The answer is..”peace”.

The other day a friend and I were talking and we were discussing all the incredible issues I had been facing the week before. As I laughed and smiled and told my story about all the unbelievably stressful things that occurred by friend sat in amazement and just looked at me wide-eyed and opened mouthed. Finally he asked, “how do you stay so positive and calm in the face of all of that turmoil????” I was a little surprised by his question but didn’t need to think for more than a second. I know that I work hard to consciously stay in peace as often as I can.  So, my answer was simply, “Peace”.

I am hoping this bit of info will help you find that space and stay there too! You see, my personal view (and I don’t expect anyone to trust this blindly but I do hope you listen to it and take from it what resonates with you) is that we live in a world where all is an illusion. I am sure you heard this theory before. I believe that before we come to this world, we select our lessons and also set some markers for ourselves to help guide us along the way. It is easy to get lost on this journey when we forget to use the light within us all that is naturally present all of the time. Instead, we often walk in darkness and fumble around, trying to find our way. Often suffering needlessly. We hit rocks and trees and sometimes walls (all blocks) along our way. It is only when we choose to use our inner light that we can finally see the path that we set more clearly and walk along with a greater understanding of what we are walking in.

If you consciously stay in your light (stay in your truth) you will find that you sit in peace. You will find it much easier to see through the illusions of life and understand the meaning of your lessons, or at the very least, recognize your lessons. When you understand (or see the path clearly) it is so much easier to walk through without fear. Fear you see, is often the number one thing that holds us back from allowing our light to shine, from allowing us to see our path clearly.

When adversity hits, when you are faced with obstacles, when blocks stand in your way, step back and look at them from a distance. Recognize the lesson, understand the learning that needs to occur, move through without fear and you will find that your life becomes more pleasurable. Your anxiety will be lessened and you will not feel the stress you normally do. It is when we do not trust that we are on the “right” path that we stand in fear and miss that peace.

I am not saying this is an easy task. I am simply suggesting you try to remove the illusion glasses and see what truly and honestly exists. The next step is to deal with the issues by walking forward and taking action. Once you do this you will feel empowered. You will feel more courageous and you will find more positive things will come.

So next time you are faced with car problems, speeding ticket, an irritating boss, slow traffic, etc. then stop for a moment, recognize that you are in an illusion, see the truth of the situation and trust there is reason for all that is existing around you and happening to you. Walk through with light and in truth and all will unfold in a positive manner. As you do this you will feel the peace within begin to grow like a new bud in the spring. As you feed your inner peace you will find so much learning, you will find self-worth, you will find empowerment, you will find your light and you will shine brightly and radiate your peace.

It doesn’t stop there…when you radiate in your peace then you spread that to others. If you feel insignificant and powerless then imagine for a moment that just by standing in your truth, being at peace and radiating that peace, you could essentially positively affect every person that you come into contact with in any way during your day.

Next time you are faced with the question…choose PEACE!

Spread your light, spread your truth, spread the peace.

Sheila

http://www.sheilatrecartin.com/

We will need to get a Massage Therapy on a regular basis. I cannot stress this enough. The pace we maintain reflects in the condition of our bodies. Whether you can wrap your mind around this or not,  we are not separate from our surroundings, we are part of all of it. Every thought that we think sends out of vibration, every action has an equal reaction. I think that once we realize and learn to look within stress can be minimized. This takes time and Massage Therapy helps you to do this.

I bring these things up because Massage Therapy for one hour out of your day, makes you lay down quietly and as the massage therapist touches each part of your body you become aware of what is going on with that body part. I cannot stress how many people are shocked at the tension  they hold in their glutes, (butt) once they become aware of this it becomes part of the conscious mind and you soon realize that sitting in a static chair that does not move with your pelvis, (part of the gluteal area) causes a great deal of tension, which turns in to tightness in the lower back area. If this area is not worked on the problem increases, then the good ole doctor gives you pills to pop or sends you to PT. This is not the answer!

