Healing the Mind • Restoring the Earth
France – September 11-24, 2023
“Too many people distinguish between the inner world of our mind and the world outside, but these two worlds are not separate. They belong to the same reality”.
– Thich Nhat Hanh, Interbeing
“When you live your life in accordance with basic goodness, then you develop natural elegance. Your life can be spacious and relaxed… you can actually let go of your embarrassment about being a human being, and you can cheer up”.
– Chogyam Trungpa, Tibetan meditation master. The Sacred Path of the Warrior
Day 1. Monday, September 11th
We gather in the historic southwest central French City of Limoges. We will be meeting at 11:30am in the lobby of Hotel Campanile, Limoges Centre-Gare in Limoges. We invite tour participants, who might be arriving from Paris, Bordeaux, Marseille, or Nice, to arrive in Limoges rested, preferably a day or two earlier. Storied Limoges began as an important Roman centre, founded in 10 B.C.; Limoges originated with a Gallic tribe, having its own Senate and currency. Today it is known world-wide for its renowned porcelain production.
In the afternoon we will tour Limoges, the fateful place where Richard the Lion-Heart, who had survived the Crusades, perished, at the age of 41, besieging the castle of the viscount of Limoges.
We will visit the Limoges Fine Arts Museum (Musé des Beaux-Arts) housed in the 18th Century bishops’ palace, Palais de l’Eveché, now home to legendary porcelain. Also, a visit to the Jardin botanique de l’Eveché next to the Cathedral. The botanical garden established in the 18th Century features over 1,200 plants, organized into groupings of medicinal, dye plants, condiment plants, and aromatic plants.
Our walking tour will be followed with a convivial French Welcome Dinner.
Day 2, 3, and 4 Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, September 12, 13 and 14.
After breakfast, we will drive to the stunning Tibetan meditation retreat campus and Chateau called Dechen Choling, our home for three days.
Please view www.dechencholing.org a place of restorative energy for the European Shambhala community, for novices and for practitioners. For me, the natural beauty and equanimity found here, overflowing with nourishing energy, 56 acres of soft green hills, serene meadows, and old growth Limousin forests, is almost unmatched anywhere on the earth.
We will have time with Herb Elsky, a senior student of Chogyam Trungpa in the 1970’s, and an accomplished artist and musician, originally from LA. Our time with retired architect Catherine Eveillard and guiding light of Dechen Choling and Shambhala meditation teacher for 25 years will be leading us in a profound exploration retreat into “Caring for the Earth-Gaia: An Approach to Global Ecology”, combining forest walks with cultivating courage practices and meditation combined with ecological thinking. Catherine’s CV is found here.
The path of Shambhala, is one path for awakening our potential living a life with courage and compassion. In the words of Venerable Pema Chodron, “It is said that we can’t attain enlightenment, let alone feel contentment and joy, without seeing who we are and what we do, without seeing our patterns and our habits. This is called maitri – developing loving-kindness and an unconditional friendship with ourselves”.
Day 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday half day, September 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, and partial day 21.
After lunch we will drive 2 ½ hours south and west in the direction of Bordeaux, entering the dreamy, medieval Dordogne, the French department, with abundant rivers and verdant forests, referred to by playwright Henry Miller as “the nearest thing to Paradise this side of Greece”. We arrive at Thénac and Plum Village, Europe’s largest Buddhist monastery with 200 monks and nuns engaged in lives of intention and serenity, and providing a window into equanimity and engaged Buddhism to visitors from all over the world. Please view: www.plumvillage.org
Our six-day retreat will celebrate its founder, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, wisdom-keeper Thich Nhat Hanh, who conceived building the beloved Plum Village community, creating a healthy, nourishing environment where people can learn the art of living in harmony with one another and with the Earth.
Friday afternoon there will be a loving, detailed orientation. Our daily schedule will be, with some variations:
- 5 am Wake up
- 6 am Sitting meditation, followed by Sutra Reading, Touching the Earth, Slow Walking Meditation.
