Becoming Truly Alive
Becoming Truly Alive – this is a happy moment…- TAR College, KL.
“Happiness is Here and Now”
♫ Happiness is here and now,
I have dropped my worries.
Nowhere to go,
Nothing to do,
And I don’t need to hurry.
Happiness is here and now,
I have dropped my worries.
Somewhere to go,
Something to do,
But, I don’t need to hurry. ♫
That is a song stuck in my head. Now and then, the tune just starts spinning and spinning in my mind. It has a very easy and catchy tune. It was just a few days ago when I went to Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh’s 1-day Mindfulness Retreat in KL. Having been to a few retreats, this one was totally different for me (it is also the first time I’ve been to a one-day retreat).
The moment Thay came into the scene, it was instant friendliness, gentleness and calmness. Thay smiles all the time, taking all the patience in the world to address the audience and teaching us walking meditation. There was warmth in his words, and perhaps 1000 others in the room felt the same way too? Back to walking meditation, it was something different to what I was exposed to and taught at my first mindfulness retreat a few years back.
Here, Thay mentioned that we should take our time, and it doesn’t have to be every step that we note. It can be two steps; which I find useful because I tend to have a tendency to rush myself with one-step. While taking the steps, we can note:
“I have arrived.”
“I am home.”
“I am in the here and now.”
“I am solid.”
“I am free.”
Or, for the younger generation, “This is it.”
Each time my feet touch the ground, I have arrived in the here and now. I am home. I am free; freedom of the mind from thinking of the past or the future. I am alive. It is a miracle to be breathing and be alive on Earth (at least for another day), enjoying the wonders of life.
I had a pretty meaningful walk that morning. Although the sun was bright and burning my skin, I could feel the words in my heart; and after being away from home for so long, I did indeed feel that I am home. Back to my home country, where I had played in a playground with grass the same species that I was stepping on with each of my footstep. A pretty nostalgic walk. Nostalgia was just the beginning.
After the walk, we went back into the main hall. We were taught a new song, “Breathing In, Breathing Out”. Taught to us by a very old nun (I would assume that she’s in her 80s or 90s). She was very patient and had a lovely voice; she was also full of energy and sang with us for quite some time.
“Breathing In, Breathing Out”
♫ Breathing in, breathing out, (x2)
I am blooming as a flower,
I am fresh as the dew,
I am solid as the mountain,
I am firm as the Earth,
I am free.
Breathing in, breathing out, (x2)
I am water,
Reflecting what is real,
What is true,
And I feel there is space deep inside of me,
I am free. (x3) ♫
The song below relates to someone dear to us that we may have lost:
♫ No coming, no going,
No after, no before.
I hold you close to me,
I release you to be so free,
*Because I am in you,
And you are in me. ♫
Repeating the song filled my two small eyes with tears. Perhaps it was the warmth and positive energy of everyone participating, perhaps it was the melody/tune of the song, perhaps it was the lyrics. It was a totally uniquely touching moment. Am I’m positively sure that I wasn’t the only one who teared up in that room.
Thay gave a dhamma talk on understanding and true love. The elements of true love are the brahmavihara, namely:
sympathetic joy (mudita)
These are the elements of true love that one can cultivate in order to make others around them happy. Thay elaborated further that the capacity to offer happiness is different from the desire to offer happiness, and that to make a person happy, we first have to understand the person.Understand his/her sufferings and difficulties.
Each and every one of us have our own sufferings and difficulties, and we may not know how to handle it. When one suffers, s/he wouldn’t be suffering alone, as the people around them would suffer, too. Therefore, s/he would need help from someone. Who would that someone be? Who would help if I don’t?
But, how and where do I start?
By understanding. By listening; not just any listening, but deep listening. By using loving speech; the language of compassion.
Let’s go over “understanding”. Understanding one’s own suffering/difficulty/pain (hereafter referred to as suffering) means that one has to acknowledge that the suffering is there, and look for the root of that suffering. Only by understanding ours can we understand others’, and understanding suffering naturally bring about compassion.
And, how do we understand the suffering of others?
By listening to others. More often than not, when one is approached by a friend in distress, one would/could be too quick to interrupt and give their own opinion(s) on the issue/matter that is troubling the distressed friend. Sometimes, perhaps what is needed is only for us to listen with compassion; only with compassion can we develop an understanding on the suffering. And, just by listening, we would have already alleviated the suffering of the other person. Why do some people have to consult and pay therapists to listen to them? Can we be a friend to someone and just listen to them? Can the feeling of being listened to and being understood by someone help to suffer less?
To listen with compassion may not be an overly easy task. Usually, when a person is filled with emotion, especially an emotion of pain, there might be crying, bitterness, anger, etc when speaking of/relating to that matter. And when faced with these kinds of situation, one would be triggered to say something comforting or anything to make the other person feel better. The key practise here is to just listen without interruption; do not disrupt the practise of deep listening.