Action from the Heart

Harnessing the power of understanding and love to change the world.

Join us for a five-day retreat online on mindful activism

This is a special retreat for climate activists, social activists, activists in other fields and anyone working to create a healthy and compassionate society. Activism carries the risks of burnout, interpersonal conflict, emotional exhaustion, and despair. As antidotes, we’ll explore how to truly listen to our hearts, restore balance and harmony in our life, and find the strength and inspiration we need to build collaborative communities and realise our collective aspiration.

This retreat is offered by Plum Village monks, nuns, and laypeople trained by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen Master and peace activist. Thich Nhat Hanh pioneered “Engaged Buddhism” where mindfulness and meditation support concrete action for a better world. The mindfulness practices he and his community teach, have been road-tested in times of war and conflict. This retreat aims to support you to take care of yourself so can sustain your care for the world around you.

I don’t think that I would have had the inner stamina, the depth of optimism, the depth of commitment, the depth of the inspiration if I had not been accompanied by the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.

Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC Chair of the Paris Climate Agreement

[This is an international retreat best suited for European, African, and American time zones. Thanks to the monastic support from Deer Park Monastery, Magnolia Grove Monastery, and Blue Cliff Monastery the US East and West coast will have an adjusted and different schedule than Europe, so that it is more convenient to follow in the Americas. Please see the schedules available to download below.]

This retreat course will be in English, with French translation. (Cliquez ici pour voir la version française.)

This is a short video with impressions from Plum Village, interviews with two activists and Thay

The environment is not outside of us, we are the environment. What we need is a transformation of our consciousness, our ideas of happiness, and our lifestyle.

Thich Nhat Hanh

A 5-day experience connecting with like-minded people

Guided meditations and relaxations specially for dealing with the stresses of campaigning for change

Group discussions with monastics and fellow activists

Tap into the wisdom of the collective through deep listening and loving speech practices

Talks from senior Dharma teachers and special guests to keep the flame alive 

With special guest Christiana Figueres (UNFCCC Chair of the Paris Climate Agreement) and Dr Gail Bradbrook (co-founder of Extinction Rebellion)

Panel sharing and workshops

Exploring concrete ways mindfulness can support social and enviromental action. Hear from experienced activists who have applied mindfulness practices into their daily life and work.

“Dharma Sharing” circles

Join a group of about 20 people, guided by an experienced facilitator. These “Dharma Sharing” groups are a unique Plum Village offering and a highlight of the retreat. It’s a great way to enjoy live interaction, and to hear, learn, and connect deeply with people from many different countries and backgrounds. Dharma Sharing also provides a chance to ask questions and receive guidance or recommendations for deepening your mindfulness practice.

Please note that Dharma sharing spaces are limited, and that registration for it will close on the 22nd of February, 2021.

An accompanied five-day experience

Wednesday, Feb 24: Going against the stream

Brother Phap Lai

How can we handle the present situation when it’s so destructive and going in the wrong direction? How can we deal with strong emotions like anger, despair, frustration and  hopelessness? We’ll explore how mindfulness practices can be the basis for peaceful activism, discover how we can rediscover joy in daily life, and prevent burn-out so we can continue to work on what we deeply believe in.


Thursday, Feb 25: Laying down the sword – A live interview with Sr Chan Khong

Sister Chan Khong

Sr Chan Khong is Thich Nhat Hanh’s first fully ordained monastic disciple, having been a dedicated activist herself since her youth. Through this interview she will share her valuable experiences on how can we create conditions to truly listen to ourselves and our deepest hopes, sorrows and fears. We will explore the art of compassionate “deep listening”, and how real communication and communion can allow us to work with clarity and togetherness, and harness the collective power for positive change in our society and for the Earth.


Friday, Feb 26: The power of collective action

Lay Dharma teacher Dr. Larry Ward

Do you ever wonder, “What really lies at the heart of my activist work?” What is the source of moral courage? How can we discern the right way through difficult situations? We’ll explore how the teachings on the Noble Eightfold Path and global ethics can be the foundation of our engaged actions. We’ll explore how to build sustainable communities that can foster harmony, compassion and kindness.


