A Time for Looking Deeply . . .

detail of orchid petalsA TIME FOR LOOKING DEEPLY . . .


Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth. What you held in your hand, what you counted and carefully saved, all this must go so you know how desolate the landscape can be between the regions of kindness. How you ride and ride thinking the bus will never stop, the passengers eating maize and chicken will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness, you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho lies dead by the side of the road. You must see how this could be you, how he too was someone who journeyed through the night with plans and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. You must wake up with sorrow. You must speak to it till your voice catches the thread of all sorrows and you see the size of the cloth. Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore, only kindness that ties your shoes and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread, only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say it is I you have been looking for, and then goes with you every where like a shadow or a friend.

—Naomi Shihab Nye

Dear Friends,

We have all experienced an extraordinarily painful week with the horrific killings in Newtown. We are holding all of those who experienced such terrible losses in our hearts and in our prayers.

The first Noble Truth is that suffering exists. The second is that there are causes of suffering . . . The Buddha taught us that when conditions are sufficient, things manifest. When conditions are no longer sufficient, things cease to manifest. Thay urges us to look deeply to get to the root causes of the suffering . . . and to understand the conditions that are causing the suffering. I hope that we will be able to do that individually and collectively. In listening to commentators, it is clear that we try to come up with easy explanations to make sense of something that is so hard to comprehend. But what Thay and the Buddha have taught us is that unless we truly get to the root, there is no way out. I hope that we can use this as a vehicle for collective awakening, recognize our interbeing and have nothing but love, understanding and kindness for ourselves and each other. I also hope that we will be motivated to create conditions for peace to manifest on earth!

At times like these it is wonderful to be able to come together, and we will have an opportunity to come together and offer each other support tomorrow evening at our home at 725 Matunuck School House Road in Wakefield. We will enjoy stopping with sitting meditation, walking meditation. I will offer a short talk, and we can share the Dharma. I hope you will be able to be with us.

Please remember that we can also follow the Winter Retreat Teachings from Thay at tnhaudio.org and the teachings from Deer Park Monastery at deerparkmonastery.org. They are on week four, but the talks and handouts are all on line so you can move at your own pace and download all of them. What a gift!

GOOD NEWS!!!!!!!! Thay will be touring the U.S. next summer. I have included his schedule below . . . so we can plan our time. There will be lots of opportunities to see him in the Northeast. I hope that you will be able to be with him for at least one of the events being offered. Save the Dates!!!!!!

SHARING LOCKER–please remember our friends at Westminster Unitarian Church, not only during the holiday season, but all year. They offer items that people cannot buy with food stamps to those who are experiencing financial difficulties—see list below . . . They are also taking donations of warm clothing for all ages. The church is open from 10-1 PM on weekdays for drop-offs, and there is a chest right inside the front doors of the fellowship hall for drop offs. Please help if you can. You can also bring donations to the Sangha meetings, and we will be happy to deliver them if you cannot get to East Greenwich.

SAVE THE DATE . . . There will be a vigil for World Peace at Narragansett Beach on the 21st at 5:30 PM. Bring warm clothing and a flashlight! It should be wonderful! It is being organized by Mimi Sammis who is calling it a Tsunami of Love . . . For more info, please visit


Well we have lots of opportunities to practice interbeing. I hope you can be with us.

In the meantime, you might like to read about the effects of meditation on aging (see below) . . . a real motivation to practice!!!!

or . . .

Last year the Sangha watched the film I AM by Tom Shadyak. This is a link to a follow up about college students helping elementary school children . . . The transmission of the energy of generosity . . . very inspiring.



with much love, many hugs and the deep peace of three conscious breaths for you, Joanne



The dates for the 2013 North America Teaching Tour with Thich Nhat Hanh are listed below to help with planning. In the coming weeks, more information will become available on http://tnhtour.org with themes and registration information. In the meantime, please do not contact the monasteries for more information.

