In case you are not aware, I am presently in an intensive program for massage in Crestone Colorado. Most weekdays, we are in training or studying 12 hours / day. And for me, the most intense part of it is being around the other students 8 – 10 hours / day – the studying is easy compared to the constant establishing and re-establishing boundaries and centering.
My birthday is also coming up this week. So… I have been gifted some ice cream and my mother sent a delicious care package with cookies and treats in it. Which meant that on Friday evening, after a full week of school, I ate a pint of coconut (dairy-free) ice cream. So needless to say, when I woke up yesterday morning, I was a grouch. I had resistance to going to the Vajra Vidya Dharma center where they do a nice hour-long practice everyday – which includes opening prayers, brief Manjushri practice, long life prayers for the Lamas, a 20-30 minute meditation session and a brief Mahakala puja.
Up to this point, I have gone at least one day / week to this delightful little reprieve from massage school. And it is a gorgeous Dharma center with a huge Buddha Shakyamuni statue and an amazing shrine room – 21 Tara statues, 1000 little Buddha statues and dozens of ornate thangkas (scroll paintings).
I somehow dragged myself away from the massage school house and got over there. The first half hour of sitting and doing the practices were tough – I was resistant, grumpy, gritty, etc. But somewhere during the meditation, things lightened up.
Then after that practice, I hiked up to the large stupa, about a 1.5 mile hike each way. Every weekend I try to get up there once. It is a pleasant hike, with an amazing view of the valley vista – the San Luis valley with the snow-capped mountains about 40-50 miles away. And I usually meet some interesting people on the trek as well. Oh and the 30+ minutes or so of walking affords me time to do more mantras.
This time I sat at the stupa and meditated for another 20 minutes. This was very pleasant. I had to zip up my jacket in spite of the 50 degree temps – the wind was really whipping around the stupa. Supposedly, these breezes carry the blessings of the stupa (relics, medicine, precious substances are inside of it) all along the mountains and the valley (and to anyone nearby the stupa as well!). This was very peaceful.
I did some brief Chi Kung and then departed, walking back to my car. I knocked out another 600+ mantras on the journey.
Arriving back at the Dojo house (where I stay with another student), I promptly sat down and ate half a dozen cookies with almond milk. It was delicious! And it jacked me up on sugar and gluten… and then I started watching soccer highlights from English Football.
In other words, my internal pendulum swung briefly toward light and liberation and then upon returning to my old habits, it swung toward attachment and grasping!
I got some good studying done yesterday in spite of the internal chemical soup playing bongo drums on my cells and brain. I felt the need to do some prostrations in order to focus my mind – so that helped. I kept getting pulled back into sports though – the University of Virginia is my basketball team (college) and I listened to them win the ACC championship last night as well.
Oh before that though, I felt the need to do more mantras and get some exercise. So I went for a short walk which turned into a beautiful hike – 2 hours. I discovered a rock cairn shrine on top of a large hill that was surrounded by dozens of prayer flag lines (Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags). There was a fire pit as well – although considering how dry it is around here, that seemed a little risky. I kept going in that direction and I discovered some retreat cabins in the distance with a sign saying that retreats are in progress and “Do Not Disturb.” No wonder I felt a pull toward that hill!
Having done mantras throughout that 2 hour hike, I returned to the massage school clear and sharp – meaning when other students mentioned little nagging issues (which were none of my business), I just stayed silent, focusing on my internal process. I loved how crisp my boundaries were. I was focused and I kept the students I was working with on track and on time – stating my intention to begin with and attempting to stick with that.
I don’t quite have the 3+ hours of time to do mantra like yesterday, especially not on the weekdays. But I loved how my mind was able to recover from a sugar and gluten hang over so rapidly (I don’t normally eat much sugar or gluten, in case you can’t tell). So today, more Vajrasattva practice and mantra, along with studying for the last oral exams coming up later this week.
Yay for quality practice which yields results! And for a body / mind / heart that is able to change for the better so rapidly (now if I can just rest in equanimity free from attachment and aversion..)!
Thank you for reading and may all beings lean into support and clarity!