Monday, April 7, 2014

Is Nothing Something? by Thich Nhat Hanh

Years ago, while trying to waste time in an airport, I stumbled upon the book Living Buddha, Living Christ 10th Anniversary Edition by Thich Nhat Hanh. I instantly fell in love with the message of reaching spirituality through compassion and love. This message is universal, irregardless of religion, and I think a greater understanding of how we are all alike, instead of focusing on how we are different, would benefit most everyone.

When I read that Thich Nhat Hanh was publishing a new children's book:Is Nothing Something?: Kids' Questions and Zen Answers About Life, Death, Family, Friendship, and Everything in Between, I quickly pre-ordered it. The book arrived late last week, and we are smitten with its message of peace.

Basic Summary
Is Nothing Something? is a book filled with kids' questions and the sage answers from Thich Nhat Hanh about life, death, family, friendship, and so many other topics. Each page has a simple question, many of which my daughter asks on a regular basis, and a short answer. The answers are based on Buddhist principles and beliefs; however they are spoken without judgement and from a place of love. While the answers are geared towards a child, they are presented in a way that neither talks down to the child or makes light of their concerns. Some of the answers are very deep and philosophical; however most answers are simple principles of how to be kind, loving, and full of compassion. There are simple illustrations on each page containing animals, many of which are in yoga poses.

Our take on the book
When my daughter and I read the book for the first time, we took time to read each question and discuss what we thought the answer should be prior to reading the answer presented by Thich Nhat Hanh. It was serene to have a thoughtful conversation with my seven year old daughter about topics we rarely broach. I was impressed by her answers, and she reflected and responded to each of the answers presented in the book.

My daughter's favorite page had to do with a question regarding the death of a grandfather. The answer is amazingly peaceful, and I was touched when she made a connection to the death of my own grandfather because this relationship in particular is connected to the plants the we grow as a continuation of the things he taught me. 
Is Nothing Something? Written by Thich Nhat Hanh and illustrated by Jessica McClure

My favorite question and answer was centered on what to do when you feel sad. The answer recommended to smile even though your are crying because the sunshine through the rain can make a rainbow. How beautiful is that sentiment?
Is Nothing Something? Written by Thich Nhat Hanh and illustrated by Jessica McClure
Overall, this book is simple, peaceful, and contemplative. It is the perfect addition to any collection of books that discuss religion or principles on being a good human.

After reading this book, we discussed things we do in our house to be more mindful of our actions. My daughter made the following list of things that help her to remain calm:
1. We do yoga poses before bed. This is a practice we started after reviewing the book Good Night, Animal World by Giselle Shardlow.
2. Counting from one to five repeatedly until calming down.
3. Taking several slow, deep breaths.
4. Shaking and staring at the calming jar we made using an idea from a pin on Pinterest.
5. Staring at the birds at the bird feeder.

What practices do you have in your household to practice mindfulness?

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  1. Oh, this looks beautiful. I find I am the one most in need of calming down. Tonight was a bad night. I think I read this now for a reason.

    1. It is a great book for calming down. Hope you have been having better nights.


I would love to hear your thoughts.

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