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Be Free Where You Are

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  747 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
"Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves."
—Thich Nhat Hanh

This compendium of the core teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, based on a talk given at a prison, shows how mindfulness practice can cultivate freedom no matter where you are.

"This is living Buddhism at its best."
Shambhala Sun

"This beautiful little compendium of the core teachings of Th
Paperback, 76 pages
Published May 1st 2002 by Parallax Press (first published 2000)
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Jan 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I carry this book with me always and give it to people I love.
Mar 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: philosophically-minded-mindful types
Recommended to Wendy by: yoga reading group
Tiny pocket-sized book with 71 pages. You can take it anywhere and read it anytime. It's fast, simple and thoughtful. This book is a transcript of a speech given by Thich Nhat Hanh to prisoners at the Maryland Correctional Institution in Hagerstown. Basically, this zen master is describing how we are always free whether captive or not. The enjoyment we get from breathing and having food to eat and feeling the ground beneath our feet cannot be taken away. The sky is the same in the prison yard as ...more
Nov 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a gift to have given these talks inside a prison! The book closes with a section of questions and answers from his visit, as well as some quotes from those who were there. You get a sense for how Hahn's presence alone sets an example. A slim volume that gives a very clear overview of mindfulness and tangible ways of daily practice.

“With understanding you will become compassionate, and that will change everything.” -Thich Nhat Hanh , Sister Chan Khong
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Short, powerful, and inspiring.
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a lecture that Thich Nhat Hanh gave to the Maryland Correctional Institution in 1999. It is a small little book with very large ideas. It is very portable and would be a good reference in any situation. Mindfulness is such a simple concept but he explains how it is possible to be in the present moment no matter where you are. I loved this book and hope that I can be more mindful in my own life.
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars

A tiny book that deserves to be read. Remarks the most important sutras given by Buddha.
Thich Nhat Hanh reinforces the practice of the mindful meditation, as a meditator you wouldn't want to miss it.
Mark Robison
Aug 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was my second reading of this very short book re-creating a dharma talk given at a Maryland prison. I especially liked the brief asides where it's explained how to live by Nhat Hanh's teachings while behind bars. Nothing new from his other books and he doesn't directly answer two of the prisoners during the Q&A transcription, but I still enjoyed it. I also liked the post-talk feedback from a prisoner who tells how Nhat Hanh sat in mindfulness on stage while chaos reigned around him as t ...more
Dec 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is a transcript of a talk Thich Nhat Hanh gave to the Maryland Correctional Institution at Hagerstown in 1999. It talks about the basics of mindfulness which are always a good reminder for me. I highlighted a number of passages in this book. After a stressful week, this helped ground me. I'll return to this one again.
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, non-fiction
This book is a transcript from the talk at a correctional facility in the US. He was asked if it was ok to practice mindfulness even if one is a Christian.
“If you love oranges, you are welcome to eat them, but nothing prevents you from enjoying kiwis or mangoes as well. Why commit yourself to only one kind of fruit when the whole spiritual heritage of humankind is available to you?”
Meli Casi3
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very informative book and a quick read. A stellar way to reshape your perspective on every day life.
Be Free Where You Are is a compendium of the core teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, based on a talk given at a prison. It shows how mindfulness practice can cultivate freedom no matter where you are, and summarizes for the first time all of Thich Nhat Hanh's core teachings making it an outstanding introduction to the ideas and practices of one of the foremost Buddhist teachers alive. Included is a foreword by Sister Chan Khang and an appendix describing how Thich Nhat Hanh's visit impacted those tha ...more
Jan 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
My sister gave me this book for Christmas and I'm glad I read it. This short book (71 very small pages) is the transciption of a speech Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh gave to Maryland prisioners about practicing mindfulness. The speech is an excellent introduction to Thich Nhat Hanh's ideas and made me think about ways to stay in the present moment. As someone who is often thinking about the future, it's good advice for me.

