Walk with Me in Sound – the audiobook: A harmonious introduction to a mindful lifestyle
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh is a revered figure whose teachings on mindfulness are world renowned. Following his exile from his native Vietnam due to his peace activism in the 1960s, he went to France and founded Plum Village, a mindfulness centre and monastery where he resided for most of his life, until his recent return to his country of origin. Around a decade ago, when the spiritual leader was in his 80s, filmmaker Max Pugh contacted his friend and colleague Marc J Francis, to suggest making a documentary to help preserve Thich Nhat Hanh‘s legacy. The two had many challenges to overcome when they began filming Walk With Me (2017) at Plum Village. Francis recounts that, having to adapt to the pace and lifestyle of the monks, they ended up spending much longer than planned working on the project, and the experience radically transformed his life.
Marking Thich Nhat Hanh‘s 95th birthday this year, the director/producer has reprised the project by releasing an audio experience that perfectly incapsulates the transition from busy, superficial living to mindfulness. Divided in three parts, the audiobook begins with Marc’s personal story of how he first came in contact with Hanh’s teachings and how he was jolted into a new awareness from the very start. What he shares is not just a series of personal anecdotes and realisations, but nuggets of wisdom that were revealed to him during his experience. He explains how he came to understand that awareness in the present moment is what allows one to lead a full and fulfilling life.
The second part eases the listener into the soundscape by summarising the fundamental beliefs behind the mindfulness philosophy, which helps one enter the right mindset for the third part, the 55-minute long meditation. The immersive soundscape merges monastic chants, sounds of nature, excerpts from Thich Nhat Hanh’s talks, as well as passages from his 1960s journals, read by Benedict Cumberbatch. All these elements combined result in a deeply soothing effect. Allowing oneself a one-hour pause grants a much deeper practice than short bursts of meditation, and this soundscape is a reminder that it is worth taking the time to do that.
Naturally, the audiobook only hints at the regenerating benefits of a lifelong commitment to a mindful lifestyle, but it’s an excellent place to start for anyone interested in adopting a conscious approach to life. In just over an hour and a half, Walk with Me in Sound shifts the mind away from the hubbub of daily life and gives the feeling of stepping out into a clearer space. The harmoniously blended sounds have the effect of sweeping thoughts away and making room for stillness, giving the mind and body a chance to breathe, and leaving them longing for more of the same.
Walk with Me in Sound is released on 12th August 2021. For further information or to order the audiobook visit Marc J Francis’s website here.