Archive for July 11th, 2008

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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