peace is every step

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddist monk from Vietnam. Last week I mentioned that I had recently listened to an audio recording of one of his books, Peace is Every Step. I loved it so much that I had to buy a hard copy for my personal library.

Today I woke up feeling tired and achy. Sometimes my body is unhappy with me and it’s awful. Sometimes I can isolate what I did to create this reaction, and other times I cannot, but the pain is still real. Thankfully these days are few and far between for me now. In times past, this was how I felt on a daily basis! 🙁 So on the days I wake up feeling poorly, I remind myself that it is a gift to remember how far I have come. And, that as Hanh says, peace is continually available to me, if we choose to access it, even when my body feels crumby and it would be easier just to be cranky and sad. I can find joy and peace in small things, like breathing and smiling, even when life is overwhelming and painful. (And there are much bigger problems than feeling achy!)

As you would expect of a Buddhist monk, Hanh is much more eloquent than I could ever be, so here is a little snippet from this lovely little book:

"Every morning, when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand new hours to live. What a precious gift! We have the capacity to live in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others.

Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We don’t have to travel far away to enjoy the blue sky. We don’t have to leave our city or even our neighborhood to enjoy the eyes of a beautiful child. Even the air we breathe can be a source of joy.

We can smile, breathe, walk, and eat our meals in a way that allows us to be in touch with the abundance of happiness that is available. We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive. Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.

This… is a reminder that happiness is possible only in the present moment. Of course, planning for the future is a part of life. But even planning can only take place in the present moment. This… is an invitation to come back to the present moment and find peace and joy… Peace and joy are available in every moment. Peace is every step."

Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, p. 5-6

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