Archivo de la categoría: Atención plena


«may we be safe and protected and free from inner and outer harm

may we be happy and contented

may we be healthy and whole to whatever degree possible

may we experience ease of well-being

may all beings near and far be safe and protected and free from inner and outer harm

may all beings near and far be happy and contented

may all beings near and far be healthy and whole to whatever degree possible

may all beings near and far experience ease of well-being

may our Planet and the whole Universe be safe and protected and free from inner and outer harm

may our Planet and the whole Universe be happy and contented

may our Planet and the whole Universe be healthy and whole to whatever degree possible

may our Planet and the whole Universe experience ease of well-being

may I, you and all beings near and far walk in beauty«

Jon Kabatt-Zinn

Feel Good!

The difference between Feelings, Emotions and Moods

Do you know someone who always seems to have it all together? No matter what comes their way, they remain calm, cool and collected. You might feel like a wreck compared to them, especially if you’re prone to easily getting stress or struggle with anxiety. What makes them tick? Do they have less emotions than the rest of us? Not likely. Chances are they just have a better understanding of their feelings and know how to regulate their moods.

But what is the difference between feelings and emotions? Although they are used interchangeably, there is a distinction between them. Each one factors into your mood, and your mood provides cognitive feedback for your emotions. It may seem like a complicated cycle, but you can learn how to better understand each one and, in turn, feel more in control of yourself, too.


Feelings can be physical sensations, like hot or cold, or mental perceptions. They can be considered the conscious expression of your emotions. For example, you may feel the emotion of fear, but it could result in feeling anxiety or anger. Feelings emerge from your brain’s processing and interpretation of any given emotion.


Psychologists debate how many emotions humans can feel, but all of them can be categorized into four basic emotions: anger, joy, sadness and fear. These emotions are primitive, spanning back millennia to our ancestors. They are survival mechanisms that helped human beings evolve. Fear, for example, was a helpful response to serious threats that could have ended someone’s life. Fear even played a role on a social level, helping our ancestors adapt favorable behaviors to avoid being isolated from society.

Today, our emotions are just as important, but we often confuse them with our reactions. That’s why therapy can be so helpful; it helps you dig deeper and sometimes discover emotions that seem completely unrelated to what you’re feeling but, with introspection, make perfect sense.


Your mood is your emotional state at a given time. You could be cranky, frustrated, stressed, calm or any other number of moods depending on the situation. For people with mood disorders, moods are either exaggerated and difficult to manage or change too frequently. They may suffer from a persistent low mood, as is the case in clients with major depressive disorder or dysthymia.

Your surroundings and perception of your emotions largely influence your mood. People with low emotional intelligence (EQ), that is the ability to understand, interpret and respond to their emotions, tend to struggle with their mood states more than those with higher EQ.


Emotions, feelings and moods are all temporary, but they can have long-lasting effects on your life. If you feel like yours are getting in the way of your happiness, therapy can help. Contact us at Foundations Family Counseling to learn more about our approach to therapy and what we may be able to help you with.


Moods and Emotions: What’s The Difference Anyway?

When we are trying to deal with the world of emotion, we can often forget or be confused about the differences between moods and emotions. Knowing what are moods and what are emotions, and getting clear on the differences may help us understand ourselves, and understand others better. So what are moods versus emotions?

What are moods? Moods stay for a while

In general, the differences are fairly straightforward. Paul Ekman in his accessible book ‘Emotions Revealed’, says that moods are generally emotional feelings. They can last for an extended period of time, say at least one or two days. When we have these moody periods, they often feel like stages that we are going through and they are hard to shift. They often seem like they are brought on by circumstances; pressure at work, pressure at home, money trouble.

Emotions come and go quickly

In contrast, emotions are things that tend to come and go quite quickly. We can think of these emotions as being positive or negative (although the idea of negative emotions is a myth). They’re also much more likely to be caused by immediate circumstances; something that someone just said, something that you witnessed or some memories that you had.

Emotions are likely to be sharper than moods, and also more varied; while we can have a great range of exquisitely different emotions, we tend to have moods which are more generalised — a good mood, a bad mood.

Small things we experience can change our emotions quickly, and we can experience more than one emotion at once, and these can reflect different parts of us.

Affects – what we actually feel

The third part of the equation here is Affect. Affect is the physical sensations you have when you have emotions. These are the butterflies in the stomach that we experience with anxiety, the muscular tension that anger can bring, or the ache in the heart we have with grief.

These Affects can be the thing we notice about emotions, and the thing that we can find most distressing about them. I’ve written more about Affect before.

Moods and emotions

We can experience moods and emotions at the same time, but emotions seem to ‘sit on top’ of moods. For instance, whilst in a bad mood is quite possible to have brief feelings of happiness and joy. Similarly, when a good mood, it is still possible to feel sad or angry feelings. However, it is much more likely that your mood will influence the emotion you feel. So it’s not really a question of moods versus emotions; instead it’s more moods and emotions.

If this happens, the emotion may have the same flavour as the mood. In this way, our emotions are susceptible to the mood we are in, and this also make us more likely to interpret our environment in particular ways and distort our thinking. When we are in a bad mood, it is much easier to misinterpret things in the light of this bad mood.

Understanding what are moods and emotions – and their differences – takes time and practice. When you do, you can sometimes see that the anger and frustration you are feeling isn’t caused by the people around you but by a mood you have been feeling before you walked in the door and that they shouldn’t be blamed. I’ve written before on what you can do when you’re in a bad mood.


What Are Feelings: The Most Fascinating Facts About Our Emotional States

A feeling is an experience of emotion. While the term “feeling” can be used to describe purely physical sensations, such as touch or pain, in the context of this article we are going to talk about feelings as psychological phenomenon, such as being head over heels in love or simply feeling like a cool dude.

Feelings are important because they are largely responsible for our entire experience of life. It’s our feelings that determine whether we are happy or sad, content or frustrated. There is no shortage of examples of people who seem to have it all, yet feel unhappy, unfulfilled and depressed. On the other hand, there are those who defy all odds and lead happy and fulfilling lives despite obvious disadvantages, such as extreme poverty or physical disabilities.

It is our feelings that motivate us to do things:

  • working out to feel attractive,
  • studying to feel smart and/or accepted,
  • working extra hard to compensate for our real or imagined flaws in order to feel like a worthy romantic partner.

Some people donate money not because of their concern for the less fortunate but to feel better about themselves.

Many of us buy products not because we really need them but because they make us feel better about ourselves, or so we hope. Feeling beautiful, stylish, rich, luxurious, cool are just a few examples.

Despite intellectually understanding that things are squeaky clean, people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) keep washing because things don’t feel clean for some reason.

Counseling and psychotherapy are largely about understanding of the client’s feelings and then being able to work from there, usually by figuring out the way to change these feelings.

If we can figure out how to change negative feelings and replace them with positive ones, we can change our experience of life, and it doesn’t have to involve any other radical changes. Change your feelings, change your life!

Our feelings about the world are heavily influenced by our past experiences. In this sense, our feelings are our perception of things or events. Middle aged, young and old, we all had different experiences in life; we may come from different cultures; some of us possess knowledge and experience others don’t have — it’s only natural that we have different reactions to same events. Each of us looks through the filter of their own perception and feels accordingly.

Feelings vs. Emotions
There are several websites that suggest that feelings and emotions are different, or no, VERY different things and that knowing this difference is crucial for your success and self-improvement. While some believe that emotions precede feelings, others believe the opposite. Some say feelings are physical and emotions are mental, others are confident it’s the other way around.

Forget it. There is no consensus on difference between feelings and emotions, and if there is one, it’s still okay to use the two terms interchangeably because that’s what most people do anyway. According to APA Dictionary of Psychology, feeling is a conscious subjective experience of emotion, and we are going to stick to that. In the context of this article, feelings and emotions are definitely the same thing.

If you got an assignment in school to find the difference between feelings and emotions, then this article probably isn’t what you need. If, on the other hand, you are wondering about human feelings (and emotions) and how it all works, then read on!

The Relationship Between Thoughts and Feelings
If you ever read at least one self-improvement book in your life, it probably told you that to improve your life and reach your goals, you need to change the way you think. Self-help junkies know that, basically, all self-help books teach this one concept, which makes these books boring after a while. However, in many ways this advice holds true. Our thoughts have a profound impact on our feelings; our feelings affect the way we behave; and our behavior is responsible for our results.

Both our thoughts and feelings are important parts of our experience of life. For example, if you feel sad, both thoughts and feelings are parts of the experience of being sad. The good news is that both thoughts and feelings can be challenged for their accuracy and, if they are found to be wrong, intentionally replaced with something more helpful.

Feelings, Hormones and Brain Chemicals
Things would be so simple if it was just a matter of thinking right or if we could force ourselves to think the way we need to at all times. Sometimes, we simply can’t. In fact, that happens very often. This is the reason why despite knowing all the secrets, you are still struggling instead of living the life of your dreams. Our health, our hormones and our brain chemicals in particular, have a huge impact on how we feel! Here are some of them:

  • testosterone,
  • estrogen,
  • progesterone,
  • norepinephrine,
  • epinephrine,
  • serotonin,
  • dopamine,
  • GABA,
  • oxytocin (the love hormone!)

Gut Feeling
The concept of feelings and emotions is fascinating by itself, but one of the most interesting parts of it is the phenomenon of gut feeling. Gut feeling is unconscious, irrational and intuitive. It can be both positive or negative: You might feel you can trust someone without actually knowing them, or you might feel in danger when, rationally speaking, there is no reasons to be afraid. The weirdest part is that sometimes our gut feeling is actually right.

Many attempts have been made to explain intuition or gut feeling. Some suggest it can be explained by our previous experiences: The more similar experiences you had in a particular area, the more reliable your gut feeling or intuition regarding that area. It is like all of a sudden all your knowledge and experience manifests without any effort from your side. You feel like you know things but you yourself can’t explain how you know it. This, of course, makes perfect sense. Having said that, you can probably think of a time when your correct intuition can’t be explained by having previous experiences.

The Six Basic Emotions

Paul Ekman, an American psychologist, is known for his work on emotions. He concluded that there are six basic emotions: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise. He found that even members of isolated tribes had these emotions, which means it’s not something we learn from media, which probably doesn’t come as a surprise.

Another study found that when subjects contorted their facial muscles into facial expressions that matched the basic emotions (e.g. happiness or disgust), they reported congruent feelings. This brings us to a conclusion that smiling is not just incredibly attractive, it can also make you happier!


Big Feels and How to Talk About Them

You can talk about your emotions with practice, even if it feels uncomfortable at first.

Emotions are an essential part of who you are, but they can be messy, complicated, and downright confusing at times. Knowing how to name your emotions and talk about them — with both yourself and others — is a key part of developing emotional health.

You don’t have to navigate the process of identifying your emotions alone.

Paul Ekman, a psychologist and leading researcher on emotions, surveyed more than 100 scientists and used their input to develop what’s known as the Atlas of Emotions.

1. Enjoyment

People generally like to feel happy, calm, and good. You might express these feelings by smiling, laughing, or indulging yourself.

You might feel enjoyment when:

  • You feel close and connected to people you care about.
  • You feel safe and secure.
  • You’re doing something that triggers sensory pleasure.
  • You’re absorbed in an activity.
  • You feel relaxed and at peace.

How to talk about it

Some words you can use to describe different kinds of enjoyment include:

  • happiness
  • love
  • relief
  • contentment
  • amusement
  • joy
  • pride
  • excitement
  • peace
  • satisfaction

If enjoyment and its related feelings seem out of reach, try to take a look at how other emotions or feelings may be getting in the way, such as:

  • trouble focusing on what’s happening in the present
  • worry
  • stress
  • a low or anxious mood

2. Sadness

Everyone feels sad from time to time. This emotion might relate to a specific event, such as a loss or rejection. But in other cases, you might have no idea why you feel sad.

How to talk about it

When you’re sad, you might describe yourself as feeling:

  • lonely
  • heartbroken
  • gloomy
  • disappointed
  • hopeless
  • grieved
  • unhappy
  • lost
  • troubled
  • resigned
  • miserable

Sadness can be hard to shake, but depending on your situation, these tips might help:

  • Mourn. Mourning is a typical part of grief. Whether you’re trying to recover from a loss, breakup, change, or failure to reach a goal, acknowledging your loss can help you accept and work through it. Everyone grieves in their own way, so do what feels right to you. It might help to talk about the pain you’re in, but it also might help to simply sit with your feelings for a while or express them creatively.
  • Do something meaningful. Doing something to help others or give back to society can help you feel more connected with other people. If you’ve recently lost someone you love, consider finishing a project they cared about or donating your time to a cause they supported.
  • Reach out for support. This is easier said than done when you’re at a low point. Try to remember the people in your life who care for you and likely want to help you. The pain of heartache does ease with time, even if you can’t imagine it at the moment.

It may help to talk with a therapist if your sadness lingers or begins to have a significant impact on daily life and makes it hard to work, go to school, or maintain your relationships.

3. Fear

Fear happens when you sense any type of threat. Depending on that perceived threat, fear can range from mild to severe.

Keep in mind that the level of fear you feel doesn’t always match up with the intensity of the threat. For example, if you live with anxiety, you might feel fear around situations that don’t actually pose much of a threat — though that doesn’t make the fear any less real.

How to talk about it

Fear can make you feel:

  • worried
  • doubtful
  • nervous
  • anxious
  • terrified
  • panicked
  • horrified
  • desperate
  • confused
  • stressed

Fear is a totally normal emotion — and one that likely kept your ancestors from being eaten alive. There are things you can do to manage this feeling:

  • Confront fear instead of avoiding it. If you’re afraid of something, whether it’s a serious discussion, meeting new people, or driving, it’s natural to want to stay away from the source of your fear. But this can often make your fear worse. Instead, try to face your fear safely. For example, if you develop a fear of driving, get back in your car and drive again right away. Stick close to home at first if it helps, but don’t avoid it.
  • Distract yourself from your fear. Sometimes fear can become so overwhelming that it’s hard to think about anything else. But ruminating, or letting the same thoughts play out over and over again, can have a negative impact on your emotional state. It can also make fear worse. If you feel yourself fixating on a worry or source of stress, try to do something distracting. Listen to an audiobook or podcast, cook with a new recipe, or go for a walk or jog with energizing music.
  • Consider the fear logically. Take a moment to think about your fear. Is there anything you can do about it? Can it actually harm you? What’s the worst thing that could happen if your fear came true? What would you do in that scenario? Knowing how you would deal with your fear can help you feel less afraid.

It’s important to not get discouraged if these tips seem impossible or overwhelming — they can be hard to accomplish on your own.

Consider working with a therapist, who can help you navigate mental health issues around fear, such as:

4. Anger

Anger usually happens when you experience some type of injustice. This experience can make you feel threatened, trapped, and unable to defend yourself.

Many people think of anger as a negative thing, but it’s a normal emotion that can help you know when a situation has become toxic.

How to talk about it

Words you might use when you feel angry include:

  • annoyed
  • frustrated
  • peeved
  • contrary
  • bitter
  • infuriated
  • irritated
  • mad
  • cheated
  • vengeful
  • insulted

There are a lot of ways to deal with anger, many of which can cause problems for you and those around you.

The next time you find yourself in a huff, try these tips for managing anger more productively:

  • Take a break. When you feel frustrated, putting some distance between yourself and the upsetting situation can help you avoid in-the-moment reactions or angry outbursts. Try taking a walk or listening to a calming song. While you’re away, take a few minutes to consider what’s causing your anger. Does the situation have another perspective? Can you do anything to make it better?
  • Express your anger constructively. You might avoid talking about your anger to help prevent conflict. Internalizing can seem like a safe strategy, but your anger can fester, and you may end up holding a grudge. This can affect your interpersonal relationships as well as your emotional well-being. Instead, take time to cool off if you need it, and then try expressing your feelings calmly and respectfully.
  • Focus on finding a solution. Anger is often difficult to deal with because it makes you feel helpless. Working to solve the problem that’s causing your anger can help relieve this frustration. You may not be able to fix every situation that makes you angry, but you can usually bring about some improvement. Ask other people involved what they think and work together. You can also try asking your loved ones for their input. Different perspectives can help you consider solutions you may not have seen yourself.

