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Archive for July, 2008

The stream of thinking has enormous momentum that can easily drag
you along with it. Every thought pretends that it matters so much.
It wants to draw your attention in completely.

Here is a new spiritual practice for you: don’t take your thoughts
too seriously.

Eckhart Tolle
Extract from “Stillness Speaks”

I remember this quite well when I’m not busily enmeshed in my thoughts – now to actually put it in practice, when I am enmeshed in them!  I think that’s where stillness does come in.  If I can’t meditate in the moment, I can always breathe mindfully.  While breathing if I am doing a task I can bring my complete attention to it, feeling the way my hands move as I perform the task, feel my feet solidly on the ground, and breathing consciously letting each breath wash across my internal shores and watch my thoughts wash out to the great vast sea and dissipate.

Love, Bethie

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The Gift

Time wants to show you a different country. It’s the one
that your life conceals, the one waiting outside
when curtains are drawn, the one Grandmother hinted at
in her crochet design, the one almost found
over at the edge of the music, after the sermon.

It’s the way life is, and you have it, a few years given.
You get killed now and then, violated
in various ways. (And sometimes it’s turn about.)
You get tired of that. Long-suffering, you wait
and pray, and maybe good things come – maybe
the hurt slackens and you hardly feel it any more.
You have a breath without pain. It is called happiness.

It’s a balance, the taking and passing along,
the composting of where you’ve been and how people
and weather treated you. It’s a country where
you already are, bringing where you have been.
Time offers this gift in its millions of ways,
turning the world, moving the air, calling,
every morning, “Here, take it, it’s yours.”

~ William Stafford

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Grab a cup of tea or coffee, sit down, relax and really read this.  If you’ve never read the whole thing before, you are about to embark on the magic of one man’s experiences, passion and vision.  Perhaps you will feel goosebumps from head to toe, as I did, reading it.

Love, Bethie

This is the text of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

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Isn’t it wonderful to consciously release the last remaining
blocks to letting in my good?!

Isn’t it wonderful to then envision myself already
living my newest, latest and greatest version of myself?!

Isn’t it wonderful to really feel into that, breath by
breath, thought by thought, image by image, smile
by smile?!

Isn’t it wonderful to feel the pure gratitude for that unfolding,
knowing that I have embodied it already in my consciousness?!

Isn’t it wonderful how complete that feels?!

Isn’t it wonderful how easy life feels when I’m letting myself be
easy in it?!

Isn’t it wonderful to really know how Love is back of all things?!

Isn’t it wonderful to want to make my choices for the Love of me?!

Love, Bethie

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This is quite long but well worth the read – quite fascinating!

Seth on “The Ancient Dreamers (The Sleepwalkers)” (pt.1)

Dreams, “Evolution,” and Value Fulfillment, Vol. 1, Session 893,
January 07, 1980.
For what would seem to you to be eons, according to your time
scale, men were in the dreaming state far more than they were in the
waking one. They slept long hours, as did the animals awakening,
so to speak, to exercise their bodies, obtain sustenance, and,
later, to mate. It was indeed a dreamlike world, but a highly
charming and vital one, in which dreaming imaginations played
rambunctiously with all the probabilities entailed in this new
venture: imaging the various forms of language and communication
possible, spinning great dream tales of future civilizations replete
with their own built-in histories building, because they were now
allied with time, mental edifices that automatically created pasts
as well as futures.

These ancient dreams were shared to some extent by each
consciousness that was embarked upon the earthly venture, so that
creatures and environment together formed great environmental
realities. Valleys and mountains, and their inhabitants, together
dreamed themselves into being and coexistence.

The species from your viewpoint lived at a much slower pace in
those terms. The blood, for example, did not need to course so
quickly through the veins [and arteries], the heart did not need to
beat as fast. And in an important fashion the coordination of the
creature in its environment did not need to be as precise, since
there was an elastic give-and-take of consciousness between the two.

In ways almost impossible to describe, the ground rules were not as
yet firmly established. Gravity itself did not carry its all-
pervasive sway, so that the air was more buoyant. Man was aware of
its support in a luxurious, intimate fashion. He was aware of
himself in a different way, so that, for example, his identification
with the self did not stop where his skin stopped: He could follow
it outward into the space about his form, and feel it merge with the
atmosphere with a primal sense-experience that you have forgotten.

During this period, incidentally, mental activity of the highest,
most original variety was the strongest dream characteristic, and
the knowledge [man] gained was imprinted upon the physical brain:
what is now completely unconscious activity involving the functions
of the body, its relationship with the environment, its balance and
temperature, its constant, inner alterations. All of these highly
intricate activities were learned and practiced in the dream state
as the CUs [consciousness units] translated their inner knowledge
through the state of dreaming into physical form.

