Universal Heart News, Events & Book Club

New year inspiration: Martin Luther King & Thich Nhat Hanh *  The Moon Shines Out of the Dark SYDNEY 19 January *  Welcome to our “Retreat in a Day” AUCKLAND 26 January * List of 2013 events including Easter Retreat * Glorious treats at Universal Heart Book Club * Video talk: the languages/expressions of love  * Book shop needs * 10 days to greater calm (who can resist?!)  

Dear Universal Heart Networkers!

My thoughts and prayers are with you for a joyful year of kindness…for you and your loved ones. I look forward so much to meeting some of you at my teaching/retreat events throughout this year. Others of you I will “meet” only through these newsletters, or via Facebook or perhaps the Book Club or video talk links. But however we connect, my wish is that this Network will support us all to make this a more loving, appreciative and kinder world. There can be no more worthwhile ambition, and certainly none that more reliably lifts our spirits.

Far better than a new year card, I have found this wonderful photograph for you to enjoy of two of the peacemakers who inspire me most deeply: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Thich Nhat Hanh. Neither man grew his inclusive passion for humanity within the context of an “easy” life; both inspire at least as much through their actions as words. TNH is a Zen monk, now in his 80s and still writing and teaching. One of the many treats we have for you this month at The Universal Heart Book Club is Walter Mason’s lovely article on the seven spiritual practices he has learned from TNH (often called Thay by those who love him). You will also find a surprising, delightful article from writer Jane Goodall on fiction that is truly magical, some haiku with exquisite images, a gardening philosopher, and my own review of Richard Holloway’s exceptionally engaging Leaving Alexandria – a spiritual memoir that will interest many of you seeking reading that’s both insightful and utterly absorbing. This is your Universal Heart Book Club! Do enjoy it.

My teaching year begins in Auckland on 26 January with the annual “Retreat in a Day“. I am preparing practical and highly accessible ways to think about choice and also “presence of mind”: one very much depends on the other! If you can get to Auckland, do book now (Tel: 07 866 8972  www.manaretreat.com)  – and feel free to send this email on to others. As I get older I regard each year, each day as increasingly precious – not to do more and more but to do with a full heart what matters most, including time with loved ones – and time for activities which offer experience and not just goals, never mind deadlines.Of course we all have responsibilities and the needs of others to consider. But HOW we do that is critical… and especially the attitude we take. I am thinking about the famous washing up story in Forgiveness and Other Acts of Love! That was a practice I learned from Thich Nhat Hanh many many years ago, and continue to cherish. Basically it means not allowing a grim attitude to colonise your mind…it’s a precious freedom that is literally a single decision away.

In all my teaching this year I will be focusing very much on how we can use our minds, thinking, values and passions to achieve greater freedom and happiness. On Facebook I am continuing to post frequent short inspirations and, as the year turned from the old to the new, I emphasised my own choice of courage again for this year. We don’t make any significant changes for the better in attitude or action without courage. What’s more, we find it “on the run” – as we need it – not in the abstract.

And now a list of links, including an invitation to bring any little children in your life to a reading of The Moon Shines Out of the Dark on Saturday 19 January at Shearers Books in Sydney. (Free, but booking essential.) Also, a link to a new illustrated article on my own website that offers lively practical help on a crucial topic: 10 days to greater calm; plus a link to the video talks from the Sydney services that Brad Harris continues to post on YouTube. You can enjoy these wherever you are, and however frequently you would like to. They include my latest talk on the languages of love: we need to be “fluent” in them all – and can be, with little effort and a light heart. At that same link is a gorgeous recording of “Joyful, Joyful”. Sing along!

For forward planning, please explore the EVENTS LINK that will take you to booking details for all the events so far posted for this year. This includes the so-special Easter Retreat where early bookings are particularly appreciated.

Finally and not least given the place of books in all our lives, here’s a link to the bookstore that’s attached to my website – administered by Collins/Seek and all books are discounted. There are many wonderful books recommended there. (A BIG BIG thank you to those of you using it. I do receive reports of your purchases and am so grateful for them. ) I know the bookstore is not the most glamorous of websites – out of my hands, alas – but the service is excellent and the small % that’s returned is the sole support for the Universal Heart activities, including these Newsletters. You can order any book, audio as well as “real” books, and it’s currently the only place where you can find my CDs, including Peaceful Mind.

I leave you with some beautiful lines from Thich Nhat Hanh that continue as a catalyst for my own work and living. Kindest wishes to all, Stephanie Dowrick

“Every morning, when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand new hours to live. What a precious gift! We have the capacity to live in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others. Peace is present right here and now.”