Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monk who was born in Vietnam in 1926. Over the years he has dedicated himself to teaching and helping others through social work, university lecturing, non-violent peace efforts and of course though his numerous books.
The Miracle of Mindfulness was originally intended as a long letter from Thich Nhat Hanh to a friend and staff member at the School I’d Youth for Social Science in South Vietnam. The school was founded by Thich in the 60s).
The letter was written to encourage and bolster the students and staff at a time when they were untrusted and misunderstood and threats and attacks against them were not uncommon.
In this letter, the author directed the workers towards the use of mindfulness as a method of coping and resilience during these very hard times.
The letter was subsequently published in its current form as a book and is available in many languages.
The book is split into seven chapters covering different angles of mindfulness, using anecdotes and easy examples from daily life (for example washing the dishes or life as part of a family) to demonstrate ideas.
Insights into Thich Nhat Hanh’s thoughts such as that simply walking on Earth rather than on water or air is a true and unrecognised miracle are humbling and enlightening.
Throughout the book, many exercises are given to practice mindfulness. These are easy and accessible examples and can be done throughout day to day life.
Within this book, Thich Nhat Hanh writes in a warm and concise manner, inviting trust and a feeling of encouragement.
In the preface, Mobi Ho (who translated the letter) hopes that ‘each new person whom it reaches will sense that the book is addressed as personally to him or her’.
This really is reflected in the live and care shown in the writing.
The end of the book includes several Buddhist Sutras to further demonstrate the themes of the book.
Overall, I find this book to be a beautiful demonstration of mindfulness, which has and continues to clarify my own personal practice.
A quick and accessible read, I’d recommend this book to meditators of every level as a bookshelf staple to return to again and again.
I’ll leave you with my favourite paragraph-a meditation on the image of a pebble thrown into water:
‘The pebble sinks through the water effortlessly. Detached from everything, it falls by the shortest distance possible, finally reaching the bottom, the point of perfect rest. You are like a pebble which has let itself fall into the river, letting go of everything. At the center of your bring is your breath… You are no longer pushed or pulled by anything.’