Everyone gets angry from time to time. But if you feel like you have anger issues, a therapist can help you develop effective tools for dealing with these emotions.

5. Disgust

You typically experience disgust as a reaction to unpleasant or unwanted situations. Like anger, feelings of disgust can help protect you from things you want to avoid.

It can also pose problems if it leads you to dislike certain people, including yourself, or situations that aren’t necessarily bad for you.

How to talk about it

Disgust might cause you to feel:

  • dislike
  • revulsion
  • loathing
  • disapproving
  • offended
  • horrified
  • uncomfortable
  • nauseated
  • disturbed
  • withdrawn
  • aversion

Disgust can happen as a natural response to something you dislike. In some situations, you might want to work through or overcome your disgust. These strategies can help:

  • Practice compassion. It’s common to feel uncomfortable when facing things you fear or don’t understand. Many people dislike being around sick people, for example. If you feel disturbed when thinking about sick people, try spending some time with an unwell friend or loved one, or offering to help them out. It’s important to take steps to protect your own health, so first, make sure their illness is not contagious.
  • Focus on the behavior, not the person. If someone you care about does something that offends or disgusts you, you may disapprove and react by withdrawing, pushing them away, or getting angry. Instead, try talking with that person. For example, if your sister smokes, avoid coughing loudly or making pointed comments about the smell of tobacco. Instead, tell her that cigarette smoke makes you feel sick and you’re concerned for her health. Offer to help her quit or work with her on finding support.
  • Expose yourself slowly. Some things may turn your stomach no matter what. Maybe you can’t stand any type of creepy-crawly creature but wish you could try gardening. To get over your disgust for worms, you might start by reading about them and looking at pictures of them. If you worry about them getting on your hands, you could try wearing gardening gloves. If you don’t like watching them move, you could try watching short video clips about worms to get used to them before seeing them in real life.

If you feel strong dislike toward a group of people, a specific person, or yourself, consider talking with a therapist about your feelings (noticing a theme here?).

Even if you are not sure exactly what’s behind your disgust, a therapist can help you work through the emotion and explore positive ways of coping with it.


5 Ways to Manage Your Emotions and Improve Your Mood

Everyone can have a hard time controlling their emotional reactions sometimes — it’s part of being human. But if it happens often, these regulation tools may help.

You’re going about a typical day when something changes. Suddenly, you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or out of control of your emotions.

Perhaps you’ve heard the usual self-help advice, like “pause and take a breath,” and the not-so-helpful advice like “just control yourself.” Yet somehow, you still feel like your emotions are in the driver’s seat while you’re sitting passenger.

When this happens, it can help to remember your feelings are there for a reason. There is no such thing as a “bad” emotion. If possible, try to find gratitude for your feelings, as they contain valuable information. If you can, try to welcome emotions — all emotions — as your friend.

It is possible to learn how to effectively manage your emotions with some practice, a few therapist-backed strategies, and (possibly) professional support.

Self-regulation is the core of managing your emotions

Self-regulation is the ability to experience your thoughts, feelings, and emotions and choose how you’re going to respond in a way that is positive for you and others.

Managing your emotions is a learned skill. Research, including a 2020 study, shows it begins forming in childhood through your relationship with your primary caregivers.

In fact, we are born without the ability to self-soothe. We rely on the nervous systems of our caregivers to restore balance, a process known as co-regulation, says Pauline Peck, PhD, a licensed psychologist in Santa Barbara, California.

“When we are distressed and dysregulated as babies, lying on our caregiver’s chest and syncing our breathing with theirs can help us calm down,” she explains.

“As we grow, the way our caregivers model emotional management, as well as the messages they give us about our emotions, can have a tremendous impact on how we understand our emotions and whether we believe we can handle them,” she adds.

Teenagers and adults who did not experience a supportive environment in early childhood may have a more difficult time with emotional regulation. If this sounds like you, don’t despair. Several methods can help.

1. Deep breathing

When you feel overwhelmed with emotion, it’s not possible to think logically and feel your emotions at the same time due to the fight, flight, or freeze response kicking into high gear.

“Your pulse is likely speeding up, your blood flow to your gut and kidneys slows down, adrenaline starts to surge,” explains Noelle Benach, a licensed clinical professional counselor and psychotherapist in Baltimore.

“When you’re in this state, it’s difficult or impossible to process what other people are saying, let alone be aware of your own thoughts and emotions,” she adds. Basically, you’re in survival mode for a perceived threat.

Breathwork can help. Research from 2018 shows that deep breathing activates something called the parasympathetic nervous system (your “rest-and-digest” mode), which allows your body to unwind and restore balance.

Box breathing exercise

You may find it helpful to repeat this exercise five or more times or until relative calm is restored:

  • inhale while counting to 4
  • hold while counting to 4
  • exhale while counting to 4
  • hold while counting to 4

You can learn how to practice some other deep breathing exercises here.

2. Sensory grounding

When emotions are running high, it may feel difficult to stay present in your body or physical environment. If possible, try to tune into your five senses to stay grounded.

This can include any number of grounding strategies, like splashing cold water on your face, singing or humming, or using a technique called progressive muscle relaxation.

“My favorite exercise is called the 5-4-3-2-1 technique,” says Benach. The goal, she says, is to name:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can touch
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste.

“Once you go through the exercise, you’ve provided yourself with some distraction from your stressor and allowed your parasympathetic nervous system to kick in,” she explains.

3. Mindfulness activities

2019 study reported that a daily meditation practice of 13 minutes for 8 weeks helped improve peoples’ mood and emotional regulation, among other benefits.

“Mindfulness has been shown to actually change matter in your brain,” says Peck. “Our brains have neuroplasticity, which means that they can change and grow and adapt depending on how we use them.”

If meditation isn’t your thing, you can also look into yoga, tai chi, gardening, or forest bathing as a resource.

4. Practice accepting your emotions

All too often, we label emotions as “negative” or “bad.” This can create an added layer of shame or guilt when you’re already feeling emotionally charged.

Instead, you might find it helpful to approach your feelings from a place of curiosity rather than judgment. This is called the “observer” mindset, or the state of allowing feelings to ebb and flow, like the tide.

When you notice your emotions arise, it can be useful to say to yourself, “Isn’t that interesting? I’m experiencing anger. I allow it to be here, and I will get through this.”

If you’re having a challenging time figuring out exactly what you’re feeling, you may find it helpful to:

  • use a feeling chart
  • jot down your thoughts in a journal
  • record yourself on your smartphone talking things through, then watch it back for clues

5. Challenge your thoughts

If irrational thoughts are causing your emotional distress, you may find it helpful to challenge them using cognitive reappraisal (changing the narrative).

“Sometimes, I have my clients put their negative or threatening thoughts on trial,” says Benach. “I’ll ask questions like: Is there any evidence that supports this? Are there times when this thought is not true? Will this matter a day/week/month/year from now?”


«Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.»

EBook of Nature, by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson, (born May 25, 1803, BostonMassachusetts, U.S.—died April 27, 1882, Concord, Massachusetts), American lecturer, poet, and essayist, the leading exponent of New England Transcendentalism.

Early life and works

Emerson was the son of the Reverend William Emerson, a Unitarian clergyman and friend of the arts. The son inherited the profession of divinity, which had attracted all his ancestors in direct line from Puritan days. The family of his mother, Ruth Haskins, was strongly Anglican, and among influences on Emerson were such Anglican writers and thinkers as Ralph CudworthRobert LeightonJeremy Taylor, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

On May 12, 1811, Emerson’s father died, leaving the son largely to the intellectual care of Mary Moody Emerson, his aunt, who took her duties seriously. In 1812 Emerson entered the Boston Public Latin School, where his juvenile verses were encouraged and his literary gifts recognized. In 1817 he entered Harvard College (later Harvard University), where he began his journals, which may be the most remarkable record of the “march of Mind” to appear in the United States. He graduated in 1821 and taught school while preparing for part-time study in the Harvard Divinity School.

Though Emerson was licensed to preach in the Unitarian community in 1826, illness slowed the progress of his career, and he was not ordained to the Unitarian ministry at the Second Church, Boston, until 1829. There he began to win fame as a preacher, and his position seemed secure. In 1829 he also married Ellen Louisa Tucker. When she died of tuberculosis in 1831, his grief drove him to question his beliefs and his profession. But in the previous few years Emerson had already begun to question Christian doctrines. His older brother William, who had gone to Germany, had acquainted him with the new biblical criticism and the doubts that had been cast on the historicity of miracles. Emerson’s own sermons, from the first, had been unusually free of traditional doctrine and were instead a personal exploration of the uses of spirit, showing an idealistic tendency and announcing his personal doctrine of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Indeed, his sermons had divested Christianity of all external or historical supports and made its basis one’s private intuition of the universal moral law and its test a life of virtuous accomplishment. Unitarianism had little appeal to him by now, and in 1832 he resigned from the ministry.

Mature life and works

When Emerson left the church, he was in search of a more certain conviction of God than that granted by the historical evidences of miracles. He wanted his own revelation—i.e., a direct and immediate experience of God. When he left his pulpit he journeyed to Europe. In Paris he saw Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu’s collection of natural specimens arranged in a developmental order that confirmed his belief in man’s spiritual relation to nature. In England he paid memorable visits to Samuel Taylor ColeridgeWilliam Wordsworth, and Thomas Carlyle. At home once more in 1833, he began to write Nature and established himself as a popular and influential lecturer. By 1834 he had found a permanent dwelling place in Concord, Massachusetts, and in the following year he married Lydia Jackson and settled into the kind of quiet domestic life that was essential to his work.

The 1830s saw Emerson become an independent literary man. During this decade his own personal doubts and difficulties were increasingly shared by other intellectuals. Before the decade was over his personal manifestos—Nature, “The American Scholar,” and the divinity school Address—had rallied together a group that came to be called the Transcendentalists, of which he was popularly acknowledged the spokesman. Emerson helped initiate Transcendentalism by publishing anonymously in Boston in 1836 a little book of 95 pages entitled Nature. Having found the answers to his spiritual doubts, he formulated his essential philosophy, and almost everything he ever wrote afterward was an extension, amplification, or amendment of the ideas he first affirmed in Nature.

Emerson’s religious doubts had lain deeper than his objection to the Unitarians’ retention of belief in the historicity of miracles. He was also deeply unsettled by Newtonian physics’ mechanistic conception of the universe and by the Lockean psychology of sensation that he had learned at Harvard. Emerson felt that there was no place for free will in the chains of mechanical cause and effect that rationalist philosophers conceived the world as being made up of. This world could be known only through the senses rather than through thought and intuition; it determined men physically and psychologically; and yet it made them victims of circumstance, beings whose superfluous mental powers were incapable of truly ascertaining reality.

Emerson reclaimed an idealistic philosophy from this dead end of 18th-century rationalism by once again asserting the human ability to transcend the materialistic world of sense experience and facts and become conscious of the all-pervading spirit of the universe and the potentialities of human freedom. God could best be found by looking inward into one’s own self, one’s own soul, and from such an enlightened self-awareness would in turn come freedom of action and the ability to change one’s world according to the dictates of one’s ideals and conscience. Human spiritual renewal thus proceeds from the individual’s intimate personal experience of his own portion of the divine “oversoul,” which is present in and permeates the entire creation and all living things, and which is accessible if only a person takes the trouble to look for it. Emerson enunciates how “reason,” which to him denotes the intuitive awareness of eternal truth, can be relied upon in ways quite different from one’s reliance on “understanding”—i.e., the ordinary gathering of sense-data and the logical comprehension of the material world. Emerson’s doctrine of self-sufficiency and self-reliance naturally springs from his view that the individual need only look into his own heart for the spiritual guidance that has hitherto been the province of the established churches. The individual must then have the courage to be himself and to trust the inner force within him as he lives his life according to his intuitively derived precepts.

Obviously these ideas are far from original, and it is clear that Emerson was influenced in his formulation of them by his previous readings of Neoplatonist philosophy, the works of Coleridge and other European Romantics, the writings of Emmanuel Swedenborg, Hindu philosophy, and other sources. What set Emerson apart from others who were expressing similar Transcendentalist notions were his abilities as a polished literary stylist able to express his thought with vividness and breadth of vision. His philosophical exposition has a peculiar power and an organic unity whose cumulative effect was highly suggestive and stimulating to his contemporary readers’ imaginations.

In a lecture entitled “The American Scholar” (August 31, 1837), Emerson described the resources and duties of the new liberated intellectual that he himself had become. This address was in effect a challenge to the Harvard intelligentsia, warning against pedantry, imitation of others, traditionalism, and scholarship unrelated to life. Emerson’s “Address at Divinity College,” Harvard University, in 1838 was another challenge, this time directed against a lifeless Christian tradition, especially Unitarianism as he had known it. He dismissed religious institutions and the divinity of Jesus as failures in man’s attempt to encounter deity directly through the moral principle or through an intuited sentiment of virtue. This address alienated many, left him with few opportunities to preach, and resulted in his being ostracized by Harvard for many years. Young disciples, however, joined the informal Transcendental Club (founded in 1836) and encouraged him in his activities.

In 1840 he helped launch The Dial, first edited by Margaret Fuller and later by himself, thus providing an outlet for the new ideas Transcendentalists were trying to present to America. Though short-lived, the magazine provided a rallying point for the younger members of the school. From his continuing lecture series, he gathered his Essays into two volumes (1841, 1844), which made him internationally famous. In his first volume of Essays Emerson consolidated his thoughts on moral individualism and preached the ethics of self-reliance, the duty of self-cultivation, and the need for the expression of self. The second volume of Essays shows Emerson accommodating his earlier idealism to the limitations of real life; his later works show an increasing acquiescence to the state of things, less reliance on self, greater respect for society, and an awareness of the ambiguities and incompleteness of genius.

His Representative Men (1849) contained biographies of Plato, Swedenborg, MontaigneShakespeareNapoleon, and Goethe. In English Traits he gave a character analysis of a people from which he himself stemmed. The Conduct of Life (1860), Emerson’s most mature work, reveals a developed humanism together with a full awareness of human limitations. It may be considered as partly confession. Emerson’s collected Poems (1846) were supplemented by others in May-Day (1867), and the two volumes established his reputation as a major American poet.

By the 1860s Emerson’s reputation in America was secure, for time was wearing down the novelty of his rebellion as he slowly accommodated himself to society. He continued to give frequent lectures, but the writing he did after 1860 shows a waning of his intellectual powers. A new generation knew only the old Emerson and had absorbed his teaching without recalling the acrimony it had occasioned. Upon his death in 1882 Emerson was transformed into the Sage of Concord, shorn of his power as a liberator and enrolled among the worthies of the very tradition he had set out to destroy.

Emerson’s voice and rhetoric sustained the faith of thousands in the American lecture circuits between 1834 and the American Civil War. He served as a cultural middleman through whom the aesthetic and philosophical currents of Europe passed to America, and he led his countrymen during the burst of literary glory known as the American renaissance (1835–65). As a principal spokesman for Transcendentalism, the American tributary of European Romanticism, Emerson gave direction to a religious, philosophical, and ethical movement that above all stressed belief in the spiritual potential of every person.


15 Facts about Ralph Waldo Emerson

Born in Boston in 1803, Ralph Waldo Emerson was a writer, lecturer, poet, and Transcendentalist thinker. Dubbed the «Sage of Concord,» Emerson discussed his views on individualism and the divine in essays such as «Self-Reliance» and «Nature,» and he emerged as one of the preeminent voices of his generation, both in his lifetime and in the annals of history.


Emerson’s father, Reverend William Emerson, was a prominent Boston resident who worked as a Unitarian minister. But he didn’t focus solely on matters of God and religion. William Emerson also organized meetings of intellectuals, bringing together open-minded people from a variety of backgrounds to discuss philosophy, science, and books. Unfortunately, Emerson’s father died of either stomach cancer or tuberculosis in 1811, when Emerson was just 7 years old. Emerson’s mother, Ruth, and his aunts raised him and his five remaining siblings (a brother and sister had previously died young).


After studying at the Boston Latin School (which is now the oldest school in the U.S.), Emerson began college at 14, a common occurrence at the time. At Harvard College, he learned Latin, Greek, geometry, physics, history, and philosophy. In 1821, after four years of studying there, Emerson agreed to write and deliver a poem for Harvard’s Class Day (then called Valedictorian Day), a pre-graduation event. Was he the best poet in the class? Not exactly. The faculty asked a few other students to be Class Poet, but they turned down the post, so Emerson got the gig.


