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Buddhism in the News


Monday, October 01, 2007

Meditation and Nausea with an Update on the Situation in Burma

I've been feeling nauseous lately and today I'm feeling it again. I didn't feel up to meditating this morning because of my stomach but I thought that it might help despite feeling like it was the last activity I wanted to engage in. I tend to heat up when I meditate which doesn't help calm my stomach in the least so I took off my socks to release some energy and began to breath deeply from my stomach.

I did a relaxation meditation for the first ten minutes focusing my breath and mind upon each section of my body and when I reached my intestines and stomach I spent a little extra time taking in full but not forced breaths. It wasn't long before my stomach felt stable and relaxed.
By the end of my session my stomach had relaxed so much that it was able to belch out some trapped air that was causing some pressure and thus adding to the stomach sickness. Gone was the tightness of my stomach muscles.

The other aspect of this is that I saw my chiropractor early today before meditating and I was super tight from recent neck problems. However, once my spine adjusted during this current session I noticed that my stomach relaxed ever so slightly.

Yes, meditation is a great medicine for so many conditions and states of mind.

It is remarkable how when one part of your body is stressed and unbalanced the rest of your body becomes misaligned as well. It's the mind, body, consciousness interconnection. I am a firm believer that our state of mind can greatly affect how our body feels. It is a excellent reminder of the interdependency between the parts that make up "the body." In reality we know that there is no such thing as a "body" rather only parts that make up what we label a "body" that we often (unskillfully) address as a separate manifestation from anything else.

However, what good is a body if oxygen isn't available and what good is a body if food isn't available? The body can not live without the warmth of the sun, just like it can not survive without water. So, we see that we are actually made up of "things" or manifestations that are non-body parts. In reality, there is nothing that exists that isn't apart of our bodies.


Yangon, Myanmar
-- Thousands of protesters are dead and the bodies of hundreds of executed monks have been dumped in the jungle, a former intelligence officer for Burma's ruling junta has revealed.

The most senior official to defect so far, Hla Win, said: 'Many more people have been killed in recent days than you've heard about. The bodies can be counted in several thousand.'

There were reports that many were savagely beaten at a sports ground on the outskirts of Rangoon, where they were heard crying for help.

Others who had failed to escape disguised as civilians were locked in their bloodstained temples.

There, troops abandoned religious beliefs, propped their rifles against statues of Buddha and began cooking meals on stoves set up in shrines.

'People are scared and the general assessment is that the fight is over. We were informed from one of the largest embassies in Burma that 40 monks in the Insein prison were beaten to death today and subsequently burned.'

The 42-year-old chief of military intelligence in Rangoon's northern region, added: 'I decided to desert when I was ordered to raid two monasteries and force several hundred monks onto trucks.

'They were to be killed and their bodies dumped deep inside the jungle. I refused to participate in this.'

James: The following poem (not sure where it is from but I believe it is in the Anguttara Nikaya) contains some words that comfort me in the face of all the death and misery going on these days in Burma (and in the rest of the world, such as in Iraq). Perhaps it will touch and comfort someone who has lost family and friends in Burma (or elsewhere).

This body is not me.

I am not limited by this body.

I am life without boundaries.

I have never been born,

and I have never died.

Look at the ocean and the sky filled with stars, manifestations from my wondrous true mind.

Since before time, I have been free.

Birth and death are only doors through which we pass, sacred thresholds on our journey.

Birth and death are a game of hide- and seek.

So laugh with me,

hold my hand,

let us say good-bye,

say good-bye, to meet again soon.

We meet today.

We will meet again tomorrow.

We will meet at the source every moment.

We meet each other in all forms of life.

James: Then of course there are the Five Remembrances. Below are the remembrances offered by Thich Nhat Hanh with a snippet of analysis of them by Frank Jude Boccio in an article titled, "Embrace Reality" published in the Yoga Journal:

I like this version of the Buddha's Five Remembrances, offered by Thich Nhat Hanh in The Plum Village Chanting Book (Parallax Press, 1991).

I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.

I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change.

There is no way to escape being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

Boccio: At a recent lecture, I led a group of interfaith seminarians in the contemplation of the Five Remembrances, Buddha's teaching on impermanence, aging, health, change, and death. Afterward, one of the students asked, "Isn't this just negative thinking?" On the contrary, the Five Remembrances is what the Buddha offers to awaken you from denial, to cultivate gratitude and appreciation for the life you've been given, and to teach you about nonattachment and equanimity.

If you think of it this way, the meditation is not a bleak, depressing list of things you'll lose, but a reminder of the wonder and miracle of life as it is -perfect and whole, lacking nothing. When you accept impermanence as more than a philosophical concept, you can see the truth of it as it manifests itself in your mind, your body, your environment, and your relationships, and you no longer take anything for granted.

Once you accept the reality of impermanence, you begin to realize that grasping and clinging are suffering, as well as the causes of suffering, and with that realization you can let go and celebrate life. The problem is not that things change, but that you try to live as if they don't.

When you can extend beyond the limits you've created you see that your life is not really "yours" but all of life itself manifesting through you.

As the Buddha tells us: "When one perceives impermanence, the perception of no-self is established. With the perception of no-self, the conceit of 'I' is eliminated, and this is nirvana here and now."

~Peace to all beings~


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Dan said...

You're poem is by Thich Nhat Hanh. Ironically enough, I was double checking the reference and found it on your blog in a previous post.

FRITZ said...

The Five Rembrances are a most excellent introduction for interfaith dialog.

It is easy to see Jesus reminding himself of these in the Garden of Gethsemene. It is also much easier to appreciate one's wrinkles when it means, quite neatly, that death will come. It is indeed a good reminder.

Thank you for your on-going 'coverage' of the Myanmar situation.

They call him James Ure said...


Ha!! Interesting. I had originally thought it was from TNH but then I read it attributed to the other reference. A great reminder that one's first instinct is usually the right one.

That's funny that you found the right reference in one my previous posts. I forget things easily sometimes.


Yes, they are. I like your image of Jesus reminding himself of the remembrances in the garden.

I am working on being more into inter-faith dialogs and finding things that we all share in common rather then those that divide us and make us all suffer.

From what I've studied of Buddhism in the last four years, it seems that the religion is very much accepting of other faiths.

私達 said...

from one little ego shell to the one they call james: LOVE*!

Greenwoman said...

Thank you James...for the wisdom about balance and for the update. It is a very distressing situation there. I've been so saddened by this whole situation.

Your image is just lovely. Thanks for sharing it. Its something to just sink into really isn't it?

They call him James Ure said...


Awww, thanks for the love!! I send it right back at ya!!


That image is a meditation in and of itself. Yep.

The situation in Burma is sad, so sad. However, IT WILL CHANGE one day and hopefully soon. I hope change can come with the least amount of suffering.

Anonymous said...

Sharing a Buddhist site with you:

They call him James Ure said...


I am going to add that website to my links. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

I bow to the Buddha within you.

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