Blue Cliff Monastery – Day 3

This morning’s meditation was to imagine ourselves, and then our parents, as five year olds, exploring those five year old needs, what we might say to them and ultimately realizing that all those five year olds were a part of us.  It was both a very tender and very challenging experience.  After our morning meditation, I skipped the group exercise and set up my mat on the porch to practice.  Not to totally buy into a stereotype, but there’s really nothing more lovely than practicing yoga at sunrise outside.

Our dharma talk today was about relationships, but it ended up going in a different direction.  One of the monks told us a story of a man who was shot by an arrow.  His companion tried to help him and treat the wound, but the man wouldn’t allow it until he had asked several questions:  Where was the arrow?  What kind of arrow was it?  Where did it come from?  Who shot it?  Why did they shoot it?  By the time he had finished asking his questions and was ready for his companion to treat his wound, the man had lost so much blood that he died.  The monk told the story in a funny way, and it served as a wonderful parable for how our minds sometimes work.  It reminded me of Pam England’s “Love Warrior,” the one who acts according to what is needed in the moment and who does so with skill and integrity.  The more time I spend learning about the Warrior archetype, the more I am intrigued – I always thought of warriors as blood-thirsty, violent, crude and, to be perfectly honest, dirty.  I never wanted any part of that for myself.  Now, though, I’ve come to view the warrior as a person of action, someone who has mastered the art of Mindfulness, who acts with integrity, and has healthy boundaries.  These are things that I want for myself and I have gently been letting the Warrior into my life a little at a time.

I continue to be surprised by how different walking meditation is each day.  We walk the same path, and today I was wearing the same shoes as yesterday, but the socks were different and the ground was drier and so the walk was different.  I’ve been obsessing over my feet so much lately – Do they hurt?  How long before they start to hurt?  Where do they hurt?  Can I stop them from hurting?  How? – and it’s been nice to notice my feet in a new way.

In our dharma groups we spent some time discussing relationships.  Some of it was focused on family and friends, but of course, much of it was centered around romantic relationships.  Without going into too much detail, I struggled with this conversation because I didn’t feel I could relate to the sentiments being shared.  I understand the need to be self-reliant, but also believe in synergy – that sometimes being with another person really does make things better.  After all, studies have shown that people in relationships are happier and live longer.

Our evening activity was an introduction to the Five Mindfulness Trainings.  These are five practices for us to incorporate into our daily lives.  In a nutshell, they are 1) Non-harming, 2) True Happiness 3) True Love 4) Loving Speech and Deep-Listening and 5) Mindful Consumption.  We discussed whether or not we felt these were practical for young people and how we thought we might benefit from them.  We have the option of receiving these trainings on our last day here and so it was nice to be given an opportunity to think on and digest them a bit.

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