Be Calm, Be Happy - Weekend Retreat on Zoom

Thich Nhat Hanh mindfulness courses

I regularly co-facilitate the Be Calm, Be Happy mindfulness course in a weekend retreat format on Zoom. The retreats are offered on behalf of Plum Village UK, and are based on the mindfulness teachings of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, affectionately referred to as “Thay”, which is Vietnamese for “teacher”.

In March 2021 I was leading the course alongside Lauri Bower PhD and Ian Sneath, and below is a summary of feedback from the retreat participants:

What I gained from this course was……

I gained so much from the course which exceeded all my expectations. I have a lot to think about now. I believe it has initiated a turning point in my life and hopefully through regular mindful meditations, private study and joining a local sangha (a mindfulness group in the Plum Village tradition) I will continue on this journey. Apart from a wonderfully happy, calming weekend I can already feel the benefit as I practice kind words and deep listening as well as meditation.

Insight into how to bring mindfulness into everyday life, to turn to the positive and to communicate more mindfully by sharing my thoughts and feelings with others in a loving way.

A beautiful introduction and insight into Thay’s teachings. Friends and family I may never meet again but will never forget. Love. Smiles. Happiness. A feeling of coming home.

How to develop a Buddhist mindset to create a calmer, happier and more ethical life. Great insight into what it means to live by the five mindfulness trainings and how to achieve this in a modern society. I feel I have gained connection with Plum Village UK and others on the course.  

Thich Nhat Hanh mindfulness course UK

The weekend retreat gave me further insight into how to bring mindfulness into our daily lives.  A reminder of the importance of simply being with the breath.  Taking a moment to come to the breath when we are being challenged gives us the opportunity to respond rather than react.  The meditation spaces were beautiful, the feeling of being one with everything is precious.  

A good introduction to the practice, and an understanding of how it can be applied in daily life. It was a valuable opportunity to take a break from daily life and focus on practice in a welcoming community.

It gave me inspiration and focus to return to the practise of Mindfulness.

Information, understanding and experience of mindfulness principles and practices. Interesting insights from fellow attendees, and signposting to other info by the course leaders to help deeper understanding and wider principles. I also hope that I can manage myself better and live more consciously and connectedly.

Thich Nhat Hanh mindfulness course on Zoom

What I appreciated most, and found most helpful, was…

The gradual involvement of Thay’s teachings – I found it a really steady journey from looking at the basics of breathing to the reality of interbeing.

Great use of break out rooms and I really enjoyed the whole weekend.

The organisation and pace of the course flowed so naturally at a comfortable pace for me. The family group sharing allowed me to practice deep listening, instead of rushing in with my answers as I normally do. The sharing of all the teachers’ personal stories was so helpful and encouraging.

The sense of being among friends and family. No judgement, just kindness.

Working in smaller groups was great and allowed me to feel more comfortable and share my voice. I wouldn’t have done this in a big group. The variety of teaching approaches used by all three trainers gave a great balance. 

I appreciated the space to just be still, to listen, to learn, to enjoy and grow.

Thich Nhat Hanh weekend mindfulness retreat calligraphy

The openness of the teachers. The professional approach and efficiency. It was also  a very relaxing weekend. I can’t think of anything I would want to change or improve on.  It ran like clockwork.

I appreciated how we were guided through the course in a clear and gentle way, with a sense of mutual support and genuine sharing. Although the course was online, the way it was structured meant there was still real opportunity for togetherness. The course leaders’ compassion, and their knowledge and appreciation of the practice were incredibly helpful, as were their examples of how it has shaped their own lives. 

Lovely gentle facilitation and pace, well constructed course, lots of opportunity to understand through experience and through practical exploration. I already meditate with an online sangha (a mindfulness group in the Plum Village tradition) and now feel more deeply connected and embedded with my  new practice.

Thich Nhat Hanh calligraphy Happiness is here and now

Any other comments…..

I loved the course and feel a tangible difference between before and after the Be Calm, Be Happy retreat.

It has been such a good time. My gratitude to the three leaders for sharing their experiences that made me feel that it’s possible to change our behaviours and leave pain. 

A warm thank you to the course leaders and to the other participants. The experience of community, shared aspiration and understanding was uplifting, and will stay with me. 

I could not have hoped for a better time. 

This course was amazing, truly powerful and deep. I already feel so much more aware of my actions and reactions and am much more positive. I  very much enjoyed connecting with like minded people.

Just….. thank you.  

Thich Nhat Hanh mindfulness course