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    Six Buddhist Strategies for Getting Along Better with Everyone | Sister True Dedication

    Lean in and offer your presence to loved ones in times of pain. Use mindful breathing and loving-kindness practices to bring compassion, gentleness, and courage. A few minutes of supportive presence can make a significant difference.

    enOctober 26, 2022

    About this Episode

    Relationships can be tricky. Especially if you find yourself upset with someone, and instead of talking it through, you let it fester until one moment you completely lose it and end up having to apologize. If you’ve ever felt like you had friction with the people in your life, or that you’ve been taken for granted, today’s episode offers you solid strategies to cope. 


    Sister True Dedication is a Zen Buddhist nun and teacher ordained by the great meditation teacher and author, Thich Nhat Hanh. She edited several of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books, including The Art of Living and Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet. She was born in the United Kingdom, studied history and political thought at Cambridge University, and worked for BBC News before ordaining as a nun at the age of 27.


    In this episode we talk about: 

    • The six phrases – or mantras – that Thich Nhat Hanh recommended people use in their relationships
    • Keeping misunderstandings “dust free”
    • Taking action to make sure anger doesn’t fester
    • The importance of recognizing that our understanding of the world is always partial
    • Bringing mantras to work
    • How Sister True Dedication went from journalism to the monastery


    Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/sister-true-dedication-514

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    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Address misunderstandings immediately, nurture relationships every day, and use the six mantras as a code of words with hidden magical power to unlock difficult situations and avoid bitterness and regret.
    • The Plum Village mantras offer a simple and practical way to cut through the noise of modern life and interact with others on a heart level, fostering true human connection and joy.
    • Good communication, both verbal and nonverbal, is crucial in building strong, authentic relationships. To achieve this, we must be fully present, mindful, and attentive to the needs of those we interact with.
    • Showing up for those we care about and being present for them in their good and bad times can be activated through a practice of mindfulness. Our presence, openness, availability, and listening can be a powerful source of support for them.
    • Don't wait for the perfect moment or the right words to express appreciation and support to loved ones. Even simple gestures can create meaningful connections and strengthen relationships.
    • Expressing care and appreciation through simple phrases like 'I am here for you' or 'I appreciate you' can improve communication, prevent misunderstandings, and create a more rewarding work experience. These phrases can also be used to bring more humanity to professional relationships and improve team dynamics.
    • Mindful and deep listening means paying attention to body language, tone, and energy to truly understand a person. It can help understand underlying emotions and the attitude of being present can be a powerful gift.
    • When helping others, holding space and being present can offer more support than trying to "fix" their problems. By cultivating mindfulness through intentional actions, we can strengthen neural pathways that promote insight, compassion, and forgiveness, leading to a happier, more fulfilling life.
    • We can train our minds to cultivate positive emotions like compassion, kindness, and forgiveness while avoiding negative emotions. The power of contemporary Buddhist practices lies in their accessibility and immediacy, allowing anyone to benefit from them without extensive practice.
    • In a toxic workplace, mindfulness practices can help regulate the nervous system and cultivate better seeds. Being present and embodying positive traits can have a significant impact, and reflecting on our environment can help us strive towards being a better version of ourselves.
    • Life is about deep inner work to become a better version of yourself, acknowledging privilege, and being a source of transformation. Be present for others and acknowledge their suffering. Wake up to impermanence and the true purpose of life beyond societal titles or labels.
    • Lean in and offer your presence to loved ones in times of pain. Use mindful breathing and loving-kindness practices to bring compassion, gentleness, and courage. A few minutes of supportive presence can make a significant difference.
    • Mindful breathing allows us to become aware of bodily sensations and cultivate present-moment awareness, providing a grounding source of courage in even the toughest situations. It can be practiced anytime, anywhere.
    • Communication is key to seeking help and building deeper relationships. Practice gratitude and opening up to others, and learn to take criticism and acknowledge your own faults.
    • Embrace openness and questioning in feedback, learn from it and avoid self-aggrandizement. Foster a spirit of questioning and radical openness for growth and happiness.
    • By consciously using positive mantras like 'This is a happy moment', we can shift our focus from negativity bias to appreciating life's small moments, enhancing communication and relationships with those around us.
    • Mindfulness is not just about personal well-being, but can also inspire positive action in the world. The Plum Village app and Sister True Dedication's book offer tools for using mindfulness to help save the planet.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    Six mantras to improve relationships and avoid misunderstandings

    Sister True Dedication shares six mantras recommended by Tick, not Han to improve relationships and avoid misunderstandings. These mantras are a code of words with hidden magical power that can be invoked to unlock difficult situations and move energy, offered to take refuge in at difficult moments. Misunderstandings should be addressed immediately, instead of nurturing grudges that can lead to regret later. The importance of recognizing that our understanding of the world is always partial and relationships need to be nourished daily, even in the workplace and through tech contexts. These mantras are easy to incorporate into daily life and can lead to better communication that helps avoid bitterness and regret.

