Thich Nhat Hahn has the outstanding ability to make the teachings of Buddha and the practice of mindfulness fully accessible to all people regardless of religious background or spiritual training. He writes in The Path of Emancipation: Talks from a 21-Day Mindfulness Retreat:

To me, freedom is being mindful of what we are doing and what we are not doing in the present moment. When we scrub the floor, clean the toilet, or breathe in and out, if we are aware of what we are doing, we begin to have freedom. In order to have greater freedom, we have to begin with this kind of freedom. Otherwise, we live in an unfree way. We are governed by powerful habitual energy and conventional forces.

I like to describe the practice of mindfulness in our daily lives as the practice of reclaiming our liberty as human beings. By practicing mindfulness in our daily lives, we can recognize our afflictions and suffering and transform them. This can be described as the practice of freedom. I am not speaking of political freedom, but freedom from forgetfulness and afflictions. The first freedom we get is the freedom from forgetfulness. We live and yet we do not live. We live like dead people. That is how the French writer Albert Camus described it. We seem to be alive, but we are not truly alive. We carry out our dead bodies on our shoulders. If we look around, we will see that people live like this, unaware that they are alive. Mindfulness is the practice of reclaiming our freedom to be. Slowly, with this practice, we recognize that we are governed by our forgetfulness. We recognize our afflictions and cultivate our freedom little by little. Happiness is born from that true freedom.

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