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Deer Park Journal: Day 21, Departure Day

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

Friday, January 26th 2018

Day 21: Departure Day

8:18am

Early morning haiku:

The morning sky glints
like polished obsidian
singing in star dust

_______

I wrote this in the Dining Hall this morning:

The coffee maker adds its voice to morning’s orchestra of sound: water boiling in the hot water dispenser, clattering of breakfast preparations from the kitchen, the rolling wheels of a cart over cold tiles, carrying all the daily fixin’s for oatmeal and toast. The clock ringing its 7am song.

We depart from here today, on a jet plane, unsure of when next we will return (who is it that sings about this? I can’t recall). How both strange and delightful it is to have so many feelings of home. When I arrived, although I had left my home to come here, I felt as though I was returning home. And now, as I prepare to go back home, I feel as though I’m leaving home, too!

Then there’s the home which remains a constant source of solidity and fluidity. My true home within myself, anchored in the here and now. Home really is where the heart is – literally and metaphorically! When the heart is open, home is everywhere!

_______

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Deer Park Journal, Arrival Day

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

_____

Friday, January 5th 2018

Arrival Day

6:23pm

I awoke at 3:00am. Our lovely friend & airport ride, Linds, picked us up at 4:30am. Our flight left Missoula at 6:00am and by 10:00am, Pacific Time, I could smell the salt water on the sun soaked breeze. We had traded 16 degrees and snow for 70 degrees and blue skies. It felt…strange – as though things weren’t quite right in the universe, to have winter equate to such warmthitude.

I wrote this in my journal on the first leg of our flight:

A string stitched to my heart, anchors down below in town as we fly off. I feel the tension of it pulling taught, as though I were a kite being held in nimble fingers, grasped firm so as not to flitter off.

 And some of us are already fast asleep. Some are reading and some, like the two in front of me, are becoming friends. We’re all going somewhere: home or on a temporary stay. We’re all in this together, too, strapped on this wild ride.

My silhouette – framed in the darkened porthole window – keeps me company in flight. Row 20, seat A, the last stop in the back of this metal bird.

Sky cracking open with pale blues and streaks of fire reds. And then, things change quickly! Blackness returns. A sea of unknowing fills my view and I am plunged back into myself. We are forever made or broken by the presence of absence of the light – and sometimes, both happen at the same time.

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Posted by on January 28, 2018 in Deer Park Monastery

 

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Solo Road Trip

I have the sense that few can keep up with me – with my exuberance for life, my joyfulness ever-present and available right as I wake up at 5:00am. Thank goodness, then, that I dearly enjoy my own company – because for much of my life that has not been the case.

I used to loathe spending time alone – cringe as I looked at myself in the mirror. I’d have used anything to distract my attention. My D.O.C’s were sugar and boys – and still are, though I no longer partake in either one the impulses are still active at times.

Now, though, I am the very best company I keep and I find that I am enjoying myself more and more each day. It’s been a glorious transformation.

On Tuesday afternoon, I returned home from a 5-day solo road trip to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. It was my 2nd ever solo road trip involving over-night stays – and my 1st one took place 10-years ago, so there was a pretty large gap in-between. It was a rather impromptu trip and I had a simply brilliant time.

Here are some trip pics & reflections of things I enjoyed from my travels:

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Posted by on September 15, 2017 in Travel

 

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Beauty

Beauty changes you in the very instant it unfolds. And the longer you bask in it, the more its influence sways your countenance. And the less you talk, the deeper it penetrates.

The world is different when unaccompanied by your own external chattering – mountains grow more stately and majestic, everything becomes full of heart. It’s as though surface level distinctions sift down to an emission of energy where we’re all connected and intertwined by an infinite web of beauty.

In a manner of speaking, I am anything but solo traveling – I am in relationship with every other being that has ever been present on this mighty planet. I feel them in my bones, they carry on the breeze like the smell of pine when I breathe in and spread like seeds to germinate when I exhale.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2017 in Creative Writing, Travel

 

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Train Song

This is the un-earthing of a song I wrote around 10 years ago, while riding on a train bound for North Dakota. After scouring a dozen old journals for all the lyrics, I finally found them this morning!

Train Song

Written by Nicole Dunn

What once were mountains now are hills
under cover of night they’ll flatten still,
until little distinction can be made
between the icy landscape
and the over-casted sky

Winter comes but once a year
staying however long it takes
for mother earth to rest –
and we while cloaked in warmth,
know little of her journey

So rest now, if you can,
en route to your destination
on cold slick metal tracks –
Rest now, if you can,
sweet people,
through the clicks and the clacks
through the bumps and the jolts

With a gentle rocking beneath it all,
we’re on a land bound boat
gliding between ripples of time

And we ride on with a soft whistle
blowing early in the morning
or late at night
I’m not sure which

What once were mountains now are hills
under cover of night they’ll flatten still,
until little distinction can be made
between the icy landscape
and the over-casted sky

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2017 in Creative Writing

 

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Heart & Brain

Heart_and_Brain

Heart & Brain comic by Nick Seluk

 

Heart: Let’s take to the open road! Adventure is calling! Banff or bust!!

Brain: I’m not so sure that’s the best idea. I mean, we should really be focusing on getting our first book published and rededicating ourselves to the second book we started.

Heart: But, the road! Adventure! Let’s seize the moment!

Brain: Well, we DO have friends there now who will only be there for a short while. And it’d only be for a few days. It’ll start getting cold up there pretty quick, too – and since we’d be camping it does make sense to go sooner than later.

Heart: Huzzah! Let’s start packing!

Brain: Whoa there little fella. It’s still a couple of weeks out yet IF we go. I’m still on the fence.

Heart: Screw the fence! We only live once! Life’s too short to have fences! Open fields, that’s what I say!

Brain: What about the fact that we still have our taxes to do? Our 2016 taxes! And we have to work on those class proposals, finish painting the garage, do that one thing we talked about, and have loads of other adulting tasks to take care of?

Heart: Whee!! Look at me running in this open field! I’m freeee!

Brain: Okay. I’m in.

(Inspired by the Heart & Brain comic by Nick Seluk)

 

 

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Solo Retreat, Part 2 of 3

Written on Saturday June 17th, 2017

7:19pm

A few years ago, a university student, who was sitting with our sangha at the time, asked if she could do a video project of me on the topic of meditation for a journalism class she was taking. One of the questions she prompted me with on camera was to fill in the blank: Meditation is like ______. I said: Meditation is like stepping out into the first light of spring. It was simply the first thing that came to mind. Well, today has felt this way, too. It has been the loveliest of days. I feel light, refreshed, nourished, peaceful, and contented. What great fruits this practice brings!

It’s worth mentioning that while I did come up with a schedule to serve as a foundation for this weekend, I also intended on going with the flow of the day and following my intuition. Here’s what today wound up looking like:

5:30am Wake up
5:30-7:00am Sip tea, write, watch the morning sky
7:00am Sitting meditation
7:30am Sutra service
8:00am Stick exercises
8:30-9:00am Breakfast
9:15-10:30am Dharma talk video
10:30-11:15am Outdoor walking
11:30-12:15pm Yoga (using guided video)
12:15-12:45pm Picnic lunch outside
12:45-1:45pm Nap
2:00-4:00pm Sip tea, write, calligraphy, read
4:00pm Sitting meditation
4:30pm Sutra service
5:00-6:00pm Dinner
6:15-6:45pm Outdoor walking & sage picking
7:00-9:00pm Journal typing
9:00-9:30pm Read
9:30ish Bedtime

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Posted by on June 19, 2017 in Local Retreats

 

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