Mind and soul nourishment – after retreat

It’s been almost a week since I’ve detached physically from last weekend’s retreat in Ein Habsor with Ven Rita Riniker. This weekend she’s holding another retreat in the north. My friend called me as she was making the northward journey and I mentally re-visted the energy she’d be re-joining.

After last weekend’s retreat

It’s a gentle process, the disengagement from the task of sitting quietly, looking within. First to show up are the smiles of appreciation to those who joined the activity, to my friends, to my family for driving me to and from the sangha and to myself, for appreciating the importance of such a weekend and showing up.

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This week has reinforced that lesson. Showing up is at least half of the work.

No sliding into automatic habits, no ignoring the needs of the inner mind, but showing up. Sitting in meditation. Listening with an open ear to others. Being available to answer those who need me. Being ready to say yes to a new challenge.

The tendency to list all the tasks that I’ve taken upon myself and then feel overwhelmed is an easy thing to do. But this week, I was quite focused on taking it one thing at a time, organizing the steps into manageable items. This created the necessary space for relaxation, much more enjoyment and pleasant anticipation.

Note: The fact that we had changed our clocks over to winter time and that the entire week was characterized by jet lag and inconvenient body clock demands added one more interesting hurdle to the mix.

Another take-away from the retreat

If I’ve had good experiences, and I know that I ultimately enjoy what I’ve chosen to do, then why add anxiety into the mix? A calm mind adds space, adds ease.  With a brief body scan, I can discover the scrunch of my shoulders or the wringing of hands when anxious thoughts pop into the mind. That little bit of attention  often works like a gentle caress, enough to neutralize the physical manifestations, and smooth the mind.

Body, mind, emotions – yes, they’re connected. The stories that take over the mind roll into physical tensions and emotional concerns. Is it difficult to notice a tense neck? Nope! How about a nervous voice? or a wrinkled brow? no and no!

Noticing is a wonderful ally.

This week in school, I was worried. What? I need to prepare so much! I must meet with so many! Yet, I also promised myself to insert fun into my days. (What? yet another promise to keep? Fun?!)

Yet, the to-do lists were completed. And by the week’s end I received a lovely surprise. A student approached me to ask if I could teach a meditation workshop to 9th graders. Right now I’m slated to work with 8th graders – which has turned out to be a poor fit, not many are interested. So, I started the wheels turning towards making this happen. It only needs a Principal’s okay and a slight dollop of creativity and we’ll be on our way!

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the inner mind

warms with expansion

and a huge smile

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Weekend retreat

Fall hasn’t seemed like fall. Warm weather. Sandy paths.

This weekend is a change of season for me. A re-connection to roots that seem to be deeper than my memory. A renewal of feelings that have been dormant these past months.

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Our retreat is with Ven Rita Riniker, who is here in Israel sponsored by the Israeli Friends of Dharma. We’re meeting in the Eshkol Council Moshav, Ein Habsor.

Friday morning group: More than 20 men and women from this Western Negev area have gathered ready to listen to new information, to renew our motivation, to share a common experience.

We ask questions, we practice.

Rita is charming, and funny. Translation is provided by Irit Lahav and others, and the bilingual messages sneak into our consciousness (and subconsciousness, no doubt) and when the message lands, we smile. Some laugh.

She spoke of karma. “It’s like ordering something over the internet. We see, we like, we click, we buy. Then months later we receive the item. Like it or not, we ordered it. And it’s very, very difficult to cancel!”

What we have done in the past becomes part of us and we attract the energy that we put out. Our thoughts, our deeds, our past experience create our karma.

“We cannot always be happy. Even I am sad sometimes.”

Meditation is not an instant remedy or secret formula.

Anger is present, but through meditation, we can address the situation with a clear, calm mind.

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(to be continued)