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Developed during a summer retreat in Plum Village, Thich Nhat Hanh's meditation center in France, these poetic verses were collected to help children and adults practice mindfulness. The result is a handbook of practical, yet down-to-earth verses. These gathas, or mindfulness verses, poetic verse designed to use ordinary daily activities such as washing the dishes, driving the car, or standing in line, as an opportunity to return to a state of mindfulness.
Reciting these poetic, yet practical verses can help us to slow down and enjoy each moment of our lives.
When we focus our mind on a gatha, we return to ourselves and become more aware of each action. When the gatha ends, we continue our activity with heightened awareness. As exercises in both mediation and poetry, gathas are very much in keeping with the Zen tradition. When you memorize a gatha, it will come to you quite naturally, for example, when you turn on the water or drink a cup of tea.
About the Author
Thich Nhat Hanh was a world-renowned spiritual teacher and peace activist. Born in Vietnam in 1926, he became a Zen Buddhist monk at the age of sixteen. Over seven decades of teaching, he published more than 100 books, which have sold more than four million copies in the United States alone. Exiled from Vietnam in 1966 for promoting peace, his teachings on Buddhism as a path to social and political transformation are responsible for bringing the mindfulness movement to Western culture. He established the international Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism in France, now the largest Buddhist monastery in Europe and the heart of a growing community of mindfulness practice centers around the world. He passed away in 2022 at the age of 95 at his root temple, Tu Hieu, in Hue, Vietnam.