We all seem to think that Massage Therapy is a frill, it is far from that. It helps you to stay healthy because, it increases circulation, relaxes the tension in your body to allow blood flow, lymph flow and your body to function at a healthy level without chronic pain. I hear people say they cannot afford Massage. I say you cannot afford not to have Massage. I make sure personally to get Massage Therapy twice a month. I cut back in other areas of my life because, my health is first on my list of priorities. What I see time and time again are people who wait until they’re in chronic pain to come to see me. That means they have to come far more often to get their bodies relaxed, pain free, injury free and back to healthy. The solution is very simple, getting a Massage at least once a month. This will prevent you from getting to this chronic stage.

I’m also amazed when people go to their doctor, the first thing the doctor does is send them to a physical therapist. They slap on your back electric stimulation, moist hot pads and have you lifting weights. Then what happens people come to me because the physical therapy did nothing. Physical Therapy does not release tight muscles, what usually happens is, you tighten up even more by lifting weights. I have had a few doctors that I know personally, who know that massage therapy, heals and relieves trigger points that are not even touched by PT’s.

I think the problem is Physical Therapists are they are threatened by Massage Therapists for what reason I do not know. We should all be working together to help people to heal. It is not a competition of egos, it is about educating people how to take care of their bodies. This is through eating properly, drinking plenty of water, exercise/yoga, meditation, walking, deep breathing, (I would like to mention, the artofliving.org, this is where you learn to meditate and breathe stress away and I hold this in highest regard and rate on a scale of 1 to 10 definitely a 10. It is somewhat a miracle) There are Art of Living courses all over the Princeton area and surrounding areas.

I stress again if you were going to cut something out of your life it should not be massage therapy. Book an appointment today at 609-683-1608 or e-mail me at SuzanneNewmancmt@gmail.com remember without your health you have nothing. Also remember you get what you pay for! The average Massage Therapy Session is 85.00. You can get one for less and you get less, it is all up to you. It is you body and your health, please care about it!

I am a firm believer that yes we are all going to at some point expire. My hopes are that much more aware human beings will evolve. I can not disagree that we may all have weak genetic links. The idea is to become aware of what they are. That means paying attention to our bodies. Yes, also look at our family of origins health issues.

I truly believe eating relatively organic and to the smarty pants out there that means not Skippy peanut butter get to a health food store and get it without sugar. Read the labels of what you eat. I know I like sugar at times but, I don’t want it in my apple pie. Learn to cook and cook a head of time and freeze servings in containers.

Exercise,  we can all come up with an excuse. It is a must! Women need weight bearing exercises that helps with bone loss and guess what we will need strength in our arms when we get old, to push ourselves up from a chair. Stretch! The computer is great for this Google stretching and presto, wonderful simple stretches you can even do in a chair.

Walk, run, practice yoga, dance, jump rope, lift weights, do squats while standing at your desk. Get up from that computer and stretch. Breathe, Breathe, Breathe the most important of them all.  Express your feelings! Learn how to communicate clearly. Get professional counseling when you are stuck emotionally or need to work thought family issues.

I am not writing what I am writing to offend, blame or gain a popularity contest. I am speaking from what I have seen with clients and through my own personal experiences. This is to show you how the power of words can affect you in a negative matter. I have experienced a lot of clients with Fibromyalgia the main symptom of Fibromyalgia is pain all over the body for more than 3 months. It is common for people to experience achy muscles that feel tender to the touch and morning stiffness. The pain of Fibromyalgia is a “deep” muscle pain and may be felt as: aching, shooting and burning.

The pain may not always be the same. For some people with Fibromyalgia, the pain and stiffness are worst when they wake up, improve during the day, and increase again at night. But others have all-day, non-stop pain. For many, the pain gets worse with physical activity, stress, or anxiety. Fibromyalgia patients may be more sensitive to the light and the temperature as well.

Along with overall pain, people with Fibromyalgia have many specific parts of the body that are tender to the touch, also known as tender points. These include: the front and back of the neck, mid to the upper back of the shoulders, elbows, upper portion of the buttocks, hips and knees.

