• The emphasis in Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings is on the practice of mindfulness. To practice mindfulness is to be conscious in each moment of our lives. The opposite of mindfulness is forgetfulness and Nhat Hanh emphasizes bringing mindfulness to what we tend to consider “automatic” activities, such as walk­ing and breathing. Right Mindfulness is the continuous awareness of our bodies, emotions, and thoughts.

    In the Sutra on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness, the Buddha offers four layers of mind­fulness practice: mindfulness of the body, of the emotions, of the mind, and of the objects of mind. Practicing mindfulness at each layer can be the foun­dation of well-being and happiness. When we don’t practice mindfulness, we suffer in our bodies, our minds, and in our relationships. Practicing mindfulness, we become a peaceful refuge for ourselves and oth­ers. Clarity flows from mindfulness. With the energy of mindfulness, we can always return to our true home, the present moment.

    The Chinese character for mindfulness reveals its meaning. The upper part of the character means now, and the lower part stands for mind or heart. The Vietnamese word for mindfulness, chan niem, means to be truly in the present moment. Mindfulness helps us to come back to the here and now, to be aware of what is going on in the present moment, and to be in touch with the wonders of life.