Posts Tagged ‘PlumVillage’

Here is another gatha for your practice…

“Breathing in, I calm my body.

Breathing out, I smile.

Dwelling in the present moment,

I know this is a wonderful moment.

Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in.

Breathing out, I know

as the in-breath goes deep,

the out-breath grows slow.

Breathing in makes me calm.

Breathing out brings me ease.

With the in-breath, I smile.

With the out-breath, I release.

Breathing in, there is only the present moment.

Breathing out, it is a wonderful moment.

In, Out.

Deep, Slow

Calm, Ease

Smile, Release

Present moment, Wonderful moment.”

From The Plum Village Chanting & Recitation Book, Compiled by the Thich Nhat Hanh and Monks and Nuns of Plum Village

Note:  I will be away on retreat for the next week.  I wish you all well and I hope you enjoy the articles that I have left in my stead.

May sorrow show us the way to compassion

May I realize grace in the midst of suffering

May I be peaceful and let go of expectations.

May I receive the love and compassion of others.

With love and deep gratitude, Jennifer

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Plum Village France

Plum Village France (Photo credit: redwylie)

February and March, like the winter holidays, can be a tough time for those of us who have lost an intimate relationship with a friend or family member.  We closed off our hearts and hid out until all the cupids and red lacy hearts are put away to make room for St. Patrick’s Day.  We feel bereft of the love that we had in our relationship.  We often feel as if there is no one to love us that we are not worth being loved.  But, all of us have a well of love within us that is mirrored back to us when we are in relationship to others.  Even though they are not physically present, we have that deep sense of love to call upon to sustain our lives.

 Often times, when we have experienced the loss of someone close to us, we have a deep sense of loneliness, longing, and needing to belong and be loved.  This can be true even when we have other family and friends around to love us.  We have lost a precious relationship in life and nothing can substitute that or take its place.

As we make our way through the grief journey, from time to time, we need to seek out new ways of healing.  Sometimes that is healing mentally, sometimes spiritually, physically, or emotionally.

The following is a meditation on love.  I hope that this meditation will help you to find some comfort.  May it remind you that change does happen and pain does not endure with the same intensity forever.  May it remind you that you have a wealth of love within you that cannot be damped by your grief.  Allow yourself to come into contact with the deep peace and love within.

 Love Meditation


May I be peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit.

May I be safe and free from injury.

May I be free from anger, fear, and anxiety.

May I learn to look at myself with the eyes of understanding and love.

May I be able to recognize and be aware of  the seeds of joy and happiness in myself.

May I learn to identify and see the sources behind my anger, sorrow, and feelings of self defeat.

May I know how to nourish myself every day, mentally, spiritually, physically.

May I be able to live each day fresh, solid, and free.

May I be free of all of the habits, thoughts, and actions that cause me to suffer.

(Adapted from Thich Nhat Hanh, Plum Village Prayer and Recitation Book, Parallax Press. © 2001)

Note:  some how, it seems that this did not get published at the beginning of March when it was scheduled?  Sorry for the lateness.

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Thich Nhat Hanh

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The final Dharma talk of the Winter Retreat 2011-12 will start at 8:30 AM CET (2:30 AM EST) this morning. The talk will start right at that time, without sitting meditation. View the talk live, with Thay speaking in Vietnamese in the left earphone and English translation in the right earphone, at http://livestream.com/plumvillage

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Meditation (Photo credit: holisticgeek)

Enjoy this 15-minute meditation that I found on Youtube.

I went searching for this because I have been spending a lot of time on the computer lately, doing various things from the blog, to school work, to my “employment” work.

I’ve been finding that I am multitasking all over the place.

One of these days, I expect to find myself driving to Whole Foods (which for me is a very long way away), listening to a cd, munching on something, and checking my ipad because I just got an email. . . . all the while, talking on the phone and listening to my GPS.

No, I promise, I would not do this, but some days it feels like it could happen.  It’s time to get un-hooked.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with technology and all of the sensations that are readily available to us “out there”.  And honestly, they keep us from feelings things “in here”.

Sometimes, I also feel like the more I do the more I find myself to be humming along.  No, I don’t mean humming and whistling show tunes.  I mean humming, like a low-grade anxiety or energy that has taken over and keeps propelling me forward. . . even when I should be standing still and breathing.

We’ve been having unseasonably warm weather this winter and there is a part of me that would like to go to the nearest state park and just sit for a while and listen to nothing-ness.  But, it is really too muddy and too cold.

So, I have choices on what I can do.  I can take 15-minutes and participate along with a video like this.

I can listen to a few minutes of an audiobook by Sharon Salzberg, Pema Chodron, a podcast by Tara Brach or from Upaya Zen Center  (check the Blog Roll for those links).

Or I can just push away the laptop, turn off the Itunes, not pick up a book, and set a timer for 5, 10, 15 minutes and just sit.  Nothing else, just sit and breathe.