    The Power of Plum Village Mantras in Modern Communication

    The Plum Village mantras are simple, down-to-earth phrases that can transform any situation into a meaningful exchange between human beings. Communication is essential to human connection, which makes life joyful and meaningful. However, in our hyper-connected world of overwhelming data and information, communication has become more difficult, and we may feel lonely and disconnected. The mantras are a modern way to cut through the noise and interact with others on a heart level. Through these mantras, we can choose to be more human, interacting with the person in front of us rather than relating to a mask. These mantras are not supernatural but have a practical impact in real-life situations.

    The Importance of Communication in Building Meaningful Relationships

    The quality of relationships is the most important variable for human flourishing, and communication is the basic currency of relationships. To have solid relationships, we need to communicate well with others, both verbally and nonverbally. The foundation of communication lies in the quality of our presence in the company of others, which requires being fully present and attentive without distractions. Mindfulness and concentration are vital in cultivating nonverbal communication skills, including listening deeply to others and being aware of their body language. Being fully present in verbal and nonverbal communication is essential in developing deeper, more authentic relationships, where people can speak their truth more fully to themselves.

    The Power of Being Present for Others

    The mantra - 'I am here for you' emphasizes the need to show up for people we care about and be present for them in their good and bad times. It requires us to put down what we are doing, go to where they are, and capture their attention with our body language. This quality of presence can be activated through a practice of mindfulness, where we take care of our own stuff before encountering others. We don't always have to fix others' problems, but our presence, openness, availability, and listening can be a powerful source of support for them. The mantra can be unbelievably powerful when said exactly as it is, and it emphasizes the importance of being present for others, which is sometimes the most powerful thing we can offer.

    Expressing gratitude and support to loved ones

    Expressing appreciation and gratitude to loved ones is important and shouldn't be reserved for only the most fragile moments. Even if it feels out of character or difficult, finding ways to offer support and acknowledge the presence of those around us can have a powerful impact. Cultural backgrounds may influence how comfortable people are with expressing emotions, but waiting for the perfect moment or the right words may mean waiting a lifetime. Being direct and sincere, even if it takes practice or feels uncomfortable, can create meaningful connections and strengthen relationships. Even simple mantras like 'I know you are there and I'm so happy' can be powerful tools for showing appreciation and support.

    Using Simple Phrases to Create a Positive and Fulfilling Work Environment

    Expressing genuine care and appreciation through simple phrases like 'I am here for you' or 'I appreciate you' can make a huge difference in creating a positive and fulfilling work environment. These phrases don't have to be overly earnest or emotionally charged, but can be authentic and straightforward. By using these mantras, we can keep channels of communication open and prevent misunderstandings from accumulating. In addition to personal relationships, these phrases can also be used in professional settings to show up with more humanity for our colleagues, ultimately creating a more rewarding and fulfilling work experience. By being an ingredient of positivity in toxic work environments, we can improve the quality of our work and our team dynamic.

    The Power of Deep Listening and Presence in Relationships and Teams

    Deep listening and being present in the moment can improve relationships and communication in a team. Mindful listening involves paying attention to multiple data points like body language, tone and energy to truly understand what the person is saying. Deep listening can help understand the underlying emotions and motivations behind toxic behavior. Giving a person space to offload their feelings through true listening can be a powerful gift. Words can be powerful, especially in intimate relationships. The attitude behind 'I'm here for you' is not about fixing someone's problems but being present and listening to them.

    Nurturing Compassion through Mindfulness Practice

    When faced with someone who is struggling, the best thing you can do is to sit with them instead of trying to fix their problems. By being present and breathing quietly with them, you can activate your store consciousness and allow seeds of insight, compassion, and forgiveness to emerge. Practicing intentional actions such as loving kindness meditation or mindful eating can strengthen your potentials and neural pathways, making it easier for you to manifest those qualities in your actions when you need them. Cultivate your mind like a garden, actively growing the seeds you want to see flourish for a happier, compassionate life.

    Cultivating Positive Emotions through Mind Training and Mantras

    Negative emotions like bitterness, jealousy, anger, despair, anxiety or fear are like weeds that shouldn't be watered while positive emotions like compassion, kindness, forgiveness, courage and non-fear are the seeds that we need to cultivate. The mind is trainable and just like we work our body in the gym, we can train our mind by cultivating the positive emotions. The mantras provide an immediate insight and one can use them to protect and save. The power of contemporary Buddhist practices is that the fruits are immediately available and anyone can do this without accumulating thousands of hours of practice. Zen tradition suggests that the practice fruits are accessible, uncomplicated, and mystifying. We don't need to wait, we can show up to work tomorrow, say it to our colleagues and text it to our loved ones tonight.

    Navigating and Cultivating in a Toxic Work Environment

    In a toxic work environment, it's important to navigate an ethical path and not let negative seeds take root. Mindfulness practices like mindful walking, deep listening, and body scans can help regulate the nervous system and cultivate better seeds. Sometimes, our most impactful contribution is simply being present and embodying positive traits. When considering what to do with our one precious life, it's important to reflect on whether our current environment is watering the right kinds of seeds in us and to strive towards being a better version of ourselves through the cultivation of good seeds and purifying our way of being in the world.

