The Way Out Is In / Lessons in Impermanence: How to Handle Life when Everything Changes (Episode #2)

Jo Confino, Br Pháp Hữu

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Welcome to episode two of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

In this episode, Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay Buddhist practitioner and journalist Jo Confino address one of the deepest teachings in Buddhist philosophy: impermanence.

They discuss reasons why it’s difficult for humans to recognize the impermanence of life; how impermanence can help us deal with suffering as well as happiness; how to live with the fact that everything changes, and how to avoid become attached to anything (including happiness); enjoying every moment in life, and not taking life for granted, since it is only available in the present moment.

Brother Phap Huu explains the Buddhist insight into impermanence, and how to practice impermanence as meditation. He recollects his first mindfulness retreat at Plum Village (aged just nine) and the teachings about handling strong emotions; visiting Thich Nhat Hanh in 2020, in Vietnam; and reuniting with his grandmother after 15 years.

Jo shares a lesson in impermanence with his favourite cup of tea, and investigates “dying (and living) well”, as well as letting go as one of the most challenging obstacles to embracing impermanence.

Their discussion also touches upon renewing Buddhism and making traditional spiritual practices relevant to the younger generations and to the suffering of today, true happiness, having no expectations, awareness, simplicity, Buddhahood, the practice of gratitude, non-attachment, and the importance of gathas (poems) in the practice of impermanence.

The sound of the bell makes a cameo appearance, and Brother Phap Huu offers some insights into this “Plum Village mark.”

Finally, the episode ends with a guided meditation on impermanence by Brother Phap Huu.

Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism:

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation:

List of resources

Plum Village Community

Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation

True Love and the Four Noble Truths

Old Path White Clouds

Creating Gathas

Gathas to print at home


“Imagine every day as though it’s your last.”

“You are much more than your emotions and your feelings.”

“Don’t believe things just because I say them.”

“My life is my message.”

“Actually, Buddhism is very simple, but because of all the scholars and philosophers that have come along the way, they have made it much more difficult for people to understand.”

“When you change, you have to let go of something. And I think that is something that is very challenging for a lot of people.”

“Bringing impermanence into our own life is to recognize that nothing we do in life is ever lost. It’s always there for a moment in one form, and then it will become another form.”

“Impermanence tells us that whatever we are feeling today, it will change tomorrow.”

“If we come back to who we are and recognize our strengths and our way of dealing with something, then you can have all the thrashing on the outside, but we ourselves can become clear.”

“All we can count on is our actions, our thoughts and actions, because those have an impact in the world that ripple out forever, actually, because everything we do has an impact on someone else.”

“Even a mountain that looks as though it’s never going to change, by its nature, is impermanent. It came from nothing and will eventually erode into nothing.”


Welcome back, dear friends, to the latest episode of the podcast, The Way Out Is In.


I am Jo Confino


and I am Brother Phap Huu.


Welcome back to the latest episode of The Way Out Is In. And today we’re going to be talking about one of the deepest teachings in Buddhist philosophy: impermanence. We think we’re living in a world where everything is certain, but actually nothing is certain. And the most important thing is to learn how to live with the fact that everything changes and not become attached to anything.


The way out is in.


Brother Phap Huu!


Hello, Jo. What is up?


Well, we are recording the latest episode of the podcast The Way Out Is In.




So let’s just introduce ourselves. I’m Jo Confino and I’m a lay practitioner who lives just next door to Plum Village, which is your monastery in the south of France.


Hello. And I am Brother Phap Huu. I am a Buddhist monk in the Zen tradition of Plum Village under our Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.


And how long have you been a monk?


I’ve been a monk since 2002. So that is 19 years.


And how old were you when you became a monk?


I started monastic training when I was 13 and then I became an official novice monk when I was 14.


Wow. I was still doing my stamp collection. Anyway, we’re here to talk today about impermanence. Now, impermanence is sort of one of the Buddha’s great insights about life. And… So why don’t we start, Brother Phap Huu. Can you just ground us in what actually is the Buddhist insight of impermanence? What does it actually mean?


