FINDING A PEACEFUL PATH
Finding a Peaceful Path
How can we live together peacefully and sustainably on planet Earth? This question has occupied me most of my life, and it has taken me on an exciting journey through world, nature, and self.
It has taken me from my native Germany to Los Angeles, where I worked as a television journalist and studied Urban Planning at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
It has taken me on a year-long voyage that started in Istanbul and, after winding through India and China, ended in the American Midwest, where I became an organic farmer and permaculture designer.
It has taken me to Kansas City, where I co-founded Cultivate Kansas City and spent eight years working with farmers, urban planners, policy makers, and diverse urban communities to promote growing food in cities.
It has taken me to the South of France, where I lived for two years in Plum Village, the monastery of Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. There I helped guide the establishment of Happy Farm, where mindfulness and Earth stewardship are cultivated alongside organic vegetables. And most recently, it has taken me back to Germany and the Prinzessinnengarten Kollektiv Berlin under a heading of “healing and seeing anew.”
I have worked with refugees in Berlin and in Kansas City. I have taught sustainable urban design at the University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), discovered the healing power of mediation in a restorative justice program, and volunteered in a prison rehabilitation program, walking with inmates the often difficult journey toward self-acceptance and self-love.
When I discovered mindfulness practice and meditation, a spiritual path opened up and I began looking inward at the role my mind plays in shaping my experience. In meditation I observed the endless train of thoughts passing through my mind and practiced letting go of them, not identifying with them so much. I gradually experienced a new freedom and peace and my life started to change in fundamental ways.
In Plum Village Monastery, I witnessed first-hand the many benefits of cultivating mindfulness, compassion, open-hearted communication and simple community living. The wish to further develop and share these practices with others was born.
I hold out hope that we will eventually adopt ways to live peacefully and sustainably on this planet. Amid news of ecological breakdown, climate change, political turmoil, refugee crises, war, pandemics and economic insecurity, I am encouraged that simple practices such as mindfulness, meditation and organic farming can change the way we speak and listen to one another and to Mother Earth. With practices like these we can learn to be happier and kinder; we can gradually transform the pain within us; and we may stop chasing that which we don’t need, leaving more for those in need.
Education & Training
Plum Village, Thenac, France. Two 12-month retreats. 2013 & 2015.
Workshop & Retreat Facilitation
THE URBAN MINDFULNESS LAB
The Urban Mindfulness Lab: A Look at Mindfulness in an Urbanizing World
“Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly alive, present and at one with those around you and with what you are doing.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
The Urban Mindfulness Lab (UML) explores the potential of bringing mindfulness practice to the development of sustainable urban community. UML seeks to promote the transition from an ego-centric to an eco-centric city.
UML is presently taking the form of an occasional blog, chronicling experiences, reflections, photos, projects, events and meditations on the subject of mindful urban living. Many of these will be inspired by day-to-day experiences right here in Berlin.
UML was created in 2018 by Daniel Dermitzel.