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Mindful Communication

'No Words' By David Greenaway
'No Words' By David Greenaway


By Michael Elsmere KoGan MuJu

Mindful Communication

‘Mindfulness ……mindfulness must be dynamic and confrontative….. it should leap forward onto the object, covering it completely, penetrating in to it, not missing any part of it.’

From ‘In This Very Life’ By Sayadaw U Pandita

"Strive students to concentrate on one thing alone."

Shobogenzo Zuimonki by Dogen

‘it is not the technologies themselves that I'm criticising, but how they are used and the extent to which they are used. ‘

Baroness Susan Greenfield New Scientist 3 August 2011

This twentieth edition of Mountain Silence focuses on ‘Mindful Communication,’ an apt theme perhaps when considering that our sangha that is spread out and dispersed across the U.K. and therefore dependent to a marked extent on effective communication. The last few years have seen the exponential rise of various digital forms of communication from e-mail to Twitter to Facebook as forms of contact that are instantaneous, that we can dash off as we walk, play, shop or even in some instances drive! Recently in Stockholm I was struck by the number of people who seemingly unaware of their surroundings and others around them walked head down immersed in in their digital worlds. Because such sights are becoming common on our streets, in our homes, schools and workplaces concerns are being expressed about the way that such devices seem to be taking over our lives and the question is being asked is this really communication? Are Facebook ‘friends,’ really friends, can Twitter offer more than the most superficial form of connection? Susan Greenfield in the quote at the head of the editorial questions our use of the various technologies at our disposal. Recently I was discussing with a friend the way that we use e-mails and she offered what I thought was wise advice and made the very point that Greenfield is making, that the fault is not in the technology but in ourselves!  My friend said that several weeks before our conversation she had to e-mail a relative regarding a very delicate family matter. As the person was in Spain and needed to be contacted urgently and the subject was a legal and needed to be in written form the only method at her disposal was the use of e-mail.  Despite the urgency she thought about it for some hours well aware that the slightest misunderstanding of the complex situation could cause much strife and distress. She decided to approach the e-mail as if she were writing an ‘old fashioned,’ letter to a dear, much loved friend, she made several drafts leaving a couple of hours between each.

 ‘I refused to hurry myself despite the pressing urgency of the situation. I tried to imagine myself in his shoes as he received it, at best sitting on his patio in the Spanish sun, a glass of wine at hand, at worst in the midst of a fraught business schedule. I hoped that he would read the e-mail carefully and respectfully although our preceding correspondence on the matters involved had been marked by some distrust and anger.’

In musing on my friend’s comments I realised that she had intuitively got to the heart of the problems that surround our digitised communications. If we approach each mail we send forth with care, respect and imagination, being mindful in the energetic manner suggested by Sayadaw U Pandita and with the deep single mindedness of Dogen then most of our problems surrounding e-mails and other modern forms would disappear. This perhaps may mean for us less e-mails Twitter, Facebook etc. but surely this approach will yield untold rewards in the form of real understanding, perhaps even approaching the depths we achieve when we simply sit in silence and stillness together, an ancient method of communication and meeting which has not yet been surpassed!

In this edition of Mountain Silence we have reflections on Mindful Communication both in writing and dialogue by Francis Checkley and Chris Hannah and there are also book reviews by Francis and Josh Zatz on the varying approaches possible in communicating clearly and compassionately whilst Clare Hannah offers us a clear concise method to consider when we wish to convey something. Our recent Rohatsu retreat propmted musings from David, Michael and Devin along with a delightful traditional verse from Chris Hannah. There  is information on a retreat at Hebden Bridge in February with Ingen Breen, news from the regions and details of the various sitting groups around UK.

I would like to thank all those who have submitted writings for this newsletter and hope that readers will enjoy their thoughts and views.



Visit of Tenshin Reb Anderson 2013

By Frances Collins & Devin Ashwood

Dear friends,

We are writing on behalf of Dancing Mountains Zen to everyone who ask... Read more


On Mindful Communication

By Francis Checkley AnRyu ChiU

The Oxford Thesaurus gives the alternatives to Mindful Communication as "Conscious Transmission".
Read more


Mindful Communication Considered

By Chris Hannah

Neither past  nor future provide legitimate respite from the challenge and beauty of the moment. When we learn to become fully pre... Read more


A B C of Mindful Relationships

By Claire Hannah

A B C of Mindful Relationships
Attention Acceptance Appreciation Affection Allowing ... Read more


Rohatsu Thoughts

By Devin Ashwood

The Rohatsu Sesshin I attended at the end of November was a traditional retreat held in the Zen lineage.  It lasts for seven full ... Read more


Recollections of Rohatsu

By Various

Below are offered some brief reflections on the first ever Dancing Mountains Rohatsu Sess... Read more

Book Review

Review of ‘The Way of Council’ (2nd Ed) Jack Zimmerman and Virginia Cole (Bramble Books, 2009).

