Bring Your Mind Back to the Present Moment

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is well known for saying things like, “Bring your mind back to the present moment.” Thay, as he is called by his followers, consistently tells us to say hello to our thoughts and feelings, embrace them with compassion, and let them go to return to the present moment. He teaches that compassion is a verb (see illustration) and self-compassion is the practice of embracing our experience in the here and in the now.

compassion-is-a-verb“When a thought comes, you say hello, and then you say good-bye right away. When other thoughts come, just say hello and say good-bye again. Don’t fight. Don’t say, ‘Oh, I’m so bad, I think of so many things!’ You don’t need to think like that. You just say hi and bye, relax and let go. You bring your mind to the present moment and rest in awareness of your body. It’s like soaking mung beans in water. You don’t need to force the water to enter the mung bean. You let the mung bean be in the water, and slowly, slowly, it goes in. Gradually the mung bean gets saturated, swollen and tender. The same is true for you. Letting go, the tension will be released slowly, slowly, slowly. And you will become more relaxed and more peaceful. The training is to just keep bringing your mind back to the present moment with your body.”

—Thich Nhat Hanh from Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm

The above teaching applies not only to when we are doing our daily meditation practice, but also to our everyday life. We have everything we need to be happy in the present moment and this is the practice that we can employ to come back to our true home.

What practices to you use to embrace your thoughts and feelings and return to your true home?

Books by Thich Nhat Hanh

Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm

Thich Nhat Hanh

“Written in words so intimate, calm, kind, and immediate, this extraordinary book feels like a message from our very own heart….Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the most important voices of our time, and we have never needed to listen to him more than now.”
—Sogyal Rinpoche

Fear is de… [Read More…]

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