This is where my theory comes in. I believe no one should own a name a doctor came up with. Your body hurts! Period. You don’t have to own this for life. It hurts you today. The body is all connected, and part of your body is called connective tissue. You have muscles that are attached to bone, tendons and ligaments and they have a memory. That memory is attached to pain in this case of this thing some doctor named Fibromyalgia. I hope your following me here. My belief is that this all started with some sort of trauma.

When our emotions are not expressed where do the emotions go? Into the body and more of the same things continue to happen, usually unhealthy things. Why? because we continue to push that “thing” away by not dealing with it. We split off from it but, our wonderful bodies keep trying to tell us, pay attention to me I hurt. Oh, you won’t listen I’ll hurt louder.

How do I know this because I hurt all over at one point too. I drank the pain away. Presto, I got sober and the pain got really, really bad. I needed to get that pain out and I listened to my body for the first time at age 26 after drinking and doing drugs since I was 12 years old. I went to Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings and dumped all that toxic childhood pain and sought out professional counseling.

To be honest  Alcoholic’s Anonymous was like being in hell for me most of the time but, I just kept going. I didn’t do a lot of what they told me and frankly I am glad I didn’t. I found a good therapist. I did not befriend too many people there. I went talked, cried, screamed and went 3 times a day some days. Most important I listened and I took what I liked and left the rest. What was interesting is as I talked and cried I could literally feel the pain lift from my body. A.A. meetings saved my life I truly believe!

There are people I have shared my belief with about this pain body that occurs with trauma of any kind and they think I am crazy. No, I just believe that you can truly let it go with doing some soul searching. It is never just cut and dry. All the things listed above we play a part in this natural cure process. It’s not always popping pills and some times pills are needed but, maybe some really good fish oils, vitamin D, a good liquid vitamin, liquid B complex, Massage Therapy, Chiropractic, Acupuncture and a really good  nutritionist for eating.

There will be plenty of painful emotions in our life times and if you feel the pain, cry, scream get it out I truly believe we can all live healthier lives by communicating and emoting not masking the problem with pharmaceutical drugs and crippling diseases. The body is in dis- ease so let’s help ourselves heal with words, action, whole foods and movement forward in a positive direction.

I am sure I will get some crazed responses but, before you say or think them sit with what you just ingested and know that all the above can not happen over night it didn’t for me. Try just giving it a chance. There are also really good nutritionists out there that can be really helpful or do your own research first like I do.

Imagine a world where everyone took responsibility for their actions? Every day people did random acts of kindness though out the day. A planet that held the ability to communicate articulately with the highest regard and to understand each feeling we have in order to understand ourselves better. We would hold ourselves accountable for what we created around us and make changes for better outcomes. To clarify what I just said; choose our net work of friends wisely, build our self-esteem and become our own best friend and parent, set goals, know that we deserve respect and to give respect in return. We all have the ability to say I’m sorry or I did not mean to hurt you. All of us need to own you wrong doings and harsh reactions. We have the ability to act instead of react. I truly believe that this is what we all need to focus on and become experts at or the world around us will continue to get worse.

How many people do you think realize that every time they think negative thoughts such as; I’ll never find this or I’m not good enough for that or I’ll never have enough to get that, see that those thoughts become there reality because that is what they believe they deserve with extreme passion. Why not change those thoughts to, I am strong, I am powerful, I am totally capable of healing myself. I am beautiful, I am perfect. I have endless ideas that will bring money to me effortlessly and my bank account continues to grow. My job/career is not my only source of income and I am infinitely creative.  I guess to most it’s much more comfortable to think negatively, why, because we are programmed negatively and it is time to make a shift in our thinking and use more of our brains change comes from within and the thoughts we think.

