I started this blog in 2012 as a means of expressing what I have learned from Thay (Thich Nhat Hanh) as I endeavour to follow his path and his teachings. This path has taken me into unforeseen new areas and I now find myself regularly writing poetry to express those moments of connection when something makes sense, those Aha! moments. I have taught my first 8-week MBSR course and have some mindfulness retreats coming up in September and November, as well as two more MBSR courses. I have been to Rome for an International Conference on Mindfulness and am writing a paper as a follow up to that. And of course this all started because of a Ph.D. examining Thay's teachings and a retreat to Plum Village in 2009, supposedly merely for research, which changed many aspects of my life as I knew I had to incorporate what Thay teaches into my life. I find his teachings gentle yet persistent. They are not so gentle that one can ignore them, and once one starts to examine any aspect it basically comes back to the same question, are you being mindful or is your body here and your mind elsewhere?
As an aspirant to the Order of Interbeing I am often encouraged by my mentor to examine what takes away my peace? What are those little irritations in life that take one out of the present moment? Sometimes they are so small as to seem insignificant, and in a recent conversation with my mentor I saw that I held an idea that that these irritations had to be of a certain size and magnitude to be worth reporting to the Sangha. Yet we all experience moments when things do not go our way, or something unexpected happens and we don't like it! When we can't find something we are looking for, when there are no parking places just where I want to park, when someone says something innocuous but we take offence.
The other day we had arranged a trip back to my home town on my brother's birthday to explore again the lanes and fields we had played in as children, which I had described in an earlier post http://lauribower.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/the-summer-of-76.html
My sister and her two children arrived as we got a message from our brother it was raining! Should we continue with our plan or give up and rearrange something else? We decided to carry on as planned and arrived at his flat for lunch before setting off in the rain. We could have chosen to let the rain spoil our day as some of us were ill-prepared for walking in the rain but we decided to stick with the original plan, knowing that half way round was a cafe where at least we would have some relief from the rain. And what is rain anyway? On these hot summer days we should be grateful for the rain that nourishes the earth and the plants and relieves the heat, but why did it have to rain today? Again this comes back to what I have said earlier about expectations and attachments. We had an idea in our heads of this lovely sunny walk where we could remember times gone by, here we played, here there were horses to visit, here we camped. But the idea is not real, and it is only by us trying to make it real that the complications arise because expectations are not fulfilled. Instead we have to look at what is happening now, yes it is raining but that doesn't stop us from walking and enjoying the walk. We found some abandoned bread as we got to the dam full of ducks, and laughed heartily as they raced across the water, fighting for each mouthful. We walked past our childhood house and remembered friends we played with on the streets we passed through. We could enjoy what could have been a terrible day because the family were together and we chose to be happy and not let the rain spoil our plans. There is a lovely saying, "some people choose to walk in the rain and others just get wet". What are we choosing and what are we rejecting?
I began this blog with no real sense of where it would lead and how it would develop but thanks to blog statistics I can find out which countries those who read this come from and I am delighted to say that people from 31 different countries are having a look, and it would seem, sharing what they like with friends and family. I have recently learned how to change the settings so you no longer need to sign in to leave a comment and I hope this will encourage you to leave comments on posts you enjoy, find challenging or share with others. I cannot find out how many people are signed up to receive email notifications of new posts, so that is a further unknown audience, but I am delighted that so many people seem to find these posts helpful or interesting. Thank you for reading and for sharing. And if it helps Thay's teachings reach a new, wider audience I am delighted. So to leave you with something to consider for today, what takes away my peace?
Have a mindful day :)