Tag Archives: Thich Nhat Hanh

Practice Prayer, Calm Yourself

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, February 25, 2017

 

celticcrossknockireland

Practice Prayer, Calm Yourself

As I read today’s brief reading, I was amazed at how basic and simple were the instructions. If I were to follow Thich Nhat Hanh’s basic suggestions each day, and every day, I suspect I would find even more of a centering. Even more of a relaxation and calmness.

Don’t get me wrong. I am being realistic. I know that I can’t put my head in the sand. However, the teacher’s guidelines are straight-forward and basic. (Not easy, mind you, but straight-forward and simple.) A quote from today’s reading: “There are people who meditate only to forget the complications and problems of life. They are like rabbits crouching under a hedge to escape a potential hunter.” [1]

Oh, dear. This is an incomplete view of meditation and prayer. Of course, for people who are beginning in the practice, this is far better than no meditation and prayer! We may begin at any point. We may begin at any time of the day. And, once we begin, “we are able to see the source of our habits, perceptions, and attachments.” [2] Seeing all of that, I begin to clear away the wreckage of the past as well as to relax and calm myself in peace and serenity.

It works. It really does! Thanks, God. God is so good, and so good to me.

@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), 78.

[2] Ibid.

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.

Practice Prayer, Like Practicing Piano

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, February 21, 2017

piano-hand-sketch

Practice Prayer, Like Practicing Piano

I am not the best at practicing. When I was young, my parents had me study piano. I had to practice. Sadly for me, I was not particularly diligent at regular practicing several time a week between lessons. (Otherwise I would have been much better at playing, at a young age.)

I would skip days, forget to sit down at the piano, and the week would slip by. I would often find myself the day before my lesson, not having practiced at all during that week. Frantic, I would do what I could on that one day. I did progress, even though I was not diligent. What’s more, I truly enjoyed playing the piano—and still do.

I was reminded vividly of this experience with piano practice as I read the short section for today. The teacher Thich Nhat Hanh talks about sitting in meditation and prayer as a luxury. Imagine that! “In our time, in our civilization, sitting and doing nothing is considered either to be a luxury or a waste of time.” [1]

Yes, it is a practice. We need to practice at it. And as I do, I have found that (usually) prayer and meditation becomes easier. Or, more natural. Or, more a part of me—an integral part. Just like piano practice became easier the more I did it, it is similar with this prayer practice.

Why is it that piano practice is still not the first thing on my mind, even though I intellectually understand the benefits? Probably has something to do with my prayer practice. Even though I also realize that a regular time of prayer and meditation would be marvelous for me and my spiritual life, I am afraid I am less than diligent.

God, You know. We have had this discussion a number of times in the past. Thank You for being patient with me. Thank You for loving me. Help me to be more diligent in practice—in both areas. My piano, and my prayer and meditation. Lord, in Your mercy, hear my 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), 68.

Benefits of Prayer Practice

be-still-and-know-that-i-am-god-ps-46-1Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, February 19, 2017

 

Benefits of Prayer Practice

When I practice being aware of my breathing, I automatically begin to relax. I find myself breathing intentionally, and I move more slowly and deeply.

These are all good, beneficial things.

The teacher Thich Nhat Hanh lists several additional, positive things that he sees happen as a result of breathing, meditation and prayer. “Sitting and breathing mindfully brings four important elements into our lives: peace, clarity, compassion, and courage.” [1]

The teacher doesn’t touch too much on either peace or clarity in this reading, but he does mention compassion and courage. I had actually connected compassion with prayer, and loving, outward acts as outgrowths or expressions of concerted meditation and prayer. However, I had not thought about the way courage is also highlighted through prayer and meditation.

Thich Nhat Hanh equates mercy and compassion towards others with a compassion toward myself. He claims (with some validity) that a healthy sense of compassion and care for others translates into the capacity to think, speak and act in a similarly compassionate way toward myself. (And, this capacity does indeed cut through a great deal of red tape.)

The teacher has highlighted a fascinating cause-and-effect relationship. Something for all of us to be concerned about and aware of. Dear God, thank You for helping me to be aware, too.

@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), 66.

See Clearly in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, February 17, 2017

bench-snow-water

See Clearly in Prayer

What a timely reading tonight. The idea that meditation can be seen as a step-by-step procedure makes a lot of sense.

First, concentrate on the breath. Breathe, in and out, Slow down the breath, and relax. The teacher Thich Nhat Hanh assures us if the breath slows and deepens, then we are ready to begin soothing our mind and body.

This does not happen to me all the time, or even most of the time, but I will say that some of the time this calming and soothing happens to me. I do feel more peaceful and relaxed. Then, the idea of seeing clearly is much more possible.

Seeing clearly is so important to dealing fairly with others. (It doesn’t matter “who” the other is.) I want to deal fairly with others. (Most of the time.) Then, as the Buddhist teacher tells his readers, true happiness is within our reach. For certain.

Dear God, thank You for this step-by-step way of breathing, of taking in oxygen in a way that calms my nerves and soothes body and soul. May it continue!

@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

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.