Deer Park: Day Five

OK friends – in an attempt to speed things up a bit I’ve decided to start posting TWO days worth of writing each day :)


(Helpful Info & Terminology: This is part of a series of blog posts written during my recent retreat stay at Deer Park Monastery, located in southern California, in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. Due to not having had Internet access I will be posting TWO days worth of my writing each day from while I was there on retreat.

Laypeople: Also called lay friends or laymen and laywomen, are all of us who come here to practice but are not monks or nuns.
Monastics: The collective group of both monks and nuns.
Clarity Hamlet: Where the nuns, also called Sisters, reside. Laywomen stay here as well.
Solidity Hamlet: Where the monks, also called Brothers, reside. Laymen and couples/families stay here as well. (Clarity and Solidity are just a short 10-15 minute walk in distance from each other).
Thay: Refers to Thich Nhat Hanh, meaning teacher in Vietnamese)

DSCN0886                                                                     Small meditation hall in Solidity Hamlet

Day Five:
Wednesday January 20th, 2016


Today was Monastic/Layperson Day, which meant all of the monastics spent the day together following a certain schedule and all of the laypeople spent the day together with our own schedule. Both hamlets came together for this. At 5:45am the laypeople met in Solidity’s small hall for sitting meditation. At 7:30am all of us, including the monastics, ate breakfast together in the big dining hall and then at 9:30am us lay friends met for a hike up the mountain. We went to a place called Breakfast Mountain, situated up the fire road by the gate house. Once we arrived we did a few minutes of sitting meditation followed by dharma sharing. It was nice to hear what people had to say. While I don’t often like socializing here I do enjoy dharma sharing. The intention and energy are much different. Dharma sharing is a meditative practice, whereas socializing is much more idle and dispersed. I find that general socializing, while here on retreat, is an expenditure of energy going outwards and deflates my practice energy. I steer away from it as much as possible and much prefer talking with someone one-on-one. I come here to cultivate energy directed inward and try to maintain that as much as I can.

On our way down from the mountain, right after our dharma sharing circle, people immediately broke into conversation. Myself and one other lay person lead the charge and broke away from the group. I imagine, like me, he also did not want to be social. I’ve always found it difficult to transition from deeply intentional sacredly held space to that of general conversation. I’m not sure how others seemingly appear to be able to do it so effortlessly. I had a lovely walk down the trail by myself and even began to create a new song:

The sun, the sun it shines on my face
the ocean whispers softly
the trees, the trees, they sway in my heart
and the ravens call me home

DSCN0484Walking up the fire road to Breakfast Mountain

It was very nice to spend the day with Mike – he even made it up for sitting meditation this morning :). There were about maybe 20 of us laypeople in total but not everyone joined in for the hike. There are just 7 of us laywomen here now in Clarity (more people will most likely arrive on Friday for the weekend). Lunch was served in the big dining hall for both the monastics and laypeople but I skipped it as usual and went to take a nap. I was asked to do some sweeping and collecting of branches that had come down around the wooden tent platforms nearby our dining hall, here in Clarity. From 3:00-3:45pm I worked happily, enjoying my sweeping in the golden afternoon sun.

There may be a Venerable Class offered tonight in the big hall, which is why I’m trying to get my writing in before dinner. Our evening sitting meditation will start soon, so I’ll sign off for now.



I’m back! There will be a Venerable Class tonight but not until 7:30pm, which gives me some more time to write. Sitting meditation started late, which gave me a wonderful opportunity to finish the song I started writing earlier:

Coming Back Home

The sun, the sun it shines on my face
the ocean whispers softly
the trees, the trees, they sway in my heart
and the ravens call me home

The earth, the earth, embraces my steps
the flowers bloom so brightly
the clouds, the clouds, they float in my heart
and the coyotes call me home

Oh, oh the sound of the bell
it resonates so clearly
Oh, oh the sound of the bell
it is so full and lovely
(sound the bell here and let it ring for 4 beats)

The moon, the moon it sings me to sleep
with a peaceful lullaby
its friends the stars they glow in my heart
and the owls they call me home

My home, my home is right here and now
it travels with me closely
my home, my home, is right here and now
I’ll come back to it gently


DSCN0773Raven in the oak trees


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