In Beginning Anew, Sister Chân Không shares a concrete, four-part process that can help anyone clear up misunderstandings, communicate more honestly and openly with the people around them, and heal relationships. Thousands have been introduced to the beginning anew practice at the retreats led worldwide each year by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.
When we’re upset with someone, we’re often afraid to say anything. We tell ourselves, “Oh, it’s just a small matter; it’s not important.” But the accumulation of many small issues can create an explosive situation, and can even cause relationships to break.
Beginning Anew gives us a way to address problems when they’re small, so we can understand each other’s words, actions, and intentions.
Beginning Anew guides readers through steps of conscious breathing, loving speech, and compassionate listening designed to help us see people and situations more clearly, allowing our perceptions to better reflect reality. Sister Chân Không brings the practice to life by sharing stories of couples and families she has helped to reconcile using the practice.
After a few minutes of quietly sitting together to become aware of our breathing and calm ourselves, each person speaks without being interrupted. The first step is to express appreciation of the other person, something we may forget to do in our busy lives, that can lead to the people around us to feeling taken for granted. The second step is to express any regrets we have. This is something we often put off doing, but the clear expression of misgivings and regrets gives practitioners the chance to clear the air and directly address any problems in the relationship. The last two steps of the practice are for expressing anger or difficulties and checking in with each other to be sure each was understood.
Beginning Anew introduces a practice for anyone looking for a way to keep communication open and resolve conflicts. When practiced regularly, beginning anew will bring deeper understanding and harmony to any relationship.
Sister Chân Không (birth name Cao Ngoc Phuong) was born in a village on the Mekong River Delta in 1938. She has devoted her life to the development and practice of nonviolence grounded in the Buddhist precepts of non-killing and compassionate action. She is part of the community of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh and lives in Plum Village, France.