There are very few spiritual leaders who can communicate with the simplicity and succinctness of Thich Nhat Hanh. As wise as the Dalai Lama is, I’ve only been able to really understand one of the books he’s written and I think that was because he had a co-author. It seems like he contemplates this stuff so much, you know, like it’s his job, that when he’s just trying to talk to a regular person about it, there’s a gap that can’t be crossed. That isn’t a problem in Thich’s Mindfulness Series.
Thich encourages the reader to find the quiet within. He says: “We already have calmness in us; we just need to know how to make it manifest.” pg 14, ebook. How do we do this? Through focus, breathing, mindfulness, and relaxation.
One of Thich’s methods for connecting with inner peace that really resonated with me was that we should take “lazy days”: “A lazy day is a day for us to be without any scheduled activities. We just let the day unfold naturally, timelessly. … When we have unscheduled time, we tend to get bored, seek entertainment, or cast about for something to do. A lazy day is a chance to train ourselves not to be afraid of doing nothing. You might think that not doing anything is a waste of time. But that’s not true.” pg 32, ebook. Not to brag, but I rather excel at “lazy days”.
Anyone out there have a partner who snores? I do. Thich invites us to incorporate the snores into our relaxation practice. “Sometimes you have to share a room with someone who snores. You may get irritated. But with mindfulness you can bring about compassion. You can lean on the sound of snoring in order to go to sleep. Listen and say that this brings you home to the here and now.” pg 42, ebook. I think this could be a difficult exercise, but I’m willing to give it a try.🙂
Ever tell yourself that relaxation/meditation is too hard? Thich addresses that concern too: “When you sit and watch television, you don’t make any effort. That’s why you can sit there for a long time. When you sit in meditation, if you struggle, you won’t be able to sit for very long. Please imitate the way you sit in your living room. Effortlessness is the key to success. pg 76 ebook. If you can watch tv, you can meditate. It’s silly but it reminds me of that line from Dodgeball: “if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball”.
Highly recommended for anyone looking to introduce more relaxation into their lives and isn’t that everybody? Some read alikes: Relax RX: A Self-Hypnosis Program for Health and Well-Being by Steven Gurgevich (very relaxing, all you have to do is listen), Guided Mindfulness Meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn (simple and relaxing), or 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan Harris(a regular guy teaches himself to meditate- a light hearted memoir).
Thanks for reading! -Heidi
Review also appeared on Heidi’s Blog.