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Lions Roar : January 2016
But even as new teachers emerge, the key teachings of the tradition remains the same. The essence of Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings has remained remarkably consistent, even as the focus has changed in response to conditions in the community and the world. As Thich Nhat Hanh himself says, “People say I only teach one thing: breathing in and breathing out. They are right.” Perhaps so, but that one thing is multifaceted and bears repeat- ing: the path to liberation begins with your conscious breath. I Belong Here “Who is this Thich Nhat Hanh person?” friends sometimes ask me. “How do you say his name, and what exactly is this mindfulness thing you do?” Though I fumble through an answer, I never find just the right words to explain. So last winter I brought some friends who had never met Thich Nhat Hanh and had no experience of meditation to a Plum Village retreat in Southern California. They were wary—one of them, an ER doctor, reminded me that he hated sitting and group activities. Another declared that he had no interest in chanting, bowing, or joining a cult. After two days, the eight-year-old daughter of one of the families said, “I feel like I belong here.” After four days, the ER doctor and his husband started getting up early for sitting meditation, not wanting to miss a single moment. After a week, my friends drove back to Northern California, happy, relaxed, and ready for some dairy products after a week of vegan food. Halfway home, they stopped at a roadside fast Relaxing moments at the Plum Village summer retreat. Happy Farm is an organic vegetable farm offering retreats and internships. It operates on the principles of mindfulness, community building, and sustainability. SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2016 72