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How to Sit is the first in a new series of how-to titles by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh that introduces beginners to and reminds seasoned practitioners of the essentials of mindfulness practice. Pocket-sized with bold black-and-white illustrations by Jason DeAntonis, How to Sit provides explicit, simple directions on the mechanics of posture and breathing, along with instructions for how best to achieve the awakened, relaxed state of clarity to cultivate concentration and compassion. Following the instructions, Thich Nhat Hanh shares a series of secular guided meditations that help us return to our breath, spend some time in the present moment, and come home to ourselves.

The function of meditation practice is to heal and transform. Scientific studies indicate that meditation contributes tremendously to well-being, general health, and longevity. How to Sit is a unique gift for those who want a comprehensive yet simple guide to getting started with meditation practice, as well as meditators with training in any spiritual tradition who want to be reminded of the foundation of practice.

117 pages, Paperback

First published March 14, 2014

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About the author

Thich Nhat Hanh

729 books10.3k followers
Thích Nhất Hạnh was a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist who now lived in southwest France where he was in exile for many years. Born Nguyễn Xuân Bảo, Thích Nhất Hạnh joined a Zen (Vietnamese: Thiền) monastery at the age of 16, and studied Buddhism as a novitiate. Upon his ordination as a monk in 1949, he assumed the Dharma name Thích Nhất Hạnh. Thích is an honorary family name used by all Vietnamese monks and nuns, meaning that they are part of the Shakya (Shakyamuni Buddha) clan. He was often considered the most influential living figure in the lineage of Lâm Tế (Vietnamese Rinzai) Thiền, and perhaps also in Zen Buddhism as a whole.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 275 reviews
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan (Dasfill).
1,037 reviews2,034 followers
July 15, 2022
This is the first book in the short but productive mindfulness essentials series from Thich Nhat Hanh. The positive aspect of these books is that they are short, small, straightforward, and easy to carry everywhere. Even though these books are small, the amount of wisdom in them is very vast.

This book gives us directions regarding sitting and which posture will best suit us according to our body size and shape. He also tells us how to concentrate and shares a few guided meditations for mindfulness.

My favorite three lines from this book.
“Peace and calm are contagious.”

“There is nowhere to arrive except the present moment”

“If you always sit in expectation, you’re not in the present moment. The present moment contains the whole of life.”

This is an ideal opener to the series. If you finish this one, you will scramble quickly to get the second book in this series.
Profile Image for Ken.
Author 3 books901 followers
December 28, 2020
You could approach this two ways -- because it is just over 100 pp. with few words on most pages (and some taken up by illustrations), you could say it's an overly simplistic description of meditation, breathing, mindfulness.

Or you could say simplicity is the perfect vehicle for such lessons. This book is about doing nothing, after all, so let's get to the point. Doing nothing means mindfulness means appreciating your life in the moment. What could be easier?

Right. As if you have no hankering for that Big Bad Wolf called the past. Or that Bigger Badder Sheep's Clothing called the future.

People are uncomfortable with the present and feel like losers when they do nothing in a world full of doers. But really, are you happy? Why not? Isn't being alive reason to be? Aren't the miracles around you reason to be?

The Garden of Eden, after all, is right outside your window. And here you are, squeezed between two eternities, forgetting to remember yourself.

Nota Bene: I was gifted the 5-pack of this author's "How To" series, as in "Relax," "Walk," "Love," and "Eat." All of which is my way of saying, "More to follow" and the gift giver's way of saying, "You could use some fine tuning."
Profile Image for Ellie.
1,456 reviews367 followers
October 13, 2019
A slim but very helpful book by a spiritual leader I greatly admire. Thich Nhat Hanh has written many, highly accessible books on spiritual practice and values. In a few words, he gets to the heart of whatever he is saying, about whatever topic he is discussing. I always find him both comforting and enlightening. Although he talks about the discipline of how to live mindfully and lovingly, he does so in a gentle way that reflects the love he praises.

This book is no exception. He helped me to see my practice as a gift, something that I am lucky enough to have the time, desire, and even place (although not ideal, it's private) to do. His suggestions were helpful as were the simple exercises he has at the end of the book--easy to implement as well as useful.

