04/30/2012 03:03 pm ET Updated Jun 30, 2012

Peace Is Every Breath: The Light of Awareness

You can be in touch with a lot of happiness during the time you're washing your face, brushing your teeth, combing your hair, shaving,and showering, if you know how to shine the light of awareness onto each thing you do. For example, when you turn on the tap, you can enjoy being in touch with the water running out of the faucet and also with where the water's coming from. You can recite the following poem:

Water flows from high mountain sources.
Water runs deep in the Earth.
Miraculously, water comes to us.
I am filled with gratitude.

This verse helps you to be aware of the whole journey of that water, all the way from the source to your bathroom sink. That is meditation. You also see how fortunate you are to have water flowing easily for you with just the twist of a knob. This awareness brings you happiness.

That's mindfulness.

Mindfulness is attention; it's the capacity to recognize what's happening in each moment. What's happening here is, you are turning on the tap and the water is flowing out for you. In Plum Village, in France, our water supply occasionally gets cut off. Every time that happens, we're reminded that it's a hardship when we don't have water, and a happiness when we do. We can recognize happiness only when we remember the times of suffering!

I always like to turn the water on slowly; cup the fresh, cool water in my hands; and splash it on my eyes. Here in France, in wintertime the water is really cold. Feeling the cold water on my fingers, my eyes and my cheeks is so refreshing. Please be present so you can really get that sensation. Let it wake you up. Delight in it. You are happy, because you know how to treasure the gift of water and how to nourish your own gratitude.

From 'PEACE IS EVERY BREATH: A Practice for Our Busy Lives' by Thich Nhat Hanh. Copyright 2011. Reprinted with permission by HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Peace Is Every Breath