Mindfulness Practice Centers

By Thich Nhat Hanh In Plum Village we have meditated for more than a year on how to offer mindfulness as a nonsectarian practice that can be applied in schools, hospitals, prisons, and society at large. According to our experience, it is perfectly possible to practice mindfulness in a nonreligious, nonsectarian way investing 100% of ourselves in the present moment. Instead of saying, "I take refuge in the Buddha," we can say, "I have confidence in my own capacity of waking up, in understanding and loving."

This kind of language can be accepted by every religious tradition. That is why I have asked a number of friends in Europe and America to establish an association to be called the Association of Mindfulness Practice Centers. We hope that in the future there will be at least one center like this in each city. I would like to invite you to join us looking deeply to find ways to in realize this program.

A Mindfulness Practice Center is a place anyone can come at any time. You may come when we are having a silent meal and someone will instruct you on how to enjoy a silent meal. If you arrive when we are working in the vegetable garden, one of us will instruct you on how to enjoy silent gardening while breathing in and breathing out. The Mindfulness Practice Center will also, of course, organize days of mindfulness and retreats.

You may like to initiate the effort of establishing an MPC in your own city. In the beginning, you might just rent a place, and after some time you might buy a place that is more fit to your purpose-a place where there are rooms for sitting meditation and total relaxation, a path for walking, space for a garden, and a playground for children. Children have shown that they are very capable of enjoying the practice of mindfulness.

MPCs are now taking shape in North America. The first has opened its doors in Woodstock, Vermont. I think everyone of us can support this project. If you are an architect, a poet, a writer, a legislator, or a journalist, you can all help. We need your intelligence, your good heart, and your energy to realize this project that is very dear to us.

From a talk by Thich Nhat Hanh in Key West, Florida, November 8, 1997.

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