1-13-14 Mind Taming on Tuesday!

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle,
and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
Happiness never decreases by being shared.

Dear Friends,

I hope this finds you well and happy and warm and cozy and letting that light of yours shine!
Thanks to all of you who participated in our New Year's Ceremony to honor our ancestors. It was so moving to hear the stories about the strengths we have alive in us and  to enjoy the bell meditation and ring in a brand new year.It is wonderful to be able to be in the energy of such a group of sweet beings.
We will have another opportunity to do that tomorrow evening, Tuesday, Jan 14, at 6:30PM when we will gather at St. Matthew and Mark Church on Chapel Rd. in West Barrington. We will enjoy sitting/walking and sitting meditation, I will offer a talk about applying our practice to creating conditions for beginning anew with this brand new year. We will then share the Dharma. I hope you will be able to be with us. I have missed you all and will be very happy to be able to be with you again.
Next Saturday, the 18th there will be a gathering for OI members and Aspirants, along with anyone else who is interested in learning more about our Order at 10AM at the Bell Street Chapel in Providence. We will have a Recitation Ceremony of the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings…see below. For the winter retreat study, we are practicing with the six paramitas. We will have spent the last month working with the first two which are, generosity and the precepts (Five Mindfulness Trainings.) We are studying them to use them for the base of our practice. We will share a little about our experience with these and look at the third, Kshanti paramita…or patience or inclusiveness.  I hope that you will be able to join us .This meeting takes place directly after the Radiant Bell Sangha meeting which runs from 8:00-10:00. You are welcome to participate in both gatherings if you like.
You are invited to join us for a
Day of Mindfulness — Franklin, Massachusetts
Saturday, January 25, 9:30 a.m.-4:30
Changing the World from the Inside Out: Cultivating the Courage to Love Ourselves, Each Other, and This Beautiful Planet
Registration form at
More information: Susan Emmer Schmidt, 781-985-49
The RI Community of Mindfulness has been organizing a retreat for all of us.
RICOM Retreat in Rhode IslandMay 16-20, 2014 Camp Aldersgate, North Scituate, Rhode Island
It is a wonderful opportunity to deepen our practice together in a very beautiful setting. A lot of wonderful energy has been going into the planning and registration will be open soon.
I am including this very uplifting video…I sent it before, but some reported that they did not receive it…it clearly demonstrates the power of the mind and where we choose to put it…determines our happiness.
and a beautiful interview from Prevention with Sister Dang Nghiem, whom some of you know, about the
healing power of mindfulness. What a gift!


I have also copied it below….
Enjoy, enjoy!
I hope you will be able to be with us for some or all of the above ….and in the meantime, please do your best to enjoy every moment of this precious lifetime!
with much love and the deep gratitude for being warm on a cold winter's night for you,

Zen Lessons On Healing After Loss
When she left her career as a medical doctor, Sister Dang Nghiem, MD, a Zen Buddhist nun and disciple of Thich Nhat Hanh, learned the true meaning of healing
Sitting cross-legged on the floor of a meditation room at Blue Cliff Monastery in New York State, Sister Dang Nghiem, 45, has the enviable air of a person who can (and does) sit still for hours on end without fidgeting. It's not just because she wears the obvious markers of a monastic Buddhist life—the shorn hair, the brown robes. It's that Sister D has a kind of radiant inner calm that you can only imagine she was born with. Except she wasn't.
Fourteen years ago, Sister D barely even meditated. She answered to the name Huynh Thi Ngoc Huong and was a family physician who lived with her partner, John, in San Francisco. She'd known since she was a little girl that she wanted to dedicate her life to helping others. So after emigrating from Vietnam to the United States when she was 16, and then graduating from the University of California, San Francisco, Medical School, she seemed, on the face of things, to have it all: a best friend and lover in John; a prestigious job. It was a long, long way from where she'd come.
She was born in 1968 in Central Vietnam during the height of the war to a Vietnamese woman who was in and out of her life. She never knew who her father was but was told he was a US soldier. For much of her childhood, Sister D had to fend for herself, facing verbal, physical, and sexual abuse from relatives, though she took solace in her grandmother, whom she adored.
Her grandmother wanted Sister D and her younger brother to be the first in their family to go to college, and in 1985—because of a stipulation in the Amerasian Immigration Act allowing children of US and Vietnamese citizens to apply for American citizenship—she moved the children into foster care in the United States. By the time Sister D started medical school, she and her brother had been shuffled through five different foster homes.
In September 1999, Sister D was officially an MD. The circumstances of her life bore no resemblance to those of her troubled youth, but the feelings, the depression she'd struggled with since childhood, still dogged her. She'd been pushing John away, steeling herself from him when the sadness hit, which was often. Just before her 31st birthday, John suggested they take a trip to the coast to celebrate. She told him she wanted to be alone, so he took the trip solo. A couple of days later, on the morning of her birthday, Sister D was on call at the hospital when she got word that John had drowned. That was her last day as a doctor.
The pain of John's sudden death was unbearable, and it forced her to look inward. "When the healer is not healed," Sister D says now, "when she is wounded herself, she cannot really care for others."
If she was going to be able to help other people, she thought, first she would have to face her own difficult past: "All my life I thought that if I became very successful, if I found a loving partner, then that would make up for everything I lost or never had as a child. But I wasn't happy, because I didn't know how to handle my past."
Just weeks before John's death, Sister D had attended a 5-day mindfulness retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh, a well-known and respected Zen master. In her memoir, Sister D recounts how John first introduced her to the concept of mindfulness—of living in the present moment through meditation and by focusing on the breath. She'd absorbed some of that by being around John, but after this immersion with Nhat Hanh, something shifted inside her. "It showed me that there are concrete practices," she says. "There is a path, there is a way of life that I can practice, and it can help heal me." So while she would not return to her job as a doctor, she decided to focus, at least for a little while, on healing herself and others by learning and teaching mindfulness. She packed up her life and moved to Nhat Hanh's Plum Village monastery in Southern France.
That was 14 years ago. She now resides at Blue Cliff, another of the Zen master's centers. "I stopped being a doctor, but I continue to be a physician—I just don't prescribe drugs," she says. "And to anyone who comes to me, I transmit my whole energy of mindfulness. Now the healer, the healed, and the healing process are not three separate entities."
Here's what else she knows now.

