Where there is breath, there is compassion.
Where there is breath, there is gratitude.
I came across this website yesterday on the history of a civil war in Cambodia in the 1970s. I was thinking to myself maybe it is good to read about and remember such events of atrocities, so as to be continually in touch with human sufferings and pains. I usually tend to avoid dwelling too much on such news and stories because it can be perplexing and emotionally draining to read and mull over them, but then again, just focusing on positive news all the time can somewhat result in an imbalance in my overall outlook of life. So I am reflecting that to live an examined life is to include my awareness of the sufferings I see in the world, and learn some lessons on human nature, such as the insights shared in the website concerning the genocide in Cambodia.
“As we observe the victims, they are observing us. We are taking the pictures and we are having our pictures taken. As our eyes meet, we are all, in a sense, potential victims, perpetrators and passersby. By absorbing the photos we can partake of the terror that ruled Cambodia between April 1975 and the first few days of 1979. In the process, we can also learn something about what Jung has called our shadow selves.”
(From “The Killing Fields“)
Yes, come to think of it, I wouldn’t know how I might have acted if I were born in Cambodia in the 1970s and were recruited as a child soldier and brainwashed by the regime. Would I have participated in the genocide? Or what if I were one of the victims of the genocide? As the article concluded, everyone has a shadow self, and the genocide may be a valuable lesson for humanity to embrace and come to terms with our shadow side, and also embrace pains and sufferings as part of our human experience in life. Perhaps this awareness and acceptance can paradoxically bring about more peace on earth because we would have learnt to make peace with ourselves and within ourselves.
Dan gives very condensed introduction to breath therapy and why it is so useful – connection to life span, clearing conditioned memory imprints, applications in daily life, to reach peak performance, also spiritual aspects of being and using this method… Enjoy!
May 2010, Vilnius, Lithuania.
This illuminating video summarises the benefits of breath therapy. It is intriguing to learn that breathing accounts for removal of 70 percent of metabolic waste and toxins from the body, and when we maintain or raise our breathing capacity, we can extend and improve our life. I note that conscious breathing can strengthen our immune system, improve our natural healing abilities, release negative impressions and clear subconscious beliefs and early conditionings from our system. I also learn that conscious breathing may very well be the easiest and most powerful way to clear our head, settle our stomach, calm our nerves and open our heart, which build us up physically, emotionally and spiritually. I find this video a good reminder to practise conscious breathing myself, and an affirmation of the benefits I have been learning and experiencing. I am also learning to dwell on the following thought:
Yes, peace and love is the defining essence of our being.
Yes, I have come to learn that forgiveness is for our own sake and not because the perpetrator deserves our forgiveness. It is simply not worth losing our peace and health over what others have done to us, and the best thing we can do is to keep a safe distance from them as long as they remain in a position or mindset that is hurtful to others. I also came across this quote of a similar nature – here’s sharing below.
Yes, when someone is nasty or treats you poorly, it actually says nothing about you and a lot about them because they are projecting their wounded self onto other people. You are not defined by what they say or how they treat you, but you are defined by your true intrinsic worth and value as a human being and a beloved child of God/Universe/Divine Love.
“Your light is seen, your heart is known, your soul is cherished by more people than you might imagine. If you knew how many others have been touched in wonderful ways by you, you would be astonished. If you knew how many people feel so much for you, you would be shocked. You are far more wonderful than you think you are. Rest with that. Rest easy with that. Breathe again. You are doing fine. More than fine. Better than fine. You’re doin’ great. So relax. And love yourself today.”
~ Neale Donald Walsch
“Accept your past without regret, handle your present with confidence, and face your future without fear.” ~Unknown
I find this a simple yet profound quote. From my understanding, the practice of mindfulness is the practice of living in the present moment with confidence that love is our present reality in the here and now where there is no more regret of the past or fear of the future.
It is like coming home to the Father within us who loves us and embraces us, according to Jesus’ parable of the lost son. Whether it is the younger son (who may symbolise the regret of the past) or the older son (who may symbolise the fear of the future), both are equally beloved and precious children of the Father, who is our highest self.
Like the Father in the parable, we can welcome and embrace our lost self (younger son) back into our true home who was wounded in the past and comfort our long lost inner child within us. We can also comfort and assure our ego (older son) that all we have belong to him and all he needs to do is simply to enjoy the present moment instead of trying to work so hard to earn rewards in the future. The present moment is our true home where all the riches are and where we can enjoy the wonders of life.
“The Buddha said, ‘You have to make the present moment into the most wonderful moment of your life.’ This is possible. If we are able to go home to the present moment, to the here and the now, and become fully alive, fully present, we can touch all the wonders of life that are within ourselves and around us. Everything belonging to us is a wonder: our eyes, our nose, our body, and our mind. It is only because of the tension in our body and mind that we do not notice it.
