I have arrived. Sådan siger man her i Plum Village, hvor jeg ankom for lidt over tre uger siden efter mere end 1.700 kilometer til fods ned gennem Europa. Så i den forstand er jeg ankommet og er nu i gang med anden etape af min pilgrimsfærd. Men betydningen er selvfølgelig dobbelt. For ofte er vi jo ankommet et sted uden at være der fuldt og helt.

For lidt over fire måneder siden begav jeg mig ud på en pilgrimsfærd ned gennem Europa. Jeg havde opsagt mit job efter mere end seks år som leder. Jeg oplevede, at jeg havde mistet nærværet. Jeg summede rundt som en forvirret lille bi, som en af mine medarbejdere sagde til mig.

Men efter tre måneders vandring, hørte summeriet op. I dag tænker jeg mere klart og oplever en stor ro. Men det er ikke nok. For jeg skal hjem igen, og det nærvær, jeg har fået genskabt på min vandring, skal kunne modstå presset fra hverdagen – til glæde for mig selv og de mennesker jeg skal arbejde sammen med i fremtiden. Det kræver træning.

At ændre sin hjerne

Og her er Plum Village et af Europas bedste træningscentre. For ved at bruge timer, dage, uger, ja måneder på at træne sit nærvær ændrer ens hjerne sig stille og roligt. Ens nærværsmuskel bliver simpelthen større. Med lidt sprog fra hjerneforskningen, kan man sige, at man øver sig i at mindske aktiviteten i det, der kaldes hjernens ’default network’. Det er det netværk, der er aktivt når vores hjerne dagdrømmer og flyver væk fra nuet. Samtidig styrker man sin koncentrationsevne og man bliver bedre til at berolige sit sympatiske nervesystem (læs mere i mit tidligere indlæg). Alt sammen ting, der styrker vores nærvær og ro i hverdagen. Og alt sammen ting, der kan aflæses i hjernescanninger hos folk, der har trænet i mange år. Du kan læse meget mere forskning om meditation og nærværstræning hos Robert Right og Rasmus Hougaard.

En almindelig dag

Men hvordan træner man så sit nærvær? Her i Plum Village gør man det hele tiden. Selvfølgeligt når man sætter sig på meditationspuden og lukker øjnene, men også når man går, når man spiser, når man taler, når man løber og – især – når man trækker vejret. Dagene er en lang træningsbane og et normalt dagsprogram ser sådan her ud.

6.00: Morgenmeditation i den store meditationssal
7.00: Morgenmad i stilhed med fokus på mindful spisning
9.30: Undervisning i mindfulness og buddhisme
11.30: Gå-meditation i den omkringliggende skov
12.30: Spisning i stilhed med fokus på mindful spisning
15.00: Arbejdsmeditation hvor man udfører simple praktiske opgaver
18.00: Spisning i stilhed med fokus på mindful spisning
20.00: Aftenmeditation i den store meditationssal
21.00: Godnat og stilhed indtil næste dag

Henna og krystaller?

Men hvad er Plum Village dog for et sted? Og lyder det ikke alt sammen lidt spirituelt og flippet og utilgængeligt, hvis ikke man har hang til hennafarvet tøj og krystaller? Hvis det gør det for dig, så kan jeg godt forstå det. Og der er naturligvis mange steder og måder man kan træne sit nærvær. Skal man lytte til forskningen, så er det eneste, der rigtigt virker, daglige meditationer over en længere periode. Så kan man se tydelige ændringer i hjernen og i folks adfærd. Men jeg tror nu personligt, der kan være mange andre veje til nærværstræning end meditationspuden. Nogle strikker, andre løbetræner, andre nyder en tur i skoven og andre igen dyrker yoga. Det vigtigste er, at du tømmer hovedet for tanker og kun er et sted af gangen.

Når jeg har valgt Plum Village som mit træningscenter, så er det ganske simpelt fordi jeg kan mærke, at det virker. Det er tredje gang, at jeg er her og hver gang har jeg været overrasket over, hvor lidt henna og krystaller, der er over tilgangen til mindfulness her. Til gengæld er der et enormt fokus på at gøre mindfulness brugbart i og overførbart til hverdagen.  Her arrangeres f.eks. årlige business-retreats med fokus på mindfulness i arbejdslivet.

Men når det er sagt, så er det også vigtigt at holde fast ved, at Plum Village er et kloster, der til daglig huser omkring 200 buddhistiske munke og nonner. Klostret er stiftet af den vietnamesiske munk og buddhistiske lærer Thich Nhat Hanh, der er en af de vigtigste inspirationskilder til udbredelsen af mindfulness i vesten. Han har været indstillet til Nobels Fredspris og udover Plum Village har han grundlagt mindfulnesscentre i USA, Tyskland, Frankrig og Thailand.

En lidt større nærværsmuskel

Jeg har stadig 2,5 måned foran mig inden mit ophold her har nået sin ende og jeg skal hjem igen. Jeg håber min nærværsmuskel til den tid er blevet lidt større, så jeg igen kan være med til at skabe ro og arbejdsglæde i mine omgivelser. Og så jeg igen kan være med til at gøre den offentlige sektor lidt bedre. For det skal være sjovt og meningsfuldt og fagligt berigende at gå på arbejde i den offentlige sektor. Og her har vi ledere det største ansvar.

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