in me.”

In Buddhist meditation, looking deeply is based on non-duality. Therefore, we do not view irritation as an enemy coming to invade us. We see that we are that irritation in the present moment. When we are irritated we know, “This irritation is in me. I am this irritation,” and we breathe in and out in this awareness. Thanks to this approach, we no longer need to oppose, expel, or destroy our irritation. When we practice looking deeply, we do not set up barriers between good and bad in ourselves and transform ourselves into a battlefield. We treat our irritations with compassion and nonviolence, facing it with our heart filled with love, as if we were facing our own baby sister. We bring the light of awareness to it by breathing in and out mindfully. Under the light of awareness, our irritation is gradually transformed. Every feeling is a field of energy. A pleasant feeling is an energy that can nourish. Irritation is a feeling that can destroy. Under the light of awareness, the energy of irritation is transformed into a kind of energy that nourishes us.

Feelings originate either in the body or in your perceptions. When we suffer from insomnia, we feel fatigue or irritation. That feeling originates in our body. When we misperceive a person or an object, we may feel anger, disappointment, or irritation. This feeling originates in our perception. According to Buddhism, our perceptions are often inaccurate and cause us to suffer. The practice of Full Awareness is to look deeply in order to see the true nature of everything and to go beyond our inaccurate perceptions. Seeing a rope as a snake, we may cry out in fear. Fear is a feeling, and mistaking the rope for a snake is an inaccurate perception.

If we live our lives in moderation, keeping our bodies in good health, we can diminish painful feelings which originate in the body. By observing each thing clearly and opening the boundaries of our understanding, we can diminish painful feelings that originate from perceptions. When we observe a feeling deeply, we recognize the multitude of causes near and far that helped bring it about, and we discover the very nature of feeling.

When a feeling of irritation or fear is present, we can be aware of it, nourishing our awareness through breathing. With patience, we come to see more deeply into the true nature of this feeling, and in seeing, we come to understand, and understanding brings us freedom. The seventh exercise refers to the awareness of a mental formation, namely a feeling. When we have identified the feeling, we can see how it arises, exists for a while, and ceases to be in order to become something else.

With mindfulness, a so-called neutral feeling can become a pleasant or an unpleasant feeling. It depends on your way of handling it. Suppose you are sitting in the garden with your little boy. You feel wonderful. The sky is blue, the grass is green, there are many flowers, and you are able to touch the beauty of nature. You are very happy, but your little boy is not. First, he has only a neutral feeling but, since he doesn’t know how to handle it, it turns into boredom. In his search for more exciting feelings, he wants to run into the living room and turn on the television. Sitting with the flowers, the grass, and the blue sky is not fun for him. The neutral feeling has become an unpleasant feeling.

Mindfulness helps us to identify a feeling as a feeling and an emotion as an emotion. It helps us hold our emotions tenderly within us, embrace them, and look deeply at them. By observing the true nature of any feeling, we can transform it’s energy into the energy of peace and joy. When we understand someone, we can accept and love him. The energy of the feeling of irritation, in this case, has been transformed into the energy of love. The Buddha had much love and compassion as far as the body and feelings of people are concerned. He wanted his disciples to return to, look after, care for, heal, and nourish their bodies and minds. How deeply the Buddha understood human beings!