This Monday night Mick will facilitate. He shares:
The practices taught by Thich Nhat Hanh are often referred to as "coming home" practices. The purpose of these practices is to guide us back to our true home that is always available in our body, breath and the present moment. During the holiday season, now more than ever, it can be quite a challenge to come back to our true home. We inter-are with the environment around us that floods the airwaves and the e-mail waves with the latest and greatest opportunities to consume. At this time of year we also inter-are with the prospects and pressures of the holidays which often hold everything from feelings of togetherness to loneliness, to joy and sorrow. The coming home practices are so deeply needed in December.
In returning many times each day to our body, breath, and the present moment, we clear a pathway to our true home, the home in which we can abide regardless of circumstance. Thay talks about doing just this in writing about the Five Skandhas in The Pocket Thich Nhat Hanh
(elements that we are made of):
Each one of us is sovereign over the territory of our own being and the five elements we are made of. These elements are form (body), feelings, mental formations, perceptions, and consciousness. Our practice is to look deeply into these five elements and to discover the true nature of our being. But when we've abandoned our territory, we're not responsible rulers. We haven't practiced and instead of taking care of our territory we've run away from it and allowed conflicts and disorder to arise. We need to cultivate the energy of mindfulness. This is what will give us the strength to come back to ourselves.
The challenge for us all, and what Thay is talking about, is becoming a full time Buddha (Awakened One), that is, to fully live our practice. Looking deeply we know the way that we feel and relate to ourselves, others, and the world has a different quality depending on how often we are able to come home to the present moment to take care of our territory. This time of year the forces around us can be quite strong. They can trigger our habit energies.
In the section on Habit Energy from The Pocket Thich Nhat Hanh, Thay writes:
Our habit energies are often stronger than our volition. We need the energy of mindfulness to be present with our habit energies in order to stop the course of destruction. With mindfulness we have the capacity to recognize the habit energy every time it manifests. "Hello my little habit energy, I know you are there."
When we can cultivate the home in ourselves where we take care of our habit energies, the impact of our presence can be far reaching. We practice not only for ourselves but for countless others. In the section on Trust and Faith from his book Peaceful Action, Open Heart: Lessons from the Lotus Sutra, Thay reminds us that -
Our studies and practice are not only for our individual benefit but also benefit our family community, nation and the entire Earth. Our mistakes cause others to suffer, and our success in practice can benefit many others. This is why it is so important to practice the art of mindfulness, so that our emanation bodies offer only love and compassion and bring benefit, not harm to others.
This Monday night we will have the opportunity to sit together, to breathe together and to share about what it is like to hold all that this time of year has to offer. As usual we will reflect on what helps and supports us to be a "full time Buddha", and also about what pulls us away from our true home.
I look forward to our time together.