Mr. Roboto
Sep 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
I'd really give it 4.5 stars. This book is a gift, and my acquisition of it is well-timed given that I'm currently suffering with a prescribed dietary overhaul that is quite difficult. I will remember, thanks to this book, to eat mindfully, and to remember how much went into producing the things I don't particularly feel the desire to eat. We can make our own prison but also free ourselves from it.
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Speechlessly amazing and beautifully written! I have always felt a lot of love and hope any time I come back to this little, yet so personally impactful, compilation of Thay's teachings. I am very grateful for having an opportunity to pass by and choose to buy this book the other day! I cannot tell how much this book has helped me through thick and thin, and deeply hope this book help other people the way it does to me. Thank you very much Thay.
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Be here, be present, now. Mindfulness is so satisfying, yet so hard to attain. We are often so distracted by a thousand and one things, that we forget to take in the here and now. It's interesting that this was from a talk given in a prison, because that is surely the best place to practise to be free where you are. Awesome!
Feb 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book is a talk about being completely involved in the present moment that Thich Nhat Hanh gave at a Maryland Correctional Facility. The book will benefit anyone to enjoy each moment more while your eating, walking, etc. I really enjoyed it, but being mindful while going to the bathroom was a little too much for me. :)
Apr 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
And at last, we return to “Present Moment, Wonderful Moment.”

“Breathing in, I dwell in the present moment. Breathing out, I feel this is a wonderful moment.” Remember, the Buddha said that the present moment is the only moment when life is available to us. So in order to touch life deeply, we have to come back to the present moment.
Denise Tarasuk
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spiritual
"Be Free Where You Are" is special! It made me feel good from beginning to end. This little pocket size gem is perfect for caring around and sharing with others. It is a perfect gift that will bring peace and harmony for all of those who read or just hear the words. Thank you Thich Nhat Hanh and Parallax Press!
Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: buddhist-books
I love Thay's teachings but I was a bit skeptical about this little book as it is actually talks that he gave at a correctional institution. I wasn't sure it would be relevant. But trust Thay, we all live somewhat in a prison, even if it is of our own making, and there is plenty to digest in this book.
Pake Hall
Jan 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful and inspirational book. Very easy to read and suitable for anyone. Thich Nhat Hanh also gives great advice on practices to start with - wherever we are.
Will give it to people in prison for sure!
Aaron Finkel
Nov 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really enjoy Thich Nhat Hanh's writing, and this is a nicely condensed version of some of his teachings regarding mindfulness. It's not quite 5-star material, as it is repetitive in places, even in its brevity, and I really wish there were more inmate questions in the afterword.
Tania Ramonde
Una obra corta pero muy inspirada en la que Thich Nhat Hanh explica a un grupo de presos como pueden ser libres a través de la respiración y la conciencia. Ideal para aproximarse a la meditación y resolver algunas dudas y prejuicios que surgen cuando se inicia esta práctica.
Nov 30, 2015 added it
The word "mindfulness" has been twisted by the media (social media especially) as a selling tool, which makes sense since it is the antithesis of what the media sells: mindless consumerism. Interesting read. Happy to see that its true meaning is not what's being pushed by popular culture.
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A small gem with more thoughts on mindfulness from Thich Nhat Hanh. When I read about mindful breathing and eating in his books and try to put it into practice, I find I am very happy doing the simplest, most mundane things. Thank you TNH.
Apr 05, 2010 rated it did not like it

Like what he has to say?
Good message and all...i suppose?
Have yet to enjoy reading any of his books, though i have tried a few?
I want them to have meaning to me :(
Blahblahblahblahhhhh It is yet to happen!
but i really WANT TO LIKE his books???
Laurie Maheu
Jul 27, 2016 rated it liked it
This book was another helpful source of how to practice buddhism. It was particularly interesting in that the teachings discussed were presented to inmates and there were some examples of how the teachings were practiced by incarcerated individuals.
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This little book gives you Thay's (Thich Nhat Hanh's) wisdom in the palm of your hands. I have been at a retreat with Thay and this book is taken directly from one of his speeches. Excellent, and worth having/reading.
Mar 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I have given this book away at least a dozen times. I'm determined to hang on to my most recent copy (though I did just lend it someone...) as it's an easy quick read and a great reminder of how simple it is to practice freedom.
Austin Wright
Dec 15, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a great book for anyone in prison--though the part where he talks about 11-year getting raped by Pirates was completely inappropriate.

This book also is a stepping stone for leaning about Sister Chan Khong and her village of Ben Tre.
Thomas Hayes
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a very accessible pathway to the mindfulness teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. It is short yet thought provoking and the excerpts from letters from audience members testify to this.
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Thích Nhất Hạnh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist who now lives 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 ...more
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“For me, there is no happiness without freedom, and freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves.” 6 likes
“THE FIVE CONTEMPLATIONS This food is the gift of the whole universe, the Earth, the sky, and much hard work. May we eat in such a way as to be worthy to receive it. May we transform our unskillful states of mind and learn to eat in moderation. May we take only food that nourishes us and prevents illness. We accept this food in order to realize the path of understanding and love.” 4 likes
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