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Montana Open Way Sanghas Spring Family Retreat

Our 2017 Montana spring family retreat, in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, in pictures:

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Back to the Woods

dscn5229Jerry Johnson Hot Springs trail, December 25th, 2016, Idaho

Becoming part of a winterscape thick with cedar,
walking tall among elder trunks
and undergrowth buried in snow,
we communed with a part of ourselves
that often lies dormant.

Under nature’s influence
we can be guided back to what has been forgotten.
And when we are ushered
from our slumber to remember,
we will continue to return,
over and over,
back to the woods.

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Posted by on December 26, 2016 in Creative Writing, Travel

 

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Held

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Out in the woods yesterday,
I was reminded, once again,
about how nature remedies the ills
of what it means to be human.

It holds us in its breath,
its stillness, its offering of life,
its ability to let go.


Submerged amid rock formations, waters,
sage fields, trees, and sky,
I knew, without a sliver of doubt,
that the beauty of this world, our land and our people,
far outweighs what needs fixing.

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Unplanned Adventure

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A few days ago my 16-year-old stepson Jaden and I went out paddle boarding on Lake Como in the Bitterroot Mountains (in Montana, not Italy :). It was a beautiful sunny day. We decided to set our sights on making it to the waterfall at the other end of the lake, where Rock Creek spills in at the head of the lake. It took us about an hour and forty minutes to reach the waterfall and it was pretty smooth sailing the whole way. However, things changed quickly when we turned around and started heading back. The wind picked up and was coming right at us, making it very difficult to paddle. Every stroke was a struggle. We were hardly making any progress at all.

After a few minutes of hard paddling we headed for shore and decided to huff our boards down the hiking trail, which ran alongside the lake. We thought that if the wind settled down we’d hop back on the water but we soon discovered that our paddleboards were like giant wind sails as we headed down the trail so we made the call to deflate them, in the hopes that they’d be easier to manage. Hefting out our terribly awkward, deflated 20-pound boards (we weighed them when we got home) and paddles the 3-miles to the trailhead was the unplanned adventure part of our day.

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Posted by on July 30, 2016 in Everyday Practice, Fun

 

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Echo

TNH-sitting-on-Vulture-Peak-India-2008

A gibbous moon sits slowly descending in the sky
like a thumbprint of the universe
marking its existence beyond the reach
of even our wildest imagination

To the east, clouds of plum and amethyst
coral and Brazilian pink opal
prelude the sun’s return
as all across the north eyes awaken from slumber
in waves rippling along the shores of vast plains of time

Places with similar buildings to our town’s own
similar lives being either valued, or not so much,
similar roadways and playgrounds and diners
Each one unique and just like the other
sprawling itself open and out
like a body stretching as far as it can

In looking to the horizon
our shadows cast upon the ground
as an echo of that in which we will always remain,
an energetic exchange of the elements
being carried on the winds of change

(today’s post from my writer’s facebook page)

 
 

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Deer Park: Day 27

(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)

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Day Twenty-Seven:
Thursday February 11th, 2016

9:09am

It occurred to me only just this morning that the name of the big meditation hall is befitting: Ocean of Peace. Over the last 2-3 weeks during my sitting meditation I’ve been linking my breath with the flowing images of the ocean, something I had never done before. Breathing in, I picture the ocean pulling back its waters as it ebbs back out to sea. Breathing out, I envision its gentle waves washing ashore, absorbing into the sand as it rolls over the beach. My breath rising and falling; the ocean gathering and releasing. My in breath always preparing the stage for my out breath, and vice versa. The waves of the ocean always swelling in order to dissipate. It’s been a lovely comparison to practice with.

Earlier this morning I wrote this in my journal:

In any given moment we could most likely fix our focus negatively, painting a picture of doom and woe. For example, in regards to Deer Park, I could harp about how the mattress on my bunk isn’t properly supported, how the wooden slats underneath keep moving and falling out, causing my bed to to sink in places that create morning back pain; I could prattle on about the infestation of large black ants in our hut and how they like to party when the lights go out in places like our bathroom sink, or about the rats in the dining hall often seen scurrying around the kitchen; I could complain about the lack of good tea, or any tea, made available to the laywomen, how I’ve resorted to stealing it from the Brothers dining hall like a tea bandit; I could spout injustices like a fountain. But I’d rather practice not getting caught in what’s not up to my satisfaction, looking instead to what is.
___________

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Posted by on February 29, 2016 in Deer Park Monastery

 

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Deer Park: Day 25

(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)

Tet

Day Twenty-Five:
Tuesday February 9th, 2016

4:26pm

For one day a year, during Tet, the monastics invite visitors into their rooms. Yesterday it was the Brothers who opened their doors and today it is the Sisters turn. As I type, in the waning afternoon sun streaming through the oak trees, I can hear voices and laughter spiraling down from the Sisters residence. At 2:00pm there was drumming and a dragon dance, along with the loud cracks of the traditional lighting of hung strands of fireworks, marking the opening of the room visits. I went up and joined the small crowd and followed along as the dragon gave us a tour of the new nunnery residence. It was lovely to see the building up close, as lay people are generally not allowed up in that area and I had not yet seen it in all of its finished glory. As part of the new nunnery residence there’s also a new separate residence for Thay and his assistant. There are signs posted with information about the new building, which I recall from our time spent here last January when Mike and I were able to help during a couple of community working meditation days on the construction project. The new nunnery consists of 8 bedrooms, slated to house up to 5 Sisters per room, along with two bathrooms, with multiple toilet and shower stalls, and a couple of storage areas.

The first January I came here in 2014 my retreat stay included the celebration of Tet as well, unbeknownst to me at the time. When it was the Brothers room visitation day I didn’t feel inclined to enter, especially as a youngish female person. It’s important to me to be respectful of the monks and nuns and going to visit the Brothers just didn’t feel like the right thing to do. I felt the same way this time around as well and as such did not visit with any of the Brothers yesterday. I could see that if Mike were still here I might feel more comfortable visiting with him but to go on my own didn’t feel proper. I did visit with the Sisters last time though, although I’m feeling torn about doing so today. The room visits go until dinner and then continue afterwards until 9:30pm. I find it interesting that they end so late.

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Posted by on February 28, 2016 in Deer Park Monastery

 

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