November 28, 2010

Sitting in Silence. ~ Genevieve Lamancusa

The event announcement below comes via our new elephant journal News Service. ~ ed.

Meditation Retreat: A Personal Story of the Benefits.

How did life get so hectic?

I often ask myself such questions. When did control of my own thoughts and actions get swept away on the tidal wave of life’s day to day pursuits? That lack of control leads to stress and anxiety, which run rampant in many Americans today. How did I get to this point?  And can I fix it?

I’ve tried many methods of correcting this problem, of taking control of my own actions and well being, but the method that seems to work best for me is meditation—particularly silent meditation retreats. Although I’ll sit through many hours of meditation with seemingly no end to the thoughts streaming through my head, at least meditation provides a glimpse into my own mind.  It allows the time to rest and see where my head’s at.  And the more time I take to sit and recognize my own thought patterns, the more relaxed I feel.  Simple awareness helps me to roll with the punches that life throws my way.

A silent meditation retreat seems to follow a certain course each time.  I start by asking myself “Why am I doing this?  This is harder than it’s worth.”  Somehow, though, I leave feeling refreshed, joyful, and at peace.  I often leave saying, “Why don’t I do more of this?”

I’m not a meditation master, so I can only guess the possible reasons for this transformation.  Maybe it’s that when there is no chance to react with emotion in the moment, there is time to reflect on the thought; it’s amazing how much easier it is to let emotions like anger dissolve without getting caught up in them.  Or maybe the reason is that, by retreating to a quiet place, the thoughts, amazingly, become quieter over time, leading to a certain peace.  I’ve found that recognizing thoughts as they arise has led to a certain level of acceptance of the way things are, rather than our habitual efforts to create what they should or shouldn’t be. This fosters a sense of clarity and confidence.

In a way, meditation retreats have helped me learn to be my own friend, accepting myself for what I am.  I ask myself, how many times have I gotten back from a vacation more tired than when I left?  It may seem strange to sit alone and meditate in silence, but it’s the most refreshing vacation I’ve ever had.

Those are the benefits of meditation for me, but the beauty of a silent meditation retreat is that the benefits may be different for someone else.  It is, after all, our own mind that we’re working with, and everyone’s mind is so different.  It’s like we each get our own tailor-made therapy session, just because we’re willing to sit and be with ourselves.  I’ve found nothing better for encouraging a confident humility that can dance through life’s drama with a sense of ease and joy.


AWAKENING MIND: THE FIELD OF BODHI, a teaching on the Heart Sutra (December 27th, 2010 – January 2nd, 2011)

Please visit the Padma Shedrup Ling website for more information.

The Venerable Chhoje Rinpoche will lead a  six day meditation retreat on the teaching of the Heart Sutra on the union of emptiness and compassion, the second turning of the wheel of the dharma by Buddha Shakyamuni. As Rinpoche says, “It is the most essential teaching of Buddha to open our hearts and discover the enlightened seed within us, which by its own nature is so ordinary and so simple that it is contained within the character of each and every being.

The retreat will consist of in-depth meditation instruction and a detailed, progressive explanation of the classical Mahayana Buddhist text,known as the Perfection of Wisdom, or Prajnaparamita. There will be ample time for sitting meditation practice, questions and discussion.

Chhoje Rinpoche speaks English fluently.  His teaching style is well suited for western audiences; it is full of humor and relatable metaphor.  This event will be the first public teaching that Rinpoche will offer in North America since completing a traditional three year meditation retreat.

Participants may choose to come to the first evening teaching, and the first one or two days, if they cannot attend the entire meditation retreat.

There are 3 steps to the registration process:

(1) Submit the registration form with Padma Shedrup Ling

(2) Select the retreat option you’d like and pay for the registration via PayPal (on the same page as the registration form).

(3) Reserve accommodations and meals with Sunrise Ranch

More retreat details:

Ven. Chhoje Rinpoche will give teachings in the morning and in the early afternoon, and on selected evenings, to be announced once the retreat begins.  The schedule will include early morning meditation sessions and evening meditation, teaching or discussion groups.
Check in time for the retreat is 4-6 pm on December 27, 2010, and you can check into your room at Sunrise Ranch as early as 11am.  Buffet dinner will be served from 6-6:30 pm.  The teaching will begin that evening at 7 pm.  Commuting to the retreat for day and evening sessions is fine, but you will still need to register for day/evening participation at the Sunrise Ranch site.  Pre-booked meals are available, but must be arranged with Sunrise Ranch by December 20th.  The retreat will conclude at 10 am on January 2, 2011.  Check out time is 11 am.
The daily schedule:
7:30 – 9:00 am breakfast (buffet is served from 7:30 to 8 am)
9:00 – 11:30 am teaching and meditation with Chhoje Rinpoche
11:30 am – 1:30 pm Lunch and rest (lunch buffet is served from 12-12:30 pm)
1:30 – 3:30 pm teaching and meditation with Chhoje Rinpoche
3:30 – 4:30 pm tea break
4:30 – 5:30 pm interviews with Chhoje Rinpoche, meditation session for all others
5:30 – 7:00 pm dinner (buffet is served from 6-6:30 pm)
7:00 – 8:00 pm meditation and Dharma discussion group

Genevieve Lamancusa currently works as a nurse at Boulder Community Hospital in Boulder, Colorado.  She consider herself an outdoor enthusiast and enjoys climbing (rock and ice), backpacking, hiking, snowshoeing, and scuba diving.  She also has a passion for international travel.  As an undergraduate student, she had the opportunity to study abroad in Nepal, where she had the good fortune to meet Rinpoche and start practicing Buddhism.  This upcoming retreat will be the first retreat she’s helped to organize. She’s looking forward to attending these teachings on the Heart Sutra.

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