Breathing heals; time doesn't. It's a myth to say that time can heal. Time cannot heal. Breathing and mindfulness can. [Long after a traumatic event happens to you,] a sight, a sound, a smell, a taste, a touch can trigger the complete stress response as though it's happening all over again. What saved me was the mindfulness of breathing. Sometimes I would lie down to breathe and put my hands on my belly to slow it down and anchor my body. Through breathing, you learn to slow the stress response, the fight-flight-or-freeze response. If you can do that when going through a very intense experience, the next time you recall that trauma, you will do so with more peace, mindfulness, and clarity.
You can cultivate joy even when you're hurting. It's been 14 years since John died. I still miss him every day, but I have learned to cultivate joy and peace in each breath, even though I feel that pain. You have to do them both at the same time. It's like a garden: You have to take care of the weeds, but you also have to plant flowers. If you only weed, you'll be exhausted and lose hope. And if you plant enough flowers, eventually there will be less room for all the weeds.
"Applied Buddhism" means mindfulness happens all day. We're not saying you have to set out 1 hour a day to sit on a cushion. We're not saying quit your job and go live in the mountains. We're just saying if you eat, don't eat your projects. Don't eat your sadness. Don't eat the argument you just had. Just eat. If you walk, just walk. If you drive, drive. We have to choose again and again to be in the present moment. The moment you realize you are not being mindful, that's the moment you are mindful. And you come back to it again and again. It's a mental training.
You can keep the dead alive. When a person dies and you lose all your joy, then it is like you are making sure that person is as dead as possible. But you can learn to call on the spirit of that person for help and learn to see him or her around you. When I see a purple flower, I remember that John loved purple flowers, and I smile. That flower, in that moment, becomes him.
Mindfulness is powerful medicine. Mindfulness is the most effective preventive medicine there is, because it teaches you to care for yourself. Because you learn not to cause harm to yourself or others, physically, mentally, psychologically. I learned in medicine that so many of our illnesses are from lifestyle, and the biggest factor of our lifestyle is stress. Stress will bring on any illness. Diabetes runs in my family. My mother had it; my uncle had it. My brother, who is 4 years younger than I am, developed it in his mid-30s. I'm in my mid-40s now and I still don't have it. We can have a genetic predisposition, but our lifestyle can determine when an illness will manifest, if it will ever manifest.
Kind actions matter. In the Buddhist teaching, we talk about karma. Karma means actions, thoughts, speech. So really everything we do in life matters. You think, Oh, it doesn't mean anything to bend down and pick up a nickel and give it to the person who dropped it. You think, Oh, it doesn't mean anything to open the door for somebody. But you know what? Everything you do means everything. Every word you say to somebody or to yourself accumulates. Mindfulness allows us to make [more thoughtful choices in the moment]. And so we are more likely to have more positive and wholesome seeds in us to save us in daily life and very difficult moments.
Real medicine means being present. If a doctor learns to practice mindfulness, if she learns to do a walking meditation as she's going to the patient's room—gathering herself, truly present—and she walks in quietly, peacefully, that's already medicine. She's calm. She's not outside of her own body. The patient feels that attention, that tenderness, that care, that true presence. The patient is already soothed.
Published December 2013, Prevention
From Thich Nhat Hanh's Plum Village website. Enjoy!

