Monday, September 2, 2013


Yesterday, we spent the bulk of the day at a Buddhist monastery retreat where Thich Nhat Hanh was the featured speaker. It was a day to focus on mindfulness.

It was great to have that day when most of my days are filled with stress about the upcoming wedding! Taking time out to be mindful and present is a difficult practice, but so worth it.

Just being around Thich Nhat Hanh, listening to his loving speech, and all the rest of the calm monks who also spoke with love, was a healing experience.

He made the point that it is best to live in the present, because living in the past brings sorrow, bitterness and regret... and living in the future bring anxiety, fear and worry. When you live in the here and now, you can find happiness and peace.

Living in the here and now, he says, is brought about by mindfulness. Being aware of your breathing, your steps, your body, your speech. 

He said a lot that resonated to me personally - about the art of suffering (living in your suffering, accepting it, and being tender towards it rather than running from it by indulging in consumption of food and drink), about using your suffering to create understanding and compassion for others, and about how to speak to your loved ones.

It was actually a little too intensely emotional for me, there were many tears shed as he softly spoke about these matters. I can't get into all of it right now!

We also did the mindful eating: eating in silence, chewing thoroughly, and meditating on the five contemplations:

  • This food is a gift of the earth, the sky, numerous living beings and much hard work.
  • May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive it.
  • May we recognize and transform our unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed, and learn to eat with moderation.
  • May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that we reduce the suffering of living beings, preserve our planet and reverse the process of global warming.
  • We accept this food so that we may nurture our brotherhood and sisterhood, strengthen our sangha and nourish our ideal of serving all beings.

And I will leave you with that and urge you to think on those things carefully next time you eat :)

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