I find Hanh a comfort to read and follow. He is a courageous man who has put into practice his concept of engaged Buddhism. I want my life to combine both an individual practice as well as social action so his viewpoint is exactly what I'm looking for. I am also a Catholic and his writings complement my own tradition, what is best in my tradition.

Although it's a quick and "easy" read there's lots to think about and savor. This is a book that can be read slowly and repeatedly.
Profile Image for Lorilin.
756 reviews242 followers
February 22, 2021
I've read one page of this book each morning for the last month or so. Each page has a little self-contained study that talks about sitting or compassion or anger or breathing. I read a passage and then breathe/meditate for 15 minutes. This routine has changed my life, yeah I'll say it. I can't believe the difference it makes to start my day with a calm, positive, kind moment like this. I think it also helps that I don't start my day looking at my phone. I have to mediate, and then I can check email or read the news, etc.
Profile Image for Michael.
49 reviews535 followers
August 3, 2014
Every page contains wisdom that can easily be incorporated into existing, or new, mindfulness meditation practices. This is a gem I will return to again and again.
Profile Image for Phil Overeem.
634 reviews17 followers
April 19, 2014
Slim but powerful. I hope to consistently put it to use, since I am teeming with habit energy.
Profile Image for Surya.
243 reviews55 followers
May 5, 2019
I started reading this book with doubts, wondering if I would be able to relate with it. But having read Fidelity by Thich Nhat Hanh and having loved it, I picked this book for reading. Surprisingly I was able to relate with it. The insight was relatable and followable and it did sort of bring in a sense of peace and calmness.
A goodread indeed.

A lot of ppl these days are interested in Mindfulness.
But then if we google Mindfulness and start reading blogs on it, over and over again it would be suggested that we should be here and now and not worry and that, that is what mindfulness is all about, which is completely understandable but not exactly relatable.

But then this book sort of tells us how we can do that in little baby steps.I mean it's relatable.

And mindfulness is indeed a quality that makes life easier and simpler.
Also we sit for most parts of our lives, so its better if we know how to sit properly. :D
Profile Image for K M.
454 reviews
January 7, 2018
Short and simple, yet still a little gem of a book.
Profile Image for Ann-Sofie.
80 reviews29 followers
June 8, 2019
À lire, re-lire, lire, etc. Des petits rappels à la pratique quotidienne
Profile Image for Am Y.
747 reviews34 followers
February 14, 2017
Full of repetitive and simplistic notions of sitting as a form of meditation. Some sentences do not make logical sense: e.g. The author says there is no reason why he sits; he says he sits because he likes sitting. Well, then isn't that a reason? The reason being that he likes sitting?! :P
Probably not a book for the more intellectually inclined; more for those who don't think too much about things and like their text to be very simple.
Profile Image for Jae.
367 reviews38 followers
January 18, 2020
Instead of describing sitting meditation as the practice of concentration, looking deeply, and getting insight, I like to describe sitting as enjoying doing nothing. Primarily, sitting is to enjoy the pleasure of sitting, being fully alive and in touch with the wonders of our working bodies, the cool air, the sounds of people and birds, and the changing colours of the sky.
Profile Image for Stephen West.
12 reviews
April 8, 2014
Disappointing.about 120 pages with each page only containing about a paragraph or two. Not sure who this was intended for. Not really thorough enough for a beginner in meditation and to superficial for those looking for insights beyond just an introduction.
Profile Image for Angela.
156 reviews1 follower
January 5, 2020
Why I'm interested in this book at the first place
The first ever book to be shelved under my new shelf in Goodreads (repetition intended)

What do I think of this book... now that I've done reading it
Little that when I think deep and realized, I'm in my (sitting) zen (daily grind and work-life aside) whenever I'm:

i. Enjoying my meal/beverage while I'm cafe-hopping,and
ii. Reading while on a long train journey

...apart from that, yes, I have been programmed to be on-the-go.

1. A quick read in one sitting.
2. A gentle reminder to dear self to breathe once in a while, espcially when one is too overwhelmed and exhausted.
3. Some practical guides towards the end of the book in sitting-breathing meditation.

