some of you will know that I recently made the decision to quit my job and pack up my life in Belfast to travel to France with the intention of living, practising and working within the community or Sangha at Plum Village, Buddhist Monastery and Retreat Centre in the Dordogne region of the SW of France.
I am using this old blog site for the purpose of journaling and keeping in touch with family and friends.
In 2007 I realised I had what I describe as a ‘spiritual vacuum’ in my life. Life seemed to be filled with partying with friends, drink, drugs and unfortunately not enough….. sex (2 out of 3 eh!). It was then that I fell into my spiritual practice. The practice of Applied Buddhism and Mindfulness pioneered by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and the global Plum Village community/Sangha.
I have been very fortunate to have a beautiful group of friends in the Belfast Bonsai Sangha and other Sanghas across Ireland and the UK to practice with each week. I have also been very blessed to bring the practice of Mindfulness into my work in the Mindful Walks Belfast project and also regularly with therapeutic workshops in my organic gardening and cooking work. Whilst eternally grateful for these opportunities I have always been drawn to go a little deeper with my practice and now I am taking the plunge to live with the Sangha of Buddhist Monks, Nuns, Lay Friends and Retreatants who all call the practice centre in Plum Village home.
I have planned to live here for a year and it promises to be a deeply challenging, fun and joy filled year. It all kicks off tomorrow whenI leave behind my hotel in Bergerac and I arrive for the start of the 3 month Winter Retreat. Then in March I am so very lucky to join the team of organic gardeners/farmers working on the two acre organic ‘Happy Farm’.
I’ll be practising with being off line for most of Winter retreat (with exception of Christmas, New Year and Tet celebrations-Lunar New Year celebrated in Vietnam). I’ll still be contactable but may not be back in touch as quickly as usual. You can email on a new email ( firstname.lastname@example.org) or Facebook message me or follow this wee blog and message me via this. I’ll have no phone, which makes me smile already but I will have Skype/facetime etc so I’m not completely disappearing here.
In the words of Thay/ Thich Nhat Hanh, I am showing up to ‘keep my appointment with life’. I’m not running away to the retreat centre, but deciding to prioritise what I feel is really important, that being spending time with myself; with all my suffering and happiness and aiming to transform that suffering by befriending it and spending some quality time with it. No doubt there will be a lot of good times ahead in the next three months also. I’ll also be spending a lot of time with practitioners from all over the world and some sagely wise Monastics.
Plum Village is a vibrant, active, open and engaged community and welcomes visitors nearly all year. Great times to visit are Christmas, Tet (Feb’), Spring Retreat, Summer Retreat and Autumn Retreat…any time really! So everyone is always welcome to come visit.