Retreat with monk attracts over 700


MORE THAN 700 followers of Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh (85) have taken over a well-known convention centre and most of a hotel in Killarney this weekend for a private retreat of mindfulness and meditation.

The Mindfulness Ireland Living Mindfully Today event is taking place at the national event and conference centre attached to the Gleneagle Hotel where the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation conference has just finished. The centre hosted the Fianna Fáil Ardfheis in 2005 .

The monk is known as “Thây” (Vietnamese for teacher) and he stresses the joys of the present moment. “His key teaching is that, through mindfulness, we can learn to live in the present moment instead of in the past and in the future. Dwelling in the present moment is, he reminds us, the only way to truly develop peace, both in one’s self and in the world,” Deirdre Kerins, spokeswoman for Mindfulness Ireland, said.

Vegetarian food, including soya and tofu have been ordered in by the hotel and special menus prepared. There will be no late-night nattering over pints as participants are asked not to drink or smoke, Ms Kerins said.

And also, unlike at regular conventions, there is a pervading atmosphere of silence.

Nominated previously for the Nobel Peace Prize, Thich Nhat Hanh is also a poet, peacemaker and human rights activist and author.

Fifty monks and nuns are leading the retreat with him.

As part of the retreat, there is live streaming of several key talks of Thich Nhat Hanh.

Other elements include meditation, outdoor walking and “mindful” meals in silence – where the participants take their time to enjoy the food and focus on the company of others. Small group discussions will involve the practice of loving speech and deep listening.

The retreat began on Thursday and runs until tomorrow.