I was honoured to organise a moving mindfulness meditation in Manchester last week, with the support of my Sangha. It was led by Zen Buddhist monks and nuns who live and practice with Thich Nhat Hanh, the global spiritual leader and peace activist proposed for a Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King in 1967.
Over 100 people from a wide range of faith backgrounds took part in the mindful walking meditation, which included the laying of flowers in the cotton bud fountain in St.Ann’s Square.
This unusual form of moving meditation dates back over 2,500 years to the time of the Buddha, and provides a powerful message of peace in the midst of a busy city.
“When we slow down and co-ordinate our steps with our breathing, we finally stop running through life and arrive in the present moment. By imprinting peace upon the earth with every footprint that we make, our minds settle, our worries drop and we rest in the wonderful sensation of moving in the here and now, one calm step at a time” explained Brother Ben, who led the mindful walking meditation and was interviewed on BBC Radio Manchester to preview the event, with Brother Hue Tang.
Walk participant Zoe Johnson, who only discovered this tradition a couple of weeks ago, was amazed at how powerful the experience was: “Brother Ben was an absolute smile magnet. By walking in his footsteps I felt a deep sense of relaxation, and connected with the City in a totally new way. I must have been there 500 times before, but I felt as though I had never really seen, heard or smelt Manchester like that before. For the first time, I think I was truly present in the here and now.”
Brother Ben and the other monks and nuns live with hundreds of other monastics in Plum Village, France. Brother Phap Lai, or ‘Brother Ben’, was born in Manchester but has been an ordained monk for the last 15 years. Having led peace initiatives in Columbia, Israel, Palestine and Northern Ireland he was an inspirational leader of this peaceful walking meditation.
The Community of Interbeing is a growing educational charity that supports and shares mindfulness practice in the UK to people of all ages. We welcome people of all faiths and none, honouring the differing religious traditions of our members.
We are part of the wider international grouping of practitioners worldwide who follow the mindfulness practice and teachings of Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, and are building a more peaceful world by supporting you to find peace in yourself. We offer calmer, happier living through mindfulness combined with ethics and an understanding of interbeing (the knowledge of the deep connections we share with the world around us and each other).
We have over 100 local UK mindfulness practice groups or “Sanghas” in the UK, including one in Chorlton and one in Stockport, which support the growing number of practitioners in our tradition. You can find your nearest group by clicking here.
We offer an introductory course ‘Be Calm: Be Happy’ at a variety of locations around the UK offering a 6-week introduction to the practice of mindfulness and we also organise a variety of retreats in the UK.
Please see the Soul Nutrition Events Listings for the next ‘Be Calm Be Happy’ course that I am running in the Manchester area: it would be lovely to welcome you there.
Katie Sheen, Founder of Soul Nutrition.