Update: We are offering online retreats while Plum Village France remains closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Touching Reality

Buddhism in Conversation with Science

Join us for this five day retreat.

A specially curated 5-day retreat for scientists and meditators led by some of the most senior disciples of Thich Nhat Hanh and guest scientists.

Scientists and meditators share the need to explore and discover. We will learn how to connect the ancient wisdom of Buddhism and the most recent discoveries of science to the questions of our happiness and suffering, in order to address the challenges we face in our own lives, our relationships and world.

This retreat assumes a basic understanding of Plum Village practices.

As scientists, we also have to challenge ourselves. We know that we need a mind that is clear – a mind that is not overloaded with afflictions, worries, anxiety and despair – a mind that is free from prejudices, notions, even knowledge, so that we can make progress on the path of learning and discovering. And we can do that much better with a community.

Thich Nhat Hanh

A carefully curated 5 day at home retreat experience

A mix of online and offline mindfulness practices to experience a Plum Village retreat in your own home.

Connect live to an international community

Generating a collective energy of mindfulness

Intimate group interactions with monastics

Join a group of about 15-20 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 spaces are limited.

Exclusive talks from senior teachers trained by Thich Nhat Hanh

Tuesday, June 15: Healing Body, Healing Mind

Sr. Đẳng Nghiêm

Adverse experiences in our lives can leave imprints in our bodies and flavor our way of experiencing reality. In this session, we will begin to learn ways to heal based on the Buddha’s teachings on mindfulness, and explore how our body and feelings form the basis of our happiness and suffering. 
Sr. Đẳng Nghiêm will guide us, informed by the insights from neuroscience and her own journey of healing trauma.


Wednesday, June 16: Mind as Instrument

Sr. Lăng Nghiêm

What is the Buddhist understanding of mind and how can we take care of our mind? How can we cultivate new habits of mind to heal our internal and external environment? What is the intersection of Buddhist psychology and neuroscience? In this dharma talk we will explore a Buddhist model of mind, and how mindfulness helps us touch the most beautiful seeds in us to take care of our happiness and suffering. We will look at how the insights of Buddhism can help us cultivate concentration and clarity, thus developing the fundamental instrument of science – the mind.


Thursday, June 17: Rediscovering our Beginner’s Mind

Br. Pháp Linh

Our brains make stories to explain our experience, but these stories in turn condition our experience. In this talk we will learn how to drop the story and come back to the ground of our felt-sense awareness in the body. From the theory of predictive coding, to how a limited understanding of Darwinism has shaped our society, we will explore how our stories constrain our imagination and thus our possible futures, and how by releasing our most cherished cultural narratives we can envision more hopeful futures for ourselves and for the planet.


Sunday, June 20: The Science of Compassion

Sr. Chân Đức (Sr. Annabel)

In this final talk, we will explore how the Buddhist teachings — which lead to the insight of non-duality and interbeing — can transform our lives and relationships. It is possible to transcend all dogmatism (philosophical, scientific or religious) and touch a space beyond notions and words. Here, discrimination ends and compassionate action begins. This compassion can heal ourselves and the world.

Panel Interviews with Scientists

We are honoured to be joined by distinguished scientists Professor Diane Gilbert-Diamond, Dr. Lilian Cheung, Professor David Sloan Wilson, Professor Michel Bitbol & Professor Ruth Lanius to discuss the connections between Buddhism and science.

Combining the insights of science and mindfulness to help us to understand how food, sensory impressions, volition and consciousness affect our children and us.


How can multi-level selection theory help us to release the old narrative of individualism and move towards a new paradigm of interbeing and mutualism?


Applying the insights of phenomenology, quantum physics and Buddhism to recognize and suspend our habits of reification and grasping in order to (hopefully) have a direct experience of reality.


Exploring the evidence for changes to self-concept in the aftermath of trauma and the implications for healing, and development of trauma-sensitive approaches to mindfulness and meditation.

Workshops

There will be several workshops offered in parallel for you to choose from:

Call Me by My True Names: Consciousness and identifying with nature

Dr. James Cooke

Western science and philosophy have long struggled to understand the place of consciousness in the natural world.  This struggle can be seen as arising from an insistence that humans are separate from, and superior to, other forms of life. Science is finally coming to discover the truth of the meditative insight that we are truly part of nature. Internalising this realisation can not only serve to liberate us psychologically but can also help us gain a deeper understanding of the place of consciousness in our universe. In this workshop we will explore our intuitions around the place of consciousness in nature, both through experiential practice and intellectual contemplation.


