Do you hear me?
Am I talking in a language foreign to your ears?
Are my words worth uttering?
Only to fall on deaf ears
A closed mind
Where is the kindness and love I once felt?
It is always my fault…
Never is it you that takes blame
Am I really that terrible person you make me out to be?
Perhaps it’s time to let go.
Perhaps it’s time to take care of me.
How my heart aches to think of such things…
As I scream in the silence
Will you listen?
Tears stream down my face in rivers…
Filling oceans with bitter tears of anger
The anger that covers and consumes all emotion
Fuel on a fire of indecision
Don’t throw me away like last nights leftovers.
Don’t push me away then pull me closer.
My fragile self is broken into a million pieces I am trying to put back together
I will do it alone if needs be
I reach out…
In the silence I weep.
I am but a small child
I trust you
I love you
I would do anything for your love
You call my name
Take my hand
Close the door and
I have a dream…
I am standing in the rain
You are keeping me safe
You hold me close to keep my dry
I listen to the rain and feel you
I close my eyes and you dry me off
You take my hand and lead me away
Again you hold me and tell me it’ll be alright
You must me right… you love me I trust you
You rub my trembling arms
I can feel the warmth in my belly
I don’t feel well
I am scared
I close my eyes tighter and see a flower
I touch its petals
They are soft and smell like old spice
A bee is hovering I can hear the buzzing
It lands gently on the flower
And the flower becomes me
The bee tickles me with its tongue
I reach down to touch the bee and it stings me
I hold back my tears
It was my fault and it didn’t mean to hurt me
As the flower closes I fall asleep
A dew drop runs down my cheek
You pick me up and put me to bed
I close my eyes tight and pretend to be asleep
This is our dream you say
Our secret place
My tummy feels sick again as I roll over and wish I were dead
In a dream, the most intense dream I’ve had in some time, I saw Happiness and Serenity waiting at the crossroads. I walked up and questioned each.
I first questioned Happiness. How can one experience all you have to offer?
Happiness smiled and replied… First one must relinquish their clinging to the past… second one must surrender their negativity… third, one must listen to the joy that exists within, that which no one can take from you.
I pondered the advice and turned to Serenity and asked the same. How can one find serenity?
Serenity replied in a soft assuring voice… one must learn to let go of that which doesn’t serve them… to become vulnerable… one must sit with oneself and dig deep to find forgiveness.
Again, I pondered the words spoken.
I sat at the crossroad… quietly contemplating the meaning of each response to my longing for both.
Tears of anger became tears of forgiveness
Thoughts of self-destruction… became thoughts of peace and love
Feelings of helplessness and deep sadness, became feelings of joy and faith.
My mind reeled
My heart wept silently as it slowly melted
I retreated deeply
I spoke gently to the tribe
As much as I am grateful to each of you
Each of you allowed me to survive
Each of you have your place
Each of you is loved
Each of you has lived through unspeakable horrors
I am not giving up on you, I am grateful for each of you… but it is time for us all to heal
Life is too short and too precious
Today I must make a choice for all of us
Today I must begin to give up behavior that is not conducive to our health… to turn away from that which has become comfortable and take a chance
Today I must dig deep and allow myself, all of us, to become vulnerable and become brave.
To forgive those which I despise with conviction
To live in the warm glow of love and compassion
To shed the tears of cleansing.
Today I stand at the crossroad of life… my life. A choice needs to be made.
Once upon a time. In a far away land. A land of magic and whimsy. Where dragons fly threw the sky. Animals of the forest, rivers and seas all had voices and stories
One day Otter came upon a small human child. What was a human child doing in the forest she thought. Otter took the child and ran off to the wise old owl. The owl told Otter that she had the motherly instinct and human children need to play and she should take the child as her own.
One day an evil witch came to the forest and saw the child. A rage came over the witch and she took the child from Otter and began to consume her piece by piece. The animals of the forest, rivers and sea saw what was happening and summoned up all their mental powers and caused the witch to turn to stone. The final words the witch uttered was a curse that would haunt the child for the rest of her life.
None of the animals could come up with a solution and the child was plagued with dreams and hallucinations that would throw her into fits. Finally one day she broke into a hundred pieces and scattered on the ground. The animals were unable to save her and they all mourned the loss of this sweet young innocent child.
A hawk flying overhead saw the pieces and heard the sad thoughts and flew off to the vast desert where he found the elephant. The wise old elephant heard the story and contemplated his answer carefully. What seemed like an eternity passed then elephant spoke up and said one word LOVE.
You must all get together and work together with each of your powers and surround this child with all your love. There is strength and great power in love but you must believe with all your heart you can do this. One of you will have to give the ultimate sacrifice of your own life for this child needs a heart. The witch stole her heart and left her filled with echos and torments…horrors no child should endure.
The hawk flew back to the tribe and told them what the elephant had seen in his vision and how they could bring the child back and break the spell. But one of you must give your life to show your love and give your heart to this child. Her heart was stolen by the witch and she will remain tormented without a new loving heart.