I sit here scratching my head, (not really) wondering why all these years why I didn’t realize how capable I was to shift my thinking. I actually do know why, a mentally ill mother who I felt responsibly for. I saw it to the end and feel wonderful about my decision and forgive my family. Now my life is free to be everything I dreamed of…I am free, open to all possibilities. I choose my thoughts. I choose how I react. I choose to make this a wonderful day. I choose to be kind and loving to those around me. It is a choice for all of us and it is up to us to realize the power behind choice and choosing. I’ve been paying close attention to the thoughts that I think, how I respond and how not to buy into other peoples projections. My family thought me a very good lesson as all of our families did. It is much easier to excuse yourself and walk away from a person screaming at you. It is also very important to ask yourself why you choice to stay a victim or stay in a relationship that is not working…

I’m working on changing the way that I think and the words that I use everyday. I highly recommend a DVD and audio version of the “Secret”, by, Rhonda Byrne, for everyone to watch every day for at least a month. I mean really listen. Make a vision board of all the things that you want to happen in your life. The home you want to live in. What your surroundings would be. The relationships you want. Become the athlete and artist. It is effortless if you trust that all the answers are inside and the ones that you don’t know ask for them. Thinking thoughts that are positive and realizing that the only thing that limits us is our thoughts. We can have everything we desire if we are willing to do the foot work and not project that it will be hard, because it doesn’t have to be, we make it hard.

I have been in bodywork, healing and working on myself for 24 years and I mean really working on myself to heal.  I truly believe the only way to be happy is to deal with the garbage that we ruminate on in our heads. Heal our childhood wounds and truly get to know who we are and understand why we react to the things we do. We must do this work in order to become whole before we can truly be content and at peace with ourselves. Then we can do the work we love because it will come from pure hearts.  When the work is done we know longer even talk about it. The pain is gone and it is for none of us to judge another’s healing time unless you have walked in there shoes. I know very few that have that deep compassion most judge, only the wounded healers understand for the most part.

I worked at over 1000 bodies easily since 1994 and I see a lot of commonalities. Most people come to you as a last resort; I’m hoping that will change. They go to doctors and are given muscle relaxers or sent to physical therapy and months later there at the same spot, in pain.

I am hoping that after repeating the same thing over and over again and getting the same results people realize that is the definition of insanity. I’m hoping people come to me first and we can resolve the issue and I can give educated suggestions on how to not have this issue happen again. Most people do not the importance of drinking at the least 2 Liters of water a day, that is what I drink weighing 120 pounds at 5’5’’. You should also be in taking your body weight in protein, so in other words I should to grow more muscle eat 120 grams of protein a day. We need 1 gram of protein per 1 pound of weight. I also see people going 90 miles an hour and that includes me. One of the best changes that I made my life was taking The Art of Living and no, this is not a religious cult. It is by far one of the finest breathing and meditation courses from India. I know Meditate and Prana Breath almost every day for 45 minutes. The results for many people that I know have taken the course was their anxiety disappeared, they went off high blood pressure medication, their stress level decreased by more than half and they had a way to remove stress completely from their bodies. What makes me laugh is I would pay for the information above and I wonder how many people will even Google The Art of Living. The great thing is I know that my clients and my friends that have gone and taken a course can thank me enough. I have to understand they were already to get better and to find tools to help them do so.

My hope for you and myself is that we all continue to grow, heal and help to heal this planet. That we remember that every animal on this planet deserves respect and love, I’m not just talking about our pets, I am talking about how farm animals are treated and how we can take a stand and speak up by our meat intake. This is not only for the animals, although it is for me. I think if most of you understood in the amount of God knows what that is injected into these animals you would want to eat them. I will continue to not to fight because fighting just causes more fighting. I will continue to talk to people about eating less meat and watching some videos that show you what is really done to animals in farms, in China and how animals are skinned alive for their fur, so you can look glamorous. I no longer buy leather unless I decide to move to Alaska I really feel no need to wear fur or to mount a head of an animal on my wall. We can all make such a difference; again this is your choice!

This is a must read for every runner. I am know carrying Foot Wheels, a must have for every runner!

"I have great results with Plantar Fasciitis with all most 90% cure rate with special Massage Techniques." Anchor an exercise band in a loop on a desk chair leg. Put the arch of your foot in the loop/sling working against the resistance pull the exercise band toward your body 10 times. Relax and repeat the exercise 10-15 times. I also do Kinesio tapping which works great too. Arch Strengthener I highly suggest buying Foot Savers sold on www.yamun … Read More

via Suzanne Newman’s Massage Therapy, Whole Health and Animal Awareness Blog

I’ve worked on at least 20 people with knee problems ranging from people waiting for a knee replacement to dancers, soccer players and people with general knee problems. Once the Kinesio  tape was put on the injured area and the client got up off my table they were out of pain and felt more stable. I’m quite shocked that doctors are unaware of Kinesio taping and in fact look at it as a sugar pill. How wrong they are! I challenge them in every way and I’m hoping that this blog will simplify how this miracle tape works.

