I’ve been studying eastern philosophy for a few years now and I honestly feel blessed with every lesson I learn. The greatest thing about practising mindfulness is that I am learning more about myself every single day. By growing awareness of myself and the present moment, it helps me better understand what’s going in in my head and heart.
If you’ve been feeling anxious, or simply out of touch with your priorities in life, I urge you to become a student of mindfulness with me. It’s time to recenter.
As I’ve been reflecting on the most important truths in my life, I’ve found quotes from famous eastern philosophers and modern day zen masters to be of great help. I’ve distilled my favorite quotes below in hopes that you find value in them today:
On practising mindfulness
“Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.” – Sylvia Boorstein
“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” – James Baraz
“Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
“We might begin by scanning our body . . . and then asking, “What is happening?” We might also ask, “What wants my attention right now?” or, “What is asking for acceptance?” – Tara Brach
“Being mindful means that we suspend judgment for a time, set aside our immediate goals for the future, and take in the present moment as it is rather than as we would like it to be.” – Mark Williams
Insights on who you are
“Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it. What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.” – Ramana Maharshi
“Wanting to reform the world without discovering one’s true self is like trying to cover the world with leather to avoid the pain of walking on stones and thorns. It is much simpler to wear shoes.” – Ramana Maharshi
“As I noticed feelings and thoughts appear and disappear, it became increasingly clear that they were just coming and going on their own. . . . There was no sense of a self owning them.” – Tara Brach
“Meditation is the only intentional, systematic human activity which at bottom is about not trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else, but simply to realize where you already are.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
“It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up – that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.” – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
“Ardently do today what must be done. Who knows? Tomorrow, death comes.” – The Buddha
On the present moment
“Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child – our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” – Alan Watts
“The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.” – Alan Watts
“Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the small uncaring ways.” – Stephen Vincent Benet
On stress, anxiety and challenge
“Few of us ever live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone.” – Louis L’Amour
“The standard way of reducing stress in our culture is to put as much energy as possible into trying to arrive at a moment that matches our preferences. This ensures that we feel some level of stress until we get there (assuming we ever will) and worse, it makes the present moment into an unacceptable place to be.” – David Cain
“We do so much, we run so quickly, the situation is difficult, and many people say, “Don’t just sit there, do something.” But doing more things may make the situation worse. So you should say, “Don’t just do something, sit there.” Sit there, stop, be yourself first, and begin from there.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“Stepping out of the busyness, stopping our endless pursuit of getting somewhere else, is perhaps the most beautiful offering we can make to our spirit.” – Tara Brach
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” – Amit Ray
On making friends with yourself
“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.” – Pema Chodron
“All beings want to be happy, yet so very few know how. It is out of ignorance that any of us cause suffering, for ourselves or for others” – Sharon Salzberg
“Essentially, meditation allows us to live in ways that are less automatic. This necessarily means less time spent worrying, ruminating, and trying to control things we can’t control. It means we become less vulnerable to the throes of the fear-driven, older parts of our brains, and freer to use our newer and more sophisticated mental abilities: patience, compassion, acceptance and reason.” – David Cain
“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
“We often have very little empathy for our own thoughts and feelings and frequently try to suppress them by dismissing them as weaknesses.” – Mark Williams
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