Hello 2020! Wow, this is going to be big year. The Paris climate targets mature this year, the upcoming US election is just around the corner (ugh), and yet at same time there is always so much to be grateful for. Over the last year, I’ve been studying the teachings of Zen Buddhist Thich Nhat Hahn. This practice has allowed me to balance the light, (like a gratitude practice), and dark, (like this coming election) in a more calm, clear and productive way.
The teaching in their essence are so simple – if we can learn to look at ourselves with tenderness and compassion, we will show up in the world a more loving and kind person.
What if instead of going there, to self-criticism you tried to thank yourself for all the things you’ve done right?
Of course, self-tenderness doesn’t come easily to anyone I know – you know those tapes that run in our heads enumerating our infinite flaws, everything we’ve done wrong? Think about this, what if instead of going there, to self-criticism you tried to thank yourself for all the things you’ve done right? Wild idea right?
Thich Nhat Hanh’s five mindfulness trainings have given me a guiding framework for living a compassionate life, yes I can actually thank myself now! Within a years time, I feel transformed. Being kinder to myself has made all my relationships better (ok, well most of them.) and I’m a more happy, healthy and balanced human, it really works.
If you’re looking to find more calm this year, to quiet those negative tapes, I encourage you to look into his Buddhist teachings, you can find more on the TNH website which will be linked below, but here are the 5 mindfulness trainings to get you started, (with a little narration from yours truly).
1. Reverence for Life: decrease violence in oneself, in family and in society. For me, this is an opportunity to think through the consequences of my actions, i.e. everything I eat, buy, and interact with. This is timely teaching, too, about accepting other people’s point of view, accepting they are on a path that may not align with mine. That is harder for me. WIP.
2. True happiness: practice social justice, generosity, non-stealing, and not exploiting other living beings. A life dedicated to social and environmental justice has always been a no-brainer for me. I was born into exceptional privilege because I am a white, American human. I am aware that I didn’t earn it, and I do not deserve it. I don’t really see myself as any different from a tree or another person. Ultimately, we are made of the same stuff - we are stardust, billion-year old carbon… How we treat each other is a usually a reflection of how we feel about ourselves.
3. True Love; practice responsible sexual behavior to protect individuals, families, and children. This one is always controversial! Here’s what I get from it - sex tends to be the loudest voice in the room and drowns out the other ways we connect with a person. I'm thinking its a good idea to know what I want from a partner before turning up the volume.
4. Loving speech and deep listening: practice deep listening and loving speech to restore communication and reconcile. I love this one the most because I hear people gossiping and judging each other all the time. I think its one of the most toxic influences in the world. When I find myself doing it, I try to at least acknowledge it and look deeply into why I am doing it – what am I trying to accomplish? Am I trying to connect with someone by trash talking someone else? Surely there is a better way to connect. In my meditation group, we practice sharing and deep listening by not responding to or fixing each other. Its a beautiful gift. Usually, when I’m not listening, its because I’m so anxious about what I’m going to say or I’m self-conscious about what the other person is thinking. I’ve found compassion and kindness to be excellent motivations for letting go of self-consciousness.
5.Nourishment and healing: practice mindful consumption for the body and mind. Everything we consume through all of our senses has an impact on our well-being. This came up during a retreat I was on at the start of the year. Several people were torn between wanting to be aware of what was going on in the world and feeling that the news media was toxic. We can’t (and shouldn’t) avoid all the ugliness, but we can find a nourishing balance by making it a practice to consume what truly heals us like good food, art, or nature.
CURA's heart is rooted in service. We're just as motivated to provide you with beautiful ethical products as we are to provide the resources to show up for yourselves. The better you feel about you, the greater your ability to show up for others and the world.
To that end join us February 13th for some sacred self-love, mindfulness practice time, lead by the yogi and coach Audrey Sutton Mills. We will enjoy the grounding senses of CBD sipping chocolate by our dear friends of Two Cranes Botanicals, bites provided by CURA & 100% of ticket proceeds will go to support Mary’s Place a Seattle based non-profit that supports homeless women and children. To learn more and secure a space sign up here
A couple of our very favorite people in the world are dads … and/but Father’s Day can often be a little complicated (right?). It’s that way for our friend and colleague Laura Sullivan Cassidy - who told us that after her father died in 2016, she began using the yearly pre-solstice tradition to get extra curious about the divine masculine.
Artwork by Ojih Odutola.