Yoda, Thich Nhat Hanh, & Winnie-the-Pooh

Is anyone else getting excited about the next Star Wars movie coming out on December 20th?! (Trailer here: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker)

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be the final episode of the nine-part “Skywalker saga” and it is the third installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, following The Force Awakens (2015) and The Last Jedi (2017), both of which I totally loved! Did you see them? Did you also love them?!

Are you surprised to hear that I love Star Wars?

Perhaps it goes back to that very first movie in the Summer of 1977, when I was a little seven-year-old and my parents took us to the drive-in theatre to see Star Wars on a big screen under the stars…

I can’t say that I have seen every single Star Wars movie… Nor can I say that I remember much from the early episodes… But what I can tell you is that these last two movies made me feel so “woke” as the young folks say today… After seeing The Force Awakens, I felt sure that all of humanity could be enlightened by watching that movie! The power of the Light winning over the darkness felt so tangible to me, as if I could hold that power in my hands!

One scene from The Last Jedi particularly touches me. I have watched this scene countless times. (You can view it here: The Last Jedi Yoda’s Force Ghost Scene.) Yoda, who had died at 900 years old in The Return of the Jedi, appears as a ghost right as Luke Skywalker is about to burn down the tree and the Jedi texts. Luke holds up the torch of fire, but then he cannot go through with it, so Yoda closes his eyes and summons the power of lightening to strike the tree and burn it all down. He laughs (oh, that laugh!), while Luke is horrified that the sacred texts are burning…

Yoda says calmly, “Wisdom they held, but that library contained nothing that the girl Rey does not already possess. Skywalker, still looking to the horizon. Never here, now, hmm?” Luke replies, “I was weak. Unwise.” Yoda says, “Lost Ben Solo you did. Lose Rey we must not.” To that, Luke crumbles in his despair: “I can’t be what she needs me to be.”

Yoda’s answer is profound: “Pass on what you have learned. Strength. Mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is.”

And the punchline… “Luke, we are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.”

So, I am super excited to see how Luke is going to rise above his feelings of failure. I can really relate to him hanging out alone on an island and giving up on life… It will be very interesting to watch how he interacts with Rey in this final episode… And will the Light finally conquer the darkness?!

Dear reader, if you’ve been following my blog for a while then you know that this Summer I began studying the mindfulness teachings of Zen Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh… Well, in the trailer for the movie about him (you can watch the trailer here: Walk With Me), one of his young monks says, “You know Yoda in Star Wars? He’s a little bit like that.”

Indeed, in his teachings, Thich Nhat Hanh does not focus merely on cultivating the positive, but rather, he also stresses the importance of working with our negative feelings… Yoda advised Luke to embrace his failures… And in his book Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm, Thich Nhat Hanh writes:

“We embrace our feelings with tenderness, with nonviolence, and we soothe those feelings…. After some minutes of being recognized and embraced, that painful feeling’s zone of energy will recede, and you will feel a welcome relief from the grip of fear or pain. A seed from the depths of consciousness manifests, it stays for a while as a zone of energy, and then it goes back down to its original place as a seed. But after being recognized and embraced with mindfulness, it loses some of its strength. The seed is a bit weaker than before it manifested…. Every time the pain manifests, we have to let it manifest; we should not push it down. We shouldn’t try to suppress it. We have to let it come and take good care of it.”

In this book Thich Nhat Hanh also teaches about generating joy and happiness, as well as “gladdening the mind” in which he says there is “an added element of reinvigorating and energizing the mind”… (What I like to call “Happy-ing Up”!)… And in the last section of the book, he advises, “Do whatever you can to bring happiness to the air, the water, the rocks, the trees, the birds, and the humans.”

Winnie-the-Pooh, that lovable bear from the stories by A.A. Milne, brings a simpleminded sort of happiness wherever he goes… Recently I re-read a book from my shelf called The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff, in which he explains Taoism through the characters in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. I highly recommend this fun little book!

Hoff also stresses the importance of working with difficult emotions: “Instead of struggling to erase what are referred to as negative emotions, we can learn to use them in positive ways…. So rather than work against ourselves, all we need to do in many cases is to point our weaknesses or unpleasant tendencies in a different direction than we have been.”

