Near the mountain, there is a lake with clear, still water reflecting the mountain and the sky with pristine clarity. You can do the same. If you are calm and still enough, you can reflect the mountain, the blue sky, and the moon exactly as they are. You reflect whatever you see exactly as it is, without distorting anything.
Have you ever seen yourself in a mirror that distorts the image? Your face is long, your eyes are huge, and your legs are really short. Don’t be like that mirror. It is better to be like the still water on the mountain lake.
We often do not reflect things clearly, and we suffer because of our wrong perceptions. Suppose you are walking in the twilight and see a snake. You scream and run into the house to get your friends, and all of you run outside with a flashlight. But when you shine your light on the snake, you discover that it isn’t a snake at all, just a piece of rope. This is a distorted perception.
We need to make our water still if we want to receive reality as it is.
When we see things or listen to other people, we often don’t see clearly or really listen. We see and hear our projections and our prejudices. We are not clear enough, and we have a wrong perception. Even if our friend is giving us a compliment, we may argue with him because we distort what he says.
If we are not calm, if we only listen to our hopes or our anger, we will not be able to receive the truth that is trying to reflect itself on our lake. We need to make our water still if we want to receive reality as it is. If you feel agitated, don’t do or say anything. Just breathe in and out until you are calm enough. Then ask your friend to repeat what he has said. This will avoid a lot of damage. Stillness is the foundation of understanding and insight. Stillness is strength.
Thich Nhat Hanh from “Touching Peace: Practicing the Art of Mindful Living"
Suitable for newcomers and experienced practitioners, these guided practice sessions occur every weekday with Plum Village UK.
Start Your Day in Stillness
Mondays & Wednesdays, 06.15 – 07.00
Simple Plum Village meditation practices for a calm, relaxed start to the day offered by UK lay Dharma Teacher, Teri West.
Beginning the Day with Love
Tuesdays & Thursdays, 07.30 – 08.15
(Update: Currently every Monday to Friday)
Gentle love meditations to start the day with freshness and warmth. Offered by UK lay Dharma Teacher, Vari McLuskie.
In both sessions we nourish love for ourselves and others. On Thursdays we nourish love for ourselves in more depth.
Also, on Thursday, 22nd April, Vari will facilitate an Earth Love Meditation Session. We will practice Love Meditation and enjoy listening to some of the Love Letters to the Earth.
Guided Meditation, short slow walking meditation, a reading from Thay
Fridays, 06.15 – 07.00
Guided meditations from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book “The Blooming of a Lotus,” helping us to meet ourselves where we are and to develop our understanding and compassion. Whatever your tradition you are welcome to join. Guided by Plum Village monastic, Sister Tam Muoi.
How to attend
Plum Village UK uses Zoom webinars, so you can enjoy the benefits of guided community practice in your own home.
Additionally, clinical evidence has shown that mindfulness meditation, when practiced regularly, can also reduce the inflammation response that’s caused by stress.
Metta meditation can take this even further, according to meditation practitioners. As you develop self-compassion, you perceive yourself in a more positive light. This promotes emotions like love and gratitude.
These emotions can increase your level of life satisfaction, thus reducing stress and anxiety.
3. Reduces physical pain
There’s some evidence that metta meditation can decrease some types of physical pain.
A 2014 studyTrusted Source found a similar effect in people with frequent migraine attacks. The researchers in both studies attributed the lower pain levels to the stress-relieving effect of metta meditation. Emotional stress, after all, can worsen physical pain.
Negative emotions can also reduce your tolerance for pain. Positive emotions, like those cultivated through metta meditation, have the opposite effect.
4. Improves longevity
Telomeres are DNA structures at the ends of each chromosome. They work to protect genetic information.
As we get older, our telomeres naturally shorten. Chronic stress can speed up this process, causing faster biological aging.
Stress-relieving activities, like metta meditation, can ease this effect. A small 2013 studyTrusted Source found that metta meditation is associated with longer telomere length. The researchers speculated that the practice could help improve longevity.
Last night four of us gathered via Zoom - one person who has been a member of the sangha for nearly 20 years, another for 7 and a new person. The format for the meeting was the one we have been following for almost a year. We started with a quick check in - 'internal weather, external weather', followed by a guided mindfulness meditation. Then time for walking (or sitting quietly or tea-drinking meditation). Then guided Metta meditation and, finally, the opportunity for speaking from the heart.
It's a troubling time just now - in the world and in people's lives. So we were grateful to share a time of peace, friendship and tranquility, bringing us back to our True Home.
The Tree of Life sangha are meeting on-line again this evening. My own practice has changed recently as I continue looking at what works for me, what can be reclaimed or redefined. Wanting to offer what benefits the sangha and is also authentic. So I'm going to share practice based on the 'Meditation For Relaxation' sessions I used to offer at Newcastle University - phrases from Thich Nhat Hahn's "The Blooming of a Lotus", some walking meditation, Metta meditation, sitting. Those who wish can chant during the walking meditation time. We will follow this with time for sharing and deep listening to each other.