The Way of Contentment

This has been an extended and beautiful spring season. As I sit here this morning I am aware that the morning temperature was cool at 63 degrees, the air was refreshing, sweet, a gentle breeze stirred the tree leaves which were animated and dancing, the sky was a true sky blue, bright and clear. At times like this my heart swells and I feel so grateful to be living this life. I hope you are also filled with this deep contentment.

Experiencing a deep sense of satisfaction is something that many of us rarely experience and when we do it often is such a surprise because we are reaching ahead, looking for the next best thing to achieve or make happen. We have missed the moment rather than meeting the moment and this phenomenon of distractibility and striving to have a better moment leaves us with a sense of boredom, ennui, and disappointment. This longing for life to be more than it is, is a pernicious snake wrapped around our bodies suffocating us, stifling our breathing, emptying our life force and spirit.

In mindfulness practice we are encouraged to embrace the present and pay attention on purpose to this one and only life. We can perceive as an artist sees the intricate patterns of a butterfly’s wing, touching the smoothness of a river rock while experiencing its texture, hearing the subtle whirling of the hummingbird hovering over an orange hue flowering shrub or the winds of late, flapping the tree branches.

It is beneficial to be aware of both why and how we strive for more, what takes us away, and what brings us back to a sense of fulfillment. Knowing the causes and conditions are essential to this practice. This recognizing brings us to a place of inner insight and allows us the opportunity to work with the situation, however it is. We can choose. I would like to share this prose piece with you from David Whyte that speaks to this so simply: “Enough”

These few words are enough, if not these words, this breath...
If not this breath, this sitting
this opening to the life we have refused
again and again until now. Until now.


In this moment of epiphany
this opening to the life we have refused
again and again
until NOW.

One of the gifts of our practice is a teaching by the Buddha; a well-trodden path to walk that can lead us to this contentment. It is known as The Eightfold Path to Happiness, a road map providing all the steps to peace and freedom.

In Loving Kindness,

Lhasha

You Are Not Your Thoughts

Greetings Friends and Students,

How many times in a moment, minute, hour, day, month or a year have you had a thought that emerged from no particular place and it seemed so imperative, actual, true, that you believed it’s validity and took it to be you – your reality? We become identified with these fleeting thoughts and begin to make them ‘me’. We all have thoughts and they arise seemingly out of nowhere and if we do not buy into their story, magically change, shape shift, morph into a different thought or dissolve.

The mind thinks and that’s its job; it assembles our experience and organizes into an idea, concepts, words that make sense. The thinking mind analyzes, in response to what has happened, is happening, or might happen. This useful thinking analyzes data, figures out research, writes stories and books, choreographs a dance, and much more. We need these functions of the thinking process to make use of life experience.

Yet when it takes over, dominating our reality – thinking instead of being is usurping our capacity to be in the present moment. We can no longer simply be curious, interested, exploring our moment by moment experience, instead some voice in the head is telling us what is good or bad, positive or negative, when we should feel shame, guilt, blame, anger, sadness, grief, anger, pity, fear or when to love. And in our naiveté or ignorance we dress up in the form that fits this mental scenario, we wear it like a cloak.

The script and tools are here to not continue to function from our ‘heads’. Mindfulness and meditation are a gateway to freedom and being able to “see clearly” what our direct experience is and to inquire what is really so. We begin to trust the messages from the body sensations, the feeling tones (pleasant, unpleasant, neutral), our emotions, and perceive and discern the difference between a passing thought versus being lost in proliferating, ungrounded thoughts that capture and hold hostage the insightful and wise being that ‘knows”.

I would like to share with you these words from Jack Kornfield that sum this up so beautifully: As we observe our thoughts and question our beliefs, we come to understand that while thinking, planning and remembering are vital to our lives, they are more tentative than we believe. Our thoughts are always more provisional and one sided than we admit. Ordinarily we believe them. But questioning our thoughts is at the heart of Buddhist practice. When the thinking mind is quiet and the attention careful, all of a sudden we “get it.” Thoughts and opinions arise but they think themselves

and disappear, “like bubbles on the Ganges,” says the Buddha. When we do not cling to them, they lose their hold on us.

Blessings,

Lhasha

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Accommodations

Agave Suite

Comfort and convenience in the wilderness, encircled by spectacular mountain views; abundant birds and wildlife visible from your suite and the patios.  Luxury king size bed, kitchenette, bath with large cast iron bathtub/shower, queen size sleeper sofa. Shared bedroom and sitting room, sleeps 2.  Cost per person is $590.
We may have 1 spot remaining for a female.  

