Namaste’ Thich Nhat Hanh

Breathing in, I calm my body, Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment! 

I fell in love with Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings when I first began my yoga journey. His simple, clear words helped me to understand the transformational use of my breath. Each breath in each moment can be a meditation if we are thoughtful enough. I refer to his books to this day. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese buddhist monk died yesterday at the age of 95. While his earthly presence may be gone, his light will shine on through his beautiful teachings. Rest now, Thay, you are forever in our hearts.

"Please Call Me by My True Names"

Do not say that I'll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply:  I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
In order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my hear is the birth and
death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
 to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and 
loving.
I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
hands,
and I am the man who has to pay his "debt of blood" to my
people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like a spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.

My pain is like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

No Hurrying

Photo by Ono Kosuki on Pexels.com
"When everything hurries everywhere, nothing goes anywhere." 
~Dejan Stojanovic

Each day we get closer to how life used to be before the pandemic hit. In the last year or so, we have all had the chance to slow down. Going a little slower in general has many benefits. I have talked before about how speed and needless rushing around can become internalized in the body. ( blog entitled “Speed”) I know I feel a little hesitant to go full-speed back to life as it was. 

This feeling has reminded me of some wisdom I received years ago when training to be a Relax and Renew certified teacher with Judith Lasater. I have mentioned her many times in my blogs, as I consider her to be a beloved teacher and mentor. Judith says that many people become stressed because of their attitude about time. Each of us is given the same amount of time each and every day. The variable is how we fill it.  

Sometimes we confuse keeping ourselves busy with giving our life meaning. When we artificially create urgency in our lives, we inhibit our ability to be compassionate. Impatient, angry people add to their own suffering. For every thought that crosses the mind, there is a physiological change. This becomes a compounding effect when repeated on a daily basis. To counter this, we should learn to move quickly when it’s necessary, but without the weight of anxiety and blame piled on top. 

Rather than telling yourself “there is not enough time to get there by 6:00," instead say “apparently I didn’t leave enough time to arrive by 6:00.” Tell yourself you will not create suffering for you or anyone else because you are moving so quickly. Time is big, so allow it to be spacious in your life. As Judith says, “ Don’t try to make the present moment peaceful, make peace with the present moment.”

Many thanks to Jennifer Botka who takes beautiful notes during yoga workshops. And to Judith Lasater for her wisdom.