The value in sincerity

I was inspired by something I heard this week.

I was listening to another Gil Fronsdal dharma talk, and he related a story from the Zen tradition.

A student asked his teacher “If I practice Zen will I become enlightened?”.  And the Zen teacher replied “If your practice is sincere, it is almost as good”.

I was incredibly inspired by this simple concept.

I know myself that I practice Buddhism because I identify with the precepts very strongly.  However I do not hold the belief that I will become enlightened – I would imagine very few Buddhist practitioners ever will become enlightened.

However I can practice with sincerity.  We all can.

And it doesn’t have to relate to Buddhist practice – we can live our lives with sincerity full stop.

I love that thought so much.

Sincerity encompasses so many things – living ethically, honestly and with pure intention.  And all of those things make such a difference not only to our lives, but to the lives of those that we touch.

You can’t really put a value on sincerity and honesty.

So this week I’ve tried to really keep that as my intention.

Also in this past week I heard a discussion on the Buddha – how before he became enlightened he had to live through many lives, and learn from each one.  He was reborn many times.  And of all the lives he lead, and the mistakes he made (as a lay person) one thing he never did was lie.  And specifically he did not lie to himself.

It’s a deep concept – to never lie to ourselves.

It’s also been on my mind this week, and I have given a lot of reflection on the ways I have lied to myself in the past.

There are so many great things that can be gained from self analysis and knowledge.  I feel blessed to have access to the dharma teachings.

And a new day each day to learn from them.




Everyday Wisdom #97

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”

Thich Nhat Hanh


Everyday Wisdom #80

Do not fight against pain; do not fight against irritation or jealousy. Embrace them with great tenderness, as though you were embracing a little baby. Your anger is yourself, and you should not be violent toward it. The same thing goes for all your emotions.

Thich Nhat Hanh




50 times = enlightenment

I’m very interested in the practice of mindful eating, and have written about it previously.

However this wonderful post “Zeke + Buddhist Monk + Almonds = Enlightenment!” brought it to the forefront of my mind once again.

In the above post, David quoted a passage from one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books.  Part of this passage included the following advice:

To eat well, we should chew our food about fifty times before we swallow.  When we eat very slowly, and make the food in our mouth into a kind of liquid, we will absorb much more nutrition through our intestines.  If we eat well, and chew our food carefully, we get more nutrition than if we eat a lot but don’t digest it well….Eating is a deep practice. “


This really intrigued me.  

I can honestly say I have never chewed my food 50 times before swallowing.  And I was keen to try it out.  So tonight I did just that whilst eating my dinner.

And it was a lot more challenging than I was expecting!

I am used to eating my dinner on the go.  Most of my meals are eaten in front of the computer whilst working.

So tonight I sat down.  With no other distractions.  And practised chewing each mouthful 50 times before swallowing.

It was surprising how much my mind resisted this practice!  At first I struggled to overcome the strong urge to swallow my food, and quickly take the next mouthful.  To ease my hunger.  And because it tasted so yummy!

I kept persisting.  I even closed my eyes so I could fully concentrate.

I got to 30.  Then the next mouthful 32.  Then 40.  Then eventually I got to 50.

The whole practice was completely fascinating.

From my resistance to eating slowly and calmly.  To the effect on my mind and body (and taste buds!) when I did patiently stick with it.

The food tasted amazing!  As Thich Nhat Hanh promised it would.

And afterwards I felt satisfied, but without the indigestion I usually feel.

It was an immensely satisfying experience.  And very calming!

I urge you to try it, and let me know what you think!



Everyday Wisdom #56


“My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.
My actions are the ground upon which I stand.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh


Everyday Wisdom #54

“When someone is suffering deeply within themselves, their suffering spills over and they start making others suffer as well. What they truly need is our help, not punishment.” 

Thich Nhat Hanh


I saw this great quote today, and it really struck a chord with me.

It’s so true in so many situations.

Today I saw a news article on my local news website – it was a photograph of a man that police believe could “assist them with their enquiries” in regards to a hold up.  

Looking at the photo it made me think about this person.  What has driven him to that desperate act?  Where he would rob a bottle shop?  Or at least attempt to.

What suffering and pain must he be experiencing?  That would cause him to commit this act, and thus transfer his suffering to others.

I felt a deep sense of compassion for this person, and the people who’s lives he affected as well.

For me it also applied to another situation I faced today.

