I think it’s a very rare thing when you discover someone who you never met but who winds up having a very profound and personal impact on your life. For me, most of the people that have had the biggest impact on my life have been my family, friends and mentors I have been blessed to know.
For many people, they draw inspiration from leaders in their faith. Of course, there are many figures in history who have made enormous impacts on our everyday lives. People like Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and so many human rights leaders. People also like Elie Wiesel, Desmond Tutu, The Dalai Lama or Nelson Mandela.
There are simply too many great leaders, writers, poets, artists, musicians for me to list that I admire and draw inspiration from. As someone who commits to a lifelong pursuit of learning, it’s a never ending list of inspiration.
But how many people have you read about or studied that have had a material, physical or emotional impact on your own life? I think it’s very rare to find. Inspiration can be fleeting. It is often temporary.
One person that has had a very profound and real impact on my own life has been Thich Nhất Hạnh. In a very specific and tangible way, he has changed me. He taught me the power of mindfulness. A life changing tool. My ability to calm my own anxieties, the strength to finally live in the here and now, my abandonment of being consumed with the past, and the future…these are specific ways how this gentle man has had a profound impact on me. And for millions of others.
Thich Nhat Hanh has had an extraordinary life. I invite you to learn more about him and his journey as it’s incredibly moving and inspiring. And most of it is captured in this extraordinary new documentary on Netflix called Walk With Me.
I truly hope you will watch it. You will learn how he is able to see the beauty in nature, how he finds the calm in any storm, how he helps so many that are suffering in so many ways. Simply beautiful.
When you watch the documentary, you will see a man who has suffered from a recent stroke but who still travels the world and teaches the The Miracle of Mindfulness. You will also learn of this amazing place where he lives called Plum Village which holds meditation retreats for people of all ages and religions. And hopefully you will also understand that this is nothing like a cult — people can come and go as they please, but that they do of course have their own doctrines as a monastic community of Dharma teachers and students. Their traditions are there own and to be respected.
Thich Nhat Hanh was never a man who wanted to be revered or put on a pedestal. He has no power, no wealth, no trappings, he lives simply and is at peace with everything and everyone around him. And that’s the beauty of the man. His ability to silence his mind and live in each moment is something I refer to on a daily basis when I find my own world becoming too overwhelming for me or my mind starts to wander back to unhealthy patterns.
Simply, calmly, completely…mindful and at peace. That’s where I go to when I think of Thich Nhat Hanh.
This is what I strive for everyday in my own life. The ability to see the sky and all of its beauty while in the heart of New York City, or the sense of seeing the one person I may be talking to at this very moment and being completely present, or the profound knowledge that I alone hold the key to my own sense of peace of calm. I am truly fortunate to have been able to discover someone such as Thich Nhat Hanh to teach me such life changing skills.
Thank you Thich Nhat Hanh.
I hope you will watch the documentary and that it moves you as much as it did me.
I will leave you with this beautiful poem he wrote about one of my favorite things to do which, of course, he inspired…