Gathas

Gathas are short verses that help us practice mindfulness in our daily activities. A gatha can open and deepen our experience of simple acts which we often take for granted. When we focus our mind on a gatha, we return to ourselves and become more aware of each action. When the gatha ends, we continue our activity with heightened awareness.

As we turn on the water faucet we can look deeply and see how precious the water is. We remember not to waste a single drop because there are so many people in the world who don’t even have enough to drink. While brushing our teeth we can make a vow to use loving speech. Before turning on the engine of our car, we can prepare for a safe journey by reciting the gatha for starting the car:

Before starting the car
I know where I am going.
The car and I are one,
if the car goes fast, I go fast.


The gatha brings our mind and body together. With a calm and clear mind, fully aware of the activities of our body, we are less likely to get into a car accident.  Gathas are nourishment for our mind, giving us peace, calmness and joy which we can share with others. They help us to bring the uninterrupted practice of meditation into every part of our day. There are many gathas are available in the book by Thick Nhat Hanh Present Moment Wonderful Moment: Mindfulness Verses for Daily Living.

Reference:  Plum Village web page ( http://www.plumvillage.org/art-of-mindful-living.html?start=5 )

The following are some sample gathas:

Waking Up
Waking up this morning, I smile.
Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.
I vow to live fully each moment
and to look at beings with the eye of compassion

Washing Your Hands
Water flows over these hands.
May I use them skillfully
to preserve our precious planet.

Brushing Your Teeth
Brushing my teeth and rinsing my mouth,
I vow to speak purely and lovingly.
When my mouth is fragrant with right speech,
a flower blooms in the garden of my heart.

Driving the Car
Before starting the car
I know where I am going.
The car and I are one.
If the car goes fast, I go fast.

Watering the Plants
Don't think that you are cut off, dear plant.
This water comes to you from the Earth and sky
You and I have been together
since beginningless time.

Drinking Tea
This cup of tea in my two hands,
mindfulness held perfectly.
My mind and body dwell,
in the very here and now.

Letting Go
Hearing the bell,
I am able to let go of all afflictions.
My heart is calm,
my sorrows ended.
I am no longer bound to anything.
I learn to listen to my suffering
and the suffering of the other person.
When understanding is born in me,
compassion is also born.

Smiling at Your Anger
Breathing in, I know anger makes me ugly,
Breathing out, I do not want to be controlled by anger.
Breathing in, I know I must take care of myself,
Breathing out, I know loving kindness is the only answer.
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