This one-of-a-kind course is taught by Zen master Thích Nhất Hạnh, who is accompanied by two of his senior Dharma instructors, Brother Phap Hai and Sister Lang Nghiem.
Throughout this program, you’ll work on broadening your understanding of, as well as your training in, the practice of mindfulness.
As you move through the lectures, exercises, and meditations, you’ll also open yourself up to the wonders and richness of the present moment. In doing so, you’ll unite your body and mind and bring peace throughout your entire being.
Learn How to Practice Mindfulness in Your Daily Life
Unite Your Body and Mind While Being Present in Each Moment
This course will teach you about important Buddhist teachings that will allow you to understand what mindfulness is, and how it can benefit your body, mind, and emotions.
In addition to the lectures that dive into Buddhist philosophy and the unique energy of mindfulness, you’ll be asked to commit to two 15-minute meditation sessions each day.
You’ll also access exercises that will allow you to tap into your inner Self. These include questions for reflection, open-ended questions that can help you deepen your experience, and a journal to track your experiences during the course and beyond.
Contents and Overview
You’ll begin this course by generating collective mindfulness by reciting the name of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. This will prepare you for the exploration of the energies of the Buddha.
After learning about mindfulness, concentration, and insight, you’ll discover the concept of co-being. This will set the foundation for other Buddhist philosophies, including the Four Noble Truths, the Three Jewels, and karma.
The third section of the course is focused on mindful walking, so you’ll explore walking meditation to transform your experience and generate the energy of mindfulness.
You’ll also discover the power of sitting and how to generate mindfulness not only within yourself, but also as a part of your community, to transform and heal yourself and others.
Finally, after you’re comfortable with generating the energy of mindfulness in your physical body, you’ll be ready to explore the exercises of mindfulness practice for your mind and emotions.
You’ll understand how positive and negative seeds within you become weaker or stronger with mindfulness.
By the time you complete this course, you’ll have a mindfulness practice that you can use daily to strengthen the connection between your mind and body, and between yourself and others.
You’ll be able to work with your emotions and your mind in a healthy, productive way, and embrace each moment with clarity and peace.
We all have the power to connect with the wonders of the present moment and, with practice, we can come to realize that everything we are looking for is available to us in the here and now. By generating mindfulness and developing our concentration, we can build the insight necessary to open ourselves to the wonders of life. This section begins with an opportunity for you to connect with the sangha, or community of practitioners, in generating collective mindfulness by joining in the practice of reciting the name of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara. After the energy of mindfulness is established, we will begin to explore and deepen our understanding of the connected nature of the energies of the Buddha: mindfulness, concentration, and insight.
In this selection, Thich Nhat Hanh, or Thay, describes the process of chanting the name of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, and how we can use this chanting practice as a way to generate the collective energy of mindfulness while connecting with our suffering, the suffering of others, and the suffering of the world. By connecting mindfully with our suffering and the suffering in the world, we stop our habit of running and create the opportunity to touch the wonders of the present moment.
Bringing the mind back to the body reestablishes you in the here and now. In this state, you can touch the wonders of the world instead of being lost in thought and trapped in fear and sorrow. The deep practice of mindfulness—and bringing the mind home to the body—allows you to develop the insight to know that everything you are looking for is already here for you. In this selection, Thay describes this process of freeing ourselves with the simple act of “one in-breath, and one out-breath.”
By reestablishing yourself in the present moment through the energy of mindfulness, you are beginning a process that calls on the three energies of the Buddha: mindfulness, concentration, and insight. These energies open you to the richness of the world and allow you to discover the wonders available to you. Here, Thay will explain these three energies and how they work together for your transformation and healing.
Throughout this course, Thay will lead you through brief guided meditations in order to build the collective energy of mindfulness among all of the course participants. Please feel free to come back to this or any one of the guided meditations any time you return to this course work as a way to settle your body and mind, and prepare yourself for these beautiful teachings.
Throughout the course of the retreat in Estes Park, Thay and the sangha invited the children in attendance to join them for part of the Dharma talk. These “Children's Talks” are beautiful offerings—deep enough to enrich a longtime practitioner's journey, yet simple and clear enough to connect with children. These talks presented throughout the course are a wonderful way to share the teachings on mindfulness with your own family members. In this discussion, Thay gives a beautiful teaching on the importance of offering the most essential thing anyone has to offer: his or her presence.
