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So if you ask me what I accomplished on the retreat, I would have to say, I got in touch with my lemony laughter and it was very good. Although, this was not always the case, there were a couple of days where resistance and frustration nearly blindsided me – I wanted to go home, I wondered if I was crazy for sticking around and I just sat with it. On one of the first days, I was asked to throw away some food which we could not use, which I did – trudging through mud and the cold woods to do so. It was not easy to rest in equanimity as I did this. Also, on the final day, I came down with a head cold, which I have as I write this. So it was not all peaches and cream, but it was clarifying and filled with the occasional insight. Plus I got to learn a lot about the traditional method of intense Tibetan Buddhist retreats (Drubchens) and about laughing at the little things in a shrine room. I also dipped my toe into the pot of true practice – pushing my mind to its limits and then playing on that edge. Around the clock, practicing for the benefit of all beings. <Revision on 2/2/10 – See my more recent posts of the 2009 Drupchen for further thoughts on pushing one’s mind. I have a long, long way to go, and I think I am just beginning to scratch the surface of true practice.>
At one point I wondered about the mystery and sacred potency of the mandala, when one of the retreatants, who is a very skilled amateur photographer, tried to take about ten shots of the mandala when the two lamas who tended it briefly opened the curtain to change the tormas or water bowls. She would snap a picture from across the room, with her zoom lens, and then she would look at it (digital camera) and scowl and proceed to try another picture. It was very fascinating that she never seemed to get a good shot of the mandala during the retreat, at least not while I was awake and present. However, she took about three hundred pictures of lamas, retreatants and of the rituals the lamas performed, and those pics turned out great. Very curious indeed.
I had a couple of vivid, easy to interpret dreams which I guess is usual for a retreat. However, with the sleep deprivation, I dreamt a lot less than I normally do (or I recalled them less). I had many various sensations wash over me – my heart throbbed, my posture improved, I almost fell asleep on my cushion. Oh yeah – speaking of cushions, I brought a new one from home and it burst on me. It was full of the little buckwheat hulls, which I prefer over the cotton stuffed one, but I forgot to take some out of it. So it sprung a leak as I was sitting and I found myself surrounded by little brown seed pods.
A friend of mine mentioned that when I meditated, I tended to have my eyes roll up into my head, which is not that unusual. However, for someone who has difficulty grounding in this world, she recommended I experiment with looking down. Therefore, I would spend one, two and sometimes three hours at a time looking down as I chanted. It was tough to counteract my usual habit for so long, but I
felt it helped to ground me, especially with so much stuff coming up for everyone.
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