First I’d like to explain the tape itself. Kinesio taping is light weight with adhesive backing. The tape has the ability to stretch when held by either end of the tape to then be applied on the injured area being working on. The tension on the tape varies on the injury at hand.  I worked on a dancer who had problems as most dancers to with her knees. She did receive physical therapy to strengthen quadriceps and the muscles that stabilize the knee. This does not mean the issue is not still there. Playing sports requires repetitive motion on certain areas of the body which are used over and over. When the athlete’s muscles, ligaments and tendons are over used this causes weakness that can result in a serious injury if not caught in time.  I find that Kinesio Taping enables the athlete/dancer or client that’s job requires repetitive motion such as, typing to continue free of pain.  I see again and again people without any knowledge of deep tissue massage and it’s benifits and Kinesio taping  people resort to unnecessary surgery or using harmful steroids.

It is important to make sure they are certified and using Kinesio books at their guides when needed. I know that I would rather have a person that is humble enough to make sure they are applying the tape properly than an arrogant physical therapist that put tape on completely wrong as he worked on 5 clients at the same time. Physical therapy was not a good experience for my neck injury or myself, the lack of one on one care was horrible and was a waste of my money and from my health insurance, what was charged for moist heat pad was crazy.  After my surgery I went to a total of seven physical therapy groups only one impressed me,  The Neurac Institute,  800 Bunn Dr Princeton, NJ  609-683-1010 A+.

A lot of people do not know any Certified Kinesio taping practitioners or have even heard of it. I am Certified and make sure the person is Certified and if you are in discomfort after being taped you will know pretty quickly and then re-apply the tape.  I make sure once they have the tape on that I check in with them on how they feel. I am located right in Princeton Township, NJ @ 609-683-1608

Kinesio Tape can stay on the body for 3 to 5 days. Showering will not weaken the tape and can be patted dry after the showers completed. I worked with a dancer recently and she would benefit a great deal  having her knees taped every time she dances. Taping will not weaken the area it will prevent injury and you almost feel as if you’re wearing nothing yet you can feel the support. The results I get are amazing. How long does it take to have the tape applied? Depending on the issue it can take one half an hour.

I’d like to list some of the injuries that Kinesio Taping is used for, carpal tunnel syndrome, spinal disc herniation, frozen shoulder, shoulder injuries, low back pain, hamstring and quadriceps injuries, stabilizing the ankle, shin splints, plantar fasciitis and much more. I am hoping to get the word out on how amazing this tape is. It brings me great joy to see a client is in pain completely void of pain by just applying tape to their body, truly amazing. Please feel free to call Gotcher’ Back Therapeutic Massage for a phone consult 609-683-1608. There is no need to get cortisone shots or use steroids for pain when Kinesio taping can in most circumstances heal and correct the issue.

I would like to tell all of the parents out there that your teens and college students perform better in sports due to practicing prevention instead of having to have surgery due to coaches not training them properly. The importance of addressing the issue right away by giving me a call can save a lot of pain and your child being immobile. The unfortunate thing is most people call me as a last resort and I can correct the problem before it goes to extreme spending weeks of time in physical therapy, getting cortisone shots and the issue/injury still exists and you have spent hours back and forth to doctors, PT’s and wasting money and your time. I’m trying to reach out to parents to help prevent this. I’m also reaching out to parents who have aging parents with severe knee issues that can’t have a knee replacement or bad back pain. When the knees are taped,  prevention from falling increases ten fold and their pain is gone too. Please call my office for a free consult and any more information you need about Kinesio Taping and its benefits. Instead of making me your last resort make me your priority, so you can get on with your life pain-free. Again I am located in Princeton, NJ and my contact number is 609-683-1608.

