Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (1926-2021) is a global spiritual leader, poet, and peace activist, revered around the world for his powerful teachings and bestselling writings on mindfulness and peace. He is the man Martin Luther King called “An Apostle of peace and nonviolence.” His key teaching is that, through mindfulness, we can learn to live happily in the present moment—the only way to truly develop peace, both in one’s self and in the world.

Among his many insightful books, No Death, No Fear elicits a feeling of equanimity and helped me get through a very challenging period in my life.  When stressful moments arise, his breathing exercise returns me to the present.

Breathing mindfully helps us handle strong emotions, like anger, fear, anxiety, and despair, and it helps us generate moments of happiness in daily life.

Breathing Meditation Technique

The essence of this exercise is to simply focus on your breath. You can do this anywhere, anytime, even for only 15-seconds.

Sit comfortably. If you like you may close your eyes. Gently focus your attention on your breathing. Don’t worry about deepening or controlling it in any way, just notice.

As you breathe in, say to yourself “I am breathing in.”

As you breathe out, say to yourself “I am breathing out.”

Continue for one minute.

The more often you practice, the more your overall level of calm increases.

In this video, Thich Nhat Hanh offers a more in-depth explanation of the practice.