The Buddha teaches us to enjoy every moment in life and not to take life for granted because life is only available in the present moment. So when you touch this reality and you can taste it in your daily life, then you know that everything is of the nature of impermanence. So it means that whatever that you are today, tomorrow you would change. Like the tree. It is young, it is fresh today, but tomorrow it will grow, it will change. It will be stronger and firmer. So this is an insight that tells us that everything in life is always moving, is always changing. So we shouldn’t be so attached to our physical appearance, our loved ones, any position that we’re in because of the nature of impermanence. And with the nature of impermanence, it also gives us a lot of hope, because if we are in suffering, suffering is also of the nature of impermanence. So we know that if we have a way out of suffering, it can lead to happiness. And that is so important, because a lot of times we get in a view that we are just like this and our life is just like this. And that view itself can be our own imprisonment, could be our own prison. But if we touch the reality of impermanence, it allows us to see life with another lens. And if we don’t know how to take care of our happiness, then our happiness is also impermanent. Then suffering will come. So hell and heaven or paradise, however we like to view it, there are all of the nature of impermanence and it depends on how we take care of our daily life, that is how we create our world. So with impermanence, it allows us to be more free and also it tells us that we shouldn’t take things for granted. And I think this is a very important teaching for all of us.


It’s really strange that so few people really sort of recognize and live a life as though it’s impermanent, because actually, when you look at anything in nature, from a blade of grass to a star in the galaxy, that everything is subject to coming into manifestating and then de-manifestating, there’s nothing that is permanent. Even a mountain that looks as though it’s never going to change, by its nature is impermanent. It came from nothing and will eventually sort of erode into nothing. So why do you think it’s difficult for human beings to live that life? Because what I see in the world is so many people and I, including myself, we tend to grasp, we want to hold on to the things that we need. And even when it comes to our death, you know, we almost believe our life… We live as our life will go on forever, even though at some level we know we’re going to pass. So what do you think it is that people find so difficult about living a life according to that insight?


I feel it’s because it’s scary. Death is something very scary, losing someone is something very scary, and it only takes an incident to realize impermanence or it takes time to realize it. And I think with this fear of change, it is also because we are attached to a sense of what is right, what our happiness is right now. That is me. This is my family. This is my community. We are perfect. But, we’re always changing. And to change I feel is something you have to have courage to accept it also, because when you change you have to let go of something. And I think that is something that is very challenging for a lot of people.


So I’ll give you a very poor example of this that happened to me last week, which is… I have this favorite cup of mine that I got when I was in Mexico. And I was on a Zoom call, a work Zoom call, and I was holding this cup and I just… I said to the people: this is my favorite cup. I love this cup, but I’ve been taught that when I get something I love already see it is broken because then, if it breaks, then you’ve already let go of it. Whereas if you, if it’s your favorite thing and you’re grasping and holding onto it, you won’t actually really enjoy it because you’ll always be thinking, how do I… even if you’re always being careful with it. And then a day later I dropped it and the whole room broke. And so I thought, well, OK, here’s a chance. Am I just saying the words? Actually am I living them? And I realized it was really easy to let go because I really had done that practice when I had that cup. And I loved it. And I said, one day you will break, but I’m going to really enjoy you until that moment. And that was just one little example of not holding onto something, even though, you know, I love my cup of tea, my cup of coffee. And I had it out of that cup. But already to see it as broken it was giving me freedom to enjoy it.


