“He is able who thinks he is able.” -- Buddha (Siddhartha Guatama)

This is a great article (from February) between Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) and Oprah. A little background:  I grew up in a Catholic household ...

This is a great article (from February) between Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) and Oprah.

A little background:  I grew up in a Catholic household with two very devout parents.  My father had even studied for a while to become a priest.  I was baptized, had my first communion, and even was confirmed and then sometime after my confirmation (and after my mom died), I just lost all interest in religion.  I was reciting the Nicene Creed one day and realized I felt no affinity with, held no belief in what I was saying.  The result was a not-so-slow withdrawal from the church that deeply pained my father (all he wanted for me was my happiness and my salvation).  I looked into other religions, as I had some faith, but no belief in the practices of humans of that faith.

I finally settled on being a secular humanist, atheist Buddhist (most Buddhist practitioners are agnostic).  In other words, my path was one who had a deep sense of morality and respect for the people and world around her drawn from that very world.  I did not believe in heaven or hell, I didn't believe in a creator or a destroyer, or someone who would judge my heart at the end of my life.  I didn't believe in a soul.  I believed in my impermanence in the world.  And to truly live this life in a meaningful way, I would practice mindfulness and compassion.

I had three introductions to Buddhism that culminated in it being where I sought refuge when I needed comfort:   (1) my maternal grandpa served in post-occupation Japan.  Though I never met him, one of the things he brought back was a set of incense burners in the shape of the Buddha.  It was one of the few things I squirreled away so my parents wouldn't throw them away.  I very much liked the Buddha's slight, knowing smile; (2) 9th grade social studies with Mr. Ponzi; and (3) my own investigation -- buying books written by the Dalai Lama -- especially one called Sleeping, Dreaming, and Dying (I was impressed by his saying that Tibetan monks do not know why we dream, instead of theorizing).

So back to Thay.  A coworker (who is a Jewish Buddhist) asked if I had ever read Thich Nhat Hanh.  And I hadn't.  That very day I went to a bookstore and bought "Being Peace."  I bought more and more books by him.  The message was always simple:  All we have is right now -- so what are you going to do with it?  I learned that being a heinous bitch was really a waste of time and effort on my part.  I realized how much time and energy I was wasting on being angry or resentful.  And I was shown a path to let all of that go so I could start with a clean slate.

Thay introduced me to other teachers -- Jack Kornfield (The Art of Forgiveness was a transformative book in the relationship between my father and I), Noah Levine, Pema Chodron, and Tara Brach (you should try out her book Radical Acceptance), among others. 

The point of this whole post is this:  it doesn't matter what religion you are, you can learn a few of the Buddhist practices like the sacred pause, compassion and forgiveness for yourself as well as otherstrying to find joy in every moment, and learning to treat all of your emotions with care and love.

I know these tools will help me be successful in my weight loss/health gain process in a way I never have been before.

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1 comments

  1. You really should read this book. A friend gave it to me for my birthday last year and I couldn't read it fast enough!

    http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Seeks-Bliss-Modern-Maintenance/dp/B000H2MK8Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276525739&sr=8-1

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