Today marked the closing of our local Open Way Sanghas fall retreat (rooted in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing). We gather together twice a year for retreats that start on a Thursday night and end on a Sunday afternoon. We bring in different lay teachers to lead our retreats and for this past one we had dharma teacher Cheri Maples from Madison, WI. We recently found a wonderful facility for our growing sangha to use for our retreats on the shore of the Flathead Lake in western Montana. The Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp is just beautiful and the staff is very warm, friendly, and accommodating for our silent vegetarian crew. We feel so grateful to have found it.
Our daily schedule consisted of: mindful movements, sitting and indoor walking meditation, sutra service, silent breakfast, community meeting, personal time, dharma talk, outdoor walking meditation, silent lunch, personal time, dharma discussion groups, deep relaxation or earth touchings ceremony, silent dinner, evening program, mindful movements, and sitting meditation.
This retreat was entitled: Awakening Awareness, Mindfulness in Daily Living. During the dharma talks each day I took notes, which helps me to pay attention and also be able to go back and reflect on the teachings that were offered. I also enjoy sharing them here in the blogosphere for my fellow practitioners :)
Here are some notes I took during Friday’s dharma talk by Cheri:
Our mindfulness practice leads to our becoming more comfortable with the unknown. Awareness leads also to living an ethical life.
5 regrets of the dying (from a nurse who saw common threads): 1. Wish they had been more true to themselves and not as concerned with the expectations of others. 2. Wish they hadn’t worked so hard. 3. Wish they had had the courage to express their feelings. 4. Wish they had stayed in touch with friends. 5. Wish they had chosen to be happy.
We need to begin understanding the nature of craving. When we’re searching for more we’re feeding a basic sense of lack or inefficiency. Believing we’re not enough leads us to the exterior world to fill the void. We crave to be enough, for something to make us enough. Craving to become is a major impediment to spiritual practice. We’re never enough because of a basic sense of lack. It’s a toxic craving to seek perfection.
Resistance and aversion – we have a fear of not being seen or run over by others and it drives us to protect our hearts. We become more closed. What we resist persists – the art of mindfulness teaches us to go the other direction, to befriend and embrace. Craving and aversion are common challenges on the path. It’s easy to do what does not serve us well. Cowboy saying: If you’re riding a dead horse, dismount.
The practice of sitting and walking meditation is a practice of stillness and peace. There is an emphasis on cultivating both in order to become more at ease and to water seeds of mindfulness. We need to look at the seeds that are being watered by those around us and our environment.
Awakening is the absolute cooperation with the inevitable. Freedom lies in transformation not in transcendence. Fearlessness is not an absence of fear but a turning towards it. We need to practice letting go of our mental stories. Let us commit whole heartedly to our practice.
We can learn to be still in the midst of noise. We can make a difference in every interaction we engage in. To change the world is not possible for any one person, to respond to this moment is possible for all of us. Commitment isn’t something we do once, we do it over and over in our daily practice. Let us realign our heart with our essential goodness. The promise of practice is the cultivation of inner ease regardless of outer circumstances.