A mindful breath is your home base ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Being present … being mindful of the “here and now” seems to be one of the keys to being at peace or deepening the peace within and without …
Of course, the current COVID crisis is inviting (some would say forcing) all of us to be more mindful, more “present” because uncertainty is the “norm” – whether we like it or not … and living in the moment offers the potential to help reduce anxiety, fear, or despair … and it seems to be the only practical modality as any “planning” is overshadowed by the prevailing uncertainty …
Our ongoing theme, since the COVID crisis began, has been to balance out these troubling times by encouraging qualities that cultivate peace and harmony both individually and collectively … thereby bringing humanity together … and in that spirit, today, we will, very briefly look at some simple – and everyday – reminders from Thich Nhat Hanh to “bring us home” …
And, hopefully that “individual and collective coming home” will contribute to the deepening of peace and harmony – again both individually and collectively …
… but before that exploration …
As we’ve done since the COVID crisis began … we want to honor and highlight the “heroes” that continue to ensure our health and safety in the midst of the pandemic: Go Fund Me has organized many campaigns targeted towards the COVID-19 relief efforts. All of these campaigns are worthy of our attention … but for now we want to highlight TWO critical ones that we are supporting personally and also as Stillness Speaks (through donations):
We are all facing financial challenges but IF your situation allows you to donate and help then …
… please visit Frontline Responders Fund’s Go Fund Me page … and help deliver crucial supplies to these frontline responders …
… and/or visit America’s Food Fund Go Fund Me page and help feed the neighbors in need.
And, we again, express our deepest gratitude to a) the COVID-19 Frontline Responders (all the healthcare professionals – doctors, nurses, hospital/medical-services staff – firefighters, law enforcement, volunteers, and any/all the people involved in keeping the “system-at-large” functioning for ALL of us) … and b) Go Fund Me for organizing America’s Food Fund to feed the needy.
Now back to … Thich Nhat Hanh’s wisdom … for everyday living …
In his book: Silence, The Power Of Quiet In A World Full of Noise … he takes a deep dive into silence, mindfulness, and stillness … and in the chapter, the power of stillness, he says:
To manifest our true nature, we need to bring a stop to the constant internal conversation that takes up all the space in us. We can start by turning off Radio NST for little moments each day, in order to give that mental space over to joy instead. …
… the easiest way to free ourselves from the endless wheel of nonstop thinking is by learning the practice of mindful breathing. We breathe all the time, but we rarely pay attention to our breathing. We rarely enjoy our breathing.
A mindful breath is the treat you get to enjoy when you’re giving all your attention to your in-breath and out-breath for the full length of that inhalation and exhalation. If you pay attention as you breathe, it’s as though all the cells in your brain and in the rest of your body are singing the same song.
With the act of breathing in mindfully,
you go inside. Your body is breathing;
and your body is your home.
In each breath, you can come home to yourself.
You may have a lot of sadness, anger, or loneliness in you. When you connect with your in-breath and out-breath, you can get in touch with those feelings without fear of becoming their prisoner. Your mindful breathing is a way of saying, “Don’t worry, I am right here at home; I will take care of this feeling.”
Your mindful breath is your home base. If you want to realize your aspirations; if you want to build connection with your family and friends; if you want to help your community—you need to begin with your breath. Every breath, every step, every action done in mindfulness will give you sustenance.
And, he suggests this upon arising from bed – to start a new day:
When you wake up in the morning, while you’re still in bed, you can start the day with a mindful breath. Take that moment, first thing, to follow your breathing in and out and be aware that you have twenty-four brand-new hours to live. This is a gift of life!
The first verse he learned as a novice monk was to honor and celebrate every new day:
Waking up this morning I smile.
Twenty-four brand-new hours are before me.
I vow to live them deeply
and learn to look at everything around me with the
eyes of compassion.
He goes on to add:
As you can see, there are four lines. The first line is for your in-breath. The second line is for your out-breath. The third line is for your next in-breath. And the fourth line is for your out-breath. As you breathe, you use the verse to focus your attention on the sacred dimension of what you’re doing. You want to live the twenty-four hours that are given you in such a way that peace and happiness are possible. You are determined not to waste your twenty-four hours, because you know that those twenty-four hours are a gift of life, and you receive that gift anew every morning.
And here’s one of his poems to further underscore the gift of mindfully greeting and meeting the new 24 hours – the gift of life anew …
Twenty-Four Brand-New Hours
Waking up this morning, I see the blue sky.
I join my hands in thanks
for the many wonders of life;
for having twenty-four brand-new hours before me.
The sun is rising.
The forest becomes my awareness
bathed in the sunshine.
I walk across a field of sunflowers.
Tens of thousands of flowers are turned toward the bright east.
My awareness is like the sun.
My hands are sowing seeds for the next harvest.
My ear is filled with the sound of the rising tide.
In the magnificent sky, clouds are approaching
with joy from many directions.
I can see the fragrant lotus ponds of my homeland.
I can see coconut trees along the rivers.
I can see rice fields stretching, stretching,
laughing at the sun and rain.
Mother Earth gives us coriander, basil, celery, and mint.
Tomorrow the hills and mountains of the country will be green again.
Tomorrow the buds of life will spring up quickly.
Folk poetry will be as sweet as the songs of children.
This is a song he wrote in “Tokyo in 1970. It was meant to be included in the first edition of The Miracle of Mindfulness as “My Awareness, the Sunshine.”
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May you be more mindful … in every moment of your life … and … may that way of being …
… bring more love and compassion in your daily rhythm and interactions with others … and …
May you remain safe and healthy as you navigate these troubling times.