Saturday, 27 Feb: Questions and Answers

This is an opportunity to ask a question about the joys and challenges of applying mindfulness to our lives and relationships, and dealing with the stresses and challenges of activism while trying to bring about changes at home, work, school, communities, and in the world. A panel of experienced Dharma teachers will share their insights.

There will be one Q&A session live in France/ Europe (with Sr Lang Nghiem, Sr Dao Nghiem, Br Hue Truc, and Br Phap Bieu).
There will also be one Q&A session live in the US (with Br Phap Dung, Sr Dang Nghiem, Br Phap Luu, and Sr Kaira Jewel).



Sunday Feb 28: Cutting through illusion

Sister Chan Duc (Sr Annabel)

What is the illusion that lies at the base of our collective suffering? We humans are not of the nature of a separate self. We rely on many conditions for us to be. The environment is not outside of us, we are the environment. Our happiness and suffering is the others’ happiness and suffering. We are all interconnected. How can we live and care for Mother Earth in the present moment so that we can have a future for us and our children?

Other special events

Workshops and special guest panel

Dr Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion (Photo: Gareth Morris)

A variety of interactive workshops focusing on areas such as How to deal with racial discrimination; The art of communication and building group harmony; Systemic thinking and effecting change; How to recognize burnout and self-care; How to deal with strong emotions and difficulties in our work as activists; How to start an Earth Holder Sangha and Earth Holder practices

Christiana Figueres (Photo: Jimena-Mateo)

We will also have a special guest panel featuring Christiana Figueres and Dr Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion.


Beginning anew with Mother Earth

Sr Annabel will also lead the community in a moving ceremony where we start afresh with Mother Earth.


Five Mindfulness Trainings Transmission

Sister Chan Khong

A rare chance to receive the Five Mindfulness Trainings and to make the commitment to bring spirituality and ethics into every area of life. The Five Mindfulness Trainings are one of the most concrete ways to practice mindfulness, compassion, and understanding. Taking them to heart can give us energy and insight to remain engaged in the world.

Retreat Program

Adapted Schedules for Americas The table below does not reflect the modified schedule for time zones in the Americas, (even though your browser might show “All times displayed in America/ L.A./ N.Y.”). You can download a PDF of the American Eastern Time (EST) schedule here and West Coast schedule (PST) here.

All times displayed in

07:00

30′ Guided sitting meditation, Love letter to Mother Earth

08:00

Guided mindful movement

09:30

Arriving and settling

09:45

“Laying down the sword” – A live interview with Sr Chan Khong

14:30

30′ Deep lying down meditation

15:30

Sharing in small groups

18:00

Dinner in Affinity groups – optional

20:00

Workshops

07:00

30′ Guided sitting meditation, Love letters to Mother Earth

08:00

Guided mindful movement

09:30

Arriving and settling

09:45

“Going against the stream” A talk by Br Phap Lai

14:30

30′ Deep lying down meditation

15:30

Sharing in small groups

18:00

Optional tea hang-out

20:00

30′ Guided sitting meditation and reading

07:00

30′ Guided sitting meditation, Love letter to Mother Earth

08:00

Guided mindful movement

09:30

Arriving and settling

09:45

Panel sharing on global ethics

14:30

30′ Deep lying down meditation

16:00

“The power of collective action” A talk by lay Dharma teacher Larry Ward

18:00

Dinner in sharing groups – for others: optional tea hang-out

20:00

30′ sitting meditation and reading

07:00

Beginning Anew ceremony with Mother Earth by Sister Chan Duc

08:15

Guided mindful movements

09:30

Arriving and settling

09:45

Questions & Answers

14:30

30′ Deep lying down relaxation

15:30

Sharing in small groups

18:00

Dinner in Affinity groups – optional

20:00

Panel of Special Guests – Christiana Figueres and Gail Bradbrook

07:00

30″ sitting meditation and reading

08:00

Guided mindful movement – optional

09:30

Arriving and settling

09:45

“Cutting Through Illusion” A talk by Sister Chan Duc

15:30

The Five Mindfulness Training Transmission Ceremony

18:00

Dinner in sharing groups – for others: optional tea hang-out

20:00

Closing circle: celebrating our diversity and inclusiveness

All streamed content will be uploaded after the session, and will be available to everyone who has registered for six months.