Yeah, I feel like when you touch impermanence, impermanence is a meditation in itself. And whenever we say we meditate, it has to have an object. So impermanence is the same. So if we want to meditate on impermanence, we have to have an object for us to meditate. And for example, what you just shared is your cup. And for us monastics, we are also sometimes trained to even look at our own nature of impermanence. So there was a time I meditated on my death. It was really powerful and I was still young at that time, I was still a young monk and I allowed myself to lay down. We have a practice called total relaxation and in this practice is to bring our awareness to the different parts of our body. And at the first stages of this practice of total relaxation, recognizing the different body parts and knowing if it’s tense or relaxed, and then giving it our care, our appreciation. For example, I’m aware of my heart. I know that it’s pumping at every minute. And even though I sleep, my heart doesn’t sleep. So I’m just grateful for it. And then you go through different parts of your body. And that day, after practicing total relaxation and giving it appreciation to the different parts of my body, then I started to switch a little bit and I say, and I know one day these parts will fail to function. And I went into a space of fear and loneliness, and it was really challenging because suddenly I was able to realize that because I won’t be there and I won’t be healthy, I won’t be able to support what I love, whether it is my community, my friends, my family. And you can hear the sound of the bell. In Plum Village, whenever we hear the sound of the bell, everybody is invited to stop what they are doing and come back to their mindful breathing. Even if you are a Zen Master like our teacher Thay, you always have to do this too. It’s a Plum Village mark in principle. And you all just got to experience that.




And just to come back and just really quickly when… After that meditation of seeing that I am of the nature to die, I got really emotional, I started crying. But that tear wasn’t tear of sorrow or of… tears of fear, it was tears of this life is very beautiful and I have to cherish every moment. And I got up from this meditation very energized, and I looked at my brothers and my sisters very differently and I looked at my life of what I have. Was very differently. And I was able to enjoy the most simplest thing in daily life. And I think from time to time, I have to do this in order to remind myself that life is impermanent.


Yeah, and I really get that idea about the nonintellectual side, because I remember when I was much, much younger and before I knew anything about Buddhism, I heard this phrase that Buddha say, you know, imagine every day as though it’s your last. And I remember that because it really struck me because I saw the truth in it, which is if we see every day as our last, then how could we not appreciate everything we do? And yet it also felt completely ridiculous to live every day as my last. And I’d appreciate everything. You know, I’d never get anything done because I’d be there. So I thought I was really caught between understanding it and saying, how do we live it? And I’m one of the things the way I perceived it is that most people are, as you said earlier, or scared of dying. That’s kind of this end to us. And I’ve sort of really understood for myself that one of my deepest wishes in life is to die well, because of what I’ve worked out, as if I were to die well, by its nature, you have to have lived well. And I say, you know, that that people when they come to the end of their lives, you know, it’s a real reckoning, isn’t it? That either you go with real sense of peace… And then also some people, you know, the other extreme, fight it tooth and nail. It’s like the idea of disappearing from this earth, fills us with, you know, fills people with dread. And one of the things I’ve really understood within this community, in this practice is about this idea of continuation, because I think one of the fears of death is that it ends and then you just disappear. And one of the things I’ve really learned from Thich Nhat Hanh and you as the monastics is that actually nothing ends. All we can count on is our actions, our thoughts and actions, because those have an impact in the world that ripple out forever, actually, because everything we do has an impact on someone else. And that will affect that person, which will continue to affect us. Actually, we have enormous influence in our life if we choose to let go of this idea of we’re here and it’s just us and us alone, because actually as we live our life is how other people then can benefit.


Exactly. One of our teacher’s quote is very powerful. It says my life is my message, and I always come back to that. And we have a gatha a poem that we recite every morning. Waking up this morning I have 24 brand-new hours. Just that first line it teaches you that in this 24 hours you have what can you do so that it can be impactful for yourself and for the world. And you know that after 24 hours, one day is over. And at the end of the day, we have another gatha, another poem that we will recite to remind us and to reflect on the practice of impermanence. And the poem goes like this: the day is ending and our life is one day shorter. Let us look carefully at what we have done. Let us practice diligently putting our whole heart into the path of meditation, let us live deeply each moment and in freedom so the time doesn’t slip away meaninglessly. So I think this poem helps us be in touch with the nature of impermanence and not also to take each moment as it lasts forever.


