Maybe you've heard this expression before.
No mud, no lotus.
—Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh is one of my favorite teachers and a well-known Vietnamese Buddhist monk. The idea behind this little phrase is simply that in order for the beautiful Lotus flower to bloom, it must grow in mud. For us literally, this means that in order for us to grow, we have to confront the anger, despair, grief, trauma and old internal conversations.
Like me, maybe you’ve spent time in your life trying desperately to avoid painful memories, grief, anger or other emotions hoping that they’d simply “go away” on their own. Or maybe you bought into the old adage that says, “time heals all wounds.”
If you’re like some of us, you may believe that awakening or enlightenment actually comes with some kind of an epiphany, bright lights or huge revelations. That may be true for some of us but it is not always the case. More often than not, awakening comes on the heels of something that’s happened in our lives that has almost forced us to take a deeper look at ourselves. Maybe it’s the sudden death of someone we love, an unexpected divorce, a move across country, new job or newborn. Typically, when we run away or attempt to bury our feelings, life has a way of inserting the lessons, nonetheless. The question is whether or not we are present and paying attention to the lesson that’s trying to be revealed.
How do we get present to life’s lessons? One of the ways to do so is to find stillness in your everyday. Practice mindfulness and meditation and make it a habit. Spend a little time with yourself each day in the stillness, peace and tranquility meditation provides. Disconnect yourself from all of the distractions that keep you from being present and just be. I promise that if you make meditation a daily habit, you will undoubtedly become present, more fully aware and awake to the lesson’s life is here to teach you.
In the stillness, some of those old wounds, fears and grief you’ve been suppressing for so long may even come to the surface. It’s then that you have the option as to whether or not you want to or are ready to confront those past issues or not. Either choice is valid. Just keep in mind that there is a cost and a benefit to either choice.
Are you willing to spend more time ignoring the truth and if so, at what expense? Or are you finally ready to confront yourself head-on and create a breakthrough for your life?
No mud, no lotus.