Category Archives: Meditation

The Breathing Room

This talk from the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village is dated Thursday, March 27, 2014. The talk on this day is in English.

14:44 The Breathing Room
22:54 Inviting the Bell
33:10 Conditions of Happiness
43:30 Mindfulness of Suffering

Thich Nhat Hanh begins with a recollection of a retreat for children. During walking meditation, we proposed they use “yes, yes” and “thanks, thanks” for each of their steps. We can say yes and feel thankful. There are so many things we can say yes to. We can appreciate these things – our body, our eyes, etc. With our eyes we can see the blue sky and the mountains. The practice is breathing in, I am aware of my eyes and am grateful they are in good condition. We do the same with other parts of our body. Like our heart. With this awareness, we can take better care of our body and allow it to be restored. In the “Sutra on the Contemplations of the Body” the Buddha taught us how to look at all the parts of the body. We use mindfulness to project light onto every part of our body. This can bring us happiness, love, and compassion. Thay provides more instruction on this practice.

If you are a leader of a corporation, you may wish to incorporate and offer a session of total relaxation. This is not a loss of time. The same can be done by a school teacher for the students. Parents too, if they know the practice, can offer a session for the family. In a civilized society this can be very good. We can also create a tiny meditation hall in the home; a space where the bell can be located and we can practice in a safe space. Every time you feel restless or confused or irritated, we can walk to that place – the breathing room – and stop all the thinking and calm our body and mind. Thay recalls a story of how to open/close the door when he was a young novice that he then relayed to Thomas Merton.

In our small breathing room, we should also have a bell. This is a territory of mindfulness. There are four lines to learn when inviting the bell after we breath in and out three times before Inviting the Bell. Thay teaches us how to invite the bell and why mindful breathing is so important.

There are many conditions of happiness. In Buddhism, we have many versus to help us practice mindfulness. For example, for when turning on the water faucet. Are you aware of your conditions of happiness? Teaching continues on how this related to the breathing room and why it’s important for the family. This is the art of happiness.

This is part of the 7th & 8th mindfulness exercises in the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Mindful Breathing. We should not run away from our suffering. We can learn from our suffering. This ties right into the Four Noble Truths. We can learn to listen to our suffering without fear without running away through consumption. With mindfulness we have the energy to take care of our suffering.

The practice of looking and listening deeply. Meditation is the time to look and listen to understand our suffering. This brings about understanding and compassion. If you know how to suffer, you suffer much less. You cannot take happiness out of suffering and cannot take suffering out of happiness.

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Nourishing Happiness

March 3, 2011. 72-minute Dharma Talk in French given by Thich Nhat Hanh at Assembly of Stars, Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, France. This is the second day of the 5-day French Retreat and the translation is provided by Sr. Pine. The English recording is missing just the first minute or two.

Nourishing happiness and taking care of our suffering with the energies of mindfulness, concentration, and insight. How we respond to suffering is what matters.

Embracing our suffering, looking deeply we see the source (the “food”) of that suffering. Everything needs food. Recognizing the sources of nourishment is the beginning of transformation and healing. Without “food” the suffering will die.

The Five Mindfulness Trainings are an expression of what can protect us.

In eating meditation, there are only two things to be aware of while eating. The food and the loved ones around you. Silence helps a lot. This to is a basis for happiness. The Five Contemplations.

The talk was given in French with English translation and is available below. There is a French recording as well as video version too.

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Teachings on Love

March 2, 2011. 100-minute Dharma Talk in French given by Thich Nhat Hanh at Assembly of Stars, Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, France. This is the second day of the 5-day French Retreat and the translation is provided by Sr. Pine.

Let’s love each other. In order to be there for each other, there is a practice. We have to stop all the inner talking. Practice breathing in with Mindfulness to bring our mind back the the body. To love is offering your presence.

The second mantra of Plum Village. I know you are there, and I am very happy. When I walk with the sangha, it is exactly the same because the sangha is my love.

Walking meditation together on the hill of the 21st century. Our collective energy can heal and transform us. To walk is to love. The same can be said about sitting meditation. Peace. Concentration. Happiness.

Thay discusses a story from the Little Prince followed by a review of Pebble Meditation that is taught to children.  Four pepples: Flower. Mountain. Still water. Space.

In true love, we should enjoy each other. It has been said, to love is not to look at each other, but to look in the same direction.

Elements of True Love. Maitri. Lovingkindness. Love is first friendship. To produce happiness. Karuna. Compassion. To transform suffering. Mudita. Joy. We offer joy to ourself and the. Upeksha. Equanimity. Absence of boundary. Non- discrimination. Your joy is my joy. These four elements are the Four Immeasurable Minds.

Love begins with myself.

The talk was given in French with English translation and is available below. There is a French recording as well as video version too.

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Orientation to Practice

September 8, 2010. 72-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh in Singapore during the Peaceful Mind, Open Heart Retreat at the Kong Meng San Pu Jue Zen Monastery. The talk is in English and the last portion is giving by Thay Phap Hai and Sr. Concentration. During the months of September and October, Thay will be traveling throughout Southeast Asia giving retreats and talks. This is the first stop.

The primary focus of this talk is to provide instructions for enjoying the retreat. The retreat is an opportunity to practice Applied Buddhism. We learn the basic practices such as listening to the bell, connecting body and mind, mindful walking, brushing our teeth, eating meditation, and more.

It is a short talk with a specific focus, but the reminders are good to bring home and practice wherever we are. Please enjoy.

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Healing Environment

April 22, 2010. This 75-minute dharma talk was given in French by Thich Nhat Hanh at Plum Village. The translation into English is lovely, with a clear and solid voice.

The themes in this talk include the four kinds of nourishment, mindful breathing, meditation practice, and karma. Though the these themes are common, and frequently covered by Thay, it continues to be nourishing. In fact, the section on meditation is very helpful as it provides specific guidelines for how to meditate. Always worth a reminder.

We can be as Buddha today by practicing mindfulness. There is an alliance between the body and the mind. The body can help the mind and the mind can help the body.

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