RSS

Tag Archives: life

Deer Park Wrap Up

Tonight at my local sangha, Be Here Now, Mike and I, and a few of our sangha friends who recently spent time on retreat at Deer Park, will be offering a Deer Park (DP) retreat sharing panel as part of our format. There will be 5 of us on the panel and we’ll each share for 5 minutes or so about whatever is alive in our heart and our practice in regards to our time at DP. I plan on starting with a short intro and background about DP and then after the panel we’ll open up for Q & A. If there’s time, I also plan on showing a 10-minute DP video montage I put together from footage I took in January during our 3-week stay. And if there’s not time, then it’ll be an addendum after we close the group, for those wanting to stick around to watch it. I’m looking forward to this evening and hearing from my other friends about their retreat stay!

Here’s what I plan on saying for my sharing:

The importance of sangha practice is not new to me but I did delve deeper into this insight when I was at DP this last time. Being in close contact and interaction with my sangha – whether it’s my local home sangha, larger statewide Montana sangha, or the community at DP – is not an additional component of my mindfulness practice, like adding parmesan cheese to the top of a bowl of pasta. Sangha practice is equivalent to the tomatoes needed to make the sauce. It’s a necessary and critical ingredient.

Despite how strong and diligent my practice is with peppering in a variety of mindfulness tools and exercises throughout the day, if I were to stop attending sangha and stop attending retreats, my practice would eventually fall off and take a nose dive. Sangha practice is not just something nice to sprinkle in to my life when I have time or when I’m really craving connection, sangha practice is the center of the wooden wheel, which all the spokes splay out from.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bright & Shiny

Over the past few months, I’ve been experiencing a re-surfacing of an old habit energy. The sort of pattern of behavior that we all have – stemming from long ago – that we thought was relegated to the past. The kind we think we had transformed and grown out of. Yeah, it’s like that.

Something I’ve come to understand is that transformation of unskillful behaviors and thought patterns is an ongoing journey. So, just because something is re-surfacing now doesn’t mean the work I’ve done in the past becomes null and void. It doesn’t mean I’ve done something wrong or even that anything needs fixing. This re-surfacing simply speaks to the nature of impermanence and how everything is always changing and shifting. Deeply rooted habit energies can go dormant for long stretches of time and then re-appear, indicating that the journey continues. It’s nothing to fret or worry about. These truths comfort me during times such as this.

What interests me about this old habit energy arising is that while some part of me know it’s groundless, another part is lured in by it. Groundless in the sense that it’s based on fictitious notions and fleeting desires – full of holes, hollow. And still…

A source of suffering is to be forever tempted and swayed by something bright and shiny and new. Something outside of our grasp and ownership, whether it’s an object, an adventure, or another lover. What is it that beckons us? The prospect of a happiness we have yet to find but hope is out there? A temporary filling up of a hole we’ve been aching to not trip and fall into? What are we looking for?! What am I looking for? Am I looking for something? Is something operating subconsciously that I’m not tuned into? Or could it be that this old habit energy simply needs more tending to, more caring for, more befriending?

Read the rest of this entry »

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 10, 2018 in Everyday Practice

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Deer Park Journal: Day 12

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

Wednesday, January 17th 2018

Day 12

4:12pm

Early morning haiku:

Something is amiss
it matters not what it is
everything changes

______

There was not much in the way of working meditation assignments to volunteer for today, so I find myself with some extra time in which to do my daily journaling. So here I am, typing by the light of day!

This morning, I woke up a bit dazed and confused, as the expression goes. Perhaps because I “slept in” and woke up a little later than usual: 3:50am. I felt as though I had had unsettling dreams in the night, but I did not recollect anything when I awoke. So, in the tearoom before sitting meditation, I practiced simply noticing the feelings of unease that had arisen, allowing them to be just as they were, without trying to change the feeling or figure it out or fix it.

For the second time today, I woke up from my nap just before 2:00pm feeling disjointed. I was thrown off when I discovered there was sunshine peaking through the curtains, before realizing I had been napping and it was still daytime. The dream I was having just before waking up involved my being in a 711, preparing to buy a large soft pretzel. But I was still left trying to figure out what to get and bring back to the monastery for Mike & Steve. I was comforted to know that even in my dreams I was being considerate of others :)

______

While waiting for breakfast this morning in the Dining Hall, I penned this in my journal:

He stumbles around. Not stopping when the sound of the bell calls, blundering over chairs and around doors and really anything he comes into contact with. He talks during Noble Silence and tries to catch the attention of anyone who will have him throughout the day. (And later, during outdoor walking meditation, he saw fit to pass me while we were moving through the oak grove in single file, and had been right on my heels prior to doing so.) Last night, I overheard him say: I’ll try anything, I’m desperate! And the other day, during dharma sharing, he said that he’s been hurt by many people – broken by them. (Side note: normally I would not repeat something offered in a dharma sharing, especially on a public platform such as this, however, I feel that since I’m not mentioning his name or details, and given that his story is the story of so many of us, I feel inclined to do so in this instance.)

And his situation is like that of so many of us who come to this practice – maybe especially to this practice, because the odds are good that this particular Buddhist-inspired path was not the first thing that popped up on our help-me-I’m-floundering-and-need-help GPS app. We’ve likely already tried a myriad of other things, to little or no avail.

The question remains: since no one path is for everyone, how do we know when to stick it out and when to move on to trying something else? Furthering muddying the waters is that with the proper attitude and outlook, with enough diligence and time, properly motivated, we can make any path be the right one for us.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Everything Dies

On our way home from the carousel yesterday, with his 4-year-old brother asleep in the car seat next to him, the soon-to-be 3-year-old I nanny for began spontaneously – and very calmly – listing aloud all of the things and people that are subject to die.

