I know a lot of people that are having a hard time right now. They feel like their lives are just one problem after another. The dreams that they once had have been lost along the way. They are really not sure who they are anymore or what they can do to make themselves feel happy. I’ve been there. We all have or will at some point in our lives.
The thing is, you are going to have some really low points in your life. It is all a part of living. You only need to remember one thing while you are struggling through this dark time:
No mud, No Lotus.
Umm, okay…What is that supposed to mean?
A Vietnamese monk and peace activist named Thích Nhất Hạnh is the author of ”No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering”. This book has beautiful symbolism and really makes you realize that the reason for your suffering comes from within you. Which means that you also have the power to change your situation. I highly recommend that everyone read this book. It is a relatively short read and it will really change your outlook and the way you look at life.
”No Mud, No Lotus” is meant to remind us that without suffering there is no joy. Without dark there is no light. Just like the yin and the yang, one cannot exist without the other. It is easy to get swallowed in darkness when it seems like everything is going wrong. When your thoughts have gone dark, it is easy to allow it to spread into everything else around you. Following the advice of Thích Nhất Hạnh, this is is how you start living:
Pull yourself up and out of the mud
1. Stop blaming everyone else for your suffering
Take a step back. Try to think about why the person that hurt you acted the way they did. It is likely that this person behaved badly as a result of their own pain and suffering. When you start to understand that this person who hurt you is also hurting, it takes away your anger. It allows you the clarity to think about moving on with your life and ending your own suffering.
Sitting and walking mindfully, you direct your attention to the causes underlying the other person’s behavior. You see clearly that he has a lot of pain inside and doesn’t know how to handle it. That is why he suffers so much and makes the people around him suffer. What he needs is help, not punishment. If you stay with this practice, the suffering of anger or jealousy in you will dissipate and the flower of compassion will be born.Thích Nhất Hạnh – “No Mud, No Lotus”
2. Live in the present
When you are spending all your time daydreaming about the past and worrying about the future, you aren’t living in the now. This isn’t saying don’t plan for the future or not to remember your past. Just don’t let it consume you and keep you from experiencing your life right now. It can be hard to stop this type of thinking, but if you practice mindfulness and remind yourself to be present you will find yourself spending less and less time in the past or the future. You will begin to start really living.
3. Squash negative thoughts
The power of positive thinking really does wonders on every aspect of your life. How many times have you stopped yourself from doing something because you think you are not good enough? Thinking negatively about your situation is only going to leave you there, wallowing in the mud. When you notice negative thoughts creeping into your head remind yourself it’s not true. Don’t let your own self doubt stop you from living your life to the fullest.
4. Yoga, breathing & meditation
Practicing yoga and meditation 🧘♀️ helps your mind and body to come together as one. I know this sounds cheesy, but it really does. I have noticed on days when I don’t do yoga I am not able to get as much done and I worry so much more about everything I have to do.
You don’t even have to spend more than 15 minutes a day. I watch a program called “Yoga with Adrienne” on YouTube. She has a 30-day challenge with a new video each day. She encourages you by letting you know it’s okay if you don’t get the moves right. It is just about getting your mind in touch with your body.
By using deep breathing when you notice yourself getting upset or or worried can help you to calm your body and mind so that you are able to think clearly. Just close your eyes and take deep breaths in an out. Don’t think about anything except for your breathing. A yogi once told me that he never used any kind of medication for his pain. He would use deep breathing and mental imagery instead.
This is how he taught us to breathe through and visualize our pain leaving our body:
- Sit or lay in a comfortable position.
- Take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- When you breathe in picture yourself breathing in cool, blue, healing air. Imagine a nice breeze blowing on your face.
- As you breathe out picture the pain leaving your body as a hot, red, stale energy.
- As you continue breathing in and out start by tensing your toes and then releasing them.
- Continue tensing and releasing all the way up your body until you reach the top of your head.
5. Reflect on the meaning of the lotus flower
Suffering gives us the strength and knowledge that we need in order to be truly happy. In time this happiness will turn into suffering again. But this time, when you transform your suffering into happiness, your happiness will be greater.
“NO MUD, NO LOTUS. Both suffering and happiness are of an organic nature, which means they are both transitory; they are always changing. The flower, when it wilts, becomes the compost. … Happiness is also organic and impermanent by nature. It can become suffering and suffering can become happiness again.”Thích Nhất Hạnh
The Cycle of Suffering
You can’t stop the cycle of suffering. It’s always going to come back. Whether through physical pain, loss or mental pain. The point is that you need to embrace the suffering in order to get past it. Running away from it only makes it worse. Once you allow yourself to see the reason for your suffering you have everything you need to know to change your situation. Once you allow yourself to actually feel it, you will be able to let it go.
Embrace your suffering
In order to end your suffering you need to understand what it is. If you do things to try to distract yourself from the suffering you are only prolonging it. You need to face it in order to move on.
If you haven’t suffered hunger, you can’t appreciate having something to eat. If you haven’t gone through a war, you don’t know the value of peace. That is why we should not try to run away from one unpleasant thing after another. Holding our suffering, looking deeply into it, and transforming it into compassion, we find a way to happiness.THÍCH NHẤT HẠNH
You already have everything you need to pull yourself up out of the mud. Begin your transformation into the lotus flower.
I believe in you! Namaste 🙏🏻