Mindfulness and Singing

Dear Friends,

In Plum Village, the Buddhist monastic community in France founded by Thich Nhat Hanh, there is regular singing and chanting at sangha gatherings.  At Plum Village retreat centers throughout the US and other countries, to share the practice and warm the heart, music is often at the heart of the tradition.  Like gathas, singing helps us return to the present moment.

When I was thinking about facilitating for our Monday night sangha gathering, and trying to reflect on what was present for me and what teaching I might share with you, I remembered a morning last week that had a heartwarming effect on me.  I share a weekly morning mindfulness/yoga practice with homeless men at a soup kitchen and after our sitting meditation, and mindful movements, I decided to share a song with them.  The song was a Plum Village song called “When I Rise”  We have often sang at our gatherings – but for some reason on that particular morning it had a calmer, and more joyful and healing effect on all of us.  There were just 4 of us that morning – and we all had tears in our eyes, tears of joy and of easing our suffering.  We shared hugs and kisses, it was lovely.  As Thay says – singing and chanting can “nourish our collective joy” and spread happiness.  I certainly felt it that day. 

I would like to sing and share some songs together with you on Monday night after our sitting and walking meditations as another way to weave mindfulness into our daily lives and activities, just like the Gathas that Mick shared with us last week.  You don’t have to have a great singing voice, or even have to sing.  You can enjoy the collective energy of the community by just your deep listening.

I am including some of the Plum Village songs below we might share together, but please feel free to bring and share other songs that bring you joy.  Or even a guitar or other instrument to accompany our songs if you feel moved to do so.

Verses of two Plum Village songs:


 Happiness is here and now,

I have dropped my worries,

Nowhere to go, nothing to do,

No longer in a hurry.


Happiness is here and now,

I have dropped my worries,

Somewhere to go, something to do,

But I don’t need to hurry


When I rise

When I rise, let me rise

Like a bird joyfully.

And when I fall, let me fall,

Like a leaf , gracefully, without regret.

And when I stand let me stand,

Like a tree, strong and tall.

And when I lie, let me lie,

Like a lake, peacefully, calm and still. 

I invite you to come on Monday night and sing, or listen, and reflect on how singing may help ease our suffering by finding more joy and happiness and bring us home to ourselves to be more aware and awake.

I look forward to being with you, 

In deep love and gratitude, Camille