31 May 2023

By Kasia Stepien

Monastic Tour 2023 – Week Two: Windermere Retreat

Mindfulness, Music and Mother Earth 

19th – 21st May

‘The monastics brought such peace and joy with them, it was like they brought Plum Village to us.’

We were very happy and grateful to welcome Sr. Samadhi, Sr. One Way, Br. Mountain and Br. Dharma Field to the Lake District, and were joined by practitioners new and old from far and near to practice together as one dharma family.

Our non-residential retreat at Carver Church, in Windermere began on Friday evening, 19 May with an evening of music, led by the monastics and musician Joe Holtaway. Joe led us in singing some Plum Village favourites, while several attendees shared their own heart-warming songs and poems.

We began our Day of Mindfulness, on Saturday 20 May, with meditation, followed by a beautifully prepared breakfast in noble silence. The day continued with more Plum village songs, and dharma talks by Br. Mountain and Sr. Samadhi, reminding us of how we can deal with difficulties through the four diligences, by inviting up wholesome seeds, nourishing and tending them, not watering unwholesome seeds and encouraging the unwholesome ones to rest. Sr Samadhi added to this theme by sharing local poet Wordworth’s ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ and skilfully interpreting the poem’s dharma message of nourishing joy. The talk was followed by walking meditation and a delightful shared lunch, the soothing chanting of Sr. One Way during the total relaxation, a beautiful session of the Five Earth touchings, and dharma sharing. The day ended with another wonderfully prepared meal, to practice mindful eating together.

Our weekend culminated with a mindful walk up Orrest Head, on Sunday 21 May, led by Br. Dharma Field. We silently and slowly walked in mindfulness up a gentle winding pathway lined with forest and spectacular views of the lake. The walk was interjected with short pauses to reflect on the beautiful insights of participants, which nourished our joyful seeds. At the top of the hill, we enjoyed a mindful picnic with a view of the whole of Windermere and enjoyed the company of fellow attendees and monastics. 

It was an incredible weekend of many sanghas coming together, celebrating our spiritual connection and nurturing inter-sangha relationships. The weekend would not have been possible without working together and there is an immense energy of gratitude for all who supported and made it possible. 

Feedback form participants:

‘Spending three days with monastics and other local Plum Village practitioners has bridged the gap in my practice and I feel more inspired and motivated to continue practising.’

‘I really enjoyed the dharma talk and feel I am being more mindful of generating joy after listening to Br. Mountain and Sr. Samadhi, I am more aware of needing to water nourishing seeds. Thank you!’

I attended the Day of Mindfulness in Windermere yesterday as part of the Plum Village Monastic Tour. It was a very special event. I’m very grateful for the contribution of all of the monastics: Brother Mountain’s dharma talk was inspiring, Brother Dharma-fields involvement and sharing in my dharma group was thought provoking, Sister One-Way’s singing was incredible, and the other sister led events with a great gentleness and wisdom. I’m so thankful for having had the opportunity to meet the monastics. – Katy 

photos by Tracey-Lee Scully

Tracey-Lee Scully from Still Waters Sangha coordinated the event with the assistance of Julie Ridgway, from Rolling Tides Lancaster, who was also the Lead Kitchen Bodhisattva, and assisted in finding helpers for the event from other sanghas, namely Rolling Tides Lancaster and Kendal and also Heart of Lytham, to join our helpers from Still Waters Sangha in Ambleside. Lauri Bower and Julie Henderson, who assisted with coordinating our regional events, were a huge support and our weekly meetings with other event organisers made a big difference in preparations. Gratitude to all!