Vacationing in the Rockies w/ Thich Nhat Hanh

Once in a while you get to meet one of those people you greatly admire in life. Caitlin and I will meet Thich Nhat Hanh, a world reknowned zen master, this Friday in Estes Park, Colorado. He is hosting a retreat dubbed “Awakening Our True Potential – Mindfulness” at the YMCA there.

This retreat comes at the right time for me as I am struggling greatly to overcome some character defects, in particular, shortness of temper, impatience, etc. which seem to be my personal Achilles Heel. I find these defects ground themselves in reacting to the present (and how it either inspires fear and/or reminds me of the past). And before this turns into a self-wallowing post, let me say that I am also very aware of the assets I bring to the table and how they benefit others.

The greatest ways to confront the defects so far are developing enough awareness and presence of mind to pause and respond rather than react. Another critical aspect of this is taking care of myself so I am rested and capable of being pleasantly present for others. Road travel just wrecks me, and often I am unable to respond intelligently after successive trips.

And so as I work on this comes the retreat with one of the people whom I respect the most from a spiritual level. Thich Nhat Hanh wrote the greatest book on love that I have read, and his other works like Going Home: Jesus and Buddha As Brothers and A Guide to Walking Meditation have really helped evolve my spiritual awareness. What will I learn from Hanh and the monks from Plum Village?

I don’t know! LOL, but it’s sure to be enlightening and peaceful. There will be more insights not only on my personal agenda for the trip, but I am sure on other things I am not even considering. Openness and a willingness to explore new things represent the best course. With those attitudes in mind, new tools and insights will surely come. Ultimately, if I can be of better service to others as a result of this trip, I’ll be happy.

And what a beautiful place to have the retreat. We are sure to enjoy some great hikes and photography in Rocky Mountain National Park during our retreat. I’m looking forward to it!


  • His instructions are deceptively simple. How can anything so simple, be so hard for us to grasp & incorporate deeply and constantly in our lives? By persevering. And you are certainly a persevere-er. Glad you are sharing this part of your journey.

  • Wow. I am a huge fan of Thich Nhat Hanh. How wonderful and serendipitous that he will be there while you are. Relish it.

  • Geoff,

    I empathize. We have discussed this before, but I struggle with similar character flaws. I started addressing my issues in the early ’90s. Through study of Zen, including Thich Nhat Hanh; a return to my Catholic faith, study in theology and association with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace; combined with meditation, therapy and meds (whew!), I have those flaws mostly under control and I am a much happier person. It took me many years, lots of hard work, and a recognition that like an alcoholic, I am always in recovery.

    Best wishes, my friend.

  • Thanks, Lewis. I appreciate your support.

    It’s a terrible character defect with lots of shame for all parties, but awareness of it at least allows for progress and a quick acknowlegement of wrong doing. We both know it’s one of those defects that turns into a red herring where people focus on the anger instead of the real issues, and that in its ownright makes it very unproductive.

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