Body & Soul with Gail Harris
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Lessons from the Heart
Time of the Soul

Located deep in the Dordogne region of France, Plum Village is a Buddhist Monastery for monks and nuns, and a practice center for lay people. The Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, also known as Thây, Vietnamese for teacher, founded the center in 1982. Each year, Plum Village welcomes thousands of retreatants from all over the world.

Rather than simply focusing on formal sitting meditation, the retreats encourage weaving mindfulness through all daily activities. Eating, walking, working, and enjoying tea in the company of others are all viewed as opportunities to practice mindfulness. Colleen Essayah, a participant in several retreats, summed it up like this: "I liked the way it was taught… it's what you're doing and why you're meditating that's important, and not the way you sit or what you are wearing. It's the friendliness of the people.

"And also a very big discovery for me was realizing that I could make myself happy, and that I am not looking for anyone else to make me happy. That was a very big breakthrough for me, which came at last summer's retreat. That waiting for someone else to make you happy was really a myth. When you can be happy on your own, it changes your whole outlook on life."

Participants assist in the daily operation of the center, helping with general cleaning, cooking and washing dishes. Twice weekly, there is a Dharma talk, led by Thich Nhat Hanh (depending on his availability) or by another teacher. Some of these lectures are reprinted and available at no cost through e-mail. Each retreat also includes a Lazy Day, where no formal activities, other than communal meals, are scheduled.

A minimum stay of one week is requested in order to fully enjoy the opportunities for personal growth and reflection, but there are both summer and winter retreats that can last up to three months. The summer retreat is especially encouraged as a time for families to enjoy a spiritual practice together, and includes special programs for children between the ages of six and fifteen.

Their excellent website,, contains extensive information on registration, travel, what to bring, and cost, as well as a sample of a weekly retreat schedule.

Body & Soul is currently airing Monday-Friday at 7:00pm and 8:30pm on PBS YOU.

Program Description
Time of the Soul
Lama Surya Das
Help Yourself
Tell Me More

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