Applied Mindfulness in Healthcare

Elli Weisbaum

In this session we will explore the integration of mindfulness in healthcare, with a specific focus on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. We will begin with a brief overview of the scientific evidence base that is supporting the uptake of mindfulness in healthcare settings. Following this, facilitator Elli Weisbaum will share an overview of the study design and findings from her PhD research titled “Applied Mindfulness for Physician Wellbeing: a prospective qualitative study”.

In this study, 45 physicians from across different specialties participated in a 5-week mindfulness training program based in the teaching of Thich Nhat Hanh. To inform the use of Thay’s teachings, a Monastic Advisory Committee from Plum Village was established to provide guidance across all phases of the research study. The study overview will include discussion of how Thay’s teachings were adapted/translated for this particular population and setting.

Dr. Sara Ahola Kohut

Facilitator Sara Ahola Kohut will then continue the conversation of how to practically integrate mindfulness into healthcare settings by sharing from her experience of integrating the practice into her work as a clinician/researcher. The session will conclude with time for discussion and Q/A. Our aspiration is that this session will help shine light on best practices and skillful approaches for rigorously integrating mindfulness and Thay’s teachings into healthcare settings and beyond.


The Sacred Path of Self Regulation: Training the Brain; Training the Mind

Sebern Fisher

I have three major practices- psychotherapy, meditation and neurofeedback. I needed all three to begin first to inhabit a self and at some point to release it. The core, unifying experience of each practice is the profound gift of self regulation. We’ll explore together if we might all benefit from such an approach, each practice deepening the other, through story, a little theory and inquiry; and deep looking.


The Art of Communication

Sr. Hiến Nghiêm (True Dedication)

When we learn how to listen and communicate effectively, we can build trust, overcome misunderstandings and help to shape a shared vision for our home or workplace. In this workshop we will go through practical exercises to train our capacity for deep listening, loving speech and compassion, and to see how they can be applied in our relationships everyday.


Beginning Anew for Couples

Jo Confino
Paz Perlman

A workshop with Jo Confino and Paz Perlman focusing on communication and reconciliation with our partners. Jo and Paz are both long-term students of Thich Nhat Hanh and have a wealth of experience in applying the practices of loving speech, deep listening, and compassion in both their personal and professional lives.


Question & Answer Session

Towards the end of this retreat – on Saturday – we offer the opportunity for you to ask a question live to a panel with Sr. Hội Nghiêm, Sr. Hiến Nghiêm, Br. Pháp Xả and Br. Pháp Lai.

Retreat Program

The below schedule can be shown in your local time:

All times displayed in

19:30

Talk: Healing Body, Healing Mind by Sr. Đẳng Nghiêm Live Event

07:30

Sitting Meditation Live Event

08:15

Guided Mindful Movement

09:30

Talk: Mind as Instrument by Sr. Lăng Nghiêm Live Event

14:30

Total Relaxation

15:30

Sharing in Small Groups Live Event

18:00

Dinner Together Live Event

20:00

Silent Sitting Meditation

22:00

Sharing in Small Groups (Americas only!) Live Event

07:30

Sitting Meditation Live Event

08:15

Guided Mindful Movement

09:30

Talk: Rediscovering our Beginner’s Mind by Br. Pháp Linh Live Event

14:30

Total Relaxation

15:30

Sharing in Small Groups Live Event

18:00

Dinner Together Live Event

19:30

Panel discussions: Lilian Cheung, Diane Gilbert-Diamond and Br Phap Luu, OR Michel Bitbol and Br Phap Linh Live Event

22:00

Sharing in Small Groups (Americas only!) Live Event

07:30

Sitting Meditation Live Event

08:15

Guided Mindful Movement

09:30

Panel sharing on the 5 mindfulness trainings with scientists practicing in the Plum Village Tradition Live Event