Then in your terms man began, with the other species, to waken more
fully into the physical world, to develop the exterior senses, to
intersect delicately and precisely with space and time. Yet man
still sleeps and dreams, and that state is still a firm connective
with his own origins, and with the origins of the universe as he
knows it as well.

… In a fashion those ancient dreamers, through their immense
creativity, dreamed all of life’s creatures in all of their pasts,
presents, and futures that is, their dreams opened up the doors of
space and time to entities that otherwise would not have been
released into actualization, even as, for example, the units of
consciousness were once released from the mind of All-That-Is.

All possible entities that can ever be actualized always exist.
They [have] always existed and they always will exist. All-That-Is
must, by its characteristics, be all that it can ever be, and so
there can be no end to existence and, in those terms, no
beginning. But in terms of your world the units of consciousness,
acting both as forces [waves] and as psychological entities
[particles] of massive power, planted the seeds of your world in a
dimension of imaginative power that gave birth to physical form. In
your terms those entities [particles] are your ancestors and yet
[they are] not yours alone, but the ancestors of all the
consciousnesses that make up your world.

Session 894, January 09, 1980.

Basically, there are no real divisions to the self, but for the
sake of explanation we must speak of them in those terms. First of
all you had the inner self, the creative dreaming self composed,
again, of units of consciousness, awareized energy that forms your
identity, and that formed the identities of the earliest earth
inhabitants. These inner selves formed their own dream bodies about
them, as previously explained, but the dream bodies did not have to
have physical reactions. They were free of gravity and space, and of
time.

As the body became physical, however, the inner self formed the
body consciousness so that the physical body became more aware of
itself, of the environment, and of its relationship within the
environment. Before this could happen, though, the body
consciousness was taught to become aware of its own inner
environment. The body was lovingly formed from EE [electromagnetic
energy] units through all the stages to atoms, cells, organs, and so
forth. The body’s pattern came from the inner self, as all of the
units of consciousness involved in this venture together formed this
fabric of environment and creatures, each suited to the other.

So far in our discussion, then, we have an inner self, dwelling
primarily in a mental or psychic dimension, dreaming itself into
physical form, and finally forming a body consciousness. To that
body consciousness the inner self gives its own body of physical
knowledge, the vast reservoir of physical achievement that it has
triumphantly produced. The body consciousness is not `unconscious,’
but for working purposes in your terms, [the body] possesses its own
system of consciousness that to some extent, now, is separated from
what you think of as your own normal consciousness. The body’s
consciousness is hardly to be considered less than your own, or as
inferior to that of your inner self, since it represents knowledge
from the inner self, and is a part of the inner self’s own
consciousness the part delegated to the body.

[Each] cell, then, as I have often said, operates so well in time
because it is, in those terms, precognitive. It is aware of the
position, health, vitality, of all other cells on the face of the
planet. It is aware of the position of each grain of sand on the
shores of each ocean, and in those terms it forms a portion of the
earth’s consciousness.

… Thus far in our discussion, we still have only an inner self
and a body consciousness. As the body consciousness developed
itself, perfected its organization, the inner self and the body
consciousness together performed a kind of psychological double-
entendre.

… The best analogy I can think of is that up to that time the
self was like a psychological rubber band, snapping inward and
outward with great force and vitality, but without any kind of rigid-
enough psychological framework to maintain a physical stance. The
inner self still related to dream reality, while the body’s
orientation and the body consciousness attained, as was intended, a
great sense of physical adventure, curiosity, speculation, wonder
and so once again the inner self put a portion of its consciousness
in a different parcel, so to speak. As once it had formed the body
consciousness, now it formed a physically attuned consciousness, a
self whose desires and intents would be oriented in a way that,
alone, the inner self could not be.

… [The outer ego] is the self that looks outward. It is the self
that you call egotistically aware. The inner self became what I
refer to as the inner ego. It looks into that inner reality, that
psychic dimension of awareness from which both your own [outer ego]
consciousness and your body consciousness emerged.

You are one self, then, but for operating purposes we will say that
you have three parts: the inner self or ego, the body [sub]
consciousness, and the [outer ego] consciousness that you know.

These portions, however, are intimately connected. They are like
three different systems of consciousness operating together to form
the whole. The divisions, the seeming divisions are not
stationary, but change constantly.

