The strong winds in Ireland this morning remind me of this teaching on being shaken and standing firm
When you look at a tree in a storm, you see that its upper branches move more violently in the wind. But if you look at its trunk, you see that it is very solid and still. Your belly is the trunk of your being. It is important to allow everything in your head to move down to your abdomen. Place your hands on your abdomen and practice your breathing. After five, ten, fifteen minutes the storm will pass and you will be ok.
Nguyen Anh-Huong and Thich Nhat Hahn, Walking Meditation
Happiness arrives from many directions. If you have a notion that it comes only from one direction, you will miss all of these other opportunities because you want happiness to come only from the direction you want. Please remember that your notions of happiness may be very dangerous. Go back and examine deeply your notions and ideas of happiness. So let go of what you believed yesterday. Let go of what you thought last week you needed to be happy. The conditions of happiness that are in your life now are enough.
Thich Nhat Hahn
Narrative loops […} play over and over in our mind, the trains of thought pulling out of the station one after another and taking us for a long ride down the track even before we know we’re aboard. Meditation has to do with looking deeply into the mind and body to discern the various processes unfolding each moment that fabricate the virtual world of our existence. For most of us the monkey mind chatters incessantly as it swings from one branch to another, seizing first this thought, then that idea, then a host of miscellaneous associations, memories and fantasies. We could watch this show all day and learn very little. As the mind gradually settles, however, upon the breath or some other primary object of attention, it gains some strength and becomes more calm. Then it is better able to see the stream of consciousness for what it is: a sequence of mind states unfolding one after another in rapid succession. As the foundations upon which mindfulness are established become more stable, one can look upon the flow of experience rushing by instead of being swept away by it.
Andrew Olendzki, Unlimiting Mind
Most of our dissatisfaction in life comes from a mind that acts in one of two ways. Either it pulls – wants some things that are going on in our lives (or in others’ lives) or it pushes away – it does not want elements of what is happening to us at the moment. This pushing or pulling - which is frequently linked to us comparing ourselves with real or imagined others - makes it very difficult for us to enjoy the present moment. As I once heard meditation teacher Larry Rosenberg say, we live in “what actually is” but we insist on thinking ourselves into “what is not”:
You [have] a hidden demand that life be other than it is, and then you suffer and cause others to suffer. The present moment isn’t acceptable because you aren’t getting what you want, or you are not who you want to be, or there is something you want to get rid of. Even if it is a pleasant moment, you worry about the future and wanting to have still more pleasant moments, so you are still being defined by attachment. You are not willing to accept what the future may be, so you suffer in this moment over what is really only a concept. But the future is not here now. It may turn out the way you want it to, or you may change your mind about what you want. What you believe may be awful if it happens may turn out to not be so bad or to lead to some unanticipated good alternative.
Phillip Moffitt, Dancing with Life
Speed gives life a frantic quality. It is an anxious state of mind that keeps us from settling into whatever we are doing. There is always something more important than what we’re doing now. We’re double-parked outside a store, trying to find what we need, while talking to our mother on the cell-phone. Rather than accomplishing our activity well, we are nullifying it, because we aren’t really there for it. That self-generated speed creates its own power and momentum, which begin to rule us. It’s a form of small-mindedness that blinds us to what life really offers — the opportunity to develop wisdom and compassion.
Wisdom tells us that we are meant to enjoy our life and use it in a meaningful way. A successful life is not determined by the speed with which we live. If we’re always flapping our wings, endlessly trying to get what we need with aggression, we will always be exhausted. We’ll never find what we’re really looking for, which is our own contentment.
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
photo Katy Warner