After graduating from Harvard, Emerson went home to teach young women. His older brother, William, ran a school for girls in their mother’s Boston home, and Emerson helped him teach students. Later, when William left to study in Germany, Emerson ran the school himself. He reportedly disliked teaching, though, so he moved on to plan B: grad school.


In 1825, Emerson enrolled at Harvard Divinity School. He decided to become a minister, following in his father’s (and grandfather’s) footsteps. Despite struggling with vision problems and failing to graduate from his program, Emerson became licensed to preach in 1826. He then worked at a Unitarian church in Boston.


In late 1826, Emerson wasn’t feeling well. He suffered from tuberculosis, joint pain, and vision problems, so he followed medical advice and went south for a warmer climate near the ocean. After spending time in Charleston, South Carolina, Emerson headed to St. Augustine, Florida, where he preached and wrote poetry. He also met and befriended Prince Achille Murat, the nephew of the former French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, who had renounced his European titles (though his father had already been overthrown) and immigrated to the United States. Murat was also a writer, and the two young men reportedly discussed religion, politics, and philosophy.


When Emerson was 26, he married 18-year-old Ellen Louisa Tucker. The newlyweds lived happily in Boston, but Tucker was suffering from tuberculosis. Emerson’s mother helped take care of her son’s ailing wife, but in 1831, less than two years after getting married, Ellen passed away. Emerson dealt with his grief by writing in his journals («Will the eye that was closed on Tuesday ever beam again in the fullness of love on me? Shall I ever be able to connect the face of outward nature, the mists of the morn, the star of eve, the flowers and all poetry with the heart and life of an enchanting friend? No. There is one birth and baptism and one first love and the affections cannot keep their youth any more than men.»), traveling, and visiting her grave. The next year, after an extended period of soul-searching, he decided to leave the ministry to become a secular thinker.


In 1833, Emerson turned his love of writing into a career as a frequent lecturer. He traveled around New England reading his essays and speaking to audiences about his views on nature, the role of religion, and his travels. In 1838, Emerson gave one of his most famous talks, a commencement speech to graduating students of the Harvard Divinity School. His «Divinity School Address» was radical and controversial at the time, since he expressed his Transcendentalist views of individual power over religious doctrine. He also argued that Jesus Christ was not God, a heretical idea at the time. In cities such as Boston, he paid his own money to rent a hall and advertise his speaking event. Emerson packaged some of his lectures into a series, speaking on a certain theme for several events. Ticket sales were high, and the «Sage of Concord» was able to support his family and buy land thanks to his lectures.


Although many readers love Jane Austen’s novels, Emerson was not a fan. In his notebooks (published posthumously), he criticized her characters’ single-minded focus on marriage in Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. He also called Austen’s writing vulgar in tone and sterile in creativity. «I am at a loss to understand why people hold Miss Austen’s novels at so high a rate,» he wrote. «Never was life so pinched and so narrow … Suicide is more respectable.»


In 1835, Emerson married Lydia Jackson (nickname: Lidian), an abolitionist and animal rights activist. The couple had four children—Waldo, Ellen, Edith, and Edward—and they named their first daughter Ellen Tucker to honor Emerson’s first wife. Besides naming his daughter after her, Emerson also kept his first wife’s rocking chair to remind himself of his love for her.


No biography of writer and thinker Henry David Thoreau would be complete without mentioning Emerson’s impact on the «Civil Disobedience» essayist. Emerson gave Thoreau housing and money, encouraged him to keep a journal, and let him have land to build a cabin on Walden Pond. The two friends often discussed Transcendentalism, and Thoreau thought of Emerson’s wife Lidian as a sister. Although they had some intellectual disagreements, Emerson gave the eulogy at Thoreau’s 1862 funeral.


Emerson was friends and neighbors with Amos Bronson Alcott, the father of the Little Women author. Louisa May Alcott grew up surrounded by Emerson, Thoreau, and other Transcendentalist thinkers, and their works greatly influenced her. Emerson lent her books from his library and taught her about the joys of nature. She apparently wrote about her crushes on the much-older Emerson and Thoreau in one of her earliest works, a novel called Moods, and she was known to leave wildflowers near the front door of Emerson’s house.


Emerson wrote and lectured about the evils of slavery, and he frequently criticized President Lincoln for not doing enough to end it. In 1862, Emerson gave an anti-slavery lecture in Washington, D.C., and was invited to the White House to meet Lincoln. After the meeting, Emerson praised Lincoln’s charisma and storytelling ability («When he has made his remark, he looks up at you with a great satisfaction, and shows all his white teeth, and laughs»), saying that the president «impressed me more favorably than I had hoped.» Emerson also called Lincoln a sincere, well-meaning man with a boyish cheerfulness and clarity in speech.


After reading one of Emerson’s poems, Walt Whitman felt inspired. In 1855, he self-published Leaves of Grass and sent a copy to Emerson. The controversial collection of poems by the unknown poet got horrible reviews—it was routinely called obscene and profane, and one critic called it «a mass of stupid filth.» Sales were dismal. But Emerson read the book and wrote a laudatory letter to Whitman, calling the work a «wonderful gift» and «the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed.»

Thanks to Emerson’s encouragement, Whitman published a second edition of Leaves of Grass. However, Whitman printed Emerson’s words on the book’s spine and in a newspaper article. Emerson was reportedly surprised and annoyed that his private letter was made public without his permission, and he remained silent on his thoughts regarding Whitman from then on.


In the early 1870s, Emerson began forgetting things. Given his symptoms, most historians think Emerson suffered from Alzheimer’s, aphasia, or dementia. Although he had difficulty recalling certain words, he continued to lecture until a few years before his death. Despite forgetting his own name and the names of his friends, Emerson reportedly kept a positive attitude towards his declining mental faculties (much as his first wife did while she was dying of tuberculosis).


When Emerson died of pneumonia in 1882, he was buried on «Author’s Ridge» in Concord’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (not the same Sleepy Hollow as in the famed Washington Irving story)—a cemetery that was designed with Emerson’s Transcendentalist, nature-loving aesthetics in mind. In 1855, as a member of the Concord Cemetery Committee, Emerson gave the dedication at the opening of the cemetery, calling it a «garden of the living» that would be a peaceful place for both visitors and permanent residents. «Author’s Ridge» became a burial ground for many of the most famous American authors who called Concord home—Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and, of course, Ralph Waldo Emerson.


Still Ahead of His Time

Within living memory of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, the authentic cultural voice of America had spoken, outlining the future of American science, philosophy, scholarship, poetry and even landscape design. Today, many people do not know Ralph Waldo Emerson, and many of those who do, consider him at best a 19th-century transcendentalist or, at worst, the Dale Carnegie of belles lettres. But Emerson, who was born 200 years ago this month, prophetically mastered a wisdom that could have saved us all a lot of trouble by clarifying our place in nature.

A gift seems to have been granted to certain people in the moments in history we call renaissance. One can hear the gift in the voice of that time—a confident exuberance, accepting the tragic aspect of life, but also full of hope and belief; capable of a genial irony but devoid of cynicism and academic intellectual vanity. It is a voice that more cynical or exhausted ages find annoying.

Emerson is a renaissance voice. Living in the afterglow of the New England Puritan age of faith, and in the dawn of America’s political, artistic and exploring power, Emerson combined a boisterous energy with a rational and judicious piety. Too intellectually adventurous to remain a Unitarian minister (he became fascinated by Hindu theology), he did not abandon his religious tradition altogether. At the center of his insights was a vision of nature’s intimate relationship with the human and the divine.

In 1836, Emerson caused a stir when he published a long essay, «Nature.» At 33, he had finally broken with his church, moved from Boston, where he was born and grew up, to Concord, Massachusetts, and set out to create his own theology. «Nature,» which Emerson revised and later published in a collection with the same title, would influence European thinkers such as Thomas Carlyle and Friedrich Nietzsche and would become an almost sacred text for Emerson’s American disciples, including Henry David Thoreau, Bronson Alcott (the educator and abolitionist) and Margaret Fuller (the feminist), who went to sit at the feet of the prophet.

The ideas Emerson put forth in a second, more prophetic essay also entitled «Nature,» published in 1844, boil down to two concepts: first, that a purely scientific understanding of our physical being does not preclude a spiritual existence; second, that nature embodies a divine intelligence. Reconciling those views, he argued that we need fear neither scientific progress nor the grand claims of religion.

In one of his most striking prophecies, the Sage of Concord seems to have anticipated the theory of evolution by natural selection as it would be developed by Charles Darwin in The Origin of Species, published in 1859. Like Darwin, Emerson emphasizes the importance of the newly discovered antiquity of our planet: «Now we learn what patient periods must round themselves before the rock is formed, then before the rock is broken, and the first lichen race has disintegrated the thinnest external plate into soil, and opened the door for the remote Flora, Fauna, Ceres, and Pomona, to come in. How far off yet is the trilobite! how far the quadruped! how inconceivably remote is man!»

Emerson combines this idea with the observation by Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) that organisms tend to multiply beyond their resources, giving us a capsule version of natural selection. «The vegetable life,» Emerson says, again prefiguring Darwin, «does not content itself with casting from the flower or the tree a single seed, but it fills the air and earth with a prodigality of seeds, that, if thousands perish, thousands may plant themselves, that hundreds may come up, that tens may live to maturity; that, at least one may replace the parent.» Certainly, with the parable of the sower, Jesus beat Emerson to the punch; but as Emerson himself might have said, there is a kinship among prophets, and they speak to each other across the millennia.

Emerson also seems to have anticipated by about 80 years Erwin Schrödinger’s and Albert Einstein’s discovery that matter is made of energy. «Compound it how she will, star, sand, fire, water, tree, man, it is still one stuff, and betrays the same properties,» Emerson writes, adding: «Without electricity the air would rot.»

Recognizing the mathematical basis of physical reality, he seems aware that the apparent solidity of matter is the illusion that physicists would later show it to be: «moon, plant, gas, crystal, are concrete geometry and numbers.» (I imagine Emerson would have been pleased by the discovery of quarks, which are bits of math spinning in a mathematical space-time field.) He already seems to intuit the Big Bang, the theory of the universe’s birth that would not appear for another hundred years. «That famous aboriginal push,» as he calls it, anticipating today’s scientific understanding of the universe, is a continuing process that «propagates itself through all the balls of the system; through every atom of every ball; through all the races of creatures, and through the history and performances of every individual.»

But Emerson is skeptical about the then-fashionable idea that nature was like a clockwork, a deterministic machine whose future—including our thoughts, feelings and actions—could be predicted if we knew everything that was happening at a prior moment. He, too, felt the «uneasiness which the thought of our helplessness in the chain of causes occasions us.» But instead of accepting our fate as parts of a machine, he exalts nature’s wonderful waywardness, which defies science’s attempts at perfect prediction.

Emerson is no less perceptive of human matters. He anticipates Abraham Maslow, the 20th-century psychologist, recognizing that we will pursue our higher, freer, more spiritual goals only after sating our lower ones. «Hunger and thirst lead us on to eat and to drink,» he says, «but bread and wine…leave us hungry and thirsty, after the stomach is full.» Before Freud, before the sociobiologists, Emerson realized the psychological implications of our animal descent. «The smoothest curled courtier in the boudoirs of a palace has an animal nature,» he says, «rude and aboriginal as a white bear.» But he draws conclusions that even now we have difficulty accepting—for example, that there is no meaningful distinction between the natural and artificial (or man-made). «Nature who made the mason, made the house,» he says. There is no point trying to go back to nature; we are already there.

America largely ignored Emerson’s insights about what is «natural» for a century and a half. Instead, we divided the world into the populated urban wasteland and the «empty» untouched wilderness. Thus we felt justified in uglifying our cities while attempting to eradicate all change and human agency from our national parks. If we feel alienated from nature, it is because we are suffering a hangover from a certain vanity of thought that would raise us above and out of nature. But Emerson sees nature as potentially improved by human beings and human beings as the epitome of nature. Such a view would lead, as it has begun to do recently, to an environmental ethic in which human activity can enrich nature, rather than just lay waste to it or fence it off. «Only as far as the masters of the world have called in nature to their aid, can they reach the height of magnificence,» he writes. «This is the meaning of their hanging-gardens, villas, garden-houses, islands, parks, and preserves.»

If we had heeded Emerson, we might also have avoided the huge and costly mistake of dividing academic life into two fire-walled regimes, the humanities and the sciences. The consequence was not only that we have had generations of ill-educated young—scientists who know no poetry, poets who know no science—but something even graver. Free will, if isolated from the controlling gentleness and complexity of nature, readily becomes the will to power, which can serve (and has) as a rationale for genocide. We are only now beginning to see the madness of where Western philosophy has led us. Emerson’s genial sanity can perhaps provide an antidote. As he says in «Politics,» published in 1844, «the wise know that foolish legislation is a rope of sand, which perishes in the twisting; the State must follow and not lead the character and progress of the citizen….»

Perhaps Emerson’s most exciting prophetic insights are ones that have not yet been fully realized. Consider David Bohm’s idea of the «implicate order,» still only a gleam in the eye of physics, that all of physical reality might be thought of as a holographic projection. Emerson, intuiting that concept a century and a half ago, says that, «from any one object the parts and properties of any other may be predicted.» Like Stephen Wolfram, whose 2002 book A New Kind of Science advances a view of cosmology as the playing-out of a simple algorithm, Emerson suggested that the world is the result of a simple computational process repeated over and over. Emerson, like Wolfram, cites the seashell, saying of the «whole code of [nature’s] laws» that «Every shell on the beach is a key to it. A little water made to rotate in a cup explains the formation of the simpler shells; the addition of matter from year to year, arrives at last at the most complex forms….»

Emerson’s greatest challenge to contemporary thought may be his view of evolution as a purposeful natural process—an idea vehemently rejected today. He argues that evolution harbors its own divine spirit and, therefore, that the universe is bursting with meaning. In his own time, Emerson was accused of being a pantheist, or a believer in the idea that nature is God, but that accusation misses its mark. For Emerson, nature is not God but the body of God’s soul—»nature,» he writes, is «mind precipitated.» Emerson feels that to fully realize one’s role in this respect is to be in paradise. He ends «Nature» with these words: «Every moment instructs, and every object; for wisdom is infused into every form. It has been poured into us as blood; it convulsed us as pain; it slid into us as pleasure; it enveloped us in dull, melancholy days, or in days of cheerful labor; we did not guess its essence until after a long time.»

Certainly, Emerson’s prophecy did not encompass cell phones, nuclear radiation and molecular genetics. But the American renaissance, of which he could fairly be called the founder, deserves to be revisited if we ever gather our culture together again for another bout of supreme creativity.


eBook of Essays, by Ralph Waldo Emerson

What are you laughing about?

A big mystery: Why do we laugh?

Laughter is part of the universal human vocabulary. All members of the human species understand it. Unlike English or French or Swahili, we don’t have to learn to speak it. We’re born with the capacity to laugh.

One of the remarkable things about laughter is that it occurs unconsciously. You don’t decide to do it. While we can consciously inhibit it, we don’t consciously produce laughter. That’s why it’s very hard to laugh on command or to fake laughter. (Don’t take my word for it: Ask a friend to laugh on the spot.)

Laughter provides powerful, uncensored insights into our unconscious. It simply bubbles up from within us in certain situations.

Very little is known about the specific brain mechanisms responsible for laughter. But we do know that laughter is triggered by many sensations and thoughts, and that it activates many parts of the body.

When we laugh, we alter our facial expressions and make sounds. During exuberant laughter, the muscles of the arms, legs and trunk are involved. Laughter also requires modification in our pattern of breathing.

We also know that laughter is a message that we send to other people. We know this because we rarely laugh when we are alone (we laugh to ourselves even less than we talk to ourselves).

Laughter is social and contagious. We laugh at the sound of laughter itself. That’s why the Tickle Me Elmo doll is such a success — it makes us laugh and smile.

The first laughter appears at about 3.5 to 4 months of age, long before we’re able to speak. Laughter, like crying, is a way for a preverbal infant to interact with the mother and other caregivers.

