What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly alive, present and at one with those around you and with what you are doing. We bring our body and mind into harmony while we wash the dishes, drive the car or take our morning shower. We also practice formal ‘sitting meditation’ and walking meditation (slow walking) to help us cultivate the energy of mindfulness so to bring this energy with us into our everyday activities.
Sometimes called moment-to-moment awareness, mindfulness helps us to come back to ourselves calm our emotions, be peaceful, happy and more able to deal with all that daily life throws at us.
In practicing together as a Sangha, our practice of mindfulness becomes more joyful, relaxed and steady. We support and remind each other along the path of practice. With the support of the community, we can practice to cultivate peace and joy within and around us, as a gift for all of those whom we love and care for. We can cultivate our solidity and freedom - solid in our deepest aspiration and free from fears, misunderstandings and our suffering.
Where can I learn to mediate?
There are many types of meditation. To learn to practice mindfulness meditation, you might attend a Sangha, Plum Village or have a look at the links page for access to free recourses.
Is there a Sangha in my area I could join?
There may be a Sangha in your local area, check the Sangha page by clicking here. If there is, contact the person directly (number given) to attend. If there is no Sangha in your local area, consider setting up a group. If you need help with this, please feel free to contact Mindfulness Ireland.
About Mindfulness Ireland Retreats
Do I need to have meditated before to go on an Mindfulness Ireland retreat?
No, there is no need to have meditated previously before attending retreat. The practice is easy and relaxing to learn and the essential instructions are given on the first night of each retreat. It is helpful to have looked at the Plum Village website, the section on mindful living or to have read a book on mindfulness. However no prior experience is needed.
Modern life is pretty stressful, with money and time in short supply. What benefit will I get from attending the retreat?
Being part of a community that is practicing mindfulness together is refreshing and enjoyable. If you attend the retreat you will be learning how to slow down, how to bring mindful attention to your everyday activities - sitting, walking, eating, speaking. This will be helpful when you go back home, to help you practice mindfulness in your everyday life.
Who is the retreat for? What sort of people will be there?
The retreat is for anyone who wants to learn how to bring a little more peace to the their life and the lives those around us. Everyone is welcome! All ages (0-100!); all faiths (and none); all backgrounds; families; children and young people; experienced practitioners and people who are completely new to meditation.
How can I best prepare for the retreat? Do I need to do any reading?
It is not necessary to read anything in advance. However, if you wish to read something, you may find Peace is Every Breath and The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh to be helpful. These can be loaned from your local library, purchased online or in a local bookstore. Reading this Guide to a Mindfulness Retreat may also be helpful.
Will I have to sit on the floor for long periods? Can I get up and move around if I need to?
There will be chairs for all those who need them, some people do prefer to sit on the floor for sitting meditation. During sitting meditation, retreatants are encouraged to adopt a comfortable position, but if you need to shift your position then you are invited to do so – just do it quietly and with as much awareness as possible!
Do I need to attend every session of the retreat?
In the interest of community harmony and to support each of us in our mindfulness practice, it is helpful if everyone attends all the sessions. However, attendance is not compulsory - you need to manage the activities in a way that is sustainable for you.
Will the retreat be in silence? What is Noble Silence?
We will enjoy Noble Silence from the evening meditation, which starts at about 9pm, until after breakfast each day. Meals will also be in silence. At other times, we can speak normally, but we are invited to bring as much awareness to our conversations as possible.
During Noble Silence, we are invited to refrain from speaking so that we may enjoy the silence, quieten our mind and learn to see what’s really within us and around us. If it is really essential to speak, it's good to do so quietly and briefly, being mindful of those practising in silence. Most people find the opportunity to be in silence together is relaxing and healing.
What is dharma sharing?
We will meet regularly in our Dharma sharing groups to share questions and insights which may arise from the Dharma talks or from our personal practice, and help each other to understand and put into practice the teachings. (Dharma is the name given to Buddhist teachings.)
When allocating the groups, we will try to put people together who come from the same area, so that you can connect with other practitioners who live near you. Each group will be facilitated by a monastic or an experienced practitioner.
Will there be yoga, chi kung or t’ai chi sessions?
Exercise sessions may be offered by monks, nuns or other practitioners.
What does a typical day look like?
The schedule will vary from day to day but is likely to include a morning sitting meditation (at around 6.30am), a dharma talk outside walking meditation, dharma sharing (talking about issues related to the mindfulness practice) and an evening sitting meditation that finishes at around 10pm. Sample Programme.
