Open Buddha

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Bay Area, California

Surviving the Mini-retreat

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Day one of two is over with the mini-retreat. We actually got out around 6:00 PM today.

This was my first visit to the local Shambhala Center. I have not been in one since I did their Level I training a few years ago. As with Level I, this is a fairly basic Shamatha training class. The teachers give some specific instructions and we spend most of the next two days doing alternate sitting and walking meditation practice with it. In the afternoon/evening on both days (and on Friday night), there is also a lecture and some discussion of the practice. Additionally, during the sessions, there are interviews to see how people are doing and in case unexpected issues come up (which I have heard has happened in various meditation retreats before).

I didn’t find anything unusual in my sitting practice and found the whole thing rather calming (which, since “shamatha” is often translated as “calm abiding,” should not be a surprise). Since I’ve been doing a pretty regular daily sitting practice for most of a year now (with breaks for Japan and a few other events/trips), I did not find myself terribly wiped at the end of the day from it. It is a petty lengthy schedule.

The only thing that is really bugging me is that I picked up a head cold that is going around. So, I feel pretty physically whipped, rather than mentally. I actually feel a bit woozy right now and will probably be going to bed rather early. The only other issue is stiff muscles from sitting for so long but R and I did bring our seiza benches so we are sitting in our “normal” positions. This means I’m not messing up my backs, pelvis, knees or legs like I would be if I was using their cushions.

When I did their Level I a few years ago, I did not have a regular sitting practice and I recall feeling totally whacked, emotionally, mentally, and physically, by the end of the weekend. I suppose that tomorrow could be a big day but I expect it will be mostly like today was for me. Still, all and all, it is good to have a weekend of sitting practice with a group.