Last week, I attended our local fall retreat up on the Flathead Lake. (This “peace is every step” pumpkin was a pic I took at said retreat.) Part of me wants to offer my typical post-retreat accounting here on this blog. But a bigger part of me has little interest in doing so. And part of me wants to tell you why I don’t have interest in relaying my retreat field notes and part of me doesn’t.
Instead, I think I’ll say this: it’s been a hard week. The hardest I’ve had in a very long time.
Over the last few days, it’s been interesting relaying this truth to people who have casually asked: how’s it going? I am someone who is interested in not answering on auto pilot with such empty responses such as: fine and good when confronted with that how are you question. However, I’m also interested in being brief. It’s a challenge, to say the least. On the best of weeks I am at a loss for how best to answer this question in such a way that is honest and also quick and to the point.
When I’ve told people: this week has been hard or I am being really challenged this week it solicited a range of responses I did not care for being on the receiving end of. It puts me in touch with how poorly skilled we are as a human collective to listen deeply and to respond in the spirit of interbeing.
I regard my spoken word show and album release – having taken place on Friday night – not as my own but as a collective endeavor of all those who offered their love, support, time, and encouragement from near and far away; all who influenced me along the way; and every life experience I’ve had the pleasure and opportunity to have thus far in my 38-years of living.
It’s hard to put certain things into words – which is really saying something when you’re a writer.
But any good writer knows that you can’t capture the feelings invoked by watching a sunset in the limiting net of words scribed on paper.
Any good writer knows that you can’t fully describe the sumptuous taste of chocolate; or the depth of ease felt after taking a walk in the woods or a dip in the river; or the warmth of spirit generated from being surrounded by the very best people.
My gratitude and love for all the people I have the distinct pleasure of knowing is vast, like the expanse of ocean, sky, and stretching of the universe that weaves us all together in its grace.
With all the heart that I can muster,
pic taken yesterday at the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, Montana
With our second installment of Mindful Community Conversations happening tonight (a monthly series I put together to focus on difficult topics that incorporate the practice of mindfulness as a tool to help along the path of healing), I’ve been thinking about the sometimes common tendency to regard mindfulness as the only tool needed in order to build a healthy, happy life, or to recover and heal from difficult situations. It’s important to relay, especially to newer practitioners, that mindfulness, while a big tool in the tool box, is only one of many others. Just as we would not be able to use only one tool to build a foundation for a house, we will likely not be able to use mindfulness alone to build a foundation for our well being.
Over the years I’ve heard from people who regard mindfulness as some kind of magic solution to every situation that arises. Those same people then become deflated and disappointed in themselves (as though they were a bad practitioner) as a result of mindfulness not being enough to help them through certain difficulties, such as when dealing with depression, addiction, loss, grief, anger, anxiety or trauma. While the practices of mindfulness: sitting meditation, walking meditation, mindful eating, mindful breathing, and so on, can aid in any situation that arises, we also need to develop and work with other tools in order to support and nourish our entire being.
Avalanche in Missoula, MT. February 28th, 2014
On Friday February 28th an avalanche, said to have picked up speeds of 120 mph, sped down Mount Jumbo here in our mountain town of Missoula, Montana in an area known as the Rattlesnake. It slammed into a two-story house and damaged parts of other homes nearby. The owners of the house, an older couple, and a young boy, who had been outside playing in the snow, were all buried in the wake of the torrent of snow. All three were rescued and still remain in the hospital, one in critical condition.
Avalanche in Missoula, MT. February 28th, 2014
Day 21 – This is the final day of my daily sitting meditation practice intention that I set up for myself 21 days ago. I remember when I started out I was nervous about broadcasting my intention to sit everyday out of fear that I wouldn’t follow through. And now that I’ve come to the last day I would say that using my blog and posting everyday for the last 21-days to help support my intention was the best thing I could’ve done for myself. It was extremely beneficial to hold myself accountable to my own personal intention to practice a few minutes of sitting meditation everyday. And I would encourage anyone to do the same if you’re thinking about trying to start a new routine or practice. The support of others reading my posts and following along with me through this journey is something I am deeply grateful for. Thank you so much my friends! (I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how my daily sitting practice continues onwards from here).