Some of my much appreciated loyal readers may remember my posting many months ago that I was starting on the grand adventure of writing a book on mindfulness and the cultivation of joy. As a three word update on how the process is going: The writing continues!
Inspired by a section of the book I was working on earlier today I thought I would write here about the wonderful use of gathas. The word gatha is sanskrit meaning: verse. More specifically it refers to a short mindfulness verse which can help remind us to return back to the present moment in whatever task we find ourselves in throughout the day. The gatha above sits above my bathroom sink. Years ago I used a magazine cut out and typed up the verse and put it together. There are many pre-written ones within Thich Nhat Hanh’s tradition, like the one above, and I also like to compose my own, such as this one I have in my car:
Gathas should be posted in areas where we are most likely to see them so that they can offer the most support and benefit to our practice of mindfulness. They can be placed around our homes, workplace, or anywhere else we frequent. Here’s another one I have in my wallet (for on-the-go practice):
Over the years of rotating gathas around the house I’ve found that sometimes I see and practice with them and sometimes they fade into the background, becoming seemingly invisible. This is to be expected. We need not set the bar unrealistically high thinking that once we set them around we’ll vow to see them EVERY time we encounter them. If you see them, really see them, once in a while that’s great! And the more we practice seeing them the more we’ll continue to see them.
Most gathas are kept short and are easy to memorize. However, what’s not easy is remembering to say and practice them, which is why writing or typing them out and posting them around is highly recommended.
Here’s another one I have by my kitchen sink:
And another one on my kitchen cabinet:
Gathas can be a nice tool to help us cultivate our on-going daily practice of mindfulness. I find them reassuring and stable. Just like my own breath gathas are always there waiting to help me return to the here and now with a great and powerful gentleness. I encourage you to look up more options and/or compose your own. (And if you come up with a new one please be sure to let me know :)