… To one extent or another, these three systems of consciousness
operate in one way or another in all of the species, and in all
particles, in the physical universe. In your terms, this means that
the proportions of the three systems might vary, but they are always
in operation, whether we are speaking of a man or a woman, a rock or
a fly, a star or an atom. The inner self represents your prime
identity, the self you really are.

… The body [sub]consciousness is therefore given a superb sense
of its own reality, a sureness of identity, a sense of innate safety
and security, that allows it to not only function but to grow in the
physical world. It is endowed with a sense of boldness, daring, a
sense of natural power. It is perfectly formed to fit into its
environment and the environment is perfectly formed to have such
creatures.

The entities, or units of consciousness those ancient fragments
[particles] that burst into objectivity from the vast and infinite
psychological realms of All-That-Is dared all, for they joyfully
abandoned themselves in space and time. They created new
psychological entities, opened up an area of divine creativity
that `until then’ had been closed, and therefore to that [degree]
extended the experience and immense existence of All-That-Is. For in
so abandoning themselves they were not of course abandoned, since
they contained within themselves their inherent relationship with
All-That-Is. In those terms All-That-Is became physical also,
aroused at its divine depth by the thrusting of each grass blade
through the soil into the air, aroused by each birth and by each
moment of each creature’s existence.

All-That-Is, therefore, is immersed within your world, present in
each hypothetical point, and forms the very fabric from which each
portion of matter is created.

© Robert F. Butts, All Rights Reserved.

Summary of Concepts:

In the beginning, the world and everything in its valleys,
mountains, oceans, the sky, and every species of organic life was
guided by the cooperative group dreams of every type of
consciousness involved. Endless probabilities were explored and a
mental framework created that began to include probable pasts,
presents, and futures. This stage of development lasted for “eons.”

Causal Aspects of All-That-Is that Seth calls consciousness units
(causal field) translated their inner knowledge via the dream state
(subtle field) to create all physical forms (physical field). “…
these highly intricate activities were learned and practiced in the
dream state.” Thus, the subtle field was a hotbed of creativity that
paved the way for the emergence of the physical field.

Every inner self (including sleepwalkers) has and will always
exist in some latent form within All-That-Is. Only a small
percentage of this latency can be physically manifest in any given
time. All-That-Is strives “to be all that it can ever be, and so
there can be no end to existence and … no beginning.” Thus, Seth
describes the causal (wave) and subtle (wave) fields in terms of
eternal qualities (no beginning or end) in relation to the physical
(particle) field, which by design has beginnings and endings.

CUs, acting both as forces (waves) and as individualized
consciousness (particles), are the ancestors of every type of
consciousness that make up our world. Thus, the sleepwalkers are the
ancient dreamers working in the subtle field who created our
universe and human beings.

As the ancient dreamers experimented with various species and the
ecosystem, they began to develop human body consciousness. There was
a period lasting for eons in which the subtle and physical fields
were not yet stable enough for physical reproduction and mating to
be required. (In other words, the dreamtime “preceded” sexual
reproduction in the physical field, and didn’t require sex as we
know it. Once the first cellular life physically manifest, however,
physical sex was required for reproduction.)

The inner self is that subtle field aspect of the sleepwalkers that
dreamed, “translated,” and consciously created physicality. We did
such a great job in this process that, as we came to rely more and
more on our physical senses, all of the amazing calculations and
manipulations of energy needed to maintain a physical body began to
recede into the background of the subconscious. In this sense, the
subconscious had to stabilize before the outer ego could emerge.

Eventually we no longer needed to be consciously aware of growing
our hair, digesting our food, or healing a cut. All of these issues
had to be figured out in the Overall design before they could
became “automatic.” Our body consciousness, which became part of the
subconscious, then, represents the knowledge of the inner
self “translated” into physical form.

There is no aspect of All-That-Is causal, subtle, or physical
that is unconscious. All aspects exist in simultaneously nested
fields created by the wave/particle nature of CUs. And that is a
loaded statement!

There were three additional functions designed by the sleepwalkers
so that humans could emerge. However, the apparent divisions between
them are seamless.

1. inner self (inner ego, “wave focus”)

2. body consciousness (subconscious mediating layer, “wave and
particle focus”)

3. outer ego (pre-egoic, “particle focus”)

These functions broadly occur in every thing and process in the
physical field. Though the relationships may vary, they always
operate in any quantum field, galaxy, planet, rock, plant, animal,
or person. (This is another very important deep structure at play in
all energy-matter. More on this later.)

