Practicing happiness

More from Thich Nhat Hanh: we need to consciously practice joy in these Covid-19 times

We may think of joy as something that happens spontaneously. Few people realize that it needs to be cultivated and practiced in order to grow. Mindfulness is the continuous practice of deeply touching every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly present with your body and your mind, to bring harmony to your intentions and actions, and to be in harmony with those around you. We don’t need to make a separate time for this outside of our daily activities.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Right now it’s like this

There is a lot in our current reality that we do not like,  or we would prefer to be different:

One point that Ajahn Sumedho would stress regularly, is that loving things is not the same as liking them. Having kindness for ourselves or for other beings is not the same as liking everything. We often come a cropper by trying to make ourselves like everything. This is a completely wrong approach. We’re not trying to like everything, rather we’re recognising that everything belongs. Everything is part of nature: the bitter as well as the sweet, the beautiful as well as the ugly, the cruel as well as the kindly. The heart that recognises that fundamentally everything belongs is what I would describe as being the heart of kindness, the essence of kindness. If we get that really clear within us, and begin to train ourselves to recognise it, we realise that we can cultivate this quality of radical acceptance.

Ajahn Amaro, Radical Acceptance

New springtime

When Joseph Campbell described the journey of transformation, he wrote of coming through the dark cave into a new springtime of life. The important dimension he included is that when people come out of pain into newness of life, they always bring an ‘elixir’ or a gift with them. This gift is meant not just for themselves, but for the transformation of the world. Gifts are meant to be given. Gifts are offered freely. The healthier I am psychologically and spiritually, the freer I will be in offering my gifts to others

Joyce Rupp

When the mind panics

Those of you who have been following the blog for a while know that I like the teachings of Ajahn Sucitto and the Thai Forest tradition, so I turned to one of his works this week on how to work with the interior feeling states provoked at times like this. The practice of meditation is much more than just calming,  but moves into clearly seeing the dynamics behind our changing mind states:

What feels wrong at this time? What shouldn’t be here right now? Whatever it is, accept it. The more you don’t want it, the bigger it gets. How do you want things to be right now? Relinquish it. The more you want it, the farther you push it away. Daily life practice is to keep working against that bhava-vibhava, especially the vibhava [the urge to be nothing] that keeps saying “I’m fed up with this. I’ve had enough of this. I don’t want to be in this situation. I can’t stand this another minute!” Accept it; Sidestep the topic and welcome the energy as it arises. I find this very helpful when the mind panics. Then as I look into that,  I see that it all nestles down inside that sense of lack, of being deprived of my space, my time or my peace of mind. The cry for peace of mind can get pretty aggressive when it comes out of the place of hanging on!

Ajahn Sucitto, Parami, Ways to Cross Life’s Floods

A simplification

These days we have to reduce our activities, which creates conditions that are good for meditation practice. And in an associated way, meditation practice creates the conditions of mind which helps us to work with the new situation.

Sitting in meditation is essentially simplifying space. Our daily lives are in constant movement: lots of things going on, lots of people talking, lots of events taking place. In the middle of that, it’s very difficult to sense what we are in our life. When we simplify the situation, when we take away the externals and remove ourselves from the ringing phone, the television, the people who visit us, the dog who needs a walk, we get a chance to face ourselves.

Charlotte Joko Beck