or, My Communal Retreat
Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 9:48AM
Elena Taurke in Community, Focus, PsychoZen Meets Life, Zen

I've done it the other way.  You know, the vacation where you lie on the beach day after day drinking things with cute toppings and then return to the city accompanied by the deep dread that is only relieved by the agony of actual work beginning.

But now I've turned that whole thing around.  I spend a week practicing Zen meditation and ritual with my community--sweating, greeting demons, and working hard, and then return to what now seems like an incredibly luxurious life.  

Many people have the idea that a zen retreat is a relaxing experience.  Usually, not so much. The day begins quite early with meditation, then service, then a ritualized meal, then work practice, then meditation and a dharma talk, more meditation, another service and a meal. That's just the morning, and that's the easy part because it's entertaining.  The afternoon is when the meditation kicks into high gear until about 9pm, so if there is anything you are avoiding, it will show up with bells on.  There is no escape, and everyone there is doing the same thing without being able to talk about it.  

It's brilliant, really. Like working in a cafe or library, or exercising in a gym, the company of others strengthens resolve, which is helpful when your mind wants to go off in its gazillion little fantasies that seem preferable to real life.  Here are some of the practices and benefits that accrue:

How does this all benefit everyday life?  in 10,000 ways.  Here are some of the cool things that upon re-entry suddenly seem so easy:

I expect there will be more on all that by and by.  But for now, life is good.  Life is good, no matter what.  

Article originally appeared on PsychoZen (http://www.psychozen.org/).
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