To do this, he offers simple and nature-based meditations that allow us to gently return to the groundedness of the Now. His meditations are refreshing poems and tributes to all of nature: Flowers, trees, mountains, rivers, and oceans. So it is not his message, but the way he communicates it that makes Thich Nhat Hanh unique.
All mindfulness teachers have their favorite practices, from fire walking to exercises in letting go. Hanh doesn’t favor one way of achieving peace in the present moment. He goes back to the very basics. Breathing and walking.
We are a culture of shallow breathers and are barely conscious of the most primary act that keeps us alive. Hahn tells us to pay attention to the in-breath. Pay attention to the out-breath. They are different. Just sit still and breath, separating the two and even remarking, “This is my in-breath. This is my out-breath.” Just this practice clears away the cobwebs of endless old thoughts and well as clearing the path for new creative ideas. Because while we are paying attention to the breath, our mind doesn’t have room for other thoughts.
Walking is another very simple modality that Hahn uses as a tool for centeredness and being in the Now. Most people walk to get somewhere. They are impatient. The future is more important than the present. They are in a rush and the present moment is standing in the way of “getting there.” Thich Nhat Hahn says, “Take each step as is you have arrived.” Stop running. You have arrived home. In the Now.
It is the way he expresses himself that is impactful and different from others. He defines mindfulness as “The energy of being aware and awake to the present moment.” And he gives us the tools to allow this energy flow to enter our lives and bring us inner peace.
Here is part of one of his poems on walking:
“Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.
Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.”