Last week I wrote about Thich Nhat Hanh’s brain hemorrhage landing him in the hospital. The most recent update from Plum Village shows that while his condition is still in a critical stage he has opened his eyes and even reached out to touch the attendant next to him. In continuing this time of honoring his life I wanted to share with you one of the gifts he has given me that I often share with others.
These are the short phrases he weaves into breathing or walking that helps us be more present, loving, grounded, and aware in daily life. If you don’t already, consider trying these out as an experiment in your daily life and seeing what you notice.
- You may take three steps while breathing in and say “Breathing in, I calm my body” and then with the following three steps “Breathing out, I relax.” You can then shorten this to saying “calm” as you breathe in, and “relax” as you breathe out.
- “Breathing in, I notice the colors all around me, breathing out, I smile.” Then shorten to “Breathing in, colors, breathing out, smile.” Even if we don’t feel like smiling, the simple act of doing a half-smile sometimes can change the tension in our faces, which in turn affects our mood.
- “Breathing in, I have arrived, breathing out, I am home.” Then shorten too “Breathing in, arrived, breathing out, home.” Have you ever had the experience where you were rushing home to relax. It doesn’t make sense and isn’t effective is calming the nervous system. Sometimes reminding ourselves that we have arrived to the present moment already and that we are home can help calm an anxious mind. We can then slow down and get home a few minutes later in a more collected and relaxed state.
- “Breathing in, I wash my hands, breathing out, may I use them wisely throughout the day.” Shorten to, “Breathing in, washing, breathing out, wise hands.” This practice can not only bring appreciation to one of the unsung heroes of our bodies, our hands, but also reinforce the idea of being aware of all they do during the day and being more mindful with them. This cultivation of appreciation can support us in feeling well.
These are just some examples; you can make up your own that fit for you. You can do this while walking or just sitting and breathing. And ofcourse, most important of all, don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself. If it’s not for you, cast it aside, but give it a shot. Pay attention to how you are feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally before doing it and then again after you do it for a few breaths.
No matter how many breaths Thay has left, his life has touched millions and he will never leave us.
As always, please share your thoughts and questions below. Your engagement here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.