Tag Archives: “How to Sit”

Practice Prayer, Despite Strong Emotions

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, February 23, 2017

candles-and-cross

Practice Prayer, Despite Strong Emotions

As I read this short excerpt from How to Sit tonight,[1] I couldn’t help but be reminded of my chaplain internships. The teacher Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of strong emotions, and how the regular practice of prayer and meditation helps many people manage their emotional state. In all of my chaplain internships, we were shown several helpful ways of dealing with strong emotions (which included prayer and meditation).

Sometimes, strong emotions can carry a person away, devastate them, send them to the heights of ecstasy, or infuriate them beyond all measure. Problem: how to manage yourself and your emotions if you have a really, really strong emotion going in with you? (Believe me, at times in my chaplain internships, as well as my work as a chaplain, I faced some wild, intense emotional situations.)

Thich Nhat Hanh highlights the regular practice of prayer and meditation as a great help to remaining on an even keel, in situations with strong emotion. (I suspect this practice would be a bit easier for someone who had an affinity for quiet, contemplative, meditative prayer and meditation.) I have experienced this firsthand. I know how valuable deep breathing can be, as well as the use of meditation and mindfulness. I can attest to the helpful nature of regular, concerted prayer, for myself, my family or friends, or in intercession for the loved one of someone who asks me for prayer.

My chaplain internships were so worthwhile. (As is my practice of prayer and meditation.) God, thank You for providing such opportunities for me to learn about these wonderful practices. Each and every one. Lord, in Your mercies, hear our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 72-73.

Prayer and Meditation, in India

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, February 15, 2017

 

bus-drawing

Prayer and Meditation, in India

I read a brief vignette about Thich Nhat Hanh, while he was in India. He was there to give retreats for the Dalit people, a people group who historically were the lowest caste in Indian society. Many Dalits have embraced the Buddhist tradition, since Buddhism has no caste system.

A Dalit man from New Delhi organized the retreat tour. While Thich Nhat Hanh visited with this man, they rode upon a New Delhi bus. Thich Nhat Hanh enjoyed the bus ride quite a bit, viewing the landscape. He noticed the Dalit man, sitting next to him, nervous and unhappy.

Even though the Dalit man had converted totally to the Buddhist belief system, he still had some residual worries and unpleasant feelings associated with being a member of the lowest caste—a caste which the majority in India looked down upon as unclean. “That tendency always to be struggling had been handed down to him by many generations. It’s not easy just to stop and recognize old habit energies.” [1]

How often do I duck back into old habits? How many times do I retreat emotionally, as well as physically and relationally? Lord, these are good words, and true. (Even if challenging words.)

Dear Lord, thank You for this excellent reading from this book, How to Sit. Help me to not only read these words, but also to digest this article and put into action a thoughtful and hopeful response. Thank You, God.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 64.

Follow the Bell in Prayer and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, February 12, 2017

bells-photo

Follow the Bell in Prayer and Meditation

As I read today’s segment from How to Sit, I noticed the elegance Thich Nhat Hanh used to describe the process of following the bell.

No matter what you were doing, the sound of the bell invites you (and me, all of us) to direct our attention to the immediacy of the bell. “Every time you hear the bell, you stop everything you are saying, doing, or thinking…go home to the present moment, to the here and the now.” [1]

Being alive in the here and now contains within itself a happy promise. There are so many wonders in this life, and not just intellectual or physical. Spiritual, too.

This whole lesson demonstrates the summoning of the faithful to worship. It doesn’t matter whether they are Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, or Sikh.

Differentiating such ideas is only to the good. When I follow the sound of the bell, I find myself centering in the promises God gives us in regular attendance at worship services.

Dear God, thank You for such good advice on prayer, meditation, and how to sit still, quiet and expectant. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

 

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 58.

Joy and Happiness in Prayer?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, February 6, 2017

 

happiness-in-sand

Joy and Happiness in Prayer?

What an outrageous thought—feeling joy and happiness while praying. Or…is it?

Not according to the author of How to Sit, Buddhist monk and meditation teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. The way he talks about it, feeling joy and happiness is a natural outgrowth of regularly practicing meditation and prayer.

All I know is I am able to tap into calmness and (even) serenity sometimes when I pray and meditate, now. Sure, I still have regular bouts with fear and anxiety. I can’t imagine a single person who does not. Welcome to the human condition. However, I am able to calm down that fear and anxiety, and more often than not relax into calmness, slowed breathing, and legitimate peace of mind. Really. Really and truly.

Now, going the next step and feeling joy and happiness, on a regular basis? Not so much.

