Sharing spaces

Let Yourself Be Seen was inspired by three spaces I have come to feel at home in over the last few years, three places where people come to share what is happening for them and others listen; The Plum Village groups, Quakers and Samaritans – here’s a little bit about each of them

Plum Village is a monastery in the South of France founded by Peace Author, Buddhist Monk and friend of Martin Luther King, Thich Nhat Hanh. As a young monk Thich Nhat Hanh dreamed of creating community where people would come together and practice meditation in different ways; bringing peace and mindfulness into many daily activities; cooking, eating, walking, gardening and others. To visit Plum Village at the monastery where I have and will continue to go to, is to see what life is like when you slow down your pace and relax as a community. One activity they do there are sharing circles; simply you sit together and if you want to share you can and others listen (pictured above) Someone in one of those circles said, “I want to let myself be seen”, that’s where the song began.

Quakers was founded in the 1500’s by young Christians who wanted to share their own experiences without being preached to – they felt their own spiritual experience, Christian teachings in the Bible and other experiences of other faiths were important as well as voices that wouldn’t have been heard in Church as it was then; women, the poor, those questioning faith. Their circles became popular among some while others felt threatened by these radical ideas. Through the centuries Quakers have kept these ideas and if you go to a meeting today you would do as they did then, sit in silence and then if you feel moved to share how you feel and what you think. To quote the Quaker book ‘Faith and practice’ ‘There’s that of God in everyone’ – I love that and started going to Quakers about 10 years ago. I still go and now also work for the Quakers as a children’s worker; doing workshops with children about Quaker ideas , singing songs, telling stories and playing games. From the song, ‘Let your spirit show’.

Samaritans was founded in 1953 by vicar Chad Varah. Varah wanted to provide a phone service for anyone contemplating suicide -“In an emergency the citizen turns to the telephone and dials 999. There ought to be an emergency number for suicidal people, I thought.”I volunteered for Samaritans for 10 years before I did some travels and lived in Plum Village (see above), it was such an important time and if I need sometime to talk to I would and have called them. From the song ‘Let your feelings free’

Here’s my friend Alice to start the sharings, about volunteering at Samaritans, thanks Alice:

Friend and singer/songwriter

Flo Perlin shares 2 experiences –

Thanks for inviting me to share. I’ve struggled to find a sense of belonging within groups, but there has been that rare space where something has felt different. I can’t describe it exactly, but there’s a recklessness in the air which makes me feel safe to be the strange human that I am. Thinking about those moments brings a sweet and painful feeling, a desire to be cocooned there forever. These are two examples of spaces I’ve felt safe in. 

  • The Quakers – my time spent going to the Quakers in Leeds made me feel safe to share my heart. I only shared twice in the space of 4 years due to my fear of public speaking, but everyone responded with complete open arms. 
  • I was hitch hiking in Hawaii and the stranger who picked me up took me to a Hare Krishna Farm in the jungle. When I arrived, they had made me a welcome cake, but what they didn’t know was that it was actually my birthday. Everyone was so curious to know me, to know my story. I hadn’t laughed so much in my life. 

Flo xxx


Jasmir, Spain, A film from School of Life

Hey Joe, have you seen the school of life videos, I love this one goes well with this page – thanks x

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