Contrary to folk wisdom, most laughter is not about humor; it is about relationships between people. To find out when and why people laugh, I and several undergraduate research assistants went to local malls and city sidewalks and recorded what happened just before people laughed. Over a 10-year period, we studied over 2,000 cases of naturally occurring laughter.

We found that most laughter does not follow jokes. People laugh after a variety of statements such as “Hey John, where ya been?” “Here comes Mary,” “How did you do on the test?” and “Do you have a rubber band?”. These certainly aren’t jokes.


Why Do We Laugh?

Laughter clearly serves a social function. It is a way for us to signal to another person that we wish to connect with them. In fact, in a study of thousands of examples of laughter, the speakers in a conversation were found to be 46 percent more likely to laugh than the listeners.

We’re also 30 times more likely to laugh in a group. Young children between the ages of 2.5 and 4 were found to be eight times more likely to laugh at a cartoon when they watched it with another child even though they were just as likely to report that the cartoon was funny whether alone or not. 

Evolutionarily speaking, this signal of connection likely played an important role in survival. Upon meeting a stranger, we want to know: What are your intentions with me? And who else are you aligned with?

In a study that spanned 24 different societies and included 966 participants, scientists played short sound bites of pairs of people laughing together. In some cases, the pair were close friends, in others, the pair were strangers. 

Participants in the study were asked to listen to the simultaneous laughter and determine the level of friendship shared by the laughers. Using only the sound of the laughter as cues, they could reliably tell the difference between people who had just met and those who were long-time friends. These results suggest not only the link between true laughter and friendship but also that we aren’t fooling anyone when we pretend to laugh at another person’s joke. 

Another theory, which takes the person-to-person connection provided by laughter a step further, is that laughter may be a replacement for the act of grooming each other. Grooming another is a behavior seen in primates. To groom someone else is a generous, one-sided act. Because it requires trust and investment of time, it bonds the groomer and groomee as friends.

As our communities got larger, we couldn’t all go around grooming each other to establish bonds. So, this is no longer our preferred method of exhibiting an offer of friendship. (And that’s probably a good thing.) But laughter, like the commitment offered through grooming, is also hard to fake, at least not without being obvious. And, unlike grooming, it can be done in a larger group and gives a more immediate impression. When we genuinely laugh, we signal that we are comfortable and feel like we belong. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are also a multitude of physical health benefits to laughter. Laughter can increase your oxygen intake, which can in turn stimulate your heart, lungs, and muscles. Laughing further releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals our bodies produce to make us feel happy and even relieve pain or stress. The act of increasing and then decreasing our heart rate and blood pressure through laughter is also ultimately calming and tension-relieving. Laughter can even boost our immune system response through the release of stress-and illness-reducing neuropeptides.

So laughter signals cooperation, a key aspect of human survival, and promotes a healthier body to boot. That’s the best excuse I’ve heard to make sure to take the time to enjoy a few laughs over dinner and drinks with friends.


Why Do People Laugh?

I was sitting in my kitchen one day and made an attempt at being funny, but nobody laughed. My kids began to laugh when I bemoaned that nothing I say is funny. Perhaps ever since we began to emerge from our ancestral lineage, humor has been part of who we are as human beings.

I believe we are always doing the best we can. I call this our I-M. «This is who I am and I Matter.» Our I-M is always adapting to four domains: our home domain, our social domain, our biological domain (brain and body), and our IC domain (how I see myself and how I think other people see me). Using the I-M lens there is no pathology. There is only our I-M—doing the best we can at this moment in time—while adapting to a shift in any of the domains to another I-M.

Humor serves remarkable survival purposes, spanning over all four domains of our I-M. In the biological domain, humor and laughing relieve stress. In the home domain, humor and laughter create an environment of trust, a no-judgement zone. In the social domain, humor binds communities together with shared values. And in the IC domain, well, it feels great to be able to share a laugh.

When is the last time you laughed? What about the last time you chuckled or laughed so hard you cried? I had a laugh-so-hard-you-cry moment recently. I was playing a board game when one of the players asked if his girlfriend had been to a local hospital. He explained that they use a certain kind of soap in the bathrooms: “So I can tell when someone has gone to the bathroom at the hospital.”

Without taking a beat another person responded: “Strange brag but okay.” The tone of the response, the cadence of the words, the soft and slight resignation resonated in such a way that I started laughing, and the thought of it makes me smile even as I write this now. It was not funny for everyone, at least not as funny. But for me, this brief interaction captured one of the reasons people laugh: incongruity.

Our brains are designed to compare bits of information. We are always comparing things. From a survival perspective, an ancestor that notices a new rustling in a bush that a moment before was still and then ran away or prepared for a fight survived more than an ancestor that didn’t notice the difference and was then eaten by a tiger. Both did the best they could in their I-M, but one was less successful.

Incongruity can be funny. The experience of an unexpected twist in a story or when something happens in real life can make us laugh just because it was unexpected and posed no danger. Like this dark humor joke: a woman is digging a hole in her backyard when she unexpectedly uncovers a treasure chest full of gold and jewels, runs to tell her husband, and then remembers why she was digging the hole. Is this funny to you or not?

Our sense of humor is influenced by our home and social domains. Things in my family may not seem funny to someone from another family. Perhaps an ancestor that could share a joke with another created more social bonding and with greater bonding came greater protection. Group humor extends to larger and larger groups, encompassing cultures and points in history. Humor can be transient. Jokes from my parent’s generation may seem politically incorrect today. Humor shifts from era to era.

Sometimes we laugh because we feel joy when superior to someone else. Some humor is mean and derisive, laughter at a person or group’s expense. Superiority humor can be traced back to the ancient Greeks like Socrates and Plato, but it probably has its roots long before the written word. Perhaps this was also adaptive at some time in our history and we see examples of this still in our world every day. Sometimes we laugh at another person’s misfortune: «schadenfreude

Superiority humor may actually mask deep insecurity. Insecurity is founded on an IC Domain that worried other people will see one as less-than, with less value and at greater risk of being kicked out of their protective group. While also an I-M, we don’t have to like it but try to understand it.

And then there is that nervous kind of laughter we all have when faced with a difficult or awkward situation. This laughter is the result of feeling relief, perhaps when danger has passed. From an IC domain, we all fear that we will be seen as less valuable, increasing the biological domain stress response from being rejected and kicked out of our protective group. In relief, we may giggle and feel less stressed out.

Laughter is the enactment of humor, turning a perception into an action. Laughter has all sorts of healing properties. Is that why humor evolved? Did early humans survive better than their counterparts if they could laugh when faced with adversity?

How can you use humor today to make a small change in any of your four domains? What kind of influence do you want to be on the I-M of those in your home or social domains?

I laugh every day. I find the humor around me and am grateful for that ability. What sort of things make you laugh? What do you find funny? In my family, it is often irony, something I got from both my parents. And while my home domain was not always funny growing up, my folks could find humor even in the midst of their divorce. As my mom once said, she was a «divorcée but always wanted to be a widow.»


The evolutionary origins of laughter are rooted more in survival than enjoyment

Laughter plays a crucial role in every culture across the world. But it’s not clear why laughter exists. While it is evidently an inherently social phenomenon – people are up to 30 times more likely to laugh in a group than when alone – laughter’s function as a form of communication remains mysterious.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and involving a large group of researchers led by Gregory Bryant from UCLA, suggests that laughter may indicate to listeners the friendship status of those laughing. The researchers asked listeners to judge the friendship status of pairs of strangers and friends based on short snippets of their simultaneous laughter. Drawn from 24 different societies, they found that listeners were able to reliably distinguish friends from strangers, based on specific acoustic characteristics of the laughter.

Laughter’s evolutionary past

Spontaneous laughter, which is unintentionally triggered by conversation or events, emerges in the first few months of life, even in children who are deaf or blind. Laughter not only transcends human cultural boundaries, but species boundaries, too: it is present in a similar form in other great apes. In fact, the evolutionary origins of human laughter can be traced back to between 10 and 16m years ago.

While laughter has been linked to higher pain tolerance and the signalling of social status, its principal function appears to be creating and deepening social bonds. As our ancestors began to live in larger and more complex social structures, the quality of relationships became crucial to survival. The process of evolution would have favoured the development of cognitive strategies that helped form and sustain these cooperative alliances.

Laughter probably evolved from laboured breathing during play such as tickling, which encourage cooperative and competitive behaviour in young mammals. This expression of the shared arousal experienced through play may have been effective in strengthening positive bonds, and laughter has indeed been shown to prolong the length of play behaviours in both children and chimpanzees, and to directly elicit both conscious and unconscious positive emotional responses in human listeners.

Laughter as a social tool

The emergence of laughter and other primal vocalisations was at first intimately tied to how we felt: we only laughed when aroused in a positive way, just as we cried only when distressed, or roared only when angry. The key development came with the ability to vocalise voluntarily, without necessarily experiencing some underlying pain, rage, or positive emotion. This increased vocal control, made possible as our brains grew more complex, was ultimately vital in the development of language. But it also allowed us to consciously mimic laughter (and other vocalisations), providing a deceptive tool to artificially quicken and expand social bonds – and so increase survival odds.

The idea that this volitional laughter also has an evolutionary origin is reinforced by the presence of similar behaviour in adult chimpanzees, who produce laugh imitations in response to the spontaneous laughter of others. The fake laughter of both chimpanzees and humans develops during childhood, is acoustically distinct from its spontaneous counterpart, and serves the same social bonding function.

Today, both spontaneous and volitional laughter are prevalent in almost every aspect of human life, whether sharing a joke with a mate or during polite chitchat with a colleague. However, they’re not equivalent in the ear of beholder. Spontaneous laughter is characterised by higher pitch (indicative of genuine arousal), shorter duration and shorter laugh bursts compared to volitional laughter. Researchers recently demonstrated that human listeners can distinguish between these two laugh types. Fascinatingly, they also showed that if you slow down and adjust the pitch of volitional laughter (to make it less recognisable as human) listeners can distinguish it from animal vocalisations, whereas they cannot do the same for spontaneous laughter, whose acoustic structure is far more similar to nonhuman primate equivalents.

Friend or stranger?

It’s this audible difference that is demonstrated in the paper by Bryant and his colleagues. Friends are more likely to produce spontaneous laughs, while strangers who lack an established emotional connection are more likely to produce volitional laughter.

The fact that we can accurately perceive these distinctions means that laughter is to some extent an honest signal. In the neverending evolutionary arms race, adaptive strategies for deception tend to co-evolve with strategies to detect that deception. The acoustic characteristics of authentic laughter are therefore useful cues to the bonds between and status of members of a group. This is something that may have aided decision-making in our evolutionary past.

However, the study found that judgement accuracy was on average only 11% higher than chance. Perhaps this is partially because some strangers may have produced spontaneous laughs and some friends volitional laughs, but it’s clear that imitating authentic emotional laughter is a valuable deceptive tool for social lubrication. One need only witness the contagious effects of canned laughter to see how true this is.

In the complex reality of modern human social interaction, laughs are often aromatic blends of the full-bodied spontaneous and dark but smooth volitional types, further blurring the boundaries. Regardless, the goal is the same and we will most likely find ourselves becoming fonder of those we share the odd chuckle with.

John Cleese once said: “Laughter connects you with people. It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of distance or any sense of social hierarchy when you’re just howling with laughter.” He might just have hit the nail on the head – even when we’re faking it.


The benefits of laughter

It’s true: laughter is strong medicine. It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you release anger and forgive sooner.

With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.

As children, we used to laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults, life tends to be more serious and laughter more infrequent. But by seeking out more opportunities for humor and laughter, you can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness—and even add years to your life.

Laughter is good for your health

Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Laughter burns calories. Okay, so it’s no replacement for going to the gym, but one study found that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn approximately 40 calories—which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year.

Laughter lightens anger’s heavy load. Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.

Laughter may even help you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.

Laughter helps you stay mentally healthy

Laughter makes you feel good. And this positive feeling remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.

More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh–or even simply a smile–can go a long way toward making you feel better. And laughter really is contagious—just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in the fun.

Laughter stops distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.

Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.

Laughter shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and diffuse conflict.

Laughter draws you closer to others, which can have a profound effect on all aspects of your mental and emotional health.

Laughter brings people together and strengthens relationships

There’s a good reason why TV sitcoms use laugh tracks: laughter is contagious. You’re many times more likely to laugh around other people than when you’re alone. And the more laughter you bring into your own life, the happier you and those around you will feel.

Sharing humor is half the fun—in fact, most laughter doesn’t come from hearing jokes, but rather simply from spending time with friends and family. And it’s this social aspect that plays such an important role in the health benefits of laughter. You can’t enjoy a laugh with other people unless you take the time to really engage with them. When you care about someone enough to switch off your phone and really connect face to face, you’re engaging in a process that rebalances the nervous system and puts the brakes on defensive stress responses like “fight or flight.” And if you share a laugh as well, you’ll both feel happier, more positive, and more relaxed—even if you’re unable to alter a stressful situation.

Shared laughter is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh and exciting. All emotional sharing builds strong and lasting relationship bonds, but sharing laughter also adds joy, vitality, and resilience. And humor is a powerful and effective way to heal resentments, disagreements, and hurts. Laughter unites people during difficult times.

Humor and playful communication strengthen our relationships by triggering positive feelings and fostering emotional connection. When we laugh with one another, a positive bond is created. This bond acts as a strong buffer against stress, disagreements, and disappointment. Humor and laughter in relationships allows you to:

Be more spontaneous. Humor gets you out of your head and away from your troubles.

Let go of defensiveness. Laughter helps you forget resentments, judgments, criticisms, and doubts.

Release inhibitions. Your fear of holding back is pushed aside.

Express your true feelings. Deeply felt emotions are allowed to rise to the surface.

Laughter is an especially powerful tool for managing conflict and reducing tension when emotions are running high. Whether with romantic partners, friends and family, or co-workers, you can learn to use humor to smooth over disagreements, lower everyone’s stress level, and communicate in a way that builds up your relationships rather than breaking them down.

How to bring more laughter into your life

Laughter is your birthright, a natural part of life that is innate and inborn. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Even if you did not grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.

Begin by setting aside special times to seek out humor and laughter, as you might with exercising, and build from there. Eventually, you’ll want to incorporate humor and laughter into the fabric of your life, finding it naturally in everything.

Here are some ways to start:

Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter, and like laughter, it’s contagious. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling. Instead of looking down at your phone, look up and smile at people you pass in the street, the person serving you a morning coffee, or the co-workers you share an elevator with. Notice the effect on others.

Count your blessings. Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the positive aspects of your life will distance you from negative thoughts that block humor and laughter. When you’re in a state of sadness, you have further to travel to reach humor and laughter.

When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?”

Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily–both at themselves and at life’s absurdities–and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious. Even if you don’t consider yourself a lighthearted, humorous person, you can still seek out people who like to laugh and make others laugh. Every comedian appreciates an audience.

Bring humor into conversations. Ask people, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?”

So, what if you really can’t “find the funny?” Believe it or not, it’s possible to laugh without experiencing a funny event—and simulated laughter can be just as beneficial as the real thing. It can even make exercise more fun and productive. A Georgia State University study found that incorporating bouts of simulated laughter into an exercise program helped improve older adults’ mental health as well as their aerobic endurance. Plus, hearing others laugh, even for no apparent reason, can often trigger genuine laughter.

To add simulated laughter into your own life, search for laugh yoga or laugh therapy groups. Or you can start simply by laughing at other people’s jokes, even if you don’t find them funny. Both you and the other person will feel good, it will draw you closer together, and who knows, it may even lead to some spontaneous laughter.

Tips for developing your sense of humor

An essential ingredient for developing your sense of humor is to learn not to take yourself too seriously and laugh at your own mistakes and foibles. As much as we’d like to believe otherwise, we all do foolish things from time to time. Instead of feeling embarrassed or defensive, embrace your imperfections. While some events in life are clearly sad and not opportunities for laughter, most don’t carry an overwhelming sense of either sadness or delight. They fall into the gray zone of ordinary life—giving you the choice to laugh or not. So, choose to laugh whenever you can.

Laugh at yourself. Share your embarrassing moments. The best way to take yourself less seriously is to talk about times when you took yourself too seriously.

Attempt to laugh at situations rather than bemoan them. Look for the humor in a bad situation, and uncover the irony and absurdity of life. When something negative happens, try to make it a humorous anecdote that will make others laugh.

Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun.

