Tag Archives: Thich Nhat Hanh

Exercise 76: Resting in Peace

Background: In mourning the loss of the lovely Thich Nhat Hanh, I came across the following facebook post: “As Elizabeth rests in peace, I become a man of Peace. As Thay rests in Peace, I become a man of Peace. As Desmond Tutu rests in Peace, I become a man of Peace. As Jesus is the Prince of Peace, I become in Christ, a man of Peace. Let Peace walk before me. Let Peace come behind me, on the right and on the left, above and below, let there be Peace on Earth this night, and let it begin with me.”

The writer of those words is Bob Holmes. The Elizabeth mentioned at the beginning is the beloved wife who died one year ago. He also goes by the identifier “Contemplative Monk” on social media I was deeply moved by his way of expressing these ideas. It suggests to me that we might borrow some of the peace that our loved ones are resting in, that we might draw from it. I also connect with the idea that one of the ways are loved ones live on is through the ways their lives and deaths shape and challenge us.

In the process of asking Bob for his permission to use this as a template for a spiritual practice, I’ve got to know him a little better. I’ve always really enjoyed his content. It was exciting to know that there’s a good man behind the great thoughts. You ought to check it out here.

This practice will ask you to generate a mental (or physical) list of people who have died that impacted you. It might be someone you know. It might be someone famous. It could be ancestor, a historical or religious figure. Please show healthy discretion around engaging this practice. Faithing death is an important task that most of us recieve very little preperation for. I encourage you to challenge yourself, some, but beware of being too ambitious with trying to contend with deaths that are too new and raw in this way.

The Practice.

  1. Release your concenrns and worries for this time.
  2. Take three deep inhalations and exhalations.
  3. Spend some time bringing to mind the people close to you that have died. If you’re likely to forget names after thinking about them, it might be wise to right some down. Don’t rush this process.
  4. Inhale. Exhale.
  5. With your next inhale think, “As ____________ rests in peace….”
  6. exhale and think “I become a person of peace.”
  7. Repeat steps 4 through 7 either with the same person or the next person on your list.
  8. Sit with whatever feelings or sensations are with you right now. It might be feelings that considering the death of these people brings up. It might be feelings about death. It might be feelings of peace. It might be something else. It might be nothing at all. Consider releasing these feelings with your exhalations. Or discussing them with God. Or simply naming them and holding them close to your heart.

Exercise 23: The Five Remembrances

Background: It is amazing how much time and energy we give to running away.

Our business, our obsession with smart phones, with constantly filling the air with talking and music.  These seem to be an attempt to free ourselves from the realities of life.

The funny thing is that the realities of life are not so bad.  They just are.  There is not an alternative to them.  If we could actually deny them, it might almost be worth it.  But we never truly escape the things we know.  We just pretend we have escaped knowing them.

The Five Buddhist Remembrances are great reminders for people from any orientation.  The version used in today’s exercise comes via Thich Nhat Hanh.

 

Exercise

  1.  Place your feet flat on the floor.  As best you can, relax.
  2. Think the first remembrance, with your next inhale: I am of the nature to grow old.  There is no way to escape growing old.
  3.  For the exhale, and the whole next breath, embrace this reality.
  4. With your next inhale, think the second remembrance:   I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.
  5. For the exhale and the whole next breath, embrace this reality.
  6. With your next inhale, think the third remembrance: I am of the nature to die.  There is no way to escape death.
  7. For the exhale and the whole next breath, recognize this true.
  8. With your next inhale, embrace the fourth remembrance:  All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
  9. Exhale, and breathe your next breathe.  And accept this reality.
  10. With your next inhale, acknowledge this, the final Buddhist Remembrance:  My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.
  11. Release these words, and sit in the truth that you are facing.  Hopefully you feel freed by this.

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