Sanghahood in Colombia

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Wake Up Pereira Sangha

By Gisela and Andrés

How did you discover the Plum Village tradition?
We found this tradition thanks to Andrés, my husband, about 3 years ago. Both of us are practitioners and yoga instructors; at some point, we began to research about mindfulness and meditation. Among the many things and information available on the Internet, my husband found a video of one of Thay’s Dharma talks. Thay’s deep love and understanding that emanated from his words and his presence impressed us enormously, and it was only through a video!

We started to look for his books, and the first one we read was Peace is Every Step. After reading it, we fell more in love with the practice and we began the search of where we could organise a retreat. We were very lucky because after three months, a retreat manifested in Colombia. We attended it in 2014; we attended the second one in 2015 where we received the 5 Mindfulness Trainings and we are happy to know that this year in 2016, there will be another one and of course, we will attend.

Do you regularly visit a Wake Up Sangha, all-ages Sangha, or Plum Village practice center?
Until now, we have attended the two retreats that have been organized in Colombia and our plan is to attend soon one in Plum Village or in one of the monasteries in the United States. Also, when the first retreat took place in October 2014, we initiated the project to form a Sangha in Pereira, our hometown in Colombia.

We started to include the mindfulness practice in all our yoga classes and shared this practice with children, young people, and teachers through projects that we were involved in various communities of the city. Also, we have a yoga center and we include the mindfulness practice in the Plum Village tradition in all of our practices there.

We include the mindfulness practice in all our yoga classes and share this practice with children, young people, and teachers through projects that we are involved in various communities.

In our desire to start a Wake Up Sangha in Pereira, we started to invite people who wanted to practice with us free of charge once a week every Friday from 7pm to 9pm. These sessions depended completely on us. We invited, organised, decided which practices and text we would read, provided the space, etc.

The Sangha sessions were between 15 and 20 people, and in each session, the majority of the people who came were new, so we were not able to form a group with core members. After attending the second retreat in 2015, we realized that it was not necessary to invite new people each time. The people whom we know personally and who have practiced with us, even though it was not even in the context of an “official” Wake Up Sangha, was in fact our Sangha. We began to propose them sessions to practice together, especially to the teachers who have participated in our workshops.

The people whom we know personally and who practice with us, even though it is not in the context of an “official” Wake Up Sangha, is in fact our Sangha.

This time, without everything being managed by us, each session is held in the house of a different member of the community. Right now, we do the practices using recordings with the intention that it is clear that everyone can practice without, Andres, any other person, and I are not there to facilitate the practice. Once a month, we get together with about 20 people and in each session, four volunteers offer their houses to have 4 additional smaller sessions with those who live or work near their houses, which allows each person to be able to attend a minimum of 2 sessions and a maximum of 5 sessions each month! All of us agree to attend at least one of the smaller sessions.

What inspires you about the 5 Mindfulness Trainings?
What motivates us the most about the Five Mindfulness Trainings is that we are invited especially to practice. That is, it allows us to find ways to apply mindfulness in our daily lives and aligns us better with our thoughts, words, and actions. It helps us each time to be more coherent, to look with attention diverse aspects of our life and relationships.

We can say from experience that the practice of the Five Mindfulness Trainings brings us closer and closer to compassion, love, and freedom. It helps us to be aware of the impact of our actions and the potential in them, however little they are, and give us the desire to help other human beings natural, like required actions for this.

The 5 Mindfulness Trainings allows us to find ways to apply mindfulness in our daily lives and aligns us better with our thoughts, words, and actions.

What is a happy moment you have had with the Wake Up community?
We have experience many happy moments with the community. Everything that has happened in the retreats is beautiful, but I would like to share especially the moment where we sang. For me, it is a very happy moment when we arrive at the meditation hall on the first day of the retreat and we listen to everyone’s singing voices. I feel a sense of warmth; it is as if I were on a very long trip and I finally get home to see my family.

Another happy moment (this one is shared by Andrés) is the walking meditation. When we do it with the Sangha, it is very powerful. I remember going step by step, breathing, until I arrive on the grass and lie down to see the clouds. It is a moment of full awareness, full presence and much happiness.

Click here to read more about Wake Up Pereira and how to contact them.

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