Weekend Retreat

Thanks to the support of my sangha (Red Rose Sangha of Lancaster, PA if you were wondering), I was able to attend my first retreat this weekend.  The retreat was hosted by ZCB/Clare Sangha and held at Holy Trinity Spiritual Center in Pikesville, MD. It ran from Friday 1pm until noon today (Sunday).

Over the past two years, meditation has greatly enhanced my life. I’m able to remain calm in stressful situations that would have otherwise had me pulling my hair out, I’ve learned to respond when someone says something unkind or unfeeling to me instead of just reacting. The list goes on and on. But a daily practice can only take you so deep.

This weekend I was able to meditate for the majority of each day, and I can honestly say now that it is over that I have never felt so centered in my life. On the way home there were a few traffic “situations” but instead of getting fired up, I was able to respond with equanimity. Even now, I am at peace; a peace unlike I’ve ever felt before.

By the middle of the weekend I felt that the people in attendance were becoming like a family to me instead of the strangers they were a short 24 hours before. I would like to personally thank both of the teachers (Bruce and Tony) as well as everyone who preformed a service role. In fact, everyone there brought something to the sesshin that made it the special occasion that it was.

As I prepare enter what is bound to be a tumultuous week, I will do so with an attitude of compassion, and a heart filled with loving-kindness. I may have underestimated the power of silence and a still mind in the past, I don’t any more.

 

Relationship 

A relationship is a vehicle.. 

It will serve a different purpose for each person in the relationship.. 
And sometimes, that vehicle will take the 2 of you to different destinations.. 
You gotta be OK with this.. 
Especially since everybody can’t go where you are going.
–Unknown 

Being with a broken heart

It’s been decided. A divorce is definitely in my future. I’ve been through breakups before, but this is different. I’ve known Amanda for 13 years and have been married for nine. For the majority of our marriage I couldn’t imagine living life without her. Now I face a period of solitude.

On of the three marks of existence is impermanence. Through this divorce, I see this mark writ large across my heart. Instead of pushing away the pain, loneliness and heart break, I am attempting to open to them as much as possible. Sometimes I will sit with a compassionate hand on my heart, while at other times I will simply allow these emotions to fill the space I make for them. Just being present with a broken heart is painful, but I feel that this pain is a healing force that will allow me to live a more full, loving life going forward.

Retreat 

I’ve been meditating regularly for just over two years. During that time I’ve been to a few day-long retreats, but nothing longer than that. I’ve wanted to sit a longer retreat, but I’ve never had the time and the money to do so.

It turns out that I may be able to attend a week long retreat during the time between Christmas and New Years.

 I’m excited about this opportunity, but also a bit nervous. Do I have the stamina to sit a full week? What will I do without coffee? Those are among the hundreds of little questions that I have bouncing around in my head.

Assuming that the stars align and I am able to attend this retreat, I feel that I will be able to deepen my practice in a way that daily sitting just doesn’t allow for.

As the retreat approaches, I will make sure to post more info here.

New ideas 

“Usually when we hear or read something new, we just compare it to our own ideas. If it is the same, we accept it and say that it is correct. If it is not, we say it is incorrect. In either case, we learn nothing.” 

Thich Nhat Hanh

ER Visit

As I sit here in the ER waiting for the doctors to figure out what’s wrong with my wife, I’m thankful to live in an area where there are good medical facilities with good staff that provide high quality care. Yes, the US has its issues with health care, but at this moment I feel very lucky to be in the place I am and that my wife is receiving the care she needs. 

Marriage 

Recently my wife and I have been talking a lot about our marriage. During these conversations it has become apparent that we have been growing apart for several years. 

I’ve known Amanda for 13 years and have been married to her for 9 of those years. We’ve had both good and bad times over the course of our relationship, but I assumed that we were in it for the long haul. Now it appears that there is an expiration date for our marriage and that date is not too far off.

I never thought this day would come, but now that it has, it doesn’t hurt nearly as much as I expected it to. Don’t get me wrong, it still hurts like hell, but I’m able to face the situation with more equanimity than I thought possible. 

Everything changes, given a long enough time scale, and relationships are no exception to that rule. Life will go on even after my marriage ends, and I will continue to change and evolve. As a friend of mine once said, “when things aren’t going well, sometimes a drastic change is needed.” I’m beginning to see the wisdom in that statement.

I’m sure I will have plenty more to say in the coming months and weeks as my relationship slowly disolves. For now, I’ll wrap it up.