Sunday, August 15, 2010

a place to practice

Yesterday, I attended the last of my summer meditation retreats. It was kind of grueling. The Rime Center is not air conditioned, which is usually kind of pleasant, but lately with the extreme heat it has just been too hot. By the 5th sitting the sweat was rolling down my body and I was having trouble breathing.
I am always surprised that I've never seen anyone hurl a cushion across the shrine room and stomp out. That's the kind of stuff my students do when they're frustrated and I feel like doing it all the time. Grown ups really have a lot of self control.

Sometimes Lama Chuck will do a dharma talk during retreat, but yesterday it was all meditation. Sitting and walking. After 3 sessions of sitting and 4 sessions of walking, I was walking by a window and "accidentally" gazed outside. I saw a car driving down the street, and then another, and then a bird flew by, and then someone honked. It was the most beautiful thing I could remember seeing in a long time. As I returned to my cushion, my mind went to Ramona. I saw her face in my mind and tears came to my eyes at the preciousness of her. I marveled at how after just three hours of meditation, after just three hours of not being at the mercy of my constant flow of thought, worry, and fear, the world seemed so fresh and so very beautiful. Can you imagine how precious you would find your family after a weekend retreat? How miraculous shopping for groceries among your fellow neighbors would feel after a week long retreat? Lama Chuck says that going on retreat is one of the kindest things we can do for ourselves. I believe it.

As I walked out of the Rime center yesterday I felt gratitude. Sometimes I feel lost because I haven't found the perfect teacher, the perfect Sanga, the perfect place to retreat. But yesterday, I felt simple gratitude for having a place to practice.

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