With Kindly Curiosity: Dene Donalds
Dene Donalds leads a retreat at The Barn this summer called Turning Towards Compassion
He is a lay Ordained Dharma Teacher in the Zen Buddhist Tradition of Zen Master and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh. He has been a student of Zen Buddhism since the mid-nineties and joined The Order of Interbeing in 2007.
Dene offers Buddhist and mindfulness retreats across the UK and Europe, with a focus on engaged Buddhism and social action.
He is based in the North of England where his work includes offering Buddhist chaplaincy within Prisons and Mental Health Hospitals.
How did you come to dharma practice?
I've been practising dharma in the Zen tradition since 1995. In 2001 I went to Plum Village and listened to Thich Nhat Hanh. For me he embodied the practice, he didn't just teach it. It was the way he walked, talked, ate his food. I wanted to embody the practice too. For the first time I was committed to one form: that of Plum Village.
What's your daily practice look like?
My formal practice means rising early and sitting and enjoying my breath, following my breath and nourishing and healing myself just through the full awareness of breathing.
After a while, when I feel that my mind and body are calm , then I may choose to look deeply, so I'd use the 4 Establishments of Mindfulness to do that (the body, feelings, mind, objects of mind).
Sometimes I might bring up some fetters so that I may look closely at the roots of my own suffering. I will always recite the 5 Remembrances in order to deal with my fear and after I've offered myself some deep meditation, I might invite the bell and touch the Earth a few times to connect with my blood ancestors, spiritual ancestors, land ancestors, people that I truly love and people who I perceive may have caused me harm.
I'll look to bow in gratitude to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and share the merit.