These charming short verses were collected to help children and adults practice mindfulness throughout the day. The verses, or gathas, are designed to make everyday activities — such as washing the dishes, driving the car, or turning on the television — opportunities to return to a state of mindfulness. As exercises in both meditation and poetry, gathas are very much in keeping with the Zen tradition: the gatha helps readers become attuned to each action, and at its conclusion, even the most mundane activity is imbued with heightened awareness. Reciting these poetic yet practical verses helps readers slow down and savor every moment. Nhat Hanh’s warm, thoughtful commentary provides insight and inspiration.
Waking up this morning, I smile.
Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment
and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.
Brushing Your Teeth
Brushing my teeth and rinsing my mouth,
I vow to speak purely and lovingly.
When my mouth is fragrant with right speech,
a flower blooms in the garden of my heart.
Beginning to Eat
With the first taste, I offer joy.
With the second, I help relieve the suffering of others.
With the third, I see others’ joy as my own.
With the fourth, I learn the way of letting go.
Driving the Car
Before starting the car,
I know where I am going.
The car and I are one.
If the car goes fast, I go fast.