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Hugging Meditation: A Teaching from Thay

13 Feb 2022 4:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


When I first heard of Thay’s transition, I knew that it would be a special time of deep practice for all of his students and everyone who had ever been touched by his noble compassion. I virtually attended the meditation and the memorial service to honor Thay through FCM. My aspiration the next day was to show up to life with gentleness in the way I walk, softness with the way I talk, and a vow to love more purely in honor of our beloved teacher.

I have been a member of the FCM parenting group, led by Karuna, for about five years. We have a monthly topic that is practiced between meetings. Using these practices has been instrumental in parenting my now 7- and 3-year-old. Karuna sent an email after Thay passed for the group to focus on Hugging Meditation for the next meeting. What a sweet way to honor our teacher and continue his teachings! I shared the intention of my commitment to Hugging Meditation with my Dharma Buddy and got started right away.  

My first realization was that I had stopped hugging my daughter as much as I had when she was younger. We still hugged daily, but it seemed to be in passing as she got off the bus or ran out the door to play outside with friends. With intention clearly set, I sat on the sofa with her and held her in my lap. She wrapped her arms around my neck and we just hugged for several breaths completely present to the love we had for one another. I knew then that the way I would hug her going forward would be with more presence and purpose than the way things had been with our busy lives. There was a closeness as we hugged -- a deep connection was back in our every day lives.  

The next day, my 3-year-old son was having a meltdown. My initial reaction was impatience before I quickly remembered my commitment. I stooped down on his level and asked him for a hug. He slowly walked toward my open arms, wiping away his tears. Upon our embrace, anxiety was eased, all fear softened, and anger melted away for us both. Through Hugging Meditation, I learned it would be pretty difficult to truly hold someone close in the space of awareness while simultaneously being irritated and annoyed with them. In that moment my heart was full of gratitude for Thay, Fred, and the Sangha. Thay’s teachings continued in me and I was passing the Dharma to my children through my actions. Knowing Thay was living on through me was a profound realization.  

My son sometimes wakes at night for me to rock him back to sleep. Normally, I hold him, half asleep myself, wishing for him to doze off quickly so I can get some rest. That night, I answered his call for “momma” and held him in the stillness of the night as we swayed back and forth. His peaceful nursery, the feeling of my feet grounded beside his crib, and the warmness of his little body against mine made me wish that the moment could go on forever. My mind then turned to the notion of impermanence, and I went back to just breathing, fully aware of the moment, full of gratitude for our embrace. Now in the middle of the night I use the practice to remain present when he awakens.  

Applying Hugging Meditation to my daily practice has helped me shift to a place of stillness. There has been an expansion of connection and well being with my children and a calmness that lingers since adding it to our daily lives. I am wholeheartedly honored to connect with my family through the teachings of our dear teacher Thay, who taught us to love with open arms.

Rebecca Medina moved from Tampa to Charlotte NC in 2020. She has been practicing for about eight years and has been a member of FCM for about six. She is a member of the Parenting Spiritual Friends group and attends the monthly family program via Zoom. Before children, she was involved in Wake-Up. 

Florida Community of Mindfulness, Tampa Center
6501 N. Nebraska Avenue
Tampa, FL 33604

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