Aug 11-16 Mindfulness Retreat for Educators, Brock University, Hamilton, ON (Toronto) Aug 17 Public Talk, Sony Centre, Toronto, ON Aug 25-30 Mindfulness Retreat, Blue Cliff Monastery, Pine Bush, NY Sep 1 Day of Mindfulness, Blue Cliff Monastery, Pine Bush, NY Sep 7 Public Talk, New York City, NY Sep 12 Day of Mindfulness, Boston Park Plaza Hotel, Boston, MA Sep 14 Public Talk, Trinity Church, Boston, MA Sep 15 Peace Walk, Trinity Church, Boston, MA Sep 19-24 Mindfulness Retreat, Magnolia Grove Monastery, Batesville, MS Sep 26-29 Vietnamese Retreat, Magnolia Grove Monastery, Batesville, MS Oct 4-8 Vietnamese Retreat, Deer Park Monastery, Escondido, CA Oct 11-16 Mindfulness Retreat, Deer Park Monastery, Escondido, CA Oct 19 Public Talk, Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Pasadena, CA Oct 20 Day of Mindfulness, Deer Park Monastery, Escondido, CA Oct 26 Public Talk, Paramount Theatre, Oakland, CA Oct 27 Vietnamese Day of Mindfulness in the Bay Area

Visit http://tnhtour.org in 2013


Your Wandering Mind Is Aging You 5 Dec 2012 11:27am, EST NBCNews.com By Mandy Oaklander, Prevention

Do you ever have trouble focusing your attention on—oh look! A new Facebook friend request!

Wait, what were we saying?

Chances are that—like us—you're prone to a wandering mind. In fact, mind meandering takes up about half of our mental time. But a new study in Clinical Psychological Science shows that when our minds stray, our health can take a nosedive.

The University of California, San Francisco study targets telomeres, the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes. In recent years, the tiny telomere has emerged as a powerful biomarker of aging. They get shorter as you get older, and shorter telomeres at any age predict the early onset of disease and mortality.

To find out if a wandering mind has any impact on telomere length, researchers tested 239 highly educated women over 50 with low stress levels. After taking a bevy of life satisfaction tests and questionnaires, their telomeres were measured. Participants who reported wandering minds tended to have shorter telomeres—by about 200 base pairs, which equals about four years of additional aging.

Why? Turns out a wandering mind isn't as innocent as it seems: Unhappiness appears to be a big driver of mind wandering, the authors find. It's easier to think about something else than focus on what's upsetting you.

The key, then, is coaxing your wayward mind into the present. Here's how, plus more ways to make sure your telomeres remain lean, mean, age-fighting machines:

Just breathe. Being attuned with your own breathing isn't automatic, but with practice, it can calm down a busy mind. A study in the June issue of the journal Emotion found that just eight minutes of mindful breathing drastically reduces mind wandering.

Try yoga and meditation. Is there anything these two can't cure? A 2011 study in Psychoneuroendocrinology found that when people did yogic meditation for just four months, they increased their stores of the enzyme telomerase, which makes telomeres longer. Intensive meditation took even less time: only 3 months. (Learn to breathe like a yogi with our simple guide.)

Find a friend. Your buddies don't just make you feel younger. Telomeres are protected by positive experiences like social connection, according to a study in this month's Social and Personality Psychology Compass. Make sure you've got the 8 Friends Every Woman Needs.

Take fish oil. Studies have shown that popping omega-3 supplements slows the aging process by lengthening telomeres.

Turn off the email. Multitasking dulls our ability to learn and perform tasks well, according to UCLA psychology professor and memory researcher Russell Poldrack, PhD. Get rid of distractions and get a good night's sleep to keep your brain razor-sharp.

Exercise! Research shows that regular exercisers have significantly longer telomeres than couch potatoes. In fact, just 30 minutes a day can make your telomeres look 10 years younger than those of your more sedentary peers.


THE SHARING LOCKER will be open the third Saturday of each month from 10:00-1:00 PM in Fellowship Hall Westminster Unitarian Church 119 Kenyon Avenue East Greenwich, RI 02818

Items Needed • Body Lotion • Deodorant (men/women) • Shampoo (16 oz or less) • Razors • Liquid Dish Detergent (16 oz or less) • SOS pads • Tissue • Toilet Paper • Paper Towels • Dry Pet Food (dog/cat) * All-purpose cleaner and laundry detergent are prepared for distribution by the children in Westminster’s Religious Education program.