A Clearer View Gratitude Letter for Celebrating Our Togetherness Retreat

Dear Respected Thay, Brothers, Sisters, and Community,

It’s wonderful to see how the teaching of impermanence can bring more clarity. Our thoughts come and go. What we thought was true isn’t true. We initially cloud ourselves with the narrative we want to hear instead of being present to what it is. 

I found myself in that predicament. After attending the 2020 Holiday Retreat, I started reflecting on what happened in my past. When I was in middle school, my uncle touched me in an uncomfortable way. At the time, I only knew how to express myself through writing. I wrote about how I overcame my difficulty with my uncle for one of my college application essays. 

I thought writing about my uncle proved that I healed from my suffering. However, I cried and continued to cry until the Written Words “showed” that I healed. I thought school helped me heal. I thought being studious proved that I could go somewhere. I wanted to be like my best friend in high school since she had many friends. 

I started to dislike her because I wanted to be acknowledged, be accepted, be loved. I longed for recognition and that recognition seemingly started with my relationship with Dan. I thought being in love proved that I am loved. I realize now that I came into the relationship with the wrong expectations. I was blinded by my desire of love and acceptance. 

Birds flying together as a sangha

I didn’t acknowledge the numbness in me and let it continue to build until one day he fell on top of me when I was trying to get away. When he fell asleep, I woke up. This was not a sustainable relationship anymore. I couldn’t be with him because I lost touch with myself. Once he woke up, I moved him out of my dorm room. I closed myself from him, my roommates, my friends, and my family because I didn’t think anyone would understand my suffering. Inevitably they may not, but I thought I was alone.

I’m genuinely sorry that I couldn’t be there in the past, but I’m glad that I’m learning to recognize my difficulties as they are. Whenever I catch myself writing too much, I stop writing and breathe in and out. Whenever my chest feels cold, I drink a warm cup of tea. Whenever my heart feels heavy, I place my hand to my heart, breathe in and out, and smile. 

When I shared my story to our Happy Hickory Family, I didn’t cry. The ache in my heart fades breath by breath. I smile at myself more and a wave of peace hugs my uncle. A part of my heart has forgiven Dan. He is a good person. He cares for his family, friends, career, passion. Another part of me is here to say I’m sorry too.

The retreat has also reminded me of nourishing affirmations. Be gentle to myself. Be kind to myself. I’m grateful for my supportive family, amazing friends, and a home to continue my path of healing. I promise to take care of my inner child, Hannah Banana, better every day. I will keep in touch with her so that we can be honest with each other. If we are worried about something, I’ll breathe with her and I will share our difficulties with others for support. In this manner, I can be present with myself and everyone around me. I can be a better sister, daughter, friend, teacher, and most importantly, me.

I also see that I don’t need to be acknowledged and accepted by others. I am caring, supportive, and a good listener. I am learning to practice stopping, coming back to my breath to truly be with myself. I am also continuing my education to be an elementary school teacher so that I can help kids learn how to express themselves kindly. I hope I can help them be caring individuals, be curious learners, and be loving to themselves. 

Thank you for the practice. Thank you for showing me how to bring mindfulness in my home. I will continue the practice to come home to myself, to my Hannah Banana, so that those around me can feel at home too.

With a smile,

Hannah Nguyen (she/her)

Dharma Nectar of the Heart

Tâm Cam Lộ Vị

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