In this selection from one of the Children's Talks, Thay shares the importance of being there for the people we love in our lives. He teaches us that the first aim of Buddhist meditation is to be there—in order to love, you have to be there for the other person; and in order to be there for the other person, you need to learn mindfulness, bringing your mind home to your body. The two mantras for happiness presented in this selection will allow you to practice offering your presence and acknowledging the presence of another person.
The energies of mindfulness, concentration, and insight work together and can be used to open us to a deep understanding of the nature of reality. One of those areas of insight, co-being, can help to remove notions that keep us stuck in despair, anger, and fear. In this selection, Thay shares his vast wisdom on the nature of co-being in an attempt to help us to transcend our false notions.
With the groundwork for understanding the concept of co-being laid out, Thay begins to explore the notion of birth and death to help us to gain the insight that birth and death are present in every moment of our lives.
The first teaching given by the Buddha was his teaching on the Four Noble Truths. In this selection, Thay builds upon the framework of co-being that he has been developing in this course to present the teaching on the Four Noble Truths. In the light of co-being, we can see that this teaching is not just about the suffering we experience; it is also about the happiness that is available to us.
The Three Jewels are the elements within Buddhism that we can return to in order to support our practice. Continuing to build on his teaching of co-being, Thay in the next two selections explores the concept of co-being as it relates to the Three Jewels.
The teaching on karma, or action, is a foundational teaching in Buddhism. Here, Thay explores how thoughts, speech, and actions can create suffering and happiness. He reminds us that we are the sum of our actions, and to use the energy of mindfulness to look into our thoughts, speech, and actions in order to generate karma that will lead to happiness and liberation.
With the concept of co-being, as well as foundational concepts from Buddhism laid forth, Thay begins to explore the elements of mindfulness practice. These mindful-breathing exercises will be continually returned to and built upon throughout the course. These are the tools we can use to bring mindfulness into our lives.
This section begins with another guided meditation presented by Thay. Use this as an opportunity to come back to your body and establish yourself in the present moment. Please feel free to return to this guided meditation throughout the week as you engage with the material in this section.
In this selection from the series of Children's Talks, which took place at the beginning of the Dharma discussions, Thay suggests ways to make the home a practice space, full of peace and love.
Continuing this section's Children's Talk, Thay helps us to free ourselves from the suffering that is created when we fail to recognize the truth of how and why we are here. We too often fail to remember our connection to the people in our lives. This selection presents the wonderful practice of “corn meditation” as a way to look deeply into the nature of our births in order to see that we are all continuations.
Walking mediation is a wonderful practice that allows us to connect with the richness of life. By learning how to transform our steps into mindful ones, we can further learn how to come home to the here and now. These next two selections present instructions on the practice of walking meditation and on the importance of generating the energy of mindfulness to help to heal ourselves and those around us.
Consider bringing walking meditation into your practice this week and, if possible, throughout the remainder of the course. This could be a beautiful way for you to deepen your experience and bring the energy of mindfulness into your body and mind. Are there times during your day when you could turn your attention, even for a few moments, to walking mindfully?
After offering a review of the material covered in the course to this point, Thich Nhat Hanh discusses what it means to take refuge in the sangha not as an act of faith, but as a practice.
In this selection, Thay goes deeper into what it means to work with a strong emotion or feeling that arises as a practice to transform that energy into something positive.
Up to this point in the course, we have been using mindful breathing exercises to work with our physical body as well as the positive and negative feelings that arise in us. We will now build on that understanding and move into the realm of mental formations. Thay teaches the concept of store consciousness as the ground from which all positive and negative mental formations spring, and how by paying attention to certain mental formations we allow them to grow and come into the light of our conscious mind.
With an understanding of how mental formations come to fruition, we can now use that insight to help us to understand which formations are present in us, and to learn how to work with those thoughts and energies as they arise. The net result of all of this work leads to liberating the mind, allowing us to free ourselves from our afflictions.
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Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen master in the Vietnamese tradition, scholar, poet, and peace activist. He is the founder of the Van Hanh Buddhist University in Saigon and has taught at Columbia University and the Sorbonne. Thich Nhat Hanh is the author of the national bestseller Living Buddha, Living Christ and over 60 other books. He was nominated for the 1967 Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr.