Why do we put so much emphasis on meditation in Green Sangha? Thich Nhat Hanh gives one answer in his classic Miracle of Mindfulness:
“In a family, if there is one person who practices mindfulness, the entire family will be more mindful. Because of the presence of one member who lives in mindfulness, the entire family is reminded to live in mindfulness. If in one class, one student lives in mindfulness, the entire class is influenced.
“In peace-serving communities, we must follow the same principle. Don’t worry if those around you aren’t doing their best. Just worry about how to make yourself worthy. Doing your best is the surest way to remind those around you to do their best. But to be worthy requires the continuing practice of mindfulness. That is a certainty. Only by practicing mindfulness will we not lose ourselves but acquire a bright joy and peace. Only by practicing mindfulness will we be able to look at everyone else with the open mind and eyes of love.”
[He then describes the remarks of a friend whose dog would pull on her pant leg when she tried to play a loud piano piece by Chopin. She explained: “Sometimes I have to put her outside before I can continue playing. But whenever I play Bach or Mozart, she is peaceful.” She then reported on research that found plant growth improved in the presence of music by Bach and Vivaldi.]
“As Kirsten spoke, I thought about conference rooms where people argue and debate, where angry and reproachful words are hurled back and forth. If one placed flowers and plants in such rooms, chances are they would cease to grow.
“I thought about the garden tended by a monk living in mindfulness. His flowers are always fresh and green, nourished by the peace and joy which flow from his mindfulness. One of the ancients said,
When a great Master is born, the water in the rivers turns clearer and the plants grow greener.
“We ought to listen to music or sit and practice breathing at the beginning of every meeting or discussion” (Miracle of Mindfulness. Boston: Beacon Press, 1975, pp. 65-66).
Here are two simple practices which we enjoy at some of our retreats and trainings. Both are breath-centered, at once easy for beginners and satisfying to long-time practitioners: