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Magnolia Grove Monastery

riverflowriverflow Veteran Veteran
Magnolia Grove Monastery

Sunday, March 17 I am going! The Monastery is in Batesville, MS. I live approximately an hour away, in West Memphis, AR.

I noticed on their website to contact them in advance, so I sent them a brief email. I don't know how long it will be for a response. For first-timers, they recommend coming at 8 am for a general orientation. The Sunday schedule goes something like this:

5:30am- Sitting meditation & chanting
7:00am - Breakfast
8:30am- Walking meditation
9:45am- Dharma talk
11:30am- Precepts recitation
1:00pm - Formal lunch
2:00pm - Total relaxation (if conditions are favorable :))

The dharma talk may be given by one of the monks or a DVD of Thich Nhat Hanh. I believe they are still in the middle of constructing a large meditation centre there.

Here's the email I sent:

My name is Josh and I live in West Memphis. I am would like to visit for the Sunday Day of Mindfulness for Sunday, March 17.

I have been involved with Buddhist practice by myself (only with the aid of books, including a few by Thich Nhat Hanh) for the past three years but I have not yet been part of a sangha or been in any group meditation setting before. This is something I would like to now explore in order to deepen my practice and learn from others.

I notice on your website it says to contact you when visiting and also for first-timers to arrive at 8:00 am for a kind of orientation. I just wanted to make sure this is correct. My email is ******

I am very much looking forward to coming to the practice center this Sunday.

With much metta, gratitude and bows,
I'll let you all know how this goes!


  • riverflowriverflow Veteran Veteran
    FYI: Batesville, Mississippi is about a 45 minutes drive south of Memphis, Tennessee.
  • I'm so excited for you-- and a wee bit jealous! ;)
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran
    How wonderful.
    The day TNH was due to give a public talk near me, I dropped everything and turned up. As I started to queue for a ticket, someone came alongside the queue. His friend had cancelled - would anyone like a free ticket?
    Everyone froze and went into mindfulness mode. Would it be selfish to accept?
    In the brief moment when my fellow awaits would no longer have doubt, a mindful cructacean had a ticket near the front . . .
    Oh the humanity. :o

    I look forward to reports of a magical day . . . :clap:
  • VastmindVastmind Veteran Memphis, TN Veteran
    You guys really know how to motivate someone to drop
    it all...hahaha.
    Im actually in a suburb outside of Memphis, so my
    time is about 2 hours, but I'm still in.
    Hubby and I are getting our ducks in a row
    now, and I'll send my e-mail to them when I get home
    today from work.

  • riverflowriverflow Veteran Veteran
    I received a lovely wee email from them last night and the 17th is good to go. Yes, 8 am for for first-timers.

    @Vastminds - for the 17th? It would be good for you, your husband & I to meet too then!

    Thanks to everyone for your encouragement!
  • VastmindVastmind Veteran Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited March 2013
    @riverflow...yes, this Sunday, the 17th.
  • VastmindVastmind Veteran Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited March 2013
    I sent my e-mail yesterday and am waiting
    for confirmation for this Sunday.
    Hubby and I are set to go.

    to be cont....
  • VastmindVastmind Veteran Memphis, TN Veteran
    Well, so e-mail back yet.
    If I hear nothing by tomorrow, I guess
    we didn't make the cut, and I'll try again for
    another time.

    to be cont.....
  • riverflowriverflow Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2013
    @Vastminds - Hmmm... I'm sure you checked your spam folder too (that's where mine initially arrived). If not this time, then maybe next week...? I'll fill everyone sometime Sunday...
  • VastmindVastmind Veteran Memphis, TN Veteran
    I didn't think to check spam (thanks for looking out).
    Nothing there, either.

    It's still all good. :)
  • riverflowriverflow Veteran Veteran
    @Vastminds - no word I suppose. But there are more Sundays too!

    I ended up being called in to work till 7 am and in order to get my sleep schedule back on track, I've had to remain sleep deprived much of today. --wouldn't want to fall asleep there! That wouldn't be very mindful of me, would it?

    I'll let you know how it goes!
  • VastmindVastmind Veteran Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited March 2013
    No, nothing......I'm going to try again tomorrow for this
    Sunday...(and may even call)...I'll see how I feel about it
    at the time, hahaha. I just don't see them not responding
    at all...who knows...???