So one of the things, brother, around that is how do we deal with our suffering? Because, you know, I think when people are suffering or going through a crisis or whatever, and we see this also with people who commit suicide… At a particular moment in our lives, we can get hit by this enormous like almost like hurricane of emotions that can sometimes just take us out. So it’d be good just to talk a bit about how the understanding of impermanence helps us to deal with suffering, because I come here today with a very live issue in my life, which is that I’m dealing with an issue which is causing a lot of suffering amongst a number of people. And one of the ways I handle it is by recognizing that actually, even though I feel in the middle of a storm, storms by their nature pass. So in the middle of the storm, if you know, it’s like our minds can get locked in at that moment to think this is my whole life. It’s so consuming and it brings up so much pain of an old pain from within that it just literally wipes us out. And the way I’m dealing with this situation from my own perspective, is to be present to it, not to walk away from the suffering, not pretend, not to be in denial, but not to believe it’s going to be here forever. And almost just that understanding of impermanence helps me to feel more at peace, to recognize that actually, even though this may be a difficult moment, it’s likely that the storm will break. And sometimes you need to have difficult moments because you do need sometimes the storm to come to break the weather pattern and then show something new. So, you know, I recognize that deeply within myself that suffering does not last. And to really understand that really helps. But can you give us a sort of almost a deeper sense of what that means?


I think with suffering, when we practice with suffering, we tend to only look at things very negatively because we are caught in negative thoughts and the negative experience. So impermanence tells us that if we have already experienced peace and joy in our life, that that is also another element of life that we can re-engage in, we can nourish it again. And impermanence tells us that whatever we are feeling today, it will change tomorrow. And we have to be aware of that so that we don’t become a victim to our emotions and our feelings. My first time to Plum Village, I was nine years old and I came in a summer retreat and it was very… it was my first ever mindfulness retreat in Plum Village. And I was blown away by this experience. And it’s not because of the monastery, but it was because of the environment that we were in. And we had a lot of teenagers and children. And one of the unique ways of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching is that he would always save about 15 to 20 minutes and offer a teaching for young people. And I always remember Thay teaching to the teenagers about how to handle our strong emotions. And Thay always said that whenever we have strong emotions, we need to have a foundation to rely on, to take refuge in. And he would teach us the art of deep belly breathing. So at that moment, when you are caught in the storm, yeah, like you shared, your mind is in 10000 directions, you’re looking for a solution without clarity. And Thay says in those moment, the best place is to take refuge in your breathing, whether it is sitting, walking or lying in. What you do is you put your hand on your tummy, your abdomen, and you just feel your breath come in and out. And then you even tell yourself to breathe a little deeper so that your mind can focus on the breath, so that you can come back to the reality of life. And after that, Thay tells us that… and always young people, please remember that you are much more than your emotions and your feelings. So even though you are experiencing that right now, things are of nature to change and so don’t become a victim of that present moment because that present moment is also of the nature to change to the next moment. But you have to be aware of it. And you also, with the practice of mindfulness, you put into your own hands how to handle that situation. And that’s very important. If you don’t do something, it will change, but it will change in maybe the way you don’t want it to be. It can even go more negative. But if you have awareness, you start to identify the roots of it and you start to live in a different way to change that environment, to change your way of thinking, to change the support that you have, etc.. So mindfulness and the practice is to come back to yourself and realize what is happening. No, that is of the nature of impermanence, but give it a hand to change. And I feel that’s quite important.


Yeah. And also there’s that sense of… Thay often uses the idea, the image of a tree, doesn’t he? Which is a tree in a storm. You know, it looks as all the top leaves and branches are sort of thrashing around, but if the trunk and of course sometimes trees, of course, don’t survive a terrible storm. But most of the time that’s sort of the strength of the trunk and the strength of the root system are what save the tree from falling over. So that’s true of ourselves, you know. If we come back to who we are and recognize our strengths and our way of dealing with something, then you can have all the thrashing on the outside, but we ourselves can become clear. But brother, just thinking conversely, because I asked you about how does impermanence help us deal with our suffering? How does it help us deal with our happiness? Because the same is true that we’re trying to often avoid suffering, but actually we’re trying to grasp on to happiness. You know, we can’t have it both ways. So can you talk to us about the impermanence of happiness?


