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Inspiring Quotes on Mindfulness from Thích Nhất Hạnh

Inspiring Quotes on Mindfulness from Thích Nhất Hạnh

Thích Nhất Hạnh, Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet, global spiritual leader, and peace and human rights activist, and one of the most beloved Zen teachers in the world, celebrated his 90th birthday last month.

He has published more than one hundred books on meditation, mindfulness and Buddhism, poems and children’s stories, and more. I’ve read a number of his books, including the popular Being Peace, Peace Is Every Step, and The Miracle of Mindfulness, and love the simplicity with which he conveys the concept of mindfulness. He is gentle and humble, but his words are powerful, and inspiring. His key message: When we practice mindfulness, we can live happily in the present moment, and this is the only way to peace, within us and in the world.

Here are some of my favorite mindfulness quotes from Thích Nhất Hạn–or Thay–as he is fondly known–some are like mini-stories, sweet to read, with a pleasant takeaway.

Enjoy!

Inspiring Quotes on Mindfulness from Thích Nhất Hạnh

  1. Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.
  2. Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.
  3. To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.
  4. People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.
  5. Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.
  6. Because you are alive, everything is possible.Inspiring quotes on mindfulness from Thich Nhat Hanh Vidya Sury
  1. When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.
  2. 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.
  3. Smile, breathe and go slowly.Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.Inspiring quotes on mindfulness from Thich Nhat Hanh Vidya Sury
  4. Many people think excitement is happiness…. But when you are excited you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace.
  1. Through my love for you, I want to express my love for the whole cosmos, the whole of humanity, and all beings. By living with you, I want to learn to love everyone and all species. If I succeed in loving you, I will be able to love everyone and all species on Earth… This is the real message of love.
  2. The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don’t wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy.
  3. Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.
  4. My actions are my only true belongings.Inspiring quotes on mindfulness from Thich Nhat Hanh Vidya Sury
  5. Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.
  1. If you love someone but rarely make yourself available to him or her, that is not true love.
  2. You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.
  3. Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.
  4. For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.
  5. By eating meat we share the responsibility of climate change, the destruction of our forests, and the poisoning of our air and water. The simple act of becoming a vegetarian will make a difference in the health of our planet.Inspiring quotes on Mindfulness from Thich Nhat Hanh
  1. Our own life has to be our message.
  2. We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.
  3. The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.
  4. Suffering is not enough. Life is both dreadful and wonderful…How can I smile when I am filled with so much sorrow? It is natural–you need to smile to your sorrow because you are more than your sorrow.
  5. I promise myself that I will enjoy every minute of the day that is given me to live.

Inspiring quotes on mindfulness from Thich Nhat Hanh Vidya SuryInspiring quotes on mindfulness from Thich Nhat Hanh Vidya Sury

  1. The source of love is deep in us and we can help others realize a lot of happiness. One word, one action, one thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring that person joy.
  2. Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice… No one can prevent you from being aware of each step you take or each breath in and breath out.
  3. Enlightenment is always there. Small enlightenment will bring great enlightenment. If you breathe in and are aware that you are alive—that you can touch the miracle of being alive—then that is a kind of enlightenment.Inspiring quotes on mindfulness from Thich Nhat Hanh Vidya Sury
  4. Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.
  5. It is possible to live happily in the here and now. So many conditions of happiness are available—more than enough for you to be happy right now. You don’t have to run into the future in order to get more.
  1. People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don’t suffer anymore.
  2. Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.Life is available only in the present. That is why we should walk in such a way that every step can bring us to the here and the now.Inspiring quotes on mindfulness from Thich Nhat Hanh Vidya Sury
  3. When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?
  4. To be loved means to be recognized as existing.
  1. Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.
  2. We have to continue to learn. We have to be open. And we have to be ready to release our knowledge in order to come to a higher understanding of reality.Inspiring quotes on mindfulness from Thich Nhat Hanh Vidya Sury
  3. Every morning, when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand-new hours to live. What a precious gift! We have the capacity to live in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others.
  4. Compassion is a verb.
  5. Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos — the trees, the clouds, everything.
  1. Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible.inspiring-quotes-on-mindfulness-from-thich-nhat-hanh-2
  2. “Tea is an act complete in its simplicity.