Our true home is right here, but sometimes we can’t find it because it’s hidden by the tension and pain in our bodies and minds. If only we know how to relax, we can release the tension, open up our mind and body, and let the energy of mindfulness bring a relief to our pain and suffering. We don’t have to do much. We just bring our mind back to our body to become fully present in the here and now and allow our body to be there, to receive the energy.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh (From “Together We Are One”)
“There will come a day when people of all races, colors, and creeds will put aside their differences. They will come together in love, joining hands in unification, to heal the Earth and all Her children. They will move over the Earth like a great Whirling Rainbow, bringing peace, understanding and healing everywhere they go. Many creatures thought to be extinct or mythical will resurface at this time; the great trees that perished will return almost overnight. All living things will flourish, drawing sustenance from the breast of our Mother, the Earth.
The great spiritual Teachers who walked the Earth and taught the basics of the truths of the Whirling Rainbow Prophecy will return and walk amongst us once more, sharing their power and understanding with all. We will learn how to see and hear in a sacred manner. Men and women will be equals in the way Creator intended them to be; all children will be safe anywhere they want to go. Elders will be respected and valued for their contributions to life. Their wisdom will be sought out. The whole Human race will be called The People and there will be no more war, sickness or hunger forever.”
I came across this interesting website while finding time to rest from work. I thought it is a simple yet important exercise to do nothing for 2 minutes, though it may not be as easy as it sounds, since I had to resist the urge to just do something even while I was resting earlier on, such as checking emails and so on. But I think listening to the sound of the waves in the website is helpful because somehow the sound of the waves on the seashore resembles the sound of my own breathing, which has a calming and relaxing effect on me.
I suppose I am not alone in facing this because this Zen article also recognises that doing nothing is an art that needs to be honed and practised over time. The article concluded that the art of doing nothing cannot be mastered overnight and it will take hours and hours of practice, of hard work, but we will enjoy every minute of it, and we can try it today.
It is peaceful listening to the interview with Thich Nhat Hanh as it reminds me of the importance of staying in the present moment by being aware of my breathing and knowing that being alive is a miracle itself. I agree with his observation many people, including myself, tend to sacrifice the present for the future by worrying and being distracted by events, hence coming home where the present moment is is the key to happiness as well as healing and transformation of our sufferings.
I like his deep understanding of our inter-being as we are all connected, and by understanding the nature of sufferings and being in touch with our sufferings, we can relieve our own pains and help others too – his analogy of a mother comforting her crying baby is a powerful tool of illustrating how we can take care of our own pains and anxieties through compassion. There is much wisdom and insights in his sharing, gleaned from ancient teachings and practices which I am still learning. I also find comfort in his analogy of “no life, no death” as a beautiful cloud being transformed into rain, snow or sleet, and so in the same way, our beloved ones who have passed on continue to live in and around us.
As for the second half of the video on “The Dhamma Brothers”, I noted that vipassana meditation has indeed helped the prison/rehab inmates in many ways, such as becoming more relaxed and being able to get along with one another better. One particular inmate’s testimony stood out for me – which goes something like “I used to think my greatest fear used to be growing old and dying in prison; now I think my greatest fear is growing old and not knowing myself”. I think that speaks volumes of the benefits of meditation, which includes enabling people to know themselves, perhaps as if for the first time, and embrace their fears and anxieties as part of their whole being.
I googled about vipanassa meditation and I learnt from this article that it “is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind.”
I think I will continue to find out more about this as it is worth practising as a lifestyle. Like what Thich Nhat Hanh said, every moment can be an opportunity to touch the miracle of being alive by going back to our breaths.
I also managed to find his book “No death, no fear” online, which was mentioned during the video interview with Oprah Winfrey. I like what he wrote here:
“Our true nature is the nature of no birth and no death. We do not have to go anywhere in order to touch our true nature. The wave does not have to look for water because she is water. We do not have to look for God, we do not have to look for our ultimate dimension or nirvana, because we are nirvana, we are God.
You are what you are looking for. You are already what you want to become. You can say to the wave, “My dearest wave, you are water. You don’t have to go and seek water. Your nature is the nature of nondiscrimination, of no birth, of no death, of no being and of no non-being.”
(From “No death, no fear” by Thich Nhat Hanh)
I think it takes deep awareness to touch the ultimate reality of “no birth, no death” because the media, the society, our physical senses, and so on, are so conditioned to think in terms of birth and death, coming and going, and so on. I feel a sense of deep peace when I contemplate on the possibility or the idea of our true nature that is interconnected with the universe, such as there is no separation between us, and we are one with the universe, just as the wave is one with the water.
I think meditation enables people to love and accept themselves. It is powerful because it helps people to overcome self-condemnation by embracing their past wounds and shadow self and observing thoughts and emotions in their minds without engaging them. This results in healing and transformation, and people become more relaxed and peaceful, as we have seen in the real life example of the Dhamma brothers in the maximum security prison in Alabama.
I admire Thich Nhat Hanh for being a living example of the Buddhist teachings on peace and nonviolence. His life speaks volumes of his wisdom and gentleness, as he has been through the Vietnam war and living as an exile from his homeland and yet exudes peace and harmony.