Developed during a summer retreat in Plum Village, Thich Nhat Hanh's meditation center in France, these poetic verses were collected to help children and adults practice mindfulness. The result is a handbook of practical, yet down-to-earth verses. These gathas, or mindfulness verses, poetic verse designed to use ordinary daily activities such as washing the dishes, driving the car, or standing in line, as an opportunity to return to a state of mindfulness. Reciting these poetic, yet practical verses can help us to slow down and enjoy each moment of our lives. When we focus our mind on a gatha, we return to ourselves and become more aware of each action. When the gatha ends, we continue our activity with heightened awareness. As exercises in both mediation and poetry, gathas are very much in keeping with the Zen tradition. When you memorize a gatha, it will come to you quite naturally, for example, when you turn on the water or drink a cup of tea.
Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the most revered Zen teachers in the world today. His best-selling books include Happiness and Peace Is Every Step. He lives in Plum Village in southwest France, his meditation and retreat center in France, where he teaches the art of mindful living. Mayumi Oda was born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1941. Her paintings are exhibited internationally, and her recent work as an activist includes coordination of the World Court Project, an effort to make nuclear weapons illegal, and helping to establish a women s refuge center in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Mayumi currently lives, farms, and swims in Kealakekua, Hawaii.