I was feeling a little upset and hurt that I had not heard from someone.  

I had made the situation all about me – and how I was feeling sad.  And what I needed.  Reading this quote though snapped me out of my malaise.  This person is going through a rough time, and needs my support and understanding more than ever.

And really, that is true of nearly everyone in our lives.



Kindness Crusade

One should cherish all living beings – radiating kindness over the entire world

I listened to a great talk on the Metta Sutta this week, and it really gave me pause to think about kindness and the conditions needed to cultivate and increase kindness and tenderness in the world.


An excerpt of the Metta Sutta:

This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech.
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied.
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful,
Not proud and demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.
Wishing: In gladness and in saftey,
May all beings be at ease.


What if we all made the decision to live according to this sutta?

If we made an intention to live ethically and kindly?

Peace would be possible.  Inner-peace would be possible.   And peace on Earth.

“Although attempting to bring about world peace through the internal transformation of individuals is difficult, it is the only way”.  The Dalai Lama

We can further cultivate peace, and increase kindness by:

  • Not taking the life of any living thing
  • Not taking things that are not given
  • Not engaging in sensual misconduct
  • Refraining from false speech
  • Abstaining from substances which cause intoxication and heedlessness

In order for our hearts to manifest the desire – “may all beings be at ease” we must first have gladness and safety in our minds and hearts.

Living with gratitude, kindness and love all gladden and reassure the heart and mind.

As does finding the joy in each moment and each situation.

And with wisdom, and the development of wisdom, we can look around us and see that everyone is suffering.  That everyone has a story filled with difficulties and challenges, loss of hopes and dreams.

Really realising this and seeing this brings a true tenderness of heart.

My personal desire is to develop the equanimity needed to be able to see what is happening in the world around me.  So I can bring kindness to every situation and make a difference.

Being kind is taking a stand.


“Do not fight against pain, embrace with tenderness.” 
~ Thich Nhat Hanh 


Everyday Wisdom #6

Consider your reactions

Dedicate today to carefully observing your reactions.

Observe your responses to people, and situations, as they occur.

Then pause for a brief moment….

And make a conscious choice as to how you are going to react, or what you are going to say.


When we come into contact with the other person, our thoughts and actions should express our mind of compassion, even if that person says and does things that are not easy to accept.  ~ Thich Nhat Hanh


Nurture your happiness

Some of my favourite tips for nurturing happiness, joy, delight and wonder ♥


Fake it till you make it – decide to be happy.  Smile, laugh often and have fun.  Sometimes actions come before feelings (instead of the other way around).  So in other words: act happy, and you will feel happy.

Smile – as Thich Nhat Hanh advises … wear a half smile always.Smile while listening to music, smile during your free moments, smile even when you are irritated.

Listen to upbeat music – my personal favourites:  walking on sunshine, somewhere over the rainbow, don’t worry be happy.  And my favourite place to listen to them – in the shower!  Nothing starts your day off on a positive note like listening to these songs while you have your morning shower.  

Laugh – because generally life itself is too absurd not to.  Even if you can’t about something now, chances are you will be able to at some point.  Really – sometimes all you can do is laugh.

and lastly…

Be grateful

Surround yourself with people who make you smile

Dream big, sing loudly, and dance like no-one is watching



A proud parenting moment – the classroom work brought home by my 6yo.  Never fails to make me grin 🙂

Why did you say that??

I am a HUGE fan of Gil Fronsdal and his dharma talks.

It’s actually on my ‘bucket list’ to travel to Redwood City to listen to him talk in person at the Insight Meditation Centre (just putting it out there universe! 🙂 )

One dharma talk of his that especially stayed with me was “Mindfulness of Speaking”.

I am planning on doing a whole post dedicated to mindfulness of speech (because it’s such a wonderful subject to explore), but there was one thing he said that really resonated with me, and changed the way that I think.

And it was:

“If you want to jump-start your mindfulness practice, to go deep in Buddhist Practice, then here is the direct path…

Be aware of why you are saying what you are about to say


So when you speak – what is the motivation behind what you are saying.  And what exactly are you sharing?

Are you sharing delight?

Are you sharing information?

Or are you really trying to say something about yourself?  

How many times, when you speak, does what you say contain useful information that needs to be passed on?

How much is opinion?  And gossip?  And trying to accomplish something subtly?


There can be multiple agendas and purposes behind what we are saying.

