The Five Mindfulness Trainings

 

"The Five Mindfulness Trainings are one of the most concrete ways to practice mindfulness. They are nonsectarian, and their nature is universal. They are true practices of compassion and understanding. All spiritual traditions have their equivalent to the Five Mindfulness Trainings. I have translated these precepts for modern times, because mindfulness is at the foundation of each one of them. With mindfulness, we are aware of what is going on in our bodies, our feelings, our minds and the world, and we avoid doing harm to ourselves and others. Mindfulness protects us, our families and our society. When we are mindful, we can see that by refraining from doing one thing, we can prevent another thing from happening. We arrive at our own unique insight. It is not something imposed on us by an outside authority. Practicing the mindfulness trainings, therefore, helps us be more calm and concentrated, and brings more insight and enlightenment."

Thich Nhat Hanh, Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices (2009)

 

FIRST PRECEPT

Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I vow to cultivate compassion and learn ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to condone any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, and in my way of life.

 

SECOND PRECEPT

Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing and oppression, I vow to cultivate loving kindness and learn ways to work for the well-being of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I vow to practice generosity by sharing my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in real need. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others. I will respect the property of others, but I will prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.

 

THIRD PRECEPT

Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I vow to cultivate responsibility and learn ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without love and a long-term commitment. To preserve the happiness of myself and others, I am determined to respect my commitments and the commitments of others. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct.

 

FOURTH PRECEPT

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I vow to learn to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

 

FIFTH PRECEPT

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I vow to cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I vow to ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being, and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest foods or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations. I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society, and future generations. I will work to transform violence, fear, anger, and confusion in myself and in society by practicing a diet for myself and for society. I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self-transformation and for the transformation of society.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices (2009)

Mindful Breathing

 

"Welcome to one of our most basic practices called Mindful Breathing. It is, simply put, being aware of your in-breath and out-breath. Our breathing is a stable solid ground that we can take refuge in. We feel the flow of air coming in and going out of our nose. We feel how light and natural, how calm and peaceful our breathing functions. At first, we can be mindful of three in and three out breaths and gradually build our awareness and concentration over more breaths, and over a longer period of time. The most important thing is to enjoy and not control your breath. It’s okay if it’s short or long or deep or shallow. With time and practice it will naturally become deeper and slower.

 

Breathing and knowing that we are breathing is a basic practice. No one can be truly successful in the art of meditating without going through the door of breathing. To practice conscious breathing is to open the door to stopping and looking deeply in order to enter the domain of concentration and insight. Conscious breathing is the way into any sort of meditative concentration. Conscious breathing also leads us to the basic realization of the impermanence, emptiness, interdependent origination, selflessness and non-duality of all that is. It is true that we can practice stopping and looking deeply without using conscious breathing, but conscious breathing is the safest and surest path we can follow.

 

My breath is my favorite anchor that I turn to when I need to find my center and reestablish solidity. My breath is the most reliable tool I have when I am overwhelmed by strong emotions. Regardless of my internal weather - my thoughts, emotions and perceptions - my breathing is always there like a faithful friend. Whenever I feel carried away, or sunken in a deep emotion, or scattered in worries and projects, I can focus on my breathing to collect and anchor my mind.

 

Every time you feel lost, alienated, cut off from life, or from the world; every time you feel despair, anger, or instability, mindful breathing is the vehicle that you can use to go back to your true home. We don’t need to control our breath. Feel the breath as it actually is. Conscious breathing is the key to uniting body and mind and bringing the energy of mindfulness into each moment of our life. At any time, while I am walking, gardening or driving, I can return to this peaceful source of life.”

 

Try these Mindful Breathing exercises:

 

Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in

Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out

Breathing in, I go back to the island within myself

Breathing out, I go back to the island within myself

 

Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in

Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out

Breathing in, I calm my mind

Breathing out, I calm my mind

 

Breathing in, I calm my body

Breathing out, I smile

Dwelling in this present moment

I know this is a wonderful moment

Thich Nhat Hanh, from the New Sangha Handbook TNH Foundation Sangha Building Project

Taking Refuge in the 3 Gems

“Spiritual awakening requires a surrender of our ego to a higher consciousness,

a higher power, a greater reality than that contained in our ingrained beliefs of what life is all about.  When we enter into meditation, we are expressing the desire to move beyond the programmed ideas and attitudes so as to encounter reality more directly as an experience of the present moment.  We’re seeking the truth beyond our prejudices.  We’re asking for the transformation of our sense of self through the experience of a direct encounter with reality.”

John Selby, Seven Masters One Path