To have happiness is a blessing and to know that happiness is present it’s mindfulness of happiness. And we know that happiness it also needs ingredient for us to be in the state of happiness. So if we have the insight of impermanence, then we know that if we don’t know how to take care of these elements that are supporting our wellbeing, then happiness will come to impermanence. But the art of impermanence, of that meditation impermanence is not to be attached to happiness is because even though we are happy now and we know that we may not be happy tomorrow. But it’s OK because we have already touched happiness, we have already experienced happiness and peace, so therefore we now know that we are in another state, but let us bring ourselves back to the state of happiness so we can live in a way and we can practice in a way to really contribute to those elements that have given us the stages of happiness. But what is also important in our practice is not to be attached to happiness, success, who we are, because we’re always changing. So if we are attached to this happiness, let’s call it happiness A, and we think this is the best. But if we are not ready to let go of that happiness also, we may not be able to touch another happiness. So in true happiness there’s actually freedom. And I think this is something that is maybe we can say is a little bit deeper, but sometimes we have to let go of an idea of happiness to nourish a greater happiness. When I say happiness, I would say it’s true happiness, something that nourishes us just by thinking of it. It gives us energy in life. And once we have that, we start to see what is more essential in our daily life. About a few months ago, I had a chance to go back to Vietnam to visit my teacher, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. So after his stroke from 2014, he’s been residing in different monasteries to offer his presence to the community. And in the last three years now he’s been in Vietnam and to heal. And for his birthday of last year, 2020, a few of us returned to just be with him. And it was such a moment to just offer our presence with Thay and have no expectation. Because of the stroke our teacher is now unable to speak and part of his body is paralyzed and he needs assistance. And whenever I am with him, I am practicing impermanence. And a lot of the times when we want to offer our love to somebody, we want the best for them. Right? But I know my teacher’s condition is the way it is, but I see he’s at peace and he knows how to be in that situation. And instead of coming with an expectation of Thay, let’s do something to get even better, let’s try to get a speech therapist to get you to speak again. And before I had this, I was one of his closest attendant, and we went through a whole process of training, etc. And through this process, like we always had the wish that he would be able to speak again. And even that wish was an attachment of happiness. And I remember there was a day when Thay kind of… He not kind of… Thay told us that he’s OK and he doesn’t need this therapy anymore because he can still be in the present moment and be with all of us. It was very profound moment for me, and I saw that in my teacher he is also practicing letting go. And as a loved one, I was there with him and I had to support him and I had to let go of my ideas of what happiness is.


One of the things I found most profound about Buddhist teachings and the way Thich Nhat Hanh has sort of in a sense translated that is around the impermanence of the teachings themselves. You know, I see so many spiritual traditions that get fixed and because they get fixed, they lose their relevance to fresh generations. And one of the things I’ve always heard from Thich Nhat Hanh is he says, you know, don’t believe things just because I say them. And also, I think his sort of in a sense most profound contribution has been to say we can’t stick with Buddhism as a traditional way. We have to bring it up to make it relevant to young people, make it relevant to people. If you’re going to teach it in the West, make it relevant for people in the West and how their lives are not trying to teach the same things you would teach in a monastery. So can you talk a little bit about just that impermanence? Because I see a risk in every spiritual community that when the master passes or becomes not present anymore, people want to close it down and say that’s… And then everyone argues about, oh, Thich Nhat Hanh said this, and he would have done that. And no, he wouldn’t, he would have done that. Because I think that’s such a fundamental part of how we see impermanence within the very teachings themselves.


