Posts Tagged ‘Plum Village’

English: A tangerine close-up. Español: Fotogr...

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What an exciting day for mindfulness and Buddhism. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this NY Times article.

It’s great to see that mindfulness is going mainstream and that more and more people are looking at it as an option, whether as a spiritual practice or for relaxation.

My hope is that as it becomes more mainstream, it does not lose its deepest meaning. I think some who practice DBT and CBT do not always use mindfulness in the spirit in which it was created as a practice.

In Mindful Eating:  A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food, Dr. Jan Chozen Bays, says, “Mindful eating replaces self-criticism with self-nurturing. It replaces shame with respect for your own inner wisdom”.

So many of us turn to food for comfort and nurturing, reaching for that big bowl of mac and cheese that reminds us of that bowl that mom had waiting for us after school.  That one we poured our hearts out over, telling her all about our school day.

As adults, we chase that good, warm, gooey feeling, like an addict chases their first high.  We have a bad day, put on our favorite sweater, turn on the tv and did into that bowl before realizing, it’s all gone.  And we still feel hollow and frustrated.

But when we start to add mindfulness into our lives, into our daily moment to moment experiences, we become present to what “is” and the fullness that moment contains.

Bays says, “In fact there are two essential aspects of becoming mindful as we eat. They are slowing down and eating without distractions.”

I remember, shortly after learning about meditation in college, we got to read Peace in Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh.  It was time to try something besides counting my exhales.  And tangerine meditation was the next practice.

I have such a fondness for this practice and I have clients that remind me of their first experience with it several years after they leave group.

If you’ve never tried this, Google tangerine meditation, go get yourself an organic orange, tangerine, etc. and see the miracle of mindfulness yourself.

You will never hear the words orange or tangerine without the hairs on the back of your neck standing up as you remember the intimate experience of savoring the whole sensation.

Another way I like to start off my mindful eating meditation is to start off with The Five Contemplations. If you don’t remember them from one of my previous posts, here they are again:

The Five Contemplations

This food is the gift of the whole universe: the earth, the sky, and much hard work.

May we eat in mindfulness so that we are worthy to receive it.

May we transform our unskillful states of mind and learn to eat in moderation.

May we take only food that nourishes us and prevents illness.

We accept this food in order to realize the path of understanding and love.

Wherever you are in your practice, whether you are counting your exhales, using your mala, walking, or kneeling on your bench, try bringing mindfulness into your day.  Most of us have at least three meals a day and what a wonderful way to get time to practice in; a great way to make sure you spend some time mindfully every day.


Want to know even more, check out Savor:  Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Dr. Lilian Cheung and Thich Nhat Hanh.

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Thich Nhat Hanh at Hue City, Vietnam (2007)

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I’m not a huge fan of Oprah’s, since she has helped thrust people into stardom like Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz but I thought this was a good interview with Thich Nhat Hanh.  And it’s the transcript, not a clip.  It is 9 webpages but worth it.

Take a lot at his comments on happiness:

Happiness is the cessation of suffering. (my italics.) Well-being. For instance, when I  practice this exercise of breathing in, I’m aware of my eyes; breathing out, I  smile to my eyes and realize that they are still in good condition. There is a  paradise of form and colors in the world. And because you have eyes still in  good condition, you can get in touch with the paradise. So when I become aware  of my eyes, I touch one of the conditions of happiness. And when I touch it,  happiness comes.”
Read more: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Oprah-Talks-to-Thich-Nhat-Hanh/3#ixzz1hx0xCJvK

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Image by reillyandrew via Flickr

This one is a great meditation to teach children.  Can we really ever start too early to help foster peaceful hearts and minds?

We forget that children are like sponges in their environment.  I once had a grieving grand-aunt tell me that her grandchildren didn’t understand “a thing about death” and didn’t want them to know that their grandmother had just died.  My heart ached for these kids because as Alan Wolfelt is fond of reminding us, “Any child old enough to love is old enough to grieve.”

We teach many things in school but we don’t teach essential things that children can build upon for the rest of their lives. . . like good coping skills, the ability to access their feelings, nonviolent communication, living with someone’s death and their own loss.

Give a child a wonderful gift . . . Take them for walks in nature.  Teach them to breathe with their bellies by placing a dictionary on them so they can watch the book move up and down as they breathe correctly.  Help them cultivate right speech and right action.


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Plum Village France

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They have started chanting at Plum Village!

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Thich Nhat Hanh in Vught, the Netherlands, 2006

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Click here for the details. . .

And in the meantime, here is one of my favorites . . Plum Village’s chants to listen to while you wait for the streaming in the morning.

Allow the sound of the bell to float over you like waves.  Breathe in and know that you are not alone.  Breathe out and feel the warmth of the sangha.

May you be peace.

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Dan with Nhat Hanh (1974)

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I was surpised on my first retreat when everyone started singing.  I soon realized that Plum Village in France had its own songbook and that Thich Nhat Hanh and his monastics often chanted using little songs in English.  This was one of my favorite.

I post it here for you to meditate on.  A lovely woman in the UK posted her version of No Coming, No Going.


Allow yourself to think about the impermance of all.

May you be peace as you journey.

(Photo of Thay circa 1974)

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Here is a recording from Plum Village, Thich Nhat Hahn’s monastery in France,  in which the monastics chant the Heart Sutra…. a topic for future discussion.  The last lines are:

Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha

which Edward Conze attempted to render the mantra into English as: “gone gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond, O what an awakening, all hail!”


It is a lovely version of the of the chant.  Listen to it and allow anything to arise in you, in response to it.

Check back for the blog entry about The Heart Sutra that will follow soon.

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