The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation

Everyone seeks peace and harmony, because this is what we lack in our lives. From time to time we all experience agitation, irritation, dishar­mony. And when we suffer from these miseries, we don’t keep them to ourselves; we often distribute them to others as well. Unhappiness permeates the atmosphere around someone who is miserable, and those who come in contact with such a person also become affected. Certainly this is not a skillful way to live.

We ought to live at peace with ourselves, and at peace with others. After all, human beings are social beings, having to live in society and deal with each other. But how are we to live peacefully? How are we to remain harmonious within, and maintain peace and harmony around us, so that others can also live peacefully and harmoniously?

In order to be relieved of our misery, we have to know the basic reason for it, the cause of the suffering. If we investigate the problem, it becomes clear that whenever we start generating any negativity or impurity in the mind, we are bound to become unhappy. A negativity in the mind, a mental defilement or impurity, cannot coexist with peace and harmony.

How do we start generating negativity? Again, by investigation, it becomes clear. We become unhappy when we find someone behaving in a way that we don’t like, or when we find something happening which we don’t like. Unwanted things happen and we create tension within. Wanted things do not happen, some obstacle comes in the way, and again we create tension within; we start tying knots within. And throughout life, unwanted things keep on happening, wanted things may or may not happen, and this process of reaction, of tying knots—Gordian knots—makes the entire mental and physical structure so tense, so full of negativity, that life becomes miserable.

Now, one way to solve this problem is to arrange that nothing unwanted happens in life, that everything keeps on happening exactly as we desire. Either we must develop the power, or somebody else who will come to our aid must have the power, to see that unwanted things do not happen and that everything we want happens. But this is impossible. There is no one in the world whose desires are always fulfilled, in whose life everything happens according to his or her wishes, without anything unwanted happening. Things constantly occur that are contrary to our desires and wishes. So the question arises: how can we stop reacting blindly when confronted with things that we don’t like? How can we stop creating tension and remain peaceful and harmonious?

In India, as well as in other countries, wise saintly persons of the past studied this problem—the problem of human suffering—and found a solution: if something unwanted happens and you start to react by generating anger, fear or any negativity, then, as soon as possible, you should divert your attention to something else. For example, get up, take a glass of water, start drinking—your anger won’t multiply; on the other hand, it’ll begin to subside. Or start counting: one, two, three, four. Or start repeating a word, or a phrase, or some mantra, perhaps the name of a god or saintly person towards whom you have devotion; the mind is diverted, and to some extent you’ll be free of the negativity, free of the anger.

This solution was helpful; it worked. It still works. Responding like this, the mind feels free from agitation. However, the solution works only at the conscious level. In fact, by diverting the attention you push the negativity deep into the unconscious, and there you continue to generate and multiply the same defilement. On the surface there is a layer of peace and harmony, but in the depths of the mind there is a sleeping volcano of suppressed negativity which sooner or later may erupt in a violent explosion.

Other explorers of inner truth went still further in their search and, by experiencing the reality of mind and matter within themselves, recognized that diverting the attention is only running away from the problem. Escape is no solution; you have to face the problem. Whenever negativity arises in the mind, just observe it, face it. As soon as you start to observe a mental impurity, it begins to lose its strength and slowly withers away.

A good solution; it avoids both extremes—suppression and expression. Burying the negativity in the unconscious will not eradicate it, and allowing it to manifest as unwholesome physical or vocal actions will only create more problems. But if you just observe, then the defilement passes away and you are free of it.

This sounds wonderful, but is it really practical? It’s not easy to face one’s own impurities. When anger arises, it so quickly overwhelms us that we don’t even notice. Then, overpowered by anger, we perform physical or vocal actions which harm ourselves and others. Later, when the anger has passed, we start crying and repenting, begging pardon from this or that person or from God: “Oh, I made a mistake, please excuse me!” But the next time we are in a similar situation, we again react in the same way. This continual repenting doesn’t help at all.

The difficulty is that we are not aware when negativity starts. It begins deep in the unconscious mind, and by the time it reaches the conscious level it has gained so much strength that it overwhelms us, and we cannot observe it.

