Valentine’s Day Looms – A Book Review

Thich Nhat Hanh’s beautiful little book on love. A small book filled with wisdom and ideas on bringing mindfulness to relationships with others and yourself. 

As Valentine’s Day approaches it was an easy choice to pick up this little gem of a book How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh. Words of wisdom and insights into the nature of relationships and how to love not only others but yourself. Having been through a few other Thich Nhat Hanh books it is clear that the message is never about 100% focus on another but rather you first must look within to love yourself before allowing that love to flow out to others. It’s a lesson that has taken me a long time to find and at a expense of my first relationship and an important lesson for anyone who is in a relationship. If all you did was read one or two pages a day and sat with those thoughts and tried to apply them it would make everyone’s relationship stronger.

True love includes a sense of responsibility and accepting the other person as she is, with all her strengths and weaknesses. If you only like the best things in a person, that is not love. You have to accept her weaknesses and bring your patience, understanding, and energy to help her transform. This kind of love brings protection and safety. – Thich Nhat Hanh

The beauty of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books is that the focus, in this case love, remains front and centre but there are always the themes of mindfulness woven throughout. The ideas of self-love, happiness, and impermanence find their way onto the page and form an important foundation for true love. Loving ourselves first, the nature of happiness alluding us and the recognition that impermanence is all around us.

Gentle reminders in simple language of the importance of being present in the relationship, the communication between partners, and all of the small subtle things that are so important. The idea of hugging meditation for instance. Being mindful while hugging someone. A simple concept to put in practice tomorrow. Being present, breathing in, breathing out, focusing on the hug. Focusing on your partner and feeling them breath in and out. Every hug is an opportunity to connect silently at a deeper level.

Everything is impermanent. This moment passes. That person walks away. Happiness is still possible. – Thich Nhat Hanh

Happiness is still possible. Even coming out of our darkest selves, happiness is still possible.

This book falls into an interesting category of book. A recommended read for those who have been going down the mindfulness path and want some focus on relationships and love. Although many other books touch on the subject, this delves into the topic while leaving the focus on meditation to other books that cover it in much more depth. First time mindfulness seekers should begin with some of Thich Nhat Hanh’s other books such as Peace Is Every Step or The Miracle of Mindfulness that provide a more complete and basic approach to practice. When you feel ready to start branching into the focus on relationships then this book is there ready for you. As mentioned before, it’s a quick read but chalk full of wisdom that will leave you thinking about your own relationships and how to make them better.  Overall 4 out of 5.

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