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Category Archives: Days of Mindfulness

Mindful Morning Saturdays

In the interest of buoying my new practice of Mindful Morning Saturdays (MMS), through the art of sharing my experience in written form, this is yet another installment to help me along.

This morning I especially enjoyed reading the Discourse on the Eight Realizations of the Great Beings, as part of my MMS sutra readings. The sutra starts: Wholeheartedly, day and night, disciples of the Awakened One should recite and meditate on the Eight Realizations discovered by the Great Beings. It then lists them in the order shown above and goes into short detail about each one. The concluding sentence of the sutra states: If disciples of the Buddha recite and meditate on these Eight Realizations, they will put an end to countless misunderstandings and difficulties and progress toward enlightenment, leaving behind the world of birth and death, dwelling forever in peace.

The Sixth Realization especially stood out to me. It seemed different than the other Realizations and it got my internal gears moving. Here’s the whole paragraph from the sutra:

The Sixth Realization is the awareness that poverty creates hatred and anger, which creates a vicious cycle of negative thoughts and actions. When practicing generosity, bodhisattvas* consider everyone – friends and enemies alike – to be equal. They do not condemn anyone’s past wrongdoings or hate even those presently causing harm.

* Bodhisattva: Literally “enlightened being,” one committed to enlightening oneself and others so that all may be liberated from suffering.

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Mindful Morning Saturday

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The above pic was the first thing I read early this morning, to kick off my new practice of Mindful Morning Saturdays. I ordered a few new books for our library at the Open Way Mindfulness Center and a few of them arrived yesterday. One of which is Thay’s new book: At Home in the World, Stories and Essential Teachings from a Monk’s Life. The above pic was taken from inside the book jacket.

As a recap from my post last Saturday, I’ve just started a new practice of dedicating Saturday mornings, from 5:00-8:00am, to the intentional cultivation of mindfulness, on a deeper level than I tend towards on other days. No matter how mindful and present I think I am in my everyday life, there is always more work and practice I can do to deepen my connection to the here and now. Mindful Morning Saturdays are an opportunity to devote my full attention to coming back home to myself and tending to the garden of life that is available in the present moment. Today was Saturday #2 in my new endeavor, and I am feeling wonderfully energized and refreshed with Dharmic inspiration.

I respond and work well with having a schedule to follow, as it helps to keep me focused, so today my morning looked like this:

5:00am Wake up
Reading: Thay’s new book and then some things from our chanting book
6:00am Sitting Meditation, followed by Three Earth Touchings
6:30am
Stick exercises
7:00am
Silent, non-multitasking breakfast
7:30am
Watched an interview online with Sister Peace & the Huff Po

The interview I watched was very good (on peaceful activism and social justice) and I would highly recommend it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LakovFKhtXw

Here are some of the responses I jotted down from Sister Peace:

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Mindful Morning Saturdays

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The Buddha and the crow sit together

near a council fire, tall and splendid.

Their faces aglow, postures sturdy.

In the charter of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing (OI), ordained members are required to:

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Only in the past 4 years, since I’ve been going on extended retreat stays at Deer Park Monastery each January, have I been coming even remotely close to meeting the last requirement of “observing 60 days of mindfulness each year.” Between attending local retreats and days of mindfulness and going to Deer Park I estimate having around 30 or 40 days of what I figure qualifies as a “day of mindfulness.” Up until recently I haven’t given too much thought about this aspect of the OI charter, choosing instead to focus on the spirit of the practice and not get caught in the form of having a certain amount of specific days in which I can refer to as a “day of mindfulness.” But, like everything else, my practice changes. Over the past few months I’ve been brainstorming about ways in which to start implementing a weekly Day of Mindfulness. Of course, applying mindfulness in everyday life is what Thich Nhat Hanh’s tradition is all about, but a set aside Day of Mindfulness is an opportunity to “up our game,” as I heard it explained recently by an OI aspirant. It involves more intention, more focused practice energy. Looking deeply, I see now that I used to let myself off the hook in regards to this one, saying to myself: “Mindfulness is the aim of my life, I’m practicing everyday. So every day is a mindfulness day.” And this sentiment is both true and not true, at the same time.

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Self-Care

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To read in more detail about Ethan’s 7-Point Plan: http://www.ethannichtern.com/7-point-practice-plan-for-engaged-mindfulness-in-2017/

Yesterday was a long day of LOTS of sitting on a meditation cushion at our local mindfulness center, with very little active movement, which my physical body is not a huge fan of. And it was also lovely, too, as not only was I able to partake in an OI Day of Mindfulness (OI: Order of Interbeing), but it meant I was able to see our out of town sangha friends, of whom I only gather with 3-4 times a year.

Our Day of Mindfulness included: sitting meditation, indoor walking meditation, reciting the 14 Mindfulness Trainings, listening to short talks from three of our Montana and Wyoming area OI members, silent lunch, a dharma/personal check-in round, and closing remarks from our local Dharma teacher Rowan. It went from 9:30am-5:00pm. My husband and I left at 5:00pm, in order to return home to our son, while others stayed to have dinner together at the center. My nerve condition, and associating chronic pain, had been so aggravated by the hours spent mostly sitting that I darted out to our car quite rapidly after the final sound of the bell – whoosh, I was gone! What I’ve been appreciating reflecting on, since getting home last night, is how strong my practice of self-care is – which took me years of honing in, I might add, and is a continual practice. Now, when my pain levels rise and my mental energy plummets in unison, I know what I need to do and I do it.