You can download the schedule for European time zones as a pdf here.

What’s an “online” retreat like?

I have found this retreat very powerful. Quietly radical. Sneakily paradigm-shifting. It reminds me exactly why I love Plum Village so.

Yvette Issar, Geneva, Switzerland

Thank you to all involved in making this retreat happen. It has been such a nourishment for me and inspiring to hear all the dharma talks and panel discussions …. It really was like experiencing a mini retreat at home. Deep gratitude to everyone.

Sarah Dawson in Ireland

What was particularly helpful is to bring the retreat spirit into my own home, making the integration into daily life easier.

Judith, The Netherlands

Experiences from the Online Wake Up Ambassador Retreat

Resource Package

Exclusive Video: How to Create a Retreat at Home

Inspiration for transforming your space and readying your heart and mind

Calligraphies

New artwork from the monastics to print and post around your home

Free Thich Nhat Hanh e-book

Your own digital copy of The World We Have

50% off Parallax Press classics e-book

Special offers on the best reading to accompany your retreat

Register

Financial contributions for this retreat cover the technical costs and the basic living expenses of the monastics at Plum Village. You can choose a contribution most suited to your means ranging from €75 to €350.

We do not want the financial aspect to keep you from participating. If you want to attend this online retreat and your budget does not allow for it at this moment, please email us at onlineretreats@plumvillage.org to apply for a further reduction.

Please be aware that there are two steps to complete the registration process:

  1. The first step: filling out the Google form
  2. The second step: making payment (this requires a credit card).

You need to complete both steps in order to register.

Please note that the registration for Dharma circle sharing is closed. It is not possible to join a circle sharing group anymore. But you can still register without circle sharing and follow the retreat.

Questions about the program

How much time do I need to follow this retreat?

This is a 5-day retreat, Wednesday morning to Sunday evening. Ideally, it is best if you can clear your days from other commitments so you can fully participate and savor the peaceful energy of the retreat, even when you are not following a scheduled session.

Each day there is a morning session from 7.00 to 11.30 (CET), which includes an optional 30-minute guided exercise session and a one-hour break for breakfast. The afternoon session is from 2.30-5:30pm and starts with relaxation followed by “Dharma sharing” (breakout groups). The evening session is from 8.00-8:45pm or on some days longer due to workshops or panel sharing. We recommend you always arrive a few minutes early to set up your computer connection. 

Please note that you can choose to opt-in or opt-out of the three “Dharma sharing” afternoon sessions (3:30-5:00pm on three days). If you opt-in, we ask that you commit to join all three sessions, on time, so the group can have a strong collective experience. To avoid disturbing the group, we will not be able to admit people to the Dharma Sharing sessions once they have started.

Please also organise some time before the retreat starts, to familiarise yourself with the videos and information in the “How to Enjoy Your Online Retreat” package, and set up a peaceful corner of your home where you can have an internet connection. We hope that this immersive and interactive experience will help you strengthen your mindfulness practice and establish the spirit of Plum Village right in your home.

If I can’t join one of the sessions, can I still follow the other sessions?

We encourage you to attend as much of the retreat as possible to get the greatest benefit from the practice. Please note that if you wish to join the 3 Dharma Sharing sessions, you will need to follow the Dharma Talk in order to “unlock” the Dharma Sharing session in the afternoon. To support the collective shared experience, it is not possible to join the Dharma Sharing if you have not attended the Dharma Talk (exception are friends from American time zones, who will watch the talks later in the day together).

