exploration journal

Lessons from my Plum Village retreat – 2

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The struggle for making choices


Making choices is still quite hard for me. In our world of inifinite possibilities, making a choice means accepting to give up ALL the other options. How to make sure I make the best choice ?!


Even at Plum Village, I had to face dilemmas… ! Get ready, haha 😉


For example, on the Workshops morning, we had to choose between a dozen of workshops and most of the topics sounded very exciting : Painting & calligraphy, Healing meditation, Taking care of the inner child, etc.


I would have liked to attend at least 4 of them !


In any situation of life, I would like to learn to choose and then be totally happy with the choice I make, with no regrets for other possibilities, for what I potentially miss.


Should it be about choosing flavours at my favorite ice cream place in Paris (Pozzetto, rue du Roi de Sicile), or about choosing to visit some countries (Laos, Myanmar), renoucing to discover others (Thaïland, Vietnam).


Froglessness !


I shared about this issue with my friend Hubert who has been living at Plum Village as a permanent resident since almost 2 years.


He told me about the concept of « froglessness ».


He asked me to imagine a frog on a lotus. « The frog always jumps form a lotus to another. It can hardly stay on the same lotus ».


Froglessness is about accepting to stay on one lotus, with no desire to be on another lotus, and feel totally happy on the lotus where we choose to stand.


So… I am learning froglessness.


« Every piece is the best »


The idea of froglessness makes me think of a a story about making choices that Eckart Tolle shares in « The Power of Now ».


Here it goes :


« Do you know the story of Banzan ? Before he became a great Zen master, he spent many years in the pursuit of enlightment, but it eluded him.


Then one day, as he was walking in the marketplace he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer. « Give me the best piece of meat you have », said the customer.


And the butcher replied : « Every piece of meat I have is the best. There is no piece of meat that is not the best. »


Upon hearing this Banzan became enlighted. »


When I read it, this story really resonated in me !


When I have a hard time making a choice, I tell myself : « Julia, this is the best piece that you are choosing, this is the perfect piece for you now. So, no regrets about all other options ! »


It does not work perfectly all the time, but it helps ! Maybe this story will inspire you too ?


Exploring the decision-making process


I think that to become more « frogless », a good way is to get to know oneself better.


I have reflected about how my decision-making process has evolved over the last 12 months – since I started preparing the lifelab project.


Indeed, one year ago, my horizon of choices widened a lot.


I had infinite freedom and possibilities building the content of my exploration program – it has been a real « choice-making laboratory ».


Here is what I have observed :


I listen more to myself. To the emotions I feel inside, to what my body tells me.


I have developed my intuition.


I rely a lot on people I trust, too. I rely a lot on my network.


I picture myself in the reality I imagine and observe how it feels and if it feels right.


Usually, it is a divergent/convergent thinking process.


At first, I rise the question in my mind and my brain starts bringing up possibilities and ideas. I share about it with the right people. When needed, I look for more information.


And then, I decide to stop thinking about it.


Usually, decantation naturally happens and answers appear by themselves.


I have a lot of insights in 2 specific contexts :

1/ when I go through my yoga and meditation ritual in the morning,

2/ at shower time (yes !) – actually, I am not alone and a lot of articles on the internet deal with why people have great ideas while having a shower ! 😉


I feel that experience really helps to understand how we like to make choices so that we may give up serenely all other options.


Plum Village & choice-making


At Plum Village, I learnt to be much more into the present moment.


Being in the present moment, I stop thinking about what other possibilities can be.


My focus is about what I am experiencing here and now.


My concentration deepens, and I start to notice and feel things I was not fully paying attention to.


When I am totally here and now, I hear the birds singing. I feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. I feel the fresh grass under my feet. I notice the noise of the wind in the leaves of the trees. I am inhabiting my body and I feel energy within. I feel connected to myself and to the universe.


When I am totally present to myself and to the present moment, I am able to create a high-quality connection to the person I am speaking with.


I realize that my happiness lies in my ability to be fully present and conscious. To be really awake. To feel grateful about all the sources of joy around me.


It’s like going from 2D to 3D reality.


Then, how can I feel regrets for missing someting else ?


So, being happy with the choice I make is about making a choice that feels right and then choose to be fully present to the moment.


Away from Plum Village, there is still a strong tool to stay connected to that : meditation !


Let’s be clouds ! – Alan WATT


I cannot conclude this article about choice-making without sharing this very powerful and empowering 3 minutes film using the words of the philosopher and author Alan WATTS.