In two weeks I’ll be traveling to southern California to spend four weeks on retreat at Deer Park Monastery (in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh). It will be my 3rd annual trip there, each time in January. The first year I went I spent four weeks and went by myself. The second year I went for two weeks and my husband Mike came along with me. This year Mike and I are going together but he’ll be flying home after spending two weeks while I stay on for another two more weeks. I’m very much looking forward to the trip and the retreat and consider it a great privilege to be able to attend.
For the past few weeks during my morning meditation sit I’ve been mentally and energetically transported to Deer Park in the folds of predawn’s silence. I close my eyes and the darkness of my living room becomes the darkness of the meditation hall at Deer Park. When I sing the morning chant it’s as if I’m singing it in the brothers small dharma hall in Solidity Hamlet (where the monks reside and practice at Deer Park) the same way I had done so last January for my fellow lay practitioners one morning. I can almost feel the cool chill of the ocean adjacent grounds of the monastery sifting through me, the wide, white tiles of the brothers dharma hall underneath me, and the sweet smile of the Buddha surrounding me (see pic above, from the brothers dharma hall).