Friday, May 21, 2010

Interview With A Zen Master

Today on the Huffington Post, there is a very good interview with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.
Here's a bit of the exchange:

"Thich Nhat Hanh: The therapeutic power of meditation is very great, as modern scientific studies are now showing. The practices of mindful breathing, sitting meditation and walking meditation release tensions in the body and also in the mind. When we give ourselves the chance to let go of all our tension, the body's natural capacity to heal itself can begin to work. Animals in the forest know this; when they get wounded, ill or overtired, they know what to do. They find a quiet place and lie down to rest. They don't go chasing after food or other animals -- they just rest. After some days of resting quietly, they are healed and they resume their activities.
"MS: What is your concern for the children growing up being so tethered to electronics?

TNH: There are a number of scientific studies showing the negative effects of this.

I have seen that one of the biggest drawbacks to relying on electronics as a primary refuge - the place we go to be entertained, to feel "good" - is that we end up feeling not happier, but actually less happy. Electronics can be a constructive tool when used mindfully; but so often we use electronic media and games to distract ourselves from uncomfortable feelings like anxiety, depression, anger, loneliness, boredom, etc. We use media in an attempt to cover over the painful feelings inside us, to fill up the feeling of a void in our lives.
What happens when we habitually run away from what's going on inside us and in our relationships, though, is that we end up becoming even more alienated and sad. A lot of TV shows, music and games out there can be quite toxic, watering seeds of craving, fear and violence in us. Yes, life and relationships can be challenging at times; but the more we habitually rely on electronics (just as with drugs, or mindless eating) to numb ourselves to what's happening, the more our problems will persist and proliferate.
That's not to say that we should sit around obsessing and ruminating over our problems, either. Meditation - sitting quietly, calming the activities of our body and mind, and enjoying feeling our aliveness as the breath moves in and out - is the most effective way to clear our mind and make a breakthrough in whatever places we're feeling stuck."

You can find the rest of the interview at THIS LINK


Zacky Chan said...

I think that is a great explanation of what "sitting", resting, or zazen is. It's so interesting that with something so simple as in sitting and resting mindfully, people can create so many meanings and assumptions from it, for better and for worse. It's not magic, its just understanding the way the world works.

Sean C. Ledig said...

Great article! Thich Nhat Han is a treasure. His book, "Living Buddha, Living Christ," occupies a proud place on my book shelf with other texts on philosophy and religion.

I think he was robbed when he didn't receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1968.

BTW: Hey DR, I just completed my series on outdoor training. Check it out if you get a chance.