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Locked Down with a Zen Master

Updated: 6 days ago

What Thich Nhat Hanh taught me about contact with humans.


In the Age of Social Distancing, I couldn't help but see the uncanny need to reflect on interpersonal communication. I've studied it at great lengths, yet it's often my own Achilles heel.


Traveling & building a business internationally has certainly blown the doors open on what I previously thought possible when it comes to engaging with others. Subtle nuances that are like a second skin in one's natural habitat become an intriguing challenge for those of us who decide to make a foreign place into our home. (Please read as: sometimes being a foreigner is extremely funny).


In the Art of Communication, Master Hanh describes a mindful approach to human contact. It does appear universally safe for all and I'd love to extract the highlights I got out of it.


So here we go. A curated list of zen fit for a time when we're out of Earth's "time-out" and can emerge, ready to properly reunite.


Let's bring bowing back.


It's contactless and impactful. Those of us who attend yoga classes are already halfway there. If you can namaste in yoga pants you can namaste anywhere.





Now, I'm no pollyanna. I know how humanity can be and have been on both ends of its unique stink (I'm looking at you, TP hoarders). But if we took even a split second to even just bow in our mind when we greet each other, imagine what an impact that will have. We may just bloom out of our 'potential'.


Validate your suffering.


This sounds so simple yet almost not-a-one of us does it. This is why we go around grumpily balking at the idea of interaction. It's not your fault, but the solution is deceptively simple. Tell yourself it's OK to feel the way you feel. Your pain is reasonable and totally annoying to deal with. That's a true fact, and pushing it away is just going to make you more grumpy. Side with yourself by accepting it, then go about your day. It is SO liberating not to waste energy justifying the way you feel. Feeling jealous? Cool. Celebrate it by planting a tree.


If you're not listening to yourself, you're not listening to others.


Pushing yourself too hard is just making you an arsehole. If you're drowning out your inner voice, it's going to be monumentally difficult for you to be of sustainable value to others. You are either not engaging in deep listening from the start (& hiding behind a massive wall), or you are listening to others but cut off from your own source and YOU'RE ABOUT TO SNAP (who, me? Nah.... I've never done this).






We are all partially correct.


Even those we'd never choose to get cornered into conversation with have part of the truth. Sometimes you have to check yourself and investigate. This can become an endless pleasure if you're ready to see it that way.



All of our interactions -on and offline- display our presence.


This was by far the hardest to swallow because it puts so much accountability on us. Imagine if there was a book of all of your thoughts, texts, and actions. What would it look like? All we can do is tighten up ship on what we produce by consciously choosing what we'd like our essence to be and aligning ourselves to it. This is how we produce our personal brand.


Do you feel a little unsteady in this? You're not alone. Branding is a big one and will become a running theme throughout my blog.


All this taken in, it's not an excuse to slip into people-pleasing. To some, you are just going to be the bad guy - and accepting this as part of life is a beautiful thing.


Virtual Hugs,









Want to hear more or throw virtual bananas at me?

You can reach me @helloangiesunshine across all channels.


About the Author: Angie Sunshine is an American expat living in the Netherlands. She uprooted her life in an unexpected way to seek adventure and romance. It's led her to inner awakening and a career as both a copywriter and meditation teacher. When she's not writing or meditating for herself or others, she's traveling through Southern Europe in a VW Campervan or enjoying the virus lockdown with her partner and cat.

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