Happiness, Freedom, Peace
Thich Nhat Hanh on The Practice of Mindfulness
Our true home is not in the past. Our true home is not in the future. Our true home is in the here and the now. Life is available only in the here and the now, and it is our true home.
Mindfulness is the energy that helps us recognize the conditions of happiness that are already present in our lives. You don’t have to wait ten years to experience this happiness. It is present in every moment of your daily life. There are those of us who are alive but don’t know it. But when you breathe in, and you are aware of your in-breath, you touch the miracle of being alive. That is why mindfulness is a source of happiness and joy.
You don’t have to wait ten years to experience this happiness. It is present in every moment of your daily life.
Most people are forgetful; they are not really there a lot of the time. Their mind is caught in their worries, their fears, their anger, and their regrets, and they are not mindful of being there. That state of being is called forgetfulness—you are there but you are not there. You are caught in the past or in the future. You are not there in the present moment, living your life deeply. That is forgetfulness.
The opposite of forgetfulness is mindfulness. Mindfulness is when you are truly there, mind and body together. You breathe in and out mindfully, you bring your mind back to your body, and you are there. When your mind is there with your body, you are established in the present moment. Then you can recognize the many conditions of happiness that are in you and around you, and happiness just comes naturally.
Mindfulness practice should be enjoyable, not work or effort. Do you have to make an effort to breathe in? You don’t need to make an effort. To breathe in, you just breathe in. Suppose you are with a group of people contemplating a beautiful sunset. Do you have to make an effort to enjoy the beautiful sunset? No, you don’t have to make any effort. You just enjoy it.
The same thing is true with your breath. Allow your breath to take place. Become aware of it and enjoy it. Effortlessness. Enjoyment. The same thing is true with walking mindfully. Every step you take is enjoyable. Every step helps you to touch the wonders of life, in yourself and around you. Every step is peace. Every step is joy. That is possible.
During the time you are practicing mindfulness, you stop talking—not only the talking outside, but the talking inside. The talking inside is the thinking, the mental discourse that goes on and on and on inside. Real silence is the cessation of talking—of both the mouth and of the mind. This is not the kind of silence that oppresses us. It is a very elegant kind of silence, a very powerful kind of silence. It is the silence that heals and nourishes us.
Mindfulness gives birth to joy and happiness. Another source of happiness is concentration. The energy of mindfulness carries within it the energy of concentration. When you are aware of something, such as a flower, and can maintain that awareness, we say that you are concentrated on the flower. When your mindfulness becomes powerful, your concentration becomes powerful, and when you are fully concentrated, you have a chance to make a breakthrough, to achieve insight. If you meditate on a cloud, you can get insight into the nature of the cloud. Or you can meditate on a pebble, and if you have enough mindfulness and concentration, you can see into the nature of the pebble. You can meditate on a person, and if you have enough mindfulness and concentration, you can make a breakthrough and understand the nature of that person. You can meditate on yourself, or your anger, or your fear, or your joy, or your peace.
Anything can be the object of your meditation, and with the powerful energy of concentration, you can make a breakthrough and develop insight. It’s like a magnifying glass concentrating the light of the sun. If you put the point of concentrated light on a piece of paper, it will burn. Similarly, when your mindfulness and concentration are powerful, your insight will liberate you from fear, anger, and despair, and bring you true joy, true peace, and true happiness.
When your mindfulness becomes powerful, your concentration becomes powerful, and when you are fully concentrated, you have a chance to make a breakthrough, to achieve insight.
When you contemplate the big, full sunrise, the more mindful and concentrated you are, the more the beauty of the sunrise is revealed to you. Suppose you are offered a cup of tea, very fragrant, very good tea. If your mind is distracted, you cannot really enjoy the tea. You have to be mindful of the tea, you have to be concentrated on it, so the tea can reveal its fragrance and wonder to you. That is why mindfulness and concentration are such sources of happiness. That’s why a good practitioner knows how to create a moment of joy, a feeling of happiness, at any time of the day.
The Learning Ladder
As we wrap up our official time together, I thought it was important to give you some encouragement about stepping out into the world to practice, and eventually become, embodied mindfulness. In part it is important to simply offer a reminder to be gentle with yourself and others along the way. Some days we are going to do particularly well in our practice, and other days maybe not so much. This is of course perfectly normal and to be expected. Remember to practice self-compassion and forgiveness along the way for the places you will fall short. And, remember to keep trying, and keep practicing. Even though progress may feel imperceptible, over time, you will become that which you once thought was impossible.
I really love the concepts demonstrated through ‘the learning ladder’. Essentially, it outlines the natural process of learning that we go through, over and over again, as we develop new skills. Mindfulness included.
The 5 Steps
Unconscious Incompetence - Blissful ignorance, you don’t know what you don’t know
Conscious Incompetence - Discomfort and frustration, you now know what you don’t know
Conscious Competence - Not yet habitual, but you know how to do it
Unconscious Competence - Autopilot, You can do it without effort
Personal Mastery - Explicit wisdom, Ability to teach, Releases tacit wisdom for other
Writing yourself a letter from your painting can be a powerful way to receive its message. Begin writing stream of consciousness (without editing or needing to pre-formulate thoughts), allowing your hand to become the conduit for your heart and spirit. Like being in a sharing circle, there is no need to think about what you are going to say before it is time to say it. Just allow your hand to write quickly to keep up with the sometimes random and surprising things coming through it. At first it might feel like your mind is the one writing it, but keep keep going and notice when the feeling of your writing shifts and becomes the voice of your heart.
Last week we reached our goal of sitting for 30 minutes per day. If sitting for 30 minutes per day was manageable last week, stick with it. If it was challenging, or you’ve been working with a length of time that is working for you, stick with this length, or simply add one minute to whatever your current practice time is, for the next week.
Again, In this recording I guide you into the practice, setting you up with a good seated position, breathing and focus. Silence. And at the end of 30 minutes I bring you back out of the practice with three OMs.
Aligns us with life force energy in and around us
Helps us learn to sit in the the throne of our own inner authority
Promotes union with ourselves, stillness, peace & vulnerability
Helps relieve stress and mild depression
Reduces headache, fatigue, and insomnia
Helps to lower blood pressure
* Add smallest detail using whatever tool will give you the desired shape or effect (writing, dots, patterns, etc)
* Add thin highlighted lines throughout your painting
* Name & Sign!