From time to time, sit close to the one you love, hold his or her hand, and ask, ‘Darling, do I understand you enough? Or am I making you suffer? Please tell me so that I can learn to love you properly. I don’t want to make you suffer, and if I do so because of my ignorance, please tell me so that I can love you better, so that you can be happy.’Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Step
What a lovely book Peace is Every Step is. Each word is a drop in Thich Nhat Hanh’s river of compassion. He understands the desire for peace in one’s life and offers ways to cultivate contentment through mindfulness and ethical precepts for serving others. Once you drink the last drop, you feel loved and yearn to love others.
Nhat Hanh teaches conscious breathing, being in the present moment, envisioning pleasant imagery, and understanding others. He says thinking “In” and “Out” when breathing isn’t actually thinking; “In” and “Out” are only words to help us concentrate on our breathing. If you have an unpleasant feeling, such as anger, breathe through it: “Breathing in, I know anger is present. Breathing out, I know this feeling will pass.” Just the act of smiling, even slightly, helps us feel happy. He suggests smiling on an out breath, and/or when you wake up in the morning. You can try placing an object, like a feather, near your bed to remind you to smile.
Finally, Nhat Hanh lists the fourteen precepts of what he and his monastic community call The Order of Interbeing. These principles act as an ethical guide to serving others. Here are a few that I find so very much needed in today’s society and that I hope to fully embody: openness to others’ experiences and insights; not forcing people to adopt their views; helping people let go of fanaticism and narrowness; taking a stand against oppression and injustice; and “learning to look with the eyes of interbeing and to see ourselves and others as cells in one … body.”