top of page

Mindless or Mindful

I'm reading two books very slowly almost as a way of practicing mindfulness. Coming to our Senses by father of Western mindfulness Jon Kabat-Zinn (JKZ) and The Art of Living by living treasure Thich Nhat Hanh. Both men carefully consider the words they string together so that as I read about new ideas I have complete clarity.

Consider this passage from Kabat-Zinn:

"More than anything else, I have come to see meditation as an act of love, an inward gesture of the heart that recognizes our perfection even in our obvious imperfection, with all our shortcomings, our wounds, our attachments, our vexations and our persistent habits of unawareness." I have found this to be true in my meditation and even knowing this to be true I often resist meditating. Perhaps this is why he says "Meditation is not for the faint-hearted nor for those who routinely avoid the whispered longings of their own hearts." JKZ often refers to the lessons of Thich Nhat Hahn (TNH) so it's interesting to read them simultaneously.

For me TNH has a simple, illuminating style of presenting his ideas - he uses stories from his long life as a peace activist and from living day to day in Plum Village. His humour sneaks up on you, some of his suggested mantras seem crafted to make you smile "As I breathe in I say 'Breathing legendary breaths,' and as I breathe out I say, 'Living legendary moments, wonderful moments.' ...Breathing is a kind of celebration celebrating the fact of being alive, still alive." And at the age of 90 he can speak with some authority. I admire the wonderful way TNH uses words to encourage us to be hopeful about society and our role in creating a more peaceful future. "My name, Nhat Hanh, means 'one action'. I spent a long time trying to find out which action this was. Then I discovered that my one action is to be peace and to bring peace to others... Our time is first of all for us to be. To be what? To be alive, to be peaceful, to be joyful, to be loving. And this is what the world needs most. We all need to train ourselves in our way of being, and that is the ground for all action."

By continuing to scribble down my thoughts and feelings I hope to eventually be able to clearly express something (ANYTHING) as well as these two masters. If I keep breathing legendary breaths, I will be able to recognise my legendary pairing of words.

Featured Posts

Recent Posts


bottom of page