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.

 

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.

 

Happy-ing Up With Images

I am pretty sure that color saturation increases serotonin, that neurotransmitter which helps us to happy up… At least it seems to for me! How about you? Do you love looking at bright images? Do you notice how color saturation affects your mind?

When I first started blogging, I used a lot of NASA space images with my posts, because I didn’t know that there were other sites with free images… Discovering those other sites opened up whole new colorful worlds for me! One of my fave tasks of blogging is scrolling through images on Unsplash or Pixabay to find just the right image for each post… That scrolling has become like a spiritual practice which really helps to happy up my mind!

Another fun practice with images is collage-making. Do you ever make collages? Some people get really artistic and elaborate with their collages, but mine are pretty basic, as you can see in the photo…

HappyingUpWithImages

This collage is glued onto my next journal cover, and I really had fun creating this one. I think it’s going to be one of my favorites ever. Lately I’ve been struggling with a Fibromyalgia flare-up, and my mind can get pretty negative, especially about financial issues, so in this collage I added some humor to lighten up the situation. I laugh every time I see that phrase at the bottom, “You need financial solutions.” Then I say, “You’ve got that right, I sure do need them!”

The meditating Buddhist image* in this collage reflects my current studies of the teachings of the Zen Buddhist master, Thich Nhat Hanh. Soon I will write some posts about him and his Plum Village monastery in France. In his book, Peace is Every Step, he says, “The foundation of happiness is mindfulness. The basic condition for being happy is our consciousness of being happy.”

When I look at bright colorful images I feel happy, and I am aware of feeling that happiness. The next time you look at some beautiful photos, notice how they make you feel, and enjoy any happy feelings which arise!

May All Beings Be Happy! 🙂

 

* Buddhist image is a painting called “Serenity” by Anyès B. ~ AnyesEmotionArt.com