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An Open Letter to Mr. Trump & Ms. Clinton

An Open Letter to Mr. Trump & Ms. Clinton

I wrote this letter  to Mr. Trump and Ms. Clinton after reading the official Republican and Democratic party platforms and sitting with their similarities and differences as the subject of meditation. I wanted to speak to the candidates from a place of compassion and equanimity, communicate with integrity and skill worthy of my spiritual ancestors, and encourage our country’s next leader as they embrace the difficult job of moving the United States and the world safely into the future.  


download-22Dear Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump,

We have something in common: you and I have experienced lives of privilege and we have—unfortunately—misused our privilege to gain personal advantage. We have made mistakes and our history is flawed. Yet, we stand together now with a great opportunity to serve.

It’s time for me to select one of you to be leader of our country—a divided nation at a crossroads, a great cluster of states containing profound beauty, potential, and pain. I am doing my best to put aside the campaign hype and the anger and fear it stirs. When I look calmly I notice I am drawn to a leader who

  • hears the cries of people trapped in injustice
  • understands humankind’s interrelationship with earth and our responsibility to act with care
  • respects the science behind setting practical limits to growth and development so all may thrive within planetary boundaries
  • aims to be a good friend to other nations and those different from us as an essential strategy to global peace and prosperity

For these reasons, you—Mrs. Clinton—have my vote. And because a team of compassionate, understanding, and friendly leaders is necessary for America’s healthy continuation, I will vote for candidates in state and local elections who share these qualities and values.

Mr. Trump, I sincerely hope you find deep and lasting happiness in the days ahead. And may all those who are not elected to office, this time, be well.

Finally, I pledge not go away after the election. I will do my best to be a good citizen by tempering hot words and strong emotions and taking time to staying informed. I will listen and speak respectfully to neighbors and the elected officials I meet in order to help build a shared understanding so together we will know better how to be and what to do. I encourage you, Mrs. Clinton, to join me in earnestly putting the privilege we have into compassionate and skillful service to others.

Let us work now to recover our humanity and safeguard a future for all.

Heather Lyn Mann, Citizen of these United States

Right Speech: A 2016 Election Practice Invitation

Right Speech: A 2016 Election Practice Invitation


Excerpts from Good Citizens, Thich Nhat Hanh

“We must learn to speak out so that the voice of the Buddha, the voice of Jesus, the voice of Mohammad and all our spiritual ancestors can be heard in this dangerous and pivotal moment in history…. We have the tools. We have the path. We have the ability—with practice—to have the insight.

“Imagine the president of the United States being surrounded by many advisers from industry and the military. He’s a politician. Is the Sangha strong enough and present enough to help support him so that he can remain himself? We should do something to show him and our other politicians that the Sangha is there, supporting him [or her].”

I invite you to engage in the very real issues facing our country this election season by participating in this Election Practice Invitation.

Below you will find unaltered excerpts from the Republican and Democratic published party platforms, excerpts pertaining to the use and stewardship of Mother Earth.  This Election Practice Invitation challenges you to 1) take as the subject of your meditation the similarities and differences in the party platforms as they pertain to ecological awareness and stewardship, and 2) write a loving statement to share with other concerned citizens your insight, compassion, and equanimity.

This Practice Invitation is rooted in Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching on right speech and love letter writing.  He encourages us to take care of our anger, cultivate calm and kindness, reflect on wrong perceptions, and aspire for reconciliation, peace and mutual well-being. In this practice, we aim to speak truthful words that do not cause division, but we clearly lift our voice against oppression and injustice.

You needn’t write a whole letter to take this challenge, only a sentence or two. You may want to water the flower of understanding in another, express your insights, speak to the ethics of daily living (consider the Five Mindfulness Trainings), share your personal stories, respectfully request a candidate or political party take a specific action, or express a particular gratitude.

I offer this Election Practice Invitation to help us find our voice as continuations of our spiritual ancestors. This practice will help us articulate the understanding and wisdom in our hearts (during this time of conflict and consequence) and communicate more skillfully with fellow concerned citizens.

Contemplate the Republican and Democratic Party Platform excerpts I faithfully cut and pasted into the table below and share your offering of a love letter (250 words or less) as a comment to this post. I hope that soon, a collection of miniature love letters will grow, messages that will be helpful in deepening our understanding and finding our voice.

With a healing aspiration,

Heather Lyn Mann, True Lotus Peace

PS. You can also check out the published political platforms of other parties, including: the Green Party, the Independent Party  and the Libertarian Party.


