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Stop, relax mindfully, and recharge to control stress and renew mental freshness and clarity. 

The fifth book in the bestselling Mindfulness Essentials series, a back-to-basics collection from world-renowned Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh that introduces everyone to the essentials of mindfulness practice.

Thich Nhat Hanh says that when we relax, we "become calm water, and we will reflect reality as it is. If we’re not calm, the image we reflect will be distorted. When the image is distorted by our minds, it’s not the reality, and it causes lots of suffering." Relaxation is essential for accessing the tranquility and joy that lead to increased personal well-being. With sections on healing, relief from nonstop thinking, transforming unpleasant sounds, solitude, being peace, and more, How to Relax includes meditations you can do to help you achieve the benefits of relaxation no matter where you are.

Scientific studies indicate that meditation contributes tremendously to well-being, general health, and longevity. How to Relax is a unique gift for those who want a simple guide to achieving deep relaxation, controlling stress, and renewing mental freshness and clarity, appropriate for those practicing in any spiritual tradition, whether seasoned practitioners or new to meditations.

With sumi-ink drawings by celebrated artist Jason DeAntonis.

120 pages, Paperback

Published September 18, 2015

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About the author

Thich Nhat Hanh

946 books10.7k 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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Displaying 1 - 30 of 343 reviews
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan (Dasfill).
1,263 reviews2,438 followers
July 21, 2022
If you are not new to the world of Zen Buddhism, there is no introduction needed for the name Thich Nhat Hanh. He tells everyone obsessed with hustle culture the importance of relaxation and calmness. He also mentions the importance of meditation and gives a few tips for easy meditation.

My favorite three lines from this book
“Meditation means being aware of what is going on – in our bodies, in our feelings, in our minds, and in the world. Each day thousands of children die of hunger. … Yet the sunrise is beautiful, and the rose that blossomed this morning along the wall is a miracle. Life is both dreadful and wonderful. To practice meditation is to be in touch with both aspects of life.”

“A smile can relax hundreds of muscles in your face, and relax your nervous system. A smile makes you master of yourself.”

“When you’re in bed and unable to sleep, the best thing to do is to go back to your breathing. Resting is almost as beneficial as sleeping, and you’ll know that you’re doing the best that you can. Bring peace to your breathing and your body so you can rest.”

This is one of my favorite books in the mindfulness series.
Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,388 reviews1,469 followers
September 15, 2016
There are very few spiritual leaders who can communicate with the simplicity and succinctness of Thich Nhat Hanh. As wise as the Dalai Lama is, I've only been able to really understand one of the books he's written and I think that was because he had a co-author. It seems like he contemplates this stuff so much, you know, like it's his job, that when he's just trying to talk to a regular person about it, there's a gap that can't be crossed. That isn't a problem in Thich's Mindfulness Series.

Thich encourages the reader to find the quiet within. He says: "We already have calmness in us; we just need to know how to make it manifest." pg 14, ebook. How do we do this? Through focus, breathing, mindfulness, and relaxation.

One of Thich's methods for connecting with inner peace that really resonated with me was that we should take "lazy days": "A lazy day is a day for us to be without any scheduled activities. We just let the day unfold naturally, timelessly. ... When we have unscheduled time, we tend to get bored, seek entertainment, or cast about for something to do. A lazy day is a chance to train ourselves not to be afraid of doing nothing. You might think that not doing anything is a waste of time. But that's not true." pg 32, ebook. Not to brag, but I rather excel at "lazy days".

Anyone out there have a partner who snores? I do. Thich invites us to incorporate the snores into our relaxation practice. "Sometimes you have to share a room with someone who snores. You may get irritated. But with mindfulness you can bring about compassion. You can lean on the sound of snoring in order to go to sleep. Listen and say that this brings you home to the here and now." pg 42, ebook. I think this could be a difficult exercise, but I'm willing to give it a try. :)

Ever tell yourself that relaxation/meditation is too hard? Thich addresses that concern too: "When you sit and watch television, you don't make any effort. That's why you can sit there for a long time. When you sit in meditation, if you struggle, you won't be able to sit for very long. Please imitate the way you sit in your living room. Effortlessness is the key to success. pg 76 ebook. If you can watch tv, you can meditate. It's silly but it reminds me of that line from Dodgeball: "if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball".

Highly recommended for anyone looking to introduce more relaxation into their lives and isn't that everybody? Some read alikes: Relax RX: A Self-Hypnosis Program for Health and Well-Being by Steven Gurgevich (very relaxing, all you have to do is listen), Guided Mindfulness Meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn (simple and relaxing), or 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan Harris (a regular guy teaches himself to meditate- a light hearted memoir)
Profile Image for Lauren .
1,735 reviews2,336 followers
February 20, 2016
I've been carrying this one in my backpack for about 6 weeks and have read and re-read several times. It's a simple and beautiful book - like the others in the series.
Profile Image for Elizabeth A.
1,853 reviews110 followers
February 3, 2016
Thich Nhat Hanh says that when we relax, we “become calm water, and we will reflect reality as it is. If we’re not calm, the image we reflect will be distorted. When the image is distorted by our minds, it’s not the reality, and it causes lots of suffering.”

This is a little book, and I mean teeny weeny, with a big message: Relaxation is important, nay, vital for your well being. And if you don't think that's important, then think about how your well being affects not only the well being of your loved ones, but that of the entire world. It's enough to make anyone feel rather anxious!

This little (I keep saying that, don't I?) book has one or two page meditations to think about. And by meditations, I don't mean the Om kind, though it has those too, but the things-to-ponder kind. There are also cute illustrations to help remind you to not take yourself so seriously. Feel free to dip in and out at your leisure. This little (there I go again) gem is a reminder that we are way more than our to-do lists.
Profile Image for Zahra Zarrinfar.
92 reviews32 followers
June 24, 2020
خیلی از ما نمی‌خواهیم به منزل درون‌مان برویم. می‌ترسیم. رنج‌ها و درگیری‌های درونی بسیاری هست که می‌خواهیم ازشان پرهیز کنیم. شکایت می‌کنیم که برای زندگی کردن وقت نداریم، بااین‌حال با نرفتن به منزل درونی‌مان سعی می‌کنیم وقت آزادمان را تلف کنیم. با روشن کردن تلویزیون یا برداشتن یک رمان یا مجله؛ یا بیرون رفتن و رانندگی کردن از آن فرار می‌کنیم. از خودمان فرار می‌کنیم و مراقب بدن، احساسات یا وضعیت ذهنی‌مان نیستیم. باید به خانه برگردیم. اگر با والدین، جامعه یا کلیسا سر جنگ داریم شاید به خاطر جنگی‌ست که درون‌مان طغیان می‌کند. جنگ درونی جنگ‌های دیگر را آسان می‌کند. می‌ترسیم به خانه برویم چون با کمبود ابزار و وسایل مراقبت از خودمان مواجهیم. با مجهز شدن به «آگاهی» می‌توانیم در امنیت به خانه برویم و در رنج، افسوس و افسردگی غرق نشویم. با کمی آموزش دیدن و تمرین راه‌رفتن آگاهانه و تنفس آگاهانه می‌توانیم به خانه برویم و درد و رنج‌مان را بپذیریم.

این کتاب از سری کتاب‌های مایندفولنس راهب بودایی تیک نات هان هست که دو بخش دارد یادداشت‌هایی درباره‌ی آرامش و مراقبه‌هایی برای آرامش.
و تاکید سراسری بر دم و بازدم در این کتاب(و به طوری کلی در مایندفولنس) یادآور جمله‌ی سعدی است هر نفسی که فرو می‌رود ممد حیات است و چون برمی‌آید مفرح ذات.
دنبال متن علمی نباشید، متن علمی درباره‌ی مایندفولنس زیاد هست این یادداشت‌ها برای تعمق و آرامشند.

مترجم تصمیم گرفته واژه آگاهی را هم‌معنای مایندفولنس به کار ببرد و ظاهرا بین مترجمین فارسی توافق نظر وجود ندارد از ذهن‌آگاهی و توجه‌آگاهی و بهوشیاری تا آگاهی.
Profile Image for Ken.
Author 3 books968 followers
January 11, 2021
When I picked up this boxed set of "Mindfulness Essentials" around Christmastide the idea was to start the new year with a reset -- mostly to deal with the clutter that had built up in my mind (and soul) due to Covid and the associated stress it brought not only to my life but to everyone else's around me.

Little did I know that I would have to practice its tenets even more thanks to events of 6 January (the U.S. equivalent of Guy Fawke's Day, I dare say). Repeat a lie often enough and people will believe it. The bigger the lie, the more enthusiastic they seem ready to embrace it, especially if it conforms to the world as they wish it and not the world as it is.

Breathe in calmness... breathe out with joy to be alive. Live in the moment, but clear the moment of monkey mind. Harder than ever, especially when Covid is worse than ever and becomes #2 in the newsfeed.

