How to Love (Mindful Essentials): 3 (Mindfulness Essentials)

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How to Love (Mindful Essentials): 3 (Mindfulness Essentials)

How to Love (Mindful Essentials): 3 (Mindfulness Essentials)

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In true love, there’s no more separation or discrimination. His happiness is your happiness. Your suffering is his suffering. You can no longer say, “That’s your problem.” When I drink a glass of water, I invest one hundred percent of myself in drinking it. You can train yourself to live every moment of your daily life like that.

If you have enough understanding and love, then every moment — whether it’s spent making breakfast, driving the car, watering the garden, or doing anything else in your day — can be a moment of joy.Compassion is the capacity to understand the suffering in oneself and in the other person. If you understand your own suffering, you can help him to understand his suffering. Understanding suffering brings compassion and relief. Finally, look at your consciousness. According to Buddhism, consciousness is like a field with every possible kind of seed in it: seeds of love, compassion, joy, and equanimity; seeds of anger, fear, and anxiety; and seeds of mindfulness. Consciousness is the storehouse that contains all these seeds, all the possibilities of whatever might arise in your mind. When your mind is not at peace, it may be because of the desires and feelings in your store consciousness. To live in peace, you have to be aware of your tendencies—your habit energies—so you can exercise some self-control. This is the practice of preventive health care. Look deeply into the nature of your feelings to find their roots, to see which feelings need to be transformed, and nourish those feelings that bring about peace, joy, and well-being. Simple though this mantra might seem, he reminds us that actually cultivating the capacity for it — the capacity for presence, which is where our capacity for love resides — is intensely difficult against the tidal wave of demand and distraction that sweeps everyday life and sweeps us along with it, leaving us always on the brink of drowning, bereft of what Emerson celebrated as “the power to swell the moment from the resources of our own heart until it supersedes sun & moon & solar system in its expanding immensity.” Solar System quilt by Ellen Harding Baker, 1876. Available as a print and a face mask.

Learning to meet this mystery with the full realness of our being — to show up for it with absolute clarity of intention — is the dance of life. Loving someone doesn’t mean saying “yes” to whatever the other person wants. The basis of loving someone else is to know yourself and to know what you need Look into your body to see whether it is at peace or is suffering from illness. Look at the condition of your lungs, your heart, your intestines, your kidneys, and your liver to see what the real needs of your body are. When you do, you will eat, drink, and act in ways that demonstrate your love and your compassion for your body. Usually you follow ingrained habits. But when you look deeply, you see that many of these habits harm your body and mind, so you work to transform your habits in ways conducive to good health and vitality. When you love someone, you have to have trust and confidence. Love without trust is not yet love. Of course, first you have to have trust, respect, and confidence in yourself. Trust that you have a good and compassionate nature. You are part of the universe; you are made of stars. When you look at your loved one, you see that he is also made of stars and carries eternity inside. Looking in this way, we naturally feel reverence. True love cannot be without trust and respect for oneself and for the other person. Illustration by Julie Paschkis from Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown Thich Nhat Hanh quotes The ocean of suffering is immense, but if you turn around, you can see the land.

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Illustration from The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, Shel Silverstein’s minimalist allegory of true love Again, we begin with ourselves to understand our own true nature. As long as we reject ourselves and continue to harm our own body and mind, there’s no point in talking about loving and accepting others. With mindfulness we will be able to recognize our habitual ways of thinking and the contents of our thoughts. We shine the light of mindfulness on the neural pathways in our mind so we can see them clearly. The essence of loving kindness is being able to offer happiness. You can be the sunshine for another person. You can’t offer happiness until you have it for yourself. So build a home inside by accepting yourself and learning to love and heal yourself. Learn how to practice mindfulness in such a way that you can create moments of happiness and joy for your own nourishment. Then you have something to offer the other person. Thich Nhat Hanh shows us how we can use loving relationships to cultivate the seeds of buddhahood inside us. After the Honeymoon



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