Today, we met as we do on the second Saturday of each month, in the Quaker Meeting House in Leicester. While our mornings together are a great benefit and privilege, it’s clear Thich Nhat Hanh recommends more! The text below is slightly adapted from his book ‘The Miracle of Mindfulness’.
Every day and every hour, one should practise mindfulness.
That’s easy to say, but to carry it out is not. I suggest to those who come to meditation that each person should try hard to reserve one day in the week to devote to the practice of mindfulness.
If it is Saturday, then Saturday must be entirely your day, a day during which you are completely the master, Then Saturday will be the lever that will lift you to the habit of practising mindfulness.
Every worker in a peace or service community, no matter how urgent its work, has the right to such a day; without it we will lose ourselves quickly in a life full of worry and action, and our responses will become increasingly useless.
To set up a day of mindfulness, work out a way to remind yourself the moment you wake up. While still lying in bed, begin slowly to follow your breath – long, slow and conscious breaths. The slowly rise from bed, nourishing mindfulness by every motion.
Once up, brush your teeth, wash your face and do all your morning activities in a calm and relaxing way, each movement done in mindfulness. Follow your breath and don’t let your thoughts scatter.
Bathe slowly and mindfully. Afterwards you might do household work like washing the dishes, dusting, cleaning the floor… Whatever the tasks, do them slowly and with ease. Don’t do any task in order to get it over with! Resolve to do each job in a relaxed way, with all your attention. Enjoy and be one with your work. Without this, the day of mindfulness will be of no use at all. The feeling that any task is a nuisance will soon disappear.
For those who are just beginning to practise, it is best to maintain a spirit of silence throughout the day. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t speak at all. You can talk or even go ahead and sing, but if you do, do it in complete mindfulness of what you are saying or singing and keep both to a minimum. But be warned that it is much easier to stray from mindfulness if your meditation strength is still weak.
At lunchtime, prepare a meal for yourself. Cook and wash up in mindfulness. After your cleaning in the morning, or after you have gardened (or watched clouds) in the afternoon, prepare a pot of tea to sit and drink in mindfulness. Allow yourself a good length of time to do this. Don’t gulp down your tea like someone on a work break. Drink slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the whole earth revolves. Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life. Don’t worry about things you have to do.
In the evening, you might read scripture and copy passages, write letters to friends, or do anything else you enjoy outside of your normal duties during the week. Whatever you do, do it in mindfulness.
Eat only a little for the evening meal. Later, as you sit in meditation, you will sit more easily on an empty stomach.
Afterwards, you might take a slow walk in the fresh night air, following your breath and measuring the length of your breath by your steps. Finally, sleep in mindfulness.
Such a day is crucial. Its effect on the other days of the week is immeasurable
The day of mindfulness will begin to penetrate the other days of the week, enabling you eventually to live seven days a week in mindfulness.
I’m sure you agree with me on the importance of days of mindfulness!