Thursday Evening “Silver Spring Community” Online Program
December 16, 2021, 7:00 to 8:45 pm
Friday Evening “Open-to-All” Online Program
December 17, 2021, 7:00 to 8:45 pm
Dear Still Water Friends,
This week we will complete our series on The Five Mindfulness Trainings by considering the Fifth Training, Nourishment and Healing
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and wellbeing in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society, and the Earth.
This training encourages us to care for ourselves and to live our lives in a way that will “preserves peace, joy, and well-being” in our own body and consciousness and “in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society, and the Earth.” The call here is to be mindful about our environment, realizing that all of the things we consume have an impact on us and affect the way we think and live. Time spent in mindfulness and meditation gives us insight into our habits.
When I first encountered the Five Mindfulness Trainings, about 20 years ago, I was mired in patterns of unhealthy consumption. I mindlessly watched TV programs that did not nourish me or promote healing. This was my strategy to cover up discomfort and pain in my life. Through mindfulness practice, I was finally able to see that my unhealthy consumption created more anxiety and a greater need for distraction. I also used food, shopping, and gossip as ways to cover up my unpleasant feelings.
My first encounter with the Five Mindfulness Trainings was challenging because I came from a religious tradition of strict rules about what we should do and not do and I first saw the trainings in this light. Over time, I have come to realize that the Trainings are a pathway to more freedom, joy, and peace in my life. They are a way to healing. On the Plum Village website, the introduction to the Five Mindfulness Trainings clarifies that, “Rather than hard and fast rules, they offer us a framework to reflect on our actions, speech and thinking so we can create more happiness for ourself and for the world around us.”
Over time, my thinking, perceptions, and habits around consumption have changed in tangible ways. I have learned to care for myself. I see that my inner life, my quiet time, and my daily practice of meditation positively affect my actions. Instead of imposing a list of rules on myself, I see the changes coming from within.
In an excerpt from a Dharma talk on May 3, 2002 that we will listen to this Thursday and Friday evenings, Thay talks about the value of learning how to be. He goes on to say, “And if you know the art of being peace, of being silent, then you have the ground for every action, because the ground for action is to be. And the quality of being determines the quality of doing. Action must be based on non-action.”
In my experience, learning how to slow down and just “be” has helped me grow and heal from the inside out.
I invite you to consider these three questions:
- What reactions or responses arise when I try to apply this mindfulness training?
- How does my body feel when I consume in a way that may not be healthy for me?
- Are there ways I can better care for myself?
I look forward to being with you this Thursday and Friday evenings,
A related reading from The Mindfulness Survival Kit by Thich Nhat Hanh is below.
In love and peace,
Upcoming Still Water Events and Program Changes:
- December 23rd, 24th, 30th and 31st — The Silver Spring Thursday evening and the Open to All Friday evening programs will not be held during the last two weeks of 2021.
- On Saturday, January 1st, there will be a Still Water New Year’s Day Walk and Celebration at the Audubon Naturalist Society’s Woodend Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, Maryland, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm. This is a chance to meet with friends and receive your Tao and Pooh oracles for 2022. Please register online through our website.
- Saturday, January 8th, the Still Water Mindfulness Practice Center will join with the Mindfulness Practice Center of Fairfax for the online Transmission of the Five Mindfulness Trainings. The event will begin at 9:00 am and end before noon (Eastern time). Prior registration is required.
- January 20th, the Silver Spring Thursday evening and the Open to All Friday evening program will merge into one Thursday evening group. All practitioners currently registered for the Friday evening group are invited to attend on Thursday evening. (Zoom link for the Thursday night group will be sent to all practitioners currently registered for the Friday evening group.)
from The Mindfulness Survival Kit by Thich Nhat Hanh
There are animals that are ruminants, like water buffalo and cows. After chewing and swallowing, they bring up the food again and they chew and swallow it again. There are people who continue to consume the suffering of the past in that way. They spend their time during the day ruminating over their own suffering from the past.The practice of mindfulness can help us get out of that prison and begin to learn how to live our lives in the present moment. If we are aware that we’re replaying the past, we can make a concentrated effort to notice something that is healthy and wonderful right in front of us at that very moment. It might be a part of our body that is working well and not aching; it may be the blue sky or the softness of a pillow under our head. If we breathe and pay attention to this wonderful thing that is present with us right now, then the movie will recede and lose some of its power, as if it no longer is being fed the electricity it needs to keep going.
You can even take the hand of the wounded child within you and invite her to come with you into the present moment. This can be very nourishing and healing. It will make you stronger so that later on when you want to look into the past you can do so with more perspective, while remaining firmly grounded in the present moment. This way you don’t lose yourself in the sorrows of the past.
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