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Thich Nhat HanhBhikkhu Nyanasobhano begins this section with a question, “What is the special meaning or value of renunciation (page 77)?”[1]  We are living in a society where more is better, more possessions will make me happy, and where life is a time and a place to see how many “things” I can collect.  My time in the prison ministry has been an eye opener for me.  Frequently, I have offered a book or something to one of our Zen members “behind the fence” and they’ve thanked me and refused the gift saying they only have a very small locker and it is filled to the brim already with no place for anything more.

Is your life filled to the brim already with things, ideas, emotions, problems, objects, likes, and dislikes so that there is no more room for anything more?  Or are you still trying to stuff more “stuff” into it?  And then one day you notice that you’re tired of dusting, cleaning, and taking care of all of your stuff!  Your relationships have fallen by the way side with significant others, family, and friends because of your “stuff.”  This stuff can be suffocating you and keeping you from the real important “stuff” like peace, love, and happiness.

Renunciation is a fancy word for giving something up.  How about making a list of the things you are willing to give up!  You might put some people and thoughts that are hindering you from living a life of peace, tranquility, and love on that list? Are you willing to give those people or thoughts up? I’m not saying it’s easy but it is imperative if you want to stay healthy in mind, body, and spirit. What can we replace them with? How about some inner peace, tranquility, and self-love?

He goes on to say, “Buddhism certainly does not require anyone to renounce the world entirely; rather, those who follow Buddhism with the aim of reducing present suffering may find that they are led naturally and gradually to more and more simplicity and renunciation in their everyday affairs (page 81).”[2]

Renouncing them means taking away their power. They get their power from your thoughts and those thoughts are often verbalized.  Just because I “think” something does not mean that I have to “say” something!  My mom used to tell me to “bite my tongue” when I wanted to say something mean or hurtful.  She knew it would only ruin my relationship with the person to whom they were directed. Mom was a very wise woman!

So, for today I am going to “renounce” negativity, fear, anger, and judgment. I am going to act and speak words of peace, tranquility, and love for myself and for everyone who crosses my path today. How about you?  What will you renounce today?

[1]

Nyanasobhano, B. (1998) Landscapes of wonder Discovering Buddhist Dhamma in the world around us. Somerville Massachusetts: Wisdom Publications

[2] Ibid.

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When we really look at our lives and the ruts that we have created for ourselves we may wonder—how the heck did I get here?  When practicing meditation and/or mindfulness we want to be nonjudgmental and simply observe the “stuckness” and then decide either to stay stuck or get unstuck!  The choice is always up to us!

Does it really matter “how” we got stuck?  Or is it more important to review the situation and decide if it is worth my time and energy to get unstuck.  Will getting unstuck help me in a positive way.  Will it help me get my homework assignments completed for school?  Will it help me get the chores done around the house or the projects completed at work?  Will it help me improve my health or income or relationships?

I love what Russell Simmons wrote in his new book Success through Stillness in his chapter “Getting Unstuck.”  “…no matter where you’re from or what you’ve done, you’re never stuck in anything unless you say you are (page 143).”[1]

Many years ago I learned about the Theory of 21.  This theory purports that it takes 21 days to create a new habit or get unstuck!  So that means once you’ve observed your “stuckness” evaluated its impact on your life and then decided it was something you’d like to see change—getting unstuck will take at least 21 days.  For me it usually takes much longer than that!  When I get stuck I really get stuck!

Whether you’re stuck in a bad relationship, habit, thought pattern, job, school, or work…you can get unstuck.  Below are some simple steps for getting there!

1.  Make up your mind that YOU want to get unstuck, not your mother, father, girlfriend, boyfriend, or boss—You want to do it.

2.  Identify what triggers you about this “stuckness.”  So if you’re stuck on procrastinating on homework, work projects, doing the laundry, or cleaning the house it’s probably because these things are too big and are overwhelming you when you see them or even think about them.

3.  To fix it break this “stuckness” down in to bite size pieces.  How do you eat an elephant—one bite at a time!

4.  Meditate on one of those pieces each day and allow the unconscious mind to bubble up the things that are holding you back from getting unstuck.  As they come to mind take the energy out of them and see them being done with ease, floating away like a hot air balloon.  Take the emotion out of the picture and change the picture from one of fear, anxiety, or pain to one of completion, peace, joy, forgiveness, love, and release.  Do not give it any power. Simply observe and let it go again and again till the energy in it has dissipated!   Remember things are “just this” in Buddhism and it is only our thoughts that give them power over us in both negative and positive ways.

5. Finally, just do it!  Like the Niki commercial says.  Do it every day until you’re unstuck and can move on with your new life—just this!

Just sit each morning in meditation. Then while doing the thing, if the emotions or thoughts begin to take you back to the “stuckness” take a quick moment to breath into it, fill it with air, smile, and let it go.  Remember what Russell Simmons said, “you’re never stuck in anything unless you say you are.” The choice is up to you! Meditation and mindfulness are the simple glue removers!


[1] Simmons, R. (2014) Success through Stillness Meditation made Simple. Penguin Group: NY, NY

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