Otter stepped up without thought, compelled by her deep love for this child. I have felt the deep sorrow of this child, I have comforted her fears at night and sat with her when she was not well. My heart is already with her. At that point Otter plunged a knife deep into her chest and took out her heart and blessed the child and died.
All the animals of the forest, rivers and seas saw the compassion of the Otter, all put the pieces of the child and the heart of the Otter and formed a tight circle and began to hum.
A whirlwind picked up the pieces and carried them into the sky. The animals continued their vigilance and continued to pour out all the compassion and love they held.
Days later a sleeping child appeared back in the forest as the animals slept. She walked to each and entered their dreams. She told each of them that it was the love and compassion that freed her from this spell. She owed them each her life. The noise and echos, the horrors and nightmares had vanished. In her beat the heart of the Otter and she would learn to nurture herself as Otter did. This would be her promise for the life given.
If I hadn’t cried enough this week the whole room was a heaving sea of sobbing bodies. The final meditation was on forgiveness. It’s been really hard for me to say I’m sorry…sincerely. My apologies have always been empty and sarcastic.
Today I was forced to examine my part in the harm I’ve caused. The last few months have probably been very difficult for those around me. Today I owned my part in the pain I have unintentionally and intentionally inflicted on those around me. I have forgiven those who have intentionally and unintentionally hurt me. My heart has been released from the heavy chains of resentment and hurt.
As in every sitting we invited those close to us into our heart space and loved them, then those who have passed on and our ancestors into the heart and wrapped them in love. Then, the hardest was to bring in those who have caused us harm and forgave them for what they have done…of the 85 people in the room, including the teachers, there was not a dry eye in the hall.
We closed our session with a dharma talk and prayer for our departed friends, family and others. We had been putting together a small alter in their memory. I wrote a small note about Faye. She would have loved the transformation I have made this week. I thought about her quite often and she accompanied me through my down times as she used to do when she was still with us. I feel that I have finally grieved for her one last time and after five years she is now in a soft place in my heart and a guiding force in my life.
The day ended with our silence being released. Hugs were exchanged and well wishes given. The 85 people I spent these intimate last 6 days with will be indelibly etched into my life, even though I may never meet them again. We shared something so intimate in our individual silence. I have walked away with a felling of community and love. Compassion for life and a love for all beings, most importantly, myself!
This morning’s meditation was full of thoughts I couldn’t control no matter how deeply I breathed. I thought about how I am enjoying the slow down, giving myself a well deserved break from the busy life I lead. I thought about all I have learned this week and how it’s mine alone. I thought about how I wished that my girlfriend could share in this peace with me but this is my journey. I thought about my crazy puppy and how his energy and smile can pick me up on my darkest days. I thought about my new understanding of my anger and depression and how alone I feel. I felt a belonging in this path I’m on and how I hunger for more Dharma talks and Metta. I became aware of the silence and how rewarding it is to just sit quietly in meditation. Then, all at once, love and peace as I placed my hand on my heart and took a deep breath.
Mindfulness is becoming aware of all of these things. It’s a way to dig deep and understand, own and learn to live with everything inside me and around me. It’s a way to step back when I feel that anger, be aware of it before I spontaneously combust. It’s a way to deal with, identify and embrace my sadness and depression. It allows a deeper appreciation of all things, kinda like living life in macro. It’s about internalizing the Metta and the Dharma and learning to be kind to myself and those around me. It’s a source of peace and serenity I have longed for for a very long time, I was just too busy to notice.
This practice of Mindfulness strengthens as I practice here in this container of love and likemindedness. The internal peace I feel grows deeper each day and is consuming and comforting. I am determined to hold this peace and love once I re-enter the world. I need to remember all I have been taught and continue my practice daily. For this effort…serenity awaits.
Loving kindness…what a concept. The practice of Metta in meditation has been my undoing. Metta is basically positive affirmations with a Buddhist twist. It is all about internalizing positive thinking and learning to project it back out into the world. It is about learning to love yourself and all your short comings, accept the parts of you that are not so becoming and learning to live in a positive space. We end everyday with this practice and teaching.
Last night I cried so hard during the Metta meditation. It was a deep sobbing cry. We were asked to think about all the people in our lives that were instrumental in teaching us, loving us and inspirational. At first I felt lost, unsettled and empty. Who in my life has picked me up and carried me when I couldn’t do it for myself? Who has been my confidant? Who have I shared my deepest fears, aspirations and joy with? Who has loved me and accepted me for who I was at the moment without judgment or scolding? Unconditionally…living or passed on. Who has been my teachers? Not out of obligation as in immediate family…
Once the flurry of anxiety had cleared and I began to think a bit more clearly, I thought of Chris, Faye and Sylvia, church members from my childhood, speakers at rallys, singers and song writers perhaps I’d never met but were inspirational. I thought about how I treasured bits and pieces of all of them. I began to understand that I am not alone in my life, and even though I have felt deeply alone, that if I let down my guard and was honest, people were always there for me.
In the past, and even now, there were people I opened up to that were not so positive and supportive. Sometimes they were judgmental, sometimes they would tell me to suck it up, tell me I was silly and sometimes I was told to “grow up”. It was those times that I remember and stopped reaching out. I learned that I had to carefully choose who I shared myself with, who I could let into my “space”.
