Going through something? Practice this Buddhist meditation from Be Free Where You Are

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I've always considered myself more of a spiritual person than a religious one. This means instead of adhering to one religion, I pull inspiration from a variety of religious sources and practices and apply the ones I most agree with to my own life. The following passage is from a reading by the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh:

When a storm comes, it stays for some time, and then it goes. An emotion is like that too – it comes and stays for a while, 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, or you lie down, which is also a very stable 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 to 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 on the ocean 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. Sit and practice breathing in and out, focusing your attention on your belly. If you do this for three weeks – twenty-one days – it will become a habit. Then when anger rises up or you are overwhelmed 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.

~ Be Free Where You Are*

I know what's been added to MY summer reading list... cool

*Publisher's comments:
Be Free Where You Are is a compendium of the core teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, based on a talk given at a prison. It shows how mindful practice can cultivate freedom no matter where you are, and summarizes for the first time all of Thich Nhat Hanh's core teachings, making it an outstanding introduction to the ideas and practices of one of the foremost Buddhist teachers alive.
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