My Breathing In & Five Mindfulness Trainings

   I am constantly in a state of mental thought process. Things go zooming and zipping past me in so many directions sometimes it’s overwhelming. Some would consider it a curse to have their mind constantly in three, four, even five places at once! But, I have grown to accept it. Not ignore or push it aside, but embrace it. Many times I write down my racing thoughts either in pen and paper or on a word document. It is refreshing to me to see my thoughts in black and white, weather scribbled or nicely printed on printer paper. None the less, I do have reservations. My one and only one is, when do I let my thoughts be known? When do I post my thoughts that I feel are appropriate and well formed to a blog or website? And I have realized after much reflection that I constantly make the excuse of, “Well, is it the time to?” I have that thought and I seem to hide behind it and push the words back into their book or file folder. But, after having a conversation with a dear friend she brought it to my attention that it is time to just be me. Let my words flow and let others see them. And keep the mantra that those who need to see it, will see it. Thus, I open….

During my journey that started in September with a suicide attempt, I began a journey much deeper than anyone around me knew. The exact moment of the journey beginning I cannot pinpoint, but the journey started swiftly and moved quickly, at least to my earthly mind. Along with opening myself up to holistic and spiritual health, I opened myself up to divine guidance. And by divine guidance I mean speaking to God, angels, celestial beings, energy, and all of nature around me. I plunged into a new thought process in a very short amount of time. I went from the daily grind of a 50+ hour work week, overnights, and spending very little time with my wife and son to being at home, working on my health, starting a home business, and working on my spirituality and emotional health. And I intuitively knew that it was the spiritual and emotional healing that had to be the foundation of where I began.

I prayed all the time. Constantly praying, asking, speaking, and kept on relentlessly. One day after taking a nap, I woke up and saw a picture of a book I knew rested on my bookshelf. It was the book, Peace is Every Step, by Thich Nhat Hanh. I had read the book before while in a completely different mindset. I sat down with the book, opened to the first chapter and immediately stopped. I read the title of the chapter and I suddenly saw it. The title was, Breathe! You Are Alive – Twenty-Four Brand-New Hours. And I sat there. The word breathe literally looked as if it was raising off the page. I read the first paragraph and I felt a welling up within me that the words I was reading were not just words in a book, they were divine words written by a very holy person, the paragraph read;

Every morning, when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand new hours to live. What a precious gift! We have the capacity to line in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others.

The words and teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh was nothing new to me. The Dallas Meditation Center which I attended before my September break down is a follower of Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings which is based directly on Buddhist philosophy. But, after coming directly from an experience that kept me in constant prayer and speaking, I realized that there was something much more powerful. The breath, and the silence that accompanies it. I sat there and simply breathed. In…..Out…..In….Out. And with each breath, on the in breath, I said “In”, and on the out breath I said “out”. And I had a realization for myself.

My realization was nothing new, nothing profound, but to me it was. It was taking my normal ritual of constantly and repeatedly praying, “God, help me get over anxiety,” “God, please help my depression leave,” “Help me not have a panic attack.” And instead, declare, “God, I have no anxiety.” And simply at that point stopping and instead of continuing saying the words over and over, focusing on the breath that God gave me. And that was where I stood. I ended the chatter in my head and focused on my breath, holding it deeply in my soul, and giving reverence to God and the teachers that have shown the sullen peace that comes from the focus of the breath.

This realization to me was not degrading or pushing prayer aside, because I know prayer does amazing things. What I realized was that once a prayer has been said, that is it. Declare it, move on, and focus on what God has given you, your breath, your here, your now. There is no need to continue repeating the same thing over and over. God knows your mind, heart, and inner desires. By stopping your mind, focusing on the breath God gave you, you are giving reverence to the greatness of the universe and letting the rest pass by in peace, joy, and tranquility.

