Thich Nhat Hanh's Guide to Breathing in the The Heart of Buddha's Teaching

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Journal Five

In Thich Naht Hanh’s The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching, Hanh covers helpful tips and tricks to be mindful of one’s breathing. Hanh proposes that it is best to recite certain sentences or phrases, that way you stay concentrated and focused (Hanh 70). You can practice mindfulness by explicitly stating your actions: “’Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out’” (Hanh 70). If we repeat this mantra in our head and focus on it, we will realize that our breathing pattern will not only become slower, but also deeper and more even (Hanh 70).

Over time, this will become more comfortable and natural, and in turn making you feel more calm and relaxed. Another thing that Hanh mentions is something called “mouth yoga”, where we can smile on the inhale, and relax our face on the exhale. This practice allows us to literally breathe in the blissfulness of a peaceful moment, acknowledge it, and then let it go (Hanh 70).

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I thought this bit was interesting to me, because I personally have trouble focusing on just my breathing during meditation; it’s why walking meditating feels better to me. I usually drift away from breathing meditation because it seems monotonous and boring at times, but these little mantras and poems outlined in the book will definitely help me. They will keep my mind on track, as well as make me practice mindfulness and awareness.

The “mouth yoga” section was really cute to me because I had never thought of incorporating smiling into meditation! I think something as little as this could definitely brighten up the act of meditating. It stresses the release of worries, and I think that that is an essential concept that we could all practice more often (Hanh 70).

Before I had this kind of preconception that meditation and mindfulness was formal in a way, and to be practiced with utmost seriousness. However, after reading these passages, I realize that your interaction and awareness of the real world doesn’t have to be a dull affair. In fact, it should be totally the opposite! It’s a great big world with so much to discover, and mindfulness can help you realize this.

Meditation Lab

I stuck with simple breathing meditation tonight, due to the fact that I had just read about some tips to stay focused and to do it well. I definitely felt better about myself and my concentration. Switching up the mantras felt natural to me so that I could break up the monotony. Usually I start thinking of responsibilities I have, or things I should do before I go to bed. This time however, I was so concentrated on saying the little poems and sentences that I feel as though I lost track of time. I only decided to stop when my roommate came back into the room. I’m very glad to have read some of the tips for staying on track during meditation, because I definitely think I can cultivate good habits with repetition and practice.

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