Throughout the book, Hoff explains how Pooh Bear’s natural positivity makes him the ideal Taoist, who lives in harmony with “Things As They Are” in the present moment. He says, “The Wise are Who They Are. They work with what they’ve got and do what they can do.”

Very similar to Yoda’s advice to Luke, eh?!

And here’s another paragraph by Hoff that reminded me of Yoda’s talk with Luke: “A way of life that keeps saying, “Around the next corner, above the next step,” works against the natural order of things and makes it so difficult to be happy and good that only a few get to where they would naturally have been in the first place — Happy and Good — and the rest give up and fall by the side of the road, cursing the world, which is not to blame but which is there to help show the way.”

I am really ready to see Luke come into his power in the here and now, as advised by Yoda, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Winnie-the-Pooh!

As Hoff puts it, “In order to take control of our lives and accomplish something of lasting value, sooner or later we need to learn to Believe. We don’t need to shift our responsibilities onto the shoulders of some deified Spiritual Superman, or sit around and wait for Fate to come knocking at the door. We simply need to believe in the power that’s within us, and use it.” (bold lettering added)

Dear readers, I really hope you have enjoyed reading this post as much as I have enjoyed writing it for you!

May the Force of Happiness and Goodness Be With You!

With much love,
StarFire Teja

 

Image of Yoda from Star Wars: The Last Jedi… Image credit unknown, this image is on many websites… Background SunStar image Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. (If you are reading this post in an email, please click on the title of this article and you will be taken to the StarFire Teja Blog where you can see Yoda. He is such a love!)

 

Monday Morning Musings on Transformation

In my recent post “Transformation Is Always Possible” I shared the following passage from Zen Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm:

“Sorrow, fear, and depression are like a kind of garbage. But these bits of garbage are part of real life, and we must look deeply into their nature. We can practice so as to turn these bits of garbage into flowers. We should not throw anything out. All we have to do is learn the art of composting, of transforming our garbage into flowers. In the practice of Buddhism, we see that all mental formations — including compassion, love, fear, sorrow, and despair — are organic in nature. We don’t need to be afraid of any of them, because transformation is always possible. With just a smile and mindful breathing, we can start to transform them.”

Well, my first musing this morning is about my review of November in my journal and calendar… Even though in the midst of my challenges I feel as though I am failing miserably, when I read through my journal I could see how much progress I am actually making, in working more skillfully with reactions, and in transforming negative thinking into positive thinking. And, I could see my strength, perseverance, grit, and mettle.

When I finished the review, I wrote, “I am feeling the flowers growing up out of the garbage! Even though it was still hard, November had so much goodness and it was much better than the previous three months!”

Dear reader, how was the month of November for you? Do you regularly take notes in a journal or calendar? Do you take time to reflect on your intentions, and celebrate your successes along the way?

My next musing is about how Gratitude is a potent tool for transformation… I really stepped up my gratitude practices in November, and I could really feel the results in a very tangible way. With each hardship that appeared, I consciously practiced feeling grateful for all the blessings in my life, and I came to the realization that for me, all roads lead to Gratitude!

As December begins, I intend to continue practicing the art of transformation… So my last musing for today is about my keywords for this new month. I pray that my “garbage” can be transformed into the flowers of Happiness, Holiness, Peace, and Joy! ~

~ Happiness ~ One of my current affirmations is “I am choosing to be happy, even when I feel tired or sick.”

~ Holiness ~ In this winter holiday season, I intend to look even more deeply into everything, so as to see the hidden holiness and to feel the absolute sacredness of life.

~ Peace ~ Imagining a very quiet place in nature, covered with pure white snow, I intend to generate the energy of Peace in myself and to send that energy of Peace out into the Universe.

~ Joy! ~ In his book Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm, Zen Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh draws this slight distinction between happiness and joy: “In the joy there’s still a little bit of excitement. Happiness is a more peaceful feeling, like contentment.” ~ So, in addition to choosing to be happy, I am also choosing to be joyful!

