Mindfulness, Movement, and Meditation Practices
Meditation Master Thich Nhat Hanh offers some of the most helpful mindfulness, movement, and meditation instructions available today. His themes here are about reducing your suffering, increasing your satisfactions, and expanding your happiness as a result. Please do not note that “I do not have time to do these things!” You do! Just think of how much time possibly each day you waste obsessing about things you have NO CONTROL over. Use that senseless worry time to practice.
I have added some of my own flavor to these suggestions as a way to make them even more practical as practices. You may do these either in vivo (live in the world’s real environment) or in your imagination. These practices tend to work better when experienced in the real world we live in.
Here are some instructions.
- Begin by sitting quietly. Loosen your muscles; breathe slower, deeper and calmer. Be open to the power of your mind and senses to experience joy here; do your best not to block the experience with rampant thoughts and distractions. When you realize you are somewhere else in your mind or in self-talk, gently bring yourself back to the practice without criticism. Be gentle in returning your attention.
- It is time to add your half smile – feel it.
- Practice noticing and appreciating the following things in reality or in imagination.
- See a deep blue sky with passing, fluffy white clouds.
- Focus on the power of a rising or setting sun or a full moon
- Do the same with a clear, star-filled evening sky.
- See or imagine the ocean, a lake, or a stream. Listen!
- Look up into of down from a high hill or even better a high mountain
- Reflect on a substance-free happy memory. If “shadows” come with it, allow them in with love.
- Reflect on the feelings you have about a lover, loved one, or significant relationship you value.
- Get in touch with the sensations/feelings of your calming breath.
- Feel and enjoy your inner peace. Find space between thoughts and breaths.
- No matter what, be happy you are alive. Everything is impermanent.
For more help refer to Nhat Hanh, Thich (1993). Present Moment, Wonderful Moment. Rider Books.
Some more current and helpful information follows. Here we will deal with the reality of personal suffering and ways to reduce it – thus improving your satisfaction and happiness. Remember the strong, energized pursuit of happiness (pure consumption, greed, self-medication, etc.) tends to leave us dissatisfied. It may simply become just another frantic attachment to chase after and cling to. When we use wise mind skills to find our peace with suffering (self-compassion) and allow the “art of happiness” to occur, the outcomes are stronger and more long lasting. Recall, however, everything is impermanent. Here are some tips on being happier.
- Mindfulness is the way – the way to awareness, to the present, to the energies of your now experience.
- Begin with breath awareness – pure consciousness of your own happy breathing. Simply breathe in and out at your own rate, then practice slower, deeper, calmer breathing. Notice your body and mind relax; notice your joy. Simply empowering yourself to breathe in healthy and happy ways has its own joy-energy.
- Now move to practicing radical acceptance of whatever is in this present moment. Let go of ego-drives. Simply embrace what is happening to you right now, here now. Move into deep self-compassion for any suffering you may be experiencing, and move into strong joy for any happiness you may be experiencing.
- Use all your sense if you are experiencing joy right now. Try not to think – just meditate on the joy in your body. Feel it! Nurture yourself.
- Practice these five skills often. Learn t let go! Be curious about doing mind-planting of positive seeds of happiness. Feel deeply within yourself when you are mindful joy. Use mindfulness to nurture and improve your ability to concentrate. Use insight – realize that it is within your own power of practice to decide how to respond to whatever happen to you. This is wisdom! Both suffering and happiness are necessary.
For more help refer to Nhat Hanh, Thich (2014). No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering. United Buddhist Church/Parallax Press. Also presented in Shambhala Sun (March, 23015), pp. 40-45.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
Author of Mindful Happiness
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