My first encounter of mindfulness was when I was a child growing up in rural Vietnam. I used to enjoy walking slowly in nature, totally enjoying the scenery with all my senses without thinking about anything else. I used to spend hours watching the rain drops by a window, or watching the sunset by the river bank. Growing up in the countryside gave me many opportunities to be mindful, without necessarily knowing the terminology.
My first official introduction to mindfulness was when I attended a public talk by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh entitled “How to find a sense of peace and true happiness”. I have since been inspired by this world-renowned Zen Master – the pioneer bringing mindfulness in the West since the early 1970s. I love the way Thay – as Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh usually called by his students – developed new ways to apply the wisdom of Buddhism to meet the challenges of modern times.
There are a few definitions of mindfulness that have guided my practice.
“Mindfulness is a kind of energy that we generate when we bring our mind back to our body and get in touch with what is going on in the present moment within us and around us. We become aware of our breathing and come home to our body, fully present for ourselves and whatever we are doing.” Thich Nhat Hanh
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, “mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention. on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”
In order to deepen my mindfulness practice and enjoy the art of mindful living in a community, I have attended almost a hundred retreats and days of mindfulness offered by Plum Village communities around the world, such as Plum Village France, European Institute of Applied Buddhism, Asian Institute of Applied Buddhism, and Plum Village Thailand.
I have also enjoyed learning and practicing mindfulness in a secular context, from world-famous mindfulness teachers such as Jon Kabat Zinn, Kristen Neff and Chris Germer. I have attended courses on Mindful Self-compassion, Mindful Self-compassion for Educators, Corporate-Based Mindfulness Trainings, etc.
What I have realized in my journey is that mindfulness is not a tool to reduce stress, or to improve productivity, but it is indeed a journey to open my heart and mind to fall in love with life and treasure life within me and around me deeply. I aspire to plant the seeds of mindfulness, of love and understanding in my own consciousness and also in all those around me. I aspire to be a happy teacher who can change the world from within, and around.