By Josh Zatz

This book is about creating a container for authentic communication. Its subject is, perhaps, not so much ‘mindful commu... Read more

Book Review

‘Meeting the Shadow The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature’,

By Francis Checkley AnRyu ChiU

In a collection of 65 wide-ranging articles, ‘Meeting the Shadow,’ offers an overvie... Read more

Book Review

Pure Heart Enlightened Mind

By Michael Elsmere KoGan MuJu

 It is strange that som... Read more

Final Words

The Impermanence of water!

By Sue Blackmore

As a reminder  of our inclement summer here are some photos and comment submitted by Sue Blackmore in whose delightful house we ha... Read more

Sangha Update

Totnes Sangha

By Francis Checkley AnRyu ChiU

Now that winter is with us, we meet at the slightly earlier time of 7 pm. rather than 7:30.
Read more

Sangha Update

Hebden Bridge

By Rebecca Habergham

Hello everyone. A bit of an update from us to you.
We have had quite a busy Summer of weekend and day retreats, welcoming old and ... Read more

Previous issues are available here

In this issue...

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Visit the Local Groups webpage for details of Dancing Mountains groups in your area, and the Diary for their regular meeting dates and times.

Next Issue
The Spring edition will have a theme around 'Buddhism and Ecology". We welcome your articles, poetry, pictures, letters, retreat reflections and book reviews! Publication date: 21st March, deadline for submission of material 1st March.
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Michael Elsmere
Address: Westerly, Washbourne, Totnes TQ9 7UF Devon

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Residential Retreat,

at Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire

with Ingen Breen

19th February 2013 to 24th February 2013

5 day residential retreat for experienced people

Cost: £200

+44 7970 425 932

Zen day retreat

at Shekinashram, Glastonbury

with Ingen Breen

21st April 2013

Zen day retreat

Cost: £30

07875 155464

Contradictions in practice

at Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire

with Ingen Breen

4th May 2013 to 5th May 2013

2 day Non-Residential

Cost: £50

07970 425932

A ZEN Weekend Retreat

at Glandwr, Pembrokeshire

with Ingen Breen

31st May 2013 to 2nd June 2013

A ZEN Weekend Retreat Led by Ingen Breen

Cost: £70

The practice of being a Work in Progress. Inside and Outside

at Birchcliffe Centre Hebden Bridge Yorkshire

with Ingen Breen

15th June 2013 to 16th June 2013

It will be run as a retreat so we can get up close

Cost: £50

07970 425932

Practicing Wisdom beyond Wisdom

at Poland

with Tenshin Reb Anderson

27th June 2013 to 30th June 2013

4 day retreat in Poland

Cost: 130 Euro

++48 662 601 986

The Teachings of Enlightenment & the Things of the World

at Fellingsbro, Sweden

with Tenshin Reb Anderson

2nd July 2013 to 9th July 2013

Seven Day Zen retreat

Cost: 3500Swedish kronor approx £350

46 498 53905

Awakening to our True Body

at Neu Schönau, 150 km north of Berlin, Germany

with Tenshin Reb Anderson

12th July 2013 to 19th July 2013

Tenshin Reb Anderson Retreat in Germany

Cost: 555 € — 615 €

Zen Practice of Perfect Wisdom

at Hebden Bridge

with Tenshin Reb Anderson

21st July 2013 to 28th July 2013

7 day retreat, Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, UK

Cost: £290 - £385

01954 718729

Zen Ethics and Compassionate Healthcare

at London

with Tenshin Reb Anderson

30th July 2013

Day retreat with Reb Anderson in London

Cost: £30

07786 369682

October Zen in the Sun

at Lefkada Greece

with Ingen Breen

6th October 2013 to 13th October 2013

A Retreat with Ingen Breen in Greece. 

There will options of shared and single rooms. Payment can be in installments for this event. Still finalising details, but do contact for information.

Cost: TBA


Dancing Mountains Weekend and AGM

at Warminster, Wiltshire

with No Teacher

12th October 2013 to 13th October 2013

A weekend of sitting together and our AGM meeting

Cost: £40-£55

07875 155464

A Weekend of Zen

at Hebden Bridge, Birchcliffe Centre

with Brad Warner

18th October 2013 to 20th October 2013

Two days with a Zen Priest, Author & Punk Rocker

Cost: £80 - £125

07970 425932

Hallowe’en Sesshin

at Hebden Bridge

with Ingen Breen

27th October 2013 to 2nd November 2013

A week retreat over Samhain

Cost: £140

01422 883645