Mindfulness Monday – Thich Nhat Hanh On Fear


When I am in need of comfort, and have a desire for knowledge, I often turn to the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.  His words resonate with me and make me feel understood.  I hope you find his words as compelling as I do.  (Thich Nhat Hanh is often referred to as Thầy, meaning Teacher, throughout this post I will also refer to him as Thầy)

Below you will find quotes by Thích Nhất Hạnh, from his book Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm. with comments by me on how these quotes reflect my life right now and help give me peace.


“The only way to ease our fear and be truly happy is to acknowledge our fear and look deeply at its source. Instead of trying to escape from our fear, we can invite it up to our awareness and look at it clearly and deeply.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

During the past week I have been having vertigo again, even though I’m feeling much better now, the fear of the possibility that things could get worse has been creeping up.  My first instinct is to run from this fear, or push it down and refuse its validity.   After reading this quote I realized how much I have been trying to escape from my fear, I now understand that I need to investigate it’s cause and think about it rationally.

“When we recognize that we have a habit of replaying old events and reacting to new events as if they were the old ones, we can begin to notice when that habit energy comes up. We can then gently remind ourselves that we have another choice. We can look at the moment as it is, a fresh moment, and leave the past for a time when we can look at it compassionately.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

Thầy really hit the nail on the head with this one.  For the sake of this post I will only talk about what has presently caused me to replay old events – a vertigo attack.  My automatic response to this attack was a flash back to my worst days experiencing vertigo.  The many days where I could do nothing but watch the world spin were suddenly replaying themselves in my mind.  It is refreshing to know that I have another choice.  I can take this attack as it is, a singular event, it is not part of my past  (well it is now…hopefully you get what I’m saying).  What happened this week was new, yes I’ve had thousands of vertigo attacks, but this was a different one, it was not one that I had already experienced, it was new.  It’s time to let the past go, to look at that time with compassion, especially for myself.

“We are very afraid of being powerless. But we have the power to look deeply at our fears, and then fear cannot control us.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

How liberating this quote is!  I often feel that everything in my life is out of my control, that I am powerless.  I lost so much of my independence and then got some back, the vertigo attack brought back all the times that I was so dependent on others for everything.  It’s that loss of control (power) that scares me.  Thầy teaches that we always have power over our fear, yes we will always feel fear, but if we look closely at our fears and really get to the root of it, we can then see that our fear does not control us, we control it.


I hope you enjoyed this variation on Mindfulness Monday, if it is well received I may do this type of post more often.  

*photo by W. Holcombe – night sky…yes it really is the moon..in Tucson.  Please do not use without permission.  All rights reserved.  ©



5 thoughts on “Mindfulness Monday – Thich Nhat Hanh On Fear

  1. Rita McGregor

    I liked this Monday post, Wendy! When I find myself worrying about whether something or other is going to be like this for the rest of my life…well, I just ask myself–so what if it is? How will you go from here? Life is so unpredictable and can take you on many unexpected pathways. I start thinking of ways I can adapt and deal with all the daily living stuff on my own–how to survive and make life as good as it can be. (And hopefully keep living independently, but that could change, too, one day.) Life is a gift.

    I do think I absorbed all my Swedish relatives stoic acceptance of the worse case scenarios…and that we really only have limited control in our lives. So much of our life is a toss of the dice and out of our hands. When I have accepted the worst could very well be permanent–it somehow frees me from worrying about tomorrow and I can just focus on getting the best out of today. Not that endless bad days don’t wear a person down once in a while, of course, and no one really wants to be dependent on others for their very existence. But when things do actually get better–even for a day–what a joy! What a treat if things actually improve! It’s like a reprieve. And I am so grateful the worst case scenario hasn’t arrived yet. Sounds dire, I suppose. But I like to think of myself as a realistic optimist. Living in the present moment–one day at a time–can often bring one the most peace…and the most laughter. 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I like the new format — it makes the quotes resonate more when paired with reasonings as to why they have been chosen — other than due to a theme, author, etc. “”The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself!” FD Rooseveldt

    Liked by 1 person

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