Remember funny things that happen. If something amusing happens or you hear a joke or funny story you really like, write it down or tell it to someone to help you remember it.

Don’t dwell on the negative. Try to avoid negative people and don’t dwell on news stories, entertainment, or conversations that make you sad or unhappy. Many things in life are beyond your control—particularly the behavior of other people. While you might view carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders as admirable, in the long run it’s unrealistic and unhealthy.

Find your inner child. Pay attention to children and try to emulate them—after all, they are the experts on playing, taking life lightly, and laughing at ordinary things.

Deal with stress. Stress can be a major impediment to humor and laughter, so it’s important to keep your stress levels in check. One great technique to relieve stress in the moment is to draw upon a favorite memory that always makes you smile—something your kids did, for example, or something funny a friend told you.

Don’t go a day without laughing. Think of it like exercise or breakfast and make a conscious effort to find something each day that makes you laugh. Set aside 10 to 15 minutes and do something that amuses you. The more you get used to laughing each day, the less effort you’ll have to make.

Using humor to overcome challenges and enhance your life

The ability to laugh, play, and have fun not only makes life more enjoyable but also helps you solve problems, connect with others, and think more creatively. People who incorporate humor and play into their daily lives find that it renews them and all of their relationships.

Life brings challenges that can either get the best of you or become playthings for your imagination. When you “become the problem” and take yourself too seriously, it can be hard to think outside the box and find new solutions. But when you play with the problem, you can often transform it into an opportunity for creative learning.

Playing with problems seems to come naturally to children. When they are confused or afraid, they make their problems into a game, giving them a sense of control and an opportunity to experiment with new solutions. Interacting with others in playful ways helps you retain this creative ability.

As laughter, humor, and play become integrated into your life, your creativity will flourish and new opportunities for laughing with friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and loved ones will occur to you daily. Laughter takes you to a higher place where you can view the world from a more relaxed, positive, and joyful perspective.


May all BEINGS live for PEACE and LOVE in the WORLD

Meditation for World Peace

All world problems, from military conflicts to domestic conflicts, are caused by violence. Through meditation we can remove the cause of violence, thus bringing peace to the world.

Any action that is undertaken without inner peace only leads to regret. And peace does not mean inaction. One has to use all methodologies to curb terrorism. We have to do it through education and persuasion. Force should be used only when nothing else works. Meditation and Sudarshan Kriya have transformed the aggression and violence inside people into compassion, love, and care. In these times of war and disease in the world, it’s so important that we all meditate a little bit every day. When we meditate, we nullify those vibrations, thereby creating a more harmonious environment around us.

WAR the Worst Act of Reason ~ Sri Sri RaviShankar

Every war has a reason. Sometimes wars become unavoidable, like an operation. If there is a wound or a cancerous cell in one’s body, the doctor operates. After the operation, it is essential to nurse that part which has been operated. Similarly, after a war; a lot needs to be done to bring peace, love and confidence into hearts and minds of the people.


How Meditation Brings World Peace

Meditating for World Peace, The Scientific View

An experiment conducted in the early 1980s, during the height of the Lebanon war, sought to discover whether meditation could reduce war. When 1,000 people in Jerusalem meditated on world peace war deaths in Lebanon went down by over 75 percent. Not only did war deaths go down, but crime, traffic collisions, fires, and other destructive events also went down on the days the group meditated.

From this and other similar studies that showed that war deaths and injuries went down on days groups were meditating on peace, scientists reluctantly concluded that group meditation seems to prevent war. In reporting on these unexpected findings, world-renown quantum physicist John Hagelin Ph.D. commented: “There is far more evidence that group meditation can turn off war like a light switch than that aspirin reduces headaches. It is a scientific fact.”

Daily Peace Meditations around the World

The Maitreya Peace Meditation aims to bring out loving kindness, which is the antidote to war. To maximize the collective impact of the loving kindness meditation, individuals meditate at specific times and places. For example, the daily peace meditation is at 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. in France, at 7 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. in India, at noon in the United States, and at 8 p.m. in Russia. Organizers in other locations conduct meditations once or twice a week at set times. The project believes that when millions and millions of people around the globe embrace patience, loving-kindness, and compassion world peace will become a reality.


Thich Nhat Hanh y la sonrisa interior

La vida de Thich Nhat Hanh

El maestro zen Thich Nhat Hanh es un líder espiritual global, poeta y activista por la paz conocido por sus profundas enseñanzas y sus muy populares libros sobre la paz y la práctica de la plena conciencia. Cuando Martin Luther King nominó a este amable y humilde monje para el Premio Nobel de la Paz lo calificó como «un apóstol de la paz y la no violencia». Exiliado de Vietnam durante casi cuarenta años, Thich Nhat Hanh ha sido uno de los primeros maestros en traer a Occidente las enseñanzas del budismo y de la plena conciencia (mindfulness) y en establecer una comunidad que practica un budismo comprometido y del siglo XXI.

Los primeros años

Thich Nhat Hanh nace en 1926 en una población de la región central de Vietnam y a los dieciséis años toma los hábitos como novicio en el templo de Tu Hieu, en la ciudad de Hue. A principios de la década de 1950 es un joven bhikshu (monje) implicado activamente en un movimiento para renovar el budismo en el país. Thich Nhat Hanh es uno de los primeros bhikshus en estudiar materias seculares en la Universidad de Saigón, y uno de los primeros seis monjes en montar en bicicleta.

Activismo social durante la Guerra de Vietnam

Cuando estalló la guerra en Vietnam, los monjes y las monjas se enfrentaron a este dilema: ceñirse a la vida contemplativa y permanecer meditando en los monasterios, o salir en ayuda de los que padecían los bombardeos y el desorden de la guerra. Thich Nhat Hanh fue uno de lo que optaron por hacer ambas cosas, y de ese modo fundó el movimiento llamado budismo comprometido, término que él mismo acuñó en su libro Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire. Desde ese momento ha vivido entregado a la tarea de la transformación personal en beneficio de las personas y de la sociedad.

En 1961 Thich Nhat Hanh viajó a los Estados Unidos para enseñar Religiones Comparadas en la Universidad de Princeton, y un año más tarde pasó a enseñar e investigar el budismo en la Universidad de Columbia. De regreso en Vietnam fundó la Escuela de Juventud y Servicio Social, una organización asistencial de base compuesta por alrededor de diez mil voluntarios que actuaban siguiendo los principios budistas de no violencia y acción compasiva.

En 1961 Thich Nhat Hanh viajó a los Estados Unidos para estudiar Religiones Comparadas en la Universidad de Princeton, y un año más tarde pasó a enseñar e investigar el budismo en la Universidad de Columbia. De regreso en Vietnam fundó la Escuela de Juventud y Servicio Social, una organización asistencial de base compuesta por alrededor de diez mil voluntarios que actuaban siguiendo los principios budistas de no violencia y acción compasiva.

El 1 de mayo de 1966, en el templo Tu Hieu, Thich Nhat Hanh recibió la lámpara de transmisión de manos del maestro Chan That.

En el exilio

Unos meses más tarde volvió a recorrer Europa y Estados Unidos para hacer un llamamiento por la paz y pedir el fin de las hostilidades en Vietnam. Durante esta gira de 1966 conoció a Martin Luther King Jr. quien lo nominó para el Premio Nobel de la Paz de 1967. La consecuencia de esta gira fue que tanto Vietnam del Norte como Vietnam del Sur le prohibieron regresar al país, y así comenzó un largo exilio de 39 años.

hich Nhat Hanh siguió viajando por todo el mundo difundiendo un mensaje de paz y fraternidad para convencer a los líderes occidentales de que pusieran fin a la Guerra de Vietnam, y en 1969 dirigió la delegación budista en la Conferencia de Paz de París.

Fundación de Plum Village en Francia

Thich Nhat Hanh siguió enseñando y escribiendo sobre el arte de vivir despiertos y en paz. A principio de la década de 1970 trabajó como profesor e investigador del budismo en la Universidad de la Sorbona en París. En 1975 fundó la Comunidad de la Batata cerca de París, que en 1982 se trasladó a un lugar mucho más amplio en el oeste de Francia. Pronto cambió su nombre por el actual de Plum Village.

Bajo la dirección espiritual de Thich Nhat Hanh, Plum Village ha crecido desde aquella primera pequeña granja rural hasta llegar a ser el mayor y más activo monasterio budista en Occidente. Hoy cuenta con 200 monásticos residentes y cada año acoge a cerca de diez mil visitantes de todo el mundo que vienen para aprender «el arte de vivir despiertos».

En sus retiros, Plum Village recibe a personas de todas las edades, creencias y condiciones para que puedan aprender prácticas como la meditación caminando, la meditación sentada, la meditación de la comida, la relajación total, la meditación del trabajo y el arte de detenerse, sonreír y respirar en plena conciencia. Se trata de antiguas prácticas budistas cuya esencia Thich Nhat Hanh ha destilado y desarrollado para que puedan aplicarse de forma fácil y eficaz en medio de los retos y las dificultades de la sociedad actual.

En los últimos veinte años, más de cien mil personas se han comprometido a vivir siguiendo los cinco entrenamientos de la plena conciencia, un modernizado código de ética universal redactado por Thich Nhat Hanh.

Recientemente Thich Nhat Hanh ha creado Wake Up, un movimiento internacional compuesto por miles de jóvenes que cultivan estas prácticas de vida despierta, y ha lanzado el programa Wake Up Schools que entrena a educadores para que enseñen la plena conciencia en escuelas de Europa, Estados Unidos y Asia.

Thich Nhat Hanh es también un artista. Desde 2010, sus singulares y populares caligrafías (breves frases que expresan la esencia de sus enseñanzas) han sido objeto de exposiciones en Hong Kong, Taiwán, Canadá, Alemania, Francia y Nueva York.

Durante la pasada década Thich Nhat Hanh ha fundado monasterios en CaliforniaNueva York, Vietnam, ParísHong KongTailandiaMisisipi y Australia, y el primer Instituto de Budismo Aplicado de Europa en Alemania.

Los centros de práctica de plena conciencia en la tradición de Plum Village ofrecen retiros destinados a personas del mundo de la empresa, educadores, familias, profesionales de la salud, psicoterapeutas, políticos, jóvenes, veteranos de guerra y palestinos e israelíes. Cada año alrededor de cuarenta y cinco mil personas participan en las actividades organizadas por los monjes y monjas de Plum Village en Estados Unidos y Europa.

En los últimos años Thich Nhat Hanh dirigió actividades para miembros del Congreso de los Estados Unidos y parlamentarios del Reino Unido, Irlanda, India y Tailandia. Ha intervenido en el Parlamento Mundial de las Religiones en Melbourne y en la Unesco en París para proponer medidas concretas destinadas a revertir el ciclo de violencia, guerra y calentamiento global. Durante su visita a los Estados Unidos en 2013, dirigió destacados eventos de plena conciencia en la sede de Google, en el Banco Mundial y en la Facultad de Medicina de Harvard.

En noviembre de 2014, tras unos meses en los que su salud se fue deteriorando rápidamente y solo un mes después de haber cumplido 88 años, Thich Nhat Hanh sufrió un grave ictus. Aunque aún no ha recuperado el habla y tiene casi paralizada la mitad derecha de su cuerpo, ha seguido ofreciendo el Dharma e inspiración a todos a través de su presencia pacífica, serena y valiente.

En la actualidad Thich Nhat Hanh reside en el templo Tu Hieu en Vietnam, el mismo templo donde recibió de su maestro los hábitos a la edad de 16 años. Ha expresado su deseo de permanecer allí hasta el fin de sus días. Realiza frecuentes salidas en silla de ruedas para visitar los altares del templo y para guiar a la comunidad en meditaciones caminando alrededor de los lagos y las estupas de los ancestros. El regreso de Thay a Tu Hieu ha sido una campana de plena conciencia que nos recuerda el inestimable valor de pertenecer a un linaje espiritual con profundas raíces. Todos cuantos hemos entrado en contacto con sus enseñanzas gracias a la asistencia a un retiro, la lectura de uno de sus libros o la escucha de, al menos, una de sus charlas estamos conectados a esta corriente ancestral de sabiduría y compasión.


El austero monje budista que fundó un negocio millonario y se hizo gurú de Madonna

Su nombre es más fácil de pronunciar que de recordar. Se llama Thich Nhat Hanh y nació en un ya lejano 1926 en Vietnam. Con su venerable aspecto de monje budista, Nhat Hanh es conocido en Occidente como el inventor del Mindfulness o ‘consciencia plena’, una industria que solo en Estados Unidos mueve más de mil millones de euros al año. En España no queda ciudad ni pueblo grande donde no se haya constituido un grupo de esta disciplina que cada vez gana más adeptos.

Thay (‘maestro’ en vietnamita, el nombre por el que se refieren a él sus millones de fans) ha decidido pasar el último suspiro de su vida en un sencillo monasterio viviendo en igualdad de condiciones con decenas de otros monjes seguidores de su orden. Un gesto que sus acaudalados clientes, acostumbrados a mansiones en las Bahamas y yates de superlujo, quizás duden más en imitar cuando se acerquen sus horas finales.

Después de pasar los últimos sesenta años de su vida en Estados Unidos y Francia y convertirse en una estrella del rock de la meditación, Hanh ha regresado al país del que fue expulsado en los años 60 por el régimen comunista y vetado por el gobierno de Vietnam del Sur a causa de su activismo pacifista.

Ahora, de vuelta a sus raíces, ha abandonado el lujo con el que tuvo contacto a lo largo de su fructífera carrera. Todos los días acuden a él decenas de devotos y curiosos de todas partes del mundo con el sueño de atisbar la frágil estampa del venerable anciano. Nhat Hanh, muy débil, apenas se deja ver y cuando lo hace, saluda tímidamente a sus seguidores convertido casi en una reliquia sagrada.

De él dijo dijo Oprah Winfrey que es “uno de los líderes espirituales de nuestro tiempo”. Cuando Obama hizo una visita histórica al país, citó a Nhat Hanh y dijo que en “un verdadero diálogo las dos partes están dispuestas a cambiar”. Sus enseñanzas han marcado a algunas de las personalidades con más poder del planeta. El último presidente del Banco Mundial, Jim Yong Kim, asegura que El milagro del Mindfulness (Oniro) es su libro favorito. La lista de fieles del Mindfulness y la meditación reúne también a estrellas de la cultura y el espectáculo. De directores de prestigio como David Lynch a artistas como Katy Perry, Madonna, Nicole Kidman o el mismísimo Clint Eastwood, gran fan de la meditación.

Pero, ¿qué tiene el Mindfulness? Su principal “ventaja” y parte de su éxito es que, aunque siendo una técnica con origen religioso, no hace falta ser budista para practicarla y tampoco creer en ningún Dios. Autor de libros que han vendido millones de ejemplares en todo el mundo, Nhat Hanh explica sus teorías con un lenguaje sencillo cargado de casos reales prácticos. Por ejemplo, su obra más famosa, El milagro del Mindfulness, arranca con una exhortación a disfrutar del simple placer de lavar los platos: “Cuando friegues los platos, solo debes fregar los platos. Lo que significa que mientras uno friega los platos, uno debe ser consciente únicamente de que los friega”. Prosigue: “Hay dos maneras de fregar los platos. La primera es hacerla para quitárselo de encima y poder dedicarse a otra cosa y la segunda por el propio hecho de hacerlo”.

Y eso que, como cuenta Nhat Hanh en el volumen, en sus tiempos de novicio no había jabón ni agua caliente, con lo cual ese precepto de disfrutar la tarea debía ser más complicado. Mucho peor lo tenían los monjes durante la guerra de Vietnam, en la que Nhat Hanh se negó a tomar partido entre comunistas y anticmounistas (con Estados Unidos a la cabeza) creando suspicacias en ambos bandos. Allí fue donde el monje, según sus biógrafos, tuvo que desarrollar al máximo su capacidad de resiliencia porque muchos de sus compañeros fueron asesinados o expulsados.

Nhat Hanh también es un gurú de la comida sana y lo orgánico, sin duda parte de su éxito. El monje opina que los kilos de más crean un exceso de energía en el cuerpo y rompen el equilibrio interior. Enemigo acérrimo de la comida industrial y la carne, asegura que al comer pollo criado en granjas masivas ingerimos su desesperación por haber tenido una vida miserable. Gracias a estas ideas se ha convertido en ídolo de los veganos y uno de los máximos precursores del movimiento.