As How to Sit says, relaxing and calming the body is a wonderful thing to do. Except, he connects being relaxed and calm with experiencing joy and happiness. [1] This is a challenging next step for me to do.

As this page mentions, “Countless people bounce around like yo-yos in their busy lives and never have the chance to taste this joy.” [2] However, I can take heart in the fact that I don’t have hours each day to sit in prayer and meditation, since “a few moments of sitting and conscious breathing can bring great happiness.”

Contentment? Peace? Certainly. I’ve experienced it. But, happiness and joy? I guess I’ll have to keep practicing until I do. That’s okay. I have a great love for these practices. So awesome! I guess there is always something more to learn. Again, that is perfectly okay.

Dear Lord, gracious God, thanks for bringing this reading to my attention. Thanks to our author, and much appreciation for his offer of support and encouragement. Thank you! And, go, us!

 

 

 

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 51.

[2] Ibid.

Sitting, Praying, Letting Go.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, February 4, 2017

group-prayer

Sitting, Praying, Letting Go.

When I read this small section of the book How to Sit, I felt so badly that I did not sit and pray more than I do. (I know, it seems ironic, or perhaps even perverse, to be sad and regretful that I did not take as much time to pray and meditate regularly. But—there it is.)

Several parts of this reading hit home. For example, one part that smarted a great deal was the following: “We carry our past sorrows and anger and they become a kind of baggage that makes life heavy. Sitting meditation is a way to practice letting go of the things we carry needlessly.” [1]

Yes, these sentences hurt. Yet, they also gave me hope. When I pray and meditate, God helps me to let go of all those things I carry around with me, needlessly. All the stuff. All the hurt, and pain, and anxiety, and irritation, and awkwardness. All the difficult emotions, and hurt feelings, and painful experiences, and the memories I want to hide from. God helps me to bear them, and gradually to release them all.

Thank You, God! You not only provide me with more stability and serenity and peace, but You make it more and more easy for me to enter into prayer and meditation with You. How awesome is that? I praise You, and I am so grateful for Your help.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 48.

Sitting At Ease.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, February 2, 2017

flower-growing-between-rocks

Sitting At Ease.

Today’s short reading from How to Sit describes ease in sitting and meditation. It is as simple and straightforward as that. Sitting so that one feels completely at ease.

It made me wonder: how often do I really feel completely at ease?

I realize I was thinking more broadly, but, how often do I feel rushed, or anxious, or upset, or fearful? I know I occasionally get a massage (which feels wonderful!), but that welcome respite is only a part of the whole. Not my whole self, my whole state of being.

Yes, what I am thinking about NOW is—broadly speaking—my general mindset, outlook and internal attitude. But—how much of that total mindset and attitude would Thich Nhat Hanh be interested in? Yes, this little book is about meditation and prayer, but calmness, contentment and ease in meditation overlap in amazing ways.

So, it is good advice for me not to “make a great effort, or struggle, or fight” as I sit. [1] I realize as I do final relaxation in yoga, it is good for me to take more of this teacher’s advice, and to relax every muscle, including the muscles in my face.

Feeling completely at ease…a good thing to strive for.

Dear God, help me to take the suggestions this book raises for my consideration, especially this one. Feeling completely at ease. Gracious God, You do not want me to feel anxious or fearful or any other negative emotion. You have promised me Your peace and contentment. Indeed, serenity. Thank You for Your loving, gracious promises. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 46.

Sitting Peacefully, Free.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, January 31, 2017

 

flowers-in-sidewalk-cracks

Sitting Peacefully, Free.

The Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh includes several stories in his little book How to Sit. I was so struck by the true story of a Buddhist nun from Vietnam who was arrested and imprisoned for her activity in the country. [1]

Each day, the prison guards and officials would punish the nun, because they wanted to totally control her actions. However, she would sit and meditate each night, to nourish and sustain herself. What is more, she also instructed others in the prison about meditation and prayer. How to sit, and how to pray and meditate, quietly.

What a positive, nurturing, nourishing step for her to take. Not only on her own behalf, but also on behalf of others in the same prison.

“In her outer form, she was caught in prison. Yet she was completely free. If you can sit like that, the walls are not there.” [2] Yes, just the thought of this courageous nun freeing her mind in that way must have rankled inside of them, and goaded the prison guards to no end.

For this nun, and for those she was able to help, if they could sit like that—what a gift. What an opportunity to everyone who has been taught how to pray and meditate, to breathe and make space in their hearts.

Dear God, help me to be joyful in my meditation. Like this courageous nun, lead me in paths of righteousness, for Your name’s sake.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 44-45.

[2] Ibid.