Breathing and Scything

Hi All

I wanted to share a passage from a book that I’m reading, that’s entitled “Breathing and Scything”. The book is by Thich Nhat Hanh, and is called Peace is every Step. Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist Monk, Zen master, peace activist, and author. Enjoy it, as I did, and think about what he writes.

Breathing and Scything

Have you ever cut grass with a scythe? Not many people do these days. About ten years ago, I brought a scythe home and tried to cut the grass around my cottage with it. It took more than a week before I found the best way to use it. The way you stand, the way you hold the scythe, the angle of the blade on the grass are all important. I found that if I coordinated the movement of my arms with the rhythm of my breathing, and worked unhurriedly while maintaining awareness of my activity, I was able to work for a longer period of time. When I didn’t do this, I became tired in just ten minutes.

During the past few years I have avoided tiring myself and losing my breath. I must take care of my body, treat it with respect as a musician does his instrument. I apply nonviolence to my body, for it is not merely a tool to accomplish something. It itself is the end. I treat my scythe in the same way. As I use it while following my breathing, I feel that my scythe and I breathe together in rhythm. It is true for many other tools as well.

One day an elderly man was visiting my neighbor, and he offered to show me how to use the scythe. he was much more adept than I, but for the most part he used the same position and movements. What surprised me was that he too coordinated his movements with his breathing. Since then, whenever I see anyone cutting his grass with his scythe, I know that he is practicing awareness.

Wishing you well




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