Según explica en La ira: El dominio del fuego interior (Zenith), todos tenemos un niño dentro al que debemos cuidar, mimar, escuchar y sentir compasión. De acuerdo con Nhat Hanh, la única manera de crear paz y armonía a nuestro alrededor es estar bien con nosotros mismos. “Muchos de nosotros tenemos a un niño herido dentro de nosotros. Esa herida ha sido causada muchas veces por nuestro padre o nuestro madre”, dice el maestro. Para curar a ese “niño herido”, debemos “escucharnos a nosotros mismos con compasión” y “acunarlo y quererle como si fuéramos una madre amorosa con su propio hijo».

Si el Mindfulness se define en parte por esa “atención plena” que reclama, su siguiente precepto es el autocontrol absoluto, que surge de esa capacidad para vivir el presente sin dejarse ofuscar por los traumas del pasado ni por el miedo al futuro. En tiempos de distracción constante con las redes sociales, la sobrecarga de noticias y de novedades en todos los ámbitos, su mensaje ha calado como una forma de defender la capacidad de no distraerse en una era dispersa como la que vivimos.

Para conseguir esa estado de “iluminación”, Nhat Hanh propone una serie de técnicas de meditación que actualmente se usan en los hospitales de todo el mundo para tratar el síndrome de postraumático y que forman parte del procedimiento de rutina del ejército de Estados Unidos para lidiar con situaciones de estrés extremo. Siendo conscientes de nuestra respiración, un elemento esencial del Mindfulness, caminando “Mindfulness” y siendo capaces de olvidarnos de los pesares y cuitas del mundo para focalizar nuestra atención en una sola cosa durante unos minutos al día, según Nhat Hanh, seremos personas mejores. A los famosos parece que les va muy bien con ello.

10 consejos prácticos de Mindfulness para vivir mejor

1.Reconoce el sufrimiento de tu “niño interior”. No te enfades con él.

2.“Escucha compasivamente”, a los demás y a ti mismo.

3.La única forma de amar y ser amado es quererte primero a ti mismo.

4.“Para que haya un verdadero diálogo, las dos partes deben cambiar”.

5.Cuando quieres venganza, te estás haciendo más daño a ti mismo.

6.Disfruta cada momento y cada cosa que haces. “No laves los platos para tenerlo hecho” sino por el mero hecho de lavarlos.

7.Respira y sé consciente de tu respiración varias veces al día.

8.Formas parte de la naturaleza. Cuida tu dieta y come alimentos orgánicos.

9.La ganadería industrial somete a los animales a condiciones infames. Estás comiendo “su rabia” por haber tenido una vida miserable.

10.Vive sin juzgar. Procura “sentir” las cosas sin valorarlas constantemente.


Thich Nhat Hanh: Más allá del medio ambiente

El maestro zen Thich Nhat Hanh ha estado practicando la meditación y la atención durante 70 años e irradia una extraordinaria sensación de calma y paz. Desde que se vio envuelto en los horrores de la guerra de Vietnam, el monje de 86 años (hoy 94) ha dedicado su vida a reconciliar conflictos y en 1967 Martin Luther King lo nominó para el Premio Nobel de la Paz, diciendo que «sus ideas para la paz, si se aplican, construirían un monumento al ecumenismo, a la hermandad mundial, a la humanidad». Por lo tanto, parece natural que en los últimos años haya dirigido su atención no sólo a abordar las relaciones discordantes de los pueblos entre sí, sino también con el planeta del que dependen todas nuestras vidas. Thay, como lo conocen sus muchos miles de seguidores, considera que la falta de sentido y conexión en la vida de las personas es la causa de nuestra adicción al consumismo y que es vital que reconozcamos y respondamos al estrés que estamos poniendo en la Tierra si queremos que la civilización sobreviva. Lo que el budismo ofrece, dice, es el reconocimiento de que todos sufrimos y la forma de superar ese dolor es enfrentarse directamente a él, en lugar de tratar de ocultarlo o evitarlo a través de nuestra obsesión por las compras, el entretenimiento, el trabajo o el embellecimiento de nuestros cuerpos. El ansia de fama, riqueza, poder y sexo sirve para crear sólo la ilusión de felicidad y termina por exacerbar los sentimientos de desconexión y vacío. Thay se refiere a un multimillonario director ejecutivo de una de las mayores empresas de América, que vino a uno de sus cursos de meditación y habló de sus sufrimientos, preocupaciones y dudas, de pensar que todo el mundo venía a aprovecharse de él y que no tenía amigos. En una entrevista en su casa (N.T: hace unos años regresó a Vietnam) y centro de retiros en Plum Village, cerca de Burdeos, Thay nos habla de cómo se necesita una revolución espiritual si vamos a enfrentar la multitud de desafíos ambientales. Mientras que muchos expertos señalan la enorme complejidad y dificultad de abordar cuestiones que van desde la destrucción de los ecosistemas hasta la pérdida de millones de especies, Thay ve un nudo gordiano que hay que cortar con un solo golpe de una cuchilla afilada. Ir más allá del concepto de «medio ambiente» Cree que debemos ir más allá de hablar del medio ambiente, ya que esto lleva a las personas a experimentar a sí mismas y a la Tierra como dos entidades separadas y a ver el planeta sólo en términos de lo que puede hacer por ellas. El cambio sólo es posible si se reconoce que la gente y el planeta son en última instancia uno y el mismo. «Llevas a la Madre Tierra dentro de ti», dice Thay. «Ella no está fuera de ti. La Madre Tierra no es sólo tu entorno. En esa percepción del inter-ser, es posible tener una comunicación real con la Tierra, que es la forma más elevada de oración. En ese tipo de relación tienes suficiente amor, fuerza y despertar para cambiar tu vida. Cambiar no es sólo cambiar las cosas fuera de nosotros. En primer lugar necesitamos una visión correcta que trascienda todas las nociones, incluyendo las de ser y no ser, creador y criatura, mente y espíritu. Ese tipo de visión es crucial para la transformación y la curación. El miedo, la separación, el odio y la ira provienen de la visión equivocada de que tú y la Tierra son dos entidades separadas, que la Tierra es sólo el medio ambiente. Estás en el centro y quieres hacer algo por la Tierra para sobrevivir. Esa es una forma dualista de ver las cosas. Así que respirar y ser consciente de nuestro cuerpo y mirar profundamente en él y darnos cuenta de que somos la Tierra y nuestra conciencia es también la conciencia de la Tierra. No cortar el árbol, no contaminar el agua, eso no es suficiente.»

Poner un valor económico en la naturaleza no es suficiente Thay dice que la moda actual en los círculos económicos y empresariales de que la mejor manera de proteger el planeta es dando un valor económico a la naturaleza es como poner una tirita en una herida abierta. «No creo que funcione», Necesitamos un verdadero despertar, iluminación, para cambiar nuestra forma de pensar y ver las cosas.» En lugar de ponerle precio a nuestros bosques y arrecifes de coral, el cambio sólo se producirá a un nivel fundamental si volvemos a enamorarnos del planeta: «La Tierra no puede ser descrita ni por la noción de materia ni por la de mente, que son sólo ideas, dos caras de la misma realidad. Ese pino no es sólo materia ya que posee un sentido de conocimiento. Una partícula de polvo no es sólo materia ya que cada uno de sus átomos tiene inteligencia y es una realidad viviente. Cuando reconocemos las virtudes, el talento, la belleza de la Madre Tierra, algo nace en nosotros, algún tipo de conexión, nace el amor. Queremos estar conectados. Ese es el significado del amor, estar en uno. Cuando amas a alguien quieres decir te necesito, me refugio en ti. Haces cualquier cosa por el beneficio de la Tierra y la Tierra hará cualquier cosa por tu bienestar.» En el mundo de los negocios, Thay da el ejemplo de Yvon Chouinard, fundador y propietario de la empresa de ropa de exterior Patagonia, que combinó el desarrollo de un negocio exitoso con la práctica de la atención y la compasión: «Es posible hacer dinero de una manera que no sea destructiva, que promueva más justicia social y más comprensión y que disminuya el sufrimiento que existe a nuestro alrededor», dice Thay. «Mirando profundamente, vemos que es posible trabajar en el mundo corporativo de una manera que traiga mucha felicidad tanto a otras personas como a nosotros… nuestro trabajo tiene un significado». El monje, que ha escrito más de 100 libros, sugiere que la conexión perdida con el ritmo natural de la Tierra está detrás de muchas enfermedades modernas y que, de manera similar a nuestro patrón psicológico de culpar a nuestra madre y padre por nuestra infelicidad, hay una dinámica inconsciente aún más oculta de culpar a la Madre Tierra. Cómo la atención plena puede reconectar a la gente con la Madre Tierra Señala la creciente evidencia de que la atención plena (mindfulness) puede ayudar a la gente a reconectarse, disminuyendo la velocidad y apreciando todos los regalos que la tierra puede ofrecer. «Muchas personas sufren profundamente y no saben que sufren», dice. «Tratan de cubrir el sufrimiento estando ocupados. Mucha gente se enferma hoy en día porque se alejan de la Madre Tierra. La práctica de la atención nos ayuda a tocar a la Madre Tierra dentro del cuerpo y esta práctica puede ayudar a curar a la gente. Así que la curación de la gente debería ir junto con la curación de la Tierra y esta es la visión y es posible que cualquiera la practique. Este tipo de iluminación es muy crucial para un despertar colectivo. En el budismo hablamos de la meditación como un acto de despertar, para estar despierto al hecho de que la tierra está en peligro y las especies vivas están en peligro». Se da el ejemplo de algo tan simple y ordinario como beber una taza de té. Esto puede ayudar a transformar la vida de una persona si realmente le dedica su atención. «Cuando estoy atento, disfruto más de mi té», dice Thay mientras se sirve una taza y saborea lentamente el primer sorbo. «Estoy totalmente presente en el aquí y ahora, no me dejo llevar por mi dolor, mi miedo, mis proyectos, el pasado y el futuro. Estoy aquí disponible para la vida. Cuando tomo el té es un momento maravilloso. No se necesita mucho poder o fama o dinero para ser feliz. La atención puede ayudarte a ser feliz en el aquí y ahora. Cada momento puede ser un momento feliz. Da ejemplo y ayuda a la gente a hacer lo mismo. Tómate unos minutos para experimentar y ver la verdad». Necesidad de lidiar con la propia ira para ser un activista social efectivo A lo largo de muchos años, se ha desarrollado la noción de budismo aplicado, sustentada en un conjunto de prácticas éticas conocidas como los cinco entrenamientos de conciencia, que son muy claros en cuanto a la importancia de abordar la injusticia social. Sin embargo, para que los activistas sociales y ambientales sean efectivos, Thay dice que primero deben lidiar con su propia ira. Sólo si la gente descubre la compasión por sí misma podrá enfrentarse a aquellos a los que responsabiliza de contaminar nuestros mares y talar nuestros bosques. «En el budismo hablamos de acción colectiva», dice. «A veces algo malo sucede en el mundo y pensamos que son los demás los que lo hacen y nosotros no. Pero eres parte del mal por la forma en que vives tu vida. Si eres capaz de entender que no sólo tú sufres, sino que la otra persona también sufre, eso es también una percepción. Cuando veas a la otra persona sufrir no querrás castigar o culpar, sino ayudar a esa persona a sufrir menos. Si estás agobiado por la ira, el miedo, la ignorancia y sufres demasiado, no puedes ayudar a otra persona. Si sufres menos, eres más ligero, más sonriente, más agradable y estás en posición de ayudar a la persona.

«Los activistas deben tener una práctica espiritual para ayudarles a sufrir menos, a nutrir la felicidad y a manejar el sufrimiento para que sean eficaces en ayudar al mundo. Con la ira y la frustración no se puede hacer mucho.»

Tocando la «última dimensión» La clave de la enseñanza de Thay es la importancia de comprender que, si bien necesitamos vivir y operar en un mundo dualista, también es vital comprender que nuestra paz y felicidad radican en el reconocimiento de la dimensión última: «Si somos capaces de tocar profundamente la dimensión histórica – a través de una hoja, una flor, un guijarro, un rayo de luz, una montaña, un río, un pájaro, o nuestro propio cuerpo – tocamos al mismo tiempo la dimensión última. La dimensión última no puede ser descrita como personal o impersonal, material o espiritual, objeto o sujeto de cognición – sólo decimos que siempre está brillando, y brillando en sí misma. Tocando la dimensión última, nos sentimos felices y cómodos, como los pájaros disfrutando del cielo azul, o los ciervos disfrutando de los campos verdes. Sabemos que no tenemos que buscar lo último fuera de nosotros mismos – está disponible dentro de nosotros, en este mismo momento.» Aunque Thay cree que hay una forma de crear una relación más armoniosa entre la humanidad y el planeta, también reconoce que existe un riesgo muy real de que sigamos en nuestro camino destructivo y que la civilización pueda colapsar. Dice que todo lo que tenemos que hacer es ver cómo la naturaleza ha respondido a otras especies que se han salido de control: «Cuando la necesidad de sobrevivir es reemplazada por la codicia y el orgullo, se genera violencia, y la violencia siempre trae una devastación innecesaria. Hemos aprendido la lección de que cuando perpetramos violencia hacia nuestra propia especie y hacia otras, somos violentos con nosotros mismos; y cuando sabemos cómo proteger a todos los seres, nos estamos protegiendo a nosotros mismos». Permaneciendo optimista a pesar del riesgo de una inminente catástrofe En la mitología griega, cuando Pandora abrió el regalo contenido en una caja, todos los males fueron liberados en el mundo. El único elemento que quedaba era la «esperanza». Está claro que mantener el optimismo es esencial si queremos encontrar una forma de evitar el devastador cambio climático y los enormes trastornos sociales que resultarán de él. Sin embargo, no es ingenuo y reconoce que poderosas fuerzas nos están empujando constantemente hacia el borde del precipicio. En su libro de mayor venta sobre el medio ambiente, The World we Have, escribe: «Hemos construido un sistema que no podemos controlar. Se nos impone y nos convertimos en sus esclavos y víctimas. Hemos creado una sociedad en la que los ricos se hacen más ricos y los pobres más pobres, y en la que estamos tan atrapados en nuestros propios problemas inmediatos que no podemos permitirnos el lujo de ser conscientes de lo que está pasando con el resto de la familia humana o con nuestro planeta Tierra. En mi mente veo un grupo de pollos en una jaula disputando por unas pocas semillas de grano, sin saber que en unas pocas horas todos serán asesinados.»


Las 6 frases más inspiradoras de Thich Nhat Hanh

El monje budista zen Thich Nhat Hanh, considerado el monje budista más influyente después del Dalai Lama, ha muerto a los 95 años en el templo Tu Hieu, en la localidad vietnamita de Hue, donde llegó para pasar los últimos años de vida tras sobrevivir a un derrame cerebral que le dejó sin habla y en silla de ruedas. 

Está considerado como uno de los padres del mindfulness y la paz interior gracias a los más de 70 libros que llegó a publicar y los retiros espirituales que organizaba. Además, fue propuesto para el Nobel de la Paz por Martin Luther King Jr. en 1967.

A lo largo de su su vida dejó grandes enseñanzas sobre la paz, la felicidad y el amor. Estas son algunas de sus frases más inspiradoras:

Mis acciones son las únicas y verdaderas pertenencias que tengo

Se trata de uno de los Cinco Recordatorios de Buda. «No puedo huir de las consecuencias de mis acciones. Ellas son el suelo en el que me apoyo», continúa. Es la base para tomar conciencia de que cada acto tiene consecuencias, pero que lo más importante es asumirlas para seguir creciendo. 

Camina como si estuvieras besando la tierra con tus pies

Se trata de ser consciente de uno mismo, de los pensamientos, de lo que rodea y la grandeza de la naturaleza. Cuando se reconocen todas estas cosas se comenzará a andar con gratitud por estar vivos. Así, cada paso que se dé será como alimentar el suelo con felicidad, amor y paz.

Debido a que estás vivo, todo es posible

La propia existencia como respaldo para creer en tus sueños. No hay que perder la esperanza pese a las dificultades que puedan venir. La muerte es la única que puede arrebatar cualquier tipo de esperanza.