Recently, I’ve purchased an Enzo Pearl Timer.  I do have to say, I am enamoured with it.   I can sit intervals like 20 minutes for sitting meditation, 5 minutes for walking meditation, 20 minutes sitting, etc.  And it has 3 chimes and a wood knocking “chime”.  It’s portable and comes with a small padded case.

And I can take it to my office where I can’t have a mindfulness bell on the computer at work so sometimes I just set many intervals for, say 5 minutes, to just be aware of the time.  Sometimes I set it for 35 minutes so I make sure I get up and walk around.

Use any of these ideas to help you unplug.  Or find your own way.  Give your mind, body, and spirit the gift of quiet and full unrestricted calm breathing.

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some of that tea

Drink your tea slowly and reverently,

as if it is the axis on

which the world earth revolves –
slowly, evenly, without rushing
toward the future;
… Live the actual moment.
Only this moment is life.

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English: A tangerine close-up. Español: Fotogr...

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What an exciting day for mindfulness and Buddhism. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this NY Times article.

It’s great to see that mindfulness is going mainstream and that more and more people are looking at it as an option, whether as a spiritual practice or for relaxation.

My hope is that as it becomes more mainstream, it does not lose its deepest meaning. I think some who practice DBT and CBT do not always use mindfulness in the spirit in which it was created as a practice.

In Mindful Eating:  A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food, Dr. Jan Chozen Bays, says, “Mindful eating replaces self-criticism with self-nurturing. It replaces shame with respect for your own inner wisdom”.

So many of us turn to food for comfort and nurturing, reaching for that big bowl of mac and cheese that reminds us of that bowl that mom had waiting for us after school.  That one we poured our hearts out over, telling her all about our school day.

As adults, we chase that good, warm, gooey feeling, like an addict chases their first high.  We have a bad day, put on our favorite sweater, turn on the tv and did into that bowl before realizing, it’s all gone.  And we still feel hollow and frustrated.

But when we start to add mindfulness into our lives, into our daily moment to moment experiences, we become present to what “is” and the fullness that moment contains.

Bays says, “In fact there are two essential aspects of becoming mindful as we eat. They are slowing down and eating without distractions.”

I remember, shortly after learning about meditation in college, we got to read Peace in Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh.  It was time to try something besides counting my exhales.  And tangerine meditation was the next practice.

I have such a fondness for this practice and I have clients that remind me of their first experience with it several years after they leave group.

If you’ve never tried this, Google tangerine meditation, go get yourself an organic orange, tangerine, etc. and see the miracle of mindfulness yourself.

You will never hear the words orange or tangerine without the hairs on the back of your neck standing up as you remember the intimate experience of savoring the whole sensation.

Another way I like to start off my mindful eating meditation is to start off with The Five Contemplations. If you don’t remember them from one of my previous posts, here they are again:

The Five Contemplations

This food is the gift of the whole universe: the earth, the sky, and much hard work.

May we eat in mindfulness so that we are worthy to receive it.

May we transform our unskillful states of mind and learn to eat in moderation.

May we take only food that nourishes us and prevents illness.

We accept this food in order to realize the path of understanding and love.

Wherever you are in your practice, whether you are counting your exhales, using your mala, walking, or kneeling on your bench, try bringing mindfulness into your day.  Most of us have at least three meals a day and what a wonderful way to get time to practice in; a great way to make sure you spend some time mindfully every day.


Want to know even more, check out Savor:  Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Dr. Lilian Cheung and Thich Nhat Hanh.

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English: Tibetan endless knot. Deutsch: Tibeti...

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Namaste 02/14 by Honoring Your Journey | Blog Talk Radio.

Learn what the word Namaste means and how it relates to your journey with illness, with grieving, with caregiving, with the present moment.

Join us for our first 15-minute broadcast to learn how Namaste Consulting is where you want to tune into to learn how to live consciously, compassionately, and creatively.

  • Namaste (blogbysuchitra.wordpress.com)

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Simple Notes on Sitting Meditation:

“Allow all the muscles in your body to relax. Don’t fight or struggle.   There are people who, after fifteen minutes of sitting meditation,   feel pain all over their body because they’re making an effort  to sit or striving to succeed in their sitting meditation. Just allow  yourself to be relaxed, as if you were sitting by the ocean.”

“To succeed in your sitting, release the tension in your body and  in your feelings. Get comfortable in your seated body. When you  begin to breathe in and out, enjoy the breathing in, the breathing  out. Give up any struggle and enjoy sitting and smiling. This is a  privileged moment, having the opportunity to sit quietly like this.  You are your own island. Nobody at this moment can ask you to do  anything. Nobody will disturb you, no one has the right to ask you  a question, or to ask you to go and wash the pots or clean the bathroom.   This is your precious opportunity to relax and be yourself.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

Happiness:  Essential Mindfulness Practices

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Here is a link to a Dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh… please forgive the very low-grade audio… I’m going to see if I can find a podcast somewhere like Plum Village’s site…

When I was in retreat in 2003 with Thay and his monastics (outside Madison, WI) the last day of the retreat was focused on this topic, just before or just after the book was published…

There are several parts to this… enjoy.