- 7am Physical exercise- Yoga, Chi Gong, TaiChi, Jogging, group sports including Volleyball.
- 7:45 am Breakfast
- 9 am Dharma Talk
- 11:30 am Walking Meditation in Nature
- 12:30 pm Lunch
- 1:30 pm Teaching by Roshi Linda Myoki Lehrhaupt
- 3:30 pm Dharma Sharing, mindful service, and rest
- 6 pm Light Dinner
- 8 pm Personal study time, sitting meditation, other collective practice
- 9:30 pm Noble Silence begins
- 10 pm Lights out.
It is our good fortune to have Roshi Linda Myoki, a personal friend and Zen Koan teacher, offer daily teachings in embodied mindfulness, drawing on her more than forty years of bringing together movement exercises including cultivating trust and recognizing our own triggers and reactivity, and how to rechannel our own behavior. Please see Roshi Linda’s CV and deep and wide experience here.
Day 11 and 12, Thursday and Friday, September 21 and 22.
We say goodbye for now to the monk and nun friends we have made at Plum Village, where we will have experienced “grasping nothing… discarding nothing” in the Plum Village Zen tradition of ‘not knowing’ and “The Practice of No Practice”. We will drive an hour east, past vineyards and castles, to Roshi Linda and Norbert Wehner’s beloved country garden estate, La Martinie, near the story-book medieval village of Monpazier.
We will continue our retreat with Roshi Linda Myoki at her La Martinie home, an elegant take-your-breath-away estate built and cultivated by her landscape architect husband, Norbert, a playful and very, very talented painterly artist whom we will have time to interact with during these two days.
Linda Roshi will continue the teachings we had the good fortune to receive from her at Plum Village. Linda will lead us in some of the practices she imparts when training teachers in ten countries as Director of the Institute for Mindfulness-Based Approaches. Roshi Linda will be sharing Tai Chi and QiGong movement and other meditative bodywork and MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) that she has practiced and taught for decades.
We will have lunch breaks Thursday and Friday catered al Fresco in the garden.
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings in Sarlat, September 21, 22, 23
We will be staying Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings in Sarlat, September 21, 22, 23 and it will be our base to explore the region, at a luxurious, classic hotel in the enchanting medieval town of Sarlat-la-Canéda. Please look up Sarlat. Every corner of it is jaw-dropping, and its local gastronomy will leave an indelible mark on you until you return.
Sarlat will be our base to explore the bountiful area of vineyards, outdoor food and crafts markets, castles and hamlets including the charming medieval villages of La Roque Gageac and Belves, two of the most beautiful villages in all of France, spectacular gardens, and the stunning Lascaux Caves featuring over 600 prehistoric cave paintings.
Early foragers from over 15,000 years ago painted a record into the Lascaux cave walls where they lived, and left an ancestral record that we will bear witness to. Marla Perry, tour co-leader, will lead us in guided meditation opening the doors into our own ancestors.
Day 14, Sunday, September 24
Day 14, Sunday, September 24, after a glorious breakfast, or lunch for those that have time before catching a train, we will facilitate transporting participants to the Sarlat train station, for onward or to home via excellent connections to Paris, Bordeaux, Marseille, or Nice. Deep bows to all who will be joining us in this nurturing journey and profound adventure!
Nights will be divided between the welcoming, verdant forest campuses of Dechen Choling (Tibetan meditation center) and also Plum Village (Zen meditation center). Traveling and cultural adventurers, contemplatives, and experienced meditators, and novices with friends, family, and their colleagues are welcome to join us!
The other evenings we will be in Hotel Campanile Limoges Centre-Gare in Limoges, and in Hotel Saint Albert in Sarlat-la-Canéda. Both hotels are spacious, in the heart of their medieval centers for exploring, very welcoming, and very French.