No hay camino a la felicidad, la felicidad es el camino

Muchas personas se empeñan con conseguir la felicidad. Es uno de los grandes propósitos vitales. Sin embargo, ser feliz no es la meta de la vida ya que la felicidad se encuentra en el camino: en las pequeñas cosas, el desarrollo personal y las experiencias vividas. 

Nuestra propia vida tiene que ser nuestro mensaje

Predicar con el ejemplo. Llevar una vida ejemplar e inspiradora para los demás. 

Sonríe, respira y ve lentamente

Una frase que resume perfectamente el estilo de vida de Thich Nhat Hanh. Se trata de ser amable con los demás, dedicar tiempo a las tareas que se tengan que hacer y disfrutar del camino.


Las frases inspiradoras de Thich Nhat Hanh, el maestro espiritual que llevó el mindfulness a Occidente

Considerado el padre del ‘ mindfulness‘ o la atención plena, el maestro espiritual y monje budista Thich Nhat Hanh (1926-2022) defendió siempre que la capacidad de ser consciente de lo que está pasando y de lo que se está viviendo es la base para abordar los problemas y las injusticias del mundo moderno. A lo largo de su vida publicó más de 100 libros y organizó cientos de retiros espirituales, pero además logró que la comunidad budista fuera sensible a las necesidades de un mundo cambiante y en continua transformación. A través del su «budismo comprometido» defendió la creencia de que la calma meditativa debe probarse en medio del conflicto. Martin Luther King lo calificó como «un Apóstol de la paz y la no violencia» cuando lo nominó en 1967 para el Nobel de la Paz.

Desde el comienzo de su vida monástica, que inició a los 16 años, Nhat Hanh combinó la práctica de la meditación con la acción social y con la erudición (hablaba ocho idiomas) y a los 30 años ya editaba una revista que instaba al budismo a modernizarse y oponerse a la guerra de Vietnam (1955-1975).

En 1961 viajó a los Estados Unidos para estudiar y enseñar religión comparada en la Universidad de Columbia. Tres años más tarde regresó a Vietnam, donde inició su labor divulgativa. En aquel momento el budismo era respetado como una alternativa pero carecía de los medios para traducir este prestigio en un cambio social. En poco tiempo, Nhat Hanh fundó la Universidad Budista Van Hanh, una editorial, la Escuela de Jóvenes para el Servicio Social y la Orden de ‘Interser’, una organización laica que basaba su trabajo en la combinación de la acción social y la conciencia plena.

Su vida fue un canto a la paz. No en vano fue exiliado de su Vietnam natal durante casi cuatro décadas (paso 39 años en Francia) por oponerse a la guerra. El gobierno de Vietnam del Sur declaró que cualquiera que promoviera el neutralismo sería considerado procomunista, y muchos de los seguidores de Nhat Hanh fueron asesinados, si bien él sobrevivió a un intento de asesinato.

En el apogeo de la guerra de Vietnam viajó a Estados Unidos para contar a los estadounidenses cuáles eran los horrores de esa guerra y se entrevistó con líderes académicos, religiosos y políticos e incluso con oficiales federales y del Pentágono con la intención de ofrecerles los argumentos necesarios para impulsar un alto el fuego y un acuerdo negociado. Además, influyó en el cambio del curso de la historia cuando pidió a Luther King a que se opusiera públicamente a la guerra de Vietnam.

En Europa, Nhat Hanh se reunió con el Papa Pablo VI para instar a la cooperación entre budistas y católicos en Vietnam, y en 1969 estableció la delegación de paz budista en las conversaciones de paz de París. Tras los acuerdos de paz de 1973 a Nhat Hanh se le negó el permiso para regresar a Vietnam. Sin embargo se embarcó en una nueva esfera de actividad como maestro budista en Occidente. Con la hermana Chan Khong estableció un centro de meditación al sureste de París y en 1982 fundó Plum Village en Dordogne, en el suroeste de Francia, que alberga a más de 200 monjas y monjes.

Además, al término de la guerra la Escuela de Jóvenes para el Servicio Social que había fundado en Saigón ya estaba formada por más de 10.000 monjes y laicos que lograron reconstruir aldeas y fundar escuelas y clínicas para mejorar la vida de distintas comunidades.

En 2014 tuvo un derrame cerebral. Se mudó a Tailandia a fines de 2016 y dos años después regresó a Vietnam. Allí recibió tratamientos de medicina tradicional para las secuelas de su derrame cerebral en la Pagoda Tu Hieu, el monasterio de Hue donde había sido ordenado. Y allí es donde falleció el pasado 21 de enero a la edad de 95 años.

Además de sus publicaciones y su labor al frente de distintas organizaciones, Thich Nhat Hanh deja un legado en forma de frases inspiradoras. Hacemos un repaso de las más populares.

  • «Debes amar de forma que la otra persona se sienta libre.»
  • «La sensación de que cualquier tarea es una molestia pronto desaparece si se hace con atención plena.»
  • «A veces tu alegría es la fuente de tu sonrisa, pero a veces tu sonrisa puede ser la fuente de tu alegría.»
  • «Nuestra propia vida tiene que ser nuestro mensaje.»
  • «Muchas personas están vivas pero no sienten el milagro de estar vivas.»
  • «Sonríe, respira y ve lentamente.»
  • «La meditación no es una evasión; es un encuentro sereno con la realidad.»


Thich Nhat Hanh: lecciones de sabiduría del maestro Zenç

Thich Nhat Hanh nació en Vietnam en 1926. Ha dado clases en la Universidad de Columbia y la Sorbona e incluso llegó a ser nominado por Martín Luter King Jr. para el Premio Nobel de la Paz en 1967. A día de hoy, y después de haber sobrevivido a un derrame cerebral en el 2014, lleva una vida más relajada en una una comunidad budista cerca de Burdeos que él mismo fundó en 1982.

Escritor infatigable y transmisor de la filosofía zen budista, llama la atención ante todo la profunda sencillez con las que sus mensajes llegan a conquistarnos. En libros como Hacia la paz interior, El corazón de las enseñanzas de Buda o El milagro del mindfulness nos transmiten conceptos, ideas y principios donde lo doctrinal se entremezcla con la sabiduría y la propia psicología.

1. La amabilidad puede cambiar el mundo

“La fuente del amor está en nosotros y podemos ayudar a otros a darse cuenta de que la felicidad está a su alcance. Basta una palabra, una acción y un pensamiento para reducir el sufrimiento de otra persona y darle alegría”.

La Universidad de Michigan y la Universidad de Tohoku, en Japón, realizaron un estudio en el 2006 donde quedaba demostrada esta relación. Así, las personas con actitud abierta y positiva que promueven actos amables en su entorno más cercano, crean siempre cambios muy beneficiosos en los demás. Mejoran el ánimo, crean lazos de confianza y alivian pesares y preocupaciones.

Si fuéramos capaces de practicar todos en el día a día el sano ejercicio de la amabilidad y el respeto, tal y como señala el propio Thich Nhat Hanh, podríamos cambiar el mundo.

2. Amor consciente, amor que favorece la libertad del otro

“Debes amar de tal manera que la persona que amas se sienta libre”.

El maestro vietnamita nos lo dice bien claro: amar a alguien es ofrecerle atención, una presencia capaz de hacer germinar al otro como si fuera la más hermosa flor. Ahora bien, esa atención plena hacia nuestros seres queridos debe favorecer a su vez un crecimiento no opresivo, un afecto que impulse hacia la libertad, que extienda sus raíces hacia la plenitud y sus pétalos a la iluminación.

Así, y según nos explica en sus libros y lecciones, lo mejor que podemos ofrecer al mundo es ese amor auténtico que cuide y respete a todas las especies de este planeta por igual, una energía noble y bienintencionada que revierta en el propio cosmos.

3. Sé consciente del sufrimiento ajeno

“No evites el contacto con el sufrimiento. No pierdas la conciencia de la existencia de esta realidad en el mundo. Encuentra maneras para estar con aquellos que están sufriendo por todos los medios, incluyendo el contacto personal, las visitas, imágenes, el sonido…”.

Estas palabras, pronunciadas por Thich Nhat Hanh en uno de sus discursos, evidencian ese compromiso activo ante quienes sufren que tanto lo definen. A su vez, llama la atención la necesidad de que seamos conscientes de ello en todos los sentidos: viendo el dolor ajeno, sintiéndolo e incluso escuchándolo.

Porque quien sufre tiene rostro, quien lo pasa mal lo demuestra con sus actos y su voz Aún más, quien sufre puede estar cerca de nosotros, justo a nuestro lado y a veces ni siquiera lo escuchamos. Por tanto, seamos conscientes de esa realidad tan recurrente en nuestro día a día.

4. Puedes manejar el miedo

“El miedo nos mantiene enfocados en el pasado o preocupados por el futuro. Si podemos reconocer nuestro miedo, podemos darnos cuenta de que en este mismo momento estamos bien. En este momento, hoy, todavía estamos vivos, y nuestros cuerpos están trabajando maravillosamente. Nuestros ojos aún pueden ver el hermoso cielo. Nuestros oídos todavía pueden escuchar las voces de nuestros seres queridos”

Esta reflexión del maestro vietnamita es sin duda una de las más bellas, acertadas y sabias. No solo habla del miedo, habla del afrontamiento y de saber ir más allá de esa emoción útil, pero a menudo mal gestionada, que tanto limita nuestras vidas. El temor debe favorecer nuestra supervivencia no detenerla.

Por ello, no hay nada mejor que apreciar el momento presente para darnos cuenta de algo muy simple: estamos vivos, la vida continua y tenemos la capacidad de seguir adelante en compañía de los nuestros, en sintonía con un mundo del que seguimos formando parte íntima y valiosa.

Para concluir, algo que llama la atención en la filosofía de Nhat Hanh es esa habilidad para combinar una gran variedad de enseñanzas provenientes del zen tradicional con distintas corrientes del budismo y la psicología moderna. Todo armoniza, todo encaja y todo inspira en él. Por ello, sus aportaciones, consejos y reflexiones nos son siempre tan comprensibles como válidas para favorecer nuestro crecimiento personal.


El milagro del mindfulness para Thich Nhat Hanh

Qué es el mindfulness

El mindfuness o consciencia plena significa estar despierto y consciente en el momento presente. Es una práctica que nos lleva, de forma continua, a saborear la vida en cada momento. Esta práctica se puede llevar a cabo en cualquier sitio, cuando estamos en casa o cuando nos desplazamos de un sitio a otro. Todo nuestro quehacer será el mismo, solo cambiará el hecho de que seamos conscientes al hacerlo. Podemos seguir trabajando, comiendo, caminando, pero siempre poniendo toda nuestra consciencia.

Vivimos continuamente ocupados, tanto, que nos olvidamos de qué es lo que estamos haciendo o quiénes somos. Es muy común que nos olvidemos incluso de respirar. Vivimos de manera tan inconsciente que se nos olvida incluso mirar a aquellas personas que amamos.

Si tenemos un rato libre, no se nos ocurre entrar en contacto con lo que sucede en nuestro interior. Escapamos de nosotros mismos encendiendo la televisión, llamando por teléfono a alguien o mirando algo en Internet.

La esencia del mindfulness es la consciencia de la respiración. Según dijo Buda, la verdadera fuente de la alegría y felicidad es la consciencia plena. En cada uno de nosotros reside la fuente de la consciencia plena. La forma de abrir esa fuente para nutrirnos de su agua es poner la atención en nuestra respiración.

Esta práctica es sumamente fácil y la puede llevar a cabo cualquier persona. Sin embargo, requiere constancia y ser capaces de parar a menudo. Esa parada se produce por medio de la inspiración, la espiración y nuestro caminar. Por eso la práctica básica del mindfulness de Thich Nhat Hanh es la respiración consciente y el caminar consciente. Una vez dominadas estas prácticas, la consciencia plena se puede trasladar al comer consciente, beber consciente, limpiar consciente, etc.

Al practicar la consciencia plena, llegamos a una concentración que nos llevará a la sabiduría. Así mismo, alcanzamos un discernimiento que nos liberará del miedo, la ira o la ansiedad.

Lleva el Mindfulness a cada momento del día

Para poder gozar completamente de lo que la vida nos da, es necesario que practiquemos la consciencia plena en cada momento. Da igual lo que estemos haciendo. En la ducha, durante el desayuno o camino del trabajo. Cada momento, cada paso, cada respiración, pueden ser una manera de encontrar alegría.

Es necesario que hagamos acopio de una buena reserva de alegría para cuando lleguen momentos de sufrimiento. De esa manera, en esos momentos, podremos cuidar de nuestra tristeza o desesperación, haciendo uso de nuestra reserva de felicidad y alegría.

La actitud para llevar a cabo esta práctica debe de ser suave y tranquila. La mente debe de estar en calma y abierta y el corazón en disposición de recibir. Con la práctica del Mindfulness podremos crear en nuestro interior núcleos de paz, amor y libertad que nos ayudarán a manejar mejor nuestras vidas.

El Milagro del Mindfulness

El libro El Milagro del Midfulness de Thich Naht Hanh fue, en su inicio, una carta que se escribió desde el exilio para los que, estando en Vietnam, hacían cursos y escuelas bajo el principio Mindfulness. Tiene planteamientos directos y está estructurado de manera simple. Es una fabulosa herramienta para aquellos que comienzan el camino de la meditación.

Vivimos en un momento en el que urge recuperar esta técnica que impulsa la meditación como manera de hacer frente a los problemas de la sociedad que hemos creado.

Según Thich Nhat Hanh subraya en este libro, cualquier cosa que hacemos de forma cotidiana nos proporciona un instante para la meditación. También, este libro hace hincapié en que cualquier acto que llevemos a cabo es importante que se haga simplemente por el hecho de llevarlo a cabo de manera consciente. Por ejemplo, los platos deber de ser lavados por el acto de lavarlos no para dejarlos limpios.

El Milagro del Mindfulness nos enseña ejercicios de meditación muy sencillos. Así mismo, está lleno de anécdotas que acompañan las explicaciones, las cuales hacen muy fácil entender los planteamientos.

Este libro nos enseña lo absurdo de nuestra forma de ver la vida. Actualmente, creemos que nuestra felicidad llegará cuando se cumpla determinada meta material.  Sin embargo, nos olvidamos de que la vida, nuestra vida, se desarrolla mientras caminamos hacía esa meta. De esta manera, nos perdemos la vida y la felicidad que ella encierra. Al pensar de esta manera, siempre sentiremos que algo nos falta, dice Thich Nhat Hanh. Por eso, cuando conseguimos estar presentes en aquello que estamos haciendo, nuestra vida cambia.

El libro gira en torno a la idea de que cuando ponemos la atención en las cosas que faltan, y no en las que están sucediendo, se origina una dinámica que hará que aparezca el sufrimiento.

En definitiva, El Milagro del Mindftulness nos enseña que para meditar no hace falta salir del mundo, ni aislarse. Simplemente, se trata de encontrarse con uno mismo de forma consciente y amable. Así mismo, como ya hemos dicho, para Thich Nhat Hanh, caminar sobre tierra es el milagro más grande de todos. ¡Seamos conscientes de ello!

En conclusión, cada vez más expertos del mundo de la medicina y la psicología insisten en la importancia de cuidar de nuestra mente, tal y como propone el método Crear Salud. Debemos ser conscientes de que para llevar una vida saludable también necesitamos nutrirnos adecuadamente y activarnos haciendo cosas que aporten a nuestro bienestar integral. Herramientas como la app Siente – que puedes descargarte aquí – pueden ser grandes aliadas en tu camino a una vida libre de estrés. Su metodología es sencilla de usar, pues incluye el mindfulness y la psicología positiva para mejorar tu bienestar, reducir el estrés y, de paso, ser más feliz.


Los 5 Entrenamientos Básicos Para Una Conciencia Plena Del Monje Zen THICH NHAT HANH

El maestro Thich Nhat Hanh es uno de los líderes espirituales más importantes del mundo, admirado tanto por líderes políticos como por altos exponentes de diferentes religiones en todo el orbe. Hanh es el fundador de Plum Village, un centro de meditación y comunidad monástica en Francia donde viven más de 200 monjes budistas y se practica lo que se ha acuñado como “engaged buddhism“, esto es, un budismo que se ocupa del medio ambiente y del cambio social.

