Letter from the editor, Barbara Casey I hope you are refreshed and inspired by this special issue of The Mindfulness Bell, celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the founding of Plum Village in France and of the Plum Village style of mindfulness practice throughout the world. In these pages, you will be introduced to a few of the thousands of people who have given themselves to this way of living and have been transformed in the process. Through the guidance and inspiration of our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, and of the Noble Sangha of monks, nuns, and laypeople, we are growing a strong and safe family which can comfort us in times of despair and challenge us to become our most fearless, compassionate selves for the sake of our families, our communities, and all living beings.
I came to mindfulness practice Plum Village style in 1997 at a weekend retreat in southern Oregon, where I lived. With a sigh of relief, I opened to the deep knowing that I had found my spiritual home. From there I experienced the Plum Village Sangha in retreats in California, Vermont, and Washington as well as in my home town. In 1999 I was fortunate to travel with 180 Sangha members to China, where I became acquainted with our spiritual ancestors, feeling their dedicated support and encouragement. In 2000 I first set foot on the grounds of Plum Village in France, and once again had the palpable experience of coming home. Being in the Plum Village community brings out the best in me. I have found both a welcoming openness to express my unique way of being and the encouragement to release any attachment to the way I think I need to be. I have found the safety and freedom to listen to my own inner voice and to let loving-kindness guide my actions. I have found inspiration and friendship from both monastic and lay brothers and sisters.
Making plans to visit Plum Village this June for The Hand of the Buddha retreat, I notice my feelings of happiness and comfort at the thought of walking through the woods, standing in line for breakfast, and breathing deeply the cool night air. I can already see the smiles on the faces of my brothers and sisters as we come together once again.
My deepest gratitude to my Noble Teacher and to my spiritual family throughout space and time. May we manifest Plum Village in our hearts with each breath of freedom, with each peaceful step. A Lotus To You, Barbara Casey