2016 Republican Party Platform 2016 Democratic Party Platform
PERCEPTIONS. The central fact of any sensible environmental policy is that, year by year, the environment is improving. The impacts of climate change will also disproportionately affect low-income and minority communities, tribal nations, and Alaska

Native villages—all of which suffer the worst losses during extreme weather and have the fewest resources to prepare. Simply put, this is environmental racism.

UNDERSTANDING. Even if no additional controls are added, air pollution will continue to decline for the next several decades due to technological turnover of aging equipment. The best science tells us that without ambitious, immediate action across our economy to cut carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases, all of these impacts will be far worse in the future.
CLIMATE CHANGE. Climate change is far from this nation’s most pressing national security issue. This is the triumph of extremism over common sense, and Congress must stop it. Climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time.
JOBS.  Keeping energy in the earth will keep jobs out of reach of those who need them most. Democrats reject the notion that we have to choose between protecting our planet and creating good-paying jobs.
FEDERAL REGULATORY AUTHORITY We propose to shift responsibility for environmental regulation from the federal bureaucracy to the states and to transform the EPA into an independent bipartisan commission…. We will likewise forbid the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide, something never envisioned when Congress passed the Clean Air Act. Democrats are committed to closing the Halliburton loophole that stripped the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its ability to regulate hydraulic fracturing
INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS. We reject the agendas of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement Democrats share a deep commitment to tackling the climate challenge….and meeting the pledge President Obama put forward in the landmark Paris Agreement,
UNITED NATIONS. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a political mechanism, not an unbiased scientific institution. Its unreliability is reflected in its intolerance toward scientists and others who dissent from its orthodoxy…. We demand an immediate halt to U.S. funding for the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
MEETING FUTURE ENERGY NEEDS… coal is an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource. We are committed to getting 50 percent of our electricity from clean energy sources within a decade, with half a billion solar panels installed within four years and enough renewable energy to power every home in the country.
DRILLNG… we support the opening of public lands and the outer continental shelf to exploration and responsible production We oppose drilling in the Arctic and off the Atlantic coast…. Democrats will work to expand the amount of renewable energy production on federal lands and waters
KEYSTONE PIPELINE. The Keystone Pipeline has become a symbol of everything wrong with the current Administration’s ideological approach…. We intend to finish that pipeline and others as part of our commitment to North American energy security. We support President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.
COLLABORATION. The environment is too important to be left to radical environmentalists… Their approach is based on shoddy science, scare tactics, and centralized command-and-control regulation. Democrats believe in the conservation and collaborative stewardship of our shared natural heritage


Register Now for A Climate Day of Mindfulness

Register Now for A Climate Day of Mindfulness

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Fires. Floods. Heatwaves. Are you concerned about climate change and the future of the Lowcountry but confused about what to do?

Join me at Charleston’s Sophia Institute for a very special event: A Climate Day of Mindfulness, on September 24th, to connect deeply with what’s happening and experience how this challenge is an opportunity for transformation, the many ways society’s ailment can be a medicine.

Click to register now for the early bird special and consider bringing a friend!
I look forward to seeing you there–Heather
#EcoMindfulnessDose Now On Twitter

#EcoMindfulnessDose Now On Twitter

Savannah, GA
Savannah, GA

Join me in becoming Ecologically Mindful as part of your spiritual practice and stay current on what’s happening “in here” and “out there.”

Tonight begins a series of daily Twitter posts @HeatherLynMann under the tag‪ #‎EcoMindfulnessDose‬. At 6:35 pm Eastern each evening, I plan to offer an article, poem, video, or blog entry and encourage readers to explore it mindfully–breathing in pain, breathing out compassion. Tweets will link you to the latest and most respected climate news reports, art, science, and Dharma teachings.

Check it out starting tonight!
If you like #EcoMindfulnessDose, please share it in your social circles!

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Caring for Earth Together: A Video

Caring for Earth Together: A Video

Earth Holder Sangha Building explores the nuts and bolts of caring for Earth in community. It’s loaded with great ideas for enhancing communication and cooperation so spiritual groups can be more effective in protecting and healing our precious planet.

This panel discussion was part of the Earth Holder Retreat at Deer Park Monastery, April 28 – May 1, 2016.

A special thanks to filmmaker David Nelson for recording and sharing this conversation.

Earth Holder’s Mindful Advocacy: A Panel Discussion

Earth Holder’s Mindful Advocacy: A Panel Discussion

The Meditation Hall at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, CA awaits Earth Holders during the first-ever Plum Village Earth Holder Retreat, April 2016
The Meditation Hall at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, CA awaits Mindful Advocates during the first-ever Plum Village Earth Holder Retreat, April 2016

The first-ever Earth Holder Retreat in the Plum Village Tradition was held April 28-May 1 at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, CA. I was on the organizing committee. I also served as a panelist in a conversation about Mindful Advocacy. Check out the YouTube video below to hear the presentation.