    Buddhism's Teachings on Inner Transformation and Being Present for Others

    Life is for healing, transformation, and doing deep inner work to become a better version of oneself. The actions of our body, speech, and mind are what will continue us after death. It's important to acknowledge our privilege and inherited karma and work towards being a source of transformation and healing. The third mantra 'I know you suffer and that I'm here for you' is about being present for others and acknowledging their suffering. All these teachings come from the Plum Village tradition of Buddhism where celibacy is followed, and a code of conduct supports that. It's important to wake up to impermanence and the true purpose of life beyond societal titles or labels.

    The Power of Mindful Presence in Moments of Pain

    The mantra 'I know you'll suffer. I know this is a hard time for you and that is why I'm here for you' is a reminder to lean in and offer a quality of presence in moments of pain for others. Mindful breathing and applying loving kindness practices can help in being present and offering support to loved ones, even when it is difficult. The energy of mindfulness can help to trace the contours of the suffering and stress of others and bring in gentleness, compassion, and courage. Even a few minutes of offering presence in moments of pain can have value when done with mindfulness. It is important to have the courage to lean in and acknowledge the difficulties and offer support in times of pain.

    The Power of Mindful Breathing for Embodied Energy and Presence

    Mindful breathing is a simple yet powerful way to get out of the spinning stories of the ego and become one with the breath. By following the whole length of the in and out breath, we can become aware of the tightness in different parts of our body. This helps us develop a real embodied quality of presence and a truly embodied energy of mindfulness. Mindful breathing can be done anytime, anywhere, even in big boardroom meetings, where following the breath at the level of the belly can be a place of grounding and familiarity helping us navigate difficult moments. Embracing the energy of mindfulness through our breathing can be a mantra of giving us courage to lean into painful moments.

    Seeking Help and Deepening Relationships

    The fourth mantra 'I suffer, please help' is about opening up communication and taking refuge in the people around us when we need help. It invites us to not try and solve all our problems alone, but to have the courage to ask for help. Living well is not something we can do alone as we are social beings. By saying 'I suffer, please help', it gives the opportunity for healing and deepening the relationships with the people around us. It is also important to have the practice of 'Beginning and New' to appreciate what's going well in the relationship before moving on to the more tricky pain points. Communication is essential and it works both ways to take criticism and say 'you are partly right'.

    The Benefits of the Mantra 'You are Partly Right'

    The mantra 'you are partly right' encourages openness and questioning of one's views. It allows us to see the grain of truth in difficult feedback, learn from it and grow as individuals. It also reminds us to not self-aggrandize and be overconfident when receiving praises. The mantra helps us not become dogmatic or impose our views on others, and instead have a spirit of questioning about our position. It fosters openness of mind, non-attachment to views and a radical openness that is important in engaged Buddhism. The last mantra, 'this is a happy moment' is a realization and declaration of moments of happiness, like when families sit around the table.

    The Power of Positive Mantra in Appreciating Life's Moments

    The mantra 'This is a happy moment' or 'This is a wonderful moment' is an invitation to stop, name the moment, and awaken to its wonder. It counter-programs against our negativity bias and helps us appreciate and double-click on the finite, incredible moments that pass us by in our daily lives. It's a reminder to celebrate life's precious, rare, beautiful moments with those around us. Practicing this mantra can be part of communication practices which are further explained in the book 'The Art of Communicating' by Thich Nhat Hanh.

    Mindfulness and Engaged Buddhism for a Better World

    Mindfulness practice is not just about feeling better, but about making the world a better place. The Plum Village app offers free meditations and teachings on modern meditative wisdom and insight. Sister True Dedication's book, Zen in the Art of Saving the Planet, edited from the teachings of engaged Buddhism, offers powerful insights on applying mindfulness practice as a regular human being. The audio book version is also available. Mindfulness and saving the planet are linked inextricably and a source for positive change in the world. Plum Village app and the book can give people access to these insights and teachings that they can carry with them wherever they go.

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    Jeff Warren is also a writer and a meditation teacher. He and Dan co-wrote the book, Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics. He also hosts the Consciousness Explorers podcast. He’s based in Toronto. 


    If you want to be part of the show, please call in with a question or comment. The number is 508-656-0540. Or you can email us with a voice memo at podcast@tenpercent.com with a voice memo. 



    Tickets for the two more Meditation Party retreats this year at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York are available now. The last one was a blast. Come join us for both. One is in May, the other October. 



    Related Episodes:

    How to Stay Calm No Matter What’s Happening | Sebene Selassie and Jeff Warren

    Meditation Party: The “Sh*t Is Fertilizer” Edition | Sebene Selassie & Jeff Warren

    Meditation Party with Sebene Selassie and Jeff Warren: Psychedelics, ADHD, Waking Up From Distraction, and Singing Without Being Self-Conscious

    Meditation Party: Magic, Mystery, Intuition, Tattoos, and Non-Efforting | Sebene Selassie and Jeff Warren

    Science-Based Tools for When You're Stressed, Obsessed, or Overthinking | Dr. Jenny Taitz



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