We recently offered our second Coming Home to Mother Earth retreat at the Upper Hamlet. We’re looking forward to the next one in September!
Why offer this retreat and what did it involve?
Happy Farm manager Mick McEvoy explains:
The world is on fire. Every day we hear and witness stories of the suffering of our human family, more than human family, and our planet. Yet every day there are also stories of healing, transformation, and regeneration for humans, non-human kin, and our Earth.
Plum Village is often described as a “community of resistance”. In the last few years, our community in Upper Hamlet acquired and is now rewilding twenty hectares of old farmland. Healing, transformation, and regeneration is happening on these lands in front of our eyes. Our planet has an infinite capacity to heal, transform and regenerate.
This retreat was designed to bring our participants out into the wild. To practice like the community of the Buddha, outside, in the forest, meditating at the foot of an old tree, walking mindfully as a Sangha in the wild. Our aim was to reconnect each one of our guests to their own true wild nature. To declare in our loudest voices, “You are the earth, that carries you. You are the comos manifesting in its full intelligence and beauty.” This is the medicine we wished to offer on this retreat.
We spent fourteen days practicing as a family outdoors, in the wild. To accompany this beautiful family of human beings was a deep and meaningful privilege. Twenty guests arrived as strangers and departed Plum Village as a family. Many friends arrived deeply tired, burnt by the systems in place in the world. Many arrived traumatized by the ecological destruction of our planet and the reality of our climate emergency. It was an honor to witness the healing, transformation, and regeneration of so many of our participants and be humbled by the reality that no matter who we are, what age we are, and where we are from the reality is we all suffer and often due to similar issues such as family, our human relations and the destruction of our Earth.
How did participants experience the retreat?
I joined the Mother Earth retreat at Plum Village without knowing quite what to expect. I live in a city, work in startups, and I’m not a Buddhist or vegetarian. But I’d read some of Thich Nhat Hanh’s writing, and a friend had told me about Plum Village. And most of all, I’ve had a growing feeling that the way I’m living my life doesn’t align with the values I believe in deep down, and a feeling of estrangement from the natural world.
For the last two weeks, we have been exploring forests and fields and lakes, eating delicious vegan food, spending time with genuinely kind and thoughtful people, reading, listening, farming, singing, meditating, and consciously trying to live mindfully. It may sound like a very abrupt change of pace from normal life, but somehow the community energy helped make the transition. The retreat itself is well-structured, with a balance of time walking and sitting in the land, farming, connecting meaningfully with the rest of the group, Buddhist teaching, rest, and moments of joy.
How do I feel now? I just feel *better*. A friend described Plum Village as like a liver or kidney for society, quietly filtering away the toxins. That’s exactly how it feels. A lifelong health condition cleared up after the first 4 days. I’m a little calmer, a little more forgiving towards myself and others, and I’ve laughed a lot. I don’t expect this state of mind to last forever, but I hope I will remember how it felt, and be nudged towards a better way of living.
I am returning from the Coming Home To Mother Earth retreat with Plum Village Happy Farm and feeling both more connected to and inspired by our beloved Mother Earth. It’s been the most amazing two weeks, full of deep ecology, mindfulness, and joyful community. It hasn’t all been easy, finding that true connection also includes unearthing the most vulnerable parts of ourselves, but with it comes greater insight, understanding, and intimacy with others as well as our true nature.
Thank you to all who shared in this experience. Your hearts are truly beautiful and you have all taught me so much. I am forever grateful.
A taste of the retreat
Join us next time?
The next Coming Home to Mother Earth retreat will take place from September 15 to 29 this year at Plum Village Monastery in France. You can find out more here.