The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings are the very essence of the Order of Interbeing. They are the torch lighting our path, the boat carrying us, the teacher guiding us. They allow us to touch the nature of interbeing in everything that is, and to see that our happiness is not separate from the happiness of others. Interbeing is not a theory; it is a reality that can be directly experienced by each of us at any moment. The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings help us cultivate concentration and insight which free us from fear and the illusion of a separate self.

The First Mindfulness Training: Openness

Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. We are committed to seeing the Buddhist teachings as a guiding means that help us learn to look deeply and develop understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for. We understand that fanaticism in its many forms is the result is the result of perceiving things in a dualistic or discriminative manner. We will train ourselves to look at everything with openness and the insight of interbeing in order to transform dogmatism and violence in ourselves and the world.

The Second Mindfulness Training: Non-Attachment to Views

Aware of the suffering created by attachment to views and wrong perceptions, we are determined to avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. We are committed to learning and practicing nonattachment from views and being open to other’s insights and experiences in order to benefit from the collective wisdom. Insight is revealed through the practice of compassionate listening, deep looking, and letting go of notions rather than through the accumulation of intellectual knowledge. We are aware that the knowledge we presently possess is not changeless, absolute truth. Truth is found in life, and we will observe life within and around us in every moment, ready to learn throughout our lives.

The Third Mindfulness Training: Freedom of Thought

Aware of the suffering brought about when we impose our view on others, we are determined not to force others, even our children, by any means whatsoever – such as authority, threat, money, propaganda, or indoctrination – to adopt our views. We are committed to respecting the rights of others to be different, to choose what to believe and how to decide. We will, however, learn to help others let go of and transform narrowness through loving speech and compassionate dialogue.

The Fourth Mindfulness Training; Awareness of Suffering

Aware that looking deeply at our own suffering can help us cultivate understanding and compassion, we are determined to come home to ourselves, to recognize, accept, embrace and listen to our own suffering with the energy of mindfulness. We will do our best not to run away from our own suffering or cover it up through consumption but practice conscious breathing and walking to look deeply into the roots of our suffering. We know we can only find the path leading to the transformation of suffering when we understand the roots of suffering. Once we have understood our own suffering, we will be able to understand the suffering of others. We are committed to finding ways, including personal contact and using the telephone, electronic, audiovisual, and other means to be with those who suffer, so we can help them transform their suffering into compassion, peace and joy.

The Fifth Mindfulness Training: Compassionate, Healthy Living

Aware that happiness is rooted in peace, solidity, freedom and compassion, we are determined not to accumulate wealth while millions are hungry and dying nor to take as the aim of our life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure, which can bring much suffering and despair. We will practice looking deeply into how we nourish our body and mind with edible foods, sense impressions, volition and consciousness. We are committed not to gamble or to use alcohol, drugs or any other products that bring toxins into our own and the collective body and consciousness such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books and conversations. We will consume in a way that preserves compassion, peace, joy, wellbeing in our bodies and consciousness and in the collective body and consciousness of our families, our society, and the earth.

The Sixth Mindfulness Training: Taking Care of Anger

Aware that anger blocks communication and creates suffering; we are committed to taking care of our energy of anger when it arises, to recognizing and transforming the seeds of anger that lie deep in our consciousness. When anger manifests, we are determined not to do or say anything, but to practice mindful breathing or mindful walking to acknowledge, embrace, and look deeply into our anger. We know that the roots of anger are not outside of ourselves but can be found in our wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in ourselves and the other person. By contemplating impermanence, we will be able to look with the eyes of compassion at ourselves and those we think are the cause of our anger, and to recognize the preciousness of our relationships. We will practice Right Diligence in order to nourish our capacity of understanding, love, joy and inclusiveness, gradually transforming our anger, violence, fear and helping others do the same.

