Book Review: Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
By Thich Nhat Hanh

The word "mindful" may be a bit overused in this age of yoga, zen and all kinds of other hippie stuff, but I really don't think people take into consideration what it takes to be mindful. This book offers a lot of practical ways to practice mindfulness daily. While I realize this may seem a little cheesy to some, you have to take that first step and make an effort to live in the moment.

The way that Hanh instructs us repeatedly to live in the moment is by paying special attention to our breath. Sometimes he recommends to either in your head or aloud say "I breath in and breath out." Deep breaths slow you down, put more oxygen into your blood and give you a mechanism to begin a mini meditation. I have a short attention span, so breathing deeply has always been a way for me to simmer and slow down, even fall asleep.

Another thing that Hanh goes over in practicing mindfulness is by planting a seed of joy by smiling. It really does work. In fact, I sort of conquered my spouts of road rage by making it a point to smile when I was in gridlock. The crappy drivers were less annoying. The dangerous drivers required more caution and patience (and distance). Instead of swearing or scoffing, I smiled and melted the negativity away.

Finally, at the end of the book the section called "Love in Action," there are fourteen precepts of the Order of Interbeing. Yes, I think it sounds a little cult-like, but the points are quite good. Many are common sense, but good reminders. Some of my favorites:

  • Do not think that the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice non-attachment from views in order to be open to receive others' viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times. 
  • Do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes before suffering. Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world. Find ways to be with those who are suffering, by all means, including personal contact and visits, images, and sound. By such means, awaken yourself and others to the reality of the suffering of the world. 
  • Do not maintain anger or hatred. Learn to penetrate and transform them while they are still seeds in your consciousness. As soon as anger or hatred arises, turn your attention to your breathing in order to see and understand the nature of your anger or hatred and the nature of the persons who have caused your anger or hatred.
The book is short and a quick read. It's a bit repetitive, so I think sometimes it is easy to zone out. Yet, the content and lessons within are good. Mindfulness is something that we can all practice and work on and Hanh shows us how. This book has also been around for a long time (see image) and has been endorsed by the Dalai Lama, so this guy is legit.  

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