~Thich Nhat Hanh
I discovered Thich Nhat Hanh (pronounced Tik-N’yat-Hawn) a few years ago when my mother gave me the book, Peace With Every Step. It was a particularly crazy time with three kids full of activities, working at my job, cooking meals, cleaning as much as I could, doing laundry and trying to fit in a garden… everything added to the chatter in my head and gave me monkey mind . I craved peace. Then, suddenly, here was a way within a book to help to bring peace back into my life! I loved it.
Thich Nhat Hanh is the best known Zen masters in the world today. He is a writer and peace activist. He was born in central Vietnam in 1926. He entered the monkhood at the age of sixteen. He helped to found the “Engaged Buddhism” movement to help to bring about peace in Vietnam and other countries during the 60’s. Martin Luther King Jr. called him “an apostle of peace and nonviolence”. His life has been dedicated to the work of inner transformation for individuals and society. Today, Thich Nhat Hanh still travels the world leading retreats. His home is Plum Village in France, living in the meditation community he founded. There he teaches, writes and gardens. You can read more about him here.
I know how busy we all are. So while you may not have time to read Thich Nhat Hanh’s books, here are some little nuggets of his advice to weave into your very busy days!
Thich Nhat Hanh is all about mindfulness – noticing everything without judgment. Mindfulness never fails to change my mood!
“Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.”
“Around us, life bursts with miracles–a glass of water, a ray of sunshine, a leaf, a caterpillar, a flower, laughter, raindrops. If you live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere. Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles. Eyes that see thousands of colors, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings. When we are tired and feel discouraged by life’s daily struggles, we may not notice these miracles, but they are always there.”
On Waking In The Morning
We don’t always wake up in a good mood… so try saying this before you get out of bed and see how your day will change. This quote is like my mantra!
“Waking up this morning I smile
knowing there are 24 brand new hours before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment,
and look at beings with eyes of compassion.”
On Letting Go
Zen Mama started because I realized that if I could let go, I could be a better mother and have a better relationship with my kids! But it can be very difficult!
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.”
“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”
Another way to change your day is to make sure you are breathing deeply, in and out.
“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”
I loved the walking meditation that I leaned through the book. To do the walking meditation: walk at your regular pace, not too fast. Be aware of each foot touching the ground. Be aware of everything around you, clouds, trees flowers, little creatures. Have a smile on your face and smile into every cell in your body. Try taking two or three steps for each in-breath and each out-breath. I think as I breathe, “I am breathing in peace.” When I breathe out, I think, “I am breathing out ________” You can fill in anxiety, busyness, anger… whatever emotion you want to let go.
“When we walk like (we are rushing), we print anxiety and sorrow on the earth. We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the earth… Be aware of the contact between your feet and the earth. Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.”
On A Positive Attitude
I know that some see a positive attitude as sticking your head in the sand or being a “Pollyanna”. Yet I know that the days I have a positive attitude are my best and happiest days.
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
“I have noticed that people are dealing too much with the negative, with what is wrong. … Why not try the other way, to look into the patient and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?”
On Expectation of Yourself and Others
We try so hard to fit into the culture. Try to not fit in today and don’t just do what the culture expects of you.
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”
We’re always searching for the person we know ourselves to be, not a second rate version of someone else. So, why are we trying to make everyone else into an idea of what we think they should be? Reading this quote really made me think!
“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you
don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not
doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or
less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have
problems with our friends or family, we blame the other
person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will
grow well, like the lettuce.
On Slowing Down
Do you find you are always rushing through your day? I try to make my day last forever so this quote is one of my favorites!
“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”
On Love And Relationships
Loving unconditionally can be very difficult. It means being there for someone without judgment. It doesn’t mean giving up. It means you’re willing to support someone you love.
“When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?”
“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
“You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.”
“Compassion is a verb.”
I hope you enjoyed these quotes and got an idea of what Thich Nhat Hanh is all about. I’ll be giving away my copy of Peace With Every Step. To be entered in the giveaway, please leave a comment about why you need peace in your life. I’ll put your names into a hat and the Zen Papa will pick one!
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