Posts by Gloria Chadwick

Answers From the Heart, Thich Nhat HanhThich Nhat Hanh can be a brilliant communicator, finding fresh and direct ways of reaching the heart. Can be. Find out why Gloria Chadwick was less than thrilled by his latest book.

When Bodhipaksa asked me to review Thich Nhat Hanh’s new book, Answers from the Heart: Practical Responses to Life’s Burning Questions, I immediately said yes. I’ve read many of his books and found them to be loving and peaceful.

In the spirit of honesty, I must say that I was disappointed with this book. It seems vague; most of the responses to questions asked are answered with an all-encompassing response of basically to be mindful of the emotion you are feeling. In my opinion, Thich Nhat Hanh doesn’t offer concrete–or practical–answers to questions in the chapters about Daily Life, Family, Parenting, and Relationships, Spiritual Practices, Engaged Buddhism, Sickness and Health, Death and Dying, and Children’s Questions. But perhaps this is the purpose of Answers from the Heart. To offer us koans to help us create our own answers, to look within for our own compassion and understanding.

Thich Nhat Hanh, “Answers from the Heart”

Answers From the Heart, Thich Nhat HanhThich Nhat Hanh can be a brilliant communicator, finding fresh and direct ways of reaching the heart. Can be. Find out why Gloria Chadwick was less than thrilled by his latest book.

When Bodhipaksa asked me to review Thich Nhat Hanh’s new book, Answers from the Heart: Practical Responses to Life’s Burning Questions, I immediately said yes. I’ve read many of his books and found them to be loving and peaceful.

Title: Answers from the Heart
Author: Thich Nhat Hanh
Publisher: Parallax
ISBN: 978-1-888375-82-4
Available from: Parallax and Amazon.com.

In the spirit of honesty, I must say that I was disappointed with this book. It seems vague; most of the responses to questions asked are answered with an all-encompassing response of basically to be mindful of the emotion you are feeling. In my opinion, Thich Nhat Hanh doesn’t offer concrete–or practical–answers to questions in the chapters about Daily Life, Family, Parenting, and Relationships, Spiritual Practices, Engaged Buddhism, Sickness and Health, Death and Dying, and Children’s Questions. But perhaps this is the purpose of Answers from the Heart. To offer us koans to help us create our own answers, to look within for our own compassion and understanding.

Here’s an excerpt from the chapter on Family, Parenting, and Relationships:

Question: My teenage son and I argue all the time. How can I stop these fights?

Answer: The first thing you can do is to look at yourself, to see whether you have enough calm energy to help calm him when he is in your presence. The problem may not only be with the child, but within the parent. If the parent is not peaceful, this can trigger negative emotions in the child, especially if there are negative seeds planted in him. In the past there may have been times when you got irritated and reacted in a state of annoyance–this has deposited those seeds in him. You have to undo this in the present moment. Being loving and calm and having the capacity to listen can absorb a lot of suffering. If you can engage him to talk to you about his difficulties by practicing deep, compassionate listening, that will help remove the kinds of energies that are making him suffer. If you have loving kindness and the energy of peace in you, even without speaking you can influence another person and he or she will feel better just sitting with you.

I had a bit of a dilemma about whether to post this review since it’s negative and I have so much respect for Thich Nhat Hanh. I’ve read many of his books and enjoyed them tremendously, but I didn’t enjoy this book and would not recommend it. I decided to post this review because it is my honest opinion of the book. Have you read this book? What did you think about it?


Gloria Chadwick is the author of the book and website, Zen Coffee. Zen Coffee is for people on the go; it offers an active approach to mindfully meditating in every moment of your busy life. It offers you many ways to bring peace and a sense of serenity into all your experiences and activities, to be in harmony with them. As you race through life with your coffee cup in hand, you’ll find many mindful moments to meditate.

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The joys of Zen Coffee

Zen Coffee, by Gloria ChadwickThere are many paths to Awakening, including the path of Zen Coffee, Gloria Chadwick’s hip new take on Zen mindfulness.

Zen meditation is pure and simple; it’s accomplished by sitting quietly, clearing and stilling your conscious mind by not allowing your thoughts to wander or intrude while letting your mind empty itself. If a conscious thought enters your awareness, you acknowledge it as merely a thought and gently let it go, without attaching any feelings to it, giving it any importance, or thinking about it. You simply allow your mind to be quiet.

The objective is to reach a state of nirvana (the attainment of enlightenment and the freeing of yourself from attachment to worldly things) where you transcend the physical and you’re aware of everything, understanding it completely within your mind as you achieve a state of divine awareness of your inner nature.

A more active form of Zen meditation embraces mindfulness–your thoughts are completely in the present moment, you’re totally aware of where you are, what you’re doing, how you’re feeling, and you’re accepting what you experience without judgment. This keeps you centered and connected with your current emotions and experiences. Mindfulness is first accomplished by simply breathing and being aware that you’re breathing. Your breath brings your awareness into the present moment, centering you completely into right here, right now. The objective is to again reach a level of nirvana (the attainment of a completely enjoyable moment that provides the embracing of an ultimate experience of harmony or joy) which allows you to tune into the calm, peaceful essence of your inner nature.

You can incorporate both forms of mindful meditation into a Zen coffee. How often, while drinking a cup of coffee, have you spaced out, letting your thoughts go completely, emptying your mind and simply enjoying your coffee and a peaceful feeling of just being? You were mindfully meditating, filling your mind completely in the present moment, letting go of all other thoughts except what you were experiencing with your coffee. Perhaps you focused on the warmth of the cup in your hand and tuned into the aroma and steam rising from the coffee. Perhaps the warmth of the coffee soothed your spirit. Perhaps you perceived the steam as an ethereal wisp of your inner nature, letting the aroma of the coffee and the peacefulness of your inner essence completely engulf you.

  Drinking coffee in a Zen moment transports you into a meditative frame of mind…  

Or perhaps you drank it down without a second thought. Even quickly slurping a cup of coffee provides you with an opportunity to transcend your physical nature and the everyday world for a time, if you will take a mindful moment to be aware of and enjoy your coffee. Drinking coffee in a Zen moment transports you into a meditative frame of mind where you are completely in the present moment. Just like the steam rising from your hot coffee, you can rise into the ethereal essence of your inner nature.

Quietly sipping your coffee offers you time for yourself, a nurturing respite from your busy lifestyle. The quiet time you spend for reflection and introspection brings relaxation and refreshment to your mind; it offers you a nice and much-needed breather to get into the calm, peaceful essence of you. You can sit in solitude in a Zen-like state of meditation with your coffee to ease and erase the stresses and strains of your everyday experiences with the warmth, taste, and aroma of your coffee as you nurture the inner essence of you.

The quiet, meditative moments you spend in this manner bring you peace and serenity. It is here, in this quiet time and meditative place of peace and harmony within yourself, that you become in tune with your inner essence, with the true nature of you. This works wonderfully well if you can find a few moments for yourself to sit in silence and just be with yourself. If you can’t, you can still tune into yourself with a cup of coffee in any situation you find yourself in. This is how the Zen of coffee works. You can achieve many peaceful moments of harmony while you’re on the go and racing around, running through life. Coffee gives you a quiet time, a moment or two every now and then, scattered here and there, to de-stress and drink in the mindfulness of Zen; to relax and reflect; to go within your inner essence to replenish yourself and refresh your mind.

Zen Coffee is for people on the go; it offers an active approach to mindfully meditating in every moment of your busy life. It offers you many ways to bring peace and a sense of serenity into all your experiences and activities, to be in harmony with them. As you race through life with your coffee cup in hand, you’ll find many mindful moments to meditate.

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