(written on June 8th, 2012)
It feels a little like breaking my day of silence even to journal. I brought my pin I printed out at home and sometimes use that reads: I am practicing a day of silence, for just an occasion. When I was eating lunch a sister walked by and in response to reading my pin gave me a thumbs up and smiled brightly. I’m not sure I’ve ever been given a thumbs up before, coming from the monastic sister it was nice. I don’t think many people can pull off a thumbs up.
I awoke at 5:30 this morning in order to sit even though there was no program. I wake up very naturally at this time now. After dressing in the clothes I laid out the night before I went to the dharma hall. There was only 1 person there when I arrived, by the time I left there were 10-12. I sat until the breakfast bell was sounded, about an hour later! I’ve never sat so long in meditation before. My body was full of solidity and joy as I sat. It was wonderful.
At 9:00am we listened to the first 7 of the 14 mindfulness trainings being spoken about on a panel led by Sister Annabell. We were in the hall until 11:15 or so and other than a mindful movements break and a few slight cushion adjustments I sat unmoving in my meditation posture with great ease. I had been submerged into the waters of the practice and was swimming effortlessly. Every movement I made was with intention and grace, with humility and confidence. It was miraculous really. I love very much to be in silence. It slows everything down.
The last panelist, a dharma teacher from Holland, spoke about happiness being our default setting, like a computer has a default setting. At first I did not agree at all but as she continued I saw more deeply that she was right. Our minds and hearts are a clear sky, unobstructed. Too often our mental formations cloud over the sun. Like Thay said the other day, “the secret is to stop the thinking.”
In dharma discussion this afternoon one of the vietnamese sisters was talking through a translator and shared about how sadness and difficulty is natural, necessary. How both tears and smiles are needed. She said we should start letting go of what we need to let go of by first starting, metaphorically, to empty out our pockets, then our backpacks, our room, our house and then outside. With such gentleness and skill she said, “do it, ok.”
Today I enjoyed some dancing with myself, ate a few cherries growing ripe outside of the dharma hall, bought a chocolate bar in the bookstore, watched my shadow appear and disappear on a path beneath wide leafed trees, swayed with the accordion music of a learning musician, swung in a big oak tree with many outreaching limbs and was silent – magnificently silent.
It’s funny how things can change so quickly. At home I was going to bed at 1:00 or 2:00am, eating chocolate almost every night, watching netflix sometimes for hours and eating meals lacking nutrition and substance. Here I go to bed at 10:00pm, wake at 5:30am, crave for sweets very little, entertain myself by writing or watching a bird soar and eat regular, wholesome meals. And I nap everyday, which is so refreshing. I feel light and free and I still have 2 weeks to go! By then I may evaporate all together.