Book Review: How to Relax

5/5 Stars

For students battling it out during the midterm season, it can seem impossible to set time aside for mental health and relaxation. “How To Relax” by Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh, offers 100 pages of short meditations and poems on healing, resting, solitude, and being unbusy. In this short pocketbook, Hanh teaches the importance of taking time out of the day to rejuvenate peace and clarity.

In “How To Relax,” Hanh explores the concept of mindfulness in a unique and accessible way by utilizing the analogy of water to describe the mind. Hanh tells the reader that sometimes we are like the waves – excited, noisy, and agitated. Other times we are like still water, and reflect the blue sky, clouds, and trees around us. He teaches that “when we are not calm, the image that we reflect will be distorted. When the image is distorted by our minds, it’s not the reality, and it causes lots of suffering.”

Hanh helps the reader become more mindful with his one-page insights on the human experience. By analyzing the ways in which we perpetuate our anxiety, Hanh urges the reader to become aware of our stresses and to embrace the calm and happiness that is always present in our minds and around us in the present moment. Hanh also stresses the importance of being unbusy and setting aside small amounts of time each day to practice the art of doing nothing but breathing. He gives the reader a wide selection of short helpful poems to meditate on so that they can achieve relaxation anywhere.

“How To Relax” is an essential addition to every student’s backpack. Any of Hanh’s short meditations are easy enough to use for a five-minute study break during a long night at Hazy Library. For those who get caught up with the ever-busy student life, “How To Relax” is guaranteed to help you achieve the peace, serenity, and clarity that you and your mind, and your body deserve.

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