If I can’t join a session live, can I watch it later?

Yes, we try to livestream all sessions to our platform so you can follow both there and on Zoom. The recording of this livestream will remain available afterwards.

What is “Dharma Sharing” or “breakout groups”? 

In this retreat, the Dharma Sharing is a smaller break-out group of around participants, led by an experienced facilitator. It gives us a chance to listen deeply, to speak from the heart, and benefit from each other’s insights and experience of practicing mindfulness. We can share our experiences, our joys, our difficulties, and our questions relating to the teachings in the retreat, and the mindfulness practices we are following together.

What do I need to prepare before joining this retreat? 

Please organise your time and commitments, so you have space from the morning of Wednesday, February 24, to the evening of Sunday, February 28, to fully participate in the retreat. A few days before the retreat starts, you’ll receive a digital package with information and resources on how to prepare yourself and your environment so you can really enjoy the retreat. Please allow an hour or two before Wednesday morning to familiarize yourself with these materials and set up your computer correctly.

You’re invited to prepare a room or corner in your home where you can be online, undisturbed. It is important that you are not interrupted during the various sessions, so you may like to communicate with loved ones, or other people you live with, to ask for their support in this. If you are participating in the Dharma Sharing groups, it will be important for you to log-on from a private space where you can share without others hearing you.

If I have a question about the teachings given during the retreat, where / when can I ask it?

The Dharma Sharing break-out groups are the ideal time to ask questions from the heart about the teachings you have heard and practices we are following together. You can also write a question in the comments below the video of a particular talk. There will be a special session of Questions & Answers with the monks and nuns on Saturday 27th February.

Will I be able to interact with the monastics directly? Eg. Can I ask them a question and get an answer?

The Dharma Sharing break-out groups offer a rare opportunity to join a circle facilitated by a monastic. If you are interested in connecting with the monastics, we strongly encourage you to make the commitment to opt-in to the three Dharma Sharing sessions. Our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, taught us that Dharma Sharing break-out groups are the most powerful way to learn and grow in our mindfulness practice. Please note that these sessions are not direct question-and-answer sessions, but a group where questions are addressed collectively.

I live with other people. Can I still join the retreat?

Yes, you do not need to be in a hut on a mountain to enjoy this retreat. So long as you have a quiet corner or room where you can be undisturbed, and perhaps have space to stretch and do the mindful movements, you will be able to enjoy the retreat fully. You may need headphones, and if you are joining Dharma Sharing, somewhere in the house where you can speak without being heard by others.

You can explain to those you live with your intention in joining the retreat and ask for their support. The idea is not to cut yourself off from them, but to generate a strong energy of mindfulness, peace and presence, during the sessions, that you can bring to your in-person interactions off-screen over the course of the weekend. You will be able to apply many of the teachings on deep listening, mindful eating and so on, right away!

Is this retreat appropriate for all ages? Can children or teenagers join?

This retreat is designed as an adult learning experience, but anyone is welcome to join the meditations, talks, movement and relaxations. Please note that in the Dharma Sharing breakout groups themes may spontaneously arise that are not appropriate for teenagers or children, and so it is not possible to register participants under 18 for the Dharma Sharing groups. We are currently exploring how we can offer a different, more tailored experience for children and teens online. Please check our events listing for future announcements.

I haven’t done a retreat before. Will I be able to follow this one?

This retreat is accessible to those new to the practice, and will be a refreshing and deepening experience for those who have been practicing mindfulness for some time. It is a precious chance to connect directly with our spiritual community, and to meet like-minded people.

I’m not in Europe. Can I join from a different time zone? Will I miss anything?