La labor como maestro, poeta, autor de libros de budismo y de historia, activista y académico de Thich Nhat Hanh es vasta y supera los límites de este post que prefiere concentrase en sus enseñanzas prácticas, pero merece decirse que este gran maestro vietnamita ha estudiado y dado clases en universidades como Princeton o Columbia y domina idiomas como el inglés, el francés, el pali, el sánscrito, el chino, el japonés, su natal vietnamita y otros más. En 1967 Martin Luther King lo nominó al premio Nobel, diciendo que no conocía a nadie que mereciera más  este reconocimiento. A sus 89 años de edad se mantiene activo enseñando y participando en importantes reuniones de discusión global, siendo admirado mundialmente por su paz interna y su compromiso con valores humanos que trascienden modas o intereses personales.

En el sitio de Plum Village se pueden encontrar interesantes recursos para todos aquellos interesados en el budismo y en la meditación. En esta misma página se ha hecho disponible en diferentes idiomas material que consideramos sumamente útil, viniendo de quien también es conocido como “el padre del mindfulness“. En su libro El milagro del mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh dice:

El mindfulness (la conciencia plena) es el milagro por el cual tomamos control de nosotros mismos y nos restauramos. Considera una historia: un mago que corta las diferentes partes del cuerpo y las coloca en diferentes regiones –las manos en el sur, los brazos en el este, las piernas en el norte, el torso en el oeste– y luego por un poder milagroso con un sonido reintegra cada parte en un todo. El mindfulness es como ese poder –es el milagro que puede llamar de regreso súbitamente nuestra mente dispersa y restaurar nuestra integridad para que vivamos cada minuto de la vida… Así entonces el mindfulness es al mismo tiempo un medio y un fin, una semilla y una fruta.

Las siguientes cinco instrucciones están basadas en las cuatro nobles verdades y en el noble óctuple sendero del Buda: Practicar los cinco entrenamientos es cultivar la visión profunda de Interser, que puede hacer desaparecer toda discriminación, intolerancia, ira, miedo y desesperanza”.

Reverencia hacia la Vida
Consciente del sufrimiento causado por la destrucción de la vida, me comprometo a cultivar la visión profunda del Interser y la compasión y a aprender formas de proteger la vida de personas, animales, plantas y minerales. Estoy determinado a no matar, a no dejar que otros maten y a no apoyar ningún acto de violencia en el mundo, en mi pensamiento o en mi modo de vivir. Al observar que las acciones que causan daño surgen de la rabia, del miedo, la avaricia y la intolerancia, y que a su vez éstas surgen de una forma de pensar dualística y discriminatoria, cultivaré la amplitud de miras, la no discriminación y el no apego a puntos de vista para poder transformar la violencia, el fanatismo y el dogmatismo en mí mismo y en el mundo.

Verdadera Felicidad
Consciente del sufrimiento causado por la explotación, la injusticia social, el robo y la opresión, me comprometo a practicar la generosidad en mi pensamiento, en mi habla y en mis actos. Estoy determinado a no robar y a no poseer nada que pertenezca a los demás y a compartir mi tiempo, energía y recursos materiales con aquellos que los necesiten. Practicaré la visión profunda para ver que la felicidad y el sufrimiento de los demás no están separados de mi felicidad y sufrimiento y que la verdadera felicidad no es posible sin la comprensión y la compasión y que perseguir la riqueza, fama, poder y placeres sensuales pueden acarrear mucho sufrimiento y desesperanza. Soy consciente de que la felicidad depende de mi actitud mental y no de condiciones externas y de que puedo vivir felizmente en el momento presente acordándome de que ya poseo las suficientes condiciones para ser feliz. Me comprometo a practicar el Sustento Correcto de forma que pueda reducir el sufrimiento de los seres vivos de la Tierra y de dar marcha atrás al proceso de calentamiento global.

Verdadero Amor
Consciente del sufrimiento causado por una conducta sexual inapropiada, me comprometo a cultivar la responsabilidad y a aprender medios de proteger la seguridad e integridad de individuos, parejas, familias y la sociedad. Reconociendo que el deseo sexual no es necesariamente expresión de amor y que la actividad sexual motivada por el deseo compulsivo me dañan tanto a mí como a los demás, estoy determinado a no comprometerme en relaciones sexuales sin amor y sin un profundo compromiso a largo plazo, conocido tanto por mi familia como por mis amigos. Haré todo lo que esté en mi mano para proteger a los niños del abuso sexual y para prevenir que las parejas y familias se rompan a causa de una conducta sexual inapropiada. Consciente de que el cuerpo y la mente son uno, me comprometo a aprender formas apropiadas de cuidar de mi energía sexual y a cultivar la bondad, la compasión, la alegría y la inclusividad, que son los cuatro elementos básicos del verdadero amor para mi mayor felicidad y la mayor felicidad de los demás. Practicando el verdadero amor sabemos que continuaremos de una forma hermosa en el futuro.

Habla Amorosa y Escucha Profunda
Consciente del sufrimiento causado por la palabra irreflexiva y por la falta de habilidad para escuchar a los demás, me comprometo a cultivar un habla amorosa y una escucha compasiva que alivien el sufrimiento y promuevan la reconciliación y la paz en mí mismo y en otras personas, etnias, grupos religiosos y naciones. Consciente de que las palabras pueden crear felicidad o sufrimiento, me comprometo a hablar con honestidad y a utilizar palabras que inspiren confianza, alegría y esperanza. Cuando la ira se manifieste en mí, estoy determinado a no hablar. Practicaré la respiración y el caminar en Plena Conciencia para poder reconocer y mirar profundamente en mi ira. Reconozco que las raíces de la ira se encuentran en mis percepciones erróneas y en la falta de comprensión de mi propio sufrimiento y el de la otra persona. Hablaré y escucharé de tal forma que pueda ayudarme y ayudar al otro a liberarse del sufrimiento y a encontrar caminos para salir de situaciones difíciles. Estoy determinado a no difundir noticias de las que no tenga certeza y a no mencionar palabras que puedan causar división o discordia. Practicaré la Diligencia Correcta para nutrir mi capacidad de comprensión, amor, alegría e inclusividad de manera que me ayuden a transformar gradualmente la ira, violencia y miedo que yacen profundamente en mi conciencia.

Consumo Consciente y Salud
Consciente del sufrimiento causado por un consumo irreflexivo, me comprometo a practicar la plena conciencia en el comer, beber y consumir para cultivar la buena salud tanto física como mental en mí mismo, mi familia y sociedad. Practicaré la visión profunda en mi forma de utilizar los cuatro tipos de consumo: alimentos, impresiones sensoriales, volición y conciencia. Me comprometo a no consumir alcohol, drogas, juegos de azar, así como otros productos tóxicos tales como ciertas páginas web, programas de televisión, películas, revistas, libros y conversaciones. Practicaré la vuelta al momento presente para ponerme en contacto con los elementos refrescantes, saludables y edificantes que se encuentran a mi alrededor y dentro de mí. No dejaré que la culpabilidad y la tristeza me arrastren al pasado ni que la ansiedad, el miedo ni el deseo irreflexivo me alejen del momento presente. Me comprometo a no tratar de compensar mi soledad, mi angustia y otros sufrimientos mediante el consumo irreflexivo. Contemplaré la naturaleza del Interser y consumiré de tal forma que preserve la paz, la alegría y el bienestar en mi cuerpo y conciencia y en el cuerpo y conciencia colectivas de mi familia, sociedad y de nuestro planeta Tierra.



Meditación de la sonrisa:

LA MEDITACIÓN DE LA SONRISA (con vídeo subtitulado)

En este vídeo os traigo la práctica de una meditación. Desde hace más de cuatro años practico la meditación y os puedo asegurar que me está aportando mucho a mi vida y a mi persona. Os recomiendo la meditación como rutina diaria.


Yo llevo practicando la meditación todos los días desde hace más de cuatro años, y os puedo garantizar que os va a beneficiar muchísimo en vuestra vida.

Puede que ya muchos de vosotros y vosotras, y muchas de vosotras, practiquéis la meditación, y para aquellos que todavía y aquellas que todavía no practican, pues os lo recomiendo.

Os aseguro que veréis la vida desde otra perspectiva, afrontaréis los problemas de una forma más sosegada, tranquila.

Bueno, creo que los beneficios de la meditación son incalculables.

No soy un experto, solamente soy un practicante que llevo desde hace ya más de cuatro años, todos los días prácticamente, todos los días, intento no faltar.

Es como algo vital, y os puedo garantizar que me ha ayudado mucho en mi vida en los últimos años, a ser más fuerte y más sosegado, más tranquilo, y no sé, no tengo palabras, simplemente un sentimiento.

Así que os propongo esta meditación. Hacedla conmigo, y después, hacedla por vuestra cuenta.

Espero que os guste y pongáis vuestros comentarios.

Para ello, vamos a sentarnos en una silla, o podéis tumbaros también en la cama o en una esterilla sobre el suelo.

Yo lo hago siempre sobre una silla. Para ello pues me siento de una forma recta, erguida, pero cómoda, ¿vale? Que me sienta cómodo, sin tensión.

Así que vamos a empezar la meditación. Para ello cerramos los ojos.

En primer lugar, nos va concentrar unos momentos en la espiración.

Vamos a visualizar nuestra nariz, los orificios de nuestra nariz, y como entra el aire por ella.

Inspiramos profundamente y expiramos.

Los hacemos lentamente. Intentamos que sea una respiración profunda.

Visualizamos nuestra nariz, los orificios de la nariz, y visualizamos cómo entra el aire por nuestra nariz,y recorre el conducto de nuestra garganta y llega hasta los pulmones.

Y ahora vamos a visualizar nuestro corazón.

Visualizamos cómo palpita.

A continuación vamos a imaginarnos que tenemos en frente nuestra el cielo, el gran cielo abierto, un cielo hermoso, azul, y vamos a imaginar que una gran sonrisa recorre el cielo.

Ahora vamos a imaginarnos el espacio que hay entre ojo y ojo, e imaginamos una sonrisa que va de ojo a ojo. De la esquina de un ojo a la esquina del otro ojo.

Ahora vamos a imaginar nuestra boca: nuestros dientes, nuestros labios, nuestra lengua, el paladar, y vamos a imaginar que una sonrisa está dentro de nuestra boca.

Ahora vamos a imaginar nuestra garganta, el espacio interior que hay dentro de nuestro cuello, y también vamos a imaginar una sonrisa dentro de nuestra garganta, dentro de nuestro cuello.

Vamos a imaginar ahora el espacio interior de nuestra cabeza y el espacio que hay entre oreja y oreja.

Vamos a imaginar que una sonrisa se encuentra dentro de nuestra cabeza.

Y ahora vamos a imaginarnos toda la cabeza, con la cara, el rostro, los ojos la nariz, la boca, las orejas, el cuello, y una sonrisa instalada dentro de nuestra cabeza.

Ahora nos vamos imaginar los hombros, vamos a visualizar nuestros hombros y una sonrisa dentro de nuestros hombros.

Vamos ahora a recorrer nuestros brazos, y a medida que recorremos nuestros brazos, visualizamos una sonrisa que va desde los hombros hasta las manos.

Ahora vamos a visualizar nuestros pulgares, nuestros dedos índices, y vamos a visualizar el espacio que hay entre el dedo pulgar y el dedo índice, y vamos a ver una sonrisa en ese espacio.

Vamos a imaginarnos ahora todos los dedos de las manos, sus huesos, la carne interior, y una sonrisa que recorre cada uno de los dedos de nuestras manos.

Vamos a visualizar ahora nuestras manos: la carne, los huesos, el interior de nuestras manos, y una sonrisa dentro de nuestras manos.

Y ahora vamos a imaginarnos otra vez nuestro corazón, y una sonrisa que atraviesa nuestro corazón, y visualizamos cómo palpita con vida.

Y ahora vamos a imaginar nuestro pecho, la parte delantera de nuestro pecho la espalda.

Vamos a imaginar ese espacio que hay entre nuestro pecho y la espalda, con una sonrisa en su interior.

Y ahora vamos imaginar un lado de nuestro torso al otro lado del torso, un costado al otro costado, y una sonrisa que ocupa ese espacio.

Ahora vamos a imaginarnos nuestro abdomen, el interior de nuestro abdomen, el espacio que ocupa nuestro abdomen, con una sonrisa en su interior.

Y ahora nos vamos a imaginar la parte superior de nuestra espalda, con una sonrisa en su interior.

Y ahora nos vamos a imaginar la parte inferior de nuestra espalda, el espacio que ocupa la parte inferior de nuestra espalda, y visualizamos una sonrisa en su interior.

Y ahora vamos a visualizar, a imaginarnos nuestra pelvis y nuestros testículos, y nuestro aparato reproductor, y visualizamos una sonrisa en su interior.

Y ahora nos vamos a imaginar nuestras piernas, nuestros muslos, en contacto con la silla, con la cama, con el suelo.

Vamos a recorrer las piernas, pasando por las rodillas, llegando hasta los tobillos y los pies, y al mismo tiempo, vamos a ver, visualizar una gran sonrisa en su interior.

Ahora vamos a visualizar la parte inferior de nuestros pies en contacto con el suelo, y las sensaciones que nos produce, y una sonrisa en su interior.

Vamos ahora visualizar los dedos de los pies, sus huesos, su carne, las uñas, el espacio entre los dedos y las sensaciones que nos producen al visualizar esta parte de nuestro cuerpo, y una gran sonrisa que se extiende entre los dedos de los pies.

Ahora vamos a visualizar los pies en su totalidad, la parte inferior, la parte superior, los tobillos, los talones, la carne y sus huesos, y una sonrisa en su interior.

Vamos a visualizar de nuevo nuestras manos en contacto con nuestras piernas o con nuestras rodillas, y una sonrisa que se extiende en su interior.

Y vamos a visualizar de nuestro nuestro corazón palpitando vida, y una sonrisa que se extiende en su interior.

Y ahora vamos a visualizar el espacio que se encuentra en frente nuestra, y una sonrisa en ese espacio.

Y ahora vamos a imaginarnos el espacio que se encuentra en nuestras espaldas, y una sonrisa que recorre ese espacio.

Nos vamos a imaginar ahora el espacio que hay a nuestra izquierda, y el espacio que hay a nuestra derecha, y una gran sonrisa en ese espacio.

Y ahora nos vamos a imaginar el espacio que se encuentra encima nuestra, y el espacio que se encuentra debajo de nuestros pies, y una gran sonrisa que se extiende por ese espacio.

Y ahora vamos a pensar, imaginarnos que tenemos en frente nuestra a nuestros seres queridos, y les vamos a sonreír.

Y ahora nos vamos a imaginar que tenemos frente nuestra a esas personas que quizás no apreciamos tanto, o con las que tenemos dificultades en día a día, y también les vamos a sonreír.

Y ahora vamos imaginarnos que tenemos frente nuestra a las personas, a los seres que están sufriendo en estos momentos a nuestro alrededor, en el planeta, por diferentes circunstancias, por enfermedad, por la guerra, por la hambruna, por la persecución, vamos a pensar en ellas, en su sufrimiento, y les vamos a sonreír.

Y ahora, por último, vamos a imaginarnos que tenemos en frente nuestra nuestro Planeta Tierra, La Madre Tierra, que nos da vida, nos da cobijo, alimento, vamos a pensar en Ella, y le vamos a sonreír, a La Madre Tierra.

Y para finalizar estos últimos instantes de esta practica de meditación, vamos a agradecer a la VIDA que estamos aquí, disfrutando de esta hermosa VIDA.

Bueno, os agradezco que hayáis practicado esta meditación de la SONRISA.

Estoy seguro que si la practicáis periódicamente, a diario, unos minutos, os va a traer muchos beneficios a vuestra vida, a vuestro estado de ánimo, así os lo digo.

Gracias por vuestra atención y espero que os haya gustado. ¡GRACIAS!

Bueno, si os ha gustado la meditación, pues a practicarla. Hay muchas más en las redes, en Internet.

Podéis compartir el vídeo. Podéis suscribiros a mi canal. Y espero que pongáis la meditación en vuestra vida, como el deporte, como la vida sana, como la amistad, como el amor, etcétera.

Pues nada, me ha encantado hacer esta meditación con vosotros y vosotras. ¡Practicada!