The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The retreat continues.
I began on December 8, and tomorrow will be a month, but I think I will go on until January 18th.  That's the day before classes begin, and if I haven't steeled myself enough over this past month to begin again, no amount of retreat days will help that.  
But that's not why I began or why I continue.
I wanted, during this holiday season, to experiment with finding a greater calm beneath the hectic heroics of shopping, gift giving, cooking, socializing, family-time and catching up with household chores.  I say "heroics", because I've always thrown myself head long into the fray of the holiday battle, and loved it for its excitement, cheer and brightness.  But the fact is, sometimes it takes a heroic effort to pull it all together.  Some of us are very good at it, others don't bother too much--but for all of us, I think it is heroic.  
Some of us face burn-out long before the turkey hits the dining room table (yes, thrown as if to say, That's it for me!)  For some of us the holidays mark difficult anniversaries, and though we may not be conscious of the past's effect, it lurks like an undertow.  Unless we are mindful and gentle, we are pulled under.  And we hope we don't drag others with us....
With the holiday behind me, I realize now that my retreat has taken a more solitary turn.
The Thursday Night Meditation Group won't meet again until the end of month.  My yoga class as well.  The children have all gone back to their own homes.  The dog is bored.  
During this short time, I practice yoga on my own and try to find a groove.  It's different than practicing with the class, I somehow feel as if it doesn't count.  But of course it counts.  In fact, it might count in a deeper way, because I am the facilitator and the practitioner all at once, and the Asanas are custom crafted, depending on how I feel.  I don't think about what comes next, I simply move. 
In my sitting practice, I feel free to experiment with hand mudras and focusing on chakras, and again, the
practice is different.  I feel compelled to compare it to my usual sit, but there's no point, it's just different.  
As I work, I realize what a luxury it feels to focus completely on one thing, to do it well, with all of my attention and intention.  Because there is no one to talk to and no one who needs to talk to me,  it seems I move from task to task with unusual speed, but I am not hurrying.  I'm just working, and the work gets done.
This is a luxury.
When I drink tea, I drink tea.
When I walk, I walk.
This, it turns out, is the intention of the retreat, after all.  Just letting it be.

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