Awakened Mind, Quiet Life
Sometimes we travel through our day on a kind of auto-pilot. Gliding to where we’re going, at times, forgetting what we are doing. Meanwhile our mind is in a cloud of ruminations about past regrets or future worries. Yet these states of mind are tumultuous, scattered, and dispersed. There is no quiet stability for us to listen.
This year for the Year-end immersion workshop, we will explore ways to practice Awakening the Mind with Mindful Yoga. And learn ways to offer ourselves the gift of a Quiet Life in midst of a noisy world. In doing so we will touch the wondrous, refreshing, and healing elements that are in us and around us in every situation
“Then the soul is a lamp whose light is steady, for it burns in a shelter where no winds come.”
Bhagavad Gita Ch.VI.v.19
The Essence of Stillness
When we release our ideas, thoughts, and concepts, we
make space for our true mind. Our true mind is silent of all
words and all notions, and is so much vaster than limited
mental constructs. Only when the ocean is calm and quiet
can we see the moon reflected in it.
Silence is ultimately something that comes from the heart,
not from any set of conditions outside us. Living from a
place of silence doesn’t mean never talking, never
engaging or doing things; it simply means that we are not
disturbed inside; there isn’t constant internal chatter. If
we’re truly silent, then no matter what situation we find
ourselves in, we can enjoy the sweet spaciousness of
There are moments when we think we’re being silent
because all around us there’s no sound, but unless we
calm our mind, talking is still going on all the time inside
our head. That’s not true silence. The practice is learning
how to find silence in the midst of all the activities we do.
Try to change your way of thinking and your way of
looking. Sitting down to eat your lunch may be an
opportune time for you to offer yourself the sweetness of
silence. Even though others may be speaking, you have
the ability to disengage from habitual thinking and be very
silent inside. You can be in a crowded space, yet still enjoy
silence and even solitude.
from the book Silence, Thich Nhat Hanh p. 76
Theresa de Avila
Winter Is the Best Time
“Real solitude comes from a stable heart that does not get carried away by the pull of the crowd, nor by sorrows of the past, worries about the future, or excitement or stress about the present.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
While we practice conscious breathing, our thinking will slow down, and we can give ourselves a real rest. Most of the time, we think too much, and mindful breathing helps us to be calm, relaxed, and peaceful. It helps us stop thinking so much and stop being possessed by sorrows of the past and worries about the future. It enables us to be in touch with life, which is wonderful in the present moment.
Of course, thinking is important, but quite a lot of our thinking is useless. It is as if, in our head, each of us has a cassette tape that is always running, day and night. We think of this and we think of that, and it is difficult to stop. With a cassette, we can just press the stop button. But with our thinking, we do not have any button. We may think and worry so much that we cannot sleep. If we go to the doctor for some sleeping pills or tranquilizers, these may make the situation worse, because we do not really rest during that kind of sleep, and if we continue using these drugs, we may become addicted. We continue to live tensely, and we may have nightmares.
According to the method of conscious breathing, when we breathe in and out, we stop thinking, because saying “In” and “Out” is not thinking—
“In” and “Out” are only words to help us concentrate on our breathing. If we keep breathing in and out this way for a few minutes, we become quite refreshed. We recover ourselves, and we can encounter the beautiful things around us in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here. If we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.
When we are in touch with the refreshing, peaceful, and healing elements within ourselves and around us, we learn how to cherish and protect these things and make them grow. These elements of peace are available to us anytime.
Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh