The Legacy of Wake Up Austin begins with the Wake Up Austin House.
Wake Up House was a lay residential mindfulness community that started in Aug 2009 and ended in Aug 2011, as an experiment in mindful living in an urban setting for young people.
Wake Up House included lay practitioners (up to 5 at a time) that shared a commitment to studying and practicing the art of mindful living in the Plum Village tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. The House served as a space for lay practitioners to practice long-term in a supportive environment while continuing to do full-time work or school. Residents had opportunities to live and practice daily with a residential sangha in the morning and evenings as well as on weekends, leaving time for work, school and other activities during the day. Residents also served and supported a non-residential community of young people by helping host mindfulness activities during the week and weekends including Wednesday and Friday evening gatherings, and retreats of varying lengths. Living together with other practitioners in a supportive environment residents engaged in regular meditation practice while also engaging in the art of building community and in supporting the international Wake Up movement’s efforts to create a healthy and compassionate society.
Wake Up House was located in a quiet residential part of the Hyde Park neighborhood of Austin. The house was rented, with all residents required to sign a lease and contribute to rent and utilities. A six month to one year commitment was typically required. Rent was around $550/month and utilities an additional ~$50/month.
Expectations for residents changed somewhat as the house evolved and lessons learnt were applied. Some of the qualities that were expected of residents included:
A practitioner that enjoyed the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh (An OI member or aspirant was preferred). Previous experience with retreats or stays at one of the Plum Village monasteries was also preferred;
A desire to engage in the work of sangha-building and nourishing others mindfulness practice while maintaining a regular meditation practice for oneself;
A commitment to practicing and studying the Five Mindfulness Trainings and Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings (a formal commitment was preferred);
An interest and willingness to making a significant time commitment of about 15-25 hours a week to a house schedule that included:
Mornings: 7am-8am sitting meditation/walking/chanting, 8am-8:30am eating meditation
Evenings: House happiness sharing/beginning anew/mindfulness trainings recitation and meditation/exercising/hanging out with community: one-three evenings/week,
Public Sangha gatherings/workshops two nights/week,
Noble silence 930pm to 830am every day
Weekend days of mindfulness and occasional retreats: Spending time with community on Saturdays
A desire to live a vegetarian, drug, alcohol and tv-free lifestyle;
A desire to support and take care of other residents as one would family and in helping create a healing and nourishing environment for all;
A commitment to the practices of deep listening and loving speech, and simple, healthy, sustainable, and hygienic living;
Someone stable in the practice and committed to embodying the practice of mindfulness in his or her own life, able to practice with a spirit of generosity, able to be attentive to the needs of others, and committed to continuing to deepen his or her practice (also preferred and desired but it was something that we learned to cultivate more as we lived in the community!)
Friday evening ‘mindfulness hour’ (Aug 2009 - June 2011)
Friday evening mindfulness hour (6-730p) for young people in their 20’s and 30’s every week. The evening included sitting meditation, walking meditation, a dharma discussion, and a loving-kindness circle, followed by a vegetarian potluck.
Wednesday evening public meditation (Jan 2010 - May 2011)
A weekly public meditation for practitioners of all ages, including both members of the Wake Up community and members of the local Plum Blossom Sangha. The hour consisted of two sessions of sitting meditation and one session of walking meditation.
Three Month Winter retreat (Nov 2010 - Feb 2011)
20 practitioners committing to practice in their homes or at the House together for the duration of the retreat. House hosted daily hour-long morning and evening meditation sessions and four days of mindfulness.
Three Day Weekend Peer-Facilitated Residential Mindfulness Retreat (Jun 2010)
16 young adults (22-32) signed up for the retreat hosted at the house led by residents and others participating in the retreat
Days of Mindfulness (Oct 2009 - May 2011)
Hosted 8 Days of Mindfulness (9am to 4pm) open to the public.
Weekly Non-Violent Communication Workshops (Feb and March 2010)
Two five-week NVC workshops were organized and held at the house with 20 participants.