Deer Park, Day 18

11 Feb

2017 Deer Park Daily Musings
Written during a retreat I attended from January 6th-27th (though was unable to post until the Internet became available once I returned home)

Background Info & Terminology: Deer Park Monastery is rooted in the mindfulness tradition of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and is situated in Escondido, CA, north of San Diego. Mike and I choose to voluntarily lodge separately when we go to Deer Park during the winter retreat, which affords us the best of both worlds: having our own retreat experiences and able to spend time together 2 or 3 days a week. Mike stays with the brothers in Solidity Hamlet and I stay with the sisters in Clarity Hamlet, which are a short 10-minute walk from each other but do operate quite independently.

Laypeople: Also called lay friends or laymen and laywomen; those of us who practice in this tradition 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.
Thay: Refers to Thich Nhat Hanh, meaning “teacher” in Vietnamese



Day 18:
Tuesday January 24th, 2017

Early A.M journal jottings:

It feels a strange pairing, to hold both a strong preference for it to stop raining and be inwardly content, even brimming with joy and gratitude. But that’s what’s happening – and I see it as progress, to not allow my preferences to run the show.


Developing a mindfulness practice allows us to align our intentions of living a happy life, while being an agent of love and service in the world, with the tools and support to embody and carry them out in our thinking, speaking, and acting.

To think this is a passive approach to the woes and struggles we face, both individually and collectively, is a grave misunderstanding. Training in the art of mindfulness is one of the most potent and beneficial actions we can take in order to transform our lives and create peace in the world. May we practice diligently, with fortitude and courage. May we practice with joy and wholeheartedness. When we practice for ourselves, we practice for the world.


Welcome is the heat from my teacup on my shivering hands. On the tag, affixed to the fishing line thrown overboard by my tea bag, it reads: Earth laughs in flowers – Ralph Waldo Emerson. It made me wonder if perhaps I, too, caused a flower or two to bloom when, just a few moments ago, upon walking under the leafy oak canopy, a lone plump drop of water fell SPLAT! in my eye and I erupted in laughter :)


I revel in this time to write, much like a chef savors their time in the kitchen, amid a wealth of unobstructed time and aromas –
like an artist with fresh paints and a clear open canvas standing at the ready –
like a mountaineer cresting their favorite peak, unimpeded by weather or chatter –
like a musician finding solace in the fluidity of song and glow of their guitar –
like a football enthusiast able to cheer on their favorite team from the 50-yard line,
accompanied by friends and stadium hot dogs –
like a child on summer vacation,
a hungry hawk catching prey,
or the earth receiving rain after so many long and fragile years of drought.


What do we do with our free time? How do we fill it? Are we comfortable in its midst? Do we jump to fill it with plans and to-do list tasks? Do we enjoy it? Revel in it? Do we greet it as a friend we’ve longed to see or dread it because we have no idea what to do with ourselves?

1 Comment

Posted by on February 11, 2017 in Deer Park Monastery


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One response to “Deer Park, Day 18

  1. ViewPacific

    February 11, 2017 at 10:13 am

    Thanks for sharing your experiences from Deer Park. I’m fortunate to have been in more than one retreat there, so as you describe the oaks and grounds, I’m reminded of my joy.
    Your question about “what do we do with our free time?” has encouraged me notice my own thoughts about time and how I use it. While in the middle of typing this, I’ve stopped to enjoy watching the rain outside my window. That leads my thoughts to remember how in walking meditation with Thay, he would would periodically stop to look out into the forested valleys around Deer Park and to listen to the birds. Those moments of “wandering” sometimes seem more like moments of being present, which makes the rest of my life appear to be the wandering portion.
    At the end of the day, isn’t the quality of our experiences where richness comes to live?


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