My teacher has always said that any spiritual community or religion, if we don’t know how to renew ourselves, it will die. That’s a very powerful statement, and Thay has told us many times as his continuation, his students, whether we are monks, nuns or lay practitioners, we have to continue to renew Buddhism, renew the teachings so that it can speak to the suffering of today. So that in itself is our compass. So one of the blessings that I feel that I have as a Buddhist monk is that the teachings of the Buddha, even though it’s two thousand six hundred years ago, is still so relevant to today because the Buddha teaches the Four Noble Truths, which is suffering. No matter what century we are in, there is always suffering and suffering on an individual basis, suffering on a family situation, suffering on a community, suffering on a nation. So just looking at suffering itself we know that the teachings, the core teachings is always relevant. The insight of impermanence is always present. The insight of happiness is always present. How to take care and handle our suffering will always be needed. So as long as we have the foundation set, however we renew the teachings so that it is more applicable, then that is up to our creativity and our intelligence as a community. And one of the aspects that Thay has changed in his way of teaching is to make the language and the teachings more simple. And I remember one time in a Dharma Talk, Thay said, actually Buddhism is very simple, but because of all the scholars and philosophers that have come along the way, they have made it much more difficult for people to understand. And my whole career is to make Buddhism simple again, to make it down to earth. And one of his first accomplishment that he was very happy about was to write a book called On the Buddha’s Life that is now called Old Path White Clouds. It is to bring the story of the Buddha back down to the level of human beings. So throughout the history of Buddhism, some people would project the Buddha as a God or as a being above all of us. But Thay said, and in history is this, the Buddha was just a human being that wanted to understand life more deeper and to find a way out of suffering. And that’s why he went on that journey. And so in the story, it tells us… even us who are human beings, whether we are from France, from Vietnam, America, Canada, Germany, etc., we’re all human beings. But we also have the nature of Buddhahood in us, of awakening. So to renew Buddhism is something that we have to continue to do to make it more applicable to today. But at the same time, the core teachings of the Buddha, personally, I feel it will always be able to address all of our situations.


Yeah, and it’s funny you talk about time bringing things down to great simplicity. To be honest, that’s one of the reasons I’ve been attracted to this tradition. It’s because I do understand it. And Thay uses often such simple but just such profound metaphors. So he uses, for instance, the idea that a cloud never dies, but a cloud is impermanence or a cloud is formed, and then it becomes the rain. And then, as he says, he sometimes holds a cup of tea and says, you know, the cloud is in my tea. It’s that things change, but they never completely disappear. And he says even, you know, even if the Earth were to end tomorrow, you know, it would continue because all this organic matter would, you know, in a sense, we are made from stardust that was from other exploding stars that came and landed on this planet. So bringing impermanence into our own life is to recognize that nothing we do in life has ever lost. It’s always there for a moment in one form, and then it will become another form.


Yes, during my trip in Vietnam, I had a chance to visit my grandmother after 15 years. So in 15 years we changed a lot. And I heard that my grandmother was starting to lose her memory from my family. So when I saw her again in the south of Vietnam, I was instructed to remind my grandmother of who I am. And so I would come up to my grandmother and I said, grandmother, it is… I didn’t use my monastic name, I used my birth name. And I said, Grandmother it’s me, it’s me. And she looked at me and she said, Oh, it is me. It has been forever. And we had this long embrace. And after my visit, I had some other events that was already planned and as a Buddhist monk, a teacher on the art of mindfulness and meditation, were asked to go and give workshops and classes and retreats. And it’s very natural for us to do this. And after I did one event away from my grandmother, I had an intuition that said that all of these workshops are all optional. I can cancel them. But my time with my grandmother is impermanence. And I should come back to be more with my grandmother. And I listen to my heart, and I listen to my experience that I have had because I don’t know when my next trip back to Vietnam will be. And I was so happy that I made that decision because after I came back to France and came back to Plum Village, within two months my grandmother passed away. And when I received the news that my grandmother passed away, I was surprised. I was shocked. I was sad. But at the same time, I was so happy that I spent more time with my grandmother than I organized myself to… I allowed myself to let go of other things, to be more with my grandmother. Because it was thanks to the insight of impermanence that I was able to see that these retreats, these workshops, I can recreate them. They can… they just need another condition and they will manifest again. But my time with my grandmother is more important right now because of her age and because of the fact that I live all the way in France. And so with the insight of impermanence, I was able to balance out what was more important. And I am so happy that I was able to do that. And now that I am still alive, I’m living and breathing, I’m talking right now, I can still see my grandmother in me. It is thanks to her love and her sacrifice that she allowed my father to leave Vietnam as a boat person. And I can… I know my father couldn’t have done that without the blessing of my grandparents. So just linking all of these conditions together I see I am that continuation. So you’re right, nothing is lost. And that moment I have had with my grandmother, even though it was brief, a few days more, but it is never last.


