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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.

Jeff Blaine's picture

At the company I work...

At the company I work for, before I moved away from HQ, I would walk down the long mostly empty tie corridors with my arm against the railing and my eyes closed for rest.

When I am...err... sitting down in the bathroom, I don't read, spend the time thinking about this and that needing to be done, or screw around with a PDA. I rest my eyes and clear my head.

When I've opened a few links that are loading slowly (perhaps because my DSL link is a little clogged from a download or two), I don't stare at the page, annoyed and banging the desk lightly. I close my eyes for 5-10 seconds and take a deep breath. When I open them, everything is ready.

When I am waiting for what will be a few minutes (1 or 2, not 10...), I will rest my eyes as well. Doctor's office, whatever. No PDA massaging or reading crappy drivel.

I think the largest "to-do" that people forget to deal with every day is NOT "to-do-ing". It goes a LONG way to making your day more productive overall and less exhausting.

But, you know, people are spazzes jacked up on caffeine, so oh well.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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