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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.

Chris M's picture

Incidentally, the 'je me souviens'...

Incidentally, the 'je me souviens' is a Canadian historical reference. You're supposed to be remembering that the anglos (=English-speaking Canadians) annexed what is now Quebec. It's actually supposed to get you angry. So this is pretty subversive stuff! Check out http://www.escapeartist.com/international/Quebec_Living.html for more information, and other interpretations of this mysterious phrase.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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