“If you get lost in the past or in the future you are not truly alive.” | A talk by Guru Thich Nhat Hanh

I think I really thought I was Superwoman. At least, I was certainly trying to be her. Student, writer, daughter, sister, girlfriend, friend, gym enthusiast, reader, foodie, human being. Just a few of the labels I assigned myself. And expected perfect execution for each.

I was stretched so thin, in fact, I could feel myself breaking. Pieces of me cracking and falling away. Even the simplest thought felt like a chore – “I don’t have time, I don’t have time, I don’t have time” replaying incessantly in my head.

I was so tired, in fact, I almost considered not going to Thich Nhat Hanh’s talk [a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist.] The one I had been looking forward to for months. But there is no such thing as coincidence.

“When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

Seconds stretched between each word. Between each breath, each step. Minutes ticked away as we, with our eyes closed, deep inhales, and habitual need for rush, slowed down and matched their pace.

It was like a spell had been cast. Sat cross legged on the floor the 86 year old had a slight smile on his face the entire time he was talking. Radiating satisfaction, warmth and compassion.

“We forget about our bodies, that they exist,” he said. Explaining how sat at computers and lost in our thoughts all day we forget that the body and mind are interconnected and, equally as important.

Stressing mindfulness with each and every word uttered he went on to explain how Buddha believed that through mindful breathing and mindful walking we would learn both how to appreciate and how to be truly happy in the here and now – separating ourselves from past regrets, and from the worry of an indefinite future – as well as how to deal with the suffering that is inherent in each of us.

“There are so many conditions to happiness,” he said. “It is important to recognize them. There is more than enough to make us happy – there is no reason to run to the future and look for more.”

He went on to explain how you can only live your life in the present:”If you get lost in the past or in the future you are not truly alive.”

To say that the philosophies and ideas behind his words were unheard of would be bending the truth. But the importance of being reminded, pulled back, respectful to what we have been given and the time we award each element of it is insurmountable.

And as I walked home, mindful of each step, bustled and jostled past by those who didn’t understand that they wouldn’t really get where they were going any faster by doing that, I felt satisfaction deep in my bones.

This is enough.


2 thoughts on ““If you get lost in the past or in the future you are not truly alive.” | A talk by Guru Thich Nhat Hanh

  1. “Time teaches all things to he who lives forever but I have not the luxury of eternity. Yet, within my alloted time I must practice the art of patience for nature never acts in haste. To create the olive, king of all trees, a hundred years is required. An onion plant is old in nine weeks. I have lived as an onion plant. It has not pleased me.” – reading from Og Mandino’s book as he was a writer and public speaker who overcome serious personal challenges through his sheer will to write. An inspiration of mine. Sean

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