Gathas: Mindfulness Verses

Gathas are small verses or poems which we use to help us in our mindfulness practice. Usually we learn them and recite them silently to ourselves whilst we engage in a certain activity. They help us to focus our concentration on what we are doing and avoid dispersion. Whilst using a gatha we return to our breathing and calm our body and mind. Gathas stabilise our awareness and help us to look deeply at the various elements of our lives and activities.

A great practice is to use gathas that we find inspiring, and to compose our own gathas to help ourselves and others to develop mindfulness in our daily life. Many thousands of wonderful gathas have been composed in this way. Some practitioners write out gathas in calligraphy and put them in appropriate places to help them to practice. The following gatha for starting the car, for example, could go on the dashboard: Before starting the car, I know where I am going. The car and I are one. If the car goes fast, I go fast.  Here are some other gathas that may speak to you.

Waking Up (Thich Nhat Hanh)
Waking up this morning, I smile.
Twenty four brand new hours are before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment
and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion

Waking Up (Andrew Weiss)
As I wake up, I welcome a new day,
A mindful smile with every breath.
May I live each moment

With compassion and awareness. 

First Steps of the Day (Andrew Weiss)
As I take my first step,
My foot kisses the floor.
With gratitude to the earth,
I walk in liberation.

Getting Dressed (Thich Nhat Hanh)
Putting on these clothes,
I am grateful to those who made them
and to the materials from which they were made.
I wish everyone could have enough to wear.

Turning on the Water (Thich Nhat Hanh)
Water flows from high in the mountains. 
Water runs deep in the Earth.
Miraculously, water comes to us, 
and sustains all life.

Washing Your Hands (Thich Nhat Hanh)
Water flows over these hands;
may I use them skillfully 

to preserve our precious planet.

Brushing Teeth (Thich Nhat Hanh)
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.

Before Picking Up the Telephone (Thich Nhat Hanh)
Words can travel thousands of miles.
May my words create mutual understanding and love.
May they be as beautiful as gems, 

as lovely as flowers.

When Feeling Anger (Thich Nhat Hanh)
Breathing in I feel my anger. 
Breathing out I smile.
I stay with my breathing
So I won’t lose myself.

Driving a Car (Thich Nhat Hanh)
Before starting the car
I know where I am going.
The car and I are one.
If the car goes fast, I go fast.
If the car goes slowly, I go slowly.

Driving a Car (Andrew Weiss)
This car is my legs.
It goes where I choose. 
When I drive with awareness, 
Everyone lives in safety.

Turning on the Television (Andrew Weiss)
Mind and television. 
Receive what I choose.
I select well-being

And nourish joy.

Preparing Food (Andrew Weiss)
Earth, water, sun, and air, 
All live in this food I prepare.

Before Taking Food (Thich Nhat Hanh)
My bowl, empty now, 
will soon be filled with precious food.
Beings all over the world are struggling to live.
How fortunate we are to have enough to live.

Serving Food (Thich Nhat Hanh)
In this food,
I see clearly 
the entire universe 
supporting my existence.

Recycling (Thich Nhat Hanh)
In the garbage, I see a rose.
In the rose, I see the garbage.
Everything is in transformation.
Even permanence is impermanent.

Turning on the Light (Andrew Weiss) 
Ancient trees, water, and wind 
Join my hand to bring light
To this moment.

Cleaning the Bathroom (Thich Nhat Hanh)
How wonderful it is to scrub and clean.
Day by day, the heart and mind grow clearer.

Entering the Meditation Room (Thich Nhat Hanh)
Entering the meditation room, I see my true mind.
I vow that once I sit down, all disturbances will stop.

Hearing the Bell (Thich Nhat Hanh)
Listen, listen,
this wonderful sound 
brings me back
to my true self.

Adjusting Meditation Posture (Thich Nhat Hanh)
Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky.
Conscious breathing is my anchor.

Sitting Meditation (Thich Nhat Hanh)
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment.

Sitting Meditation (Andrew Weiss)
Sitting in the present moment, 
I breathe mindfully.
Each in-breath nourishes love,
each out-breath, compassion.

Meditating or Walking (Thich Nhat Hanh)
I have arrived. I am home.
In the here,
In the now.
I am solid,
I am free.
In the ultimate 
I dwell.

Cleaning the Meditation Room (Thich Nhat Hanh)
As I clean this fresh, calm room, 
boundless joy and energy arise!

When wakeful at two in the morning (Robert Aitken)
I vow with all beings
to light incense and sit on my cushion- 
it’s time that I really wake up.