When I drink tea, there is only me and the tea.
The rest of the world dissolves.
There are no worries about the future.
No dwelling on past mistakes.
Tea is simple: loose-leaf tea, hot pure water, a cup.
I inhale the scent, tiny delicate pieces of the tea floating above the cup.
I drink the tea, the essence of the leaves becoming a part of me.
I am informed by the tea, changed.
This is the act of life, in one pure moment, and in this act the truth of the world suddenly becomes revealed: all the complexity, pain, drama of life is a pretense, invented in our minds for no good purpose.
There is only the tea, and me, converging.”Inspiring quotes on Mindfulness from Thich Nhat Hanh

  1. Each time you look at a tangerine, you can see deeply into it. You can see everything in the universe in one tangerine. When you peel it and smell it, it’s wonderful. You can take your time eating a tangerine and be very happy.
  1. If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future -and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.inspiring-quotes-on-mindfulness-from-thich-nhat-hanh-3
  2. There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. (Also attributed to Dr.Wayne Dyer – but does it matter?)
  3. Take my hand. We will walk. We will only walk. We will enjoy our walk without thinking of arriving anywhere.
  4. Be Yourself. Life is precious as it is. All the elements for your happiness are already here. There is no need to run, strive, search, or struggle. Just Be.
  5. What you are looking for is already in you…you already are everything you are seeking.
  6. You have an appointment with life, an appointment that is in the here and now.

Inspiring quotes on mindfulness from Thich Nhat Hanh Vidya SuryWhich of these inspiring quotes on mindfulness resonated with you? Tell me in the comments!

I love the one about tea. Of course, I interchange it with coffee–I feel it encompasses everything we need to know about being mindful.

Zen calligraphy images are from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book “The Way Out is In”

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43 Comments

  • Reply
    Rajagopal
    November 19, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    The tea thought, because it is more strikingly perfect in mindfulness than any other elucidation of living in the present. Very well compiled, Vidya….
    Rajagopal recently posted…Emptiness and Infinity…My Profile

  • Reply
    Vidya Sury
    November 19, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    Thank you Mr Rajagopal. Yes, you are right. Very easy to identify with what we might do on a regular basis in our own routine. Glad you enjoyed the compilation!
    Vidya Sury recently posted…If I had only listened!My Profile

  • Reply
    Joy
    November 20, 2016 at 1:22 am

    What a beautiful gift this article is, Vidya – thank you! I love Thich Nhat Hanh! When my kids are established on their paths, in young adulthood, I would love to volunteer at Plum Village. So much of what he says speaks to my heart, so I don’t think I can pick a ‘favorite’ quote. We can feel into your article as a reminder of the power of presence and of the presence of peace and possibility *and* we can feel into each individual quote as heart wisdom to explore and play with.

    I’m choosing to practice presence to unfolding with organic growth as I walk my heart path. I didn’t have mainstream words to describe this, nor did I know many people who practiced something similar, until I found Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings several years ago. Your article, and his quotes, ‘landed in my in-box’ at just the right time!!

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      November 21, 2016 at 1:33 pm

      Oh, thank you Joy! When I first read about Plum Village, I put it on my wishlist (and I hope Universe is listening). What peace it must be to spend time there! Thay’s words are just beautiful in their simplicity, and open to so many interpretations. Love and hugs. *And hey Universe–please remember I want to meet Joy!*
      Vidya Sury recently posted…If I had only listened!My Profile

  • Reply
    Lisa Pomerantz
    November 20, 2016 at 3:38 am

    Your wisdom and insight is astounding. Thank you for sharing it with us! #FabFridayPost
    Lisa Pomerantz recently posted…Forget your tsuris (troubles), c’mon get happy…My Profile

  • Reply
    Mahevash
    November 20, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    Lovely <3

  • Reply
    My Inner Chick
    November 20, 2016 at 8:51 pm

    **Take my hand. We will walk. We will only walk. We will enjoy our walk without thinking of arriving anywhere.**

    Such a exquisite line about living in the moment.

    Vidya, I love you more than tangerines! xxx
    My Inner Chick recently posted…Trump Wins Presidential ElectionMy Profile

  • Reply
    C. Lee McKenzie
    November 20, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    You’ve started my morning so beautifully. And now I’m off to yoga to see if my body will flow with my mind.

