Sunday, September 27, 2009

Vipassana Retreat, Installment 22

MONDAY, JULY 13, 2009, 10:21 PM

During Shinzen’s goodbye talk on Sunday morning, he thanked us for allowing him to lead the Yaza, something he rarely gets a chance to do. He asked if we understood why he was thanking us. He explained that, on most retreats, he doesn’t have the luxury of staying up all night then being tired and spacey the next couple of days. In this case, he could take that risk because we were so together and chilled out as a group.  Usually, he has to be prepared with putting out various fires, to deal with students having an emotional meltdown. I felt all warm and fuzzy from that complement. I had had several emotional incidents, but dealt with them mindfully.
Several students expressed similar feeling during the talking circle that followed Shinzen’s talk. This had been an unusually profound retreat. Or, like me, they’d had a renewed connection with the practice after several years of drifting away. When it was my turn to “manifest” (I raised my hand and waited for Shinzen to call on me), I shared along similar lines. I had gotten a lot more out of this retreat than the previous one. It was more than my decision to stay on site instead of commuting. I committed to participate fully, to be receptive and open. “Participation is the key to harmony”; this concept can be applied to all areas of my life. I can choose to participate in my primary relationship, in politics, in my neighborhood. The question is, what am I going to participate in, and how much do I commit to each one? Luckily, I don’t have to do it perfectly.
Ray “manifested” that he was trying to come out of his shell, join the human race (my words, not his). He had volunteered to lead the walking meditation and put his facilitation sign-up sheet on the table with that purpose in mind. He’d dropped his sheet off in the morning and checked it later to find that nobody had signed up. Okay, don’t take it personally. He checked it again later, found that his roommate had signed up. “Great, a mercy facilitation”. Okay; it could still work… He was afraid I’d stand him up… (he sounded like he’s as big a basket case as I am) “It turned out to be a good session”, he concluded.
Ray and I sat at the same table during the final lunch; he asked me if I was on the contact list. I thought I probably was, but wasn’t sure. Ray said that there was a box one could check on the registration form that specified if one wanted to be on the contact list. I don’t know if I checked it or not.

On of the issues I discussed with Ray in our facilitation session was my fear that I’d revert to my old non-mindful ways when I returned to my regular life. It’s been a week since the retreat; I’ve managed to meditate everyday, and have remained away of the various components of my F.I.T. space. I’m mindful during dinner, though I’ve backslid on breakfast and lunch. My spouse, John, eats mindfully with me at dinner; we’ve kept the TV turned off and don’t read while we eat. I’ve spent most of my time typing up this blog. Once it’s off my plate, I’ll be fully ready to return to my life.
I feel like I should come up with a grand summation, but in Life, nothing ever really ends.

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