A Mindful Day

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Many years ago I was introduced to the writings of the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.  I resonated with his words of peace, breath, compassion, and human kindness.  I noted that he lived in a tiny village somewhere in southern France called Plum Village.  Curious, I thought. . .why plums in th midst of France.  Oh, well, I’ll never get there anyhow, so I just filed this away.

In the words of another great spirit, Don Miguel Ruiz, “The problem with assumptions is that people think they’re true.”  And so it was with me.  My assumption that “I’d never get to Plum Village anyway,” proved false.

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Ten minutes from Donna’s front door is Plum Village.  Twice a week they invite anyone to join the “sanga” for a day of mindfulness.

My legs and hips were challenged to sit for an hour and a half, but today they feel happy!

My legs and hips were challenged to sit for an hour and a half, but today they feel happy!

First of the morning was a darma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh.  We entered the meditation hall, plugged our headphones into the English box, and settled in.  The room filled with guests, nuns, and monks.  The talk was previously recorded and broadcast via computer.  “Ty,” as he’s affectionately called, recently was released from a Bordeaux hospital after suffering a stroke in November.  He is currently residing at one of the other hamlets which is part of the Buddhist community.

Following the talk and a break for tea, we practiced walking meditation, through the plum trees of Plum Village.  Ah, thus the name!!  Plum trees abound in this part of France.

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Our mindful walk took us through the plum grove to the top of the gentle hill.

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Plum blossoms at Plum Village.

Plum blossoms at Plum Village.

Lunch was next on the agenda. Prepared by the cooking team of nuns, we enjoyed a bounty of rice, vegetables, fresh lettuces, sauces and a curious dessert.  We thought it could be black bean or seaweed based, but later learned it was simply “grass gelatin” prepared from a package mix.

Why're were feeling quite healthy which is a good thing because we later had an over-the-top amazing dinner and bottle of wine back in Duras.

We were feeling quite healthy which is a good thing because we later had an over-the-top amazing dinner and bottle of wine back in Duras.

Lunch set up.

Lunch set up.

Wash your own dishes. . .

Wash your own dishes. . .

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With free time on our hands after lunch we explored the grounds.  Take a look:

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The afternoon concluded for us with “dharma sharing.”  Not to appear dismissive, but it seemed sort of like a Buddhist therapy group, with folks invited to share from the heart.  Our group of about a dozen consisted of many young folks who had been part of the village for months or even years.  They came from all over the world.  At that point, Thelme and Louise were complete, with our mindfulness sense enhanced, and we headed back up the hill to Duras.  It was a lovely day and a wonderful beginning t my time in France.

This benign Buddha looked after Us during our Dharma sharing.  The space within the wallswas special and sacred.  I'm honored to have spent a few hours at Plum Village.

This benign Buddha looked after Us during our Dharma sharing. The space within the wallswas special and sacred. I’m honored to have spent a few hours at Plum Village.

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