Beloved readers… May your December be Happy and Joyful!

Do you have any keywords for December?

With hope, positivity, and joy,
Sister Teja

 

Dahlia photo by S. Hermann & F. Richter on Pixabay.

 

Monday Morning Musings on Gratitude

Who remembers the Bob Marley song “Three Little Birds”??? ~ “Rise up this morning, Smile with the rising sun, Three little birds, Pitched by my doorstep, Singing sweet songs…”

And do you recall what those little birds were saying? They were singing, “Don’t worry ’bout a thing, ‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.” (You can enjoy the song here: Three Little Birds.)

My first musing this morning is about how much I love the bird beings. Do you also love birds? It seems to me that they have a pretty wonderful existence, since they are able to soar through the skies of this beautiful planet. Listening to birds sing brings such joy to my mind. Even if I am feeling sad, hearing the birds brings a smile of gratitude to my heart. How do you feel when you hear birdsong?

Certain things, like birds singing, just naturally evoke a feeling of gratitude, which is wonderful because gratitude lights up neural networks in the brain, and then the brain releases the feel-good neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, which bring feelings of love, happiness, and contentment! Did you know that a bird’s singing can literally light up your brain and make you feel better? The human brain is so fascinating! This musing leads me to feel the mind-blowing inter-connectedness of Everything. Can you feel it also?

So… This week is Thanksgiving week in the U.S., but all humans on Earth should cultivate gratitude every week! Consciously practicing gratitude 365 days per year strengthens those neural pathways that help us to happy up long-term!

Gratitude also strengthens the immune system, relieves anxiety and depression, and increases positivity, inspiration, and motivation.

And, my next musing is about how Gratitude generates the energy of Love. When we feel grateful for something, we naturally feel love for that something. Gratitude and Love arise together, like the two wings of the same bird. You can’t separate them. So, a few years ago I went through a phase on Facebook in which I created posts that were like gratitude lists, but instead of saying “I’m grateful” I said “iLove”…

For example: “iLove amethyst crystals, iLove Sunshine, iLove hot black coffee, iLove Gabe, iLove Zak, iLove Mom & Dad, iLove chanting, iLove barefoot hiking, iLove blogging” and so on! Obviously it was a play on Apple’s “i” everything, and I thought it was pretty witty though I’m not sure anyone else appreciated the wit like I did! Oh well, at least I enjoyed the process! 🙂

So, dear readers, are you feeling inspired now to make a gratitude list? If so, please visit my Gratitude~Up Community Page, where you can share your gratefulness 24/7…

I hope you enjoyed reading this morning’s musings. I sure enjoyed writing them!

May you feel the Love of the Gratitude Vibration!

With much gratitude and love,
Sister Teja

 

Photo by MabelAmber on Pixabay.

 

Transforming Negative Thoughts

How often do you catch yourself having negative thoughts? Do you ever feel like you are caught in a desperation spin?

In order to stop the spin and master your mind, the first step is identifying the repetitive negative thoughts so that you can re-write them in the positive. Re-writing is a method of re-framing which can help you to powerfully transform your negative thoughts.

After writing down your repetitive negative thoughts, re-write each one in the positive, using as many of the same words as possible. For example, if you often think, “This is terrible,” you could re-write that thought in the positive as “This is temporary.” Another example is re-writing the thought, “I’ve got to get out of here,” in the positive as “I’ve got to relax here.”

Using as many of the same words as possible makes it easier for you to remember to think the new thoughts, because the grooves of the old thoughts are already so established in your mind. If you only change one word, and it begins with the same letter as the old word, that makes the process almost effortless for you…

Once you have re-written the repetitive negative thoughts as positive statements, take out a separate sheet of paper or note card, and write at the top, “To master my mind, practice this new train of thoughts,” and then list only the positive statements on that paper or card.

Read your list of new positive thoughts out loud several times each day, and practice thinking your new thoughts throughout your daily life.

I hope this tool for transforming negative thoughts is helpful to you!

Thank you for reading the StarFire Teja Blog!
This post is my 200th post here in 2019!

 

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

 

Photo by Jakub Kriz 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.