It’s a wonderful and enlightening exercise to think about what you are going to say before you say it.

To take note of your intention before you speak, and your state of mind.  

Is it calm?  Relaxed?  Friendly?

Your speech will likely follow your state of mind.

For me, listening to this talk – and following Gil’s advice – created a paradigm shift.

It changed my way of thinking forever.



“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

You ate what?!

“Your body is precious. It is our vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care.” ~Buddha

There’s a few areas in my life that I would really like to focus on in regards to my practice.

And mindfulness of eating is one of them.

I must admit I am guilty of multi-tasking to the extreme.  And nearly all of my meals are eaten in front of the computer whilst working.

So my goal at the moment is to practice mindful eating for at least one meal per week.

A mindful eating exercise

  • Disconnect.  The same as you would if you were going to meditate.  Turn off your phone, the TV, step away from your computer (this is the challenge for me)
  • Sit in a quiet area with minimal distractions
  • Start by really noticing your meal.  The colours, texture, the smells, the presentation.
  • Take one mouthful.  Then put your fork down.
  • What are your sensory experiences?  What can you taste?  What is the temperature of your meal?  What are the textures – crunchy, chewy, soft.
  • Chew carefully and thoughtfully.
  • Take your time before taking the next mouthful.
  • Then repeat the whole process again.
  • The real key is putting down your fork between mouthfuls.
What did you notice by eating mindfully?
Where you more aware of your food?
Could you tell when you felt full?
How did you feel afterwards?
I found this a very interesting exercise.  At first I struggled to really focus.  The first few mouthfuls I was able to be very mindful and present, but then my mind drifted.  And I had to keep pulling back my attention to the meal.
It wasn’t until the meal was finished and I stood up that I noticed the level of clarity I was experiencing.
I happened to walk past the TV (in another room on mute), and the flashing of colours from the TV was incredibly overwhelming.
Another tip is to try to make at least one cup of tea a coffee a day an opportunity for mindfulness.
 It’s just one more way we can incorporate practice into our daily life.
Mindful eating is very pleasant. We sit beautifully. We are aware of the people that are sitting around us. We are aware of the food on our plates. This is a deep practice. Each morsel of food is an ambassador from the cosmos.  Thich Nhat Hanh

Mindful eating

Wash the dishes (in order to wash the dishes)

Today I wanted to share the wisdom of Thích Nhất Hạnh.

Thích Nhất Hạnh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist

Over the past 3 years since I began studying buddhism, I have read a lot of books, on all different subjects – mindfulness, happiness, the precepts, the eight-fold path etc.

Of everything I have read, the advice that has most resonated with me has been from Thích Nhất Hạnh – by far my favourite buddhist author.

Sometimes you can read things that change your perception of life forever – and I am so grateful to Thich Nhat Hanh for sharing his knowledge and insights with us all.

Today I wanted to share some of my favourite mindfulness exercises from his books:

Wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes

Anyone can wash the dishes in a hurry, try this for a change:

While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. At first glance this might seem a little silly: why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that’s precisely the point. The fact that I am standing there and washing these bowls is a wondrous reality. I’m being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There’s no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves.

There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first way is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second way is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes.

If while we are washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as they were a nuisance, then we are not ‘washing the dishes to wash to wash the dishes.’ What’s more we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes….If we can’t washes the dishes, chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either.

Driving Meditation

When we see a red light or a stop sign, we can smile at it and thank it, because it is a bodhisattva helping us return to the present moment. The red light is a bell of mindfulness. We may have thought of it as an enemy, preventing us from achieving our goal. But now we know the red light is our friend, helping us resist rushing and calling us to return to the present moment where we can meet with life, joy and peace. Even if you are not the driver, you can help everyone in the car if you breathe and smile.

The next time you are caught in traffic, don’t fight. It is useless to fight. If you sit back and smile to yourself, you will enjoy the present moment and make everyone in the car happy. The Buddha is there, because the Buddha can always be found in the present moment. Practicing meditation is to return to the present moment in order to encounter the flower, the blue sky, the child, the brilliant red light.


These exercises have made such a huge difference in my life.

I highly recommend you check out his books:

Present Moment, Wonderful Moment: Mindfulness Verses for Daily Living(1990) by Thich Nhat Hanh. Parallax Press, Berkeley, California

The Miracle of Mindfulness (trans: Moby Ho) by Thich Nhat Hanh (1976). Boston: Beacon Press.