He listed individuals, inanimate objects, and really anything he could think of. While I couldn’t quite make out most of what he was saying, I did hear: “And Finn (his brother) will die. And garbage cans will die.” His list went on for a while. And ____ will die. And ____will die…

He ended by saying: “Everything…in the…WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD…will die.”

I thought it rather impressive that he saw fit to not only state this in slow fashion but also put emphasis on the words that he did.

He then added the words: “right away” to the end of his declarative finale. As in: Everything in the whole entire world will die. (pause) Right away.

I queried back in response: “Everything will die right away?”

“Right away.” he repeated.

Sensing there was something lost in translation, I rephrased and asked, “Everything will die right now?”

“No.” he said, very matter of factly.

“Do you mean that everything will die some time?” I asked.

“Yes,” he agreed, everything will die some time, Cole.”

“That’s true.” I said.

And that was that.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 2, 2018 in Everyday Practice

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

This is it!?!

On Saturday morning, I watched the first 15-minutes of a talk by Sr. Thệ Nghiêm at Deer Park Monastery, given on September 15, 2017 (see Youtube link below). She spoke about something I’ve both experienced personally and spoken about in a talk I gave 3-4 years ago. At Deer Park Monastery, in southern California, behind the alter of orchids in the big meditation hall, sits a circular wooden sign that says: This is it. When I first encountered this calligraphy of Thay’s, I misunderstood its teaching and took it as a glib proclamation, as in: This is it, I guess. Whatever. Sigh.

As you likely imagine, this is not what it means. Back in the day, I knew I wasn’t viewing it as intended, I simply hadn’t developed my own insight about it’s intent just yet. Understanding unfolds over time, with practice in cultivating diligence and deep looking. Words/teachings can only take us so far. They can show us a new path to venture down, but we have to be the ones to move our feet and actualize the fruits of what it has to offer.

This is it is an invitation to look more deeply into every facet and fissure of our lives, really. To see life as ever-flowing, ever-changing, and ever-amazing. To understand the depths of This is it, means to see clearly that this moment – whatever moment we find ourselves amid – IS it, truly. This present moment is the foundation for the next present moment, and it’s up to us to sculpt it in the best way possible. To turn our lives into a living art form.

One of the main root teachings I receive nourishment of, by staying apprised of both local and world news, is in regards to the nature of life and death. In short: there are a lot of ways to live and there are a lot of ways to die. The more I learn and deepen my understanding of this truth – this nature of reality – the more it opens me to the preciousness of life, and the myriad of possibilities that exist.

This is it! is more than a teaching. It’s a way of living.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

For the New Year

The last couple of years, I’ve taken to following the example of a few mindfulness teachers that I follow online, who come up with some guidance to offer for the upcoming year. I figured since we were entering 2018, I’d come up with 8 practice points to usher us into the new year (see pic above).

I’ve written in the past about how I’m not a big fan of making new year’s resolutions, but what I do like to do is come up with 1, 2, or 3 new ways of engaging with my mindfulness practice. My favorite one over this past year was to stay in the bathroom while brushing my teeth, instead of wandering around the house multi-tasking, with the toothbrush comically protruding from my mouth while I proceeded to do a wealth of other things that had no business being done while brushing one’s teeth. So I enacted a “stay put” clause, whenever I set to brushing. It took me a little while to develop the new habit, but I’m happy to report that it’s going splendidly :)

I’ve been mulling around possibilities for 2018 and what new mindfulness exercises I might add to my tool belt, but so far I haven’t landed on exactly what I’ll include in my daily/weekly routine. I’d like to have one I can enfold into driving, as that is often where I need the most practice in patience and understanding. I have a number of things I do already when behind the wheel, but I really appreciate developing fresh approaches and new mindfulness techniques, as it keeps my practice from growing stale and/or too routine. I’ll keep you posted!

In the meantime, may the above list of 8 practice points be of service to you on the path of cultivating more joy, ease, and a true sense of connection.

To read the Five Mindfulness Trainings, click here.

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Two Broken Down Cars

…two broken down cars, and a partridge in a pear tree.

I just found out that sometimes both your car AND your husband’s car are dead in the water at the same time. Yeah. It’s not great.

What I’ve thankfully learned over the years in having a mindfulness practice, is that a good practitioner isn’t someone who never experiences stress or inner afflictions. A good practitioner is someone who’s diligent and is able to use the tools of the practice in order to not have the stress, or whatever affliction is at hand, running the show. If stress were a theater actor, a good practitioner understands that it will sometimes have a part in the play, but they’ll know how to not cast it as the main character.

As new practitioners, it can be easy to think that to live a spiritual life means we have to hide certain parts of our self or cover over certain difficult emotions. But this is not the case – doing this is called spiritual white-washing.

Mindfulness isn’t about getting anywhere else or doing anything different – it’s about directly experiencing things just as they are, and keeping our wits about us in the process. With diligence, over time, our mindfulness practice has the capacity to create a strong foundation in affording us the ability to stay well-grounded in the midst of, say, having 2 cars that are broken down. To see the stress associated with whatever’s going on and to also not lose sight of the bigger picture.

So, while it’s rather stressful having our household’s two vehicles be DOA, it could be worse! I mean, really. We could be on fire.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 26, 2017 in Everyday Practice

 

Tags: , , , , ,