The Miracle of Walking on Earth


Last weekend, I read that a great teacher of mindfulness had died – Thich Nhat Hanh. He has influenced so many during his long life . This evening , when I picked up his book The Miracle of Mindfulness, it opened at chapter 2 entitled The Miracle is to Walk on Earth. In this chapter, he writes how most people consider walking on water to be a miracle, but he thinks that the real miracle is when we walk along a country path, putting each foot down on the earth in mindfulness, then ‘in such moments, existence is a miraculous and mysterious reality.’

Just a few days ago, I was walking through the woodland pictured above and experienced that feeling of interconnectedness – that feeling of being a part of the natural world when we are not just observing it, but ‘of it’.

Continue reading “The Miracle of Walking on Earth”


Awareness and Amnesia

There are many of us who try hard to live being mindful, to live for the now, following the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. It’s not easy and most days I for one feel that I haven’t achieved the awareness and mindfulness that I would have liked.

Eating mindfully, walking mindfully – it’s harder than I originally thought it would be, but I’ll keep trying.

There are some people who can only live in the ‘now’ because for them their past is a memory that escapes them completely. Others have short term memory loss and yet the past is crystal clear.

As we get older we struggle at times to remember names of places, people, things. That’s not unusual and nor is it particularly worrying as we have amassed a tremendous amount of information over the years and if we see it like a shelf full of books or a desk full of papers – we can’t expect to retrieve the one we’re looking for immediately.

When I wrote the following poem, I had in mind someone who had sadly lost all memory of their past .

I Am Amnesia

I have no memory

I live for the present

I can read

but when did I learn to read,

where did I go to school,

where was I born?

I see myself in the mirror

I see who I am now

but who was I ?

Where did I live as a child,

who were my parents,

did I have siblings?

I have no memory

I have no past

I live in the now.

I am an empty slate,

a frame with no picture,

a book with blank pages.

I have no story,

I have no history

but I can write.

Can I see my future,

can I rebuild my past,

will I remember?

A Room for Peace

For many years I’ve read and re-read the writings of  the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. His writings on mindfulness and peace are well known, but this is perhaps one of my favourite quotations (many can be found on the web if you don’t have his books)

When we have peace, then we have a chance to save the planet. But if we are not united in peace, if we do not practice mindful consumption, we cannot save our planet. Thich Nhat Hanh
There are times, like now when I read of arms being supplied to support the war in the Yemen, that I despair of some politicians ever abandoning their hawk like attitude but – we shouldn’t give up hope.
When visiting a friend in hospital one day I came across a notice –


‘There’s a room provided

a room set aside for contemplation,

meditation, reflection, prayer

for those of any faith or none.’


On reflection, what faith would

condone massacre, bloodshed,

rape, self-immolation or torture?


Those following religions often

find barriers to understanding

in suspicion, hatred and fear.


Fear of the unfamiliar, unknown

feeds suspicion and unrest.

What faith can overcome this?


There’s a room provided

for those of any faith or none.

Is there room for peace?



Mindfulness – not always easy

If we could all find a quiet secluded spot like this and find time to just sit quietly every day, our lives would be enriched.


Finding time to sit, to just ‘be’ isn’t always easy. It isn’t always easy to be ‘mindful’ either.

Mindfulness has become a buzz word over the last few years. Becoming trendy and the ‘in thing’ for businesses and groups to develop.

A while back I wrote a flash fiction piece with this in mind –

Friday Afternoon

How much should we accept our ‘fate’? He wondered. It’s all very well hearing that we should learn to accept and that includes any suffering, any bad times and any adverse situations at all. But that’s not so easy is it? Surely we’ve got to fight against the bad times not just give into them?

Mindfulness – that’s another thing we’re supposed to be working towards. Think of where you are ‘be’ in the present. When you are reading a memo, know you are reading a memo – think of the words, think of the person who sent it. When you are writing the reply, think with compassion; think carefully about your words. Listen to your breath, be aware.

What else did they tell us, he thought. Ah yes – breathe deeply and slowly before you get angry. I can feel myself getting angry now or at least indignant. How is all this supposed to help the workplace be more productive – I reckon it’s all American gobbledegook.

The new manager was going through the department with not just a new broom; he was clearing stuff out like a house clearance company run by an eastern guru.

Jim took a Satsuma out of his bag. The voice came back to him. ‘When you are eating savour each mouthful, feel the juice of an orange slide down your throat, chew one section slowly before you reach for the next. Think of what you are eating, savour each mouthful, don’t just gulp your food quickly before rushing off to the next meeting. Bring mindfulness to every part of your day.’

Hell! Jim thought, I can’t even eat without those guys getting into my head.

Jim buried his head in his hands. What is this?

When he went home that night, Jim’s wife noticed he seemed even more stressed out than usual.

She didn’t think it was a good idea to make the usual ‘Had a good day?’ remark. She looked at him quietly as he sat staring at the plate in front of him. ‘Take your time eating that’, she said, ‘you’ll get an ulcer if you eat too quickly.’ Jim picked it up and threw it on the floor.