A Welcoming Community of Mindfulness in the Plum Village Tradition
I am the spiritual director of the Indigo Sangha, a local practice center studying mindfulness in the tradition of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh of the global Plum Village Community. The group meets weekly, on Monday nights, in Summerville, SC. At our gatherings, we practice sitting and walking meditation to calm and focus our minds and bodies. We listen to talks and share what is in our hearts. We train ourselves in mindfulness to be peaceful, aware, and responsive to what is happening in the present moment not only in the meditation hall but throughout the day.
Practicing as a Sangha–as a community of friends–our mindfulness grows joyful, relaxed and steady. Our presence and our practice contributes to the vitality and wisdom of the sangha. In society, much of our suffering comes from feeling disconnected . Each person lives separately, cut off from the support of others. Being with the sangha can heal feelings of isolation. We practice together and experience feelings of love and acceptance.
The Indigo Sangha is a welcoming and inclusive community. We want everyone who wishes to attend to join us. We especially encourage People of Color, LGBTQIA, and young practitioners (ages 18-35) and other diversities to attend.
Sitting meditation is like returning home to give full attention and care to ourselves. In meditation, we calmly concentrate our attention on our breathing, the flow of air coming in and going out of our nose. When things arise in our consciousness, we notice them, and let them go without becoming overwhelmed or carried away. If our minds wander to events in the past or worries about the future, we gently bring our awareness back to the present moment sensations of our breathing and this collects and re-anchors our mind. Meditating like this is very healing. We realize we can just be with whatever is within us–our pain, anger, and irritation, or our joy, love and peace.
When we practice walking meditation, we shift our awareness to the sensation of each step. We walk as free people as our feet gently kiss the earth. The aimlessness of walking meditation is pleasant because there is no where to go and nothing to do as we walk. Experiencing ease, each step becomes nourishing and healing.
After practicing sitting and walking meditation, we enjoy a Dharma talk. These talks, given by me and other members of the sangha, transmit and translate ancient insights for modern times. Listening deeply, we let the message penetrate our consciousness to water the seeds of wisdom and compassion that are already there.
Following the talk we have an opportunity to benefit from each other’s insights and experience of the practice. This is a special time for us to share our joys, our difficulties, and our questions relating to the practice of mindfulness. When sharing, we root our comments in our own experience rather than in abstract ideas or theoretical topics. We practice deep listening while others are speaking to help create a calm and receptive environment. By speaking about our happiness and our difficulties in the practice, we contribute to the collective insight and understanding of the sangha.