“You Must Be ‘Present’ to Win” the ‘Prize’ of Mindfulness Practice

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<ears of Plum Village life has helped me to learn so much and has helped the Sangha of Plum Village to grow up so much.” (From "Reflections on twenty years of Plum Village Life.")

For me, one of the prizes of mindfulness practice, especially when it is sustained over time, is the capacity it has to help transform ‘negative’ or difficult emotions by allowing us to touch them deeply rather than try to push them down or escape from them. The other side of the prize is that dwelling in the present moment when ‘positive’ emotions arise is like doubling your winnings: and in the present moment happiness seems more beautiful, more rich, more alive.

Now, the practice of being present comes more easily to me. The more I am able to return to the present moment when I catch myself drifting off or escaping from something arising, I am able to see what is happening and return to the present moment. I am also able to experience joy more readily and find it in day-to-day things and in unexpected ways. For me, this is the ‘prize’ of mindfulness: you must be ‘present’ to win.

You are invited to be with us this Thursday evening.

Our evening will begin at 6:30 with a brief orientation to mindfulness practice and the Still Water community. (If you would like to attend the orientation, please let us know by emailing us at info@StillWaterMPC.org.)

In the excerpt below, Thich Nhat Hanh addresses the origin of our restlessness.

A list of upcoming Still Water special events is also below.

Warm wishes,

Maria Sgambati

Committing to Practice: An “At Home” Week Of Intensive Practice, Sunday, October 16- Sunday, October 23, 2011, at Blueberry Gardens In Ashton, Maryland, and at home.

Embracing Ourselves, Embracing Our World Workshop, Sunday afternoon, November 6, 2011, in Columbia, Maryland

Deepening Our Practice–Bringing More Joy, Understanding, Love, and Compassion into our Lives, 5 Saturday mornings, November 5 – December 17, 2011, in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Living Our Practice: Still Water Fall Community Retreat, November 11-13, 2011, at the Charter Hall Retreat Center, Perryville, Maryland.

The Art of Mindful Living by Thich Nhat Hanh

(from the Plum Village website – www.plumvillage.org/art-of-mindful-living.html)

Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly alive, present and at one with those around you and with what you are doing. We bring our body and mind into harmony while we wash the dishes, drive the car or take our morning shower.

Here in Plum Village, we do very much the same things as when we are at home- walking, sitting, working, eating, etc.- except now we learn to do them with mindfulness, with an awareness that we are doing it. We practice mindfulness throughout every moment of the day and not just in the meditation hall, but also in the kitchen, the toilet, in our rooms and on the path leading from one place to another.

In practicing together as a Sangha, as a community, our practice of mindfulness becomes more joyful, relaxed and steady. We are bells of mindfulness for each other, supporting and reminding each other along the path of practice. With the support of the community, we can practice to cultivate peace and joy within and around us, as a gift for all of those whom we love and care for. We can cultivate our solidity and freedom – solid in our deepest aspiration and free from our fears, misunderstandings and our suffering.

Dear friends, let us try to be intelligent and skillful in our practice, approaching every aspect of the practice with curiosity and a sense of search. Let us practice with understanding and not just for the form and appearance. Enjoy your practice here with a relaxed and gentle attitude, with an open mind and receptive heart.

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