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This little treatise is nothing less than a handbook for more effective, more joyful living. Thich Nhat Hanh has a beautifully simple, wonderfully direct manner of communicating the need to live mindfully, and using the practice of meditation as a means for becoming more mindful. Living in exile in Paris, this humble Vietnamese monk has worked tirelessly for decades, living his religion of compassion for the poor and orphaned in his native Vietnam. He is a living testament to the power of mindful living. In addition to being a treat for your mind, Thich Nhat Hanh provides a number of exercises that help the student of meditation begin the process of focusing and concentrating on the moment at hand. It is a book that will be especially of value to those who are just beginning to meditate, (which is where I find myself), though I expect that as with most things written by wise people, the experienced student of meditation will find much of value as well. This is not a book about Buddhism. It draws very heavily on the path to enlightenment that the Buddha taught as his fourth Noble Truth, but this book is first and foremost about mindful living. In that sense, it is completely accessible to the Christian, Jewish, agnostic or anyone else who recognizes the power of meditation in acheiving a degree of personal enlightenment. Thich Nhat Hanh has written extensively on the relationship between the principles taught by the Buddha and Jesus, and he is ever mindful of the needs of his Christian/Western audience as well as that of his Buddhist audience. Regardless of your religious orientation, you will find this little book to be an effective guide to living mindfully, completely and with joy.
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I remember when I was a student at the Dharmadhatu Center of Los Angeles. The rules were to simply meditate and that was it! The same with Hindu Yoga. The same with all Eastern paths. Then I stumbled on this book. It was wonderful. Did you know that you can put in as little as 10 minutes a day of sitting meditation and then apply this mindfulness of breath to "washing the dishes"? Later, apply mindfulness (being aware) to taking a bath. To eating. Well, you will meditate now for 1 hour a day. In fact, Buddhist Masters state that minfulness in daily life is more important than the actual sitting meditation! Buy this book and become a 16-hour a day meditator. Doing "TV meditation", "conversation meditation", "telephone meditation", "cooking meditation". you name it. Nhat Hanh gives a variety of sitting meditations. Pick the one that feels right. Then do the meditation in daily life. Right now, I am doing "write a review meditation". I wasn't at first. But I am presently. The feel of everything that is happening in the present. Good luck.
In the past year my marriage has had problems, I've lost tons of money and I've had a non-stop cold/toothache. I was the reverse of mindfullness. Everywhere I looked I saw people who were smiling and I couldn't understand what inner resources they had that would allow them to do it. I started to meditate but it was difficult. I dubbed myself 'the worse meditator'. I couldn't focus at all. I was constantly adding up the numbers in my various accounts and trying to figure to figure out how get above zero. This book was incredible for me. It put new light in the definition of 'practice'. Meditation is just practice for post-meditation. Suddenly, everything became a meditation. Watching tv. Driving a car. Typing on the computer. Writing an amazon review. I'm still pretty crappy at meditating. But now I'm having more fun doing everything else thanks to this book.
Finally a book with exercises and explanations that actually work. As a Vietnam combat veteran, twice wounded, who had to make casualty calls when I returned stateside, forty years of anger and PTSD have finally found their match in "The Miracle of Mindfulness."
Today, when thousands of Iraqi and Gulf War veterans begin to realize they need a remedy to their troubles, I recommend this book number one as well as several other of Thich Nhat Hanh's books.
How ironic--A Vietnamese Buddhist responds and provides peace to a veteran who helped bomb and destroy his people and his country.
Thay's writings often seem so simple as to be simplistic or childish, but spend a little quality time with this book (or any of his huge output) and you'll realize that, like other great spiritual teachers, his words have a profoundly life-changing quality. In this classic text, he explains in simple poetic language the basics of meditation practice; what to do, what to expect, and why it's an important and meaningful practice. The operative word in Thay's teaching is PRACTICE, and he really does mean "practice" as if you were learning to play the piano or to play tennis. If absorbed and worked at every day, preferrably in the context of daily meditation as well as the normal interactions of daily life, these teachings have the power to create peace and joy for you and those with whom you live and work. This is the beauty of Buddhist teaching in general and the teachings of TNH in particular: they are not complex theological constructs but simple, practical steps designed to make you happy!
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