Smile Breathe Walk

by Anna

The first thing I learned about mindfulness was that it is important to smile at yourself, to smile at your thoughts, to breathe and to walk. “If you can do these things, you will be happy”, said the sister at Plum Village.

The practice of mindfulness can bring a little more ease into our everyday life. Breathing deeply  and following the natural flow of our breath in and out of our body for a few minutes is a simple tool to arrive in the present moment, to feel calm and be at peace with yourself.

Calligraphy by Tich Nhat Hanh

A brilliant help on the path of mindfulness is the mindfulness bell. Any kind of sound – a bell, ringing phone, door bell, beeping car – can be utilised to bring our awareness back to our breath and most importantly, to drop those tight shoulders. Common side effects include no more neck pain, a serene happiness and reduced anxiety.

If you would like to make use of the mindfulness bell you can use this clever gadget that you can install on your computer, or run via your web browser and that you can set to a preferred time or let it surprise you at random.

My singing bowl – the perfect mindfulness bell!

I even extended the idea of using any sound to bring me back to the present moment to someone screaming outside, which used to infuriate me, but has now become a reason for me to simply focus on my breathing and to smile. Believe it or not, I actually sleep through most of the midnight screamers now. Pure bliss 🙂

By living more consciously aware of yourself and your surroundings you can arrive in the present moment any time. Another tool is the practice of slow walking, or walking meditation. Walking not to get somewhere but simply to walk for the sake of walking, breathing, smiling, slowing down and giving the present moment a chance to catch up with you.

Brothers and sisters walking slowly at Plum Village, France

I quite often walk along our seafront in Eastbourne, UK at low tide and decided I am going to invite others along to share the practice of mindfulness and help them to slow down a little and become more peaceful.

So if you live somewhere around Eastbourne, UK, or are planning to visit, and would like to join me on a mindful low tide walk, follow me on Facebook or Twitter where I will announce when I will be going. This will be very sporadic, whenever I am free and it happens to be low tide, and quite likely on a short term notice.

The walk will be very slow and in silence, but there will be a little time after and before for questions. Make sure you are there at least 5 minutes before the time stated, I will not wait. As a meeting point I suggest the old fountain outside of Fusciardie’s Ice Cream Parlour. I like to walk barefoot, and like to encourage others to do the same, but feel free to wear wellies or water proof shoes if it would make you feel more comfortable. There is absolutely no charge, besides, air is free to breathe as well 😉

However, if you wish to donate something, I am collecting for urgent maintenance and repair work in Plum Village, aiming to send all donations over in December as a Christmas present.

Bell Tower and Lotus Pond at Plum Village, France

Plum Village was established over 30 years ago, and time is passing which means that there are cracks in the walls and boards falling from the ceilings (yes it came down right outside my room door 🙂 ). There also are a lot of Government regulations and expectations to live up to, and if things don’t improve, Plum Village will not be able to take any more visitors, which would be a great loss. It is such a tranquil place of peace and calm, which also supports many Vietnamese living under very poor conditions in Vietnam.

If you are unable to join me in Eastbourne, why not practice on your own. Walk slowly, breath deeply and smile to yourself 😉

Enjoy living and breathing in the present moment!