Our 2017 Montana spring family retreat, in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, in pictures:
Tag Archives: Open Way Sangha
To read in more detail about Ethan’s 7-Point Plan: http://www.ethannichtern.com/7-point-practice-plan-for-engaged-mindfulness-in-2017/
Yesterday was a long day of LOTS of sitting on a meditation cushion at our local mindfulness center, with very little active movement, which my physical body is not a huge fan of. And it was also lovely, too, as not only was I able to partake in an OI Day of Mindfulness (OI: Order of Interbeing), but it meant I was able to see our out of town sangha friends, of whom I only gather with 3-4 times a year.
Our Day of Mindfulness included: sitting meditation, indoor walking meditation, reciting the 14 Mindfulness Trainings, listening to short talks from three of our Montana and Wyoming area OI members, silent lunch, a dharma/personal check-in round, and closing remarks from our local Dharma teacher Rowan. It went from 9:30am-5:00pm. My husband and I left at 5:00pm, in order to return home to our son, while others stayed to have dinner together at the center. My nerve condition, and associating chronic pain, had been so aggravated by the hours spent mostly sitting that I darted out to our car quite rapidly after the final sound of the bell – whoosh, I was gone! What I’ve been appreciating reflecting on, since getting home last night, is how strong my practice of self-care is – which took me years of honing in, I might add, and is a continual practice. Now, when my pain levels rise and my mental energy plummets in unison, I know what I need to do and I do it.
A big part of my self-care routine is in understanding how physical pain, just like everything else, is of the nature to change. When my pain level rises, I practice to remember that by prioritizing rest, using a few simple aids (such as using a heating blanket and soaking my legs in a hot bath), and being attentive to my body mechanics, my pain will subside to a large degree, after a certain length of time. I no longer fight against the pain or my body, wishing they were other then they are. I’ve learned a different way of engaging with myself when pain arises, and it makes such an immense difference in my experience.
As Thay says: “The Buddha said that you shouldn’t amplify your pain by exaggerating the situation. He used the image of someone who has just been hit by an arrow. A few minutes later, a second arrow strikes him in exactly the same spot. When the second arrow hits, the pain is not just doubled; it is many times more painful and intense.
So when you experience pain, whether is physical or mental, you have to recognize it just as it is and not exaggerate it. You can say to yourself, “Breathing in, I know this is only a minor physical pain. I can very well make friends and peace with it. I can still smile to it.”
If you recognize the pain as it is and don’t exaggerate it, then you can make peace with it, and you won’t suffer as much. But if you get angry and revolt against it, if you worry too much and imagine that you’re going to die very quickly, then the pain will be multiplied one hundred times. That is the second arrow, the extra suffering that comes from exaggeration. You should not allow it to arise. This is very important. It was recommended by the Buddha: Don’t exaggerate and amplify the pain.”
– From Shambhala Sun magazine (now known as Lion’s Roar), January 2012
Our Montana Open Way Sanghas fall retreat just occurred over this past weekend. We were honored and delighted to have Sister Brightness and Sister Friendliness join us from Deer Park Monastery to lead our retreat. We had a lovely time practicing together as a harmonious sangha beside the beautiful Flathead Lake!
(Stage direction: cue the slow opening of the curtains to a stage shrouded in darkness)
After a dramatic pause, a deep strong voice (not unlike James Earl Jones) says, from beyond the darkness:
14 years ago. (insert another dramatic pause) A community was born.
(Cue loud pounding drum noise)
The voice comes in again:
They called it: BE…HERE….NOW
(Cue the sounds of more loud pounding drums)
(Stage direction: bright lights are turned on, sudden and fast, revealing a stage crammed full of people on every possible inch of the stage – and the clincher: they’re stacked into a gigantic human pyramid)
An OI member is someone who’s been ordained by Thich Nhat Hanh, or other monastic Brother or Sister in our community, into the Order of Interbeing. To borrow directly from the orderofinterbeing.org website:
The Order of Interbeing, Tiep Hien in Vietnamese, is a community of monastics and lay people who have committed to living their lives in accord with the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings, a distillation of the Bodhisattva (Enlightened Being) teachings of Mahayana Buddhism. Established by Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh in Saigon in 1966, the Order of Interbeing was founded in the Linji tradition of Buddhist meditative practice and emphasizes the Four Spirits: non-attachment from views, direct experimentation on the nature of interdependent origination through meditation, appropriateness, and skilful means.
The first six members of the order, ordained together on February 5, 1966, were colleague and students of Thich Nhat Hanh who worked with him relieving the suffering of war through projects organized by the School of Youth for Social Service. In joining the Order of Interbeing, they dedicated themselves to the continuous practice of mindfulness, ethical behavior, and compassionate action in society.
Yesterday, I put together my first OI mentorship meeting with three of our sangha members (plus my husband) who are considering whether or not they either want to become an official aspirant (which we often refer to as pre-aspirants) or want to proceed to fully ordaining and becoming an OI member. An official OI aspirant is someone who has formally received the Five Mindfulness Trainings in our tradition, and has practiced with them for at least one year thereafter, and acquired the necessary components for OI aspirancy to begin, namely: specific paperwork, writing a letter to Thay, getting approval from a Dharma teacher, and finding a mentor (usually another OI member).
We just had our annual Montana Open Way Sanghas spring family retreat up on the Flathead Lake in Lakeside, Montana. It was our biggest retreat yet, with 56 adults and 26 kids (aged 2-14). For my retreat summary post this time around I’ll just share some of my favorite photos and also something I wrote in my journal early one morning.
Yesterday we had a lovely day of mindfulness (which is basically like a one-day retreat) on the theme of silence at the Open Way Mindfulness Center, led by Dharma teacher Rowan Conrad, with the support and help of various other sangha friends and OI (Order of Interbeing) members (those who have been formally ordained and received the 14 Mindfulness Trainings in Thich Nhat Hanh’s tradition). We had around 30 people in attendance, which was a great turnout – especially considering the ones we’ve held over the last 2-3 years have only managed to draw in 6-10 people, for reasons we can only speculate about. But yesterday we had a nice, full room.
I feel very fortunate that in the past 3 weeks, since I’ve been back from my month-long retreat stay at Deer Park Monastery, I’ve had the opportunity to attend not just one but two local days of mindfulness, the other one having been one week after I got home and designed for OI aspirants, OI members and their spouses from around the state.