“Most of us experience a life full of wonderful moments and difficult moments. But for many of us, even when we are most joyful, there is fear behind our joy…. Fearlessness is not only possible, it is the ultimate joy. When you touch nonfear, you are free.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm
We live in troubled times. Who knows what the future holds? The narrative of despair, fear, lack, antagonism, impending catastrophe grows with every newscast. Yet deep down we know that another future is possible. And the future begins in the present moment. Only by living in trust, faith, beauty, and joy can we create the future we want.
True joy is possible only when we acknowledge and accept the pain of living—grief, fear, rage, sorrow. Sometimes it is easier to do this in the company of compassionate friends. We will spend a day together exploring what gets in the way of joy, and experiencing joy through meditation, walking in nature, singing, and sharing from the heart.
“When you stay fully present with your feelings, your sensations, and the world around you, even when it seems dark and cold, joy will arise. Joy and suffering are two sides of the same coin.”
Join us for this month’s Breathing for the Earth, which will be taking place on Saturday 1st October, and will be a special event. We will meet at the earlier time of 12 noon at Coffee Saints for a mindful climate conversation, a space to share our feelings about the ecological crisis. This will be followed, at about 1pm, by a public meditation and Bell Busking session outside in the square (by the Paolozzi sculptures), where we will play meditation bells (aka singing bowls) made from butane and propane gas cylinders, in a symbolic act of transforming the energy of fossil fuels into the energy of mindfulness. Please come to one or both parts of the event, and bring your friends!
We’ve passed the equinox and the weather has become autumnal, by turns rainy and chilly. The mile-long queues to view the royal coffin have gone, as have the heaps of cut flowers from supermarkets and recycling centres.
I didn’t particularly want to join the queue*, so marked the Queen’s passing with a ceremony of my own: I went to scrump apples in Holyrood Park (which belongs to the Crown, of course). Since I picked them on Friday, the day after she died, but before Charles took the oath of Accession, does that mean they were technically interregnal apples, with no actual owner? Either way, they made a delicious crumble which, as it happened, we shared with friends on the day of the funeral.
What I did wonder, though, as I watched the endless queues and the blanket media coverage of what was, after all, the passing of one particularly well-known and -respected human being, a symbolic grandmother to more than one nation, was this: When will we see the mass outpourings of grief for the suffering and damage done to that great bodhisattva, our cosmic mother, Planet Earth? Are we as a society so disconnected from nature that we are not able to grieve when ancient woodlands are destroyed to make way for roads or high-speed rail lines, when floods and wildfires appear on our screens almost daily, when the mercury hits 40 degrees in England? Do we just numb our feelings with more consumption and carry on rushing faster and faster into an ever more ominous future?
These questions may seem gloomy or depressing. In this culture, we are not exactly encouraged to explore uncomfortable feelings in public. But as Earth Holders, we believe it’s vital for us to get in touch with our feelings about the ecological crisis: to remain mindful and conscious of them, though not to be overwhelmed by them. For this reason we have decided it’s a good moment to hold a “Mindful Climate Conversation”, where we will be able to share our feelings about the ecological crisis. This will be followed by an outdoor session of meditation and Bell Busking, as described above.
We hope you can make it!
For the earth,
Robert for Earth Holders Edinburgh
* PS: The word QUEUE is very accurate, as it consists of one letter doing something useful and four letters standing in a row behind it doing nothing at all. (Not an original or new observation but I though it was quite relevant.)
About Earth Holders Edinburgh
Earth Holders Edinburgh is a community taking mindful action for Mother Earth. We practice non-violent direct action for the sake of our beloved planet and all life. We see this as an integral part of our spiritual life, balancing the inner path of mindfulness with the outer path of action. We come from different spiritual traditions, and are open to members of all faiths and none. We draw strength and wisdom from our connection with nature and with the Earth. We are an evolving and inclusive group actively seeking new members. You can sign up to our newsletter or see our full purpose statement here.
We will be facilitating a mindful peace walk at Saughton Park on Sunday 4th September 2022 organised jointly with the Edinburgh International Centre for Spirituality and Peace, EICSP. The walk will start at noon. Please see the EICSP website for details.
Time: 12 noon. Gather in front of Lauriston Castle for 12 noon.
Event Description: This silent walking meditation is an open event. It will be led by the lay members of the Edinburgh Sangha of the Community of Interbeing, who follow the practice and teachings of Zen Buddhist Master, Thich Nhat Hanh. Before the walk begins there will be a brief introduction to mindful walking as a meditation practice. This is not a protest or a campaigning event, so please do not use any banners. Children are welcome when accompanied by adults. Please remember to wrap up warmly.
‘We walk just for walking. We walk with freedom and solidity, no longer in a hurry. Let us enjoy every step we make.’
Based in glorious woodland setting of Wiston Lodge – an hour south of both Edinburgh and Glasgow – this is an opportunity to reflect on our place in the natural world.
All food is vegan and home cooked. Bring real money for a wonderful bookstall, Dana for our programme leaders plus footwear and water-proofs for Mindful Walking in the grounds.
One booking / person – simply book a second place same way. Three days and nights’ accommodation + full board at Wiston: Shared Room £225 / Single Room £255 / Camping £145. For how pay please contact David by email.
Join us at Kilgraston School for the Scottish Dharma Training Programme retreat for 2022 with Dharma teachers Martin Pitt and Susanne Olbrich.
This retreat will concentrate on deepening our fundamental practice of mindfulness (Sati). We will look deeply at what it means to practise meditation, drawing on the teachings and insights of the Discourse on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness (Satipatthana Sutta) and the Discourse on the Full Awareness of Breathing (Anapanasati Sutta). We will be guided to strengthen our approach to meditation and deepen our mindfulness across many forms of practice, such as sitting, breathing, slow walking meditation as well as chanting and touching the earth. We will also explore what it means to fully integrate mindfulness into our everyday activities such as eating, working and interacting. We will look specifically at how to apply these practices to strengthen our connection with nature and Mother Earth in the context of our current ecological and climate crisis.
Martin first visited Plum Village in 1987 inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings on engaged Buddhism. He joined the Order of Interbeing in 1990 and became a Dharma Teacher in the tradition in 1994. Over many years he helped establish the UK Community of Interbeing and has led many meditation retreats and workshops. He lives in Devon with his wife and son and works as a researcher in the Medical School at Exeter University.
Susanne discovered Plum Village and Thay’s teachings in 1996; in 2007 she became a member of the Order of Interbeing with the Dharma name True Ever-present Stability. Susanne lives in the Findhorn community in the North of Scotland where she co-founded the Northern Lights Sangha. As a pianist and music teacher she enjoys encouraging deep listening and creative expression in people of all ages. Her special interest is in offering mindfulness retreats with the themes of creativity and music.
Location: Kilgraston School, Bridge of Earn, Perthshire, PH2 9BQ
Touching the Earth Sangha in Banchory are delighted to invite you to a special Hybrid retreat at The Burn, near Edzell, during the last weekend of June 2022. Led by Mhairi McLuskie (True Action of Loving Kindness) Mhairi (pronounced Vari) discovered Thich Nhat Hanh in 1990 and was ordained as a lay Dharma teacher in 2012. She has applied her mindfulness practice during the ups and downs of family and work life, including the sudden deaths of her parents and the premature death of a beloved friend. Mhairi has shared mindfulness in many settings – including courses for female offenders, victims of sexual abuse and for organisations, as well as through Plum Village UK retreats and the Be Calm, Be Happy courses which she co-developed. She enjoys offering mindfulness retreats and courses on the themes of transformation and healing and cultivating love. Mhairi was born in Scotland and is currently living in the West Midlands.
On this short retreat, we have the opportunity to refresh ourselves by nourishing peace, understanding, love and togetherness. We can slow down and look deeply into the elements of true love, supported by each other and by our natural surroundings. We can gain fresh insights on how to deepen love in ourselves and how this will serve our world.
The retreat will run from 18.00 on Friday 24th June (arrival at the Burn from 16.00) until 15.00 on Sunday 26th June 2022. Although, our facilitator is a lay teacher of the Plum Village Tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, the weekend will be run in a largely secular manner. For beginners as well as for those with experience, this is a rare chance to enjoy learning about mindfulness through practice in a most beautiful environment. Everyone is welcome including those from all religious traditions as well as agnostics and atheists.
We are anticipating a high demand for this retreat so we recommend early booking using the attached form.
As a Sangha we want to help alleviate the suffering that is occurring in Ukraine. It would be inefficient for us to collect money and pass it on ourselves, not least because this removes any opportunity to add Gift Aid to a donation. For the time being we will therefore not be collecting donations at our meetings but asking everyone to make a contribution directly to the Disasters Emergency Committee, Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. We can do this for a while but will eventually need to return to asking for donations to cover the cost of renting the church. In the medium term we expect the rent to go up because of the increase in fuel prices – partially caused by the conflict. Let’s give something while we can.
Breathing in I know you are suffering. Breathing out I am here with you.