Deer Park, Day Two
(written on Sunday January 12th)
It’s just after 3:00pm and we just finished with a day of mindfulness. There are two days of mindfulness each week, Thursday and Sunday, that are free and open to the public. The day of mindfulness started at 9:00am with outdoor walking meditation followed by a dharma talk by one of the sisters. We then had some time for dharma discussion, which was followed by lunch and a deep relaxation. There were maybe around 50 people who arrived for the day.
For those of us staying here at the monastery our day started at 5:00am with the wake up bell and a 45-minute sit in the big dharma hall and touching the earth practice. We then had breakfast with the brothers in the main dining hall. And now that the day of mindfulness has ended we have a break until dinner is served at 5:30pm. Just like last night tonight will be what’s called a lazy night, meaning there is no program. And tomorrow will be lazy day. I am appreciating the time to rest, read, write, walk, and have personal practice time.
Yesterday before working meditation one of the sisters taught a song to the other sisters in Vietnamese. Us laywomen staying here in Clarity Hamlet were invited to join in. We spent about 20 or 30 minutes learning the melody and us English-speaking laywomen sort of stumbled along. Before the dharma talk today we got up in front of everyone to sing it in support of the sister who was offering the talk, who we were told was quite nervous about having to speak in front of everyone. It was a good practice of stepping into something very unfamiliar. Here I am only on my second day singing a song in Vietnamese in front of the monks, nuns, and dozens of laypeople. As we lined up in front of the large dharma hall I was aware that not long ago I would not have had the courage to get up there and awkwardly sing through foreign lyrics. Over the past year I would say that embracing has been a big theme for me. Embracing situations and emotions as they come, just as they are, is a deep practice. I’ve been receiving many fruits from the art of embracing. And the more I embrace the more I keep embracing. And the more I keep embracing the more I am able to embrace new and different and challenging situations as they arise. So today, instead of feeling self-conscious and simply ridiculous for trying to sing a song in a language I don’t know I was able to embrace the experience and get up there and not only sing, but enjoy it!