The Buddhist monk who my Catholic priest and beloved friend Fr. Ed introduced me to, the monk known as “an apostle of peace and nonviolence,” Thich Nhat Hanh is a renowned Zen master, Vietnamese monk and poet who inspired my Faith through my journey from illness to wellness since our ‘meeting‘ in 1985. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967, and is the author of many books, including the best-sellers Peace is Every Step and The Miracle of Mindfulness.
When I was sick, Hahn taught me that to feel my best was a holistic journey, a journey that includes healing the mind, body and Spirit, a journey far beyond just clean eating and personal development. Hahn taught me that if I breathed deeply, that if I learned to pay attention and live in the moment, to practice mindfulness and interbeingness (that we are all one), that my health problems would dissipate. He said, “Go home to yourself (Carol) and breathe in and out deeply. Get in touch with your suffering and ask yourself, “Why am I suffering? Where is it coming from?”
His words were like a balm on my weary Spirit and unhealthy body. I stopped ‘doing,’ and started practicing just being, being with whatever I was experiencing without making it right or wrong, without struggle. His directive made all the difference as I moved through perplexing times with my health.
I offer you 30 quotes and excerpts that encapsulate the quintessence of Thich Nhat Hahn that continue to bring me back to me, but for you really. I own several of his books, but maybe you don’t, and maybe you too could benefit from this beautiful teacher as you move towards greater health and vitality.
Hahn taught me that to restore my health, I had to go home to me, that they were inextricably linked to each other and that mindfulness was my ticket.
Make no mistake health and healing are a holistic journey. When we create health and healing, peace and balance within, we are able to extend health and healing, peace and balance in the world.
The quotes and excerpts from Thich Nhat Hahn:
- Every morning, when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand-new hours to live. What a precious gift! We have the capacity to live in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others.
- Smile, breathe and go slowly.
- Be yourself. Life is precious as it is. All the elements for your happiness are already here. There is no need to run, strive, search or struggle. Just Be.
- Understanding and Love are not two separate things, but just one. To develop understanding, you have to practice looking at all living beings with the eyes of compassion. When you understand, you cannot help but love. And when you love, you naturally act in a way that can relieve the suffering of people.
- In our consciousness, there are many negative seeds and also many positive seeds. The practice is to avoid watering the negative seeds, and to identify and water the positive seeds every day.
- Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.
- You are like a candle. Imagine you are sending light out all around you. All your words, thoughts and actions are going in many directions. If you say something kind, your kind words go in many directions, and you yourself go with them. We are transforming and continuing in a different form at every moment.
- Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible.
- We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the Earth. Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.
- People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.
- You are what you want to become. Why search anymore? You are a wonderful manifestation. The whole universe has come together to make your existence possible. There is nothing that is not you. The kingdom of God, the Pure Land, nirvana, happiness, and liberation are all you.
- Hatred and fear blind us. We no longer see each other. We only see the faces of monsters, and that gives us the courage to destroy each other.
- Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice…
- Every path, every street in the world is your walking meditation path.
- If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.
- Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.
- Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Bring the Earth your love and happiness.
The Earth will be safe
when we feel safe in ourselves.
- Enlightenment is always there. Small enlightenment will bring great enlightenment. If you breathe in and are aware that you are alive—that you can touch the miracle of being alive—then that is a kind of enlightenment.
- Mindful Consuming
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I vow to cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking and consuming. I vow to ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being, and joy in the body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest foods or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations. I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society, and future generations. I will work to transform violence, fear, anger, and confusion in myself and in society by practicing a diet for myself and for society. I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self transformation and for the transformation of society.
- We have to learn to die in every moment in order to be fully alive.
- My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.
My actions are the ground upon which I stand.
- The way we live our daily lives is what most effects the situation of the world. If we can change our daily lives, then we can change our governments and can change the world. Our president and governments are us. They reflect our lifestyle and our way of thinking. The way we hold a cup of tea, pick up the newspaper or even use toilet paper are directly related to peace.
- The buddha called suffering a holy truth, because our suffering has the capacity of showing us the path to liberation. Embrace your suffering and let it reveal to you the way to peace.
- Continue until you see yourself in the cruelest person on Earth, in the child starving, in the political prisoner. practice until you recognize yourself in everyone in the supermarket, on the street corner, in a concentration camp, on a leaf, in a dewdrop. Meditate until you see yourself in a speck of dust in a distant galaxy. See and listen with the whole of your being. If you are fully present, the rain of Dharma will water the deepest seeds in your store consciousness, and tomorrow, while you are washing the dishes or looking at the blue sky, that seed will spring forth, and love and understanding will appear as a beautiful flower.
- Breathing in I calm my body. Breathing out I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment!
- We should be able to bring the practice of meditation hall into our daily lives. We need to discuss among ourselves how to do it. Do you practice breathing between phone calls? Do you practice smiling while cutting carrots? Do you practice relaxation after hard hours of work? These are practical questions. If you know how to apply meditation to dinner time, leisure time, sleeping time, it will penetrate your daily life, and it will also have a tremendous effect on social concerns.
- When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.
- Jesus said, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.
- Each second of life is a miracle.
- Be still and know.
- Be still and know.
To close, I include a short video with Oprah interviewing Thich Nhat Hahn to experience for yourself, this kind and generous teacher.
What quote speaks to you? Does 'coming home to yourself' resonate with you, for your get-healthy, healing journey? I'd love to hear how in the comments section below.