The final little book, How to Relax, could well have been the first. Why? Because this, more than the other four, focuses on the basics of mindfulness, breathing, realizing the present when the past and future are more alluring.

But then, as I read these basics, I figured it worked just as well -- maybe better -- as last in the series. When you teach or give a speech, you always lead and end with the most important part of your message, because engine and caboose are most memorable to your listeners.

Among the waves of advice, you get a few Buddha anecdotes. One I liked shared how Buddha and some monks were quietly meditating when a despondent farmer ran up and asked if they'd seen his cows go by. He'd lost them hours earlier and had no idea which direction they took. Buddha said they had not, and after the farmer said that they were all the wealth he had, he continued his frantic search.

The Buddha turned to his small gathering and said, quite simply, "Dear monks, you are very lucky. You don't have any cows to lose."

Hanh comments: "A cow stands for something we need to let go of. Our idea of happiness is a cow. And it's because of this idea of happiness that we cannot be happy."

I was also amused by Hanh's advice that you occasionally smile when meditating. He admits he is often asked, "What if I don't feel like smiling?" His response? Then try it anyway by considering it "yoga of the mouth."

That's enough to break the downward dog of anyone's mood.
Profile Image for MKF.
1,049 reviews
January 25, 2016
A very small book with a very big message. Thích Nhãt Hahn explains how relaxation is not just something we should do but something we need to do in such a hectic world. He includes simple breathing techniques and chants to help you learn to relax.
Profile Image for Ha Truong.
61 reviews54 followers
July 2, 2016
4 stars for the content and an extra for the illustrations. I love this book because of its short and sweet words.
Profile Image for Lisa.
180 reviews2 followers
July 4, 2018
Breathe in, breathe out. Concentrate on your breathing. Relax. Ok now you don’t need to read this book.
Profile Image for Undrakh.
176 reviews124 followers
May 14, 2019
"Whenever animals in the forest are wounded, they rest. They look for a very quiet place and just stay there without moving for many days. They know it’s the best way for their body to heal. During this time, they may not even eat or drink. The wisdom of stopping and healing is still alive in animals, but we human beings have lost the capacity to rest." I hope someday I may learn to let go and relax whenever I want to and be free of all these feelings that bring too much weight to carry around..
Profile Image for Jess.
67 reviews
March 27, 2020
This was a really pleasant read and something I needed right now. Mindfulness is something that I’ve always strived to incorporate into my daily life since I’m often either stuck in the past or worrying about the future. I definitely recommend this!
Profile Image for Amir Talai.
45 reviews7 followers
January 1, 2020
It’s fine. It’s a book of truisms about mindfulness. “It’s important to breathe”. “You don’t have to wait for conditions to be totally distraction-free to be mindful”. “When you calm down, it’s good for your health”.

There’s nothing bad about the book, it’s just that for anyone with even a rudimentary level of experience with meditation or mindfulness, there will be nothing revelatory about it.
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,283 reviews9 followers
March 24, 2016
A tiny, adorable, powerful book with charming and minimalist illustrations (not enough of them, in my opinion), and the always-thought-provoking and moving wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh.
Profile Image for Cat Noone.
17 reviews10 followers
February 6, 2017
A great and short pocket guide worth reading over and over.
March 31, 2018
Не нужен целый час. Прямо сейчас – очень хорошее время, чтобы расслабиться. Если вы можете на мгновение закрыть глаза, то так и сделайте. (c)
Если животное в лесу ранено, оно отдыхает. Звери находят уединенное, тихое место и лежат там, не двигаясь, в течение многих дней. Они знают, что это лучший способ залечить раны. Иногда в это время они даже не едят и не пьют. Эта мудрость – остановиться и исцелиться – все еще есть у животных, но мы, люди, утратили способность отдыхать. (c)
Осознанное дыхание поможет заново научиться искусству отдыха. Оно подобно любящему родителю, который убаюкивает ребенка и говорит: «Не волнуйся, я позабочусь о тебе, просто отдыхай». (c)
Спокойная вода

Каждый из нас подобен волнам, а также и воде. Иногда мы взволнованы и взбудоражены, словно волны. Иногда мы безмятежны, как тихая вода. В ней отражаются голубое небо, облака и деревья. Иногда дома, на работе или в школе мы устаем, волнуемся или чувствуем себя несчастными, и нам необходимо превратиться в эту воду. В нас уже есть спокойствие, мы просто должны знать, как проявить его. (c)
Мы развиваем цельность и свободу, понимание и сочувствие. Мы всматриваемся вглубь, чтобы обрести то прозрение, которое сможет освободить от страдания, страха, пристрастности и неправильного понимания. (c)
Наши представления о счастье

