Last week I was fortunate to be invited by Moira Harris to a showing of the film ‘Walk with Me’ (click here for the trailer) about the community at Plum Village led by Thich Naht Hahn. Watching the film was a meditation in itself and it felt like receiving a transmission of the most profound teaching on mindfulness. I can still feel the effects now. After the film Moira and I led a short discussion about the film and more generally about mindfulness and several themes emerged.
One was about the simplicity of the Plum village community lifestyle and how conducive this was to becoming mindful throughout the day. Thich Naht Hahn and members of the community travelled to New York and took their stable mindful tranquillity with them. We commented how difficult it is to be calm and mindful within the hustle and bustle of our busy lives.
This was inspiring me to make my life more simple, which has been a work in progress for some time. My move to live in the countryside in Scotland, close to Samye Ling is part of this. As well as my intention to work locally, rather than travelling abroad to work.
In my daily life, I schedule time for practice and exercise first thing in the morning and take a long lunch to walk the dogs in the forest above the house or at the beach. I am lucky that I work from home during the week in my work of running the Mindfulness Association and so can be flexible with my time. I have a lot of work to do, the volume and nature of the work can be quite stressful, so balancing this with time for practice, exercise and walking in the countryside is necessary for it to be sustainable. It is generally where I have my best ideas and so in this way the work does itself, in my unconscious mind!
After watching the film I am inspired to introduce more silence to my driving, cooking and house work time. I have long aspired to reduce the time I watch TV in the evening and replace it with some yoga and meditation. Although I am half way through the second series of The Crown and this has a certain addictive pull to it!
I have a great chance just now to set these new habits in motion, as I will be home alone for the next three weeks as my husband is joining our daughter in Australia for three weeks. Although I will miss them, I am also relishing the prospect of reflective time alone. So this inspiring film came to me at just the right time.
Another theme from the film was the bells that go off at Plum Village every fifteen minutes, which everyone pauses for to become present. It was wonderful to see this, old and young alike, simply stopping in the middle of their music playing, cooking, conversations, etc – just to pause and to be.
I thought this funny, as I had to turn off the mindfulness bell on my mobile phone on entering the cinema. I am again inspired to really stop and be whenever the bell on my phone dings, rather then ignoring it and just carrying on with whatever I am doing.
I realise that I am truly fortunate in my life and work circumstances to be able to simplify my life. It has taken many years to get here and is still a work in progress.
I would strongly recommend that you watch this movie and hope that it inspires you to simplify your own life and make more time to just be. This gives us the opportunity to enjoy the richness of the moments in our life. Something emphasised in the film by moments of ladybirds, ants and butterflies going about their business at intervals during the film – and of course the walking among the trees and the sunrises.
I enjoy watching the birds at the feeders just outside our kitchen window: mainly blue tits, great tits, coal tits, chaffinches and sparrows. I like watching how some of them cheekily reject a peanut and toss it onto the ground. Then when the feeders are empty they come and tap on the kitchen window. I have always loved birds and I especially love how they are descended from dinosaurs. I couldn’t feed them in our old house as the fallen nuts and seeds brought the rats out – no such problem in the new house – so far anyway!
I am reminded again of the joy of being in the present moment – I just wish that the ever-present distractions of modern life weren’t so tempting!
Is there a way for you to simplify your life? Does it seem impossible? Perhaps hold the aspiration, take one step at a time and see what unfolds.
Oh, and do watch the film if you can.
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