Gathas are short verses that help us practice mindfulness in our daily activities. A gatha can open and deepen our experience of simple acts which we often take for granted. When we focus our mind on a gatha, we return to ourselves and become more aware of each action. When the gatha ends, we continue our activity with heightened awareness.
As we turn on the water faucet we can look deeply and see how precious the water is. We remember not to waste a single drop because there are so many people in the world who don’t even have enough to drink. While brushing our teeth we can make a vow to use loving speech.
The gatha brings our mind and body together. Gathas are nourishment for our mind, giving us peace, calmness and joy which we can share with others. They help us to bring the uninterrupted practice of meditation into every part of our day. Here are a number of gathas used at Plum Village. Feel free to vary them as you see fit or make up your own. You can also see the book "Present Moment, Wonderful Moment - Mindfulness Verses for Daily Living."
Waking up this morning I smile,
24 brand new hours in the day.
I vow to live fully in each moment,
And to look at all beings
With eyes of love and compassion.
Turning on a light:
Forgetfulness is the darkness
mindfulness is the light.
I bring awareness
to shine upon all life.
Looking in the mirror:
Awareness is a mirror reflecting the four elements.
Beauty is a heart that generates love and a mind that is open.
Looking out the window:
Looking out the window,
how wondrous is life!
Attentive to each moment,
my mind is clear like a calm river.
Going to the bathroom:
Defiled or immaculate,
Increasing or decreasing – these concepts exist only in our minds.
The nature of interbeing is unsurpassed.
Washing your hands:
Water flows over these hands.
May I use them skillfully to preserve our precious planet.
Brushing your teeth:
Brushing my teeth and rinsing my mouth,
I vow to speak purely and lovingly.
When my mouth is fragrant with right speech,
a flower blooms in the garden of my heart.
This cup of tea in my two hands,
Mindfulness is held uprightly!
My mind and body dwell
in the very here and now.
Going back to your breathing:
Feelings come and go
like clouds in a windy sky.
is my anchor.
The mind can go in 1,000 directions.
But on this lovely path I walk in peace.
With each step, a gentle wind blows.
With each step, a flower blooms.
Starting the car:
Before starting the car
I know where I am going.
The car and I are one,
if the car goes fast, I go fast.