Допустим, у вас есть некое понятие счастья, представление о том, что сделает вас счастливым. Корни его лежат в вас и вашем окружении. Ваше представление диктует вам, какие условия необходимы для счастья. Вы придерживались этой идеи десять или двадцать лет и только сейчас поняли, что она приносит вам страдание и может содержать заблуждение, гнев или страстное желание чего-либо. Все это – основа страдания. С другой стороны, вы знаете, что испытывали и другие чувства: моменты радости, освобождения или истинной любви. И можете распознать их как мгновения подлинного счастья. Опыт переживания этих моментов позволит гораздо легче отпустить объекты вашего страстного желания, потому что появляется прозрение: все, к чему вы так стремитесь, не сделает вас счастливым.
Многие хотят избавиться от своих представлений, но не могут, потому что у них нет еще достаточного прозрения, они еще не видели ничего иного, не знают других дверей в счастье и спокойствие. Страх не дает нам избавляться от наших идей. Мы боимся, что если откажемся от них, то нам больше не за что будет держаться. Умение отпускать – это практика, это искусство. И однажды, когда вы станете достаточно сильны и решительны, вы отринете все печали, которые заставляют вас страдать. (с)
Где бы мы ни были, в любой момент времени, мы можем получать удовольствие от солнечного света, присутствия других людей, даже от ощущения дыхания. Нам не надо ехать в Китай, чтобы насладиться небом. И нам не нужно путешествовать в будущее, чтобы насладиться своим дыханием. Мы можем соприкасаться со всем этим прямо сейчас. (c)
Развитие радости
Пространство для дыхания
Принесите мир на свою территорию

Жизнь грозная и прекрасная
Не тратьте жизнь попусту
Пребывая в настоящем моменте, я знаю, что он прекрасен.
Настоящий момент, чудесный момент
Вода, омывающая камни
Будьте самим спокойствием
Миру нужны радостные и любящие люди, которые могут просто быть. Если вы овладели искусством пребывания в покое, тогда у вас есть основа для любого действия. Основа для этого – просто быть, и качество бытия определяет качество действия. Действие должно быть основано на недействии.
Лодка в шторм
Осознанность возвращает концентрацию, а концентрация способствует прозрению и мудрости. И это самое надежное прибежище.
Расслабляйтесь там, где вы есть
Нет коров, чтобы потерять их
Назовите коров по именам
Каждый из нас должен сесть и записать имена всех своих коров.
Самое драгоценное – это наше спокойствие
Свобода – это практика
Дыхание подобно мосту между телом и умом
Мы часто живем как во сне. Нас уносит в прошлое или в будущее
Тело, речь и разум в совершенном единстве,
Я посылаю свою любовь вместе со звуком этого колокольчика.
Пусть все, кто слышит его, пробудятся от забывчивости
И выйдут за пределы беспокойства и печали.
В каждом из нас есть спокойствие, безмятежность, радость, но нужно их проявить. Пригласить колокольчик зазвучать – это один из способов вызвать радость и спокойствие.
Вот стихотворение для практики с колокольчиком. Ваш «истинный» дом – это ваш собственный остров, ваша цельность, спокойствие и радость.
Слушай, слушай.
Этот прекрасный звук Возвращает меня в мой истинный дом.
Вдох, выдох.
Глубоко, медленно.
Спокойствие и легкость.
Улыбнись, отпусти.
Настоящий момент, чудесный момент
Делая вдох, я осознаю свои глаза.
Делая выдох, я улыбаюсь своим глазам.
Делая вдох, я осознаю свое сердце.
Делая выдох, я улыбаюсь своему сердцу.
Слова преодолевают тысячи километров.
Слова могут наладить общение и установить взаимопонимание.
Я обещаю, что разговор сделает нас ближе
И позволит нашей дружбе расцвести подобно цветку.
Если звонят вам, то можно практиковать осознанное дыхание, прежде чем ответить.
Я слушаю, я слушаю.
Колокольчик осознанности телефона
Возвращает меня в мой истинный дом.
Вы делаете вдох, выдох, все ваше тело чувствует себя легким, как кувшинка на поверхности воды. Вам некуда идти, нечего делать. Вы свободны, как облако в небе. (c)
Profile Image for Jo Red.
67 reviews
August 22, 2020
I‘ve read a couple of the books in this series, and I think that this has given me the most so far. I love how well Thich Nhat Hanh is able to break the topic of Mindfulness down and how he makes it so easily accessible. It‘s just all very down to earth, close to life easily digestible, without losing it‘s meaning. Now I‘ll just have to try to actually include these meditations in my every day life.
Profile Image for Andre.
542 reviews146 followers
July 4, 2023
Simple yet profound. Easy and breezy read, makes mindfulness easily attainable through quick mini meditations.
Profile Image for Ankita Chauhan.
191 reviews61 followers
November 1, 2016
1. Smiling means that we are ourselves, that we have sovereignty over ourselves, that we are not drowned in forgetfulness.

