You may have heard that Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh passed way on January 22. A true loss. I started reading Thich Nhat Hanh a few years ago. I have especially enjoyed the Mindfulness Essentials Series, which I continue to re-read. It’s nice to read one or two passages a day as I drink tea or coffee in the mornings. His writing has had a profound impact on me, and has been incredibly helpful over the years.
Software development can be a significant source of stress — it is never-ending, things always break at the worst times, it is easy to get burnt out, it pulls you in and spits you out. I often need to take a break, and remember to breathe. Thich Nhat Hanh has a way of reminding us all what is actually most important.
Here are a few of my favorites.
Computer Meditation, from How To Relax:
A bell is a friend, an invention to help us. If you work on a computer, you might get so carried away by your work that you forget you have a body; you forget that you’re alive. You even forget to breathe sometimes. So you may like to program your computer so that every quarter of an hour it offers the sound of the bell, enabling you to go back to yourself, to smile, and to breathe in and out before you continue working. Many of us have done that. The sound of a bell reminding you to come back to yourself and enjoy breathing is a wonderful way to take a break.
Drinking Tea, from How To Connect:
Drinking tea is a wonderful way to set aside time to communicate with yourself. When I drink my tea, I just drink my tea. I stop all my thinking and focus my attention on the tea. There is only the tea. There is only me. Between me and the tea there is a connection. I breathe in, and I am aware that my in-breath is there, I am aware that my body is there, and I am aware that the tea is there. It’s wonderful to have the time to drink your tea, to be there, body and mind together, established in the here and the now. When you are truly present, you become real, and the tea becomes real.
Resting, from How To Relax:
Whenever animals in the forest are wounded, they rest. They look for a very quiet place and just stay there without moving for many days. They know it’s the best way for their body to heal. During this time, they may not even eat or drink. The wisdom of stopping and healing is still alive in animals, but we human beings have lost the capacity to rest.