metaphorically in a defensive movement, ready to block and swat away any opposing ideas. I can easily see it when others are doing it, but I'm surprised when I do it! It keeps others at a distance and prevents me from taking a breath and being curious. I understand that I can't connect if I'm attached to being right. Attachment creates separation from each other.
And so much separation is happening worldwide that it seems insurmountable to think we can connect personally or globally. So I read the book paying close attention to the practice of connection. Practice is the keyword. The author is teaching us to wake up from the illusion of our separateness. That simple statement seems impossible when there is disagreement on fundamental values.
How can I consider that separation is an illusion when it looks so real? I get that my body and mind are connected. Although I often find that my body is in the here and now, my mind is elsewhere. When my mind is caught up in anxiety, I lose connection to the present moment. So what can I practice today? How can I see through the illusion of separation?
Thich Nhat Hanh says to breathe.
He gently guides us to give up spending the whole day trying to connect via email, text, making calls, posting messages, and watching videos and instead connect by taking a breath and just sitting there. Breathing releases the tension we're holding in our bodies and minds. With the breath we can look deeply at the situation we're in. We can practice breathing between phone calls, meetings, between postings. When we connect with our breath, body and mind come together to tackle what's in front of us from awareness. He instructs us to connect and see our joy and suffering everywhere.
So I started practicing the idea of just sitting there in my "just do something mentality," and it caused me to naturally breathe in and listen more deeply, then breathe out and be here now, grateful for the moment. What daily action can remind us to breathe and connect and be present with full attention? The author makes several suggestions! When you're at a stop sign, walking up or down the stairs, walking to your front door, making coffee, walking into work, picking up the telephone, and talking to others.
Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us: "Our words can travel thousands of miles. May our words create mutual understanding and love." You don't have to cover up uncomfortable feelings, but if you don't judge yourself or others, you can let them pass without holding on to them. Not that conflict will suddenly disappear, but who you are will be fundamentally different when you come from connection instead of separation. Before the world can practice, we must practice.
For me, it's listening to connect instead of listening to correct.
Where can you practice?
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PAULETTE LOVES BOOKS!
She is an avid reader on many subjects and shares inspirations for mindful practices based on the stories, philosophies, and teachings shared by authors worldwide.
She believes you can find the secrets to living a profoundly happy and healthy life in the pages of many a manuscript authored by masters and novices alike.
Paulette shares what she's learned in easy-to-apply morsels as she practices the insights in her approach to mindfulness, communication, conflict, and just being yourself.
Write to Paulette if a book you love has changed your perspective. Or read one of the books she's listed here and let her know what you've taken away as a personal practice.