Please see the schedule and convert the times into your time-zone. This is an international retreat most suited for European, African and American time zones. It is convenient to follow in American time zones. We have prepared schedules for both European and American time zones. Please see the schedules available to download above. We have designed the retreat in such a way that friends from Europe, Africa and the Americas can follow all the Dharma sharings, some meals and workshop/ panel sessions live. If you are in a later time-zone (e. g. Asia), you may still be able to follow the morning meditations, exercise, talks, relaxations and Dharma sharing (and simply miss the evening session, which you could watch the next morning). If you live in America, you can follow one of the two schedules proposed (EST or PST). This is to encourage our friends in the Americas to follow the same schedule, e.g. to watch the Dharma talk together, and to create a collective energy of practice. This is still an experiment and we are open to learning, so please do send us your feedback.

What language will the retreat be given in?

The retreats will be offered in English with French translation. For French speakers, there will be your own French guided meditations, relaxations, and French Dharma Sharing break-out groups. As we expand our experience and technical capacity, we hope to offer translation into more languages in future. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Is there any translation for the live sessions?

The talks will be translated live in French. If you are bilingual, and have experience offering simultaneous translation for the Dharma talks (teachings) into a language other than French, and would like to offer to translate, please email the technical team, and we will see what may be possible: onlineretreats@plumvillage.org


Questions about tech issues

What do I need to join this retreat? Do I need to install anything? Do I need any special equipment?

This retreat will be delivered to you through your web browser and the Zoom app. When following the live events you can choose to join via Zoom or via the embedded video in your browser (link will be provided in advance). If you are opting-in to Dharma Sharing (the smaller breakout groups), you will need to install the Zoom software and you will need a webcam on your computer or tablet, so people can see you (just as you will see others). It is also preferable to have headphones, ideally with a microphone.

What quality will the videos be streamed in?

We try to livestream on 720p, but some of our Plum Village hamlets do not have strong enough internet so it may be limited to 480p. After the retreat we will upload all content in 1080p for your enjoyment.

I don’t have a very stable internet connection. Can I still join the retreat?

It depends how unstable. Your viewing quality is similar to watching something on youtube. So if that is a pleasant enough experience, then yes you can join this retreat. But for Dharma Sharing others might find it difficult to hear you. You can ask permission to turn off your camera, so others can hear you better.

Can I join the retreat from my phone?

Yes, when you subscribe you will receive an email with instructions and telephone numbers to join us via Zoom. You will only be able to follow the live sessions; it is not possible to join Dharma Sharing sessions from a phone.

Do I have to open my camera or can I join just audio?

Yes you can join only via audio, you do not have to start your camera, you can also choose only to watch via our platform. Only when you join the Dharma Sharing session, everybody is asked to start their camera to create a safe environment.

Will I be able to save and keep the recordings after the retreat?

All the recordings will be available afterwards on our platform, for you to access for six months. You will not be able to download them. 

If I have technical difficulties with my setup, who do I contact?

You’re invited to breathe, pray, or send an email to onlineretreats@plumvillage.org


Questions about registration

How are the “breakout groups” formed? Can I choose which breakout group to join? 

The groups will be assigned by the monastics, based on our experience of creating diverse yet balanced groups. It is not possible to assign you to a chosen facilitator or to be in a group with friends. In this retreat we will also have groups for young adults (Wake Up), LGBTIQA+, and people of colour (POC).

What is my registration fee paying for?

Your contribution will go towards food, lodging, and healthcare for our community of 700 monastics in ten mindfulness practice centers worldwide. It will also enable us to invest in technical infrastructure in terms of internet, cameras, and equipment, so we can offer more teachings live online, with direct contact between monastics and practitioners. Without your support, we would be unable to sustain our community or offer the Dharma online.

Is there a refund option if I need to cancel my registration?

We can offer a full refund within 30 days of your payment. 

If I cannot afford the lowest scholarship fee, can I apply for a further reduction?

We do not want the financial aspect to keep you from participating. If you want to attend an online retreat and your budget does not allow for it at this moment, please email us at onlineretreats@plumvillage.org to apply for a further reduction.   

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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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