Mindful living seems to be on everyone’s radar these days. It’s not exactly a new concept (Buddhists have been practicing it for centuries), but it has had a recent resurgence into the mainstream consciousness. With mindful mobile apps and meditation classes popping up in places like the Google workplace, many in the health industry have marked this practice as a wellness trend to watch for this year and beyond.
Still, there are those of us left wondering: what is the practice of mindfulness really about, , especially when the news is roiling with environmental and personal health challenges (including a good bit of our Wellness Warrior reporting)?
Who better to go to for an explanation than Vietnamese Buddhist monk, spiritual teacher, and peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh. In an article written in Lion’s Roar, Thich Nhat Hanh explains that living mindfully is about listening to your breath and living in the present moment. Life, he says isn’t about the past or the future but rather the here and now.
He writes that,
Mindfulness is the energy that helps us recognize the conditions of happiness that are already present in our lives. You don’t have to wait ten years to experience this happiness. It is present in every moment of your daily life. There are those of us who are alive but don’t know it. But when you breathe in, and you are aware of your in-breath, you touch the miracle of being alive. That is why mindfulness is a source of happiness and joy.”
Thich Nhat Hanh goes on to explain that when we get caught up in our anxieties, fears, regrets and worries, we are living in a state of what he refers to as “forgetfulness.” Mindfulness is the opposite of this. It is using our breath to bring consciousness to both our mind and body, which allows us to feel the joy in the pure, simple moment.
The practice is about quieting the chatter in the outside world and inside your own head. It shouldn’t be a chore, Thich Nhat Hanh insists, but rather a source of happiness.
This is not the kind of silence that oppresses us. It is a very elegant kind of silence, a very powerful kind of silence. It is the silence that heals and nourishes us.”
Still the question remains, how do we connect to this elusive elegant silence? Thich Nhat Hanh answers this by outlining five simple practices that he recommends to all. These include mindful breathing, concentration, awareness of our body, releasing tension and walking meditation.
Learn more about these practices in his book, The Miracle of Mindfulness.
The Miracle of Mindfulness by Tich Nhat Han via amazon
Thich Nhat Hanh on The Practice of Mindfulness via Lion’s Roar
Five Steps to Mindfulness via mindful.org
Read all articles by Juniper Briggs