The Seventh Mindfulness Training: Dwelling Happily in the Present Moment

Aware that life is available only in the present moment, we are committed to training ourselves to live deeply each moment of daily life. We will try not to lose ourselves in dispersion or be carried away by regrets about the past, worries about the future, or cravings, anger, or jealousy in the present. We will practice mindful breathing to be aware of what is happening in the here and now. We are determined to learn the art of mindful living by touching the wondrous, refreshing, and healing elements that are inside and around us, in all situations. In this way, we will be able to cultivate seeds of joy, peace, love, and understanding in ourselves, thus facilitating the work of transformation and healing in our consciousness. We are aware that happiness depends primarily on our mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that we can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that we already have more than enough conditions to be happy.
The Eighth Mindfulness TrainingTrue Community & Communication Aware that lack of communication always brings separation and suffering, we are committed to training ourselves in the practice of compassionate listening and loving speech. Knowing that true community is rooted in inclusiveness and in the concrete practice of harmony of views, thinking and speech, we will practice to share our understanding and experiences with members in our community in order to arrive at collective insight. We are determined to learn to listen deeply without judging or reacting, and refrain from uttering words that can create discord or cause the community to break. Whenever difficulties arise, we will remain in our Sangha and practice looking deeply into ourselves and others to recognize all the causes and conditions, including our own habit energies, that have brought about the difficulties. We will take responsibility for all the ways we may have contributed to the conflict and keep communication open. We will not behave as a victim but be active in finding ways to reconcile and resolve all conflicts however small.
The Ninth Mindfulness TrainingTruthful and Loving Speech Aware that words can create happiness or suffering, we are committed to learning to speak truthfully, lovingly and constructively. We will only use words that inspire joy, confidence and hope as well as promote reconciliation and peace in ourselves and among people. We will speak and listen in a way that can help ourselves and others to transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. We are determined not to say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people, nor to utter words that might cause division or hatred. We will protect the joy and harmony of our Sangha by refraining from speaking about the faults of another person in their absence and always ask ourselves whether our perceptions are correct. We will speak only with the intention to understand and help transform the situation. We will not spread rumors nor criticize or condemn things of which we are not sure. We will do our best to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may make difficulties for us or threaten our safety.
The Tenth Mindfulness TrainingProtecting and Nourishing the Sangha Aware that the essence and aim of a Sangha is the practice of understanding and compassion, we are determined not to use the Buddhist community for personal power or profit or transform our community into a political instrument. However, as members of a spiritual community, we should take a clear stand against oppression and injustice. We should strive to change the situation, without taking sides in a conflict. We are committed to looking with the eyes of interbeing and learning to see ourselves and others as cells in one Sangha body. As a true cell in the Sangha body, generating mindfulness, concentration and insight to nourish ourselves and the whole community, each of us is at the same time a cell in the Buddha body. We will actively build brotherhood and sisterhood, flow as a river, and practice to develop the three real powers – love, understanding and cutting through afflictions – to realize collective awakening.
The Eleventh Mindfulness TrainingRight Livelihood Aware that great violence and injustice have been done to our environment and society, we are committed not to live with a vocation that is harmful to humans or nature. We will do our best to select a livelihood that contributes to the wellbeing of all species on earth and helps realize our ideal of understanding and compassion. Aware of economic, political and social realities around the world, as well as our interrelationship with ecosystem, we are determined to behave responsibly as consumers and citizens. We will not invest in or purchase from companies that contribute to the depletion of natural resources, harm the earth; and deprive others of the chance to live.
The Twelfth Mindfulness TrainingReverence for Life Aware that much suffering is caused by war and conflict, we are determined to cultivate nonviolence, compassion and the insight of interbeing in our daily lives and promote peace, education, mindful meditation, and reconciliation within families, communities, ethnic and religious groups, nations, and in the world. We are committed not to kill and not to let others kill. We will not support any act of killing in the world, in our thinking or in our way of life. We will diligently practice deep looking with our Sangha to discover better ways to protect life, prevent war, and build peace.
The Thirteenth Mindfulness TrainingGenerosity Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing and oppression, we are committed to cultivating generosity in our way of thinking, speaking, and acting. We will learn better ways to work for the well-being of people, animals, plants and minerals and practice generosity by sharing our time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need. We are determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others. We will respect the property of others, but will try to prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other beings.
The Fourteenth Mindfulness TrainingRight Conduct [For lay members]: Aware that sexual desire is not love and that sexual relations motivated by craving cannot dissipate the feeling of loneliness but will create more suffering, frustration and isolation, we are determined not to engage in sexual relations without mutual understanding, love, and a deep long-term commitment made known to our family and friends. Seeing that the body and mind are one, we are committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of our sexual energy and to cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy, and inclusiveness for our own happiness and the happiness of others. We must be aware of future suffering that may be caused by sexual relations. We know that to preserve the happiness of ourselves and others, we must respect the rights and commitments of ourselves and others. We will do everything in our power to protect children from sexual abuse and to protect couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. We will treat our bodies with compassion and respect. We are determined to look deeply into the Four Nutriments and learn ways to preserve and channel our vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realization of our bodhisattva ideal. We will be fully aware of the responsibility of bringing new lives into the world, and will meditate upon their future environment.