The Matter of Hope

“Hope is important, because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. But that is the most that hope can do for us — to make some hardship lighter. When I think deeply about the nature of hope, I see something tragic. Since we cling to our hope in the future, we do not focus our energies and capabilities on the present moment.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Buddhist Master, in his book Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life.

Dear readers, during this strange time it seems that most of us need hope to lighten the load of our global hardships. And, even while we cling to hope for the future, we can simultaneously try to remain focused on the present moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh continues, “I do not mean that you should not have hope, but that hope is not enough. Hope can create an obstacle for you, and if you dwell in the energy of hope, you will not bring yourself back entirely into the present moment. If you re-channel those energies into being aware of what is going on in the present moment, you will be able to make a breakthrough and discover joy and peace right in the present moment, inside of yourself and all around you.”

Are you able to enjoy the present moment now? During this time of quarantines, do you feel hopeful or hopeless?

Before my Dad died suddenly in January, I had been struggling for some time with feelings of hopelessness regarding my health and financial issues. Now, suddenly millions of people are homebound and worried about money like I was! I never would have dreamed this could happen.

Strangely, I am actually feeling more hope now than I did before… And even if hope is not enough, right now it is very important. If you feel hopeless, consider these strong words by Christian Mihai, in his post “Life in The Time of Coronavirus”:

“I encourage each and every single one of you to not become hopeless. It’s a sin not to hope. Truly. If you are hopeless, you think of yourself as helpless, and then you’re really screwed. Maintain a positive attitude, make the best out of an awful situation, and keep working towards your goals. One way or another.”

May you be blessed with hope, courage, and strength. May you take delight in small joys and find peace dwelling in the energies of each sacred moment.

With much love and hope,
StarFire Teja

 

Photo by CHIRAG K on Unsplash.

Reaching for Orange to Happy Up… And Centering in Brown to Calm Down…

Hello dear readers!

The rain is falling and I am cozy in my tree-house temple, making the best of a migraine morning. I lit a few candles and I’m sipping hot black coffee in my happy orange mug! Despite feeling sick, I am delighted to be here writing for you.

In my new book, Reaching for Orange: Practices, Visualizations, & Blessings to Help You Happy Up Your Life, I write: “On the Hindu Yoga Path, Orange symbolizes the Fire of Renunciation, the Orange Fire that burns all the external desires, attachments, and expectations that cause suffering. Once those external causes burn, the internal happiness is experienced.”

Daily spiritual practices help to burn away those external causes of suffering… And spiritual practices do not have to be complicated or take a lot of your precious time. I have been doing daily practices for more than fifteen years, and I have found that being relaxed and flexible with the practices is what enables me to keep doing them.

Some of the practices I do daily to happy up are from the Hindu Yoga Path, but others come from other traditions. This Summer I embarked on a study of the mindfulness teachings of Zen Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh (see my previous post, “Peace Is Every Step”), and those teachings are helping me tremendously in working more skillfully with my mind as I deal with the debilitating symptoms of Fibromyalgia.

At Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village monastery in France, the monks and nuns wear dark brown robes, and I find that color to be very soothing. Do you also feel calmed by the color brown?

(You can see their brown robes in this video: “Namo Avalokiteshvara Chant”)

Somewhere along the studies, it came to me that I am Reaching for Orange to Happy Up… And Centering in Brown to Calm Down!

In his book Peace Is Every Step, Thich Nhat Hahn suggests a simple breathing practice: “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.”

Here are two more simple breathing practices that you might enjoy doing, especially in stressful or tense moments ~

~ With the in-breath, think “Happy Up” and with the out-breath, think “Calm Down”.

~ Breathing in, think “Calm” and breathing out, think “Down” and as you think “Down” imagine breathing down into your legs and feet… And then imagine your energy flowing down into the ground… Imagine breathing down into the sacred Earth… And feel your entire being calming down…

I hope you found this post helpful!

With boundless love,
Teja

Photo of orange leaves on brown ground by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.

 

Two Simple Healing Practices

“There are many refreshing and healing elements in nature around us and in us… get in touch with these healing elements to get the nourishment and healing you need… nourish yourself with joy and happiness so then you are able to help people around you.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, in a video in which he answers a question from his one million Facebook friends: “How can I fight the injustices of this world without being consumed with anger, bitterness, outrage, and resentment?”

Here are two simple ways to practice getting in touch with the healing elements around you and in you ~

~ Each time you see simple beauty, think to yourself, “There are refreshing and healing elements all around me and inside me.” ~ For example, each time I see the sunlight on the fresh green leaves outside our bathroom window, I am reminded of the refreshing and healing elements that are available all the time.

~ When you drink water, use your pure drinking water as a bell of mindfulness. Let the water be a refreshing and healing element that you bring into your body as you sip it throughout the day.

I hope this post was helpful to you!

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

 

Photo by John Jennings on Unsplash.

 

StarFire Friday Blessing: May You Enjoy Practicing Mindfulness

 

May you notice the beauty around you and within you.

May you be nourished by mindful breathing and smiling.

May your weekend be blessed with many little happinesses.

May you enjoy practicing mindfulness.

 

Dear readers, these blessings were inspired by the mindfulness teachings of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, who is 93 years old today!

Happy Birthday, Thich Nhat Hanh!

Love to All Beings!
Teja

 

Photo by Anita Austvika on Unsplash.

October Keywords

Can you believe it is already the 5th of October? In a few more breaths, we will be deciding what to wear for the holidays! Isn’t it funny how time seems to speed up at different times of the year?

As I contemplated my intentions for the month of October, the following keywords arose: Curiosity, Mindfulness, and Aspiration.

Curiosity ~ Do you ever feel despair and/or judgment about what you see happening in the world? I sure do, so this keyword is to help me watch the Consciousness moving through Everything with not only neutrality, but with curiosity. My intention is to ask questions like, “Isn’t that interesting the way the consciousness is working in that situation?” and “I wonder why the consciousness is doing that over there, through those people?” Perhaps you might like to ask these kinds of questions also!

Mindfulness ~ Since sharing my post “Bells of Mindfulness,” I have been noticing that Bells of Mindfulness Abound! There is no shortage of small irritations to teach me to cultivate the qualities of Lord Shiva: Calm and UN-Attached!! Can you relate?

Aspiration ~ Recently I finished watching a video of a dharma talk (“Wake Up Earth: Engaged Action & Aspiration”) with Sister True Dedication, a monastic disciple of Thich Nhat Hanh, who ordained as a nun at Plum Village in 2008. Towards the end of her talk she explained why we have to have Aspiration, saying that Aspiration gives us energy that can help us through difficult times. She said that we have to figure out how we will help others and what our contribution will be… That really struck a deep place in me, because during the last two months I have been dealing with a Fibromyalgia flare-up that stopped me in my happy tracks, and I have had to work hard to accept that my plans fell apart. Now I need to dig deep to find what my contribution will be, given the limitations of my body.

What is your Aspiration in life? What will your contribution be?

Do you have any keywords for October?

 

Photo by Dan Freeman on Unsplash.