Seth closes with a reminder that All-That-Is worked together in a
massive, simultaneous, cooperative venture of the highest creative
expression possible. We simultaneously, as Causal Consciousness
(CUs), as sleepwalkers (EEs), and finally as physical creatures
(quantum fields) saw through wave and particle “eyes” that it was
good! (or should I say God? :-)

Comments:

In this segment, Seth focused on the emerging physical field. He
outlined the basic “order of play” or stages of development in
sequential, physical terms. For example, “The body was lovingly
formed from EE [electromagnetic energy] units through all the stages
to atoms, cells, organs, and so forth.” So there were atoms first
that evolved into cells, which in turn evolved into organs, bodies,
and nascent outer egos. And yet, Seth continues to explore our
origins from the paradoxically simultaneous Causal (CUs) and subtle
(EEs) fields. And this is exactly what makes this a postmodern
creation myth.

Finally, a note on semantics up to this point: EEs,
electromagnetic energy units, inner selves, sleepwalkers, ancient
dreamers, source selves, and energy personality essences are
ontologically equivalent. So these terms describe related aspects of
the subtle field and may be used interchangeably.
__._,_.___

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Here again, out of Thich Nhat Hanh’s little book:
Be Free Where You Are, we have his thoughts
on habit energy.  I’ve been using his suggestions
below along with mindful breathing to move beyond
old habits and patterns of thought.  It is very simple
to do, you can do it anywhere.  Just smile at your habit
energy, thank it and then stay with the mindful breathing,
focusing at the point just one inch below the navel — until
you have gone past the point where you feel compelled to
be in the habit energy.  I set this little book aside from all
my other books and put it on my dresser.  It is one of the
smallest, simplest little guides to accessing your inner freedom.

Love, Bethie

Smile at Your Habit Energy

There is a strong energy in every one of us called habit energy. 
Vasana is the sanskrit word for habit energy.  Every one of us
has habit energies that push us to say and do things we don’t
want to say or do.  These habit energies damage us and our
relationships to other people.  Intellectually we know that saying
or doing a certain thing will cause a lot of suffering, and yet we
still say or do it.  And once you say or do something, the damage
is done.  Then you regret it.  You beat your chest and pull your hair. 
You say, “I am not going to say or do that thing again.”  But though
you say this with sincerity, the next time the situation presents itself,
you say and do the same thing.  This is the power of habit energy
that your parents and ancestors may have transmitted to you.

Mindful breathing can help you recognize habit energy when it
emerges.  You don’t have to fight that energy; you only have to
recognize it as yours and smile at it.  That is enough.  “Hello
there my habit energy.  I know you’re there, but you cannot do
anything to me.”  You smile at it, and then you are free.  This
is a wonderful protection.  It is why I said mindfulness is the energy
of God, the energy of the Buddha protecting us.

~Thich Nhat Hanh: Be Free Where You Are

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The following excerpt comes from ‘Be Free Where You Are’.
It’s a tiny little pocket size book, you could carry with you
anywhere.  Thich Nhat Hanh spoke at a Maryland Correctional
Institute in 1999 on freedom, which really speaks to everyone
and this is a passage from it:

When a storm comes, it stays for some time, and then it goes.
An emotion is like that too — it comes and stays for awhile,
and then it goes.  An emotion is only an emotion.  We are
much, much more than an emotion.  We don’t die because
of one emotion.  So when you notice that an emotion is
beginning to come up, it is very important that you put
yourself in a stable sitting position.  Then focus your attention
on your belly.  Your head is like the top of a tree in a storm.
I would not stay there.  Bring your attention down in the trunk
of the tree, where there is stability.

When you have focused on your belly, bring your attention
down to the level just below the navel and begin to practice
mindful breathing.  Breathing in and breathing out deeply,
be aware of the rise and fall of the abdomen.  After practicing
like this for ten, fifteen or twenty minutes, you will see that
you are strong — strong enough to withstand the storm.  In
this sitting or lying position just stick to your breathing the
way that someone would stick to a life vest.  After some time
the emotion will pass.

This is a very effective practice but please remember one
thing: Don’t wait until you have a strong emotion to practice.
If you do, you will not remember how to practice.  You have
to practice now, today, while you are feeling fine, when you are
not dealing with any strong emotions.  This is the time to begin
learning the practice.  You can practice for ten minutes every
day.  If you do this for three weeks — 21 days — it will become
a habit.  Then when anger rises up or you are overcome by
despair, you will naturally remember the practice.  Once you
succeed, you will have faith in the practice and you will be
able to tell your emotion: “Well, if you come again, I will do
exactly the same thing.”  You will not be afraid because you
know what to do.

~Thich Nhat Hanh: Be Free Where You Are

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