Suppose that I employ a private secretary, so that whenever anger arises he says to me, “Look, anger is starting!” Since I cannot know when this anger will start, I’ll need to hire three private secretaries for three shifts, around the clock! Let’s say I can afford it, and anger begins to arise. At once my secretary tells me, “Oh look—anger has started!” The first thing I’ll do is rebuke him: “You fool! You think you’re paid to teach me?” I’m so overpowered by anger that good advice won’t help.

Suppose wisdom does prevail and I don’t scold him. Instead, I say, “Thank you very much. Now I must sit down and observe my anger.” Yet, is it possible? As soon as I close my eyes and try to observe anger, the object of the anger immediately comes into my mind—the person or incident which initiated the anger. Then I’m not observing the anger itself; I’m merely observing the external stimulus of that emotion. This will only serve to multiply the anger, and is therefore no solution. It is very difficult to observe any abstract negativity, abstract emotion, divorced from the external object which originally caused it to arise.

However, someone who reached the ultimate truth found a real solution. He discovered that whenever any impurity arises in the mind, physically two things start happening simultaneously. One is that the breath loses its normal rhythm. We start breathing harder whenever negativity comes into the mind. This is easy to observe. At a subtler level, a biochemical reaction starts in the body, resulting in some sensation. Every impurity will generate some sensation or the other within the body.

This presents a practical solution. An ordinary person cannot observe abstract defilements of the mind—abstract fear, anger or passion. But with proper training and practice it is very easy to observe respiration and body sensations, both of which are directly related to mental defilements.

Respiration and sensations will help in two ways. First, they will be like private secretaries. As soon as a negativity arises in the mind, the breath will lose its normality; it will start shouting, “Look, something has gone wrong!” And we cannot scold the breath; we have to accept the warning. Similarly, the sensations will tell us that something has gone wrong. Then, having been warned, we can start observing the respiration, start observing the sensations, and very quickly we find that the negativity passes away.

This mental-physical phenomenon is like a coin with two sides. On one side are the thoughts and emotions arising in the mind, on the other side are the respiration and sensations in the body. Any thoughts or emotions, any mental impurities that arise manifest themselves in the breath and the sensations of that moment. Thus, by observing the respiration or the sensations, we are in fact observing mental impurities. Instead of running away from the problem, we are facing reality as it is. As a result, we discover that these impurities lose their strength; they no longer overpower us as they did in the past. If we persist, they eventually disappear altogether and we begin to live a peaceful and happy life, a life increasingly free of negativities.

In this way the technique of self-observation shows us reality in its two aspects, inner and outer. Previously we only looked outward, missing the inner truth. We always looked outside for the cause of our unhappiness; we always blamed and tried to change the reality outside. Being ignorant of the inner reality, we never understood that the cause of suffering lies within, in our own blind reactions toward pleasant and unpleasant sensations.

Now, with training, we can see the other side of the coin. We can be aware of our breathing and also of what is happening inside. Whatever it is, breath or sensation, we learn just to observe it without losing our mental balance. We stop reacting and multiplying our misery. Instead, we allow the defilements to manifest and pass away.

The more one practices this technique, the more quickly negativities will dissolve. Gradually the mind becomes free of defilements, becomes pure. A pure mind is always full of love—selfless love for all others, full of compassion for the failings and sufferings of others, full of joy at their success and happiness, full of equanimity in the face of any situation.

When one reaches this stage, the entire pattern of one’s life changes. It is no longer possible to do anything vocally or physically which will disturb the peace and happiness of others. Instead, a balanced mind not only becomes peaceful, but the surrounding atmosphere also becomes permeated with peace and harmony, and this will start affecting others, helping others too.

By learning to remain balanced in the face of everything experienced inside, one develops detachment towards all that one encounters in external situations as well. However, this detachment is not escapism or indifference to the problems of the world. Those who regularly practice Vipassana become more sensitive to the sufferings of others, and do their utmost to relieve suffering in whatever way they can—not with any agitation, but with a mind full of love, compassion and equanimity. They learn holy indifference—how to be fully committed, fully involved in helping others, while at the same time maintaining balance of mind. In this way they remain peaceful and happy, while working for the peace and happiness of others.

