By now, you may have heard of the Buddhist teaching called mindfulness. Its purpose is to help us manage and take control of our thoughts, which will lead to managing our suffering, our pain, and our discomfort. In this teaching, we learn that the present moment is the only moment. The moment from the past is gone; the moment from the future is not yet here. Yet, the mind is always looking to avoid the present moment unless we’re deeply involved in something we enjoy. Being deeply enraptured by something good or pleasant doesn’t happen all day every day, so mastering mindfulness helps us get through those more difficult times.
This practice once helped me to heal an incredible pain, but it didn’t happen overnight. It took daily practicing, moment by moment practicing for months of training, to again and again, bring my mind to the present moment. Instead of taking several years to transform the pain, it took a few months; what a relief, what a gift. Thankfully, I have learned this technique of controlling the mind and the emotions because it has served me well during other difficult twists and turns that came my way. The good thing is that once you’ve mastered the mindfulness practice, you can always call on it to get you through any of life’s challenges.
I would listen to the Buddhist master and deep thinker Thich Nhat Hanh, who isn’t a lively “personality” wowing you with charm, swagger, and obvious charisma. Instead, if you’re willing to lean in, Thay (the Vietnamese word for teacher) will open your mind and your heart with his undeniable authenticity, as he so eloquently and elegantly interprets the teachings of the Buddha. He reminds us that understanding is another word for love and that we should all have compassion for both ourselves and others. Unfortunately, Thich Nhat Hanh had a stroke in 2014 and is no longer able to speak. However, I believe that with the hundreds of video recordings of his teachings, he has already said it all.
What I enjoy about Buddhism it that it is more like a philosophy or spiritual tradition, than a religion. So, no matter what faith you practice, mindfulness can help you manage your mind and your thoughts, which can lead you to live life as a better Christian, Muslim, Jew, etc., a life of less pain, stress, or discomfort. As Thich Nhat Hanh informs us, when we suffer less, we cause less suffering for others. Here is the link to a short video of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, on “Staying in the Present Moment.” This link is to a longer version of the mindfulness teachings.