This week I borrowed a unique documentary from my local library, Walk With Me, a contemplative journey which follows the steps of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, with rare insights into life within a monastic community. So begins Max Pugh and Marc J. Francis’ fascinating exploration of what it means to devote one’s life to mindfulness.
“With unprecedented access to the famous secluded monastery of Plum Village in the South West of France, Walk With Me captures the daily routine and rituals of monks and nuns on a quest to develop a deep sense of presence. It is an insightful rumination on the pursuit of happiness, living in the present and our attachment to material things – a welcome remedy to the stresses of city life and a world in turmoil.” — Laure Bonville
What I found most fascinating about this immersion into monastic life is how similar it can be to life outside of cities, where life is luxuriously slow and overflowing with simple joys. The theme is crystal clear:
Be here now. There is no past, there is no future, just this moment…
One of the ways this short film has changed my life is in my desire to be more contemplative in each moment. For example when I first wake up I now love to look out at the birds outside my door. I find them to be the perfect topic for my first meditation of the day.
Wild animals do not sit around thinking about their past or imagining their future, because if they focused much on that they would not survive for long. We were also once totally focused on the present moment. We had to be. But now we have the luxury of too much time, so we think about way too much stuff!
Luckily the mind can be trained over and over again. Today we can decide to stop all the concern and worry about everything else in the world, and focus on this moment before us, the only one we truly have.
“There is a fire inside. Sit down beside it. Watch the flames, the ancient, flickering dance of yourself.” — John MacEnulty