Q. How can we practice consistent mindfulness in a world that seems to demand hurrying and rushing wherever we go? Is it possible to be mindfully busy and mindfully hurried?
A. Beginners find mindfulness easier when they do it slowly. But if your mindfulness is more advanced, you can do things more quickly. Just make sure you are being mindful. You can walk mindfully, but you can also run mindfully. It’s a matter of planning. It should become a habit to plan in such a way that we have plenty of time to do each thing and we don’t have to rush. Suppose you have to be at the airport at ten o’clock. Try to plan so that you have plenty of time; if possible add another hour in order to have the pleasure of doing walking meditation at the airport.
When you drive, instead of thinking of your destination, enjoy every moment of the drive. When you make breakfast, transform breakfast preparation into a meditation session, a practice of mindfulness. Try not to think of what you’re going to do after breakfast. Enjoy every moment and you’ll bring joy to the whole family. The secret is to dwell in the here and the now and to be happy in that moment.
Of course, we all have a lot to do; even monks and nuns have a lot of things to do. But we have learned to do them with joy, and not to consider the things we do as hard labor. That is an art to be cultivated, and every one of us can do it. If we know how to consume less, we don’t have to work as hard, we don’t need a bigger salary and a more expensive car to be happy. If we know the art of simple living, then we have much more time to live our lives happily and to help other people.
From Answers from the Heart (2009) by Thich Nhat Hanh. With permission of Parallax Press, Berkeley, California. www.parallax.org.