“This is the practice of mindfulness.”
Recently, I found my tattered journal full of scribbled notes from the Plum Village Dharma Talks featuring Thich Nhat Hanh, or Thay to his followers.
I’d like to share with you three of my favorite talks. These are a mix of his words (transcribed) and my notes. May they be of benefit to heal the Mother Earth and ourselves:
Touching the Earth
When we walk mindfully, you allow your mind to rest. You don’t need to use your mind, you don’t need to think. Just enjoy the body and enjoy each step, every step brings you home to the here and now.
Walk in such a way to radiate peace and joy. Our steps become more peaceful, more free, and more solid, and we enjoy every step. A walking meditation is a pleasant way to learn how to live deeply in every moment. Every step brings you home. You are walking, but already arrived in the here and now. That is my address, that is the address of here and now.
When you breathe in, you touch the present moment, refreshing and healing and nourishing. Our mind has a habit of running to the past or running to the future. We have that kind of anxiety that is pushing us to leave the present moment in order to go into the future.
We should learn how to walk like a free person. Free from the past, free from the future, free from our projects, and our anger. Walking free like that has a lot of healing and joy and nourishment. I have arrived.
In walking meditation, we combine our breath with our steps. You make one step, and you focus your attention on the contact between your foot and the ground. When you take one breath in, you take only one step. You think “I have arrived” this is the realization and you know that you’ve truly arrived in the here and now.
You put your attention on the sole of your foot. We should not stay in our minds, we should be with each footstep. “I touch the earth with my foot, mindfully, as if I kiss the earth with my foot. This is healing for us and for Mother Earth. We have done a lot of damage to Mother Earth. Now it’s time to heal both of us.” And breathing in, you become aware of the contact between your foot and the ground.
That is the mudra of touching the earth.
A meditation about the cloud and water
Drinking tea is also a meditation. When you look into a cup of tea, of course you see the water. To meditate means to look more deeply. If you look deeply into the tea you can see the cloud. This tea has former lives. Just four days ago it was in the sky as a cloud, floating, having a good time up there, and one day it became rain.
You can look into the tea and talk to the cloud. “Hello my cloud, I see you.” You know, you are also made of clouds, 70 percent of you is cloud. If you take the cloud out of you, there’s no you left.
The cloud has not really died. It was transformed into the rain. The cloud can become snow or rain or ice, but a cloud can never die. The cloud becomes the rain, the rain becomes the tea. So the cloud is a good subject of meditation. There’s no life, there’s only transformation. That is good news, nothing can die.
I Have Arrived, I Am Home
I have arrived means I have arrived in the present moment. And every breath and every step can help us arrive in this moment, here and now, so that we can encounter life and get the nourishment and healing from life.
We have an appointment with life and the place and time is here and now. And if we miss the here and the now, we miss our appointment with life. We have a life to live, but we do not live our life. We try always to run into the future instead of living each moment of our daily life deeply. So the practice of mindfulness helps us to go home to the here and the now, to learn how to live our lives deeply. That way we will not waste our lives.
Every morning you wake up, you know you have 24 brand-new hours to live. That is a big gift. Every day. And yet we don’t know how to profit from the 24 brand-new hours. We allow anger, jealousy, and fear to take us away.
“When I ordained as a novice monk, my teacher gave me many verses to learn by heart. The first one is Waking Up this Morning.” There are four lines. With the first line you breathe in, with the next line you breathe out:
Waking up in the morning I smile. [and you breathe in, and smile]
I have 24 brand-new hours to live. [and you breathe out]
I vow to live them fully. [and you breathe in]
And learn to look at the people around me with the eyes of compassion. [and you breathe out]
“It’s very beautiful to smile at the beginning of the day. That is a smile of enlightenment already. Why do you smile? Because you know you are alive. You have 24 precious hours to live. And you smile with that kind of insight, with that kind of enlightenment.
Enlightenment is possible right in the beginning of your day. When I wake up in the morning, I smile immediately. This is the practice of mindfulness.”
An update on Thay’s health.
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