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Dear Friends


At the Nottingham retreat there were about 80 of us on the young adults program (thatʼs quite an improvement on last year when there was no young adults program at all!) We got together and shared our ideas and our inspiration for Wake Up UK and thereʼs a real wave of energy flowing through us all right now. This newsletter tells you about the following projects, events and sanghas that have come out of that and from the other initiatives weʼve been pursuing for a while.

1. So far this summer 2. Sanghas 3. Future retreats 4. Three new projects 5. A taste of freedom

We really hope you can participate in any of the wonderful things we have to offer: just get in touch with us at if you want to be involved. Enjoy your breath and recognise the many beautiful things that life has to offer you, right here and now.

Much love, The UK organising team


So far this summer

a. Global Ethics for our Future: Thayʼs talk in London

The Hammersmith Apollo usually hosts famous musicians and comedians but on the 11th August it was home to a slightly different guest. Thay nearly sold out the 3,000 seater venue giving a talk about the Noble Eightfold Path. He also listened to questions from those brave enough to grab a mic and gave some really insightful answers. It was a really great event, getting coverage in The Times, The Independent and The Guardian. But donʼt take their for it: thanks to Thay Phap Luu (aka Brother webstream) you can now watch it at

b. Living Mindfully, Living Peacefully: The retreat in Nottingham

Following the London talk all 900 places on the Nottingham retreat quickly sold out. Led by Thay and the monastic Sangha, we came together for 5 days to practice the art of sitting, walking and sharing mindfully. The young adultʼs program was especially beautiful (we definitely arenʼt biased – we checked). There were wonderful sharings, blossoming friendships and also a whole lot of fun culminating in a rushed, bizarre, but ultimately brilliant, adaptation of the Wizard of Oz.

“My first ever retreat with Thay and the Plum Village monastics was a life changing experience! I have come away feeling much stronger and confident in my practice… It was lovely to be surrounded by such caring and compassionate people. Even being asked such an otherwise ordinary question 'how are you?' felt so genuine and heartfelt in that environment. I felt loved. Though I was in a peaceful environment, I went through a rollercoaster of emotions. There were times when I felt really agitated because of the opportunity the retreat gave for self-reflection and I didn't like what I was seeing. I felt confronted more than ever with all the aspects I disliked about myself. Having no where to run and hide, I learnt how to stay present with these uncomfortable feelings and to open up to my retreat friends about this, which felt very healing. It really shows how being present for someone can really help them.

I remember so fondly the beautiful beaming smiles of the monks and nuns. Thay and the Plum Village monastics stand as a living testimony to how joyful life can be when we are living mindfully… I feel blessed to carry the support of the Sangha with me too”

Elina, Refreshing Compassion of the Heart

Hereʼs the orientation talk for the retreat: And you can also find Thayʼs other Dharma talks from Nottingham on the same site.

c. Truly Alive: The Youth Retreat in Plum Village

Numbers keep going up with Wake Up! Over 170 young people from all over Europe and beyond came together for another 5 amazing days. It was a bit

warmer than Nottingham, and a bit less comfortable since we were all camping: but this simplicity really added to the beautiful atmosphere.

Our days consisted of walking, sitting, deep relaxation, sharing and when we were lucky listening to Thayʼs stunning Dharma talks. There was a wonderful atmosphere of joy and playfulness alongside a really deep aspiration to talk about the things that mattered. Highlights included: Thayʼs answer to the question “what is the meaning of life?” an Ultimate Frisbee tournament with the monks, and (a new twist on the toploader song) ʻchanting in the moonlightʼ with the nuns.

The organising group got loads of inspiration for new projects from people all around Europe, and also met with Michael Slaby, the CEO of the Earth Charter to explore collaborating with them1.

“I think my parents decided to invest in the experience for me and my brother because at that point, we'd gained so much from the Nottingham retreat in the way of inner growing space, cultivating well-being, perspective, deep listening and the ability to understand what it is to be nourished and how we can nourish others. We were opening up personally and as a family, and it seemed like a really important opportunity to keep the momentum going… especially given our individual situations back home in Madison. And that's just what we did! I think both my brother and I opened ourselves up so much that all kinds of experiences, information, connections (with very awake people!), interconnections, knowledge about where we are in life, and what parts of it need our love (together all the ingredients of a turning point in life) emerged for us.” Lissie, Dawn Redwood of the Heart

2. Sanghas

a. Breathe, you are online: Skype sessions with Wake Up UK

Local sanghas arenʼt always possible. Sometimes there just arenʼt people anywhere near you who want to practice. But, at the risk of sounding like a NatWest advert, there is another way.

For a number of months now the Wake Up Europe core group has been meeting online for Dharma sharings and for organising meetings. Itʼs been a really wonderful practice as Phap Man attests2.

Some of the Dharma Families from Nottingham had the aspiration to meet up on Skype to support each other in the practice. And we want to offer this for anyone who wasnʼt able to make it to the retreat (or even if you did make it to the retreat and you just canʼt get enough of them!) Weʼll make it a monthly adventure, starting on Saturday 11th September at 8pm. Anyone and everyone is welcome. If you want to join us then just send us an email with ʻSKYPEʼ followed by your skype name as the subject.

b. The first meeting of the London Wake Up Sangha

Yes, thatʼs right thereʼs also a Wake Up sangha in the UK thatʼs not on Skype! Born out of the fresh faces of the Nottingham retreat and the experience of some whoʼve been with us for a while there will now be regular meetings of Wake Uppers to practice

sitting, walking, dharma sharing and supporting each other in central London. The first meeting will be on Saturday 18th September. If you want to be on the mailing list for this sangha, or attend this session then just send us an email.

