In Memoriam: Thich Nhat Hanh, “I Have Arrived, I Am Home” [VIDEO]

Since my last post, my family and I were diagnosed with COVID. We are doing well and experiencing mild symptoms.

I’d like to devote this post to a beautiful documentary that came out on January 22, 2023, Vietnam time (January 21, 2023 in the US), a year to the day of the passing of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, aged 95, known as the “Father of Mindfulness”.

Entitled I Have Arrived, I Am Home (Plum Village YouTube Channel), this film covers the last few years of the life of Thich Nhat Hanh — also called Thay, or “teacher” — after he returned to the Tu Hieu Temple in Vietnam at which he was ordained a monk many decades prior.

“I Have Arrived, I Am Home” – 41:46 min

Under 3/4 of an hour long, the film beautifully illustrates how Thay, in his post-stroke years, returned to his roots in preparation for his passing (“transition”). It documents his death and funeral and the effect that his life has had on the existing monasteries of the Plum Village Tradition, which he established.

The writing of Thay greatly touched me during my cancer journey, and I Have Arrived, I Am Home is a lovely video that depicts his kindness and care for his students. This was not created to “convert” anyone but only to teach by example. I hope you take some time to view it, especially as our world continues to experience much unrest and pain.

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If you are interested in learning more about Thich Nhat Hanh’s mindful life, I encourage you to refer to this article from Lion’s Roar magazine, published on the day of his death last year.

I had the pleasure of attenting a “Day of Mindfulness” at the Deer Park Monastery (Plum Village Tradition) in Escondido, CA in Summer 2019 and described it here.

Chemo Fatigue: What Is It Like? [video]

[IMPORTANT: Please be aware that at the time the videos were filmed, I was in a very negative headspace. My experience should not be considered an example of a “typical” experience because with cancer treatment, there is no such thing. Just as cancer is a disease specific to an individual, so is the treatment and, as a result, one’s response to it. If you are interested in viewing the below videos, please keep all the above in mind.]

I’ve posted quite of few photos of my cancer journey. You’d think I wouldn’t have any more pics left, but–surprise–I do!

I made some important (to me) videos after my sixth and final infusion, but to date I’ve hesitated to post them. In part, this is because I’ve tried to remain anonymous in this blog, but in the clips, you get to see my face. And it’s not a pretty sight.

I didn’t feel human.

I was the weakest that I’d been my entire adult life. My body was feeling the strain of multiple infusions of chemotherapy, I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror and my voice didn’t sound like my own. I was so sick and tired of this part of the treatment and wanted it to be DONE.

At this point, I wasn’t suffering that entire cascade of side effects that I’d experienced after my first chemo infusion, and I’d learned to better deal with what I did experience, and even what to do to avoid some of the side effects.

However, the fatigue I felt was far beyond what I imagined it would be. And it was coupled with constant background nausea, like a slow burn in my gut. This was a result of losing the rapidly-dividing cells that lined my intestinal tract; they were felled by the chemotherapy, collateral damage as the medicine killed off potential cancer cells.

Strangely, there were also times when I was actually quite hungry, but literally too tired to try to get something to eat. Even calling for a member of my family to bring me food required too much effort. Speaking took a lot of energy.

The final infusion’s side effects lasted the longest. A full week after my infusion I was still very unsteady and barely made it to work for a few hours.

It’s worth noting that this was pre-pandemic and I wasn’t properly set up for working from home. Were I experiencing chemo treatment now, I’d be able to get more work done…likely to my detriment, unfortunately, because I really needed that time away.

It took five years for me to decide that it was time to post these videos. Apologies if they get a little intense:

August 13, 2017 – Cancer fatigue, part 1
August 13, 2017 – Cancer fatigue, part 2

15 Seconds of Zen in a Teaglass [Video Clip]

I’m neck-deep in juggling my day job and studying for my Yoga Teacher Training final exam, so I’m going to keep this short and tell you about a daily practice that I’ve established, as suggested by one of our teacher trainers.

We were to choose one thing to do consistently, something that was just for us and our well-being. And it was something that we should commit to doing everyday.

I chose making myself a tall glassful of hibiscus tea as my daily practice. As it is, I love tea because the process of making it requires that I pay attention to what I’m doing. While we set up morning (decaf) coffee the night before and the coffee maker is on a timer to brew, tea requires my presence.

Between waiting for the water to boil in the tea kettle, placing the hibiscus petals into the infuser, inserting that into the teaglass, pouring the hot water over it…the process becomes mindfulness meditation. And the best part is the visual reward of watching the vivid colors of the red hibiscus flowers seep through the infuser and into the glass, beautiful swirls of vibrant pink that, even if just for a handful of seconds, fill me with a sense of peace and spaciousness.

Feeling my spirit refreshed, I take a deep breath and return to my day.

Actually, it’s 16 seconds…but 15 sounds like a nicer, rounder number. Sorry about the knocking in the background. Once life calms down I’ll post a better version of this clip.