1. I'd not recommend this book if you're incline to the intellectual side of things. In my case, these two chapters, perplexed me:
i. The Joy of Meditation
ii. Sitting and Mopping
2. Repetition on "the act of breathing"

Get this
1. If you're a fan/read other Thich Nhat Hanh's works.
2. If you're looking for a reading material while "zen-ning out" while on-the-go

Profile Image for Virve Fredman.
55 reviews10 followers
February 23, 2023
Nämä Thich Nhat Hanhin Mindfulness Essentials -sarjan pienet oppaat ovat aivan loistavia apulaisia tietoisen läsnäolon löytämiseen ja ylläpitämiseen. Luen samaan aikaan Eckhart Tollea, jonka kirjat auttavat löytämään mielen vapauden tietoisesta läsnäolosta ja nämä pienet kirjat täydentävät sitä loistavasti.

Tykkään Thich Nhat Hanhin tavasta käsitellä asioita yksinkertaisesti ja ymmärrettävästi. Tämä ei ollut ensimmäinen kirja, jonka sarjasta luin, joten huomasin, että kirjoissa toistuu välillä samoja tarinoita, mutta se ei kuitenkaan haittaa, sillä ne sopivat asiayhteyteen ja niillä on tarkoituksensa.

Tämä istumisen kautta tietoisen läsnäolon tilaa harjoittava kirja oli hyvä opas aiheeseen ja suosittelen sitä kaikille, jotka kaipaavat apuja tietoiseen läsnäoloon.
Profile Image for Ramzi.
135 reviews4 followers
March 12, 2020
I’d like to extract a paragraph to sum up the whole book.
“Sitting is a practice. The kind of sitting we’re used to doing is sitting in order to work at our computers, to be in meetings, or to space out in front of a screen. So we have to practice sitting just to be with ourselves without distractions. In our time, in our civilization, sitting and doing nothing is considered either to be a luxury or a waste of time. But sitting can produce the most nourishing calm and joy and we can all afford some time to sit.

How wonderful to sit and do nothing.”

TNH is simply amazing!
Profile Image for Ann L..
574 reviews26 followers
September 4, 2017
A small but essential book on how to meditate, but much more than just meditating. It's how to let go of whatever stress or issues you may have and how to live in the present moment which teaches us that pain comes and go (emotions come and go). One of the most simple books on meditation I've ever read. Nothing complicated. Sitting and doing nothing is doing something. The way to knowing your true self is by meditation. The best 25 cents I spent as a yard sale find.
Profile Image for Mary Loebig Giles.
20 reviews3 followers
June 16, 2017
A deceptively simple book with bite-sized reflections and breezy line drawings that reflect the beauty and value of mindfulness or "sitting" meditation. Each reflection is as centering and illuminating as the practice itself with instruction and tips embedded along the way. The book can be read in small doses or in one sitting and is peppered with wisdom insights about the need for and transformative power of this practice. LOVED.
Profile Image for Matthew Finlayson.
25 reviews8 followers
January 17, 2020
Buy the paper copy

A hard book to read on the kindle. The format of short 1 page teachings lends itself to short reads and reflections. I would have preferred to have it by my bed or in my bag to pick up when the desire hit me. Otherwise, wonderful.
Profile Image for Heidi.
Author 6 books26 followers
November 12, 2021
This simple, mini book has been somewhat life-changing for me. Hanh's writing helped me finally start to practice meditating, with short, profound insights on what sitting can be. I find Hanh's school of Buddhism warmer and more welcoming than what I have experienced of Zen. This little book has led to a lot of deepening in my life, and to other books and podcasts -- more Hanh, Jack Kornfield, Dan Harris. If you're at all interested in meditation, I commend it to you. I open it often and reread a page here and there.
Profile Image for Crystal.
52 reviews3 followers
April 24, 2022
This is one of those books that I pick up from time to time and reread. The simple messages on how to meditate in our busy lives within this busy world are sweet reminders on how to slow down, appreciate the mundane, and just sit.
Profile Image for Courtney.
168 reviews2 followers
March 6, 2022
The most perfectly written non-fiction book I have ever read. You can read it in 15 minutes, but maybe you should read it in 115 days, one page at a time.
Author 2 books5 followers
May 1, 2022
As enjoyable as all the other books in the "How to..." series. It's a bit embarrassing to realize, though, that 45 years years in, I'm still doing it all wrong!
Profile Image for Brit Coffee and a book.
58 reviews2 followers
March 8, 2023
I love Thich That Hanh ♥️ these little how to books are beautiful insights into the practice of mindfulness in all things.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 275 reviews

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