1-Sentence-Summary: The Miracle of Mindfulness teaches the ancient Buddhist practice of mindfulness and how living in the present will make you happier.
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It’s been said that if you are depressed then you are living in the past, and that those who are anxious are living in the future. Take a moment to think about that and you’ll find that it’s true for yourself, too.
We know that it’s good to learn from the past. And everyone learns from a young age to prepare for the future. But the problem is that the line between preparedness and over-thinking is blurred. We get so caught up in what’s happened or what we want that we fail to live our lives now.
If you want to be happy and at peace, you must learn to live in the present.
That’s where mindfulness comes in. And what better person to learn it from than Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen master and world-famous spiritual leader. His book The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation is your gateway to the wonders of living in the present.
Here are the 3 greatest lessons I’ve learned about mindfulness from Thich Nhat Hanh:
- Learn how to breathe correctly to begin practicing mindfulness.
- Set aside one day each week to be mindful the entire day.
- Mindfulness is much more than mere resting, it requires the same attention as driving a car to reap the benefits.
Are you as excited as I am to learn how to become happier by living in the present? Let’s get started!
Lesson 1: To start your meditation practice, learn the correct breathing techniques.
So what is mindfulness, really? It means making an effort to focus your consciousness on the present at any given time. In other words, you make sure you aren’t busy worrying about the future or dwelling in the past. It might sound simple, but life’s distractions are bombarding us at every turn. The best place to start in centering yourself is with you breathing.
Our thoughts are constantly being scattered between many different things, but the way you can stop this dispersion is through breathing. Picture our breath as a bridge that connects your consciousness to the right now and bringing the scattered thoughts back to your body again. Breathe lightly but with a long, deep intake. Think about your breathing and how you’re feeling, and take time exhaling.
For beginners, it’s easiest to practice this conscious breathing while you’re lying down, so you can feel the rise and fall of your stomach that you only achieve with breathing deep. Start small with around 10 breaths so you don’t overexert your lungs early on. With more practice, your lungs will grow stronger. At first, your inhalations might be shorter than exhalations, but as you practice, they should start to become a similar length.
Lesson 2: Be mindful for an entire day every week.
Hanh recommends devoting at least one day a week to mindfulness practice. Yes, a whole day might sound like a lot to you. But Hanh reminds us that if we don’t make an effort to carve out time for ourselves, we will get lost in the whirlwind of stress that life brings. So to be more productive, set aside time in your life for mindfulness.
Start by choosing a day of every week, and stick to that day. By making a routine out of it, you will build a healthy habit of mindfulness. Remind yourself that it is your day of mindfulness, and when you wake up, breathe slow and deep breaths before getting up. Concentrate on each morning task you do with calmness and set aside time for a relaxing bath. Do housework without hesitating and focus on your tasks mindfully and with a positive attitude.
Try to stay as quiet as you can by not talking or listening to media so you can keep your mind focused on what you are doing. Enjoy tea in the afternoon and relax by doing something you can enjoy such as gardening. In the evening Hanh suggests reading Buddhist scriptures and writing letters to friends. It doesn’t have to be this, but the point is to spend time doing things you enjoy that you don’t usually have time to do.
Lesson 3: Practice mindfulness with the same attention you give while driving.
What do you think of when I say “take a rest?” Maybe napping or lying on the couch watching TV probably comes to mind. While these may rest our bodies, they don’t really rest our minds. When we sit in a state of mindfulness, we experience total peace and relaxation in both the body and the mind. Napping or resting, on the other hand, is more of a half-conscious and lazy state of mind.
When we’re mindful, we are resting but at the same time, we are alert and awake rather than evading reality like napping. When we’re mindful, we don’t avoid reality, but actually we are seeing reality in a more serene way, making it more like driving than napping. Like a drowsy driver will likely get into an accident behind the wheel, someone practicing mindfulness while not fully awake will probably have scattered thoughts.
So, when participating in mindfulness, be alert, like you would be behind the wheel. Hanh recommends beginners try “pure recognition.” This is recognizing every feeling and thought that comes into your mind, even if negative, and treating it with acceptance. No emotion is less than another, they are all part of you. So treat even feelings such as pain and hatred in a respectful and gentle way instead of resisting them. When we accept our emotions, we will be much more at peace in our lives.
The Miracle Of Mindfulness Review
The Miracle of Mindfulness is a remarkable book that taught me a lot. While I was reading the Blinkist summary I was on the train, and just the thought of enjoying the moment made me happier. I am excited to continue trying to live in the present!
Who would I recommend The Miracle Of Mindfulness summary to?
The 25-year-old deep thinker who’d like to enjoy the present more, the 46-year-old who is fascinated by Buddhism, and anyone who wants to learn how to decrease stress and become happier.