    May you have a fruitfull trip. :)
  • riverflowriverflow Veteran Veteran
    Do call, @Vastminds - you should call tonight. I believe it says on the website you can call instead. I bet you wouldn't be the only one calling the night before.
  • riverflowriverflow Veteran Veteran
    I don't know where to begin but just to say that today was a marvellous day. I'll write more about it either today or tomorrow. For the moment I just want to say that it was so worth it.

    I definitely intend to return--and in the process met someone who invited me to another Vietnamese monastery that I wasn't aware of, Quan Am Monastery in Memphis. They have an open meditation night on Thursdays from 6 pm to 7 pm (their website says otherwise, but I don't think it has been updated).

    Here is the website for Quan Am Monastery:
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran
    I don't know where to begin but just to say that today was a marvellous day
    How wonderful. :clap:
    I am inspired to visit my local YinYana Temple, just between my ears.
    Looking forward to your report. :clap:
  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Gentle Man Veteran
    Thank you, your explanation gave me insight!

    I finally recognize what "not chasing thoughts" means, basically. (Yes I read mindfully!)
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran
    there were no expectations placed on me
    What an inspiring day.

    Many of us think we are unworthy, too uncouth, too worldly, too heterosexual, too Catholic, too crazy, too unwell, too [insert your reason] to go to a Buddhist Monastery or centre.
    In fact they are full of the unworthy, uncouth, worldly, heterosexual, Catholic, crazy, unwell - or maybe that is just me.
    They are people on the Middle Way.

    If in doubt, go. If uncertain, go. Write Haiki. Pretend you are a tourist, maybe you are.

    "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."
  • VastmindVastmind Veteran Memphis, TN Veteran
    Thanks for the review!
  • riverflowriverflow Veteran Veteran
    I hope you get to come next time! And there is also Quan Am Monastery in Memphis - I'll let you know about it as well (Thursday night).
  • edited March 2013
    Thank you so much for the thoughtful review (and Haikus). I love the fact that I am able to "see" much of Thay's teachings and methods in your description: the bells, the ample opportunities for mindfulness in every activity, the simplicity, the smiling, the mindfulness trainings. These things are precisely why I have fallen in love with Thich Nhat Hanh's style of teaching.

    Also, I really loved what you had to say about introversion and Western vs. Eastern culture. I think you're really onto something. In Western culture, quietness seems to be looked upon as a weakness. I think this is quite an incorrect way to see things. If we are not quiet, we can't even know how we really feel about things, and we certainly can't know how others feel. No wonder we have such communication problems and neurosis in the West.

    I am more convinced now that I must experience this wonderful oasis called Magnolia Grove Monastery! Thanks, again!
  • For anyone interested in understanding Thay's "Five Mindfulness Trainings", which are "concrete expression of the Buddha’s teachings on the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, the path of right understanding and true love, leading to healing, transformation, and happiness for ourselves and for the world":
  • riverflowriverflow Veteran Veteran
    I woke up at 3 am to go to the loo, couldn't go back to sleep, so I took advantage of that and drove to the monastery for the 5:30 am zazen, along with chanting. The chanting was in Vietnamese, but there are chant books in English translation which I followed silently, so the chanting had 'subtitles' for me! A little prostration (I kept trying to imitate a monk next to me and asked for some quick instruction afterward).

    I brought my seiza bench this time (my sciatica was up from the last visit, which I nursed back to health the past few days). Something different today: the Dharma talk was given by a monk in VIetnamese, so the English-speaking folks wore headphones while a translator spoke into a microphone for us (last week, it was the other way around, with the Dharma talk being in English). It took a bit of adjusting for me at first. Some time afterward, we had two different groups (English speaking and Vietnamese speaking), got in a circle to discuss our practice, where we were at (a 'weather report' so to speak) and offering any of our own personal thoughts on the Dharma talk.

    Breakfast and lunch were both delicious and I am discovering I like Vietnamese food (which I've never had before). I don't always know what it is I am eating, but it is certainly good! It is all vegetarian, also. Actually, it may be vegan (there was cereal available for brekkie too, with soy milk).

    And it was so windy today!
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