Will I be able to speak with Thich Nhat Hanh one to one?
There is usually a Questions and Answer session, where Thich Nhat Hanh invites us to offer our questions in writing. Monks and nuns will also be pleased to answer your questions. We regret it will not be possible to meet Thây one to one.
How can I book for the talk or the retreat?
Please go to the Events Page for these details.
Can I just come for one/ two days/an evening/afternoon…?
Retreatants should plan to be free to stay for the whole retreat.
If you are arriving late or have to leave early please inform the booking agent and be aware that there are no reductions for those who do so.
Orientation at beginning and Celebration at ending are key parts of the retreat.
The practice of living together and supporting each other in our mindfulness practice is the most important aspect of the retreat.
Can I stay in a B&B/ with a relative in Killarney and join the retreat during the day?
This is a residential retreat. The practice of living together and supporting each other in our mindfulness practice is an important aspect of the retreat.
We eat, walk, meditate and rest together and at night we observe noble silence together. This all gives us the experience of living together as a spiritual community.
So that we can fully benefit from the energy of mindful awareness that we create together and to enjoy each other’s presence - this retreat is a residential retreat.
Can I leave the retreat during the day for a few hours?
We respectfully ask that all retreatants remain on the retreat premises during the retreat. See answer above.
I am new to Buddhism. Is the retreat suitable for beginners like me?
Yes. The teachings and practice are delivered in a way that is accessible to everyone, including beginners who know nothing about Buddhism or meditation. There will be many experienced practitioners present at the retreat, including monks and nuns, who will be pleased to answer questions.
What is a Sangha?
A Sangha is a community that practices mindful living in harmony and awareness. Sanghas are made up of people who like to practice in the tradition of mindfulness taught by Thich Nant Hanh and practiced in his home community of Plum Village in France.
Who is Thich Nhat Hanh? In what tradition does he teach?
He is one of the best known and most respected Zen masters in the world today, poet, Noble Peace prize nominee and peace and human rights activist.
Thich Nhat Hanh is called Thây (Tie) by his students, this means teacher in Vietnamese. He teaches in the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist tradition.
His name is pronounced Tik Naw Tan.
What are the 5 Mindfulness Trainings?
The 5 Mindfulness Trainings are guidelines for personal behaviour.
They support us to live a meaningful and happy life in a spirit of non-harming. At this retreat there will be the opportunity to take the 5 Mindfulness Trainings at a formal ceremony.
In brief, they include the following aspirations:
- To respect life and refrain from killing
- To respect other people's property and refrain from stealing
- To respect others and refrain from sexual activity
- To speak the truth and refrain from lying
- To encourage health and refrain from intoxicants (including alcohol, tobacco and drugs)
If Thay is unable to lead the retreat, is it still going ahead?
Yes, in the event of Thich Nhat Hanh being unable to lead the retreat, it is our intention that the event will still take place, led by Senior Dharma Teachers of Plum Village, with the assistance of senior members of Mindfulness Ireland. No refunds will be made in this eventuality and you have agreed to this by making a booking. This was stated on the booking form and is in the Terms and Conditions which it was requested be read before making a booking.
Who are Mindfulness Ireland?
Mindfulness Ireland is a network of people in Ireland who practice mindful living and mindfulness meditation according to the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.
Mindfulness Ireland is the name of the organisation that organises retreats and talks in the tradition on Thich Nhat Hanh.
It is an umbrella organisation for regional groups or sanghas. These groups of practioners have formed all around Ireland.
For more than 20 years members of Mindfulness Ireland have been meeting to practice sitting meditation, walking meditation and sharing cups of tea together.
What are the age categories for the children’s / young persons groups?
6-12 children’s group, 13-17 teens, 18-32 young adult’s group.
This retreat is too expensive for me. I would love to go but can’t afford it.
Mindful of the economic difficulties we are living with, every effort has been made to make this residential retreat affordable for participants. There is a variety of accommodation at various prices on offer:
Young adults (18-25 years) costs are subsidised. A limited number of family packages are available at subsidised prices. There is an early bird price, as well as the opportunity to pay for your retreat in two installments. Young adults have the option of staying in the hostel. This is for young adults only (18-25) with proof of age required on booking and again on registering. There may also be some scholarship places available. Please keep an eye on the website for updates.