Last night I summoned the positive back and dismissed the negative. I surrounded the negative in a pink bubble and set it off into the universe. The sadness flowed out of me in rivers of tears. I felt such deep emotions that had been buried deep under piles and piles of shit. On day one I had spoken one to one with one of the teachers here when I became afraid that I would not be able to control the explosion of anger, tears and whatever emotional upheaval might occur. I was assured I was not alone. I was also told that anger and depression is manifested from deep sadness and it is often a way of coping. He shared last night about his own sadness and bouts of depression and how when he started his journey he found that he could never fill the void he discovered inside his being but had to embrace it as part of him and surround it with good and nurture it, giving it its space to be. I get it…and cried myself to sleep.
This morning I struggled to get out of bed for the 6:15 meditation but I forced myself awake. The pain my body was in all day yesterday was gone and the anguish I felt last night too was gone. I sat in meditation this morning and thanked the universe for taking care of me through the night and for the clarity I feel this morning. I feel very raw and emotional. This is the beginning. I am now an empty vessel. From here it is my choice to let go and let myself heal…to listen deeply and with an open mind and heart. Let the day begin.
P.S., the sun is out…
“You park here”, the lady said, “and the check in is up there.” I gazed up the hill at the beauty of this place and realized this entire week was gonna be uphill. I never really imagined what I was thinking and the depths of how real it was. Everything is uphill.
From my first step I was beginning the journey of a lifetime. I looked around at the steep grassy hills, dotted with groves of brilliant green trees. I looked at the buildings set against this stunning backdrop and noticed how each one blended in and was accented by the grassy hills. There was a peacefulness here and it was evident that this was a powerful land and this was a powerful place.
I walked slowly uphill to the retreat site and through the gate that had a large prayer wheel…what the heck, I gave it a spin and said a silent prayer as I walked through the gate. I could feel the energy emanating from all around me. At first it was intimidating but soon it washed over me in a wave of warmth and a peaceful feeling came over me. I continued uphill till I came to the first building, a sign said “Start Here”.
That was the beginning of it all. From that moment forward everything was gonna be uphill. My cabin, the main meditation hall, the dinning hall and the path that took you to the top of the beautiful hills. Even my spiritual growth would be an uphill climb. There wasn’t much further down I was willing to go, so I welcomed the energy and settled in.
That was four days ago. I have surmounted more hills both metaphysically and physically. We do a walking meditation eight times a day. At least one of those meditations I take the path to the top of the hill and explore. It is breathtakingly beautiful and in a meditative state you don’t even feel the gravity or your heart beating in your chest. Your breathing is slow and steady and with each slow methodical step you climb further up.
Scattered at the top are more trails leading off to glorious views of the surrounding countryside. Each trail has benches with makeshift alters and colorfully adorned Buddhas with prayer beads and chakra stones. The energy radiates clear up to the top of the hill from the valley below and you can gaze out and soar with the birds gliding on the air currents. Since this is a silent retreat there is no human sound short of footsteps. The deer walk right out onto the fields as you stand there. The lizards scurry around at your feet. Bees buzz as they do their busy work. The trees whisper their stories for anyone willing to listen.
I’ve learned this week that uphill can be hard and it can also be rewarding. Uphill isn’t so bad after all.
Each day starts out before the dawn. The sound of bells, deep, low gongs. I awoke in a great deal of pain today. Perhaps from sitting and walking…or maybe it was the bed? No matter, just one more hurdle in my day. It could be pain caused by emotional upheaval manifesting itself in physical pain. The things we put ourselves through to achieve peace of mind, body and spirit.
I roll out of bed and head to morning meditation, 6:15 sharp. The first few meditations were guided, the last few however, have been left to us and our personal practice. After sitting for forty five minutes we have walking meditation and then breakfast. Today I had a special awareness on my walking meditation. I heard a small bird calling in the morning light, hidden away inside a tree. I paused and listened to its tiny calls and finally found it amongst the tangle of branches…it was the smallest hummingbird sitting on a branch singing away. It sat and watched me as I listened. Nothing else around was present, just me and this small bird. I thanked it for its early morning song, and continued on my walk. It is this awareness, this awakening that can only be achieved in a silent meditation.
Have I told you how loud silence is? Silence is very loud at times and very calming others. I can hear the pounding of my heart, the rush of blood through my head, my belly is always making very loud noises since I am eating delicious food that is totally foreign to its system. In silence you can here the wind, you can here the rustling of the trees, every sound you normally wouldn’t even notice is ten times louder when no one is speaking. You can hear birds feathers on the wind as they glide by. In silence I have come to appreciate all that goes unnoticed. You can hear distant buzzing from the bees collecting nectar. The world is silent when we are making sounds and full of incredible sounds when we are quiet.
I have also noticed, when silent, all other senses are heightened. Like I said earlier, I hear even the smallest sound. I wish I could bottle the smell of the air here. My eyes see colors more vividly. My mind thinks clearer. I just want to touch everything as if it were for the first time. A heightened awareness of all my surroundings. The world is alive an vibrant and I have only to be silent to take it all in.