I’m a little behind in the winter retreat but that’s OK. Week 2 – Online winter retreat, presented by Deer Park Monastery. (To follow along, copy and paste this in your browser: http://deerparkmonastery.org/teachings/the-ten-gates-online-course-winter-2012-2013/the-ten-gates-online-course-winter-2012-2013)
1.) What are some of the ways I consciously choose to nourish myself and my nearest and dearest?
For myself I nourish myself by attending my weekly Be Here Now sangha community meditation group and occasionally practicing sitting meditation on my own throughout the week. I also listen and play music and that is something that nourishes me on many levels. I also have a pretty good balance of resting that is infused in each day, more of a necessity really since I suffer from chronic pain but it is nourishing and restorative and very important to my well being. I also take time with friends. And anytime I can get into the woods or go hot springing is a good day, I see that time outside as crucial to my nourishment and healing.
Nourishing my loved ones, hmmm. For my husband and step-son I see that my daily and weekly care of them includes things like making lunch and dinner, doing the laundry, buying organic food, cleaning the house and the like. But when I look deeper into this question I see that I also nourish them by listening deeply to them, expressing my love to them everyday and smiling brightly. I see that when I take good care of myself I am taking good care of them. For my friends I see that my nourishment also comes in the form of listening deeply, being present with them and for them and making them a priority in my life.
2.) What are some of the ways I nourish my sangha?
I show up every week – being present is the first important piece. When I share in our sharing circle at sangha I practice authenticity and heartfelt connection. I see that when I show up just as I am, bringing the mind and body together as one I nourish the capacity of openness in my community. I also do all of that behind the scenes planning and organizing stuff too for retreats, days of mindfulness and program events, which I very much enjoy.
3.) Can I recognize some areas in which I am holding back from nourishing myself? Why might that be?
Nothing is springing to mind at the moment on this one.
4.) What are some practices that I find it easy to engage with “100%”?
What leaps to mind first is music, but that’s not really a practice. But I do find it easy to engage fully with music, especially when I am writing my own songs. The things that I think of as fully engaging in aren’t really practices. Things like gardening or spending time with children. I do enjoy smiling and I see that as very much a practice and a dharma door and one that I engage fully in. I would also say silence. I enjoy silence a great deal and I enjoy sharing it with others.
5.) What are some practices that I experience a resistance to? Why do I think that might be?
I am resistent to sitting on my own everyday, as I have mentioned before in week one. Part of me tells myself that because I have such a small house and no designated area for sitting that it makes it difficult to sit and create that space in the middle of my everyday house life. I have an alter but it’s right next to my bed. So my sitting area is my bed, which is not ideal. And then part of me says, “well, that’s a cop out. you can sit anywhere, you don’t need a separate room in order to sit.” I think the resistance goes deeper than that but I am not fully in touch with it.
This week, please continue to work with the four area practice plan that we devised last week.
You are invited into a practice of eating meditation this week. Each day, choose at least one meal to eat in mindful awareness.
At the end of each day, take some time to reflect over and enjoy the times and situations that you noticed your heart opening, and that you reached out to connect with others. What beneficial actions and motivations did you notice in others today? You may like to write these down. Consider using this practice with your Sangha, and sharing the wonderful qualities that you see in each other. This could be done creatively, for example, by everyone writing down some points on slips of paper that they put into the bell, or a box, and then people draw them out at random and read them out for everyone’s benefit. Have fun with this powerful practice!!!