2. We tend to postpone being alive to the future, the distant future, we don’t know when. It’s as if now is not the moment to be alive. We may never be alive at all in our entire life. The only moment to be alive is in the present moment.

3. Our breath is like a bridge connecting body and mind. In our daily lives, our bodies may be in one place and our minds somewhere else, in the past, or in the future. This is called a state of distraction. The breath is a connection between the body and the mind. When you begin to breathe in and out mindfully, your mind will come back to your body. You will be able to realize the oneness of body and mind and become fully present and fully alive in the here and the now. You will be in a position to touch life deeply in this moment.
Profile Image for Mindy Kannon.
381 reviews16 followers
November 6, 2015
Love this little book about relaxation and meditation. Has great little hints and tips for when you're uptight and stressed out, how to go back to breathing and mindfulness. This will be one that I read portions of every day.
Profile Image for Kris Muir.
109 reviews22 followers
May 13, 2020
Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh writes simple, elegant prose that reminds us to slow down, notice deeply, and become more aware as beings. He has 5 of these short books (100 pages or so) that help us see how effortless it can be to relax, sit, walk, eat, etc. I've also read two of his longer books--The Art of Power and You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment--I highly recommend both as ways to quiet the mind and become more present for yourself and those around you.

As a sample, here is what Hanh says about desire and happiness:

"Desire means to be caught in unwholesome longing. When the mind is desiring, we are aware of the presence of that state of mind. 'This is the mind longing for wealth.' When the mind isn't desiring, it's important to observe that the desiring mind is not present. 'This is the sense of ease that accompanies the absence of a mind desiring wealth.'"
Profile Image for hiromi.
146 reviews
June 9, 2021
Received this as a gift from my beloved teachers.

I would like to say I take it as a sign and a message of caring. I'll bring this with me to new places and on new adventures as a reminder, a guiding voice. Yes, I need to learn HOW TO RELAX still.

Thank you for all the high school days. #classof2021seniors

"Whenever animals in the forest are wounded, they rest. They look for a very quiet place and just stay there without moving for many days. They know it's the best way for their body to heal. During this time they may not even eat or drink. The wisdom of stopping and healing is still alive in animals, but we human beings have lost the capacity to rest."
Profile Image for Jenny.
18 reviews
August 3, 2020
It’s size may be small, but this book is full of big ideas and practical daily practices. My book is full of sticky notes and highlighting! It will be on my bedside table moving forward. A reference guide for mindfulness! It has tips for pulling ourselves out of our emotions and into the present moment. There are a variety of meditations for all parts of your day. Worth the read - definitely purchase the paperback version to mark the text for yourself!
Profile Image for Allison.
435 reviews34 followers
October 27, 2018
"Solitude doesn't mean being by ourselves or away from civilization. Real solitude means we're not carried away by the crowd, by sorrows about the past, by worries about the future, or by strong emotions in the present. We don't lose our stability and our peace. We take refuge in our mindful breathing and come back to the present moment, and to the island of peace within ourselves."
Profile Image for Jae.
377 reviews38 followers
January 13, 2020
If we only concentrate on breathing in and seeing that our body is a wonder, we can see that nothing else is really important. It’s only the peace in our body and in our mind that matters. Anyone can attain this insight. While we sit, we can be with our breathing, we can let go of tensions, and we can have peace. This peace is the most precious thing there is, more precious than any pursuit.
Profile Image for Kari Napier.
305 reviews1 follower
April 3, 2020
Found this helpful with it's short little descriptions on how to deal with different issues and things that come up in life! Overall, a decent quick little read.
Profile Image for Nancy Lewis.
1,234 reviews39 followers
April 16, 2023
Our idea of happiness is the main obstacle to happiness.

There are apparently several volumes in this series, including How to Eat, How to Walk, and How to Smile.
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