Mindful Advocacy is a topic dear to my heart. As the long-time director of a conservation not-for-profit, I spent my early years as a traditional advocate. I rushed, got angry, and argued my case. During my later years, after I had discovered Mindfulness practice, I behaved more like a Mindful Advocate. I practiced fierce compassion, cultivated inner and outer sustainability, and listened more than I spoke. It took time for me to develop a new way to be and I talk about that transformation in the video. But today, my approach to advocacy is completely transformed.

During the talk, you’ll hear me describe  “advocates” as people

  • who have had their hearts broken, and
  • who want to ease the suffering they witnessed.

By this definition, anyone righting a wrong on behalf of themselves, a child, a family, a community, or Earth is an advocate. Also–by this definition–advocates have an emotional trigger–something that riles us deeply and sets us into motion. So, we advocates are wise to recognize the strong emotion at the root of our action. It is an emotion that needs tending. I talk about the need and process of self-care.

And of course, the “mindful” part of Mindful Advocacy is found in spiritual practice. To me, the practical lessons of the ancient teachings passed down through the generations are great gift to advocates.

In this presentation you will hear lots of ideas about how to apply spiritual practice to advocacy. Something I offer is a list of advocacy actions I am unwilling to take (because the actions lay outside the  boundaries of practice). Also, I reveal the list of Mindful Advocacy actions I do take every day to bring peace and healing to the world and stay happy as I do it.


Announcing the New Earth Holder Sangha

Announcing the New Earth Holder Sangha


The Plum Village Community formed the Earth Holder Sangha to care for our precious planet
The Plum Village Community formed the Earth Holder Sangha to care for our precious planet

I am pleased to announce the establishment of the Earth Holder Sangha in the Plum Village tradition. This initiative, developed by more than 25 lay and monastic Order of Interbeing members over the last eight months, is launching first in North America during the Miracle of Mindfulness Tour.  The Founding Sangha Document can be viewed here .

In 1970, Thay, Sister Chan Khong and their friend Alfred Hassler organized the largest environmental meeting ever held. 2200 scientists met in Menton, in Southern France, to address the interlocking issues of war, poverty, overpopulation and environmental destruction. Thay was asked to offer the conference theme, and he chose Dai Dong, The Great Togetherness.  The Menton Message , a declaration coming out of that conference, was eventually signed by 5000 scientists and government leaders. Our Earth Holder Sangha is helping to continue and further realize Thay’s and Sister Chan Khong’s 1970 vision, with our mission of:  Awakening a Great Togetherness to Bring Transformation and Healing to Earth. 

EHS logo green - brown

To learn more or to contribute, visit  our Newsletter & Blog, our Facebook Page and our Twitter Account.  All three, of course, are just getting active, so you’ll be helping build momentum by adding your voice.

Hope to see you all on the Miracle of Mindfulness Tour. I will be attending all three English-speaking retreats beginning with the event at Blue Cliff Monastery next week.


Heather Lyn Mann, True Lotus Peace

CTC Coordinator for the Earth Holder Sangha

10 Reflections for the Mindful Advocate

10 Reflections for the Mindful Advocate

Here are 10 reflections to bring peace, ease, and skill to the mindful advocate
Here are 10 reflections to help the mindful advocate cultivate stability, peace, and ease in their work. 

Mindful Advocacy is a spiritual practice with the power to transform injustice and suffering in the world. It differs from traditional advocacy in a number of significant ways. For example, the mindful advocate doesn’t lay blame, feed on anger, fear, or hate, or identify enemies to the cause. There is no striving to amass power. Instead, the mindful advocate transforms suffering through loving kindness, insight, and compassionate, skillful action.

I offer here ten reflections supporting the spiritual development of the mindful advocate. Consider these reflections at times of quiet contemplation. If you regularly read, study, and practice these ten reflections, you will cultivate greater stability, peace, and ease in your efforts to heal the world.


