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Lions Roar : July 2013
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2013 64 Thich Nhat Hanh offers three exercises for well-being. INDFULNESS IS our ability to be aware of what is going on both inside us and around us. It is the continuous awareness of our bodies, emotions, and thoughts. Through mindfulness, we avoid harming ourselves and others, and we can work wonders. If we live mindfully in everyday life, walk mindfully, are full of love and caring, then we create a miracle and transform the world into a wonderful place. Clarity flows from mindfulness. When we are mindful, we can practice right thinking and right speech. With the energy of mindfulness, we can always return to our true home, the present moment. The practice of mindfulness encompasses all spheres and activities, including ordinary actions and our every breath. We often assume breathing is just a natural skill; everyone knows how to inhale and exhale. But breathing is a miracle. Being aware of our breath not only helps us manage the difficulties in everyday life, it also helps develop our wisdom and compassion. We can sit and breathe, but it is just as important to practice mindful breathing while we are moving. Life is a path, but life is not about getting to a certain place. The mindful movements that follow are a way to practice moving without a goal or intention. They are a wonderful way of connecting your mind and body in mindfulness. When you do them, please enjoy each part of each movement. Do what you can. They are not like aerobics, where you have to move as quickly as possible. There is no need to rush. When I do them, I find I cannot help smiling. I hope they bring you joy. To begin, stand with your feet firmly on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Your knees are soft, slightly bent and not locked. Stand upright and relaxed. Your shoulders are loose. Imagine an invisible thread is attached to the top of your head and it pulls you up toward the sky. Keeping your body straight, tuck your chin in slightly so your neck can relax. Allow your in-breath to come down into your belly. Then exhale completely. Continue to breathe slowly, aware of each in-breath and out-breath. DRAWINGS BY VIETSKE VRIEZEN Zen master THICH NHAT HANH is the author of many books, including Buddha Mind, Buddha Body: Walking Toward Enlightenment.