Related article:

Belief Net

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Inspired by:  Cultivating the Mind of Love:  The Practice of Looking Deeply in the Mahayana Buddhist Tradition by Thich Nhat Hanh

This afternoon when I came back to work from lunch, I started to notice my neck getting tight.  I had a good night’s sleep last night, had eaten healthy food, etc.  Luckily for me, but not for him, I found out that my colleague two doors down was “with a headache” as well.  I can always tell when there is something in the air when he gets one too.

My plan was to stay quiet today since I had no meetings and there wasn’t a lot being expected of me.  I had on some quiet music and opened the window to allow some of the odd Spring-like weather to flood my office.  At lunch, I had thrown to books into my bag so that if I had time, I found find a reading for my blog.

In the one book, I quickly found the section I wanted to read but put it down.  I picked up the other book and just let it open to any page.  I fumbled to the beginning of the chapter and found myself utterly delighted in the reading before me.

I had purchased this book back in 2002 while in Queens, NY.  I remember that time in my life.  It was a good and strong time, where it seemed all things were possible.  It was New Year’s Day and we went to Barnes & Noble just to get out of the apartment.  There could be no better time for me, for it was winter and I was in a place that I loved, longing to be back home to the East Coast.

Today, it was sweet to connect to those memories and I appreciated them for just what they were –memories.  I turned to the book and read this short chapter.  I remember feeling a tug when I read it the first time.  I was in love and it was so different from this experience described in the book and yet, I had a similar experience years before, when I was a child.

I knew that I was grieving a bit for a love like this; one that was so perfect that it was better to have let it touch your heart lightly and go than to have let it manifest fully.  And maybe part of the perfection was in the exquisite now-ness because there was no other place to be.  I hope Parallax Press forgives me being indulgent with the text as I am going to be as this is one of the most beautiful passages I’ve ever read.

“. . . In every temple, there is a special seat for the abbot, and I had to sit there, because the abbot was away for a few days and had asked me to serve in his stead.  I invited her to sit in front of me, but she sat off to the side.  Member of the community never sit in front of the abbot.  It is just the form.  To see each other’s faces, we had to turn our heads.

Her behavior as a nun was perfect – the way she moved, the way she looked, the way she spoke.  She was quiet.  She never said anything unless spoke to.  She just looked down in front of her.  I was shy, too.  I never dared look at her for more than a second or two, and then I lowered my eyes again.  After a few minutes, I said good-bye and went to my room.  I didn’t know what had happened, but I knew my peace had been disturbed.  I tried writing a poem, but I couldn’t compose even one line!  So I began to read the poetry of others, hoping that would calm me down.

I read several poems by Nguyen Binh.  He was longing for his mother and sister, and I felt the same way.  When you become a monk at a young age, you miss your family. . .  I remember that I had a few tears in my eyes when I chanted this classical Chinese:

Night is here.

The wind and the rain announce the news

That spring is coming.

Still I sleep alone, my dreams not yet realized.

Flower petals falling

Seem to understand my dreams and aspirations.

They touch the ground of spring in perfect silence.

. . . We had dinner together, and afterwards, I read her some of my poetry.  Then I went to my room and read poetry along.  Nothing had changed from the day before, but inside I understood.  I knew that I loved her.  I only wanted to be with her – to sit near her and contemplate her.” 

We tend to think of grief as something we experience when we have lost something.   But sometimes we grieve for what has eluded us.  I don’t think that Thay really eluded love because he was genuine in his ability to admit that it was there.

What I find endearing about this chapter is that he does not have condemnation for being a young monk who is loving another person.  He doesn’t flounder in what could never be.  But rather, he allows himself to be moved by this love, to accept the bits of discomfort, longing, and sweetness that it brings for him.  There is such a great acceptance of the moments.  I think his story personifies what happens when mindfulness is transformed from a practice to a way of being for us.  There is an unconditioned love and whole-heartedness when we can simply be with what is.

At the beginning of this chapter, Thich Nhat Hanh suggests that we use this as a meditation, to sit with the recalled experience of our first love.   He equates it to the koan, “What was your face before your parents were born?” and that as we look deeply we find that our first love is “still present, always here, continuing to shape your life.”

My gift to you is to suggest that you use something similar for your meditation. . . perhaps allowing yourself to sit and be present to the relationship that you have lost – it might be a relationship to your younger self or a relationship that has “ended” because of death and loss.  So much grief theory suggests that we “let go” of the relationship we have with the deceased.

I think what Thay suggests is what we are finally starting to realize with theories such as social constructivist views of grief – that relationship is always present and informing your life.  The love is not gone nor is the relationship even though you cannot physically put your arms around the person whom you miss.  That love is within the depths of you and accessible with every breath you take.

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