to Still Water Dharma Topics)
January 4, 2007
Dear Still Water Friends,
I was originally drawn to mindfulness practice, and am still drawn, by
my wish for inner peace: a desire for presence, stability, and grace;
not to be at war with myself or others; to know my place in the flow of
In the Plum Village tradition, we cultivate peace. We learn what
nourishes peace in ourselves and others, and then, as best we are able,
we provide the nutrients that help peace grow. Like taking care of a
plant, it call for understanding, patience, and diligence. We have to
learn what is helpful and how to apply it. Sometimes we offer too much,
sometimes we offer too little – like under-watering or
over-watering a house plant. Our capacity grows when we learn from our
experiences, both the experiences that indicate we have understood what
is needed, and also those that show us we can learn more.
This Thursday evening, January 4, we will begin with an orientation at
6:30 for those who are new to mindfulness practice, or new to the Still
Water community, and also for others who wish to ask questions and
share their practice.
Our meditation period begins at 7. The best times to join us are just
before 7, at the beginning of the session; at 7:25, just before the
walking meditation; or at 7:35, just after the walking meditation.
At 8, we will begin our program by exploring together what in our lives
contributes to our lack of peace. What am I doing, or not doing that
undermines my peace? What are the causes and conditions in me and
around me that undermine my peace?
Then, with the help of a few concepts from Buddhist psychology, we will
look at how, theoretically, mindfulness practice can help us transform
the energies in and around us, so peace is more present in our lives.
And finally, we will come back to the practical. What is it I can do in my own live to give peace a greater chance?
You are invited to join with us for our orientation, our meditation
period, and our program. (If you are planning to come to the
orientation, it is helpful to let us know by emailing Still Water
In the quote below Thich Nhat Hanh shares a way of cultivating peace and also, a way of giving peace as a gift to others.
Warm wishes for a mindful 2007 – may you and everyone in your heart by safe, happy, peaceful, and content.
Peace and meditation
from a talk by Thich Nhat Hanh at Green Mountain Dharma Center on 24 September 1999
can think of peace as a gift or we may think of it as a practice. We
can offer peace as a gift if we have some peace within us; some peace
within our body, within our feelings, within our consciousness. We
don’t need to do much, we just sit there and our peace will be given to
the person who is siting next to us or in front of us. From time to
time we see a person we feel it’s very pleasant to be with her or him
because there is peace in that person. Her way of looking, his way of
smiling, her way of responding to you, his peace. Even if we are tired,
even if we do not have much peace and well-being in us the presence of
such a person can bring us relief and comfort. So we can think of peace
as a gift that all of us need. If you love someone you would like to
offer him or her your peace. First of all peace within your body and
then peace within your mind.
Meditation is about cultivating
peace within your body, and your mind. The practice of mindful
breathing can be very helpful, because our breath is like a bridge
linking body and mind. When we pay attention to our breath something
happens. Breathing in I know I am breathing in, breathing out I know I
am breathing out. That is the first exercise offered by the Buddha to
his disciples: just become aware of your in-breath and of your
out-breath. You don’t try to intervene, you just become aware of your
in-breath and out-breath. You don’t have to struggle to do anything to
your breath; just become aware of it. But after one moment, half a
minute or one minute, your breath will become slower and more
harmonious and calm. It is like the sunshine. The sunshine just
embraces the vegetation and the vegetation gets greener and more
beautiful. When you focus your attention on your in-breath and
out-breath your mind will go back to your body in no time at all; in
just ten seconds or twenty seconds. In our daily life we often find our
body in one place and our mind another place. Our body is there but our
mind is elsewhere caught in the past, caught in the future, regretting
or worrying. So we are not really there. But when we begin to breathe
in mindfully and breathe out mindfully suddenly we find that our mind
will go back to our body and suddenly we become truly present in the
here and the now; that is the first miracle of mindful breathing.