How to Practice When Your Partner Is Not Interested in Mindfulness

Question: How can I practice when my partner is not interested in the practice?

Thich Nhat Hanh

Thay’s Answer: When you are lovable, when you are fresh, when you are appreciative of the other person, you have the chance that everything you do is appreciated by him or her. When you truly love a person, you love everything about that person. That is a natural tendency, and that is why the spiritual can be recognised in every act of daily life. We don’t need to say that it is spiritual. That will turn people off.

When you drink our tea mindfully, peacefully, and happily, there is mindfulness, concentration, and insight in you. Drinking tea is a spiritual thing. It radiates peace, happiness, and joy. That is already spiritual. We don’t need to say, “Well, I want to drink my tea spiritually.” The practice of the 5 Mindfulness Trainings is like that, too. You don’t need to say, “I practice the 5 Mindfulness Trainings.” You just live according to the trainings and practice without a name, but it is a real practice. You are Buddhist, but you don’t need to tell that you are a Buddhist.

You don’t want to impose on him or her your way. If you practice well, you are happy and fresh, that’s good enough. One day the other person may ask, “Darling, how could you do it? In such situation, I would not be able to do it like you.” That is the time where you can share your practice formally. But be the practice and the Dharma first and that is good enough. You draw him or her into the practice in one way or another.

Remember, don’t try to impose your practice on him or her. Don’t practice too formally. There are those who practice walking meditation in a very funny way. They want to show that they are practicing walking meditation. They don’t look very natural (everyone laughs). There are those who walk very deeply and happily, but they show that they are too serious in the practice. When you breathe in mindfully and joyfully, don’t try to show people that you’re breathing in mindfully and you’re a good practitioner. (everyone laughs)

In Buddhism, we have an expression: “Practice the non-practice.” We don’t need to have much appearance. And that way, we can convey the essence of the practice and if the person wants to be happy, peaceful and serene, they have a chance to learn.

This was transcribed by Wake Up from a Q&A sessions with Thich Nhat Hanh in Plum Village, May 2014.