From Thich Nhat Hanh’s Good Citizens: The foundational practice of the Buddha is mindful breathing. Before we can commit to or practice any ethical action, we need to begin with our breath. Awareness of our breath is the first practical ethical action available to us. This is the only way we can begin to truly understand the basic suffering of human beings and how we might transform it. When we look at all the suffering around us, at poverty, violence, or climate change, we may want to solve these things immediately. We want to do something. But to do something effectively and ethically, we need to be our best selves in order to be able to handle the suffering.
When we bring our attention to our in-breath and our out-breath, we stop thinking of the past; we stop thinking of the future; and we begin to come home to ourselves. Coming home to ourselves is the first thing we need to do, even for politicians, scientists, or economists. Don’t think this practice doesn’t apply to you. If we don’t go home to ourselves, we can’t be at our best and serve the world in the best way. We have to be ourselves to be our best. Our quality of being is the foundation for the quality of our actions.