Nothing is more precious than being in the present moment. Fully alive, fully aware. – Thich Nhat Hanh
To become successful and joyful, you must succeed in generating inner peace. But when our lives are full of chaos, it can be difficult to work out exactly how to go about it.
One of the best and most consistent ways is through meditation techniques. Meditation is a great practice that helps us relax and find inner peace.
The problem is it can be hard to figure out how to practice meditation properly if you haven’t got access to an expert.
So below, we’re going to go over meditation techniques from none other than the Zen Buddhist Master, Thich Nhat Hanh.
1) Mindful Breathing
According to Thich Nhat Hanh, this is the most simple and basic meditation technique, but also the most useful. Why? Because we’re always breathing. You can literally practice this anywhere, anytime, even if it’s for 15 seconds.
The main crux of this technique is that you simply focus on your breath.
Here is Thich Nhat Hanh explaining how to go about it:
Please, when you breathe in, do not make an effort of breathing in. You just allow yourself to breathe in. Even if you don’t breathe in it will breathe in by itself. So don’t say, “My breath, come, so that I tell you how to do.” Don’t try to force anything, don’t try to intervene, just allow the breathing in to take place….What you have to do is be aware of the fact that the breathing in is taking place. And you have more chance to enjoy your in-breath. Don’t struggle with your breath, that is what I recommend. Realize that your in breath is a wonder. When someone is dead, no matter what we do, the person will not breathe in again. So we are breathing in, that is a wonderful thing….
This is the first recommendation on breathing that the Buddha made: When breathing in, I know this is the in-breath. When breathing out, I know this is the out-breath. When the in-breath is long, I know it is long. When it is short, I know it is short. Just recognition, mere recognition, simple recognition of the presence of the in-breath and out-breath. When you do that, suddenly you become entirely present. What a miracle, because to meditate means to be there. To be there with yourself, to be there with your in‑breath.
According to Thich Nhat Hanh, concentration is a great source of happiness. Concentration simply means focusing on something, whether it’s your breath, a flower or a body part. You could literally point your focus on anything, and as long as you keep that focus, you are practising mindfulness.
It’s recommended that you choose an object where you don’t have to scan your eyes. Buddhist monks tend to use a candle flame. If you get distracted by your thoughts, simply return your focus back to the object. You can start this for one minute and then keep on increasing the time as you get more practice.
Thich Nhat Hanh explains why this is so powerful:
Anything can be the object of your meditation, and with the powerful energy of concentration, you can make a breakthrough and develop insight. It’s like a magnifying glass concentrating the light of the sun. If you put the point of concentrated light on a piece of paper, it will burn. Similarly, when your mindfulness and concentration are powerful, your insight will liberate you from fear, anger, and despair, and bring you true joy, true peace, and true happiness.
3) Awareness of Your Body
This is the technique Thich Nhat Hanh recommends to use to get in touch with your body. All it involves is a body scan where you turn your focus to each of your body parts one by one. As you’re going through your body, release any tension and simply try to relax. Thich Nhat Hanh says that this is powerful because we rarely experience this in daily existence. Our body is there but our mind is elsewhere.
Thich Nhat Han recommends to use this mantra:
Breathing in, I’m aware of my body. When you practice mindful breathing, the quality of your in-breath and out-breath will be improved. There is more peace and harmony in your breathing, and if you continue to practice like that, the peace and the harmony will penetrate into the body, and the body will profit.
4) Release Tension
The next exercise is to release tension in the body. When you start becoming aware of your body, you’ll notice tension in different parts of your body. Therefore, it is very important to learn how to release the tension in the body.
Thich Nhat Hanh explains how:
So next time you’re stopped at a red light, you might like to sit back and practice the fourth exercise: “Breathing in, I’m aware of my body. Breathing out, I release the tension in my body.” Peace is possible at that moment, and it can be practiced many times a day — in the workplace, while you are driving, while you are cooking, while you are doing the dishes, while you are watering the vegetable garden. It is always possible to practice releasing the tension in yourself.
5) Mindful Walking
Remember the first technique? When you practice mindful breathing you let breathing take place without effort. You simply enjoy it. The same thing is true with mindful walking. Thich Nhat Hanh says it best:
You don’t have to make any effort during walking meditation, because it is enjoyable. You are there, body and mind together. You are fully alive, fully present in the here and the now. With every step, you touch the wonders of life that are in you and around you. When you walk like that, every step brings healing. Every step brings peace and joy, because every step is a miracle.
The real miracle is not to fly or walk on fire. The real miracle is to walk on the Earth, and you can perform that miracle at any time.