  1. Aspiration. Heartbreak and the desire to help others are the roots of Mindful Advocacy. From the ashes of our suffering, let us rise to compassionate and skillful action and hold as our deepest aspiration the realization of true, universal happiness.
  2. Looking Deeply. The fullness of reality is difficult to comprehend and always changing. Let us monitor the present moment and look deeply into its causes and conditions in order to cultivate understanding, acceptance, compassion for all beings, and wisdom to know what to do.
  3. Self-Care. Strong emotions like anger, hate, and fear are obstacles to happiness. Let us cultivate calm and well-being in ourselves and others, avoid and heal stress as it arises, and practice self-care to bring freshness, nourishment, and creativity to a healthy continuation.
  4. Impermanence. Clinging to the past, trying to “fix” circumstances in the present, or worrying about the future denies the fact that everything that arises will cease. Let us embrace impermanence as the key to potentiality: anything is possible because of the reality of Impermanence.
  5. Interbeing. Defining people and ecosystems as “others” creates harmful separation and denies the reality of Interbeing. Let us look deeply and see the interpenetration of the sun in the flower, the hungry child in the oil company executive, the melting glacier in the automobile. Let us see adversaries as teachers and know that our happiness is dependent upon the happiness of all beings.
  6. Aimlessness. Frustration and despair arise when we fixate on particular outcomes in order to be happy. Let us hold our aspiration for true, universal happiness loosely like a guiding star, let go of attachment to narrow outcomes, and work with ease and joy in aimlessness.
  7. Power. True power emerges not from control, dominance, or force but from spiritual insight and wholesome, compassionate action. Let us embrace ethical teachings: reverence for life, true happiness, true love, loving speech and deep listening, and nourishment and healing  (see the Five Mindfulness Trainings at Let us do what needs doing where we stand and have loving and skillful actions be our message.
  8. Mindfulness. Distraction, confusion, and mindless disbursement of personal energies dissipate spiritual power. Let us practice Mindfulness, take hold of our consciousness, seal energy leaks, and grow more spiritually mature to benefit ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.
  9. Skillful Means. Advocates can cause harm while doing good. Let us work toward true, universal happiness in ways that extend kindness, ease, and joy. Let us reflect—before, during, and after taking action—by asking, “Am I sure.” Let us sustain loving actions for as long as they are needed and helpful.
  10. Community. The next Buddha is a Sangha.  Therefore, let us gain friendships in our advocacy, flow as a river, and contribute to the synergy and momentum of the healing collective.
What Does the Writer in You Say? Part One

What Does the Writer in You Say? Part One

Let the writer in you keep our ship off the rocks
Let the writer in you keep our ship off the rocks

Here is an excerpt in need of your review from Chapter One of Ocean of Insight: A Sailor’s Voyage Deep into the Climate Crisis (Parallax Press, Fall 2016). What does the writer in you say about the tale? Is it suspenseful? Is the action clear? Do you feel like you’re part of the action? Do you have a sense of place? Don’t be shy about telling me what you think; your ideas will make for a better book.

To set the scene, you should know a storm is approaching, night is falling, and sailing vessel Wild Hair is disabled by a busted throttle cable. The ship is inching backward, closing the distance to shore, because our anchors can’t penetrate the stony bottom. Dave and I are desperate to save our ship. Enjoy–and may the writer in you flower!

We cannot drive out of this spot without an engine, and we can’t sail into the wind. Shallow waters frame the exit so tacking through the direction of the gale is impossible. The only thing I know to do in an emergency is call for help. The seed of an idea pierces the thickening shell of my brain. The Bahamian Air and Sea Rescue Association–BASRA–aids distressed sailors. Sea-hearty volunteers stand by to protect life and property, which they do more than five-hundred times a year. Someone there will tow us from the menacing shore to penetrable sand and safety.


“What do you think about radioing BASRA?” I ask. “Is it time to ask for help?”


“Well,” Dave says slowly, “we’re not able to drive ourselves out of this mess and we’re not staying put. Yeah, I think now is why BASRA exists.”


“It’s an emergency?”


“Yes,” his certainty increasing. “Our property and our lives are definitely threatened.”


My thumb squeezes the button on the VHF radio. “BASRA, BASRA, BASRA, this is sailing vessel Wild Hair, Wild Hair, Wild Hair.” Silence. I try again. And again. No one in a twelve-mile radius hears my call.


This is impossible. Within hailing distance there are at least six populated islands with harbors shielding as many as a thousand boats. There are three towns with restaurants, resorts, dive shops, and vacation apartments. Nearly everyone in the Abaco Islands communicates with VHF radios. If only a fraction is tuned-in to the common hailing channel, several hundred souls must be listening. BASRA should answer. If they don’t, someone else should come back and tell me how to reach the rescue team because people at sea butt into each other’s goings on. The lifestyle is dangerous and sailors cannot afford privacy or pride. The culture of meddling saves lives.


Abandoning the VHF, I drop through the companionway into the teak-paneled salon to lay hands on nautical charts with the phone number of BASRA Headquarters. The office is far away—it’s one-hundred-and-forty nautical miles to Nassau—but I’m confident they can contact with a local provider, mobilize help. The phone rings too long. Bile coats my throat. The next big gust rattles the ship’s canvas covers and the entire boat shudders. I resist the obvious fact: it is dusk on New Year’s Eve and no Bahamian volunteer is standing by.

To be continued…

Walking Meditation: The Practice of Stopping

Walking Meditation: The Practice of Stopping

Walking meditation can be short or long in duration, depending upon the amount of time available. This exercise supports the practice of indoor or outdoor walking meditation for either individuals or groups. It is offered in three parts: opening remarks, middle contemplations, and concluding words. When practicing alone, read the words slowly and silently to yourself. When practicing in a group, one person should read the offering aloud in a clear and relaxed way.  The community should walk in the same direction (in a circle if indoors) like many cells of one body. Sounding a bell at the start and end of each section of text can help the group move as a whole.

Walking Meditation

Opening Remarks


Change agents are very busy people and problems in the world can consume us. We almost always think about the causes and circumstances of suffering. We analyze power structures sustaining the unwholesome status quo and make and revise plans to redirect resources to achieve fairness and sustainability. Then, we measure our success, revise strategies, and go at it again. The work is enormous and without end.

To care for ourselves as Mindful Advocates, we learn to bring an end to unconscious habits of busy-ness, thinking too much, analyzing, planning and measuring. We develop ways to interrupt old ways of being and embody peace to create balance. We water lasting seeds of happiness in ourselves and others by nourishing hearts and minds with beauty and love that can only be accessed in the here and now. Mostly, we learn to stop and to simply be.

Anyone can do it.

We can teach ourselves to interrupt habitual thinking and stop planning by practicing walking meditation. As we walk, we take slow and relaxed steps leading to nowhere special. With every step we simply arrive to the present moment. Our lips smile. We let go of thoughts of productivity and craving for results to welcome ease. We don’t analyze the quality of our walking, measure if we are the best walkers, or plan to walk to a particular destination. We stop our racing minds and walk in happy awareness of the perfection of this moment just as it is.

To keep your mind from running its familiar course, pay attention to the sensations of your steps on Earth. Relax your posture. Place your arms in a neutral position. As you breathe in, feel the pressure of your weight as you step onto your right foot. As you breathe out, feel the weight shift as you step onto your left foot. Pay attention to the workings of your feet as you move: the contributions of your foot’s arch and toes. Notice how the muscles of your legs fire and release to maintain balance as you journey.

Walking meditation is not a waste of time; it is the essence of life. The quality of your life depends upon the quality of mindfulness in each step. If you worry about the past or get caught in fears about the future, you miss the safety, beauty, and joy that envelops you completely in this moment. Live each step; here is your life.

Let us walk together.


Middle Contemplations


Please answer these questions in silence. What are you experiencing in this moment? Are you struggling with any aspect of mindful walking? Is there tension in your body? Do you feel ease? Or do you feel a combination of both tension and ease? Do habit energies arise in your consciousness: busy-ness, thinking too much, analyzing, planning, and measuring? Do you feel sad, angry, joyful, or a neutral emotion? What are you learning in this moment from the miracle of walking on earth?

When you are mindful of your steps, habit energies—like measuring and analyzing past actions or thinking about and planning for the future—fall away. Instead, you develop awareness of the reality of now—the sensations of walking on Earth. In this way, you taste your true nature. You are not the small self you thought you were: a creature of habit responding to the world’s stimuli. You are the being who can notice and interrupt automatic responses and in their place choose to react in kinder, more generous, and healing ways. Becoming skillful at stopping the habit of reactivity to the world and choosing a peaceful way of being in the world uncovers a source of profound nourishment, happiness, and power.

Let us continue the practice of stopping our habit energies as we walk together in peace. With each step ask yourself, am I stopping?


Concluding Words


When we stop running and learn to walk in mindful awareness, taking in what is happening in the present moment, we restore peace and well-being in ourselves. But it doesn’t end there; our transformation heals others and Earth herself. We live our life in relationship with the whole, there is no separation. Watering seeds of peace and awareness in ourselves is in fact a radical act of cultivating peace and awareness in the world. This is not poetry. This is the magnitude of every peaceful step we take. Everything matters. Nothing is lost.

Practice walking meditation throughout your day with each step. Put a light smile on your lips and walk as an enlightened being—someone dwelling in the here and now—as you move to the copy machine, the podium for a presentation, through the door of a difficult meeting, or simply to the bathroom. If you find you are caught in thinking, analyzing, planning, or measuring, be kind to yourself. Say “hello” to the habit energy like an old friend, and chose instead to be peace.