How to relax: top tips from one of the best-known Zen teachers in the world

By Farhana Rahman


Thich Nhat Hanh has been teaching mindfulness for more than seventy years, and his beautiful little book, aptly titled, How to Relax is a gem and comes highly recommended – Amazon link at the bottom!

Here I break down my 5 favourite tips from his book on how to relax, unwind and re-set:

1.     Stopping:

The first aspect of meditation – he urges us to stop our running, chasing, longing for a dream of happiness.  Come back to the present moment and stop focussing on things that have happened or are yet to occur.

2.     Communicating with ourselves:

It’s ok to switch off and to stop the thinking. But we always need to listen to ourselves – our bodies and emotions – in order to communicate meaningfully with others.

3.     Mindfulness of something:

He reminds us this essentially means we bring all our attention, all of our awareness to whatever it is we’re doing.  Breathing, walking, eating – whatever it may be.  This powerful tool helps bring us back to the here and now.

4.     Letting go:

Am I the only one who mentally breaks out into Frozen every time I see a variation of these two words together?  I’m guessing our zen master probably does not.  However, Elsa’s theme tune is pretty deep.  By focussing on the above steps, we can look deeply within ourselves and recognise that idea, thought or emotion within us and the negative impact it can have in driving anxiety and unhappiness.  Realising this reality can help us release these negative feelings.

5.     Collective energy of healing: 

This is an interesting one.  He invites us to ponder how the positive energy you produce through meditation is beneficial to those around us.  Sound too out there?  Just think about the vibe you get when you walk into a hospital waiting room full of anxious patients or the buzz of anticipation at the airport meet and greet. Let’s remember how we can positively affect those around us through this simple practice. 


“True happiness isn’t found in success, money, fame or power.  True happiness should be found in the here and now.  With that kind of insight, you can truly relax.”


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