Support ....being vulnerable

'Most of us will have blocks and obstacles ... ways we've toughened our skins, hardened ourselves .. crusts and defences and armouring, whatever ..  so we don't have to feel vulnerable .. we don't have to feel - the word vulnerable is from the word vulnus in Latin - 'wound' - so there's no vulnerability without the vulnus, the wound, we've got to feel the wound and we don't want to .. let alone expose it to another and yet, if we don't, we're kind of doomed in a certain kind of way, or until we do, we're going to live on the surface, and not get to the deeper part of ourselves that is really what we're all longing for anyway, that's what this practice is actually for -  its not for becoming an expert mindfulness practitioner, not at all .. the only purpose of mindfulness in fact is to have more capacity for releasing what stops us from being deeper in ourselves - it helps us precisely because as we get a bit more aware in allowing of what's going on, we can get a bit more allowing and aware of the hurts and the yearnings that we really have and we can find a few more ways to just tap here, tap there, something opens, and we're a little more open, we're a little deeper in our actual life, our actual self ..'

(Original Love series, Zone 2, Support - Henry Shukman, May 2022)

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'What a great thing we can gather and do practice together ... maybe the most important word associated with practice of all .. is refuge ... it's not about checking out .. practice gives us refuge to allow us to find our way .. to practice ways of meeting the world as it is, so that our inner capacities, our resilience, our balance, our groundedness, our centredness .. help us meet the world in better ways than we would otherwise do.'

(Henry Shukman - Original Love, March 2022)

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A practice with teachings from Thich Nhat Hanh


Coming into a posture that's open and relaxed, and bringing awareness into this moment. Sitting or lying down. Eyes open or closed. With the simple intention to be present, to be here....

'The present moment is the only moment that is real. Your most important task is to be here and now and enjoy the present moment.'

Coming into the body with awareness of the breath ... of the air around the nostrils or mouth ... in the rising and falling of the chest ... in the rising and falling of the belly. Simply bringing awareness to the breath within the body ... this breath ... this moment ... this now....

This in-breath ..... this out-breath ...

'Breathing in, my whole body is harmonised with the breath.

Breathing out, my whole body is calmed with the out-breath.'

Simply breathing ... Coming home...

'Breathing in , I know that I am alive.     Breathing out, I smile to my aliveness.'

Being home ..... this breath .... 

'Every time we come back to our body with mindful breathing, we put an end to out feelings of isolation and alienation, and we have a chance to heal ourselves completely.'

Thich Nhat Hanh taught there is a deep connection between the way one breathes and the way one responds to the world around us.  Mindful breathing practice helps teach us this....

'When we sit down peacefully, breathing and smiling with awareness, we have sovereignty over ourselves.'

Now opening up to awareness of the heart area ... breathing gently into the heat-space ... breathing in warmth and openness ... breathing with the heart ... breathing warmth and compassion ...

For ourselves ...              'May I live with ease

                                       May I live with peace

                                       May I live with hope.'


And widening to all ...    'May we all live with ease

                                      May we all live with peace

                                      May we all live with hope.'




(Extracts in italics from 'Thich Nhat Hanh @ 2018 Unified Buddhist Church, Inc)                                









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A breath and body scan with verses from Thich Naht Hanh

Taking a comfortable position .. could be seated or lying down.  Before starting on this body scan, let's just check our head, and neck alignment, and using the mantra, 'strong back, soft front', allowing our hard body structures, from the lower body to the cranium, to drift upwards, while the soft tissue of the body, of our chest and our belly, to soften and drop down ... even lying down one can sense into this two way inner imagining.

Eyes are open or closed .. or half-closed, allowing a little blurry light.

So ..starting at the feet .. feeling our feet on the ground .. anchoring us. If lying down, being aware of our legs and feet in contact with the support beneath us. And bringing our attention to the breath - taking a couple of deeper breaths to tune into it ...... and now, breathing gently .. moving into a soothing breathing rhythm ... letting go on each out breath....

'Breathing in, my whole body

is harmonised with the in-breath.

Breathing out, my whole body

is calmed with the out-breath.’

And on the next out-breath, letting go and moving awareness to the lower legs ... breathing in to the knees …  to the thighs ....

breathing ... allowing .... letting go .....

