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Thich Nhat Hanh: Finding mindfulness in unexpected places

Questions and Answers--Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh on mining unexpected pockets of mindfulness in a busy world:

Q: How do you maintain mindfulness in a busy work environment? At times it seems there is not even enough time to breathe mindfully.

A: This is not a personal problem only; this is a problem of the whole civilization. That is why we have to practice not only as individuals; we have to practice as a society. We have to make a revolution in the way we organize our society and our daily life, so we will be able to enjoy the work we do every day...

When you drive around the city and come to a red light or a stop sign, you can just sit back and make use of these twenty or thirty seconds to relax -- to breathe in, breathe out, and enjoy arriving in the present moment. There are many things like that we can do. Years ago I was in Montreal on the way to a retreat, and I noticed that the license plates said Je me souviens-"I remember." I did not know what they wanted to remember, but to me it means that I remember to breathe and to smile (laughter). So I told a friend who was driving the car that I had a gift for the sangha in Montreal: every time you see Je me souviens, you remember to breathe and smile and go back to the present moment. Many of our friends in the Montreal sangha have been practicing that for more than ten years.

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Pema Chodron is another very...

Pema Chodron is another very good teacher for Westerners--she's in the Tibetan tradition, but her teachings are very secular and fine for any religion (or lack thereof).

I do the deep breathing at red lights also, which helps me as I tend to be one of those obnoxious aggressive drivers in a pointless hurry. And I have a six-month old, so I do simple breathing meditation when I'm pumping breast milk. This is one of the top ten most boring activities ever, but the meditation gives me a small break in my crazed workday. I don't know what I'll do when I wean him--maybe I'll have to take up smoking!




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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