After returning in London from a Plum Village retreat in 2016, Cata felt he needed more support for his new daily practice. Using Headspace for guided meditations was helpful, but after experiencing the Plum Village teachings he felt there was a lot more wisdom to discover from Buddhist teachings.
So a dream bubbled up to create a mobile app aimed to support practitioners and communities who not only want to use mindfulness for health or productivity, but also aspire to develop a spiritual path, and cultivate qualities like understanding, kindness and solidity.
Cata had tasted the fruit of the practice himself, in relation to anxiety and depression, and was inspired to share with others who might also benefit from it. After watching an inspiring Dharma Talk on the topic of Intention, Insight and Inovation, he felt he wasn’t alone with his friend Raj in building this, but actually encouraged by Thay to do it.
We can make good use of technology in order to help people go home to themselves and take care of themselves and their families.Thich Nhat Hanh
Fast forward for years… and here we are, celebrating 140,000+ users of the free Plum Village app.
The app contains many guided meditations, practice songs, chants, and other practices, and offers the opportunity to explore mindfulness in an accessible Buddhist context.
There are hundreds of answers from Thich Nhat Hanh to questions students have asked him directly and Dharma Talks (think Ted Talks for the soul) on any topic you can think of, including how to embrace difficult feelings, handleing depression, coping with the loss of a loved one, true love and more.
Some of the audio has been recorded on retreats so is doesn’t have a polished studio-quality sound, but instead, the feeling is much more spontaneous and alive, the closest you can get to a direct transmission from a world renowned Buddhist Zen Master.
The app also allows people to set a mindfulness bell as a regular reminder to pause from what they are doing and take a few mindful breaths as Thay has encouraged.
Since the launch of the project, along with the user numbers and app features, our team also grew: we are happy to now have Cata and Maarten as project managers / UX practitioners, Raj and Justin as master developers, Elina and Anca lovingly managing communications, Yen, Karina and Beth helping with beautiful illustrations, Karim overviewing the editorial aspect, and Mayumi inspiring us with her legendary mix of Buddhist and feminist aesthetic.
We’re trying to inspire a modern example of the Buddhist practice of Dana or generosity. Like other apps, this is free to download, but unlike most of them, it is not part of a “freemium” model where payment is required to access the majority of content, nor is income driven through intrusive advertising.
The app is offered completely free by the Center for Applied Ethics, a non-profit organisation established in London. This has been made possible by the generosity of members of the Plum Village monastic and lay communities, who have dedicated much time and money in creating a gift for the world.
So as it’s been traditionally the case with Buddhist teachings for millennia, the app is offered freely and users can choose to donate if they value it and want to support it to continue and develop further.