Tag: Mindfulness

Interviews

Susan Hadler May 18, 2015
Susan Hadler

Susan Johnson Hadler

Interview by Caitlin Hamilton Summie

How hard was it to write this book?  The hardest part was fear of upsetting my family.  The first book I wrote, Lost in the Victory, which I co-authored with Ann Mix, touched my mother’s deep, deep pain at the death of her husband in WWII.  The family circled its wagons around Mother, and I was cut off from them for several years.  This time I was very careful to give everyone the chance to read the manuscript.  Their enthusiasm and help was indescribably precious to me and a source of encouragement beyond anything I could imagine.  I would have written it all down for my children and myself without their acceptance, but their trust and support kept me going all the way to a book.

P102002DucksSunday morning I noticed my mind going into a frenzy of worry about some small thing and decided to take a walk.  After walking awhile I stopped at the fountain in Malcolm X Park to watch a family of ducks.  Watching the ducks reminded me of standing and breathing with the nuns in Plum Village (Stillness is a Door), silent and still, with enough inner space to know that I was alive and part of an amazing world.

I remembered other times when I felt alert and undistracted, attentive, and happy to Giraffbe alive.

Still sleepy I stopped by the local coffee shop this morning.  While waiting for my chai I glanced into a round, leaf-framed mirror and jumped back.  The face in the mirror was that of a young, dark-skinned man, not the familiar pink-skinned face I was expecting.  Chuckling, I saw that the mirror was a wreath, a Christmas decoration, not the mirror I had assumed it to be.

Flight

Slowing down, waking up,

standing, breathing.

A heron glides down to the pond

and folds it’s wings.

Silence is a window.

Stillness is a door.

  The heron flaps its wings

 and flies.

I wrote this poem during my first stay in Plum Village in 2001.  After leaving the stone meditation hall at dawn, I joined a row of eight brown-robed sisters standing in a line on the hill above the lotus pond.  A heron appeared as we stood in silence watching the sky turn red and orange and gold.

Plum VillageHaving lost my inner space and feeling a need to change my life, I made my way to Plum Village in France http://plumvillage.org/ and spent a month learning to live mindfully from Thich Nhat Hanh and the nuns.  The article I wrote about that experience was published in the Mindfulness Bell:

http://www.mindfulnessbell.org/articles/mb31.pdf

The link is a bit slow but when the cover appears, scroll down to pages 34-35.

Learning to become a bell master in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh is learning to invite the bell with the heart.  I’ve written about this chance for thoughts to move aside and let the heart lead in the MIndfulness Bell:

http://www.mindfulnessbell.org/articles/mb36.pdf

When the cover appears scroll down to pages 40-41.

Making soymilk for 350 retreatants every day for three months taught me to live in the present moment – no past, no future, no blame, no right, no wrong, no theories or notions, only now.  I wrote about my experience 0f living in Deer Park Monastery near San Diego in the Mindfulness Bell:  

http://www.mindfulnessbell.org/articles/mb37.pdf

When the cover appears scroll down to pages 38-39.

Thich Nhat Hanh came to Washington, DC in October 2011 to give public talks at the Library of Congress and the Warner Theater and to lead a retreat Congress.  People from the Washington Mindfulness Community http://www.mindfulnessdc.org/ and other local mindfulness practice groups walked the marble halls inviting members of Congress and gathered to feed the monks and nuns who accompanied Thich Nhat Hanh or Thay as he is called.  The article in the Mindfulness Bell describes aspects of Thich Nhat Hanh’s visit:

http://www.mindfulnessbell.org/articles/mb59.pdf

When the cover appears scroll down to pages 44-45.

“Peace, salaam, shalom,” we sang as about 200,000 of us walked to the White House on September 24, 2005, a strong showing for peace in Iraq.  I was among those who were voluntarily arrested.  The article in the Mindfulness Bell tells the story of that day and night:

http://www.mindfulnessbell.org/articles/mb41.pdf

When the cover appears scroll down to page 36.

P1020058Ancient themes of loss and return are at play in the form of my father who was “lost” in WWII.  After a lifetime of sorrow I see his smile in a little boy happily picking up leaves and giving them to his mother during a day of mindfulness and write of this experience in the Mindfulness Bell:

http://www.mindfulnessbell.org/articles/mb35.pdf

When the cover appears scroll down to page 45.