Mindfulness as Medicine
for Mental Well-Being

A mind-body health retreat with the Plum Village monastics
at the Asian Institute of Applied Buddhism,

Lotus Pond Temple, Ngong Ping Village, Lantau Island, HK

Date and time: 22/10/2015@4:00pm - 25/10/2015@2:00pm


Sept 10, 2015

Dear friends,


You are invited to attend the annual Fall mind-body health retreat at AIAB–Lotus Pond Temple.The theme of this retreat is to look into the emerging field of mind-body medicine, in which mindfulness plays an important role in healing. We will look deeper into the application of mindfulness as mind-body medicine to promote mental well-being.


 According to the World Health Organization, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. It indicates that physical well-being is only one of the three components for good health. In modern society, mental and social well-being play important roles in overall health, and are major factors contributing to physical well-being. There are times when we feel peaceful, happy and fulfilling. There are also times when we feel miserable, unhappy and hopeless. Things that make us miserable can be physical illness, work stress, relationship problems, loss of loved ones, fear and anxiety about the future .... How could we restore and maintain the balance of our body and mind? How can we heal with joy and peace? How can we have a life with true happiness?


Meditation and mindfulness have been used to heal ill-being and to promote well-being for thousands of years in the East, as shown in many teachings of the Buddha. In the West, this field had its beginning in the early 1970s, starting with the discovery of the “Relaxation Response” by Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School. By working with practitioners of Transcendental Meditation, he found out that mediation could help reduce heart rate and metabolism, and lower blood pressure. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was developed by Jon-Kabat Zin in 1979 to help reduce stress; Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was developed in 1995 by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale to prevent relapse of depression1. Regardless how the programs are called, the common key element is mindfulness.




Lotus flowers in Plum Village France



Mindfulness applies in different programs today are originally practiced and taught by the Buddha about 2600 years ago. The teachings were recorded in the Discourse on the Full Awareness of Breathing (Anapanasati Sutta) and the Discourse on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness (Satipatthana Sutta). He said “there is a way to help living beings realize purification, overcome grief and sorrow, end pain and anxiety, travel the right path, and realize nirvana (a tranquil state of mind, absence of dualistic thoughts)”. The way is the Four Establishments of Mindfulness, in which “a practitioner remains established in the observation: (1) of the body (2) of the feelings, (3) of the mind (thoughts, mental formations), and (4) of the objects of mind (perceptions) - diligently, with clear understanding, mindfully, having abandoned every craving and every distaste for this life”. Mindful breathing is the essential of mindfulness. We need to practice mindful breathing in order to bring the mind back to the body in the here and now. We can then become aware of our body, feelings, thoughts, and perceptions. We have to establish mindfulness of breathing before we can establish mindfulness of other things.


In the early days of his monastic life, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh said he was the luckiest man on earth when he discovered the Discourse on Full Awareness of Breathing. The publishing of his book "The Miracles of Mindfulness", a condensed teachings of the discourse, helped bring mindfulness to the West in the early 1970s2. His teachings on mindfulness have helped many people healed and he has been considered as a pioneer in the field of mind-body medicine. In 2001, The Benson-Henry Institute (BHI) for Mind Body Medicine of Harvard Medical School invited Thich Nhat Hanh to be the first recipient of the Mind/Body/Spirit Award to honor his work and life exemplify the integration of mind, body and spirit3.

In this retreat, we will practice mindfulness as “a way of life” to cultivate peace and happiness, to transform pain and suffering, and to live a healthy and compassionate life, for ourselves and for others. These are the core elements of Mindfulness Born Peace and Happiness (MBPH), the way of mindful living being practiced at Plum Village. We will see how these practices can help us deal with sadness, fear, worries, anger, guilt, hopelessness ….... It has a lot to do with how we perceive the world, as in the song “The realm of the mind is mine I can choose. I can choose where I want to be. Both heaven and hell, I know equally well, the choice is up to me”. Mindfulness helps us make the right choice.

The tentative schedule is as follows:


Thur. Oct. 22

Fri. Oct. 23

Sat. Oct. 24

Sun. Oct. 25








Sitting & Slow Walking & Reading Discourse

Outdoor walking, sitting & breakfast



10 Mindful Movements & Walking Meditation







Working Meditation

Working Meditation

Working Meditation



Dharma Talk

Dharma Talk

Questions & Answers






Closing Circle
Fare well & Happy Continuation of the practice at home





Check- in

Hiking along the Nei Lak Shan Trail

Fruit break

Group sharing


Fruit break






Dharma Talk

Group sharing

Beginning Anew/Touching the Earth


Rest - Noble Silence


This retreat is open to all people, whether they have practiced mindfulness before or not. For new practitioners, there will be a practice session for sitting meditation on Friday morning Oct. 23. As this is a mind-body health retreat, there will be a hiking session (about 5 km long), along the Nei Lak Shan Trail on Friday afternoon Oct. 23 and an Outdoor walking along the Wisdom Path, sitting & breakfast at the Heart Sutra Platform on Sunday morning Oct. 25.

Accommodationandcost: Accommodation for this retreat is limited to dormitory-room. Participants will be housed in dormitories (bunk beds). Pillows, bed-linens, and blankets are provided. The cost perperson is listed below.

RoomType (4 days, 3 nights)

Dormitory   (HKD)



Working Meditation:
Because the retreat is held in the monastery, all the preparation and cooking will be done by the monastics and some volunteers. During the retreat, we need help from participants in preparation works like: setting up the meditation hall and dining hall, washing up after meals… Participants will be grouped into Dharma discussion groups and will work together in the same groups to help with the retreat.

How to register: Registration is available on line at the Plum Village Hong Kong Online Registration Website, on a first-come-first-served basis. Registrations are not final until we receive your payment. Please make payment within one week after you register. If payment is not received within one week, your registration will be placed on awaiting list. For means of payment, details will be sent along with the confirmation email to those who completed online registration.

Closing date for registration: October 17, 2015Payment is not refundable for cancellation after October 10, 2015. Cancelation is subject to a 20% cancellation fee. For enquiries, please contact us by e-mail: or by phone from14:30 – 17:00 (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) : 2985-5033 (English), 2985-5281(Chinese).

We are looking forward to seeing you at the retreat!

   Breathe and smile,

  The monks and nuns of AIAB




1."New study shows mindfulness therapy can be as effective as antidepressants", Daniel Freeman and Jason Freeman, The Guardian, April 21 2015,


2. "The Father of Mindfulness", Sylvia Thompson, The Irish Times, April 10, 2012

3. Body/Mind Medical Institute invites Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh to be the first recipient of its Body/Mind/Spirit Award, July 5, 2001