2018 Deer Park Daily Musings
Written during a retreat I attended from January 5th-26th, 2018
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.
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
Thursday, January 11th 2018
Early morning haiku:
A smile of moon
hangs in the sky and my heart
alighting what’s there
Today was lay day – and consequently, also, monastic day – where the lay people from both hamlets have their own schedule together, separate from the monastics (the monks & nuns), who have their own program schedule all together, for the morning up until lunch, anyway.
So at 5:45am, the lay people from both hamlets gathered in the Small Hall here in Solidity for sitting meditation. Unexpectedly, instead of having a silent sitting session, as usual, one of the long term lay women staying in Clarity wound up offering a guided meditation during our sit. For about 20-25 minutes, she proceeded to lead us through what amounted to a sort of classic style deep relaxation, moving through all the parts of the body as it went on. As it was an unanticipated occurrence – and given the fact that I don’t much care for guided meditations in general – I found her voice disturbing to what I consider to be my most beloved friend here: silence.
As her meditation continued, she seemed to grow more comfortable in talking, as well. What started out as short, succinct phrases began carrying into rather long, rambling verses, further absorbing what little space she left in between her words for a sound of the bell and a few relieving moments of quietude, before she’d start talking again. It was a struggle for me. Unable to tune her out and enter into a fluid state of meditation, I opened my eyes and took up the practice of smiling, as I observed my mind throwing a temper tantrum at not being able to sit in silence. Ah, preferences.