14:30

Total Relaxation

15:30

Workshops Live Event

18:00

Dinner Together Live Event

20:00

Silent Sitting Meditation Live Event

07:30

Sitting Meditation Live Event

08:15

Guided Mindful Movements

09:30

Questions and Answers with Sr. Hiến Nghiêm, Sr. Hội Nghiêm, Br. Pháp Xả and Br. Pháp Lai Live Event

14:30

Total Relaxation

15:30

Sharing in Small Groups Live Event

18:00

Dinner Together Live Event

19:30

Panel discussions: David Sloan Wilson, Sr Lang Nghiem and Sr Giac An, OR Ruth Lanius, Liam Kavanagh and Br Phap Linh Live Event

22:00

Sharing in Small Groups (Americas only!) Live Event

07:30

Sitting Meditation Live Event

08:15

Guided Mindful Movement

09:30

Talk: The Science of Compassion by Sr. Chân Đức Live Event

14:30

Total Relaxation

15:30

Sharing in Small Groups Live Event

18:00

Dinner in Sharing Groups Live Event

20:00

Closing Circle – Celebration with Musical Offerings Live Event

22:00

Sharing in Small Groups (Americas only!) Live Event

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

Here you can find the full schedule for the American timezones (PDF):

What is it like to attend a Plum Village retreat at home?

I have found this retreat very powerful. Attending a Plum Village online retreat is like taking a bath in mindfulness. The brothers and sisters create a precious space of love and kindness.

Recent participant

I was amazed that the nourishment and presence of a Plum Village retreat could actually be generated online! If you’ve always wanted to experience the Plum Village kindness, compassion and support, you will find it even miles from France, in your own home.

Amy, USA

It’s hard to express in words my gratitude for this retreat. I feel re-connected, re-inspired, nourished and in a place where I can act from true aliveness.

Joanna, UK

Experiences from recent online retreats

Resource Package

Special video guides

To help you prepare yourself and your retreat space so that you can have the best conditions to join the online sessions

New Calligraphies

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

40% off on Thich Nhat Hanh books

The Other Shore, The Sun My Heart and Understanding Our Mind

20% discount on books from the teachers

Flowers in the Dark, Mindfulness as Medicine, Healing and True Virtue

Dialogue: Our journey from science to monastic life

Get to know some of the monastics in the retreat organising team. (12min)

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.

In the registration process you can choose whether or not to register for Dharma Sharing. We are offering a chance for you to join a group of 15-20 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. Each session is between 1.5 and 2 hours long, as we listen deeply to each other’s experiences of the retreat. No prior experience or knowledge is needed to join. Dharma Sharing also provides a chance to ask questions and receive guidance or recommendations for deepening your mindfulness practice. If you select to join a “Dharma Sharing group”, it’s important that you can commit to join every session, in order to support the stability of the group.The option to join Dharma Sharing has now closed.

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.

Questions about the program

How much time do I need to follow this retreat?

This is a 5 and a half day retreat, Tuesday evening to Sunday evening (CEST). Ideally, it is best if you can clear your days from other commitments so you can fully participate and savour energy of the retreat, even when you are not following a scheduled session.

There is a morning session from 7.30 to 11.30 (CEST), which includes a guided exercise session and a one-hour break for breakfast, then a talk or panel. The afternoon session is from 2.30-5:30pm and starts with relaxation followed by “Dharma sharing” (breakout groups). The evening session is from 7:30 – 9:00pm 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 four “Dharma sharing” afternoon sessions (3:30-5:00pm CEST on four days). If you opt-in, we ask that you commit to join all four sessions, on time, so the group can build trust 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 you time to attend the special welcoming session on Tuesday 15th June, 2021 at 19:30 to familiarise yourself with the basic practices so that you can really get the most out of this retreat. The session will be recorded if you are not able to attend, but please watch it before starting the retreat. There is also a videos on how to set up a peaceful corner of your home where you can participate in the online sessions. 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 four 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.

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 15-20 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 evening of Tuesday, June 15, to the evening of Sunday, June 20, 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 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 19th June.

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 four 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 retreat. 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?

This is an international retreat most suited for European and African timezones. If you can arrange your personal schedule to follow, then please register on this site.

For those in the American time zones, you will be able to follow the retreat through a combination of recordings and live events.

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). 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. For French speakers, there will be your own French guided meditations 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.

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.   

Hide Transcript

What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

00:00 / 00:00
Show Hide Transcript Close