A big part of my self-care routine is in understanding how physical pain, just like everything else, is of the nature to change. When my pain level rises, I practice to remember that by prioritizing rest, using a few simple aids (such as using a heating blanket and soaking my legs in a hot bath), and being attentive to my body mechanics, my pain will subside to a large degree, after a certain length of time. I no longer fight against the pain or my body, wishing they were other then they are. I’ve learned a different way of engaging with myself when pain arises, and it makes such an immense difference in my experience.

As Thay says: “The Buddha said that you shouldn’t amplify your pain by exaggerating the situation. He used the image of someone who has just been hit by an arrow. A few minutes later, a second arrow strikes him in exactly the same spot. When the second arrow hits, the pain is not just doubled; it is many times more painful and intense.

So when you experience pain, whether is physical or mental, you have to recognize  it just as it is and not exaggerate it. You can say to yourself, “Breathing in, I know this is only a minor physical pain. I can very well make friends and peace with it. I can still smile to it.”

If you recognize the pain as it is and don’t exaggerate it, then you can make peace with it, and you won’t suffer as much. But if you get angry and revolt against it, if you worry too much and imagine that you’re going to die very quickly, then the pain will be multiplied one hundred times. That is the second arrow, the extra suffering that comes from exaggeration. You should not allow it to arise. This is very important. It was recommended by the Buddha: Don’t exaggerate and amplify the pain.”

– From Shambhala Sun magazine (now known as Lion’s Roar), January 2012

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Wonderfully Together

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Yesterday we had a lovely day of mindfulness (which is basically like a one-day retreat) on the theme of silence at the Open Way Mindfulness Center, led by Dharma teacher Rowan Conrad, with the support and help of various other sangha friends and OI (Order of Interbeing) members (those who have been formally ordained and received the 14 Mindfulness Trainings in Thich Nhat Hanh’s tradition). We had around 30 people in attendance, which was a great turnout – especially considering the ones we’ve held over the last 2-3 years have only managed to draw in 6-10 people, for reasons we can only speculate about. But yesterday we had a nice, full room.

I feel very fortunate that in the past 3 weeks, since I’ve been back from my month-long retreat stay at Deer Park Monastery, I’ve had the opportunity to attend not just one but two local days of mindfulness, the other one having been one week after I got home and designed for OI aspirants, OI members and their spouses from around the state.

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Day of Mindfulness

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When I realized a few days ago that today would be a solo day for me I decided to have a 1/2 day of mindfulness to and for myself (which wound up being from about 10:00am-2:30pm).  With my stepson at his mom’s, my husband out on a paintball adventure with friends, and my having no set plans or scheduled to-do’s I had the wonderful opportunity of an open, free day.

You may wonder, “What is a day of mindfulness?”  In the Plum Village tradition (led by Thich Nhat Hanh) the monasteries, at least the ones here in the states, typically offer 2 days of mindfulness each week, which are open and free for people to attend.  They are a day, or rather 1/2 a day because they tend to go from 9:00am-1:00pm, of intentional community practice and often include listening to a dharma talk, having dharma sharing in small groups, outdoor walking meditation, and sharing a silent meal together.  We are encouraged as OI members (Order of Interbeing. which is another name of Thich Nhat Hanh’s tradition) to  practice a certain amount of days of mindfulness throughout the year as part of the ordination vow we take.  There are many ways in which we can create our own day of mindfulness.  For me it involves slowing down, discontinuing certain things such as using the computer or listening to music (which I do A LOT), and setting an intention to do and enjoy one thing at a time.  I’ve recently started reading Brother Phap Hai’s book that just came out called Nothing To It.  A day or two ago I was reading a part in the introduction where he talks about the practice of Lazy Days, which are part of the Plum Village tradition.  Lazy Days are practiced at our monasteries and usually occur once a week, often on Mondays.  They are a day of no scheduled activities other than meals, not even morning sitting meditation.  Phap Hai writes about Lazy Days in this way:

Laziness is one of the hardest things for people in our modern society all over the world to practice.  We think we’re being “lazy,” but we spend all our time watching TV and reading books and writing emails and catching up on errands and paying that bill and seeing this or that person.  Laziness, in the Plum Village practice, means to allow the world to be as it is and to allow each moment to unfold just as it unfolds: to experience beauty, as I am right now, of the morning sun coming up; to watch the sky changing; to see the wind blowing in the leaves.

I very much liked his description of a Lazy Day so I decided to blend its spirit, as Phap Hai offered, with the energy of a day of mindfulness and see what unfolded.

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Posted by on October 11, 2015 in Days of Mindfulness

 

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Day of Mindfulness

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Yesterday, Sunday February 23rd, our Be Here Now sangha hosted a day of mindfulness.  It was a lovely day of community building and strengthening of practice.  We had a small varying group of 8-10 people.  Throughout the day intermittent snow fell softly.

Our theme for the day was cultivating joy and we wove it into our program through guided meditation, deep relaxation, a mindfulness teaching talk, movement exercises, and a creative project in which we made mindfulness verses.  A mindfulness verse (also called a gatha) is a short saying that we can post around our home or office to help us remember to come back to the present moment.

A mindfulness verse my husband made

A mindfulness verse my husband made

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