I began digging into many philosophies and practices of meditating on the breath, and I continued to be directed back to Buddhist teachings. I was already well aware that many people in Western Countries construe that Buddhists worship the Buddha as a God. Which is in fact 100% wrong, and in all actuality a complete 180 degree from the reality. But, delving into Buddhist philosophy is for another article. None the less, Buddhist teachings are the passing down of thoughts and practices made known by Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha). It is living in the now. Living in the present. Breathing in the moment and knowing you are breathing. Because I realized that it was this that lifted my spirit and soul closer to God. For this I could be nothing but grateful.

I was introduced to the Five Mindfulness Trainings taught by Thich Nhat Hanh which is taken directly from the Buddhas Four Noble Truths and Eight Fold Path. Within the teachings I found what I had known to be true my entire life. Even as far back as my early childhood I knew that judgement and degredation of others was not a way to peace within oneself. Because every word you utter, good or bad, is directed straight back to yourself. If you say, “That person is going to hell!” or “They are wrong!” or any number of dogmatic utterances are only coming directly back to your own person. Your own inner self and subconscious mind is taking that on in itself. That is no way to interact with the world and with others, and that is no way to walk. That is definitely not the way to breath. Can you imagine taking those words and continually meditating and breathing thinking of them? That would be horrible. I cannot even imagine nor do I want to try.

After being introduced to these trainings and delving into them heart, soul, and mind, I was made aware of the fact that someone who directly has worked and learned under Thich Nhat Hanh and what in the Western Countries would be known as a “Ordained Teacher” in sorts, was coming up to Dallas from Austin. This lady is actually the only ordained teacher in the state of Texas. I was blessed on Tuesday, March 24th, to be given the transmission of the Five Mindfulness Trainings by Terry Vega. This was done for the young adult group which ranges in ages from 18 to late 20’s. There was laughter, tears, joy, and peace. People renounced drinking and doing harmful drugs, others proclaimed a year of celibacy, and some simply took on the teachings to follow. But what I saw was truly beautiful. To see such a large group of such young adults doing such things shows the direction our youth is going and it is truly good and healing.

To me this is simply a profession of following the 5 principles of, Reference for Life, True Happiness, True Love, Deep Listening and Loving Speech, and Nourishment and Healing. I follow these because they are teachings and followings that bring peace to all, happiness to all, and loving to all. I hope to be a good follower and hold true to these. I know I will falter, as is said in the teachings themselves, but what is important is getting back up, breathing and staying mindful, and taking the next step towards being the person you can be for God.

Blessings, Peace, and Breath

Matt S.

Below are the 5 Mindfulness Trainings:

  1. The First Mindfulness Training — Reverence For Life
    Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life. Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non-attachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world.
  2. The Second Mindfulness Training — True Happiness
    Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking, and acting. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others; and I will share my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need. I will practice looking deeply to see that the happiness and suffering of others are not separate from my own happiness and suffering; that true happiness is not possible without understanding and compassion; and that running after wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair. I am aware that happiness depends on my mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that I can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy. I am committed to practicing Right Livelihood so that I can help reduce the suffering of living beings on Earth and reverse the process of global warming.
  3. The Third Mindfulness Training — True Love:
    Aware of the suffering caused by sexual irresponsibility, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. Knowing that sexual desire is not the same as love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving can harm myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without mutual understanding, true care, deep respect, and a loving commitment to the long-term wellbeing of myself and others, in harmony with my family and friends. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual irresponsibility. Seeing that body and mind are one, I am committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of my sexual energy and cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness – which are the four basic elements of true love – for my greater happiness and the greater happiness of others. Practicing true love, we know that we will continue beautifully into the future.
  4. The Fourth Mindfulness Training — Loving Speech and Deep Listening
    Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope. When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into my anger. I know that the roots of anger can be found in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in myself and in the other person. I will speak and listen in a way that can help myself and the other person to transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division or discord. I will practice Right Diligence to nourish my capacity for understanding, love, joy, and inclusiveness, and gradually transform anger, violence, and fear that lie deep in my consciousness.
  5. The Fifth Mindfulness 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 ingest any intoxicants, nor to gamble or to use 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 well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth.