Students at China’s Shenyang Agriculture University found their own way of marking the start of 2015. This pic is from BBC news online.
As we welcome in the new year let us send our gratitude to the year that is passing. Just as one page turns and makes way for a story to continue unfolding so too can we let go of 2014 to make way for our life path to venture forward.
Breathing in I send my gratitude to 2014
Breathing out I smile to 2015
Happy New Year dear friends :)
Everything takes practice. Practice makes progress (in either direction: beneficial or un-beneficial). I think this can be one of those teachings where we can understand it but perhaps only on an intellectual level at first (as is true for many Buddhist teachings). When we grasp a teaching with only our minds we don’t get the benefits of understanding the whole teaching on a deeper heart level, which can often be a stumbling block to practice.
Smiling is something I personally practice and I find it an important mindfulness tool. I’ve shared it multiple times before on this blog but one of my favorite quotes is from Thich Nhat Hanh that says, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” This quote contains very profound teachings. Looking deeply I see the teachings of interbeing, impermanence, and non-duality in this quote.
I’m a smiling type of person. My mom is a smiling type of person too. So I grew up with smiling. And while I may have an easier time smiling then others who were not raised in a smiling sort of environment, because I’ve had more time to practice, that doesn’t mean I don’t continue to put effort into cultivating the art of smiling.
Impermanence — Thich Nhat Hanh
Nothing remains the same for two consecutive moments. Heraclitus said we can never bathe twice in the same river. Confucius, while looking at a stream, said, “It is always flowing, day and night.” The Buddha implored us not just to talk about impermanence, but to use it as an instrument to help us penetrate deeply into reality and obtain liberating insight.
We may be tempted to say that because things are impermanent, there is suffering. But the Buddha encouraged us to look again. Without impermanence, life is not possible. How can we transform our suffering if things are not impermanent? How can our daughter grow up into a beautiful young lady? How can the situation in the world improve? We need impermanence for social justice and for hope.
I just finished my annual End of the Year Letter that I send out to friends and family and thought that it would also be nice to include the letter here on my blog (along with the pictures from the letter). Sharing our lives and connecting with those in our personal community of friends and family is mindfulness in action. Happy reading!
Thanksgiving Community Potluck
Community building is something I prioritize and greatly enjoy putting time and energy into. If it involves bringing people together I’m all for it – whether it’s a potluck, celebration event, club meeting, sangha circle, sporting event, performance, getting tea with a friend, or a family gathering the power of coming together with others is just awesome!
I have the wonderful opportunity to come together with others in a multitude of ways from helping to facilitate my sangha on Monday nights to working with middle school students to volunteering with hospice to leading board meetings and hosting community events and potlucks. It is a joy and a gift to be able to come together with others.
A few weeks ago I helped to host a community Thanksgiving meal at our house – last weekend I put on an open mic night at our local meditation center – yesterday I attended our annual solstice celebration at our meditation center – and tomorrow I’m looking forward to our annual white elephant gift exchange with my local sangha Be Here Now. Sharing food over Thanksgiving, sharing music and creativity at our open mic night, and sharing silence and stories at the solstice event puts me in touch with a deep well of gratitude. I am because my community is. I am inspired, filled up, supported, and transformed by all of the many wonderful folks I come into contact with.
My cats :)
I wanted to share a poem I came across today in an old journal of mine:
Your Reading this, Be Ready
Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?
Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life—
What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?