Mindfulness Born Peace and Happiness:
A Joyful Way to a Healthy Body Healthy Mind
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: 24/10/2013 @ 4:00pm - 27/10/ 2013 @ 2:00pm
Walking meditation - Peace is every step
Sept 18, 2013
You are invited to attend our annual Fall retreat at AIAB – Lotus Pond Temple. The theme of this retreat is application of mindfulness for a healthy body healthy mind. For the past 40 years, mindfulness have been researched, studied and applied in Western medicine as an effective way to deal with stress, depression, insomnia, hypertension… among others. There is a Buddha called Medicine Buddha (Bhaiṣajyaguru or Yao Shi Fo in Chinese), who devotes his life to curing mental and physical illness of sentient beings. The main causes of our suffering are greed, hatred and ignorance. Understanding and transforming them is the key to our good health.
Spiritual practices have been used as methods to cure illness in the East for thousands of years, in the form of meditation practices, praying, chanting, etc… How are these applied in Western medicine? In the 1970s, there was a movement to apply spiritual and meditation practices to health care. Some of these efforts now have become popular such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), started by Jon-Kabat Zin; Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), an offspring of MBSR, started by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale. “Relaxation Response”, as identified by Herbert Benson M.D.of Harvard Medical School in the 1970s, has become an essential element of the Mind Body Healing treatment program at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. The institute proposes mind body medicine to be the third leg of modern medicine, besides drugs and surgery.
Regardless of how these programs are called and manifested, underneath is the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a source of energy that brings the mind and body back together, so that we can be aware of what’s happening inside our body and mind, to be in-touch with the present moment. Mindfulness has become quite popular nowadays. It is helpful for us to go back to the source where mindfulness began, when the Buddha practiced mindful breathing while sitting under the Boddhi tree to contemplate on the nature of suffering and ways out of suffering. He was calm and clear, being mindful of his in-breath and his out-breaths, which helped him to stay in the present moment. Mindfulness was established, followed by concentration and insight. We are no longer caught in ignorance, of having a duality point of view (coming/going, happiness/suffering, birth /death), and of having a separate and permanent self (which manifests in the designation “I, me, mine”). Therefore, we have no more fear, anxiety, or sorrow. This is the foundation for a healthy body healthy mind.
In this retreat, we will look at the practices of mindfulness and how it is connected to mind body medicine. We will see how mindfulness is applied to reduce stress and depression, hypertension, insomnia … via a survey of current works in Western Medicine. More importantly, we see that by cultivating peace and happiness, we already take care of stress, depression, insomnia, etc… As taught in the Discourse on Mindful Breathing, the Buddha gave two breathing exercises for us to generate peace and joy within ourselves, which are born from letting go, mindfulness, concentration, and insight. The term Mindfulness Born Peace and Happiness comes directly from the results of the 5th and 6th breathing exercises of this sutra.
The World Suicide Prevention Day is observed annually on September 10. According to World Health Organization, about one million people commit suicide a year, which translates to about 3000 suicides a day. A majority of people who committed suicide suffered from mental illness, which may come the seeds of fear, anxiety, hopelessness, anger, etc… already exist in themselves (in the store consciousness). The fast pace of modern life and pressure from works bring these seeds to the surface (in the mind consciousness). We do not have time to rest and we do not know how to rest. To deal with mental illness, many people have to rely on prescription painkillers, tranquilizers, which mostly can only take care of the symptoms, not the causes. However, the use of the prescription drugs can bring many adverse effects. A recent study by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention said 48,000 women died because of painkiller overdoses from 1999 to 2010, a 4-fold increase in the period1. There are other ways to take care of illness. Prescription drugs is one of the way, mind body medicine could be another. We have to cure illness at the base. Depression can only be cured completely when fear, anxiety, greed and hatred … are embraced and transformed to non-fear, peace, generosity, and compassion … Body and mind are one. Curing mental pains also cure physical pains, and vice versa.
The practice of mindfulness, as a way to bring peace and happiness in daily life, helps us to have a healthy body and mind. Plum Village has actively promoted it for over 30 years. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is considered a pioneer in the Body/Mind Health field through his work in Mindfulness. In 2001, Herbert Benson, M.D. - Director Emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute (BHI) for Mind Body Medicine, and Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, invited Thich Nhat Hanh to be the first recipient of its Mind/Body/Spirit Award2.
In this mindfulness retreat, we will practice mindful breathing, mindful walking, and pleasant smiling. We will go back to the present moment, enjoying the beautiful scenery of Lotus Pond Temple and the surrounding area. We will enjoy the presence of our friends and fellow practitioners, who also take the time off from the busy daily routines to slow down, to enjoy a walk, to just be there for the present moment, for the preciousness of life
The tentative program is as follows
Thursday Oct. 24
18:30 Dinner in Families
20:00 First Dharma talk
22:30 Lights out – Bed time
Friday - Saturday Oct. 25 - 26
6:00 Sitting & Chanting
7:00 10 Mindful Movements &
8:45 Working Meditation
14:00 Total Relaxation
15:00 Dharma Sharing/ Activity
17:00 Outdoor activities
18:00 Dinner in Families
20:00 Evening Presentation
22:00 Lights out – Bed time /
Sunday Oct. 27
5:15 Wake Up
5:45 Pack Breakfast.
Breakfast in nature
9:00 Working Meditation/pack personal things
10:30 Dharma Talk
14:00 Farewell….see you on the pathJ
Accommodation and cost: Accommodation for this retreat is limited to dormitory-room and camping. Participants will be housed in dormitories (bunk beds) and tents at Lotus Pond Temple and at a nearby temple. Pillows, bed-linens, and blankets will be provided if staying in dormitory. For camping, please bring your own bedding supplies. The cost per person is listed below (in HK Dollars), based on bed/tent space taken.
Room Type (4 days , 3 nights)
Single-person tents are provided. If camping as families/groups, please bring your own tents.
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 online at the Plum Village Hong Kong Website at http://www.pvfhk.org 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 a waiting 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 17th, 2013. Payment is not refundable for cancellation after October 3rd,2013, minus a 20% cancellation fee. For enquiries, please contact us by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone from 14:30 – 17:00 (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday): 2985-5033 (English), 9771-6453 (Chinese).
We are looking forward to seeing you at the retreat!
A lotus to you,
A Buddha to be.
For the Mind Body Health Retreat
Br. Phap Dung& Sr. Tu Nghiem
1. Prescription pain killer deaths quickly rising among US Women, VOA News, July 3, 2013.