No Mud No Lotus Follow-up
Thich Nhat Hanh explains in his book No Mud, No Lotus, that in order to transform suffering one must sit with it and not run away from it. Stop the cover up, consumption, turn off the television and face it. Why? When we learn to lean into the pain and calm the mind we can turn overwhelm into clarity and joy.
Meditation is not to escape from society, but to come back to ourselves and see what is going on. Once there is seeing, there must be acting. With mindfulness we know what to do and what not to do to help. Thich Nhat Hanh
When I started the no complaining challenge, I could not imagine how much, mud, or pain was to come. The Covid-19 virus has literally stopped us in our tracks. Separation from family and loved-ones, loss of jobs, fear of sickness or even death is an overwhelming compilation of suffering. One may want to say to Thich Nhat Hanh, “Really, lean into this?” Yet we find ourselves with plenty of time now to do just that, as he did.
Thich Nhat Hanh was born in Vietnam and became a monk at the age of sixteen and studied Buddhism at the university of Saigon. When war came to Vietnam, Thich Nhat Hanh dedicated his life to teaching the process of inner transformation to alleviate suffering. He came to the United States to teach and he became an influential peace activist, supporting non-violent and compassionate actions. Dr. Martin Luther King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. That same year he was denied the right to return to Vietnam (North or South) and began an exile that lasted 39 years. This began his journey in making the world his home. You can follow his work by reading one of his 45 books, watch the documentary Fierce Light, enjoy his art and meditate!
So how has the no complaining challenge been working for you? I have had a couple conversations with people and we have found it went moment by moment rather than in terms of days. We would have a good stretch followed by a deluge of mud slinging. Who wants to be around us? Beryl Bender Birch says which bus are we going to get on the angry bus, the fear bus, the sad bus, or the mindful bus?
We have been given an opportunity to face our suffering and sit with what we are feeling. If we do not, happiness will continue to elude us. The practices of stopping, not reacting, breathing, and deep concentration can cultivate the garden for the lotus.
In Buddhism one practices the eightfold path:
- Right View
- Right Intention
- Right Speech
- Right Action
- Right Livelihood
- Right Effort
- Right Mindfulness
- Right Concentration
This is a series of steps in no particular order but they are all intertwined. Remember the middle path. Be curious and not rigid, just like your asana practice. Nourish yourself like the lotus flower, tend the soil, lean into the light, and joy will open from within.
This has not been easy! We can continue to reach out to one another, use all the tools, (eight limbs) of Asthanga yoga and practice gratitude. We will be together again, until then we are sending prana dharana!
I have shared a couple pictures that show how the lotus can represent itself. I have really been enjoying my photography. My daughter and her fiancé have been staying with us. Her shower and wedding were postponed until the fall. On the day of their bachelor/bachelorette parties they made a snowman. On the day of her shower, I made a homemade cake (I rarely bake!) for the four of us. I hope you are finding moments of joy and gratitude also. Please send a picture of your silver lining and we can put it on Facebook for others to see how you are doing.