Reaching Sunward

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

Meditation practice from The Art of Mindful Living by Thich Nhat Hanh

on September 10, 2007

The Art of Mindful Living by Thich Nhat Hanh

Breathing in, I see myself as a flower

Breathing out, I feel fresh

Breathing in, I feel myself as a mountain

Breathing out, I feel solid

Breathing in, I see myself as still water

Breathing out, I feel myself reflecting clearly

Breathing in, I feel space inside me and around me

Breathing out, I feel free

*****************************************

To live in forgetfulness means to get lost in the past and in the future, to be possessed by anger, hatred, fear, and therefore you are not ready to enter the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is available to you in every moment.

To get rid of forgetfulness, you practice breathing in and out and the result is mindfulness. And with mindfulness you get in touch with everything that is wonderful, that is refreshing, that is healing in the present moment.

A brief paraphrased summary of each practice is written below:

Breathing in, I see myself as a flower

Breathing out, I feel fresh

Humans are born as flowers. We are fresh and beautiful. You can offer someone a flower with your eyes, when you smile at them with your eyes. Your smile is another flower you can offer to anyone at anytime. When you look at someone and you smile with your eyes you offer them two flowers. When you smile with your lips you offer another flower. With my hands I can form a flower – a lotus flower, and when I bow to someone, I make a flower with my hands and I say, “a flower for you, the Buddha to be.” So my hands are flowers, capable of making someone happy. We are born as flowers but we must take care of our flowers or we will wilt. When you breathe in deeply you make every cell in your body smile like a flower, and for your sake and for the happiness of others you should be fresh. If you are grouchy and irritated, people around you cannot be happy. So practice refreshing yourself. The Buddha sits on a lotus flower – it means anywhere he sits, he sits with peace, happiness and freshness. If we have too many worries, we cannot sit on a flower – we sit on burning coals. But if we practice taking care of our flower, we can have peace with us anywhere.

Breathing in, I feel myself as a mountain

Breathing out, I feel solid

From time to time a very strong emotion overwhelms us – it can be anger or despair or fear. When this happens we feel very vulnerable, breakable. But we are more than our emotions. We are more solid than we may think. So practice being solid like a mountain. When we look at a tree during a storm, we see the top of the tree swaying – it is not solid. You see the leaves and branches and you have the impression that the tree is vulnerable and fragile. But if you see that the tree is firmly rooted in the ground, the impression that the tree is vulnerable will vanish. You see that the tree is more solid than it looks at the top. We are like these trees. Emotions pass over us at the top but we have the trunk down here…. a little below your navel. Bring your attention down to this level, and breathe in and out. Then your emotion will not be able to destroy you anymore. We should practice this every day so that when emotions overwhelm us we know how to handle it.

Breathing in, I see myself as still waters

Breathing out, I feel myself reflecting clearly

When we are not calm we distort things. We cannot receive the message of other people; we cannot receive the truth from others. Suppose the moon wants to reflect herself in the water of your pond, but the water of your pond is not calm. How can the full moon reflect herself in you? It’s not the fault of the moon, it’s the fault of the water. If the pond of the mind is still, the moon will reflect herself in it. If you are still then your perceptions will be correct. We will understand what people are trying to tell us. The moon, the mountains, the rivers, the trees, everything is trying to tell us the truth. But because the water of our mind is not still, we cannot receive the truth from the cosmos. We must calm ourselves for true understanding to be possible.

Breathing in, I feel space inside me and around me

Breathing out, I feel free

If you don’t have space, how can you be happy? We all need space around us in and inside us. We have to move and have liberty, and we need space to do that. The refreshing moon of the Buddha travels in the sky of the utmost emptiness. The Buddha has a lot of space inside and outside. Those who have more space are happier. Give your loved ones some space. When you arrange flowers, each flower needs some space around for the flower to radiate its beauty and its freshness. Human beings are like flowers; they are flowers, and each one needs space around. Offer freedom and emptiness to yourself and others. Don’t be so busy that you have no space.

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