Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Notes on "Peace is Every Step" by Thich Nhat Hanh

My boyfriend gave me this book to read when he felt I needed it most. He was right. I needed it more than I thought. 

As I was reading it, quite a few quotes and phrases stood out so I thought I write them down. Maybe I was hoping that it would help ingrain them in my mind or that I'd have the sense to go back to it one day when I needed it again. Either way, I want to share them with you. 

Some of this are direct quotes and others are just paraphrases and interpretations of my own.

  • "Peace is in the present."
  • Smile. When you wake up, go through your day, and get ready to sleep. Always smile.
  • Think less. It allows us to let go of the sorrows of the past and the worries of the future. A significant amount of our thinking is an inefficient use of our energy.
  • Our senses are our windows. Opening them allows the whatever it is on the outside to come in and permeate us. Be mindful of what you choose to open your windows to.
  • Breathe mindfully wherever you are. "I am breathing in. I am breathing out."
  • You may move during sitting meditation as long as you do it slowly and attentively. This made me cheer, no more uncomfortable sleeping leg syndrome!
  • Meditation is not an escape from your problems.
  • Eat mindfully.
  • "Walk as if your feet are kissing the earth."
  • Wherever you go, there you are.
  • Drive consciously. Let each red light be a "bell" of mindfulness.
  • De-compartmentalize. Separation and avoidance causes distress and negative energy.
  • Coordinate your movements with your breath to feel less tired and increase awareness of your body and surroundings.
  • "Don't just do something, sit there!" 
  • Pragmatism, looking things with the intent of gaining something, inhibits your mindfulness. 
  • Art is acting in the moment.
  • Hope is an obstacle. Spend all your energy looking to the future, and you cannot be in the present.
  • "Simple practices like conscious breathing and smiling are very important. They can change our civilization."
  • Don't be angry at your anger. Then, you'll have two angers to worry about. 
  • Transform, do not let go or remove, the negative into a positive. Like anger into understanding.
  • The seeds of negativity must be addressed and transformed into positivity before you can confront the person who sowed them.
  • ""Suchness, the essence of particular characteristics of a thing or person, its true nature." Once you understand the suchness of a person, you can live peacefully and happily with that person."
  • "Most of us are victims of a kind of living that is not mindful."
  • "When we look at your parents with compassion, often we see that our parents are only victims who never had the chance to practice mindfulness."
  • Every seed of negative or positive emotion manifests more seeds. Anger produces more anger. Joy creates more joy.
  • "Each one of us needs a reserve of seeds that are beautiful, healthy, and strong enough to help us during difficult moments."
  • If you have a friend or loved one who makes you happy and feel better, invite her up into your consciousness and "breathe together."
  • We always focus on what is wrong when we should take the time to ask "What is not wrong?"
  • "We cannot resist loving another person when you really understand him or her."
  • "Anyone who made us suffer is undoubtedly suffering too."
  • Thoughts manifest words and actions. Having love in your heart brings about miracles through thoughts, and consequentially, words and actions.
  • Hugging meditation: Take a deep breath in and out to bring yourself to the present in the moment before a hug. While hugging, consciously breathe in and out three times. Your mindset with transform and your hug with take on a deeper, more powerful meaning.
  • Friends and community are investments in finding comfort in difficult times and having those with whom to share joy and happiness.
  • "Real strength is not in power, money, or weapons, but in deep, inner peace."
  • "The forests are our lungs outside of our bodies, just as the sun is our heart outside of our bodies." We must have "both" bodies to find our true self.
  • "Because we are so distant from our Mother Earth, we become sick."
  • If we seek peace, can we find it through loving, peaceful words?
  • "If we cannot smile, we cannot help other people smile."
  • "Peace is based on respect for life. Not only do we have to respect the lives of human beings, but we have to respect the lives of animals, vegetables, and minerals."
  • "I am your brother. I am your sister. We are all humankind, and our life is one."
  • Sometimes, we don't intend to hurt, but in lacking mindfulness and the skill of compassion, we can say hurtful words. Mindfulness helps us speak in a way that is loving and kind.
  • "When you see in yourself the wish that the other person stop suffering, that is a sign of real love."
  • What you are looking for is already in yourself. The clouds and river are one. You and your enemy are one. We are inter-being with each other, the world, and everything within. There is nothing to chase after.
Did any of these stand out to you? The bolded words and phrases were the one that struck me the most out of all my notes. They are either things that I adored or that I needed to become more mindful of. This is, by no means, a "Cliff's Note" of Peace is Every Step. If you have the chance to read it, do it, you'll be grateful you did.

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