Now bringing attention to the seat area  .. another grounding anchor in the body, whether sitting or lying ... breathing .... letting be ..... letting go ... 

And now moving our spotlight of attention to the pelvic area ......... to the lower back .....breathing into this area ....

and if there's pain here .... gently allowing the breath to soften .. to bring a spaciousness in to the area ... breath by breath ... breathing gently .... allowing ..... each breath allowing a softening, an opening up ...

And letting go of this area and moving round to the belly noting the harmony between our breath and body .... belly rising and falling .... on each in and each out-breath ... 

Letting go and moving to the upper back ... breathing in .... breathing out ......... Once again, if there's pain or discomfort .. gently allowing the breath to bring a softness and openness into the upper back ... acknowledging .. breathing with ... allowing .. breath by gentle breath..

If thoughts come, then once aware, welcoming this very awareness, and then gently using the breath to bring us back to the body ... with kindness..

Once more, letting go .. and coming to the heart/chest  area ... And becoming aware of the movement, the synchronicity between the breath and the body .. the gentle rising and falling of the chest with each breath .. the heart, fount of our regulation, of our warmth, of our living and breathing  ..

‘Breathing in, 

I know that I am alive.

Breathing out,

I smile at my aliveness.’

….There may be difficult emotions arising .... hurt, sadness, grief, fear, worry ...

If so  … naming them silently .. and perhaps seeing where in the body you feel that emotion ... maybe the heart area, the chest, shoulders, the throat, ... or possibly lower down, in the belly  ... and seeing if you can softly breathe into that part of the body.. allowing a little spaciousness to come in ... to soften .. with this- breath, this out-breath...  

So now .. letting go .. and coming to the shoulders ... and now breathing into the upper arms..... the lower arms ... and the hands .... Sensing the breath in the body down to the fingertips .. Breathing into the hands ... resting attention there ... warming ... anchoring..

Letting go .. coming to the neck .. towards the base of the skull ...along the brain stem .. channel of regulation ... to the jaw ... letting go ... the tongue... letting go .... softening the cheeks .. then the ears .. the eyes .. the brow ... softly .. gently .. up to the crown and the back of the head .... breathing into ..... with this in-breath ... letting go with this out-breath.

Now breathing with the whole body,  the body as a whole ... this body .. this breath... this now ...

‘Every time

we come back 

to our body

with mindful breathing

we put an end to our 

feelings of isolation

and alienation

and we have a chance

to heal ourselves


(Verses from 'Thich Nhat Hanh @ 2018 Unified Buddhist Church, Inc)                                




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Engaged Action - Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet


'When you wake up and you see that the Earth is not just the environment, the Earth is us, you touch the nature of interbeing. And at that moment you can have real communication with the Earth ...'


'Thay teaches that to practice meditation is "to look deeply into the heart of reality, to see things that others can't see." And, as he says, "Once there is seeing, there must be acting. Otherwise, what's the use of seeing?"

A monk for nearly eighty years, Thay has found remarkable ways to combine his practice of meditation and mindfulness with extraordinary actions for peace and social justice, investing his life energy in training the next generation of engaged Buddhists, and building healthy communities of mindful living that can continue to be catalysts for change in the world.

In the 1960s, Thay created a movement of thousands of young social workers in Vietnam before leaving for the West to call for peace. A leading voice for nonviolent social change, he collaborated with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with whom he shared a vision for building a "beloved community" that could transcend division, discrimination, and hatred - a community in which true reconciliation can be possible, among all people and among all nations. In the 1970s, together with friends and colleagues, Thay rescued boat people from the high seas off Singapore and  initiated one of the very first environmental conferences in Europe. Over the following decades, Thay created a way of teaching and applying mindfulness in everyday life that could be accessible to millions. He has shared his vision for compassionate leadership with politicians, business people, teachers, activists, and more recently, Silicon Valley CEOs. And from his direct - and often painful - personal experience of unstable and polarised times, he has developed a simple yet powerful code of global ethics that offers a bright compass to guide our way forward.'


From:  Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet (2021) - Thich Nhat Hanh (11/10/26 - 22/1/22).

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