Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mediation Retreat

This is not about books or anything that this blog is usually about. This is about a meditation retreat I went to this weekend. Maybe the hardest thing for me was that we weren't supposed to read or write the whole time. You were supposed to be in your head. I can't remember when the last time was that I didn't read or write for nearly 48 hours (5:00 Friday until 2:00 Sunday).

I've been meditating for nearly ten years, now, I realized. I had a regular practice for a while when I was in grad school in Syracuse all those years ago--a professor of mine and his wife held a regular Sunday morning meditation session, and he invited me, knowing all the medical stuff that was going on (search this blog for "brain tumor" and you'll see what I mean). It was fabulous, one of the best things to come out of my MFA, and I'm very happy, ten years later, to be in Portland and I have a Zen temple, Heart of Wisdom, that opened last summer, six blocks from my house. I tried to be part of a few other practices in the years between, but nothing felt right. Heart of Wisdom offers open meditation three nights a week, and I'm trying to go at least once a week. They are connected with Great Vow Monastery, so this past weekend I went to a "Beginner's Mind" meditation retreat at Great Vow. The monastary is about an hour away from Portland, nearly to the Oregon coast but not quite. To get there, I just took US 30 west nearly all the way there from my job in Hillsboro, then coming home I took US 30 too, east this time, all the way to the St. John's Bridge and home that way.

Anyway. It was so hard. I realized, once I was into it, that of course it was hard--the most I'd ever meditated was for three 25 minute sessions at once, with a short break between each. This was four 25 minute sessions at a time, with a short break between each--then four more, a few hours later! Then four more, a few hours later! Plus no talking or reading or writing. Just being in your head. It was so hard and scary. And awesome. I really want to do a ten-day retreat, but I don't feel ready for that yet--I want to do another of these, the "Beginner's Mind" retreat, before I do something longer. First I want to be better at this.

No comments: