Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wake Up – Young Adults for a Healthy and Compassionate Society

Wake Up – Young Adults for a Healthy and Compassionate Society, is a world-wide network of young people practising the living art of mindfulness. We share a determination to live in an awakened way, taking a 21st Century version of the 5 Mindfulness Trainings as our path and guiding light.*

The Wake Up network has grown out of Plum Village meditation centre in SW France, under the guidance of Venerable Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Plum Village has been offering retreats to young people for over two decades, and the Wake Up movement was formally launched in Summer 2008.

Young monks, nuns and young lay people of many different nationalities help co-ordinate groups and events from Plum Village practice centres all over the world – Deer Park monastery in California, Blue Cliff monastery in New York, La Maison de L’Inspir’ in Paris, the European Institute for Applied Buddhism in Germany, and Thai Plum Village (in Thailand).

We are of all nationalities and of all faiths – or none. We don’t ‘believe’ blindly in the Buddha’s teachings on mindfulness; we each experience that they do just work. When we practice mindful walking, breathing, smiling, sitting, eating, talking, listening and hanging-out together, we experience happiness and peace – a kind of oasis of relief from the junk of life. At last we have a chance to live more deeply, happily and meaningfully. There is joy, relief and healing.

We know that by getting together for an evening, weekend or short retreat, we can create a strong collective energy of mindfulness that can nourish our joy, heal our pains, and develop our understanding and love. We also support each other online – through this website, email and (sorry to confess!) through groups on The Book. In this way we help each other to realize our ideal of transforming and healing ourselves and the world. If you want to find out more about our vision, have a read of our mission statement.

To be honest, the Wake Up network is also just very spontaneous and self-seeding – nobody needs to permission to start a group, you can just do it! There are different styles of get-togethers and groups depending on whatever feels like a natural way to hang out together and practice mindfulness – we’ve all been very creative so far and encourage you to be free-thinking too. To get some ideas about what you can do, please read our article on how to get involved.
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Friday, May 16, 2014

Mindful consumption


In recent years, a range of voices from science, philosophy, political activism and the arts have begun to suggest exactly that, coalescing into a movement that can ground us ever more mindfully in the material world. The ‘new materialism’, as it was dubbed in a report by the New Economics Foundation in 2012, challenges us to love our possessions not less but more – to cherish them enough to care about where they came from, who made them, what will happen to them in the future.

Environmental campaigners are, in a similar spirit, slowly redefining themselves less by what they’re against (global warming, fossil-fuel extraction, runaway consumerism) than what they’re for: a healthy and balanced relationship with the material world that sustains us in all its delicate, interconnected beauty. But it’s a philosophical, even spiritual position, too. If we could truly cherish the things in our lives, ‘retain the pulse of their making’, as the British ceramicist Edmund de Waal puts it, wouldn’t we be the opposite of consumers?

In its clear-eyed manifesto The New Materialism (2012), the New Economics Foundation explains that creating a society in which things last longer and are endlessly re-used will necessarily entail a major shift to the services that keep things going, thereby creating employment to replace lost manufacturing/retail output. Here, Herman Daly, editor of the journal Ecological Economics, calls for the ‘subtle and complex economics of maintenance, qualitative improvements, sharing, frugality, and adaptation to natural limits. It is an economics of better, not bigger.’

The New Economics Foundation predicts that the new materialism will lead to more emphasis in spending on ‘experiences rather than disposable goods’, which means less shopping and more music, film, live performance, sport and socialising: more lasting satisfaction and less of the transitory hit of ownership. This in turn might lead to a proliferation of festivals, sporting competitions and cultural events celebrating the talents we share and occluding the endless proliferation of retail stuff.