Book Quotes: Thich Nhat Hanh – How to Relax

Just wanted to share with you some quotes from a book I just finished reading, the ones I found most impactful. 🙂

Each of us has a physical body, as well as feelings, perceptions, thoughts, emotions, and a deep consciousness. These comprise our territory; and each of us is a monarch ruling over our territory. But we’re not responsible monarchs. There’s disharmony and conflict in our territory. We don’t have the capacity to restore peace and harmony. Instead of surveying our territory, we escape and take refuge in some form of consumption. Mindfulness is a practice to give you the courage and energy to go back and embrace your body and your feelings and emotions, even if they’re unpleasant. Even if it seems they may destroy you, go back and embrace them and help them to transform. (36)

Say you have a notion of happiness, an idea about what will make you happy. That idea has its roots in you and in your environment. Your idea tells you what conditions you need in order to be happy. You’ve entertained this idea for ten or twenty years, and now you realize that your idea of happiness os making you suffer. Your idea may contain an element of delusion, anger, or craving. These elements are the substance of suffering. On the other hand, you know that you have other kinds of experiences: moments of joy, release, or true love. You can recognize these as moments of real happiness. When you’ve had a moment of real happiness, it becomes easier to release the objects of your craving, because you’re develping the insight that these objects will not make you happy.

Many people have the desire to let go, but they’re  not able to do so because they don’t yet have enough insight; they haven’t seen other alternatives. Fear is an element that prevents us from letting go. We’re fearful that if we let go we’ll have nothing else to cling to. Letting go is a practive; it’s an art. One day, when you’re strong enough and determinded enough, you’ll let go of the afflictions that make you suffer. (52)

One day the Buddha was sitting having a silent lunch together with his monks in the woods. A farmer came hurrying by and asked, “Dear monks, have you seen my cows? They have all left me this morning. If I don’t have my cows, how can I live? Insects have eaten my fields of sesame; I couldn’t harvest anything. I cannot live. I think I will kill myself.” The Buddha said, “Dear friend, we’ve been sitting here for a while, and we haven’t seen any cows pass by. Maybe you can look in another direction.” So the farmer left. The Buddha turned to his monks and said, “Dear monks, you are very lucky. You don’t have any cows to lose.” A cow stands for something we need to let go of. Our idea of happiness is a cow. And it’s because of this idea of happiness that we cannot be happy. (83)

And if you’re interested, here’s a summary from the back of the novel:

“When we are stressed, we are not only less happy and less productive, we make those around us unhappy as well. Thich Nhat Hanh shares techniques for bringing our lives back into balance. These short meditations on healing, resting, solitude, and being unbusy offer the pleasure of relaxation no matter where you are.”

I’m thinking of starting to write the most significant quotes from the books I read in this blog. The books we read can be very impactful, so I would like to keep a record of the quotes that have impacted me the most, not just for myself, but also for others to find inspiration. 🙂 So something to look forward to.

May all peace be with you,



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