Peace Is Every Step

“Breathing and smiling together — that is peace education…. Peace is available in every moment, in every breath, in every step.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, in the closing paragraph of his book Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, originally published in 1991.

 

Dear reader,

Have you read any books by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh? If so, I welcome you to share your experiences in the comments below… If not, perhaps you will be inspired by this post to check him out… Here is a link to some of his 100 books: Plum Village Key Books.

For many years I had Nhat Hanh’s book Peace Is Every Step on my shelf, and from time to time I read a few random parts… But this Summer I was inspired to read it cover to cover, and now I have read it at least three times! It is so very good that I took eight pages of notes and now I am studying those notes daily. I highly recommend this book! In this post I will share a few of my favorite parts…

The book is organized into three parts, and I found the second part to be the most helpful because it is primarily about working with feelings. This is the best book I have ever read about how to skillfully work with difficult emotions. Nhat Hanh points out that our feelings are parts of us; that they are not separate from us. So he says, “Instead of acting as if we can dispose of parts of ourselves, we should learn the art of transformation.” He then goes on to explain, step by step, how to transform the energies of anger, fear, depression, anxiety, and so on. If this section of the book was taught in all of our schools and workplaces, the world would become happier, healthier, and more peaceful within one generation!

One of my very favorite parts is called “Nourishing Healthy Seeds” in which Nhat Hanh writes, “Consciousness exists on two levels: as seeds and as manifestations of these seeds. Suppose we have a seed of anger in us. When conditions are favorable, that seed may manifest as a zone of energy called anger. It is burning, and it makes us suffer a lot. It is very difficult for us to be joyful at the moment the seed of anger manifests.”

He continues, “Every time a seed has an occasion to manifest itself, it produces new seeds of the same kind. If we are angry for five minutes, new seeds of anger are produced and deposited in the soil of our unconscious mind during those five minutes. That is why we have to be careful in selecting the kind of life we lead and the emotions we express. When I smile, the seeds of smiling and joy have come up. As long as they manifest, new seeds of smiling and joy are planted.”

I believe this is a very important book. I want to give a copy to everyone I know! Have you read this book already? If so, what was your favorite part?

One last quote that really resonates with me:
“We all have the seeds of love and compassion in our minds, and we can develop these fine and wonderful sources of energy.”

May All Beings Know Peace, Love, and Compassion!

With great love and gratitude,
Teja

 

Photo of lone dandelion at sunset by Natalia Luchanko on Unsplash.

 

Transforming Difficult Emotions Through Singing

“The Name repeated with either good or evil intentions, in an angry mood or even while yawning, diffuses joy in all the ten directions.”
~ Tulsidas (1532–1623), Indian poet-saint. (Quote shared by Krishna Das in the jacket cover of his CD, “Greatest Hits of the Kali Yuga.”)

Chanting (singing) has been one of my daily practices for more than fifteen years, and I have been chanting a forty-verse prayer called the Hanuman Chalisa for more than ten years. Each day when I sit down to sing along with a CD by Krishna Das, I acknowledge whatever is present in me in that moment, and then ask for help as needed.

One morning last month I got really triggered by something right before I was going to do my chanting practice. I was in an utterly reactive state, so I wasn’t sure if I was even going to be able to do the practice, but I sat down anyway, feeling angry and depressed. I said a prayer, asking that my difficult emotions could be transformed into love…

Well, it took the entire forty verses for that transformation to happen! This was the first time I had this experience: I chanted the forty verses in a gruff angry non-singing voice with clenched teeth, and felt like I was possessed. And in fact, I was possessed, by my own toxic angry reaction… After chanting the forty verses that way, as I began the after prayers, suddenly I was singing in my normal singing voice! The healing, transformative power of the chants is so miraculous! I felt so incredibly grateful to be softened into love again.

Sometimes when we get angry we have to do the mental work of searching for the root cause and then consciously transforming and releasing the anger through understanding… But sometimes we can just simply sit and sing, allowing the healing sound vibrations to melt the anger into love and joy.

Can you relate to this experience? Have you ever dissolved anger through singing?

May All Beings Be Free of Suffering.
May All Beings Be Happy.

May our singing diffuse joy in all directions!

 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

 

Bells of Mindfulness

It was a lovely autumn evening and all was well… It felt wonderful to breathe in the cool fresh air… But then, once again the neighbors’ cigarette smoke began wafting in on the breeze… With anger I closed my window… and then, once again the toilet paper holder fell to the floor… and then, I stepped in water in my socks… and with each small frustration, I felt my angst growing stronger…

And once again the negative thinking swirl began, with the primary question surfacing, “Why is life so hard?” But just then, a small gentle voice asked quietly, “Umm, could we reframe that?” So I tried and tried to think of a more positive spin on my view of life (in that frustrated moment), but all I could come up with was “life is challenging” and “life is not fun.”

Well the small gentle voice was not having those negative reframes, so she dug deeper into the situation, and then she shared this insightful reframe:

“Life is filled with bells of mindfulness.”

Yes! All parts of me agreed, and the toxic angry vibes lay down to rest with the cranky despairing energies…

So then the small gentle voice said calmly, “When you closed the window in anger, that was a bell of mindfulness to show you where you need to cultivate more peace, understanding, compassion, and kindness… And, when the holder fell down and you stepped in water in your socks, those were bells of mindfulness to show you where you need to generate more calm inside yourself. So remember, life is filled with bells of mindfulness.”

Dear readers, this experience arose in me because I have been studying the teachings of the Zen Buddhist Master, Thich Nhat Hanh… His teachings on mindfulness are so simple to grasp, integrate, and practice in daily life… Soon I will write a post about his book Peace is Every Step.

And so what about you… Can you relate to my experience here? Can you also see many bells of mindfulness in your life?

I hope this post was helpful to you!

May All Beings Be Free of Suffering.
May All Beings Be Happy!

 

Photo of bells cropped from original photo by Az Aay Chhetri on Pexels.

 

23 Possible Benefits You May Gain Through Reading Reaching for Orange

Hello Good People!

Welcome to Day 2 of my Virtual Book Launch Week! In this post I will share 23 possible benefits you may gain through reading my new book, Reaching for Orange: Practices, Visualizations, & Blessings to Help You Happy Up Your Life

“Reap the benefits of Sister Teja’s many years of daily practices, in-depth studies, and expensive workshops, in the comfort of wherever you are, for only ten dollars!”

This book is all about you. Throughout the pages, you will be guided to explore your inner being, through questions and writing exercises. The book even ends, after the typical “About the Author” section, with a section entitled “About You” in which you are invited to create your own biography.

When you read Reaching for Orange, you will learn tools to help you ~

~ relieve stress and anxiety.

~ manage work stress.

~ recover from burnout.

~ navigate difficult emotions.

~ dissolve heaviness on any level.

~ work effectively with anger.

~ ease loneliness, depression, and despair.

~ release traumas that you have absorbed from others.

~ reduce chronic pain, on any level (physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual).

~ face death and dying more openly.

~ find comfort, peace, and protection during times of grief.

~ contact the Divine Source of healing energies within you.

~ replenish yourself on every level.

~ clear out the energies of others, and strengthen your energy field.

~ balance your chakras (energy centers).

~ feel more grounded and centered.

~ connect more deeply with others, with the Earth, with all the creatures, and with yourself.

~ cultivate greater awareness of who you truly are.

~ appreciate any sensitivities you may have.

~ expand your mind and heart.

~ increase feelings of self-love, acceptance, gratitude, forgiveness, compassion, positivity, creativity, humility, and trust.

~ vision your future self.

~ Happy Up your life!

 

I am really looking forward to hearing about your experiences with this book, Reaching for Orange, available now on Lulu

May a radiant orange light of peace surround you and bless your entire being!

May you feel happier and happier, every day, in every way.

 

Photo* of orange flowers by Sue Hughes on Unsplash.

* If you are viewing this post in an email, simply click on the title of the article and you will be taken to the StarFire Teja Blog where you can see the pretty orange flowers!

 

Dalai Lama Calls for Tackling Difficult Emotions

In his birthday message last week His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, “Much of the turmoil we witness across the world occurs because people are overwhelmed by disturbing emotions that can be difficult to tackle. I believe that the rich understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions that we find in ancient Indian traditions remains relevant today. There would be great value in examining and applying this as a basic human discipline, and not from a religious point of view. Just as we teach physical hygiene to stay physically fit, we need to cultivate emotional hygiene, learning to tackle our destructive emotions, so as to better achieve peace of mind.”

The Dalai Lama also expressed that he would be grateful if we would like to help him in sharing these ideas with others. For me, as a spiritual helper, his words resonated deeply, because I feel like I am already doing the work that he calls for… I am very inspired to help others in tackling their disturbing emotions.

Do you struggle with difficult emotions? If so, I hope my blog posts are helpful to you… And, I am really looking forward to sharing my new book with you, because it is really in alignment with the Dalai Lama’s call for us to tackle those destructive emotions.

Recently I made a list of 23 possible benefits you may gain through reading my new book, Reaching for Orange: Practices, Visualizations, & Blessings to Help You Happy Up Your Life… I will share that full list with you soon, but here are a few benefits that are related to the Dalai Lama’s request… When you read Reaching for Orange, you will learn tools to help you ~

~ work effectively with anger.

~ ease loneliness, depression, and despair.

~ release traumas that you have absorbed from others.

~ find comfort and peace during times of grief.

To learn more about my new book, which will be published soon, please read my post “Double Coffee Days Ahead.”

To read the Dalai Lama’s full message, please click here: Dalai Lama’s Birthday Message.

 

Photo of Dalai Lama from his Facebook Page.