    I read your contribution to the anthology, and it was lovely. Stories about others lives always bring such an appreciation for the uniqueness of each person we encounter.

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      November 21, 2016 at 1:35 pm

      Love you, Lee! Thank you for the wonderful words! You are such a beautiful person! ❤️
      Vidya Sury recently posted…If I had only listened!My Profile

  • Reply
    Asha
    November 20, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing Vidya ! So loved the quotes. Have always found reading Buddhist way of mindfulness so peaceful .
    Asha recently posted…A day in the TharMy Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      November 21, 2016 at 11:57 am

      Indeed. Thay is wonderfully simple!
      Loved your photo in the bookshop! ❤️

  • Reply
    Sandra Pawula
    November 21, 2016 at 11:43 am

    What a treasure trove of goodness! I love Thich Nhat Hanh’s words of inspiration. Thank you, Vidya.
    Sandra Pawula recently posted…What Makes You Procrastinate When You Wish For Something More?My Profile

  • Reply
    Shilpa Gupte
    November 21, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    I loved the one about the lettuce plant. I wrote about my chilli seeds refusing to germinate in my latest post and how if they don’t germinate at all, i might seek an expert’s advice or plant something else…well, I read the quote by Thay again, and felt I was not really blaming my chilli seeds. I am planning to accept whatever comes my way. As I did in life. There were moments of distress, no doubt. But, I stayed put. As will my chilli seeds. There is really no point blaming the circumstances, is there?
    I have also come to learn how valuable being mindful is! Just being here, in the moment, soaking in this moment and all that comes with it. Leaves us a lot less stressed, for sure!

  • Reply
    Shailaja Vishwanath
    November 21, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    I love tea and I love Thich Nhat Hanh. His philosophy on a lot of things mirrors how I feel. Especially tea! 😀 Did I mention tea?

    And yes, waking up with a smile is something I practise too. It is the one way of letting go of all the trials from the previous day.
    Shailaja Vishwanath recently posted…Parenting like an AuntMy Profile

  • Reply
    Nabanita Dhar
    November 21, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Beautiful. Such a feel good post to read on a Monday. Smile, breathe and go slowly is what I need to hear today 🙂
    Nabanita Dhar recently posted…#MommyTalks | Do You Believe In The Evil Eye?My Profile

  • Reply
    Mackenzie Glanville
    November 21, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    1, 9 and 28. I only heard number 1 a couple of days ago and I LOVED it! Thank you for sharing these, they are beautiful #mg

  • Reply
    Rajlakshmi
    November 21, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    The lettuce example is so perfect. How beautifully it explains the way relationships need to be maintained. The example of washing dishes is my aanother favorite. These are beautiful quotes and it feels so good to read them.

  • Reply
    Rachna
    November 21, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    Such amazing quotes. I loved this one the best: Because you are alive, everything is possible. So simple yet so true and beautiful.
    Rachna recently posted…Coffee: From Seed to Cup – A Commitment to Excellence #NescafePlanMy Profile

  • Reply
    five little doves
    November 21, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    I really needed to read this today, thank you. We’ve had a difficult few weeks and my positivity is waning. I love the quote about loving someone by giving them your presence. That’s so important and true, thank you. #mg

  • Reply
    Vasantha Vivek
    November 21, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    Loved all the quotes. 22 is my favorite. Best collection for the keepsake of quote lovers.
    Vasantha Vivek recently posted…This MOM’s LifeMy Profile

  • Reply
    Lucys Locket
    November 21, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    Love these quotes. So inspirational. I’m just getting into mindfulness / meditation / Buddhism. I have a lot to learn but I think it could really be my thing. #mg
    Lucys Locket recently posted…You are not your labelsMy Profile

  • Reply
    Beloo Mehra
    November 21, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Number 4, 13, 21, 32, 42 – Love them! Loved them all. But these spoke the loudest today. Because of impermanence, everything is possible! What a deeply motivating and uplifting message this is. Provided we understand and appreciate the deeper meaning of this impermanence, and not be bogged down by its surface meaning, which can also cause distress. Thanks Vidya for this inspiring post!
    Beloo Mehra recently posted…Show Me the Money!My Profile

  • Reply
    Mindful Mummy Mission
    November 21, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    Ah these are such a great collection – such wise statements to return to when we need to ‘reboot’ – thanks for taking the time to put them together and sharing #mg

  • Reply
    Cathy Taughinbaugh
    November 21, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    These are beautiful quotes, Vidya as well as a good reminder to stay in the moment. Thank you!
    Cathy Taughinbaugh recently posted…50 Valuable Insights from the Surgeon General’s Landmark ReportMy Profile

  • Reply
    Birgit
    November 22, 2016 at 5:31 am

    These are great Vidya and #4 resonated with me because of my best friend who is going through hell right now. She is in a loveless marriage where her husband has been having affairs and has spent a lot of money. Unfortunately, my friend found out that he incurred $60,000 debt in her name and she did not know. She spoke to him about his disrespect on August 18th. Since then he has been stringing her along and she found out, this weekend, that he went to the Bahamas with his mistress. She found out from her daughter that he went to the Bahamas. She also found out that the day she spoke to him, he took out 2 cash advances, each for $10,000. She doesn’t want to move fast out of this relationship yet she knows she must. I am very concerned for her because he is not nice . They have 3 kids…the youngest is 16 and no one is happy but they choose to live in this hell. I am scared because he has his own company that appears to do well but his spending is out of control and she has a life insurance policy…my mind does go there. I also believe in the body being affected…..I am dealing with something right now that concerns me. I am seeing the doctor on Wednesday. I am dizzy, nauseous, bathroom issues and I have had a bruise on my lower right back since June. So that quote about ones body hits me.
    Birgit recently posted…Thursday Movie Picks- Movies based on a TV ShowMy Profile

  • Reply
    shubhangi srikanth
    November 22, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    #3 acceptance, Yea that kind of resonates with me. I struggled with it for quite some time and it took me quite a while to make peace with it. Loved the tea thing too. My guru once gave a similar example, substituting the tea for coffee. She would say, don’t just gulp down coffee, smell it, let the taste linger on your taste buds, feel the bitterness, enjoy the complex texture, feel the heat when you hold the cup, feel the heat when it travels down your throat, and feel how it invigorates you, when you are aware of everything, then even drinking coffee becomes meditative.

    loved reading these lovely quotes by Thich Nhat Hanh.

  • Reply
    Modern Gypsy
    November 22, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    I’ve read some of his essays and talks, but somehow haven’t gotten around to reading his books yet. “True happiness is based on peace.” – it took me a while to learn and really understand this, but it is so, so true. I loved reading these quotes – some were familiar and favorites, a few of these were new to me. 🙂
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  • Reply
    Vishal
    November 22, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    “Mindfulness lets you go home in the present. Life is only in the present.”

    What diamonds of wisdom in each quote Vidya. Happy to have read these right now, so I can ponder over them in solitude…

  • Reply
    Debbie L Hampton
    November 23, 2016 at 6:21 am

    I didn’t even know he was still alive. I loved his thoughts about eating meat and climate change. Thanks for sharing these. Lots of good ones I had not seen before.
    Debbie L Hampton recently posted…How Mindfulness Changes Your BrainMy Profile

  • Reply
    Suzie Cheel
    November 23, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    love love love this post speaks to me on so many levels this stood out for me 🙂
    Suzie Cheel recently posted…How To Really Focus on Abundance for 2017My Profile

  • Reply
    Su {Ethan & Evelyn}
    November 23, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    There are so many great wisdoms quotes here. Friends for me is very important I think. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing with us on #FabFridayPost
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  • Reply
    menaka bharathi
    November 24, 2016 at 6:32 am

    Wonderful quotes! I loved every one of them Vidhya! Mindfulness is the most important trait one can have. love, happiness and peace gets multiplied when you give it unhindered and wholeheartedly. I particularly loved the smile and happiness quote.
    menaka bharathi recently posted…Diet For Thyroid Imbalance – Dos and Dont’sMy Profile

  • Reply
    Elle Sommer
    November 25, 2016 at 3:17 am

    Awesome quotes Vidya…I adore so many of them I can’t choose which I like best. They are soul and heart enhancers. Thank you for this gift. 🙂

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