The Grey Heron

“Laoshi

Why The Grey Heron?

The Grey Heron Sangha is facilitated by Deniz Paradot, who has received the Five Mindfulness Trainings from Plum Village. Here is his story behind The Grey Heron name.

“For a couple of weeks before the retreat, the winter rains had fallen and continued to fall heavily over a short period of time. Every year this seasonal occurrence would form a small pool of water in my garden, but this year was different. The deluge created what can only be better described as a natural rainwater pond that welcomed the urban gulls and ducks to the garden. And as a refreshing dipping opportunity for Cara, my dog!

This retreat was a significant and pertinent one for me; I was officially receiving the Five Mindfulness Trainings and my Dharma name from Plum Village. On the first day of the retreat, a Grey Heron majestically and effortlessly flew into my garden and wadded cautiously, yet gracefully into the natural pond. 

Every day of the retreat, the Heron would grace the garden with her presence. I had never seen the Heron in my garden before this retreat, and her regular visits were an auspicious and insightful sign to me. Several weeks later, the Heron continues to visit the garden and has become a distant friend, a familiar, comforting presence in my garden. 

My 8-year-old son, Jack, had also been touched by her daily visits. Armed with his binoculars, he eagerly awaited her landing, and it wasn’t long before Jack started to feel sad at the thought of the Heron not visiting any more. 

So I explained that this experience would be fleeting, the seasons will change, the rains will abate and the pond will naturally drain and quench the earth’s thirst. And with that, the Heron will find another temporary home to grace for someone else to enjoy her presence. 

But without the rain, we would have no pond and without the pond, we would have had no visit from our friend. So, we should accept that nothing is permanent, enjoying the moment we are in and catching the memories is what truly counts. For worrying about what the future holds, blinds us to see the beauty in today.

Connected to nature and intrigued by this sign, I found out more about the meaning of the Heron.”

The Grey Heron bears a variety of messages.

The Heron speaks of introspection, inner reflection, insight and meditation. The Heron teaches the quality of patience and stillness – of observing and thinking before we act. The Heron symbolises us to look deeper into aspects of our life. In so doing, it will bring out our innate wisdom and show us how to become more self-reliant and resilient. The Heron’s presence asks us to ground ourselves regularly, thus teaches that grounding ourselves in the earth will help us discover emotional insights more clearly.

The Heron has ties to the Water Element that encourages us to flow with the energies around us. We do not need to struggle with nature but instead cooperate with it. There is no question the Heron is lovely and graceful. It’s hard not to be inspired by such a marvellous, stunning Bird.

This beautiful bird’s presence became a symbol for receiving the Five Mindfulness Training and therefore appropriate to name the Sangha.