Source: “The Miracle of Mindfulness,” Thich Nhat Hanh
Chapter 1: The Essential Discipline
The essential discipline is to be undivided. While doing a thing, one should be fully attentive to that thing. Multi tasking undermines this essential discipline. The essential discipline consciously acknowledges and dismisses awareness of every thought and action.
Chapter 2: The Miracle Is to Walk on Earth
“Walking on earth” is to account each moment and event as a miracle, worthy of appreciation. It is founded on a calm heart and self control. Every breath, like every step, but should be taken mindfully. One’s breath resides on the boundary between voluntary and involuntary control. Learning breath control facilitates learning control of all other things, particularly the mind. Like breathing, meditation is not done in an occasional bit of time set aside; it should become a constant element of life.
Chapter 3: A Day of Mindfulness
In learning perpetual mindfulness it may be helpful to set aside full days devoted entirely to practice. Live that day in a spirit of silence. Give each task you complete attention, slowly, with reverence, and without rushing or future anticipation.
Chapter 4: The Pebble
It can be helpful, during seated meditation, to contemplate the image of a pebble thrown into a river. Associate yourself with at pebble. It sinks, moves, and rests patiently without effort. This practice is relaxation, a tranquil heart, and a clear mind. Instead of allowing our minds to be agitated without control, we become aware of our perceptions, feelings, and thoughts—and acknowledge them without judgment or distinction or disturbance.
Chapter 5: One Is All, All Is One: The Five Aggregates
While meditating, welcome the perception of unity, coherence, interdependence, and oneness of all things. Awareness of anything, whether external or even of mind itself, is simply mind. Whether we are conscious of body, physical forms, feelings, perceptions, or mental functioning, there is nothing but objects of the mind: consciousness itself. The entire universe can be perceived as present in every perceivable thing. There need be no divisions: all is one. We are fully interdependent with all. Our life and death are intrinsic to the same reality that all things perpetually ride. Accept that reality is as it is.
Chapter 6: The Almond Tree in Your Front Yard
Buddhism identifies three types of reality: imagination, interdependence, and ultimate perfection. Yet, this introduces unnecessary and inappropriate distinctions and discriminations. Continuing meditation allows you to realize that subject and object are one. Any arbitrary object, such as an almond tree in your front yard, when contemplated, reveals an interrelatedness and unifying communion.
Most people are afflicted with false views, which produce hatred, ignorance, and anger. All things, starting with yourself and others, should be viewed with a compassionate heart. Perfect compassion identifies with the nature and needs of all things.
Mindfulness produces a state that is restful and content while still awake and alert. It serenely recognizes and accepts what is without judgment—everything is sacred. Further, the mindfulness of any sentient being supports and benefits all others. “When any great Master is born, the water in the rivers turns clearer and the plants grow greener.”
Chapter 7: Three Wondrous Answers
Know that the best time to do each thing is now; that the most important person is the one you’re with; the most important thing to do is to serve and make happy the person with you.
Exercises in Mindfulness
Smile serenely. Let go. Follow your breath. Be mindful in every time and in every activity. Learn the peace of non-doing. Contemplate interdependence, unity, and universal compassion. Seek detachment from dependence on specific outcomes.
Seeing With the Eyes of Compassion
Even under extreme provocation, we can develop and exercise control and compassion. Every moment is suitable for cultivation of mindfulness.