This is what the Buddha taught: an art of living. He never established or taught any religion, any “ism”. He never instructed those who came to him to practice any rites or rituals, any empty formalities. Instead, he taught them just to observe nature as it is, by observing the reality inside. Out of ignorance we keep reacting in ways which harm ourselves and others. But when wisdom arises—the wisdom of observing reality as it is—this habit of reacting falls away. When we cease to react blindly, then we are capable of real action—action proceeding from a balanced mind, a mind which sees and understands the truth. Such action can only be positive, creative, helpful to ourselves and to others.

What is necessary, then, is to “know thyself”—advice which every wise person has given. We must know ourselves, not just intellectually in the realm of ideas and theories, and not just emotionally or devotionally, simply accepting blindly what we have heard or read. Such knowledge is not enough. Rather, we must know reality experientially. We must experience directly the reality of this mental-physical phenomenon. This alone is what will help us be free of our suffering.

This direct experience of our own inner reality, this technique of self-observation, is what is called Vipassana meditation. In the language of India in the time of the Buddha, passana meant seeing in the ordinary way, with one’s eyes open; but vipassana is observing things as they actually are, not just as they appear to be. Apparent truth has to be penetrated, until we reach the ultimate truth of the entire psycho-physical structure. When we experience this truth, then we learn to stop reacting blindly, to stop creating negativities—and naturally the old ones are gradually eradicated. We become liberated from misery and experience true happiness.

There are three steps to the training given in a meditation course. First, one must abstain from any action, physical or vocal, which disturbs the peace and harmony of others. One cannot work to liberate oneself from impurities of the mind while at the same time continuing to perform deeds of body and speech which only multiply them. Therefore, a code of morality is the essential first step of the practice. One undertakes not to kill, not to steal, not to commit sexual misconduct, not to tell lies, and not to use intoxicants. By abstaining from such actions, one allows the mind to quiet down sufficiently in order to proceed further.

The next step is to develop some mastery over this wild mind by training it to remain fixed on a single object, the breath. One tries to keep one’s attention on the respiration for as long as possible. This is not a breathing exercise; one does not regulate the breath. Instead, one observes natural respiration as it is, as it comes in, as it goes out. In this way one further calms the mind so that it is no longer overpowered by intense negativities. At the same time, one is concentrating the mind, making it sharp and penetrating, capable of the work of insight.

These first two steps, living a moral life, and controlling the mind, are very necessary and beneficial in themselves, but they will lead to suppression of negativities unless one takes the third step: purifying the mind of defilements by developing insight into one’s own nature. This is Vipassana: experiencing one’s own reality by the systematic and dispassionate observation within oneself of the ever-changing mind-matter phenomenon manifesting itself as sensations. This is the culmination of the teaching of the Buddha: self-purification by self-observation.

It can be practiced by one and all. Everyone faces the problem of suffering. It is a universal malady which requires a universal remedy, not a sectarian one. When one suffers from anger, it’s not Buddhist anger, Hindu anger, or Christian anger. Anger is anger. When one becomes agitated as a result of this anger, this agitation is not Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim. The malady is universal. The remedy must also be universal.

Vipassana is such a remedy. No one will object to a code of living which respects the peace and harmony of others. No one will object to developing control over the mind. No one will object to developing insight into one’s own nature, by which it is possible to free the mind of negativities. Vipassana is a universal path.

Observing reality as it is by observing the truth inside—this is knowing oneself directly and experientially. As one practices, one keeps freeing oneself from the misery of mental impurities. From the gross, external, apparent truth, one penetrates to the ultimate truth of mind and matter. Then one transcends that, and experiences a truth which is beyond mind and matter, beyond time and space, beyond the conditioned field of relativity: the truth of total liberation from all defilements, all impurities, all suffering. Whatever name one gives this ultimate truth is irrelevant; it is the final goal of everyone.

May you all experience this ultimate truth. May all people be free from misery. May they enjoy real peace, real harmony, real happiness.

MAY ALL BEINGS BE HAPPY

The above text is based upon a talk given by Mr. S.N. Goenka in Berne, Switzerland.