c. Creating new sanghas: the Wake Up map

Thayʼs always encouraging us to build local sanghas, like the emerging one in London. Without them itʼs so hard to keep our practice alive and fresh. We need to look for ways to practice together to keep our mindfulness alive and bright. The easiest way to do this is to simply add yourself to this ( and send an email to us to let us know youʼve done it. If you see a cluster of people near you then just let us know and weʼll contact everyone to try and get together. So add yourself and letʼs get building!

d. Joining Existing Sanghas

There are also loads of sanghas in the UK that donʼt have any age limit! Whilst we really want to encourage young people to get together and support each other, this doesnʼt mean the other groups are useless. Many of us attend the main sanghas near us and draw strength from the experience, wisdom and solid practice they offer. They also need our freshness and energy! So see if thereʼs a Sangha near you:

3. Future Retreats

a. Living Buddha, Living Christ: A Young Christian and Buddhist retreat From the evening of Friday 15th October to the afternoon of Sunday 17th, Wake Up will come together with the Young Friends and the young members of the WCCM to hold a joint retreat.

The Young Friends is the name for the young members of the Quakers – a Christian group founded in the C17th who worship in silence and are deeply committed to social activism3. The main UK Sangha has done retreats with older Quakers for a number of years now. The Young Friends frequently hold retreats really similar to our weekend-long ones. So all in all, it looks like a match made in heaven!

WCCM is short for the World Community of Christian Meditation4. They were founded by a Benedictine monk called Father John Main and are now under the leadership of another Father Lawrence Freeman. They practice meditation using the Christian mantra ʻMaranathaʼ which is Aramaic for ʻLord, comeʼ5. Theyʼve also recently produced a booklet called ʻYoung & Contemplativeʼ with 18-25 year olds from all sorts of backgrounds reflecting on Christian meditation.

If you want to come, keep the date free and watch your inbox for the registration form and more details of when, where and how.

3 4 5 and

For an introduction by Fr Lawrence got to:

b. Connecting to our ancestors: Wake Up goes Medieval in the Spring

It is still only a dream, but thereʼs a chance that our Spring retreat will be held in an old C15th and C16th country house where we can do archery, watch jousting and all sorts of cool things! No promises though.

c. The wave is the water: Wake Up goes surfing in the Summer

During a Question and Answer session with the young monks at the Plum Village youth retreat this year someone asked, “Why do you have to give up sensual pleasures like surfing?” Our summer retreat is going to be Phap Manʼs answer to that. Before he became a monk he used to surf on the west coast of the USA and now he wants to do a practical exploration of Thayʼs metaphor of the water and the wave. Sometime around late June or early July weʼre going to have a surfing retreat down on North coast of Cornwall. Keep your ears open for more news as it comes.

d. Venues

We are always on the look out for venues in which to hold retreats. Anywhere that can sleep 30+ (sleeping on floors is fine), is not completely in the middle of nowhere, has inside space for meditation and games and costs less than £700 for a weekend is perfect. If you, or a family member, have a large house youʼd be happy to let us use for a weekend then thatʼd be great too! Email us with your ideas.

4. Three new projects

At the Nottingham retreat there was a lot of enthusiasm for new paths that Wake Up could walk down. 3 main ones emerged that seem to have a lot of potential and now have mailing lists of people who want to pursue them.

a. Universities and Education

Mindfulness is now a developed psychotherapy and taught all over the place to cure anything from stress to depression. We want to offer mindfulness sessions at every university across the country so that students have a chance to manage their emotions and the difficulties of modern life. We also hope this might offer a route into the Wake Up Sangha for some of those people. Many of us got involved in meditation or Buddhism through societies at university and we want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to walk the beautiful path weʼre following.

A group of Wake Uppers are collaborating with the Mental Wealth project in order to achieve this. If you want to help us then just let us know.

b. Social Activism

One of the defining characteristics of Thay's school of Buddhism is the core concept of Engaged Buddhism. This dates back to the Vietnam war where Thay was one of the first and most prominent monks in the country to take the stance that, whilst meditation and inner transformation are crucial, they are simply not enough when people around you are suffering and dying. You have a duty to help them.

We would like to follow this conviction with Wake Up by getting more involved with movements and organisations that are seeking to relieve suffering and

create a fairer and more sustainable future around the world. We are aiming to bring the energy, compassion and insight that we have developed from our practice to such causes so that we develop our movement into a powerful source of positive change in the world.

This is all very new, and we are currently only in the process of pooling together ideas on how we can best move forward with this. So if you would like to get involved or if you have any ideas/suggestions of your own then please do get in touch!

c. Inter-faith

Thereʼs a real desire for us to reach out to other Buddhist traditions and other religions. Weʼve got the Quaker and WCCM retreat coming up in October and lots of energy for more stuff after that. We also want someone, for each retreat we organise, to be involved in reaching out to other traditions to join our practice. If itʼs the kind of thing youʼd want to get involved in… well, I think youʼve probably got the message by now… EMAIL US!

5. A taste of freedom

Many young people are drawn towards monasticism but feel scared to commit in the knowledge that if they do so then itʼs for life. But Thay has opened up a way for young people to become monastics without feeling itʼs forever. At the Nottingham and the Youth retreats he announced that young adults will soon have the chance to be monks or nuns for 5 years in his tradition. Once they have experienced monastic life and trained in the art of mindfulness, they can then choose to either ordain for life or to leave the monastery and become a lay Dharma teacher. This is a real call for young people to be part of the monastic Sangha – a project Thay is passionate about. If this interests you then start hanging around Plum Village more! Or you can contact (no, not us for once) the young monastics at