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  • Writer's pictureOrla Beaton

Roots of Mindfulness

Updated: Oct 22, 2019

I've just recently returned from a wonderful family mindfulness retreat in England with my daughter, and I'm feeling inspired to share the love. A new blog post entitled "Roots of Mindfulness" seems apt, inspired by my deepening connection to this transformative, ancient and yet contemporary way of living in the world.

The retreat was held in the gentle Zen Buddhist tradition of Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, who is often called Thay and also widely known as the "Father of Modern Mindfulness". I have been practicing mindfulness in this tradition for many years and been on a number of retreats including a visit the main mindfulness practice centre in France, Plum Village, last year with my daughter.

Each time I go on retreat I deepen my connection to the roots of mindfulness, to the strong threads that run from the Buddha's time over 2000 years ago, to Thich Nhat Hanh and his Vietnamese lineage, to the monastic Sangha based in practice centres around the world and to the community of lay practitioners of all ages walking this path together.

These roots really matter to me...why? Because to me mindfulness is an energy. Yes we can understand it intellectually and that is so helpful especially when we are beginning but in essence it is something that is felt within the body and strengthened within the body. We all know what it feels like to be in the presence of someone peaceful and grounded, we feel it without needing to know it in an intellectual sense. Being in the presence of loving & joyful monastics who embody the practice all day, every day, is such a powerful way of connecting with that energy, they literally exude it from their pores. Leaving retreat it really does feel like that pot of energy has been replenished and this is so important for me, stepping back into this busy world where our habits of stress and "doing" (or running as the monastics say) are so strong. It allows me to continue my aspiration of living mindfully with my family & community and offering my own blend of these teachings out into the world.

So as I move forward into my week with my felt-sense of mindfulness deepened, I look back with such gratitude to my monastic brothers and sisters who have chosen to dedicate their lives to these profound and yet refreshing teachings and to travelling around the world to enable many people to know, deep down, that there is a gentler, more compassionate and more empowering way of living in the world.

In deep gratitude, Orla

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