Thank you for sharing that, brother. I’m just wondering whether maybe it’s time to apply the insight of impermanence to this segment of the podcast. And maybe that sounds a beautiful place to stop that. But it brings up a lot of issues. I want to… I feel we could talk forever about this, but thank you for sharing. Thank you, everyone. Just a reminder that you can subscribe to the podcast. This podcast is The Way Out Is In on Apple podcast, on Spotify, all other podcast platforms and a special mention to the Plum Village App. Thank you, everyone, for listening. And now, Brother Phap Huu, could you please take us through a guided meditation?


Wherever you are listening to this podcast, whether you’re sitting on your sofa, you are in a train, on the bus commuting or you are going for a walk, if you can find and give yourself a little bit of time to just pause, either sit down or just stand still. Now, allow yourself to come back to our mindful breathing. Just be aware of the inbreath that is happening, aware of the outbreath that is following with that inbreath, and tell yourself, say to yourself, breathing in, this is my inbreath. Breathing out, this is my outbreath. Oh, my inbreath. Oh, my outbreath. Just let your breath be natural. Guide your mind, let it dwell with the breathing. If it is short, allow it to be short. If it is long, allow it to be long. I stay with the breath from the beginning to the end. Breathing in, there is life inside of you. Breathing out, there is life all around you. Inbreath, life inside of you. Outbreath, life all around you. Breathing in, I am of the nature of life. Breathing out, I’m also of the nature of impermanence, of change. Thanks to the change, I’m able to grow, become stronger, have more understanding, allowing myself to learn from my suffering. Breathing in, I am of the nature of change. Breathing out, I accept change. Breathing in, I am of the nature to grow old. Breathing out, there is no way to escape growing old. Breathing in. Breathing out. I want to live and enjoy my life more deeper so I don’t take for granted my wellbeing. Breathing in, I am of the nature to have ill health. Breathing out, there is no way to escape ill health. If you can breathe in easily right now, enjoy that inbreath. If you are relaxed and well in the body, breathe out and enjoy that wellness in the body. Because of this nature, I could learn to take care of myself more deeper in every day. Breathing in, I am of the nature to die. Breathing out, there is no way to escape death. Breathing in, I am alive. Breathing out, I am also of the nature to die. With this insight I can look at life more deeper, enjoying the conditions that I have in my daily life. Let us say thank you to the wonderful conditions that we have encountered today, so that one day, when we have to let go, we can smile. Breathing in, oh, that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. Breathing out, there is no way to escape being separated from them. With this insight, we value the friendships that we have, the loved ones that support us, our teachers, our friends. Next time you see someone that you love, tell them: I know you are there and I’m very happy. This is the practice of gratitude, not taking for granted all the supports you have in life. And also, you are a support to so many other people. Allow that to nourish you, to give you strength. Breathing in, my actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. Breathing out, my actions are the ground upon which I stand. We all will leave a mark, a legacy on our planet. Know that what we think, what we say and what we do all have impact. So allow yourself to be mindful of your actions in daily life, be mindful of what you say as it has profound effect. And be mindful and take care of the thoughts that are generated throughout the day as they all are impacts that we leave behind. Let us cultivate understanding, love, nondiscrimination and compassion in our daily life so they can be carried along with our actions of thought, speech, and daily action. Breathing in, just feel that breath. Breathing out, I relax. Thank you very much, everyone, for joining us in this meditation and listening to this podcast, The Way Out Is In. I am Phap Huu and you are…


Jo Confino.


Thank you very much. And we look forward to having all of you in our next episode.


And just a reminder that you can hear all the series of podcasts The Way Out Is In on Apple podcast, on Spotify, all other podcast platforms, and again, a special mention for the Plum Village App.


And this podcast is brought to you by Plum Village, as well as the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation.


Go well and enjoy your week.


The way out is in.

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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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