Posted in Vipassana

Gratitude Practice

I’m taking a wonderful course called Awakening Joy.  I’m taking the online version, since the live course is in Berkley, CA and I’m at the other end of the state.  It’s presented by Buddhist teacher James Baraz, whom I had the pleasure of hearing speak recently at Insight L.A.

One of the many terrific practices James recommends for increasing our happiness “set point” is that of gratitude.  There are several ways of increasing our gratefulness: noticing good things when they happen and taking a moment to savor them; keeping a gratitude journal; writing a gratitude letter to someone and then reading it to them.

I’m using both of the first two practices.  And recently, I created some accountability for myself by exchanging daily gratitude emails with a dear friend.  Wow!  I can actually observe my mind moving from a “glass half empty” mentality to a “glass half full” attitude.

It’s been a delightful experience, so I pass it along for what it’s worth.  May all beings benefit.

Posted in Tibetan Buddhism, Vipassana

Spirit Rock Retreat 2008, Day 2

1:25 PM

I decided to sleep through the early meditation this morning. Wonderfully luminous!

There was a herd of 4 small deer outside my door this morning. They watched me put my shoes on. Yesterday, I walked past 2 wild turkeys 6′ away.

The teachings on the sacred feminine so far have focused on how to be compassionate & care for others without giving yourself away. We did a partnered meditation called “inquiry” where one person speculates aloud on a suggested subject while the other listens deeply without getting out of herself. I’ve done deep listening, but never with this focus. It’s hard! Hard training.

Out subjects have been (1) ways the deficient feminine manifests in our lives, and (2) ways the sacred feminine manifests.

I have decided not to go running today. One of the managers told me they advise against it on vipassana retreats, but if I must go, go downhill from the residential area. Since I have a group interview with a teacher at 4 today, I’ll check with her. I don’t want to do something counterproductive to my – or another yogi’s – retreat experience.

My new mantra/koan:

Isn’t that interesting…?

3:47 PM
I went to the bookstore looking for gifts. This was just a recon mission: no buying today. On the walk back, I encountered a herd of 5 deer, & 2 wild turkeys. Damn, those are big birds.

I enjoyed the free-form movement practice. Part belly dance, part yoga, part stretching. It almost became nap practice for me at the end when we were all stretched out on the floor. “Connect to the earth like no one needs anything from you for the next few minutes,” said the teacher [Julie Wester]. Wow! What a concept! I thought I had an unending string of responsibilities to countless people.

4:45 PM
Notes from group interview with Anna [Douglas]

On noble silence: “For women, it’s an invitation not to caretake.”

She told me to go running.

“Trust our own knowing. As women, this is something that needs refining.”

With the silence, I had no trouble liking everyone. Now that I’ve talked to some of the women in a group, however, I get to practice not judging!

9:45 PM
Dinner was good. Anna gave a dharma talk on Prajna Paramita, the goddess – but mostly on what the sacred feminine means & can mean to the world. This retreat is helping me build self-esteem & grow more comfortable in my roles that are gender-based.

I enjoy my night job of veggie washer. Very relaxing and satisfying. I wonder what dish those 15 lbs. of parsnips are going to turn up in…

Lights out.