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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.