|A few days in Plum Village… by Edward Pinkney|
|Written by Phap Linh|
|Wednesday, 03 March 2010 16:18|
‘Mindfulness’ has become a bit of a buzz word in connection with mental health & wellbeing recently. With this in mind I booked myself in to
After being picked up at the local train station by a smily Vietnamese nun, myself and fellow new arrivals immediately slotted into the daily routine of the Village. This meant, even whilst registering and unpacking, we were obliged to freeze and take a deep breath every half hour or so when the ‘mindfulness bell’ rang out around the Village. At first this seemed a bit ridiculous, and I found myself suppressing laughter when it rang at some of the more awkward moments for myself and others. But it acts as a constant reminder of where we are, and showed me how often I get distracted and caught up in things. In
There were around 50 guests (or lay-people) in my hamlet - some here for a few months, others like me for a week or two. The village draws a complete mixture of ages, nationalities and personalities, but all are united by the shared practice, and by the deeper connection that the monks inspire. The effects of this are immediately apparent. There is a calmness and warmth. Smiles are sincere, and eye contact lingers. Time seems slower, which means thoughts, speech and action become smoother and more purposeful. There is no stress. No tension. Minds are not given the opportunity to dwell on anxieties, to judge others, or to take things for granted. Instead they are clear and concentrated, which brings heightened creativity and appreciation. And despite the emphasis on not-striving, paradoxically, more tends to be achieved.
The 50 or so monks living there are exceptionally happy, humble and welcoming; many were Westerners, including several former mental health professionals. Thich Nhat Hanh (who is reminiscent of Yoda from Star Wars..!) is their teacher, and twice a week he gives a talk for the whole Village. Seeing him at lunch soon after my arrival, I immediately felt inclined to write to him to try and meet the real man behind the public image. After hearing one of his talks though, something in me changed. I could see that there was no public/private split with him, and what we had witnessed through his talks ,aswell as videos and books, was the whole of the man. Like a radiator giving off warmth, his integrity seems to be such that nothing is reserved for a private audience. Thich Nhat Hanh is a man who sees no divisions, and attaches no labels. All are welcome at
Whilst travelling back to the