Casita Manzanita

A complete “home away from home,” this peaceful refuge has stunning  views, wildlife. living & dining, fully equipped kitchen, cast iron bath/shower, private entrances, patio and porch. Shared sleeping area and bathroom.  Sleeps 2. Cost per person is $590.  FILLED

 

Casita Manzanita Private Bedroom

This is a private bedroom within Casita Manzanita described above.  It shares a bathroom and sitting area with 2 other people.  Sleeps 1. Cost per person is $670 - FILLED

Dharmatory Yurt

The yurt is a traditional structure – a Mongolian style walled tent, but modernized with architectural fabric, hi-tech foil insulation, fir lattice & beam and pine flooring.  It sleeps 4 in semi-privacy, and it has outdoor composting toilets.   Cost per person is $500 - FILLED

Michelle's Camp Trailer

2 private beds, extremely clean and lovely, with bathroom.  Sleeps 2.  Cost per person is $630 - FILLED

Airstream Camp Trailer

Private, well maintained classic vintage. Has indoor clean and sanitary indoor composting toilet. Sleeps 1. Cost per person is $630 - FILLED

Silverstream Camp Trailer

Private, well maintained classic vintage. Has indoor clean and sanitary indoor composting toilet. Sleeps 1. Cost per person is $630 - FILLED

Camping

There are 4 nice camping sites for tents or a camp trailer. Cost per person is $445 - FILLED

 

Residential Retreat Mindful Job List

Before and After the Retreat

Coordinate Airport Shuttle (FILLED) – this person coordinates a shuttle, to and from the airport, for those arriving from out of town.  This is a good job for someone arriving from out of town that needs a ride to the retreat center.

Help with Retreat Set-up (FILLED) – helps with the physical set-up of the retreat at the retreat center  and getting the supplies to COD Ranch. This will be done the day before the retreat in the morning.

Help with Retreat Teardown at the End  – (FILLED) helps with the physical teardown of the retreat at the end, and loads the supplies that go back to TCMC.

Greeters(FILLED) assist the registrar with welcoming guests to COD, and showing them to their rooms if necessary.  Greeters need to arrive a few minutes early.

Flowers (FILLED) bring a bouquet of flowers for the front of the meditation hall.

Parking Coordinator(FILLED) manage parking at the retreat center as people arrive. Make sure the cars are clear from the roads leading to the rooms so that walking meditation can be done

Bring snacks for the yaza (all night sit)) (Shinzen Retreat Only) . (FILLED) The snacks can include nuts, trail mix, chocolate, cookies, etc.  The expenses can be reimbursed up to $25 with a receipt.

Help Coordinate the Sweat Lodge (Shinzen Retreat Only): Will pass out maps to sweat lodge location and coordinate the food for the feast afterward.  Help coordinate rides to the sweat lodge location.  This will be done after the retreat ends.

Purchase Sweat Lodge Supplies: (FILLED) Purchase a list of items such as bottled water, cups, plates, etc for the sweat lodge, and bring them to the retreat. You will be reimbursed for the expense, and you don't necessarily need to attend the sweat lodge

Assist with Shinzen's book sales: (FILLED)  Make a sign and set up book display. Collect any money received daily and give it to the retreat registrar.  Make sure the book inventory matches the number of books sold.

During the Retreat

 Zendo Manager for the A.M. - (FILLED) Cares for and manages the Zendo (meditation hall) to insure that it is a comfortable welcoming place to practice. Manages temperature of the space, based on temperature set by retreat manager.

Zendo Manager for the P.M. - (FILLED) Cares for and manages the Zendo (meditation hall) to insure that it is a comfortable welcoming place to practice. Manages temperature of the space, based on temperature set by retreat manager.

Mindfulness Movement - (FILLED) lead a mindful movement session in the morning. This can be yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, somatic movement etc.

Help with Yaza (Shinzen Retreat Only) (FILLED) - help coordinate the Yaza (all night sit)

Bell Ringing Coordinator(FILLED) coordinates the bell ringing volunteers.

Sit leader Coordinator (FILLED)  – coordinates volunteer sit leaders.

Sound and Recording (Shinzen Retreat Only) (FILLED) record dharma talks during the retreat. Training will be provided.

Kitchen Liaison (FILLED) – work with the kitchen staff and retreatants to address any concerns or questions that arise during the retreat.

Maintain Flowers(FILLED) maintain the flowers at the front of the meditation hall. Give them fresh water, etc.

Check Emergency Number Voice Mail -  (FILLED) check the emergency number voice mail for messages 3 times per day.

Sit Leader - lead sits for those times when Shinzen is not in the meditation hall.  Ring a bell to start the sit.  Keep track of time, and ring the bell to indicate that the sit is over.

Bell Ringer - ring a bell to call people back to the meditation hall after meals and breaks.