A Day at New Life – behind the scenes

Twitter-Day at New LifeWhat does a day at New Life look like? Many people who haven’t been here yet muse about this question. On a typical Wednesday in October we set out to answer it – in real-time on Twitter, with lots of pictures and videos. As Twitter is a very fast moving medium, we also want to perpetuate that day for you on our blog. Come along on a tour through our day:

Wake up to a gong instead of an alarm clock

While most people at New Life sleep as long as possible, some occasionally get up
Twitter-Day, cup, teaas early as 4 am to go to the temple across the road and listen to the monks chanting at 4.30 am. But on this particular Wednesday the first person showed up in the dining hall shortly after 5 am – heading for the electric tea kettle to pour the first cup. Just minutes later Serge entered the kitchen for the first of many times that day to prepare his ciabatta bread dough – for a special dinner on Thursday.
As every morning Jason, one of the Volunteers here, went from door to door ringing the gong. If you don’t like the sound of an alarm clock, then maybe waking up to the chime of the gong might be just right for you.

Yoga, meditation, tai chi or a walk – you decide how to start your day

Anyway: Just enough time to stretch, yawn, maybe have a shower and then head to your morning activity of choice at 6.30 am. Usually that is either meditation, yoga, a walk starting by the pool or once a week tai chi.

Twitter-Day, Forest Hall, MeditationOn Wednesdays though all community members meet at the forest hall for meditation. Our meditation teacher Gary focused on  buddhism concept of interbeing and no-self that morning. He set up a flower,
explaining, that it is just a product of many, many things. Without all those things – like sunshine, rain, soil, bugs… – there would be no flower. The same concept applies to us humans. Everything is connected. We are all one being, yet individual. If you can become aware of this, you are able to see the real flower – or the true nature of every human being. While most of the community members were meditating, the breakfast shift prepared the first meal of the day in the kitchen and two members of the cow team were milking Rosie, one of our three cows. She gives enough milk for drinking, making yogurt and sometimes to make cheese from it.

Yummy breakfast and the concept of Noble Silence

Noble Silence, Twitter-DayAt 7.30 am everybody came together in the dining hall for breakfast. It’s buffet style and you’ll find lots of yummy food like porridge, muesli, cornflakes, fresh milk & yogurt, homemade jam, freshly baked bread, a tropical selection of fruits and eggs cooked in different styles every day.
New Life practices noble silence from 9.30 pm to 8.30 am – that
means, among other things, enjoying breakfast more intensely. Wednesdays are special in many ways: All meals are taken in silence for example. On all other days there is one “Noble Silence Table”, where people can sit if they want to practice eating meditation or are just not interested in socializing during lunch or dinner.

Morning Meeting, Awakening Hall, Twitter-DayAt 8.30 am the whole community met at the “Awakening Hall” for the morning meeting. By then Serge had already written down the schedule for the day and the itinerary for working meditation. The morning meeting is a time for saying “Goodbye” to people who are leaving, to welcome the new arrivals and to bring ideas or share what’s going on for you. After that there is a short 10 to 15 minute meditation. For Wednesday mornings New Life borrowed a tradition from Plum Village: hugging meditation. It’s completely voluntarily, but quite popular.
After the morning meeting everybody has some time to go to their rooms,
Mud Brick, Community Work, Twitter-Dayapply sunscreen if needed, dress in work clothes (one set is provided) or relax for a few minutes. At 9.30 am Volunteers and Residents start working meditation. Sometimes you’ll be on agriculture, sometimes on maintenance, green team, lunch shift or garden team. The tasks range from picking fruits, weeding or cleaning the communal areas to painting, repairing things (depends on your skills) or building mud bricks – just giving some examples. Even if it doesn’t sound like it: Working meditation is usually fun and a good opportunity to connect with other members of the community through conversation and laughter. If you are on the cow or duck team your chores and schedule differ slightly, but for those who love working with animals it’s usually very rewarding, as you might sense watching this short video of our excited ducks leaving their shack in the morning.

The thai staff are already busy preparing lunch at that time and Serge is back in the kitchen, too – to prepare the bread dough for breakfast the next morning:

Yoga, Eugenie, Twitter-DayThe life coaching sessions also take place in the morning – between 9.30 and 11.30 am. Usually every Resident has two life coaching sessions per week. They take place in cozy A/C rooms at the life coach building.
After working meditation/life coaching there  is usually a one hour gap before lunch. Everybody is free to have some recreation time, but oftentimes there is something going on too – like a body-scan, recovery group, meditation or yoga for example. On our Twitter-Wednesday it was yoga. Eugenie, one of our long-term Volunteers, held the class in a shady spot in our garden and focused on breathing techniques. New Life also has a basic gym to work out with some weights and a punching bag, if that’s more your cup of tea.

Workshops, new arrival & time to chill out

After lunch at 12.30 am, which is – as all meals – vegetarian and mostly consists of delicious thai food, there is another hour to just relax, hang out, read, play ping pong or have a dip in the pool. In the afternoon Residents can usually choose between two different workshops. On that particular Wednesday it was a “creative painting workshop” and an “addiction recovery workshop”.

Sander, Eugenie, office, Twitter-DayIn the meantime, the Volunteers went for another round of working meditation, while Serge attended his bread in the kitchen, forming the loafs and putting them into the oven to pre-bake them.  Then a new arrival was welcomed in the office by Sander and Eugenie. 
The late afternoon is a time to either take a nap, read, surf the internet, swim in the pool, go down to the noodle shop for a good and cheap thai massage, play some more ping pong or hang out at “Mama’s”, the café next door.

Chocolate Fairy, New Life, Twitter-DayBut if you rather want to be active, there is almost always something going on – like a buddhism talk, yoga or kick boxing for example. Coming back to your room, you might be lucky and find a little note or small treat in front of your door. The “chocolate fairy”, as it is called here, usually visits in the morning but is also sometimes seen in the afternoon.

At 6.30 pm everybody met for dinner:

This is what happens in the kitchen late in the evening

As it was Wednesday, whoever wanted to, joined the women’s circle or men’s group at 7.45 pm. But the evening is also a great time to just hang out in the dining hall on the couch or at one of the tables and chat, read or play games.

You’d think the kitchen would be more quiet at this time of the day, but take a look behind the scenes yourself:

 

At 9.30 pm a member of the staff rings the gong – it’s noble silence again and time to go to bed.

If you want to see all the Tweets of that Wednesday, please visit New Life on Twitter (you don’t have to have an account!) and scroll down to the 14th of October 2015.

2 Comments

  1. the memory of days like this, is still fresh in my mind.
    What a healing time it was.
    Thanks again, and love to all who remember me.
    And all you others as well.
    Dx

  2. It is amazing to see how much NLF has blossomed since I was there about 4 years ago. Keep up the fantastic work Julien!

    Charlie

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